The Most Iconic Photographs Ever Taken

Posted by on Jun 15th, 2009 and filed under Photoshoot. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Lawrence Beitler – Lynching

Lawrence Beitler- Lynching

Lawrence Beitler took this iconic photograph on August 7, 1930, showing the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith. It sold thousands of copies, which Beitler stayed up for 10 days and nights printing them. It has become iconic over the years as it is one of the best and most recognisable images of lynchingwhich at the time was commonplace, but now serves only as a reminder of the pre-Civil Rights era. The photo shows a crowd that have turned out to view the lynching, and the audience a mixture of anger and fulfillment. The photo was so popular it has been the inspiration for many poems and songs down the years.

Timothy H. O’Sullivan – Battle of Gettysburg


This photograph has become synonymous with The Battle of Gettysburg, which was the most bloody battle of the American Civil War. Photographer Timothy H. O’Sullivan documented and recorded the battlefield, and this picture became a sensation. For many, this was their first chance to see, first hand, the true extent of the Civil War. However, it was not until 40 years after the battle that the pictures were mass produced, as photo-engraving had not been established. The picture shows dead confederate soldiers on the battlefield, and has earned its place in history as an iconic photograph.

Joe Rosenthal – Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima


Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. It became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and
recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.

Alberto Korda – Che Guevara


Alberto Korda’s well known photograph of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, titled ‘Guerrillero Heroico’ or ‘Heroic Guerrilla’ has become a symbol of the 20th centry. It shows Che, as he was known, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion. The picture depicts the then-31 year-old’s stoic and character and now appear on T-shirts, tattoos, murials and walls all around the world. Despite being one of the most reproduced images in history, Korda, a lifelong Communist and supporter of the Cuban Revolution, claimed no payment for his picture. The rights of the picture are now disputed. Still, it remains one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century.

Eddie Adams – Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém


Most of the iconic images of the 20th and 21st century have owned their photographers Pulitzer prizes for their work, and this image is no exception. Eddie Adams was famous for his portraits of celebrties and for being a prolific photojournalist, having been in 13 wars. However, possibly his most famous image is of the execution of Nguyen Van LÈm by Nguyen Ngoc Loan during the Vietnam War. Adams later apologized in person to General Nguyen and his family for the irreparable damage it did to Loan’s honor while he was alive.

Moon Landing


Possibly the most talked-about, debated and controversial picture in history, the picture of the moon landing has been seen as a feat of human engineering at its best, and has been speculated as a hoax by contractors of the event. Those in doubt of the authenticity of the picture have come up with many suggestions as to why and how it might have been faked. However, none of the accusations have been proved correct and the debate continues in some circles. For many, though, it provides a sense of accomplishment and acheivement by the human race to send a man to the moon, which for years was considered an impossibility. The American flag also installs national pride in the US as the winners of the so-called ‘Space Race’, and their establishment as the world’s one remaining super power.

Richard Drew – The Falling Man


“The Falling Man” is a photograph taken by Richard Drew at 9:41:15 a.m., on September 11, 2001 of a man falling from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The man in the photohraph remains unknown. Many people find the image disturbing because it is a horrific image of what people had to resort to during the attacks. The picture is deceptive, however, as it suggest that man was falling straight down, however, this is just one of many photographs of his fall. It is evident from these other pictures that he tumbling out of control.

Huynh Cong Ut – Napalm Strike


This photo of a naked and terrified young girl running towards Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Nick Ut has entered popular culture as a symbol of the horror of the Vietnam War. It was taken during the American bombing of the village of Trang Bang, Viet Nam. However there has been much controversy over the events depicted in the photo. It is suggested that American bombers had nothing to do with this event and that there have been many derogatory and misleading comments about the American troops in regard to this photo. Nevertheless, it is said that this photo ended the war in Vietnam and served as an icon for the peace movement that was prevelent in the 1970s.

Stanley J. Forman – Fire on Marlborough Street


On July 22, 1975, Stanley J. Forman took this infamous photograph while working for the Boston Herald. He climbed on the back of a fire truck as it raced towards a reported fire at Marlborough Street. Just as the crew had arrived at the scene, a young woman and small girl fell from an apartment above. The woman died instantly, but the young girl lived. This photo earned Forman a Pulitzer prize, and in addition, convinced Boston and several other cities to introduce more comprehensive fire safety laws.

Tank Man – Jeff Widener


Often considered the most iconic photograph in history, ‘tank man’ or ‘the unknown rebel’ shows an act of courage and defiance and earned the anonymous man widespread fame. It took place during the protests at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989, and has subsequently become a symbol of the end of the Cold War era, and one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. Four people claim to have took photos of the event, but the most reproduced image, and the most famous was by Jeff Widener.

Mike Wells – Uganda


This example of emotive imagery is of child in Uganda holding hands with a missionary. The stark contrast between the two people serves as a reminder of the gulf in wealth between developed and developing countries. Mike Wells, the photographer, took this picture to show the extent of starvation in Africa. He took it for a magazine, and when they went 5 months without printing it, he decided to enter it into a competition. However, Wells has stated that he is against winning a compeition with a picture of a starving boy.

Kevin Carter – Vulture Stalking a Child


This shocking photo depicts a starving Sudanese child being stalked by a patient vulture. It is a horrific picture that gave people a true look at the dire condition in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kevin Carter, who took the photo, won a Pulitzer Prize for this work. Kevin then came under a lot of scrutiny for spending over 20 minutes setting up the photo instead of helping the child. Three months after taking the photo, he committed suicide.

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24 Responses for “The Most Iconic Photographs Ever Taken”

  1. Victor says:


  2. Shaggy says:

    Some shocking photos there. The Sudanese one at the end was the most confronting.

  3. Realist says:

    Grow up and stop with the fairy tales…There’s no such thing as a god.

  4. Krevedko says:

    Just a sh!tty photos. What’s great in this? Somebody falling, somebody crying… it’s real world, nothing arty!
    Never feel sorry for a stupid people who cannot earn money or make a food – absolutely reasonable they die (last photo).

  5. Ellie says:

    Make you think alot these photos

  6. Compassionist says:

    How can you two say such things? God is hope, he is a not a cure, so stop being so damn black and white. And Krevedko, I feel more sorry for you than I do the people in photo’s because they at least lived. It appears you think you’re some kind of big shot capitalist who knows everything about everything. Have you ever been stuck and can’t get out of something? Or did you just have Mommy buy your way out of it. Be less of a dick and more of a person who can respect and understand hardship. Have a nice day

  7. natalee says:

    krevedko… are exactly what is wrong with the world……you are a coward for taking the easy way out by hardening yourself to the real reality that the world is sick and was never meant to be how it is now….i dare you to dream no matter how many times life spits in your face

  8. Fire says:


    People like you disgust me.
    You suffer of a disease called the Human condition.
    Something about how you think, it’s like a foul smell on an idiot wind.

    I would put you to the fire, break your legs and starve you as carrion waits at your right hand.

    It would be fitting.
    Because you would die.

    But I don’t know you.
    You’re lucky.

  9. Holly Blue says:

    @ realist. I do not believe in a god either but to tell someone who does such a thing is more than insulting. If one day when you die you find there is such thing as a heaven i think you will find you’ll be denied entrance. Whereas those who believe and those who do not but choose to be polite about it will find the afterlife quite nice. Because frankly if there isnt a better life after this one alot of people will be dissapointed.
    @Krevedko. Its people like you that make me sick. I once had some girls in my class laugh at the last picture and i almost slapped them into the next century. Karma mate…its called karma and by god your gunna get one kick ass karma coming back at yah
    @Compassionist. ^^ I agree!
    @Fire. *thumbs up* I agree fully and if i knew them I’d do the same.

  10. Will.I.Am says:

    @Krevedko you’re a weak little pansy, you wouldn’t know the real world if it screwed your mother in front of you, if you werent born into a comfy ass consumer culture you’d be starving for sure you good for nothing piece of crap social darwinist.

  11. tina says:

    I pray that one day you will all find the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I pray that the evil inside of you will be overcome by good! Then and only then will you find peace and compassion for these sweet innocent little Angels who ask nothing from the world.
    May you find the light before eternal darkness consumes your souls. If only you could spend as much time and energy doing and saying something more precious than the evil speak from your mouth. May you find happiness before its too late…God Bless

  12. Jesus says:

    Hi Tina, Jesus here. Thanks for the name check, but I am busy smoking crack and getting ready for a bit of XXXX with the (ex virgin) Mary.

    Happy Jesus-day for the 25th!

  13. Jay says:

    wow…a little vitriolic here people. Krevedko will reap the life he sows, seed for seed, as will each of us. His comments don’t mean anything, however, unless you make them into something. He expressed an opinion, just as you yourselves are doing. That’s all there is to it.

    Don’t let the bitter jaded words he wrote add bitterness and jadedness to your own lives.

    See the picture and feel hope, that enough people will believe in the difference they can make, and will make a real difference, so that less children reach that state.
    Feel peace, that that child is no longer in agony, starving. Sometimes death is freedom.

  14. Ellie says:

    @Jay: There is no way you can say death is freedom when no one knows what comes after it.

  15. inkdrinker says:

    Entertainment has destroyed people’s senses. everyone is so stupid. war is population control.

  16. experiment369 says:

    WTF – have I accidently wondered into a political science/comparative religion 101 class?

  17. Satan says:

    I AM THE FUTURE!!!!!!!~~~~~~


  18. Margot says:

    @the person who states his name is ‘Jesus’ – I pray that you are subject to God’s grace before you are one day confronted by the ONE AND ONLY Jesus to prevent you from spending eternity in the literal Hell where the pain you will suffer is beyond your human imagination
    @Satan – I pray that you are subject to God’s grace before you one day are nieghbours with the real Satan (instead of simply having him invade your body) and suffer eternally in a way that is beyond your human imagination
    @inkdrinker – Not everyone is so stupid, only some people are. Take you for example. Would you be as brave and smart as you pretend to be if you were one of those people suffering from ‘population control’ as you call it?

  19. Elena says:

    @tina says:
    December 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I pray that one day you will all find the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

    If we find him shall we give him your regards then ?

  20. Terry R says:

    Some of the responses are so … comical yet at the same time either outright stupid, or willfully ignorant or just outright brainwashed. They’re photos – reflections of the human condition, in some of its not very attractive activities, and in some of its more admirable pursuits. Reflections of life. REAL life. Not posed. Not based on some superstition. Nothing phoney. Reading more into them that what they are is ridiculous. Get over your silly selves! War is war – it kills, maims, tortures, starves, imprisons, orphans, widows- and MOST has been done in the name of religion. Death is final – NO ONE has come back from it to tell us alllll about it, unless you believe that tossed together over 4 centuries set of texts, wsritten by unknowns who were not even there when the guy died, and are now called the New Testament. Walking on the moon is great but if we’d spend less on war, we could do more and go further. Historically incorrect, hysterically stupid people. If there is a God, and he or she does love us, then that entity certainly has a great sense of humor to put up with all our crap and still allow us to live on this beautiful planet!

  21. terry says:

    to be brutaly hounest if you get your kicks from posting shity littel insults on the internet then your a tool you know what type of peopel i mean the ones who are convinsed star wars acualy happend for god sake this is a website to veiw pictures and if anyone wants to give me a verbel jab in the face your free to try but its not going to happen OR is it O_O

  22. terry says:

    by the way im not a grammar nazi 🙂

  23. DarwinWasRight says:

    Actually, people believed that gods lived on a mountain and came down from time to time to fornicate with human women for a lot longer than 2000 years (time of christianity)… So, technically, their way of thinking has more stock than yours… Do you want me to give Zeus your regards when I see him? haha… Religion and its followers are blind people needing something to help them get through their meager lives. Evolution is PROVEN. FACT. Oh yea, and the pope uses TWITTER now… HA that’s a slap in the face of religion.

  24. James says:

    @DarwinWasRight – just to enlighten you a little Christianity has been around a lot longer than that, just what the Bible records is around 6000 years. People believed in God since the beginning of time. (or in your case since people “evolved” even though there is no real scientific evidence to prove it which there never will be in our lifetime if it does).

    and I don’t see how all this religious talk and political talk has to do with these pictures

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