Today: 19-04-2024

Photos that changed the world. Biography

Photography gave people a very different perspective on life. Perhaps more than anything, photography shocked people by showing the horrors of war. Previously, war had occurred largely out of sight and out of mind. It was easier to give a false patriotic view on the glories of war. For example, from the Crimean war, we get Tennyson’s famous ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’

Cannons to the left, Cannons to the right’

We didn’t get pictures of mutilated corpses.

The American Civil War – one of first wars to be caught on camera.

It was the American civil war, where photography started to become influential. The very new technology became widely used. Firstly families wished to take a family photo before their son went off to combat. Secondly, images of dead bodies on battlefields showed the tragic consequences of civil war.

Other images, have become iconic memories. As the saying goes ‘A picture paints a thousand words’

Some memorable photos that changed the world.

The Dagueterre portrait

This is a photograph of Abraham Lincoln as a young lawyer in 1846. On its own, it is not particularly remarkable. But, it is hard to underestimate the importance of the development of practical photography which enabled ordinary people to take photos. The French inventor Louis Daguerre developed the modern camera by discovering a method for using plates and chemical reaction to create images. This reduced the exposure time for taking a photo. Over 1 million of his early Daguerre cameras were built. It meant that at the time of the American Civil War, many families were able to have a photograph taken of their loved ones – previously the only option was to employ an artist who would paint a person.

August 9, 1945

Because of a single bomb, over 150,000 people died at Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki. Many scientists who had worked on nuclear fusion were shocked when they realised the power of their science. Otto Hahn and Albert Einstein, both became leading advocates for nuclear disarmament, despite having played a role in the advancement of nuclear physics.

Hindenburg Burning 1937

Zeppelin LZ-129 Hindenburg, shortly after catching fire on May 6, 1937 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Zeppelin travel soon ended.

Destitute pea pickers in California.” Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California.” – Source: Library of Congress

The human face of the Great Depression. See also: John Steinbeck who wrote about the great depression.

Since its creation in 1961, the Berlin wall epitomised the “Iron Curtain” which separated East Europe from West Europe. The Berlin wall came down due to the work of Mikhail Gorbachev and others, such as Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II

Bombing of Guernica – 1937


A view of Earth rising above the lunar horizon photographed from the Apollo 10 Lunar Module, looking west in the direction of travel. (18-26 May 1969) NASA

20 July 1969 Buzz Aldrin. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

Gandhi at Dandi, South Gujarat, picking salt

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