They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Almost instantly, an image can trigger staggering emotions, memories, and reactions that people didn't even think they had before. Not only used as a form of personal self expression, they are also historical, political, and one of the most powerful means of communication we still have today.
In the past, people relied on photographs - as they appeared in newspapers and magazines - to understand the world with more than just words. Photos have been long provided visual portals that transported us to the very moment the camera shutters clicked. Whether a waterfall in the Amazonian rainforest, or a Buddhist monk setting himself aflame in protest, pictures provide a historical context that serve as reminders of the often fragile state of the world.
Even in the bloodiest and most gruesome of wars, there's a battle of public consciousness waging in the background. With so many conflicts fought abroad, journalistic reports and abstractions of the real thing easily become a vehicle for understanding. That is, until a photograph reaches the eyes of the average man, woman or child, no longer having to rely on their imaginations for the truth.. Today, with one click of a button, millions of people suddenly become privy to monumental events in stunning detail.
10 Omaha Beach, Normandy, France - Robert Capa
9 Dr Fritz Klein Stands in a Mass Grave in Belsen - Sgt. H. Oakes
8 Fat Man Bomb - U.S. Military
7 The Legendary Kiss in Times Square - Alfred Eisenstaedt
6 Gandhi at his Spinning Wheel - Margaret Bourke-White
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1948, was fighting perhaps the most difficult war of all where compassion and civil disobedience were the only weapons at his disposal. Out of the thousands of photographs taken of Gandhi, there is none that captures his quiet and and simple nature more than Margaret Bourke-White’s “Gandhi at his Spinning Wheel,” taken in 1946.
5 Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima - Joe Rosenthal
4 Quang Duc Self-Immolation - Malcolm Browne
3 The Corpse of Che Guevara - Freddy Alborta
2 General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a VietCong Prisoner in Saigon - Eddie Adams
In 1968, South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executed a Viet Cong member at point-blank range. Captured by Associate Press reporter Eddie Adams, the image of the event became the defining image that sparked the anti-war movement, eventually winning the prestigious 1969 Pulitzer Prize in News Photography.
1 1. Burning Alive in Vietnam - Huỳnh Công “Nick” Út
Napalm first hit Vietnam’s Trang Bang village in 1972 by the South Vietnamese. Huỳnh Công “Nick” Út, an Associated Press photographer, was there to capture the disturbing image of 9-year old Kim Phuc running away from the bombed village, her clothes completely burned away. In Út’s own words, it was one of the worst things he had ever seen, and after refusing to take any more pictures he gave the young girl water. At the time, Út was shooting so rapidly that he did not know, until later, what the photograph looked like. For its graphic and horrifying portrait of casualties of war, it has earned its status as one of 20th-century’s most powerful photographs.
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