The history of photography has been marked by numerous shots that have remained etched in the whole world’s spirit. All photographic styles are part of the ranking of the most famous photographs in history.
The kiss at the Hotel de Ville by Robert Doisneau
Let’s start with something known and well known. Published in the American magazine Life in 1950, the shot “The kiss at the Hotel de Ville” went around the world, catapulting French national pride to the stars, of course! This time, the success is not linked to an excess of presumption of the transalpine, however. It is a well-deserved and recognized success, precisely, at an international level. The image is well known throughout the planet; Young and old alike realize it at first sight.
And not by chance: it has become the symbol of humanist photography. Robert Doisneau, the author of the shot, is a current led by the desire to show the most beautiful things in humanity after so many years of war. In short, the picture is not a simple shot. It is a summary of hope after despair. It is the indicator of a search for peace, happiness, and well-being to come, preferably immediately. Robert Doisneau, therefore, tended to photograph men and women of Paris but not only. Of course, the French capital represented the place where this revival was seized before anything else. After years of multidirectional struggles – both internal and external – and after occupation, supporters, and collaborators, it was even easier to see this rebirth.
Kevin Carter’s Little Girl and the Vulture
This image has long aroused controversy. And not a few.
In 1993, young photographer Kevin Carter showed the severity of the famine in southern Sudan. The picture shows the transnational knowledge of our times. It also shows the artist’s attempt and sensitivity, interest in making known our civilization’s distortions to everyone. Kevin Carter memorialized a starved child curled up on herself to testify to this misery and make international public opinion react.
The photographer received the Pulitzer Prize for this shot but was accused of not reacting to this situation. In reality, his sensitivity was really high, out of the ordinary. He was by no means an art and shooting businessman, far from it. After all, his personal story was proof of this. He will end his existence a few months later. Eventually, it will be discovered that the little girl has been found safe and sound.
Steve McCurry’s young green-eyed Afghan girl
Surely, you have already made eye contact with the young green-eyed Afghan girl. Let’s say it is another cult photo, which we all have memorized. Taken in June 1984, this photo appeared on the cover of the well-known National Geographic magazine. A cult magazine for lovers of Nature photography, world problems, and geopolitical knowledge. Thus the world discovered Sharbat Gula, a 12-year-old refugee girl in Pakistan. The color of her eyes marked our minds. The girl was recently found and reunited with photographer Steve McCurry, who has become very famous in the meantime. It goes without saying that each of us would have liked to participate in this meeting. This means that the photo has had its effect: it bewitched everyone, it sensitized everyone, it hit the mark. The green of those eyes could not fail to hypnotize and engrave itself in the still images. This photo also represents a universally known and classifiable object.
Tank Man by Jeff Widener Jeff Widener’s photo
It is taken in 1989, which symbolizes a student’s rebellion against Chinese army repression. This photo was taken during a demonstration calling for more freedom and less corruption. Faced with an increasing number of demonstrators, the Chinese government sent its army.
For his part, the driver also refused to advance, going against his superiors.
Heart of Voh by Yann Arthus Bertrand
In the era of belated awareness of the climate and environmental issue, the message of this shockingly beautiful photo cannot be ignored. It is not just a famous photo. It is a real shot, which portrays immense beauty and recalls the immensity of the landscape and natural danger that runs the entire planet. In fact, the show drew in total transformation. It will soon disappear. The cover of the magnificent book The Earth seen from the sky, the Heart of Voh is one of the most famous photographs of the no less well known Yann Arthus Bertrand. In 1990, the photo showed the mangrove, a forest between land and water in New Caledonia. This type of vegetation is present on more than 75% of the tropical coasts’ surface, equivalent to about 15 million hectares in the world.
Through this photograph, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, an expert in landscape photography, hopes to sensitize humanity to this century’s ecological problems.
V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt
Another shot worthy of ending up on the Magnum Photos agency website! At the end of World War II, photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured this moment between an American soldier and a nurse in Times Square, United States. This photo, published in Life magazine, was taken on the day of the Japanese surrender, August 14, 1945, and was considered a symbol of the end of the Second World War.
Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl
Nick Ut’s Napalm Girl All wars are unjust and controversial. That of Vietnam (1955-1975) perhaps even more! An inestimable tragedy, in terms of losses of all kinds: economic, moral, human. A harbinger of incurable wounds on a psychological, political level between nations, factions, and continents took part in the debate. Who doesn’t know this photo, the progenitor of the cult photos connected to shocking humanitarian events? Who among us hasn’t wondered what the poor naked girl felt as she ran, hoping to escape the cruel chemical attack? Who has not said that, beyond the physical risk, the child suffered from that unexpected escape, in conditions that were nothing short of inhuman. Without thinking of the physical pain caused by the essential substances’ effects, the Americans waged a long, unjust, and unacceptable war. Demonstrations, claims, many people at that time clamored for an end to the massacre. But it was all in vain. The American state decided to kill people who had no fault, mostly being composed of an unarmed civilian, Using its resources, the temper of thousands of US soldiers that would never recover. Therefore, this photo represents the massacre they were trying to stop, the few enlightened, intellectual, conscientious ordinary men and students worldwide.