It’s been called the “Vancouver riot kiss” and “love among the ruins”.
A photo of a couple lying in the middle of a road appearing to kiss during riots in Canada has become an internet sensation, with online debates over whether the act was staged or if the woman was a willing participant.
The unknown couple’s actions were captured by a freelance journalist, Richard Lam, who was covering the chaos on the streets of Vancouver on Wednesday night following the city’s ice hockey team’s loss in the Stanley Cup final.
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"I was trying not to get my ass kicked," Lam told the Ottawa Citizen newspaper about working during the violence that night.
Cars were burned, shops were looted and riot police fired tear gas as they tried to control the mob, which numbered in the thousands, who were livid at the Vancouver Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins.
In the midst of the turmoil, Lam said he spotted the couple lying in between the riot police and the angry crowd.
Hoax … some have suggested the picture was made to look like this famous shot of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in New York. Photo: AP
"The riot police made a charge so we were running. I looked back and there were two people lying on the street. At first I thought she was hurt," he told the Toronto Star newspaper.
Lam, who was shooting for Getty Images, said he didn’t realise what he had photographed until another colleague commented on the “nice photo”.
"I didn’t even look at it," he told the Citizen. “A colleague said ‘nice photo’. Then I went back to the editing room, and looked at it. My jaw dropped.”
Posed … a photo taken by Robert Doisneau outside Paris city hall in 1950 featuring Francoise Bornet and Jacques Carteaud kissing.
Canadian media have called on the couple to come forward, as people speculated online about whether the photo had recorded a moment of romance or something less innocent.
Another photo of the scene, taken from above the couple posted online by a Twitter user, showed the couple surrounded by a few other men.
"Without the context of romance, the above photo could be seen as a group of guys taking advantage of an incapacitated woman," the The Atlantic magazine wrote.
A sports writer tweeted: “I’m sorry, but that ‘kiss’ photo from Vancouver looks like it could be something sinister. How do we know that girl is alert and willing?”
Others suggested that the photo was staged and made to look like a famous shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in New York on August 14, 1945 during celebrations marking the end of World War II.
Comparisons were also made to a posed kiss between a couple in Paris in 1950, Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, which was photographed by Robert Doisneau.
Internet memes have also emerged since the Vancouver image was published, with one showing the couple kissing in the middle of a busy freeway.
Lam, who has done numerous interviews with other media since the photo went viral, told the Citizen ”he’s been fascinated by [the response]”.
"I don’t want to sound idealistic - but I was just doing my job."

 

It’s been called the “Vancouver riot kiss” and “love among the ruins”.

A photo of a couple lying in the middle of a road appearing to kiss during riots in Canada has become an internet sensation, with online debates over whether the act was staged or if the woman was a willing participant.

The unknown couple’s actions were captured by a freelance journalist, Richard Lam, who was covering the chaos on the streets of Vancouver on Wednesday night following the city’s ice hockey team’s loss in the Stanley Cup final.

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"I was trying not to get my ass kicked," Lam told the Ottawa Citizen newspaper about working during the violence that night.

Cars were burned, shops were looted and riot police fired tear gas as they tried to control the mob, which numbered in the thousands, who were livid at the Vancouver Canucks’ loss to the Boston Bruins.

In the midst of the turmoil, Lam said he spotted the couple lying in between the riot police and the angry crowd.

Hoax ... some have suggested the picture was made to look like this famous shot of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in New York.

Hoax … some have suggested the picture was made to look like this famous shot of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in New York. Photo: AP

"The riot police made a charge so we were running. I looked back and there were two people lying on the street. At first I thought she was hurt," he told the Toronto Star newspaper.

Lam, who was shooting for Getty Images, said he didn’t realise what he had photographed until another colleague commented on the “nice photo”.

"I didn’t even look at it," he told the Citizen. “A colleague said ‘nice photo’. Then I went back to the editing room, and looked at it. My jaw dropped.”

Posed ... a photo taken by Robert Doisneau outside Paris city hall in 1950 featuring Francoise Bornet and Jacques Carteaud kissing.

Posed … a photo taken by Robert Doisneau outside Paris city hall in 1950 featuring Francoise Bornet and Jacques Carteaud kissing.

Canadian media have called on the couple to come forward, as people speculated online about whether the photo had recorded a moment of romance or something less innocent.

Another photo of the scene, taken from above the couple posted online by a Twitter user, showed the couple surrounded by a few other men.

"Without the context of romance, the above photo could be seen as a group of guys taking advantage of an incapacitated woman," the The Atlantic magazine wrote.

A sports writer tweeted: “I’m sorry, but that ‘kiss’ photo from Vancouver looks like it could be something sinister. How do we know that girl is alert and willing?”

Others suggested that the photo was staged and made to look like a famous shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in New York on August 14, 1945 during celebrations marking the end of World War II.

Comparisons were also made to a posed kiss between a couple in Paris in 1950, Kiss by the Hotel de Ville, which was photographed by Robert Doisneau.

Internet memes have also emerged since the Vancouver image was published, with one showing the couple kissing in the middle of a busy freeway.

Lam, who has done numerous interviews with other media since the photo went viral, told the Citizen ”he’s been fascinated by [the response]”.

"I don’t want to sound idealistic - but I was just doing my job."