10 More Historical and Influential News Images

Some of our readers loved our post on the 25 Most Influential News Images Of All Time, some disapproved it, some found it appealing and some found it disturbing. Some rightly pointed out that there could be other images that we need to include in our hall of fame so to speak. Here, we’ve put together another ten images, keeping our readers’ thoughtful feedback in mind.

Afghan Girl

Afghan Girl

This image was printed on the cover of the National Geographic, in June 1985. Sharbat Gula, 15 at the time was living in a refugee camp in Pakistan during the soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Gula was orphaned in the early 80s, thanks to a soviet strike on her village, after which she hiked to Pakistan with her grandmother. Photographer Steve Mc Curry found her in a school for refugee children, and photographed her on a Nikon FM2 camera on transparency film. The image quickly became the face of the Afghan situation! Sharpat Gula’s piercing green eyes were soon seen across the globe on the cover of the National Geographic. She returned to Afghanistan in the early 90s. Steve Mc Curry made many unsuccessful attempts to locate her in the 90s. After the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban rule in 2001, Mc Curry heard that the Nasir Bagh refugee camp was soon to be closed, and a National Geographic team decided to make all possible attempts to locate the girl who appeared on the 1985 cover. After many imposters coming forward proclaiming to be Sharbat Gula, and some claiming to be her husband, she was finally traced to a remote part of her country. Her identity was confirmed using modern ophthalmic technology which matched her iris patterns. Gula, now 30 years old only remotely recalled having been photographed when she was 12. Ironically, until then she had been photographed only thrice in her life time!

Che Guevara – Guerrillero Heroico

Che Guevara

This image of Che Guevara, photographed by Alberto Korda has come to become an iconic representation of the revolutionary. The 1960 image of Che attending a memorial service in remembrance of the victims of the La Coubre explosion has since been associated with the character and iconic status of the man, even more so in later years. Korda later recalls that he was drawn to Che Guevara’s facial expression at the moment – showing ‘implacability’. Che’s face, under his ever present black beret, portrays pain, anger and control. More likely than not, it is these emotional elements of the portrait that have made the image an unforgettable one. Very interestingly Alberto Korda never did claim a mode of payment for this image of Che, unto his death! Korda was himself a supporter of the Cuban revolution, and believed the more his image would be reprinted, the more would people be attracted to Che’s personality and thereby his point of view on the revolution. This is the very image that has repeatedly been printed on various media, including the Che T-shirts that became so common place.



This image of Gandhi photographed by Margaret Bourke White has come to be associated with the personality of the man. The stark shape of the spindle on the left, in contrast to the fragile form of a gently-lit Mahatma Gandhi on the right would have made a great image even if it was not the man himself in the photograph. That said and done, it is a striking environmental portrait of the revolutionary leader, reprinted over the years in various publications (including LIFE magazine where it first appeared). Margaret Bourke was the first woman photographer to work with LIFE, the first woman photographer to be sent into combat zones and the first foreign correspondent to be allowed to photograph Soviet industry, amongst many other ‘firsts’ in her career.



Machettes are common place in Rwanda, as they were during the 90s and before. After all they are agricultural tools, found in the homes of any farming families of the country. However, this Jim Nachtwey photograph, taken towards the end of the genocide that the country witnessed in 1994, has nothing to do with farming. Following historic political and social tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu communities of the country, the 1994 genocide resulted in the Hutus killing an estimated 800000 Tutsi people. The favored weapon in use was the machete. Many photographs of the genocide depict horror some gore and mutilations caused by these very machetes. This image is a grim and understated reminder of what the sheer number of these makeshift ‘weapons’ could do to an entire community and country.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

The Bhopal gas tragedy was one of the worst industrial disasters of all time. On the night of December 2nd, 1984, deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide Industrial factory, Bhopal India. The immediate recorded death toll was close to 3000, with thousands more succumbing from poisoning over the next few days, and hundreds of thousands effected for life as a result of the deadly exposure. The people of India, especially families of the victims unwillingly waited for over 25 years before the courts were able to pronounce a verdict in 2010! The image by Pablo Barthalomew won him a World Press Photo the following year. It is a definite reminder of the fateful night, published over and over in the media since 1984. Interestingly, two well known photographers Pablo Barthalomew and Raghu Rai were present and both had photographed this scene.

Earth From Moon

Earth From Moon

The first view of the Earth from the vicinity of the moon! The Lunar Orbiter I sent this image back to earth on August 23, 1966, during its 16th orbit of our natural satellite.

Kim Phuc

Ly Thi Mui

This image won a World Press Photo in 2007. Ly Thi Mui, a homeless and HIV infected woman bathes with her child at banks of the Red River in Vietnam. The photographer Justin Maxon, just 24 years of age recalls, “Even though they face many daily challenges, like the threat of being arrested by the police, and have very little means of survival, they have an overwhelming sense of hope because they find happiness in their simple affection for each other.”

Russian Flag Over the Riechstag

Riechstag WW2

2nd May, 1945, and the outcome of the Battle of Berlin had just been decided. Here we see Russian soldiers raising the flag of the Hammer on the Riechstag. It isn’t hard to imagine why the image was an instant hit in the allied nations, where it was reprinted many times. The identities of the soldiers in the picture, as well as the identity of the photographer remain disputed although the photographer was identified as Khaldei, after the fall of the Soviet Union. In any case, the image itself remains symbolic of the Red Army capturing enemy territory. Point to note, the photograph is a reconstruction of events that had occurred a few moments earlier, but missed by the camera.

Mother and Child, Hiroshima


The first time an atomic bomb was used in warfare was in Aug 1945, on Hiroshima Japan. The immediate death toll was placed at around 70000. When this photograph of a mother and child was taken in Dec 1945, radiation and burns had claimed a further 70000 lives.

Wright Brothers’ First Flight

Wright Brothers

The brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright are credited with inventing and building the first successful airplane. Here we see their invention making its first controlled, powered and heavier than human flight on December 17, 1903. Adam Etheridge, a member of the US coast life saving crew was among only five people to have witnessed the famous first flight. Adam released the shutter on Oliver Wight’s pre positioned camera to take the photograph. Ironically, after the first successful flight, the airplane was tossed over several times by the wind, and it never flew again! It is never a simple choice to make a hall of fame of images and call it the ten ‘best’. But we hope our attempt to put together 10 influential news images is as true to its title as possible – 10 More Influential news Images! Also don’t forget to check out 25 Most Influential News Images Of All Time


Siddhartha is a professional photographer, writer and photo editor. His portfolio can be found at http://www.sidphoto.webs.com

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4 Responses:

  1. Anonymous says:


    ( 2 years and 1736 days ago )
  2. Nora Reed says:

    Amazing pictures! i like history n very nice to watch such images :) thanks

    ( 2 years and 1729 days ago )
  3. Morgan and Me Creative says:

    Great moments in history are best captured in stills. Thanks for the wonderful dose of pictorial history :)

    ( 2 years and 1707 days ago )
  4. Paul Eline says:

    Heartfelt and Heart touching images, feeling sad this time.

    ( 2 years and 1634 days ago )

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