The picture of a napalm scarred little girl running from her burning village in Vietnam is one of the most well known photographs in the world.
Kim Phuc, the girl featured in the picture, is now receiving free laser surgery to cover her scars, 40 years after that terrible day. However the famous photograph displays far more than a young girl’s suffering, and has since become a symbol of war and human brutality. Here are 20 of the most iconic photographs ever taken – each one a true example of the old adage, ‘a picture can speak a thousand words’.
1. Black Power Salute
Athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos created an international controversy by raising their fists in the air on the medal podium in a black power salute at the 1968 Olympics.
This iconic picture is now seen as a symbol of defiance and equality in the face of adversity.
2. Jesse Owens defies Hitler
Black USA athlete Jesse Owens was credited with ‘single-handedly crush[ing] Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy’ after winning several gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
However, despite standing higher on the podium than his friend and competitor, German Luz Long (who was giving a Nazi salute), Owens was still shunned when he returned to the segregated society of 1930s America.
3. Tank Man
As tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in Beijing to suppress protests, one man bravely stood in front of the column, stopping the entire might of the Chinese army.
Taken on June 5, 1989, the ‘tank man’ quickly became one of the most famous picture in the world.
4. Abu Ghraib torture
One of the shocking picture released which showed US military torturing and abusing Iraqi prisons in Abu Ghraid prison.
Two soldiers, Specialists Charles Graner and Lynndie England, were imprisoned for their crimes against the prisoners, while many more were dishonorably discharged.
5. Cheeky Einstein
Albert Einstein – the man who developed the theory of relativity and was thought so highly of that his name became synonymous with intelligence.
In this comical picture he showed that even the smartest amongst us can have a lighter side.
He signed one of the original prints of this picture for the photographer – in 2009 it was sold at auction for $74,324 (£48,500).
6. Vietnam Execution
This shocking picture shows South Vietnamese police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing Vietcong member Nguyen Van Lem in the street.
Although the photo has become synonymous with the horrors or war, the photographer, Eddie Adams, said he felt sorry for Nguyen Ngọc Loan as he felt the picture ruined his life and the life of his family.
7. ‘Wait for me, Daddy’
‘Wait for Me, Daddy’, is the touching photograph of young Canadian Warren Bernard running after his father who had just signed up to the war effort during WWII.
It might look like a haunting snapshot of war’s ability to tear families apart, but at the time Claude P Dettloff’s photo was used as a propaganda tool to sell war bonds.
Speaking of propaganda…
8. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima
Perhaps the most famous picture in American military history – marines raising the stars and stripes above Iwo Jima after an extremely violent battle with the Japanese.
Senior commanders immediately recognised the photo’s power and went about using it to shore up support (and money) for the war effort.
Some of the men raising the flag were killed in battle shortly after the photo was taken, leading to confusion over who was actually in the picture.
9. Father Luis Manuel Padilla
Father Luis Manuel Padilla holds a wounded government rifleman shot down in the streets of Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, during a bloody revolt against President Betancourt in June 1962.
More than 200 were killed before rebels were beaten. This photo won the Pulitzer Prize for photographer Hector Rondon.
10. Famine in Sudan
Perhaps the most heartbreaking picture ever taken, Kevin Carter’s picture of a starving girl in Sudan, taken in 1993, sparked much controversy.
Carter would commit suicide a year after taking the photo, at the age of 33.
It is unknown if the girl in the picture survived.
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