70 Iconic Photos You Must See

A Selection of Powerful and Memorable Photographs

Lunch atop a Skyscraper - 70 Iconic Photos You Must See
Lunch atop a Skyscraper.Eleven men eating lunch 840 feet above the New York City streets. Photographer unknown.
Date : 1932

What makes a picture iconic? Iconic pictures usually strike us on an emotional level. They appeal to something we all feel. They often have a secondary meaning attached to them - when you look further you often see something that defines a generation, a struggle, or a particular point in time.

The picture "V-J Day in Times Square" is a classic example. On the surface, the picture clearly shows an uninhibited soldier kissing a nurse, but it also captures what it must have felt like in America when Japan had surrendered and the Second World War was effectively ended.

An iconic picture is one that becomes so closely associated with an event or a person, that when you think of that person, you immediately think of a particular photo.
It not only stands above countless other pictures, but also stands the test of time. They are instantly recognizable across generations.

Muhammed Ali vs Clay Liston - John Rooney
Muhammed Ali vs Clay Liston.Muhammad Ali stands over fallen challenger Sonny Liston, shouting and gesturing shortly after dishing a knockout punch to Liston with a short hard right to the jaw. Date : 1965, Lewiston, Maine.
John Rooney

Afghan Girl - Steve Mccurry
Afghan Girl.The Afghan Girls is one of the most iconic pictures of all time. 17 Years after taking this picture, Steve Mccurry went on to trace the until then nameless girl, and found her in a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Although the girl looks young, her face tells a story of hardship and seems aged. Her clothes tells a story of poverty. Her eyes are striking, yet haunting.
Date : 1984
Steve Mccurry

The Photojournalist - Andreas Feininger
The Photojournalist.One of Andreas Feininger's most well know photographs. He took this picture of photojournalist Dennis Stock for Life Magazine.
Date : 1951
Andreas Feininger

Gun 1, New York - William Klein
Gun 1, New York.“…It’s fake violence, a parody. I asked the boy to point the gun at me and then look tough. He did, and then we both laughed."
Date : 1955
William Klein

Manuel Hernandez Galva, Shooting, 1924 - Edward Weston
Manuel Hernandez Galva, Shooting, 1924.In Edward Weston's own words : "I wanted to catch Galvan's expression while shooting. We stopped by an old wall, the trigger to his Colt fell, and I released my shutter. Thirty paces away a peso dropped to the ground-- 'Un recuerdo - a keepsake,' said Galvan, handing it to Tina."
Date : 1924
Edward Weston

Malnourished woman - Sebastião Salgado
Malnourished woman.A malnourished, dehydrated woman in the hospital in Gourma Rharous.
Date : 1985, Mali.
Sebastião Salgado

V-J Day in Times Square - Alfred Aesensteidt
V-J Day in Times Square.Arguably one of the most iconic and widely recognized pictures of all time, this photograph is known under various titles, such as V-J Day in Times Square, V-Day, and The Kiss.
According to Alfred Aesensteidt, he was taking pictures on V-J day, when he noticed a sailor grabbing every female he could and kissing them all. He then noticed a nurse and focussed on her, and just as he hoped the sailor came along.
Date : August 14, 1945
Alfred Aesensteidt

People jumping off the 9-11 towers - David Surowiecki
People jumping off the 9-11 towers."Jumpers" on the fateful 9/11. Officially, nobody ever jumped. Rather people fell or were forced out by the heat. A decade on, this denial still holds.
Date : September 11, 2001
David Surowiecki

Identical Twins - Diane Arbus
Identical Twins.Identical Twins depicts two young twin sisters. Diane Airbus was always asking questions around identity, and this image perhaps sums up what Diane Airbus did so well : to show the normality in freakishness and the freakishness in normality.
Date : 1967, New Jersey
Diane Arbus

Djimon screaming - Greg Gorman
Djimon screaming.Djimon Hounsou by Greg Gorman.
Date : 1991
Greg Gorman

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California - Dorothea Lange
Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California.Dorothea Lange's image of a supposed migrant pea picker, whose name Lange did not take, was 32 and living in a lean-to tent with her children. This is one of the most famous photographs of all time. The woman and her family become an icon of resilience in the face of adversity.
Date : 1936
Dorothea Lange

Bee man of Orion - Richard Avedon
Bee man of Orion.Farmer and beekeeper Ron Fischer answered an ad in seeking a man or woman willing to be photographed with bees by a "world-famous photographer". That photographer turned out to be Richard Avedon, and the portraits he made became part of the iconic series of portraits he called "In the American West".
Date : 1981
Richard Avedon

Moment of Life - Brian Lanker
Moment of Life.Brian Lanker won a Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for this photo as part of a black and white photo essay on childbirth.
Date : 1973
Brian Lanker

Buzz Aldrin - Neil Armstrong
Buzz Aldrin.Arguably one of the most iconic pictures of the 20th century. Buzz Aldrin explores the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.
Date : July 20, 1969
Neil Armstrong

Guerrillero Heroico, Che Guevara - Alberto Korda
Guerrillero Heroico, Che Guevara.Guerrillero Heroico, meaning Heroic Guerrilla Fighter, is an iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara wearing his black beret.
Date : March 5, 1960
Alberto Korda

Clint Eastwood - Anton Corbijn
Clint Eastwood.This picture depicts Anton Corbijn's atypical approach to photographing people.
Although the signature lyth tone is there, the overall picture has a rawness to it that makes it an Anton Corbijn picture.
Anton Corbijn

Casualties of War - David Turnley
Casualties of War.Now an iconic picture of the Gulf War, the photograph captures the moment a young US sergeant realized it was his friend's body, killed by friendly fire, in the body bag next to him.
Date : 1991
David Turnley

Young Farmers in their Sunday Best - August Sander
Young Farmers in their Sunday Best.In this iconic picture, three young countrymen are posing on their way to a dance. August Sander is known to some as the father of modern portrait photography.
Date : 1913
August Sander

Gold Miners, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1950 - Margaret Bourke-White
Gold Miners, Johannesburg, South Africa, 1950.Margaret Bourke-White on assignment to South Africa for LIFE magazine. In one of her best photographs, she took a portrait of two black miners drenched in sweat at neartly 5000 feet below ground.
Date : 1949
Margaret Bourke-White

Trolley, New Orleans - Robert Frank
Trolley, New Orleans.Citizens of New Orleans peering through the windows of a trolley car. The photo hints at the racial segregation of the times.
Date: 1955
Robert Frank

Hyères, France, 1932 - Henri Cartier-Bresson
Hyères, France, 1932.An Iconic picture by master photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Date : 1932
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Mainbocher's Pink Satin Corset - Horst P. Horst
Mainbocher's Pink Satin Corset.An iconic fashion picture influenced by surrealism.
Date : 1939
Horst P. Horst

Pablo Picasso - Irving Penn
Pablo Picasso.An iconic portrait of master painter Pablo Picasso by master portrait photographer, Irving Penn.
Date : 1957
Irving Penn

Scarred. Survivor of Hutu Death Camp - James Nachtwey
Scarred. Survivor of Hutu Death Camp."I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated."-James Nachtwey
James Nachtwey won a World Press Photo of the year award for his photograph of a mutilated Hutu man.
Date : 1994
James Nachtwey

Watching Bwana Devil in 3D at the Paramount Theater - JR Eyerman
Watching Bwana Devil in 3D at the Paramount Theater.This photo shows the opening-night screening of the first ever full-length, color 3D movie, titled Bwana Devil.
Date : 1952
JR Eyerman

Marilyn Monroe - Richard Avedon
Marilyn Monroe.
Richard Avedon

Nelson Mandela returns to his cell on Robben Island - Jürgen Schadeberg
Nelson Mandela returns to his cell on Robben Island.
Jürgen Schadeberg

Blind Woman, 1916 - Paul Strand
Blind Woman, 1916.This photo of a blind street beggar by Paul Strand became an icon of new American photography.
Date : 1916
Paul Strand

Raising of Flag on Iwo Jima - Joe Rosenthal
Raising of Flag on Iwo Jima.This historic photograph shows five US raising the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.
Date : February 23, 1945
Joe Rosenthal

Steamfitter - Lewis Hine
Steamfitter.Power house mechanic working on steam pump
Date : 1920
Lewis Hine

Steve Jobs - 70 Iconic Photos You Must See
Steve Jobs.Norman Seeff was one of the few photographers who had access to Steve Jobs.
Whilst this image is now iconic, Norman photographed Steve throughout his life.
Date : 1984

Truman Capote - Irving Penn
Truman Capote.A powerful portrait of Truman Capote, which shows a departure in Irving Penn's usual style of placing people in a corner.
Date : 1965
Irving Penn

Famine in Bihar, India - Werner Bischof
Famine in Bihar, India.A mother begs with a child in her arms, casting her as a modern day Madonna.
Date : 1951
Werner Bischof

Valley of the shadow of Death - Roger Fenton
Valley of the shadow of Death.Roger Fenton's most famous photograph is also one of the most well-known images of war. Across a desolate and featureless landscape, not a single figure can be found. The landscape is inhabited only by cannonballs, so plentiful that they first appear to be rocks that stand in for the human casualties on the battlefield.
Date : 1855
Roger Fenton

Girl With Green Shawl - Steve Mccurry
Girl With Green Shawl.A portrait of a young girl with striking features.
This young child fled the civil war in Afghanistan and was living in Pakistan at the time of the portrait.
Date : 2002
Steve Mccurry

The American Way - Margaret Bourke-White
The American Way.In the photograph you see a long line of people waiting to be given rations of food from the government. This symbolizes poverty. In the background, a billboard that says "World's highest standard of living", shows a happy family traveling somewhere. The right side of the billboard says "There's no way like the American Way".
Date : 1937
Margaret Bourke-White

Ernest Hemingway, 1957 - Yousuf Karsh
Ernest Hemingway, 1957.Yousof Karsh is one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 20th century. This picture of Ernest Hemingway is one of his most notable photographs and shows his distinctive style is theatrical lighting.
Date : 1957
Yousuf Karsh

Starving man crawling - James Nachtwey
Starving man crawling.Famine victim crawling to a feeding center.
Date : 1993, Sudan
James Nachtwey

The Damm Family in Their Car, Los Angeles - Mary Ellen Mark
The Damm Family in Their Car, Los Angeles.The Damm family: Crissy, 6; Jesse, 4; their mother, Linda, 27, a former nursing-home aide; and their stepfather, Dean, 33, an ex-trucker.
Date : 1987
Mary Ellen Mark

Salvador Dali - Philippe Halsman
Salvador Dali.
Philippe Halsman

Gandhi at his Spinning Wheel, 1946 - 70 Iconic Photos You Must See
Gandhi at his Spinning Wheel, 1946.One of the most recognised pictures of Gandi. Less than two years later after this picture was taken, Gandhi was assassinated.
Date : 1946

Miles Davis - Anton Corbijn
Miles Davis.One of Anton Corbijn's most well known photographs, this picture was taken before Irving Penn's portrait of Miles Davis.
Date : 1985
Anton Corbijn

Jacob Israel Avedon - 70 Iconic Photos You Must See
Jacob Israel Avedon.Richard Avedon took this iconic photograph as part of a series of photographs between October 1969 and August 1973, prior to Jacob Israel dying of cancer. When Avedon was asked, "What kind of son could it be who would take such pictures of his dying father?", Avedon replied that the photographs do not represent his father or what he felt or feels about him, but rather "what it is to be any one of us". Richard Avedon is arguably one of the best portrait photographers of our time. In my personal opinion, Richard Avedon is the undisputed master of portrait photography.
Date : 1969-1973

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932 - Henri Cartier-Bresson
Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris, 1932.Historians regard 'Behind The Gare Saint-Lazare' as Henri Cartier-Bresson's most iconic photograph, who in his own right is one of the best photographers of our time.
Date : 1932
Henri Cartier-Bresson

Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949 - Jerome Liebling
Butterfly Boy, New York City, 1949.Jerome Liebling was a master of creating powerful portraits of ordinary people. Butterfly Boy was arguably his best and most famous portrait.
Date : 1949
Jerome Liebling

Lewis Hine - 70 Iconic Photos You Must See
Lewis Hine.An iconic picture from a selection of Lewis Hine's collection of child messengers, taken during the early 1900's.
Date : 1910

Christopher Walken - Mark Seliger
Christopher Walken.Despite being one of the newer generation of portrait photographers, Mark Seliger's unique style has secured him a status of one of the portrait greats.
Date : April 2003
Mark Seliger

9-11 - James Nachtwey
9-11.Collapse of south tower of World Trade Center.
Date : 2001
James Nachtwey

World Press Photo of the Year 1956 - Helmuth Pirath
World Press Photo of the Year 1956.A German World War II prisoner, released by the Soviet Union, is reunited with his daughter. The child had not seen her father since she was one-year-old.
Date : 1956
Helmuth Pirath

Boy holding on to dead father's trousers - Eric Grigorian
Boy holding on to dead father's trousers.In this World Press Photo of the Year of 2002, an Iranian boy has just lost his father to a series of earthquakes. He is clinging to his father's trousers, kneeling by the grave where his father will be buried.
Date : 2002
Eric Grigorian

Dresie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal, 1993. - Roger Ballen
Dresie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal, 1993.."I was driving around a town in the Western Transvaal in 1993 with my wife and children looking for photographs. Upon turning into a street, I noticed what I believed to be an interesting subject working in the garden. I stopped and asked Dresie if I could photograph him. He walked to the verandah of his where his mother and sister were sitting. I asked them for permission to photograph Dresie. As I lifted my camera to photograph Dresie against the verandah wall, a shadow appeared from behind. As I turned my head Dresie's twin brother Casie appeared. His shirt was clean, as unlike Dresie, he worked inside the house."
Date : 1993
Roger Ballen

Albert Einstein - Arthur Sasse
Albert Einstein.On Einstein's 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951, UPI photographer Arthur Sasse was trying to persuade him to smile for the camera, but having smiled for photographers many times that day, Einstein stuck out his tongue instead.
Arthur Sasse

Route 66  - Andreas Feininger
Route 66 .Route 66, Arizona
Date : 1953
Andreas Feininger

John Lennon and Yoko for Rolling Stone Magazine - Annie Leibovitz
John Lennon and Yoko for Rolling Stone Magazine.Annie Leibovitz took this picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Rolling stone magazine. That same night he was shot and killed by a fan in front of his Manhattan apartment.
Date : Dec. 8, 1980
Annie Leibovitz

Chalk Games - Arthur Leipzig
Chalk Games.Chalk Games, Prospect Place, Brooklyn
Date : 1950
Arthur Leipzig

The Beatles, 1964, Miami Beach - John Loengard
The Beatles, 1964, Miami Beach.
John Loengard

Audrey Hepburn, 1967 - Richard Avedon
Audrey Hepburn, 1967.
Richard Avedon

Divers - Arthur Leipzig
Divers.Divers, East River
Date : 1948
Arthur Leipzig

Winston Churchill - Yousuf Karsh
Winston Churchill.This portrait, which is one of the most famous portraits of the twentieth century, made the cover of Life magazine in 1941. The story behind the portrait is that Churchill was not responding to Karsh's directions, and Karsh in turn was irritated by Churchill's cigar. Karsh, not to be intimidated, swiped Churchill's cigar and then started shooting. The expression that followed shortly after is part of what made this portrait one of the iconic portraits of the twentieth century.
Date : 1941
Yousuf Karsh

A farmer's son with his nursemaid - David Goldblatt
A farmer's son with his nursemaid.A farmer's son with his nursemaid, on the farm Heimweeberg, near Nietverdiend in the Marico Bushveld, Transvaal.
David often captured the relationship between the black and white people of his native South Africa during the years of apartheid.
Date : December 1964
David Goldblatt

The Kiss - Robert Doisneau
The Kiss.An iconic picture, Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (Kiss by the Hotel de Ville), is an internationally recognized symbol of young love in Paris.
Date : 1950
Robert Doisneau

Child living in Oklahoma City shacktown. - Dorothea Lange
Child living in Oklahoma City shacktown..This picture is one of Dorothea Lange's most notable pictures and was taken as part of a series of portraits for the Farm Security Administration
Date : Aug 1936
Dorothea Lange

Fire fighter knocked unconscious, Kuwait - Sebastião Salgado
Fire fighter knocked unconscious, Kuwait.Fire fighter from the Safety Boss team knocked unconscious by a blast of gas from the wellhead, Greater Burhan, Kuwait.
Date : 1991
Sebastião Salgado

Korongo Nuba Wrestlers of Kordofan, South Sudan - George Rodger
Korongo Nuba Wrestlers of Kordofan, South Sudan.The victor, dusted with ceremonial wood ash, is carried in dignified triumph on the shoulders of a burly companion.
Date : 1949
George Rodger

A Train Near Magdeburg - Major Clarence L. Benjamin
A Train Near Magdeburg.With the end of the second world war in sight, this photograph shows the first of the refugees moving up a hill after being freed from a holocaust train by American soldiers .
The mother is clutching the hand of the girl with her right hand. Her faces shows despair and relief, with a half smile. Behind her you can see a woman with outstretched arms, and others moving behind her.
Date : 1945
Major Clarence L. Benjamin

Nelson Mandela Walking to Freedom - Getty Images
Nelson Mandela Walking to Freedom.Mandela and his second wife Winnie raising fists upon his release from Victor Verster prison after 27 years.
Date : 1990
Getty Images

Wait for me, Daddy - Claude P. Dettloff
Wait for me, Daddy.A young boy runs towards his father, on his way to be deployed.
Date : October 1, 1940
Claude P. Dettloff

Jim Holm and his Dog - Myron Davis
Jim Holm and his Dog.A young boy, Myron Davis, walks his dog along a track. LIFE magazine later published this picture as a visual answer to LIFE magazine's 1989 question of what the meaning of life is.
Date : 1945
Myron Davis

Walk to Paradise Garden - Eugene W Smith
Walk to Paradise Garden.After spending years photographing the war, Eugene W Smith returned home heavily affected by the war. He needed to photograph something that was the opposite of war, and so he photographed this iconic picture of his own two children.
Date : 1946
Eugene W Smith