Contest Deadline Looms for Photographer's 'Last Kiss' Arrest Photo

PHOTO: Mo Gelber photographed this couple entering Manhattan Criminal Court on August 16, 2012 and has been searching for their identities using social media.PlayMo Gelber
WATCH Photographer Seeks 'Last Kiss' Couple to Win Prize

New York photographer Mo Gelber was at Manhattan Criminal Court, trying to get a photo of "Millionaire Madame" Anna Gristina, when something else caught his eye.

"I saw in the corner of my eye...a cop leading this couple towards Central Booking," Gelber told "I could see that they were leaning toward each other as if they wanted one last kiss. I saw that and turned the camera and then took the picture."

In the spontaneous shot, taken Aug. 16, Gelber captured a romantic, fleeting moment between a couple in the process of being arrested and separated at Central Booking.

When Gelber, 42, asked the couple what they were being arrested for, the man said, "For writing on other people's stuff." Gelber did not get the couple's names as they passed him.

When he tried to enter the photo in a contest, he was told he needed permission from the amorous outlaws, so he enlisted the help of his Facebook friends.

"I put it on my Facebook and asked my friends to spread it to their friends until someone recognized them," he said.

A well-trafficked photo blog came across the last-kiss photo and posted it on its website. Within four hours, Gelber received an email from 28-year-old Alexis Creque, who said she was the girl in the photo.

Creque did not respond to request for comment from, but she told the New York Daily News that the man in the photo is "a fine artist and does graffiti all over the city."

She declined to identify him by name, but he was later identified as 26-year-old Russell Murphy.

"We knew that we were going to be split up once we got to Central Booking," Creque told the Daily News of her kiss with her boyfriend of five months. "We had a crazy romance all summer. It is like a movie."

Creque was quickly released as the arrest was her first.

"I was just the look-out," she said.

Murphy was later released as well, but was re-arrested two weeks later for other graffiti, which threw a wrench into Gelber's plan to get the couple's permission to enter the photo in the contest.

Creque told Gelber that she would be happy to help him, but not until her boyfriend was out of jail.

As of Friday evening, Murphy was still in jail but Gelber had been told that he should be out by Saturday afternoon. The deadline for the photo contest is 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Gelber got permission from the New York Police Department to get permission from the officers in the photo.

Gelber is a bass guitarist in a grunge rock band, but hopes to move into full-time photojournalism.

"I've taken 100,000 pictures this year and I think a lot of them are better than this one from a technical standpoint, but this one is good because of the emotion it captures -- reaching for the last kiss before going to jail," he said.