Five of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century

Photography is one of the best ways to tell a story through images. The colours and/or the subjects within a picture may evoke emotions from people who have seen themselves as some of the elements that make up the image. Most of the iconic photographs in the 20th century involve people as the subjects, allowing for better storytelling.

Interested in learning which photographs are the most iconic in the 20th century? Chancellor Official lists down five of them here:

V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt

This image would probably come first into your mind when you think about post-World War II. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt recalls the time he was in New York along with thousands of people cheering following the US’ victory over Japan in the Second World War. Eisenstaedt says he saw a sailor grabbing women all over the road and when he finally saw him holding a nurse and kissing her, he knew he had to take a photo of it.

The pair were identified as George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dating couple when the photo was taken. Friedman says she didn’t think the kiss was romantic, rather it was a celebration that the war was finally over.

The Roaring Lion by Yousuf Karsh

‘The Roaring Lion’ by Yousuf Karsh isn’t a picture of a lion, it is actually a portrait of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It was shot on December 30, 1941 after Churchill delivered a speech about World War II at the Canadian Parliament.

It is believed Churchill’s pose and facial expression symbolised the persistence of the British in the middle of the war. Karsh recalls asking Churchill to remove his cigar before the photo session. When the Prime Minister refused, he removed the cigar off his mouth. Karsh says Churchill’s demeanour when he came to remove the cigar was akin to a lion about to devour him.

Guerrillero Heroico by Alberto Korda

You may have seen this image multiple times before as an icon of a revolution. That’s because ‘Guerrillero Heroico’ is a portrait of a real revolutionary named Che Guevara. This image made Guevara famous as a Marxist leader following his exploits and execution.

Alberto Korda, the photographer, said he was drawn to Guevara’s stoic expression which, at the same time, also expressed anger and pain in his eyes. The image was captured on March 5, 1960 when Guevara was attending a memorial service for the victims of the La Coubre explosion, a tragedy that further ignited Guevara and Fidel Castro’s hatred towards the United States.

Gandhi and the Spinning Wheel by Margaret Bourke-White

Mohandas Gandhi is known all over the world for his nonviolent resistance against the British in India. It is said that the spinning wheel on the foreground of Margaret Bourke-White’s image was one of Gandhi’s prize possessions, using it to weave fabric he will wear as a symbol of self-reliance and independence.

‘Gandhi and the Spinning Wheel’ was used as the primary image by LIFE in a multi-page tribute to the activist following his assassination on January 30, 1948.

Tank Man by Stuart Franklin

The Tiananmen Square Massacre was one of the most horrific events in China’s history. The tragedy started when students initiated a demonstration against discriminatory economic reforms by the Chinese Communist Party. The military, by virtue of a martial law, advanced to Tiananmen Square where the students gathered and forcibly repressed them by opening fire.

One of the highlights of the demonstration was a man standing in front of a line of tanks in an attempt to stop them. Photographer Stuart Franklin captured the moment, but he admitted he was worried that the image and his equipment would be destroyed by the authorities, so he hid the photo in a box of tea and gave it to a French student who was going home to Paris.

Having real people be the subject of photos means it becomes more relatable to people who have experienced the same situations or endured something similar to it. Aside from bringing out intense emotions, photographs serve as reminders of the good and bad times humanity has gone through.

Speaking of memories, why not make your next occasion more memorable through Chancellor Official’s photo and video packages? Your photos will surely be a conversation starter for you and your guests once they see your album full of wonderful memories.

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