The art of photography makes us see the world differently. These 10 pictures captivated a generation when they were published in magazines and newspapers.
D-Day From The Beach
Omaha Beach 1944
Nobody got closer than Robert Capa. He was famous for saying “you aren’t close enough”. He is most well known for D-day images when he landed on the beach with the first waves of infantry at Omaha Beach.
On the beach Capa quickly used up all the film in his camera while returning home by the skin of his teeth. Their claim to fame was a bit of an accident actually. As they were being developed the pictures were actually destroyed. The eleven that turned out to be usable at all had become distorted because of high heat.
They turned out to be unfocused with the color being off, very much like a modern day instagram filter. The look has been copied and imitated ever since, to the point that Spielberg reproduced it for film for Saving Private Ryan.
The Great Depression
Migrant Mother 1936
You’ve seen this pictures. You may not have known the context but it’s hard not to come across it. In 1936 Dorothea Lange was visiting the migrant workers camp of a pea farm, and made Florence Owens Thompson the face of the Depression.
Only 32 years old at the time, Thompson had already lost her husband to tuberculosis and was raising her seven children alone on the road. The family was surviving by killing birds and scavenging for any vegetables they could find in nearby fields.
Too Close For Comfort
Mathew Brady was famous for his portraits of generals and presidents, but decided to carry his camera alongside Union troops as they headed into battle.
Due to slow film speeds and how hard it was to develop film at the time, most of his images focused on the aftermath of each battle. But he still managed to capture the grim realities and to bring them right into the living room of common folk and dignitaries alike.
Ending A War With A Camera
Eddie Adams won a Pulitzer for capturing the execution of this Vietcong soldier by a police officer. Earlier in the day this soldier led a squad of men in the killing of unarmed civilians. But regardless of the situation this picture became an icon of the savagery of the Vietnam war and became ubiquitous with the start of the end of the war from a political standpoint.
It’s Not What It Seems
Times Square 1945
When Japan surrendered nobody was happier than the soldiers that faced the prospect of being shipped to Japan after they had just returned from war in Europe.
Alfred Eisenstaedt was in Times Square that day taking pictures of the revelry. He spotted a sailor kissing every woman in sight regardless of who they were or what they looked like. It was this picture of the sailor kissing a pretty nurse that made the cover of Life magazie, however.
The End Of The Airship
The explosion of the Hindenburg was far from the most deadly disaster of the 20th century. The problem was how documented the explosion was. Thanks to the public relations campaign that was scheduled for that day, more than 20 reporters were on hand when the airship crashed.
Before the crash the zeppelin was considered to be an incredibly safe mode of transportation. But as the Hindenburg crashed so did the travelers confidence in the zeppelins safety. 10 years of trans-atlantic travel came to a screeching halt on that fateful day in 1937. The golden age of the airship was overs.
Saving the Planet
Tetons Snake River 1942
Ansel Adams changed phtography forever. In a time when shutterbugs were attempting to make photography an art form by altering images, Adams let his pure and unedited pictures of nature do the talking.
Adams had a particular passion for Kings Canyon in California. He photographed the landscape and took his pictures to Washington to rally for the area to be declared a national park. His pictures were convincing enough that his request was granted.
As a lover of architecture the return to a “blazing poetry of the real” would be welcome. The modern camera lens has all but ruined pictures of modern home interiors. I’m sure you’ve seen kitchen pictures where the room looks incredibly expansive, just to be dissapointed with the size when you see it in person.
Keeping Che Alive
Ernesto Che Guevara 1967
Thanks in part to some iconic images of Ernesto Che Guevara, he has become known as the patron saint of revolutionaries and a folk hero in Cuba.
The Bolivian army captured and executed Ernesto Che Guevara, burying him in a secret location shortly after snapping this pic in an effort to let the world know that he was dead, and in the hopes that the political upheaval he had caused would die along with him.
What they did not anticipate was that killing the man would only make his legend stronger. The rally cry of “Che lives!” was quickly adopted and he would live forever as a socialist martyr.
Einstein’s Can Be Funny Too
Einstein changed the world but this picture of him changed how the public perceived him. He was suddenly a human with character and personality and not just a brilliant physicst locked away in a laboratory.
On Einstein’s 72nd birthday he was unable to escape the press who all wanted a piece of the genius that day. He continued to smile for cameras picture after picture until Arthur Sasse asked him to show his teeth for him. For whatever reason in the moment Einstein stuck out his tongue and an instant classic was born.
Is This Real Life?
Dalí Atomicus 1948
Philippe Halsman was famous for one thing, taking pictures of people jumping. His most famous picture was that of Dalí Atomicus, and it’s not terribly hard to see why.
After 6 hours and 28 retakes of cats and water being thrown, they finally captured the quirky image they were after. This picture also captured the masters work Leda Atomica in progress on the right hand side.
Thanks to Halsman portraits went from boring still life to adventerous and fun. Life magazine recognized his genius and featured him on their cover on seven different occassions.