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The 10 Most Iconic Images of Photography

These are indeed some most iconic images of photography. Every single one of them has a great story behind. Have a look!

1. Vulture Stalking a Starving Child | Kevin Carter, 1993

Starving Child and Vulture
Starving Child and Vulture. (iconicphotos.wordpress.com)

The most haunting image on the most iconic images of photography. In March 1993, photographer Kevin Carter made a trip to southern Sudan, where he took an iconic photo of a vulture preying upon an emaciated Sudanese toddler near the village of Ayod. The photograph was sold to The New York Times where it appeared for the first time on March 26, 1993 as ‘metaphor for Africa’s despair’. Hundreds of people contacted the Times to ask the fate of the girl. The paper reported that it was unknown whether she had managed to reach the feeding center.

In 1994, Carter won the Pulitzer Prize for this photo, but he couldn’t enjoy it. “I’m really, really sorry I didn’t pick the child up,” he confided in a friend. Consumed with the violence he’d witnessed, and haunted by the questions as to the little girl’s fate, he committed suicide three months later.

2. Murder of Vietcong by Saigon Police Chief | Eddie Adams, 1968

Murder of Vietcong
(image source: iconicphotos.wordpress.com)

The Photograph That Ended a War But Ruined a Life. Feb 1, 1968. There were a lot of pictures taken during the Vietnam War-those of burning monks, fallen soldiers and whirling helicopters. But this picture by Eddie Adams is the one that defined the conflict and changed history.

Adams won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography and a World Press Photo award for the photograph, this shows General Nguyen Ngoc Loan of the South Vietnamese Army about to kill the captain of a Vietcong squad at point-blank range. The photograph came to symbolize the brutality and harsh reality of the Vietnam War that was often shielded from Americans in the media and galvanized a worldwide anti-war movement. Adams felt so bad for Loan that he apologized for having taken the photo at all, admitting, “The general killed the Vietcong; I killed the general with my camera.”

3. Cottingley Fairies | Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith, 1917

Cottingley Fairies

Beginning in 1917, two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths who lived in Cottingley, near Bradford in England, made a series of five photographs that purported to show them with real fairies. When the photographs were first developed, many were convinced that these photographs were proof of fairies. It wasn’t until 1983 that the girls admitted that the photos were fakes and the fairies were created using cardboards. While these images of fairies may seem like a trivial inclusion, the iconic photos confounded people for decades, raising significant debate and outlining the significance and potential hazards of the ability to manipulate images.

4. D-Day Invasion, Omaha Beach | Robert Capa, 1944

D-Day Invasion
War photographer Robert Capa prided himself on getting in the thick of the action to capture the most stirring images. It’s one of his most famous images, The Magnificent Eleven, a group of photos of D-Day. Capa came ashore with the men of 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division on 6 June 1944 (D-Day) in the second assault wave on Omaha Beach. He used two Contax II cameras mounted with 50 mm lenses and several rolls of spare film, and took 106 pictures in the first two hours of the invasion. Bombarded by fighting from all sides, Capa survived the fighting with this image, which perfectly captured the chaos and frenzy of the battle and became one of the most iconic images of photography.

Capa’s pictures are the only documents that capture the horror and heroism of the Allies as they disembarked from landing craft into a hail of bullets and sharpnel.

5. The Terror of War (Vietnam Napalm) | Huyn Cong Ut, 1973

terror of War
The Terror of War (a.abcnews.go.com)

The above photo won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for Spot Photography. It is a photo that can be admired and evaluated on many levels. On one level, it is a photo of Vietnamese children running, burned and injured from the recent napalm attack in the background. Kim Phuc, the girl most strikingly running naked in the street has been burned severely on her back and left arm. Though controversial at the time because of its depiction of full-frontal nudity, the image brought the horror of the Vietnam War and its many innocent victims to the forefront of the world’s conscious.

It was captured on June 8, 1972, by an Associated Press photographer, Nick Ut, who was shooting photos outside of Trang Bang village, South Vietnam, when South Vietnamese planes accidentally dropped napalm bombs on Trang Bang, which had been occupied by North Vietnamese troops.

6. Kent State shootings | John Filo , 1970

Kent State protest

This image of a young woman crying over the dead body of a student was taken by John Filo and won him a Pulitzer Prize and became one of the most iconic images of the 1970s. The Kent State shootings occurred at Kent State University in the U.S. city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.

7. Stalingrad | Emmanuil Evzerikhin, 1942

Stalingrad
Stalingrad: (iconicphotos.wordpress.com)

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles in history. For six months in 1942/43, Nazi Germany waged a total war on the city; over 1,000 tonnes of explosives were dropped on the city in the initial assaults alone, reducing Stalingrad’s city centre into rubble. These scenes of devastation were covered by Emmanuil Evzerikhin, among whose most memorable photos was that of Barmaley Fountain, a miraculously intact statue of children playing in front of a destroyed city square.

8. Dovima with the Elephants | Richard Avedon, 1955

Dovima with the Elephants

The above picture,”Dovima with the Elephants” was taken by Avedon at the Cirque d’hiver, Paris, in August 1955. This is the photo of Dovima, for whom the term ‘supermodel’ was coined. She was the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time. This image became one of the most iconic fashion photographs of the 20th century. The dress was the first evening dress designed for Christian Dior by his new assistant, Yves Saint-Laurent.

9. A Storm at La Jument | Jean Guichard, 1989

Storm at La Jument
Lighthouse in the Storm: (iconicphotos.wordpress.com)

Jean Guichard is a photographer most known for his series of lighthouse photos. His most popular picture is “Phares dans la Tempete, la Jument,” which is a view of the lighthouse at La Jument being swamped by a giant wave, while the lighthouse keeper looks out from the doorway, about to be engulfed.

On 21st December 1989, Jean Guichard traveled to the lighthouse in a helicopter when such a storm broke out. He decided to take photos of the lighthouse during the storm. Inside, the lighthouse keeper Théodore Malgorn was waiting to be rescued, and thought Guichard’s helicopter was his rescue helicopter. He hurried downstairs to open the door — a moment which coincided with a giant wave enveloping the lighthouse. Malgorn rushed back inside and managed to close the door, and Guichard took a series of seven photos that became instantly famous. They sold over one million copies in poster print and earned him the World Press Photo award.

10. Jonestown Massacre | 1978

Jonestown Massacre
Jonestown Massacre: (all-that-is-interesting.com)

On November 18, 1978, People’s Temple cult leader Jim Jones told his followers to commit “revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide fruit punch. 909 members, over 200 of which were children, were found dead at the Jonestown compound in Guyana. Jim Jones was found with a bullet wound to the head.

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