Timothy H. O’Sullivan – Battle of Gettysburg
Lawrence Beitler – Lynching
Lawrence Beitler took this iconic photograph on August 7, 1930, showing the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith. It sold thousands of copies, which Beitler stayed up for 10 days and nights printing. It has become iconic over the years as it is one of the best and most recognizable images of lynching which at the time was commonplace, but now serves only as a reminder of the pre-Civil Rights era. The photo shows a crowd that have turned out to view the lynching ― confused between anger and fulfillment. The photo was so popular it has become the inspiration for many poems and songs down the years.
Joe Rosenthal – Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an historic photograph taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal. It depicts five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. It became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.
Alberto Korda – Che Guevara
Alberto Korda’s well known photograph of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, titled ‘Guerrillero Heroico’ or ‘Heroic Guerrilla’ has become a symbol of the 20th century. It shows Che, as he was known, at a memorial service for victims of the La Coubre explosion. The picture depicts the then-31 year-old’s stoic character which now appears on T-shirts, tattoos, murials, and walls all around the world. Despite being one of the most reproduced images in history, Korda, a lifelong Communist and supporter of the Cuban Revolution, claimed no payment for his picture. The rights of the picture are now disputed. Still, it remains one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century.
Eddie Adams – Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém
Most of the historical images of the 20th and 21st century have owned their photographers Pulitzer prizes for their work. And this image is no exception. Eddie Adams was famous for his portraits of celebrities and for being a prolific photojournalist, having been in 13 wars. However, possibly his most famous image is of the execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém by Nguyễn Ngọc Loan during the Vietnam War. Adams later apologized in person to General Nguyen and his family for the irreparable damage it did to Loan’s honour while he was alive.
Arguably the most talked-about, debated, and controversial picture in history is the picture of the moon landing. It has been seen as a feat of human engineering at its best, and has been speculated as a hoax by contractors of the event. Those in doubt of the authenticity of the picture have come up with many suggestions as to why and how it might have been faked. However, none of the accusations have been proved correct and the debate continues in some circles. For many, though, it provides a sense of accomplishment and achievement by the human race to send a man to the moon, which for years was considered an impossibility. The American flag also installs national pride in the US as the winners of the so-called ‘Space Race’ and their establishment as the world’s one remaining super power.
Richard Drew – The Falling Man
“The Falling Man” is a photograph taken by Richard Drew at 9:41:15 a.m., on September 11, 2001 of a man falling from the World Trade Center during the September 11 attacks in New York City. The man in the photograph remains unknown to this very day. Many find it disturbing because of the horror it depicts. The picture is deceptive as it suggests that the man was falling straight down. Though it is just one of many photographs of his fall and it is evident from the other ones that he was tumbling out of control.
Huynh Cong Ut – Napalm Strike
This photo of a naked and terrified young girl, Phan Thị Kim Phúc, running towards Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Nick Ut has entered popular culture as a symbol of the horror of the Vietnam War. It was taken during the American bombing of the village of Trảng Bàng in VietNam on June 8, 1972. However, there has been much controversy over the events depicted in the photo. It is suggested that American bombers had nothing to do with this event and that there have been many derogatory and misleading comments about the American troops in regard to this photo. Nevertheless, it is said that the photo ended the war in Vietnam and served as an icon for the peace movement which was prevalent in the 1970s. The 50-year-old Phan Thị Kim Phúc currently resides in Ontario, Canada.
Stanley J. Forman – Fire on Marlborough Street
On July 22, 1975, Stanley J. Forman took this infamous photograph while working for the Boston Herald. He climbed on the back of a fire truck as it raced towards a reported fire at Marlborough Street. Just as the crew had arrived at the scene, a young woman and small girl fell from an apartment above. The woman died instantly, but the young girl lived. This photo earned Forman a Pulitzer prize. In addition, it convinced Boston and several other cities to introduce more comprehensive fire safety laws.
Tank Man – Jeff Widener
Often considered THE most iconic photograph in history, ‘tank man’ or ‘the unknown rebel’ shows an act of courage and defiance and earned the anonymous man widespread fame. It took place during the protests at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989, and has subsequently become a symbol of the end of the Cold War era; as well as one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. Four people claim to have taken photos of the event, though the most reproduced, and perhaps the most famous, remain the ones by Jeff Widener.
Mike Wells – Uganda
This example of emotive imagery is of a child in Uganda holding hands with a missionary. The stark contrast between the two people serves as a reminder of the gulf in wealth between developed and developing countries. Mike Wells, the photographer, took this picture to show the extent of starvation in Africa. He took it for a magazine, and when they went five months without printing it, he decided to enter it into a competition. However, Wells has stated that he is against winning a competition with a photograph of a starving boy.
Kevin Carter – Vulture Stalking a Child
This shocking capture depicts a starving Sudanese child being stalked by a patient vulture. It is of a horrific nature and it gave people a true look at the dire conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Kevin Carter, who took the photo, won a Pulitzer Prize for this work. Kevin then came under a lot of scrutiny for spending over 20 minutes setting up the photo instead of helping the child. Three months afterwards, he committed suicide. Yep.