Photos That Changed The World

January 4, 2007

In amongst the interesting collection of photographs and videos on the Neatorama website is one which shows 13 photos that changed the world (originally from Mental Floss). This selection raises similar questions to those posed by the 100 greatest songs of all time (see my earlier post on the subject). Although you’d be hard pressed to question the inclusion of any of the pictures as important photographs, there is a question about whether they are famous photographs rather than necessarily history-making ones.

I don’t doubt that Dorothea Lange’s photographs of the Great Depression raised the public’s consciousness of the hardships that many were going through, but I don’t know that Arthur Sasse’s photograph of Einstein did anything to actually change history. Neatorama asks the same question but suggests that the Einstein photograph is there because it humanises science. I don’t think that justifies its inclusion.

I am sure that there are many other photos that could be included. Comments on Neatorama offer the following

For Australians, one poster to Neatorama suggests –

There are many others that I would include in a longer list – the Kent State University shooting, Neil Armstrong on the moon or Yuri Gagarin in Vostok I, The World Trade Centre attack etc. My list would be more political than Neatorama’s. Clearly, everyone has their favourites.

By chance, I have just looked again at the book of the famous 1955 photographic exhibition – Family of Man.

I realise that many of the pictures in the book are very familiar and have lived with me since my childhood. Not just the memory of the pictures themselves but also of the eye-opening images of a world that I didn’t know anything about. An undoubted proof of the power of the photograph.


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