How many times have you come across successful photos that have marked the history of the last hundred years? One photo can immortalise the most detailed and impactful political events, the most spectacular news stories and the most significant social changes, and some of these photos have remained etched on the memories of the entire world.
Today, photos have an even more overwhelming and shocking impact. Thanks to the Internet, an image can make its way around the world in an instant. And suddenly it’s viral. Because now more than ever, we live for images and photos that we take to immortalise every instant we live on this planet. However, we should stop for a minute and savour what we are experiencing, to appreciate the importance of what we are seeing. To do that, we need to learn more from the past, but not just from words… Let’s stop. Think. And admire the emotional impact that some historic photos have had.
From the moment the photo was invented, the world would never be the same. From that point, we could see and discover moments in the lives of people and places far away through visual documentation that simply didn’t exist before. We’ve selected these images for you, linked by a common thread: the ability to touch our souls.
1- Photos that made history: Tank Man by Jeff Widener
Jeff Widener’s photo taken in 1989 is the symbol of one student’s rebellion against the repression of the Chinese army.
This photo was taken during a protest for greater freedom and less corruption. Faced with a growing number of protesters, the Chinese government sent in their army.
Do you know how it ended? After blocking the tanks, the man climbed on top of the tank and started talking to the driver. Other people then arrived and took him away, and he was never heard of again
2- Photos that made history: The unbroken seal on Tutankhamun’s tomb, 1922
When archaeologist Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, the doors were still untouched after more than 3,200 years and the clay lock that kept the rope tied to the handles bore the official seal of the Theban royal necropolis (the jackal over the nine prisoners), which was unbelievably still unbroken.
3- Photos that made history: the man who refused to do the Nazi salute, 1936
During a shipyard rally in the presence of Adolf Hitler, there was only one man who did not do the Sieg Heil salute. He was called August Landmesser.
A member of the party from 1931 to 1935, Landmesser rejected Hitler’s ideals after marrying Irma Eckler, a Jewish girl he had two daughters with.
He was arrested, processed as a “race traitor” and condemned to forced labour. He was later released to be sent to the front line where he died in 1944. Unfortunately, Irma Eckler suffered a similarly tragic fate, as she was sent to a concentration camp where she lived out her final days.
4- Photos that made history: the last known photo of the Titanic on the water, 1912
The enormous Transatlantic ship that sank in the freezing waters of the ocean on the night between 14 and 15 April 1912 was innovative at that time.
Some interesting facts about the Titanic:
– Thomas Andrews, chief designer of the Titanic, travelled in first class and, like in Cameron’s epic film, he chose to go down with his ship
– The passengers on the ship didn’t take the iceberg crash seriously – in fact, some of them used the ice to play football or even to cool their drinks at the table (as you see in the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio)
– The last song the orchestra played on the ship – the members of which all died – was Nearer, My God To Thee
5- Photos that made history: The ’20s – Swimsuit check
Swimsuits were measured and if they were too short, women were fined, in 1920.
Who knows what they’d think about how things are these days? In 1907, Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman appeared in one of her synchronised swimming shows in the US. However, she was arrested because her costume didn’t cover her arms, legs or neck. In later shows, Kellerman had to wear a costume with more coverage.
6- Photos that made history: Nikola Tesla in his laboratory
He was one of the greatest inventors of all time. Nikola Tesla, a Serbo-Croat scientist who emigrated to the US in 1884, registered as many patents as his rival Thomas Alva Edison. But he didn’t manage to benefit as much from his ideas: every time, he was deprived of his well-deserved earnings. That’s why his picture attracts a lot of sympathy and respect.
Money wasn’t important to Tesla: what mattered was the spread of his technique. The inventor imagined a world where everyone would have free and unlimited energy. For Tesla, the electricity networks were just an intermediate stage on the path towards a wireless system, which could send information and energy around the world.
7- Photos that made history: 1969 – The crowd at the Woodstock concert
In this historic period of the pandemic, images like these almost seem impossible, but even in that era they were exceptional!
The Woodstock festival took place in Bethel, a small town in the state of New York, from 15 to 18 August 1969. It was “3 days of peace and music” attended by around 400,000 spectators.
8- Photos that made history: An unexpected gift, 1959
An Austrian orphan’s joy.
Werfel, a 6-year-old boy living in an orphanage in Austria, delighted by the gift of a pair of shoes, which came from the American Red Cross.
9- Photos that made history: To school via a pulley, 1959
A group of children with aprons and school bags on cross the river Panaro in Guiglia, near Modena in Italy, to get to school. They were residents of two fractions, Barletta and Castellino, who had to cross the Panaro via a long steel wire extending across the river.
10- Photos that made history: 1945 – the sailor’s kiss
The most famous kiss in the modern era: between a sailor and a nurse during the Times Square parade in New York on 14 August 1945, when the American military returned from fighting in the Second World War.