9 Most Influential Photos of All Time


The most common way of catching someone’s attention is by using pictures. Importance of pictures which we generally know is of capturing memories so that we can cherish those memories later, but what most people don’t know is every picture has a meaning, with a unique story and background. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, this statement is totally true, you can express and represent many things by just a picture. But sometimes background story of pictures is not always happy, but it still holds a great importance because of the influence it leaves on people. It does not matter if the picture is related to negativity or optimism, what matters is the way a picture describes the situation of that time and how we perceive that meaning of the picture. This article highlights 15 most influential pictures ever taken at different times at different places, having a unique background for every picture and how it has an influence on us.

American Gothic – Gordon parks 1942

This picture describes the story of racism at that time which was all over the US at that time. Gordon parks did not experience much racism until he moved to Washington in 1942 where he got to know what it feels to be victimized just because of dark complexion. The photo really speaks more than thousands, somewhat depressive in terms of humanity, uncovering the darker side of the ‘Moderate United States’.

Muhammad Ali versus Sonny Liston – Neil Leifer 1965

The moment where Muhammad Ali sighed, feeling the pressure of beating his opponent Sonny Liston, former boxing champion, getting off. After Ali’s right punch shocked Liston’s jaw, Liston went straight down when Neil Leifer captured this picture which is considered to be the greatest photo of the century.

Guerillero heroic – Alberto Korda 1960

Alberto Korda was able to take this iconic picture of Che Guevara, a leader of rebellious guerilla movement before he died in an explosion on a ship in Havana Harbor. This picture was so inspiring that it became the symbol of rebellion all across the world and is one of the most recognizable and reproduced images of all time.

Falling man – Richard Drew 2001

This moment was captured by Richard Drew on the day of September 11, 2001, when twin tower was attacked by crashing two planes, in which a man in the building jumped to escape the collapsing building.  This picture became a symbol of individuality against the backdrop of faceless skyscrapers. A photo that makes us feel helpless and senseless, about thousands of people saw him falling from the Twin Towers, but all of them couldn’t do any effort to save him.

The Situation Room – Pete Souza 2011:

This is the picture which captured the moment of the immense tension of white house on May 1 evening, 2011, when the president Barrack Obama along with his country’s top official leaders was watching the raid Abbottabad, in Pakistan to execute Osama Bin Laden, the person who was a sign of terror for the whole world for two decades. Souza did not cover the raid nor did the planning of the raid yet this picture with tensed leaders gets pretty famous.

The Hooded Man – Sergeant Ivan Frederick 2003:

This picture was taken during the Iraq conflict, in which the US had the main role as well. A US Army staff sergeant took the picture of a prisoner at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq, which displays the prisoners with outstretched arms, deprived of proper clothing, mistreatment with the prisoner at Abu Gharib, and challenging his sense of personal safety. A picture that distinguishes between humanity and brutality openly to the world.

Mushroom cloud over Nagasaki – Lieutenant Charles Levy 1945

Probably one of the worst results of wars, shown in this picture which was captured by Lieutenant Charles Levy, the bombardier, who fell back with force of explosion thousands of miles away from him. On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), The Fat Man, an atomic bomb of US, was dropped on Nagasaki wiping about 90 percent of the city and more than 90000 immediate deaths, which made Japan surrender unconditionally.

A Man on the Moon – Neil Armstrong, NASA 1969

Neil Armstrong, who was the first person to step on the moon can be seen in this picture taken by Aldrin being the second person on the moon. Displaying the risk which was taken by both the people, killing both of them if even a single article of their complex clothing was removed. The surprising thing is the sense of patriotism even on the moon by Neil Armstrong didn’t fade away with the excitement.

The Tank Man – Jeff Widener 1989

This picture was taken by Jeff Widener on June 5, 1989, from a balcony on the 6th floor of Beijing hotel in China. When the Chinese army attacked pro-democracy demonstrators camped on the plaza, three tanks were rolling out of the plaza when a person blocked their way by coming in front of them. This picture became the symbol of the act of resistance and bravery.

These are some of the pictures which have created a vast impact on the world, some of them being symbols for recognition, some of them representing the history. But regardless of what the picture is about, every picture has its own identity with its story which probably will always in people’s mind.

The Author:

Sarah Emi is an enthusiast writer working as a logo designer and brand manager at Abu Dhabi. She has a knack for turning her ideas into a well-carved collection of words. A writer by day, designer by night, Sarah fills up her travel diaries with her tracking and hiking trips.

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