Beyond the extensive bibliography, the testimonies of those who were there or the documentaries, a multitude of famous photos have been immortalized that are a window in time through which we can approach the events that went around the world and that allow us to know how some of the most representative events of the society of the time were.
- You can also read: The 10 people who changed the world for the better.
20 famous photos full of history
We have selected many of the events that silenced the world and of which all kinds of snapshots are preserved so that they are not lost in oblivion.
20. The Afghan Girl
The Afghan Girl. | Author: Steve McCurry.
National Geographic magazine is known for having published some of the most famous cover images in all of print media . Among his 1985 issues, one stood out especially for an enigmatic snapshot: that of a young Afghan barely 12 years old, with her head half covered by an orange scarf, looking at the camera with penetrating and inquisitive green eyes. It is part of the most iconic images of the late twentieth century.
19. Children fleeing napalm bombings
Children fleeing napalm bombings. | Author: Nick Ut.
The Vietnam War has also left for posterity photographs that convey the horrors suffered by the collateral victims of any conflict. The image in question was taken in 1972, in the vicinity of Trang Bang, a small village that was bombed with napalm by South Vietnamese aircraft. From that hell several children fled on the run, whose terrified faces were immortalized in one of the famous photos that are synonymous with ‘shame’.
18. The rescued from the Titanic
The rescued from the Titanic. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
More than 1,500 people lost their lives in the Titanic tragedy. Those who did manage to survive occupied the few lifeboats that were available and sailed blindly through the ocean during the night. With the first light of day, the Carpathia, which had contacted the Titanic when she still had the energy to emit a distress signal, rescued the little more than 700 survivors. The image is taken from the deck of the ship, and it shows the first two ships that reached the .
17. Kiss in Times Square
Kiss in Times Square. | Author: Wojciech Okuszko.
With the announcement of Japan’s surrender in August 1945, a large crowd gathered in New York’s Times Square to celebrate the news of the victory of the Allied troops and the end of World War II. In the middle of the revelry, a sailor dressed in his uniform takes a nurse in his arms and plants an impromptu kiss in the style of the period movies. The kiss made the cover of Life magazine and, since then, several people have claimed to be the protagonists.
16. John Lennon signing an autograph for his murderer
From him Last photo of John Lennon alive. | Available at: Rare Historical Photos.
One of the most talked about famous photos is also one of the saddest moments in history. On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman fired five shots that killed ex-Beatle John Lennon outside the Dakota Building. Hours before, Chapman had asked the musician for an autograph, to which he politely agreed by signing one of his albums . As a dark harbinger of death, someone photographed that scene, where we see Lennon in the foreground and Chapman behind.
15. The agony of Omayra
The agony of Omayra . | Author: Frank Fournier.
The eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano devastated the town of Armero, Colombia, in 1985. The high temperatures reached caused the melting of the mountain ice, causing a large mass of water, debris and ash to engulf everything in its path. In this chaos, little Omayra was trapped in a pool of water, with her legs under a beam and only one arm with which to hold on to a crossbar to keep her head afloat.
Unfortunately, after 60 agonizing hours in which journalists and members of the rescue teams tried unsuccessfully to get her out and comfort her, Ella Omayra died of hypothermia and exhaustion , becoming synonymous with the struggle for survival.
14. Ted Bundy’s Grinning Corpse
The smiling corpse of Ted Bundy | Available in: K44.
The best-known serial killer in the United States was executed in the electric chair on January 24, 1989. The image of the corpse in the morgue that appeared in the newspapers had little to do with the serial killer: his head was shaved, sewn from the sides (due to the autopsy) and had reddened lesions on the forehead, probably the result of the discharges. What is disturbing is the half-smile on his mouth, like a grimace made from beyond the grave .
It may not be one of the famous photos that first comes to mind, but it is one of the most chilling.
13. The explosion of the Hindenburg
The explosion of the Hindenburg. | Author: Gus Pasquarella.
Several television cameras stationed themselves on the Manchester Township (New Jersey) airstrip to film what was to be the triumphant arrival of the Hindenburg on its return from Germany. However, a spark in the internal mechanism would unleash the disaster that would doom the zeppelin. Instead of a milestone in the history of aeronautics, reporters helplessly filmed the last moments of the airship , which fell enveloped in a tongue of fire that consumed it to nothing, taking with it 36 human lives.
12. Child stalked by a vulture
Child stalked by a vulture. | Author: Kevin Carter.
The image was sold as that of a dying boy and a lurking vulture patiently waiting for his trophy a few meters behind. Nevertheless,It was revealed that the photographer had manipulated the perspective , giving the snapshot a much more dramatic meaning, since the infant was only relieving himself in an area far from his village and the bird of prey was many more meters away.
An example that fake news is not a current phenomenon and that many famous photos are also elaborate montages.
11. The protests in Tiananmen Square
The protests in Tiananmen Square. | Image by: Jeff Widener / Associated Press.
You may have seen a well-known photograph of a young man facing off against a line of tanks, their inexorable advance halted by the boy’s refusal to let them continue.
It happened in 1989, in the framework of the student demonstrations motivated by the death of the leader Hu Yaobang, an event that led the crowds to take to the streets. The presence of the armed military failed to quell the protests, which made Tiananmen Square a symbol of the uprising against repression.
10. Raising of the United States flag
Raising of the United States flag. | Author: Joe Rosenthal.
One of the most significant Japanese defeats of World War II took place with the loss of the island of Iwo Jima, an important Japanese strategic position.
One of the most propagandistic and fraudulent famous photos of the war has emerged from that campaign: in fact,the protagonists who were portrayed were not the first to crown Mount Suribachi , but they had other soldiers pose holding the flag, in an attempt to keep the morale of the citizenry high during the last months of the war.
9. The Munich Terrorists ’72
The Munich Terrorists ’72. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
The kidnapping and subsequent murder of the eleven Israeli athletes, held in their hotel room by the Palestinian terrorist group called ‘Black September’, was one of the most dramatic events of the Olympics. After 36 hours, all the athletes, five of the captors and a German policeman, were shot dead.. The news coverage of that tragic event made it possible to obtain images of the captors when they appeared on the terrace or the roof of the hotel.
8. The assassination of JFK live
The assassination of JFK live. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
John Fitzgerald was riding in his convertible presidential car, along with his wife, Jackie, through the streets of Dallas, Texas. Suddenly, the president received two shots, one in the back and another that destroyed his head, killing him practically on the spot . All the audiovisual material compiled from that fateful day has still not allowed to clarify the mystery of the assassination, while the images taken are part of the famous photos with more secrets than is known.
7. Execution in Saigon
Execution in Saigon. | Author: Eddie Adams.
She was awarded the Pulitzer for expressing in a single image the nonsense of the Vietnam War. Photographer Eddie Adams’ camera clicked as a South Vietnamese general shot a Vietcong prisoner in the head, knocking him dead . When the terrible scene became known, it only increased the unpopularity of the conflict among public opinion, which was already unfavorable to the intervention of the United States in alliance with the forces of South Vietnam.
6. Lunch on a skyscraper
Lunch on a skyscraper. | Image from: Wikimedia Commons.
It is already one of the famous photos that best represents the New York of the Great Depression and that makes you dizzy just looking at it. It shows a group of workers who enjoy a cheerful snack during their break, with the particularity that they eat their lunch sitting on the beam of a skyscraper under construction, suspended 260 meters from the ground and without any security measures.
5. Fall of the Berlin Wall
Fall of the Berlin Wall. | Image from: US Department of Defense.
The end of communism in Germany and the union of the German people after three decades apart were represented by the collapse of the wall that separated the eastern and western halves of the city of Berlin. Despite the attempts of the military forces to contain the masses trying to cross to the other side, they finally gave in to the ever-increasing pressures and the ‘Berlin Wall’ was torn down forever.
4. Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon
Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon. | Image from: NASA.
Whether it was false or not, it was one of those moments that kept the world in suspense before the television, waiting for the recording of Neil Armstrong being the first human being to set foot on the satellite . leaving for posterity one of the famous photos that marked a before and after in the conquest of space.
3. The “Black Power”
salute The “Black Power” salute. | Author: Angelo Cozzi.
In the midst of the effervescence of the movement for the rights of the African-American community, one of the most significant claims of “Black Power” took place: at the 1968 Olympics, two black athletes on the podium raised their fists and lowered their heads while the anthem played. American .
For many, it was an outrage that a gesture with a clear political intention slipped into a ceremony where this type of message had no place; for others it was a milestone in memory of the victims of racism.
Bomb Hiroshima Bomb. | Author: Charles Levy.
The bombing of the islands of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the end of World War II as soon as Japan signed its surrender. To do this, the United States designed two powerful nuclear bombs (‘Little man’ and ‘Fatboy’) destined to destroy both islands.
The detonation caused a powerful shock wave that destroyed everything in its path, taking thousands of lives , and allowed one of the most spectacular famous photos of the 20th century to be captured: a giant mushroom cloud that rose several kilometers above the level of the sea.
1. Man jumping into the void
Man jumping into the void. | Image from: Courtesy.
The United States suffered a direct attack to its heart again 60 years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This time, the objective was the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, an emblem of the New York skyline. Seeing no other way out, many of the people who were inside this office complex decided to throw themselves into the void.
Thousands of snapshots are preserved from that fateful day that were, from minute 1, famous photos for reflecting the desperation of the involuntary protagonists of a date marked in red in our contemporary history.