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Explore the stories behind images that changed the world, selected by TIME and an international team of curators. Harold Edgerton.


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This collection of 20 famous photographs has been carefully chosen because of their importance in history.

39 of the most interesting photos to ever grace the web

Each one of these iconic images has helped shape our history and alter the world which we live in. They are some of the most powerful and influential images ever captured by some of the most famous photographers in history. Images have a way of cutting through and triggering an immediate emotional response like nothing else can. They open a window for us to view the world through the eyes of the photographer. Photography has helped to reinforced history making it more tangible and real. It has also made the camera an important tool not only to document history but also to help change it.

In this, one of his most iconic photos, Henri Cartier-Bresson captured a scene through a fence behind the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris. I saw shapes related to one another—a picture of shapes, and underlying it, a new vision that held me.

One of the most famous photographers of the early 20th Century, Stieglitz fought for photography to be taken as seriously as painting as a valid art form. His pioneering work helped to change the way many viewed photography.

His NYC galleries featured many of the best photographers of the day. It also gives us a more complex and multi-layered viewpoint that conveys abstraction through the shapes in the image.

And how those shapes relate to one another. I admit it took me many years to understand its genius and its message.

Forman was a well-known photographer working for the Boston Herald when he attended the scene of a fire. What began as him documenting the rescue of a young woman and child quickly took a turn when the fire escape collapsed. The pair began to fall and he continued shooting as they were falling. He capturing them swimming through the air. Forman only lowered his camera and turned at the last moment when he realized what he was witnessing was a woman plummeting to her death.

The most influential images of all time

This famous photograph won Forman a Pulitzer prize. But its interesting legacy is the ethical questions it raised about when a photographer should stop shooting and whether it is appropriate to publish disturbing images. It also caused many municipalities to enforce stricter fire-escape safety codes, so you decide. This image is another Pulitzer Prize-winning image. As famous for its social impact, as it is the ethical issues it raised.

His image of a collapsed child, with a vulture stalking over her, not only caused public outrage because of the horrific subject. It also stirred up a lot of criticism directed toward the photographerfor photographing the child, rather than helping her. That day, and the onslaught that came after continued to haunt Carter until he took his own life in For the record, the mother was apparently right next to the scene and the child was never Most interesting pictures danger of being attacked by the bird.

Notice that it was also shot with a longer telephoto lens which makes a scene look more compressed, making the bird appear closer to the child than reality. If you want to learn more about this image and more shot by photojournalists in South Africa during the fall of Apartheid, check out The Bang Bang Club. Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Eddie Adams was on the streets of Saigon on the 1st February photographing the devastation of the war. Believing he was witnessing a routine execution of a prisoner.

He looked through the viewfinder of his camera, to capture the scene.

But what he captured was the casual assassination of the prisoner. This iconic photo became one of the most powerful images of the Vietnam War. It helped fuel the anti-war movement and end US involvement in the war because it brought to life in a horrific visual, the magnitude of the violence occurring.

It was at that instant that I took the photograph. In the wake of the attack on pearl harbor, Churchill arrived in Ottawato thank the allies for their assistance.

19 of the most interesting photos ever taken

Unaware that a photographer had been commissioned to take his portrait he refused to remove his cigar. Once the photographer was set up he walked towards Churchill, removed the cigar from his mouth and took his famous photograph with the scowl.

This image is one of the most widely reproduced political portraits. It gave photographers permission to take more honest, and even critical, portraits of political leaders. More often than not, the faces of those who suffer through the collateral damage of war are not seen.

But the harrowing image of 9-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc forced the world to see.

A victim of mistakenly dropped napalm, she was later helped by Ut and received lifesaving treatment. At the time of publication in many Newspapers had to relax their policies on nudity. The image remains controversial to this day, recently it was briefly removed from Facebook for the same reasons. Nick Ut won a Pulitzer Prize for this famous image in This dream opportunity quickly turned into a nightmare. After two failed shoots, thanks to technical difficulties, it was third time lucky for Bourke-White.

This iconic image of Gandhi at his spinning wheel was captured less than two years before his assassination.

They realized that the most powerful tool they had was to show the real face of these children. They believed that seeing these images of child labor would awaken the citizens to demand change. When Lewis Hine, an investigative photographer, came across Sadie Pfeifer, one of the smallest children at work.

Standing at just 48 inches, he knew he had a shot that would change peoples views. This photograph along with others was a crucial part of the campaign which led to a change in legislation. Strand not only captured a moment in time, when a country was changing rapidly, due to an immigration surge.

But he also took the first image that paved the way for a new style — street photography. His famous photograph of the soldier and dental nurse has become one of the most iconic images of the 20th century, ifying the joyous end to years of war.

His fascination with printing led him to set up a camera obscura at his studio in France in The window scene was cast on a pewter plate and presented a crude copy of the scene outside his window. It was an 8-hour exposure and there is only one copya positive image. This is why the image is somewhat confusing because the sun had moved across the courtyard during the exposure, causing shadows on both sides to appear. Unable to get an asment to document the famine in Somalia photojournalist James Nachtwey decided to go alone. Supported on the ground by the Red Cross, Nachtwey captured the horrors of the famine.

This, his most haunting image captures a woman in a wheelbarrow waiting to be taken to a feeding center.

Upon his death 7 years later his portrait of Che Guevara would become the iconic image of rebellion and revolution for people around the world. Even still today it is prevalent in the Cuban culture and around the world. Controversial as Che was, whether you consider him a hero or a villain, the portrait stands the test of time.

Knowing a standard portrait of the flamboyant Salvador Dali was Most interesting pictures going to wash, he set out to create something extraordinary. Halsman even roped in his wife and daughter to assist in throwing the cats and water into the frame. Note: Remember that was all film so had to be done in a single frame, there was no Photoshop! Halsman and Dali both had an unusual sense of style and creativity — some might even say bizarre. Halsman helped to shape modern-day portrait photography.

His images of Dali, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and Alfred Hitchcock broke the mold and encouraged photographers to collaborate with their subjects.

An award-winning atom

On asment for the Resettlement Administration, Dorothea Lange was tasked to capture the plight of those most affected by the Great Depression in Lang tightly framed year-old Thompson and her young children drawing the viewer into the pain and exhausting etched on her face which appears aged beyond her years. Embarking on a task to discover whether a horse takes flight when galloping. Photographer Eadweard Muybridge was commissioned by California governor Leland Stanford to prove his theory.

Muybridge developed a technique to capture the horse using an exposure lasting just a fraction of a second. He had 12 cameras lined up Most interesting pictures were triggered to photograph in rapid succession by the galloping horse. They also led the way for a new way of using photography with other technology to capture the truth. Following the doctor around and really getting to know him, Smith was able to capture the essence of his subject through a single frame.

This image and accompanying essay became a template for the form which many have emulated since.

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But the image was part of the large photo essay which set a new standard for this genre of photography, photojournalism. Captured by holding his camera above his head while in the trenches this image took war photography to a different level. Soon after, journalists began to be formally embedded into army units as their importance in capturing and documenting the horrors of war was realized. Electrical-engineering professor Edgerton began a series of experiments in his MIT lab, inventing a camera that would photograph a fleeting moment in the dark.

Combining high-tech strobe lighting and a camera shutter that would enable the photographer to capture a moment invisible to the naked eye. He set up a milk dropper next to a timer along with his camera. I want to remind you these are just 20 of the many really important images that have been created over the years. There are so many more ificant photo and photographers, so I encourage you to continue reading and researching. Darlene is an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through her articles here on Digital Photo Mentor, her beginner photography courseMost interesting pictures private tutoring lessons.

To help you at whatever level you're at she has two mini-courses.

20 of the most famous photographs in history

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