Images have an uncanny ability to penetrate through and elicit an emotional reaction in a way that very few things can. They provide us with a window through which we may see the world through the eyes of the photographer.

The inventor of photography, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, took the first-ever permanent recorded image — a poor snap of the view from his studio window in France – in the late 1830s.

History has been reinforced via photography, making it more palpable and genuine. It has also made the camera an essential instrument for both documenting and changing history.

Let us celebrate World Photography Day 2021 by looking at some of the most memorable and significant photos in history.

Gandhi and the Spinning Wheel by Margaret Bourke-White, 1946

Photo Credit: Margaret Bourke-White/

Captured in the year 1946, this iconic image was taken when Margaret Bourke-White, LIFE magazine’s first female photographer, was in India to cover the nation’s impending independence.

Starving Child and Vulture by Kevin Carter, 1993

Photo Credit: Kevin Carter| Pinterest

Captured by Kevin Carter, a South African photojournalist when he traveled to Sudan to photograph the famine in 1993. This image garnered global attention and criticism as well. Questions were raised on the photographer for not carrying the toddler to the nearby feeding centre. However, as per media reports, the child had reached the feeding centre, but died a few days later from malarial fever. Carter won the Pulitzer Prize for the image.

The Terror of War by Nick Ut, 1972

Photo Credit: Nick Ut/AP

This horrifying image was captured by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut on June 8, 1972, which shows Vietnamese children running, injured from a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Nick Ut was awarded Pulitzer Prize for the image.

Tank Man by Stuart Franklin, 1989

Photo Credit: Stuart Franklin/

Captured by at least five famous photographers including Stuart Franklin is when an unidentified Chinese man stood in front of a column of tanks on June 5th, 1989 – the morning after the Chinese military had suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests. Franklin won the World Press Photo Award for Spot News for the image.

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1932

Photo Credit: Henri Cartier-Bresson/

This wonderful image was captured by the father of modern photojournalism and a master of street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson. His skills are evident in the perfect shot as we can see a man leaping across a puddle of water, through a fence behind the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris, in 1932. This photograph came to be known as the perfect illustration of the ‘decisive moment’.

Stanley Forman’s famous photo Woman Falling From Fire Escape, 1975

Photo Credit: Stanley Forman/ Pinterest

Captured by renowned photographer Stanley Forman when he was documenting the rescue of a young woman and child quickly, which took a turn when the fire escape collapsed. He captured the moment when the pair were swimming into the air. Although the image was awarded the Pulitzer prize, its interesting legacy is the ethical questions raised about when a photographer should stop shooting and whether it is appropriate to publish disturbing images.

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