Photographs That Changed The World

Photographs have the ability to stir emotions, more than any art work or tale told could.  Photographs have changed our behaviours and the way we see the world around us.

Life magazine and National Geographic among others have published their countdowns of photographs that changed the world.

Here are some of the most memorable photographs according to theme.

Vietnam Naplam Girl

The Historical – ‘Napalm Girl’ – In 1972 South Vietnamese planes dropped a napalm bomb on Trang Bang. Nick Ut captured villagers fleeing the village including the image of Kim Phuc a nine year old girl, naked from having her clothes burned off. This image has been shown all over the world, in every war pictures are taken, but this image of Kim is still shown today.

Barrack Four More

The Modern Day – ‘Four More Years’  -This image posted by Barack Obama himself shortly after being re-elected as President of the U.S.A shows the embrace of him and his wife Michelle. The image highlights the importance social media has on our lives and is the most liked and most re-tweeted post in social media history.

Race Horse Scientific

The Scientific – ‘Sallie Gardner at a Gallop’ – This series of photographs taken by Eadweard Muybridge on June 15, 1878 depict a galloping horse. The images were used to determine whether a horse at any point lifts all four feet completely off the ground at the same time, as at this speed the human eye is unable to make the distinction.

afghan girl

The Beauty – ‘Afghan Girl’ – This photograph of a girl, red scarf loosely draped around her head, with piercing green eyes, became a symbol both of the 1980s Afghan conflict and of the refugee situation worldwide. The photograph was taken by photographer Steve McCurry on Kodachrome color slide film, with a Nikon FM2 camera and Nikkor 105mm F2.5 lens and has become “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the National Geographic magazine.


The Sporting – ‘The Phantom Punch’ – This photograph by Neil Leifer shows one of the most famous moments in sporting history, Cassius Clay knocking out Sonny Liston in the first minute of the first round in their title-bout rematch in Lewiston, Maine, on May 25, 1965. The Photograph became one of the most iconic images in sport, chosen as the cover of the Sports Illustrated special issue, “The Century’s Greatest Sports Photos”.

Sudan Child Vulture

The Unbelievable – ‘Vulture Stalking a Child’ – In March 1993 Photographer Kevin Carter captured an iconic photo of a vulture stalking an emaciated Sudanese child. The photograph serves two purposes, both highlighting the situation of the famine in Sudan and also the challenges photographers’ face, when dealing with devastating circumstances such as famine and war. One year after he took this photograph, Kevin Carter took his own life, haunted by the vivid memories he had.


The Out of this World – ‘Earthrise’ – This image captures the view of the rising earth, taken by Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the moon. The image was described by the nature photographer Galen Rowell as “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”

Beatles Abbey Road

The Musical – ‘Abbey Road’ – This photograph taken by photographer Iain Macmillan captures the Beatles as they crossed at a crossing just outside their recording studios.

Iain Macmillan was a freelance photographer and a friend to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. He used a Hasselblad camera with a 50mm wide-angle lens, aperture f22, at 1/500 seconds. The image that was chosen for the cover wasn’t a hard one for Macmillan as it was the only one of the six he took where all four we walking in time.


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