Historical photographs

ShutterUp

Well-known member
I stumbled upon (in this link) a collection of the most famous photographs in history that are 20 in number. It made me appreciate the importance of photos in shaping our history and altering global conversations. Had you come across these photos before?
 

PerfectClick

Well-known member
Photographs have always had a historical aspect to them. It is not surprising that some photos in the collection generated an uproar, mostly for ethical reasons. Also, looking at the first photograph ever taken in 1826 just made me appreciate how far we've come!
 

LifeCaptured

Well-known member
I know #4 well and have seen it dozens of times, mostly when a group is discussing the ethics around photographing horrible things instead of providing aid when it could make a difference, or deciding that the shot is powerful enough that it will bring awareness to the world to many other ethical dilemmas. The photographer actually took his own life. The storm of criticism likely played into it.
 

Beck

Well-known member
Number 5 is the first photograph I remember seeing that really moved me. What moved me more was realizing how just one photograph can bring about massive social change.
 

cassie

Member
This reminds me of a book I received as a present in the year 2000 called "Century." It is the years 1900-1999 as captured in photographs, and it brought home to me how every year in history has been marred with conflict, and did so more than words ever could.
 

Paul Stevens

Well-known member
Let me ruin one of these for you.
famous-photographers-Alfred-Eisenstaedt-1945-v-j-day-times-square-kiss.jpg
At first glance, it looks like a couple celebrating the end of the war. It was actually more like sexual assault. They were not lovers. She didn't know him. They both had other devoted partners. She said no and fought him off. He grabbed her harder and did it anyway. Originally, it looked to me like she was swooning. But when you really look at the photo, you can see she's not limp in his embrace. She is clearly uncomfortable in the image now that I know what happened. He has her in a headlock, and she's trying to get away. Her arm isn't limp at all. Her hand is actually holding tightly to her skirt because he was trying to stick his hands under it. At the time she was a dental assistant, and she has been very outspoken about how terrified she was and how she felt violated, and she's devastated that the world continues to romanticize her assault. He was a drunken sailor who felt entitled to her body. Knowing those facts completely soured the image for me.
 
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Flair

Member
Yes, @Paul Stevens, it is an interesting example of how it is possible for a picture NOT to tell the whole story. But #3, 4, 5, 7, 13 & 19 certainly are hard-hitting, so much so, in fact, that I find myself wanting to look away from some of them, particularly #3 & 4.
 

Rachel

Well-known member
#13 is a fantastic example of how photography can be used in a compassionate way, even when capturing horrific things. This image of the famine in Somalia was partly responsible for the outpouring of aid and public support that the Red Cross received in order to help these people. I remember seeing the image at church and being asked to give as much as we could. Several of us kids put in our piggy bank money. I was haunted by that image for a long time and just wanted to help in any way that I could. The photojournalist felt driven to share what was going on with the famine with the rest of the world, so much so that he went on his own when his paper refused to send him.
 

Paul Stevens

Well-known member
It seems to me that something should have been done about it then. Like a public apology from the photographer and/or that sailor. Do you know if that's ever been done?
That I don't know. I think it was a common thing back then though. That doesn't make it okay and I'm not trying to downplay it, but by many accounts that sort of thing just happened. She was married and he had a fiancée. For years, I absolutely loved that picture. It appears to be a triumphant celebration. I was shocked to learn the reality of it.
 

Raylen

Member
Thanks for sharing the link, @ShutterUp . I'm familiar with many of the photos, as I'm sure most of us are, and I greatly enjoyed the walk down memory lane.
 

Len S

Well-known member
Not to be overly dramatic, but looking at these makes one wish we could get our collective act together and not have scenes like this anymore to document.

How nice would that be?
 

cassie

Member
I couldn't agree more, @Len S. There are many organisations in the world today that try to aid famine. At the moment, Wikipedia list 70! But it does make me wonder whether this is enough to eradicate the problem.

I do believe, though, that people are more educated about this than went I went to school, and these photographs are the most hard-hitting way to get the message across. I believe they should be featured in history lessons at school, obviously, though, not for young children. Do you think that would be a good way to make people more aware?
 

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