The Most Important Images of the Last 100 Years?

by Peter Zack


So what do you think have been the most iconic photo journalistic images from the last 100 years? Today is the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and it got me to thinking about the images that have riveted you the most.

Stuart Franklin - Tiananmen SquarePhoto: Stuart Franklin

I would have to suggest that the man standing in front of the tank is one of the most important. Maybe because we know nothing of his fate. Is he alive today? What happened to him that day?

Possibly one of the most important images because he is standing up to overwhelming odds on his own. It speaks to the power of the camera. We know nothing about this person and the only record of the event is a single image taken that day. An important piece of history recorded forever and a reminder of the political system he and his fellow citizens must endure.

Robert Capa D-DayPhoto: Robert Capa, D-Day

Photographs can capture symbols and events leading to the freedom we often take for granted so easily. It’s an odd coincidence, that this is also the anniversary weekend of the D-day landings, that gave us in the west the freedom to go take photos of anything we like.

Vietnam napalm girlPhoto: Nick Ut
Maybe it’s this image that changed how many have looked at the violence of war.

I would like to hear your suggestions of what you think are the most iconic photo journalistic images of the last 100 years.

-Cheers and good shooting –Peter Zack

11 Responses to “The Most Important Images of the Last 100 Years?”

  1. Regarding the famous Tiananmen Square photo (of which there are several versions from various photographers and camera stills), the Associated Press today released a new photo of this brave man taken from the ground by Terril Jones. See it here.

    Ironically, Tiananmen in Chinese means Gate of Heavenly Peace.

    For further reading today, I recommend Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen in Lens, the New York Times’ photography blog. It features the recollections of 4 photographers who captured the scene on that day.

  2. For personal as well as photographic reasons I would add Death of Loyalist Militiaman, also by Robert Capa.

  3. Gosh, what about the green eyed afghan girl on the cover of national geographic?

  4. Mis,
    That was actually what inspired me to start doing street shooting. What an amazing image.

    What about the Lincoln hangings? Brilliant stuff.

  5. I completely agree that it’s a great image and I considered it for the article. I was really considering more Photo Journalistic (IE War or news) type stories. But the story behind it has a powerful message as much as the photo.

    I hope others share ones they found impressive.

  6. Peter, the Afghan girl was a war refugee…so in a way, it is War photojournalism 🙂

  7. The Earth. From Space.

    If ever we need a reminder how beautiful the world we live in is, and how great mankind’s achievements can be, we must look to the picture of the earth seen from space.

  8. Tom, certainly an important image for all of us. Maybe not photo-journalistic in the strict sense but none-the-less a very important image, even to this day.

  9. The napalm girl photograph was by Nick Ut..Not Ronald N. Timberlake.

  10. Fiona you are correct and my mistake. It’s in a book by Timberlake. I’ve updated the credit above and thanks for catching the mistake.


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