Photography as art, photography as a way of expression, as a way to present a news, as a memory, as a moment in history, an instant … Photography as a bank of memories, as the most faithful way we have to eternalize an instant, to stop time, and the photographer as that architect that makes it possible: who takes the camera and knows the moment, the angle and the exact lighting to click, framing what we will see later, leaving behind some famous photographs.
Photography changed the world, he assured us that we could keep some moments against the ravages of time, and as a sample of what photography did during the last century, in Supercurioso we bring these five famous photographs that defy the laws of time. In addition, we invite you to read our article on The Paradoxes of Time and to reflect on the role that photography plays through this selection of Phrases of Photography. And, if you have some more time and you have a minimally professional interest in this art, take a look at these Photography Books that you sure have a lot to learn.
5 Famous Photographs of History that you should know
In this case, we did not go for the most artistic, but for the historical: those photographs that portrayed sometimes fantastic moments and other terrifying moments, like the explosion of a bomb that causes innumerable misfortunes, the construction of a gigantic building, or something so subtle and, at the same time, as fascinating as a kiss.
It is, at bottom, a portrait of the human, always performed by two actors, first, the photographed, the protagonist (s), and, secondly (but not least), from the photographer, who captures the moment and converts it into history. It is, in many cases, a matter of opportunity, a dream coincidence. That the photographer and the photography meet is something that does not happen to everyone, it will be lucky, in the sense of Voltaire when he said that luck is when the preparation and the opportunity are, in this case, to make these famous photographs . Do not miss it!
1. Lunch on top of a skyscraper, 1932. Charles C. Ebbets
It was originally taken as part of a promotional campaign for the RCE building in Manhattan, New York, and portrays 11 workers of the work who, at their lunch hour, sat on a beam to eat, chat, read the newspaper, smoke and joke, as if they were not 256 meters high, on the 69th floor of the skyscraper they were building.
This photograph then became a portrait of modernity, and still is. It is an instant of a time in which the world changed rapidly, without stopping, and after which it was never the same again: the buildings were rising through the air, the towers then reached magnitudes never before seen, although today we are accustomed to the huge walls, and this photo of these men with all of New York at their feet is a part of that era of changes . One of our 5 famous photographs.
2. Nagasaki, 1945. Photograph of the archive of the U.S. Air Force
It is one of the most frightful portraits we keep of the Second World War, although no corpse is seen in it. It is about the explosion of one of the two nuclear bombs that Harry Truman shot in Japan, and that marked the end of the great war. Nagasaki is named after the population that detonated the bomb, and this famous photograph is not due to an independent photographer, but to the United States Air Force, the same ones that detonated it.
Undoubtedly, a moment that changed the history of the world. After this detonation, the world would be divided, for years, by two great poles: US and the USSR, the two surviving powers of the great war.
3. The kiss at the Hotel de Ville, Paris, 1950. Robert Doisneau.
After the second war, European countries ravaged by battles thirsting for hope, thirst that was born a whole new wave of photographers portraying children, couples holding hands and any other hopeful human landscape, to tell us that everything would be better, maybe not soon, but at some point. It is from this current that Robert Doisneau, the French photographer who captured The Kiss of the Hotel de Ville, comes out, the portrait, precisely, of a kiss, one that filled the world with tenderness in a moment where fear proliferated. A moment in which the world changed. Another one of those great famous photographs.
4. The Afghan girl, 1984. Steve McCurry
It was made one of the most viewed covers of National Geografhic (the magazine) and is the portrait of a 12-year-old Afghan girl in a concentration camp during the war in Afghanistan, and photography became a symbol of the precarious situation of refugees and victims of armed conflicts.
In 2002, Steve McCurry returned to Afghanistan and was able to contact the girl again, who was already 30 years old, and who told her what she lived at 12, when the photographer and the girl met. Then he saw for the first time the famous photograph that McCurry had taken, a portrait of that era in which a large invisible wall (and, in some places, quite visible) divided the world.
5. Raising the flag in Iwo Jima, 1945. Joe Rosenthal.
It is one of the most important photographs of the Second World War, and shows five Marines and a US Army doctor raising an American flag on Iwo Jima, Japan, during the battle that took place there on February 23, 1945. Another famous photograph of the second war, and that we should undoubtedly include in this brief selection.