Explore the list of World’s Most Iconic Photos of All Time.
10 Most Famous Photos of All Time:
Time flies irrevocably, yet photos taken years and years ago last forever. We at Toptenia, share with you the Top 10 World’s Most Famous and Iconic Photos that change the course of history forever.
Explore the unique stories behind them and the influence these photos made in the generations to come.
10. Tank Man, Beijing – China
Following a crackdown that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of student demonstrators in Beijing, a lone Chinese protester steps in front of People Liberation Army tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
At least five photographers captured the event, which became a symbol of defiance in the face of oppression. Charlie Cole, working for Newsweek, won a World Press Photo Award for his version of the image.
The identity and fate of the “Tank Man” remain unclear.
9. Flag on Iwo Jima
Joe Rosenthal’s 1945 photograph of U.S. troops raising a flag on Iwo Jima during World War II remains one of the most widely reproduced images. It earned him a Pulitzer Prize, but he also faced suspicions that he staged the patriotic scene.
While it was reported to be a genuine event, it was the second flag-raising of the day atop Mount Suribachi. The first flag, raised hours earlier, was deemed too small to be seen from the base of the mountain.
8. American Sailor Kissing a Woman
Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph of an American sailor kissing a woman in Times Square became a symbol of the excitement and joy at the end of World War II. The Life photographer didn’t get their names, and several people have claimed to be the kissers over the years.
A book released last year identifies the pair as George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman. “Suddenly, I was grabbed by a sailor”, Friedman said in 2005. “It wasn’t that much of a kiss. It was more of a jubilant act that he didn’t want to go back (to war)”.
7. Marilyn Monroe
Five decades after her death, Marilyn Monroe remains one of Hollywood’s most adored sex symbols. Her sultry legacy is often traced back to the 1954 image of her posing over a New York City subway grate in character for the filming of “The Seven Year Itch”.
Monroe’s then-husband, Joe DiMaggio, reportedly witnessed the spectacle and became enraged with jealousy, they divorced weeks later.
6. Hindenburg Disaster
In 1937, Sam Shere photographed the Hindenburg disaster while on assignment in New Jersey. The crash killed 36 people and ended the era of passenger-carrying airships, which were once hailed as the future of flight. “I had two shots in my (camera) but I didn’t even have time to get it up to my eye,” Shere later said, “I literally shot from the hip — it was over so fast there was nothing else to do”.
5. Albert Einstein’s Famous Smile
On Albert Einstein’s 72nd birthday in 1951, photographer Arthur Sasse tried to get him to smile for the camera. Tired of smiling for pictures, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist stuck out his tongue instead. It went on to become one of the most recognizable images of Einstein, who reportedly liked the photograph so much he asked for nine copies. He signed one of the prints, which sold for more than $74,000 in 2009.
4. U.S. Navy Seal – Abbottabad Operation
President Barack Obama and members of his national security team monitor the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. It was a crucial moment in American history, and White House photographer Pete Souza captured the tension in the room.
“It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time, I think, in the lives of the people who were assembled” counterterrorism adviser John Brennan later told reporters. A classified document on the table was obscured by the White House.
3. Bosnian Genocide
It can take time for even the most shocking ¬images to have an effect. The war in Bosnia had not yet begun when American Ron Haviv took this picture of a Serb kicking a Muslim woman who had been shot by Serb forces. Haviv had gained access to the Tigers, a brutal nationalist militia that had warned him not to photograph any killings. But Haviv was determined to document the cruelty he was witnessing and, in a split second, decided to risk it.
TIME published the photo a week later, and the image of casual hatred ignited broad debate over the international response to the worsening conflict. Still, the war continued for more than three years, and ¬Haviv—who was put on a hit list by the Tigers’ leader, Zeljko Raznatovic, or ¬Arkan—was frustrated by the tepid reaction.
Almost 100,000 people lost their lives. Before his assassination in 2000, Arkan was indicted for crimes against humanity. Haviv’s image was used as evidence against him and other perpetrators of what became known as ethnic cleansing.
2. War in Syria: Alan Kurdi
The war in Syria had been going on for more than four years when Alan Kurdi’s parents lifted the 3-year-old boy and his 5-year-old brother into an inflatable boat and set off from the Turkish coast for the Greek island of Kos, just three miles away. Within minutes of pushing off, a wave capsized the vessel, and the mother and both sons drowned. On the shore near the coastal town of Bodrum a few hours later, Nilufer Demir of the Dogan News Agency came upon Alan, his face turned to one side and bottom elevated as if he were just asleep. “There was nothing left to do for him. There was nothing left to bring him back to life,” she said. So Demir raised her camera. “I thought, This is the only way I can express the scream of his silent body.”
On the shore near the coastal town of Bodrum a few hours later, Nilufer Demir of the Dogan News Agency came upon Alan, his face turned to one side and bottom elevated as if he were just asleep. “There was nothing left to do for him. There was nothing left to bring him back to life,” she said. So Demir raised her camera. “I thought, This is the only way I can express the scream of his silent body.”
The resulting image became the defining photograph of an ongoing war that, by the time Demir pressed her shutter, had killed some 220,000 people. It was taken not in Syria, a country the world preferred to ignore, but on the doorstep of Europe, where its refugees were heading. Dressed for travel, the child lay between one world and another: waves had washed away any chalky brown dust that might locate him in a place foreign to Westerners’ experience. It was an experience the
It was an experience the Kurdish sought for themselves, joining a migration fueled as much by aspiration as desperation. The family had already escaped bloodshed by making it across the land border with Turkey; the sea journey was in search of a better life, one that would now become — at least for a few months — far more accessible for the hundreds of thousands traveling behind them.
Demir’s image whipped around social media within hours, accumulating potency with every share. News organizations were compelled to publish it—or publicly defend their decision not to. And European governments were suddenly compelled to open closed frontiers. Within a week, trainloads of Syrians were arriving in Germany to cheers, as a war lamented but not felt suddenly brimmed with emotions unlocked by a picture of one small, still form.
1. Man on the Moon – Apollo 11
Somewhere in the Sea of Tranquillity, the little depression in which Buzz Aldrin stood on the evening of July 20, 1969, is still there—one of the billions of pits and craters and pockmarks on the moon’s ancient surface. But it may not be the astronaut’s most indelible mark.
Since it was Armstrong who was carrying the crew’s 70-millimeter Hasselblad, he took all of the pictures—meaning the only moon man earthlings would see clearly would be the one who took the second steps. That this image endured the way it has was not likely. It has none of the action of the shots of Aldrin climbing down the ladder of the lunar module, none of the patriotic resonance of his saluting the American flag.
He’s just standing in place, a small, fragile man on a distant world—a world that would be happy to kill him if he removed so much as a single article of his exceedingly complex clothing. His arm is bent awkwardly—perhaps, he has speculated, because he was glancing at the checklist on his wrist. And Armstrong, looking even smaller and more spectral, is reflected in his visor. It’s a picture that in some ways did everything wrong if it was striving for heroism. As a result, it did everything right.