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Another 10 Historical Photographs

Yaurt . . . Comments

Following on from the 15 Incredible Historical Photographs list, we have another selection of 10. In no particular order:

1. Southern Sudan

Pic 1

Kevin Carter took this photograph in southern Sudan. The picture would later bring him the Pulitzer prize, but also death. The image shows a vulture waiting for a child to starve to death. This horrific sight affected the photographer so deeply that he committed suicide after winning the Pulitzer Prize.

2. Volcano Victim

Pic 3

Omayra Sánchez was 13 years old when the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted. She was trapped in the remains of her house for three days in water up to her neck. Photor-reporter Frank Fournier got this picture a few hours before her death. The Red Cross alerted the local authorities, but they could not get there in time and Omayra died of hypothermia.

3. Soweto Riots

Pic 4

A photo that managed to draw the attention of the world shows Hector Peterson, age 13, as he dies in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo, after he was shot by a police officer on June 16, 1976, during the Soweto riot in South Africa. Picture taken by Sam Nzima.

4. Construction Workers

Pic 5

“New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam” is a world famous photo, made during the construction of the GE Building in the Rockefeller Center in 1932. Photographer Charles C. Ebbets took the picture on September, 29, 1932. The workers are on level 69.

5. Soldier’s Despair

Pic 6

In the photo, American sergeant, just found his best friend in the body-bag beside him. He was killed during the Gulf War. The picture was taken by David Turnley, but shortly after it’s appearance it was restricted by the Pentagon.

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6. Unknown Refugee

Storya Main

Steve McCurry took this photograph of a young refugee girl from war-torn Afghanistan. It first appeared in National Geographic Magazine in 1985 but was taken in 1983. The girl’s name is unknown.

7. Einstein

Pic 8

The famous scientist, Albert Einstein, shows us in this famous photograph, that he also had a good sense of humor. The picture was taken on March 14, 1951, by Arthur Sasse.

8. Churchill

Pic 9

The portrait of Great Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, became famous all over the world. The photographer Yousuf Karsh, became famous for this picture. it is the most reproduced picture in history, and it also appeared on the cover of Life Magazine.

9. 9/11

Pic 10

American photograph Richard Drew captured this image during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre. He managed to photograph a man who, in panic, jumped from the upper floors of the building.

10. Marliyn


This iconic image of Marilyn Monroe comes from the film The Seven Year Itch. It is probably the most famous picture taken of this celebrated actress.

Contributor: Yaurt

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  • zubair

    i seen a documentary on nation geographic where they actually found the unknown afghan girl and interviewed her and took an after photo!

    • ellaine

      yes, i saw that too, but the photographer (McCurry) was already dead when they finally found this girl

    • Anoa the mad

      Some people are just evil and greedy , why take a photo of someone in need and not help them? He could of saved that girl….

      • sudaki

        Also @jfrater, 80toy and others: many people were present during Sanchez’ ordeal (not just for her final hours, and not just the photographer) and they did attempt to save her. However, under the water, her legs were trapped under concrete and other debris. Heavier equipment was needed, and it sadly didn’t arrive in time.

  • zubair: oh – how was she? Presumably she survived the whole ordeal.

  • Reea

    I saw that documentary too. I remember that she was older of course but still had the piercing eyes. Very interesting list Jamie!

  • bonjournickle

    you added the picture i suggested!!!(number 6 the refugee)nd yea der was a follow up it was reli gud!

  • bonjournickle: yep – I thought of it as soon as this list was submitted :)

    Reea: Thanks :)

  • dalandzadgad

    you’ve presented a whole range of emotions here..

    the 9/11 images of people jumping off is still quite chilling.

  • Etienne

    Not quite sure the Churchill photograph is the most reproduced photograph in history. I think it belongs to another one that should be featured on this list.

    i’m talking about the famous Che Guevara portrait by Alberto Korda.

  • Etienne: I have featured Guevara on the top 10 famous corpses – and frankly, that is the only list I want to see him on :)

  • As zubair and reea, i saw it too. At first some locals misguided the photografer to the wrong person. I think this was on purpose since the documentary is a little boring, they need to add a piece of drama. Just like Rocky movies, he lost the first fight, and then won the second one.

  • Etienne

    yeah sure JF,

    but still a list about famous photographs should still include one of the most famous portrait ever.

  • Che

    The most chilling photo is number one.

  • Gr8flDdFn

    no wonder the photographer of picture 1 killed himself.

  • JT

    They found out the girl’s name. It was Sharbat Gula. You can read about it here:

  • just me

    here eyes just pierce right through you…

  • Monkey

    God, some of these are heart-wrenchingly sad, especially #1. Not a good way to start off the day :( Still, great list, you managed to portray a lot of emotions.

  • Columbo

    There is a CBC documentary based on picture #9 where they track down the identity of the jumper. The show is called ‘Falling Man’ and its really quite interesting.

  • RobS

    The angry expression on Churchill’s face came about because as Karsh was getting ready to take the shot, Churchill had a cigar in his mouth… and Karsh walked up to him and plucked it out!

    True story.

  • Marco

    The girl in photo 6 is indeed Sharbat Gula, and years later National Geographic managed to track her down. Although she was not too keen on the attention, she allowed for her photo to be taken again.

  • ImplosiveFire: shame on you! If you looked at the list I mentioned in the opening paragraph you would see it is there :)

    Marco: thank you so much for posting a link to the photo. Her hard life shows on her face!

  • Oh, whoops, my bad :P

  • 80toy

    so did the photographers of the trapped girl and the starving kid do anything to help them? it sounds like the one who photographed the trapped girl just left her there to die.

  • 80toy: I wondered the exact same thing – surely there was something he could have done!

  • samiam

    80toy: Sadly, he did not help the starving girl for fear of disease and it is unknown if she lived or not.

  • 80toy

    thats too bad. Its probably why he killed himself.

  • samiam

    Well, he also took the first photograph of necklacing. That would depress and haunt anyone. He saw some terrible things in his photography career :\.

    You can read about him here

  • Mathilda

    I think that I remember reading about the trapped girl in photo 2 and if I remember correctly, there was nothing that they could do to help her. I believe her body or legs were pinned and they could not get her out. How horrible it would be to watch a young girl dying and not be able to do anything to help her.

    I’m not sure that I would agree with the characterization of the jumper in photo 9 being “in panic”. That sounds as if he did not make a clear, rational decision and he may well have. It is quite understandable why someone would prefer to leap to their death rather than dying of smoke inhalation or worse, being burned. It’s a horrible choice to have to make but that doesn’t mean that the poor man did not consciously make it.

  • jfrater: The reason the photographer of picture 1 killed himself was the controversy over the fact that he didn’t help the little girl. Or the other people he photographed. Because it was his job to take the photographs, and as samiam said, fear of disease.

    I say people should go see the carnage in such places before they ask if he helped this one specific person. Is she more important than thousands of others because she made for a stunningly sad photograph? I say no. I think it’s a naive response to a photograph such as this. It oversimplifies the problem.

  • conni

    If only some of those pics were rarities. As much as I want to cry and fall apart over these pictures, I realize these are things that go on around the world all too often and I am glad they are being shown to gain awareness. I am referring to pictures 1,2,3,5 and 9. Thank you for this list, jfray. Glad you went there.

  • Hannah

    The story behind #2, as told by the photographer. Tragic…

  • Beth

    Two pics are missing….the naked vietnamese girl running from her village and the vday photo of sailor kissing a girl in NYC after WWII

  • Beth: Yes they are missing from this list…But that is because they are on this list 15 Incredible Historical Photographs

  • Ayesha

    I recently did an essay on the girl who was trapped after the volcano. She spent days trapped in the cold muddy water. Her body temperature dropped so low that she suffered from a heart attack. They couldnt get her out because it was difficult to get a water pump in that part of the world in time to save her. The worst part about it was she couldnt get out because her legs were pinned under the remains of her house and also, her dead aunt was still holding on to her ankles. Its really sad =[

  • Twyla: I think that it is too easy to say that there are thousands of others who are important too – as an excuse to not help the one person you can help. Yes, there are others suffering the same plight, but all people are equal and saving one person is better than saving none. I wondered if he had helped – I didn’t condemn him as I didn’t know the story behind it. Thanks for the comment though – it is good for us to see things from all sides I think :)

  • Ayesha: Thanks for shedding more light on that photograph – how absolutely terrible that must have been. The poor girl. What I think is most interesting is that the look on her face is actually very serene – unusual given the circumstances.

    • SteveBrooklineMA

      I remember well some video of the volcano girl. She was smiling until the end, and waving as if to say good bye. Heartbreaking.

  • Lasse

    How should the photographer have helped the starving girl (from pic #1)? Taking her home with him? Not possible. Feeding her? With what? And even if he had some food in his pocket that he could give to her, then what? And how about the thousands of other starving people around? No wonder he killed himself.

    Pic #1 makes me incredibly angry by the way. We should be ashamed of ourself letting this happen to people on our planet.

  • sakul

    We should be ashamed of ourself letting this happen to people on our planet.

    Yes, greed is a very dangerous thing..

  • sakul: I totally agree – the problem is mostly in government I think – the nations afflicted need to take care of their people – they can’t just rely on the Western nations to front up and fix the problems. Maybe there should be an international law that abolishes any government that allows this kind of thing to happen.

  • Angela

    Looking at the construction workers on that beam gives me chills! I love how they aren’t even scared of the heights, probably because they had been working on it for 69 floors by then. What a great picture!

  • mowi

    the most reproduced picture in history is the picture of the boy who is on “kinder-schokolade” (kinder-chocolate)

  • Oyster

    The volcano victim picture is amazing.

  • Mathilda

    jfrater said

    …they can’t just rely on the Western nations to front up and fix the problems.”

    That is certainly true, but I think that we should also remember that the Western nations (in this case, the UK) are at least partially responsible for their problems. Sudan, as are so many other countries that have civil strife, was a British colony. In 1946 the British decided that Northern and Southern Sudan would become one.

    Why don’t we (the Western countries) ever seem to realize that you can’t just take a random group of people of different religions, ethnic backgrounds and cultures, and decide that they are going to be a “country” with some arbitrary borders that we have set, without it leading to internal strife and power struggles? Yes, their government should be doing more, but we should remember that their original government was put in place by us. Meanwhile, the common people suffer…

  • Mathilda: you make a very good point there – I stand corrected. Thanks :)

  • Jess

    there was a documentary on the Fallin Man who jumped from the tower.
    they got his name but you can probably search it somehow.
    sorry if someones already mentioned it.

  • Lin

    One photo I would add…

    John-John saluting his father, JFK, during the funeral procession.

  • A Marine

    What about the picture of The Raising of the American Flag in Iwo Jima?

  • Some ((well…most)) of these are really sad. I was ready to cry when i saw the first one :(

  • Fallenangel

    JFrater, you made a comment about Omayra Sanchez’s face, you said it was serene inspite of her condition. Serenity is so often found in death, my dear.

  • Ivor Berger

    Your No No 6. Unknown Refugee has been found. National Geographic had a special program that showed her how she is today.

  • Ivor Berger: Thanks for mentioning that – though it was mentioned in comment 19 as well :) It is good to know the ultimate conclusion to her story.

  • The 9/11 photo made my stomach turn. :( Some of these pictures are terrible to look at, but important as well.

  • dkroll

    pic 5 is really sad for me because my cousin and his friend were both shipped off to Iraq and when my cuz was looking for survivors he found his dead friend lying face down in a puddle of blood…

  • divya

    it seems strange when pics like pic no 1 are shown…. life in this world doesn’t seem to have a value…. the leaders and everyone in this world talk about development and don’t actually realise the pain and misery of many others who are dying coz of this development……, no one is spared….. neither the infants

  • luckyaz

    wow, that man falling from the world trade center is just one of the saddest things i have ever since. also the first one with the kid and the vulture. sometimes we take living in this country way too much for granted

  • albert0

    luckyaz: what country is that? Anyway, how can you say that the guy jumping from the World Trade center is so sad when there are people who jump off buildings to commit suicide anyway?

  • Ashar

    i found out the afghan girls name , its Sharbat Gula

  • sue

    No.1 tore me apart.OMG,no wonder the photographer committed suicide.that’s a horrifying sight to see,let alone do nothing about.

  • pete

    Can anybody shed light on the construction workers on the beam picture.It cant be for real can it?It makes me glad I live in a bungalow.

  • adorabelle

    Its a real photo. Back in the day no one really had any concern for safety and if I recall correctly, I think most of the men were Italian immigrants. If you look up most major construction projects of that period most of them have high death tolls because of the lack of safety regulations in place. And that was probably as good a place as any to eat, I mean, would you want to go down 69 flights and then go back up them just to eat lunch?

  • Nzbyrd

    Re #1 most likely nothing could be done to save to child, but my instinct would have been to hold her and comfort her.

  • MarcJ

    I can’t believe you left off the flag-raising on Iwo Jima which actually IS the most reproduced photograph in history. Also, people like Mathilda should try reading Thomas Sowell’s “Economic Facts and Fallacies” chapter on Third World economics before trying to lay the blame for all the world’s ills on Western governments. African governments are poor because they are more corrupt than the mafia not because of globalization

  • These are truly moving images. Talk about a thousand words.
    It’s no good pointing fingers and calling down blame, who did not do what–even if the photographers didn’t help the people they took the pictures of, it can be argued that later on they did–they raised awareness for these people’s plights, and they made people like you and me looking at these images realise that there is something wrong with the world we live in. They make us realise we need to be the forces for change. They fight apathy. Surely that counts for something?

  • DB

    One image missing from these lists that I find fascinating is a picture taken at a rally in Munich in 1914 showing a then unknown Hitler in the crowd, oddly staring in the direction of the camera and clearly recognizable. The people around him are obviously oblivious to his presence (he was a nobody then) so this picture always makes me ponder the brushes with evil every day people could have had.

  • Azad

    The Afghan girl’s name is not unknown. Her name is Sharbat Gula.

  • ELlie

    I would have thought that the photo of the lass running towards the camera after a napalm attack in vietnam would have been in the list, but a great list otherwise

  • ELlie

    oh sorry just seen that, didnt realise this was another 10 historical pics!!! doh!

  • rushfan

    The mentions of that photographer committing suicide reminds me of the airport worker who gave Mohammad Atta his plane ticket on 9-11. She had a bad feeling about him but didn’t act on it and after 9-11 happened she felt so guilty she killed herself. The other airport worker who gave him his other ticket in another airport told that story on Oprah, and he also lived with extreme guilt. It was sad, I felt bad for him.

  • Bernie

    Number 1 and Number 9 made me cry

  • jm

    i was expecting also the photo of the the monk who sets himself on fire.. it has been an album cover of rage against the machine.

  • bhat irfan

    godd morning and or any salam i want to say u can we see mohmads saw photo with internet

  • bhat irfan

    can we use inter net facality with out any tension it is true that google gives us lot of informations about any thing we thank full to our

  • Felicity

    #6…National Geographic did a follow up story a couple of years ago about that photo. They found the girl and took another, similar picture of her. She’s now married with children. =)

  • Kashif Ahmad

    Excellent collection

  • Kozmijn

    Hey man, you forgot about Robert Capa !!!!!!!!!! His D Day pics!! Come on!

  • Ashleigh

    There’s quite a few pictures of the 9/11 jumpers

    The most chilling one to me is the one of the two people holding hands while falling

    Great list though
    Images like this need to be seen.

  • Zippy

    What about the pictures of the riots in the 60’s and 70’s? The girl holding her hand out to the tank, taken moments before it ran her over? Or the girl mourning over the body of her friend? Those should be included too.

  • guy

    I really think that the flag raising on Iwo Jima should be on the list because it is such a reproduced picture in the US. and there is that picture of the troops going up to the beach on D-Day that i think is in just about every history book.

  • Kelly

    They actually found the girl in #6, years ago the National Geographic did a follow up story on her. She’s got the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen.

  • DurhamGooner

    Not convinced by the follow up picture of the Afghan girl, check it out. Yes the eyes look the same but the face shape, even allowing for the passing years and particularly the nose are completely different. What do you think?

  • Kelly

    Sharbat Gula is #6’s name.

  • punk

    oh my god the first one is awful!

  • Sputnik

    DurhamGooner: I can’t speak for the actual validity of the identity, but they say that they matched her irises, which is more accurate than fingerprints.
    But hey, they might just be saying things.

  • Zaeem

    The name of the Afghan girl was Sherbat-gul. The photographer organized a search for her after Taliban’s fall.

  • bluewitch

    How about Peter Fechter’s photo in the Berlin Wall? Or Bodhisattva Thích Qu?ng ??c’s self-immolation?

  • Jeff613

    Most of these being listed as “photographs” are pure bullshit. Many of them are actually a selective frame from motion picture film, some from 8 mm film.

    The one of Churchill scowling was taken just after the photographer took his cigar away, which caused him to look grumpy. In other pictures taken minutes earlier in this posed sitting, he looked less serious.

  • SuzyQ

    Just a small bit of information about #6
    this is the NG article when they went looking for her again in 2002

  • Aaron

    I don’t understand how the photographers could not help the girl from the earthquake or the starving child. If it is because of some artistic ideal, god forgive our us for such a liberty we take.

  • god save us


  • natapillar

    same here,pic number 1 made me cry. it was so shocking and because it is real it makes it so much harder not to cry. i saw it and instantly thought of my own daughter and realised just how lucky i am to live in the country i do. :(

  • pop

    pic 9 ! it’s super man ?

  • julie briggs

    the 1st one was the sadest picture i have ever seen it really makes me think alot about how lucky i am.

  • Jeff S.

    The one of Winston Churchill has him looking grumpy because the photographer had just plucked his cigar from his mouth, thinking it would not fit the picture.

  • Rachel S.

    Wow, the 9/11 picture is so shocking. That’s absolutely terrible. And the first picture almost made me cry! )=

  • Ryan D

    I dont understand why the photographers didnt try to help out the children in the first two pics. Also NatGeo adds color to their pics. Its a fact. Hence the color of the girls eyes in #6.

    • Steph

      A little known fact about the first photo is that there were armed guards within shooting range and both Carter and the child would have been killed if he helped her.

      As for the second picture, her legs were pinned under pounds of water, cement, and debris. There was nothing that could be done. Rescue workers stayed with her till the end.

  • CK

    The Afghan Girl’s name is Sharbat Gula, she is now living in her home country of Afghanistan and is a mother of 3 girls.

  • CK

    The Afghan Girl’s name is Sharbat Gula, she now lives in her home country of Afghanistan and she is a mother of 3 girls.

  • Madazam

    Great List man….

    for Pic # 1, i also heard the photographer had to leave after taking the photo….

  • Reset

    I’m surprised that the picture of ‘Tank Man’ isn’t there from the TIananmen Square Protests of 1989.

  • eawyne

    A little fact about the Einstein's picture : it's not at all he was "with a little sense of humour too", juste that the photograph asked for a different kind of picture of him, something we didn't see often from the great genius : hence this picture, that's not at all how Einstein really was

  • Kelly

    Number 6. Her name is Sharbat Gula, steve found her 2002. She is married and has 3 children. The photographer is helping with her childrens education and to fulfill her dream of visiting Mecca

  • Raven

    Not to take away from the depth of photo #1, which is truly moving, but the claim he committed suicide after is actually an urban legend. The photographer himself has addressed this story many times; he was greatly distressed, of course, but did not kill himself.

  • Mehrul w khattak

    The name of the afghan girl is Sharbut gula and the picture was taken in afghan refugee camp in Jallozai,and yes indeed they have found her and interviewed her ,she is a grown married woman now .

  • Alex

    The Unknown girl is now know, I saw a national geographic reportage where the photograph finally found her =)

  • That first picture has haunted me all day. I really feel i should do something but i dont know what. i think thats a feeling alot of people have when seeing pictures like that.

    • Rhey

      yes, I used to live in zimbabwe you would see a lot of that there.
      I think that people should start doing somthing about it.

  • ebwinder

    Ummm how about the pic taken at the lorraine hotel where MLK lay dying and his friends pointing into the direction that the bullet came from

  • Roni

    The photographer took time to take pictures instead of helping the little girl that died because of hypothermia after a volcano?

  • Regarding the Afghan girl, her name is Sharbat Gula.

  • kdog

    this sucks you suck

  • #5 made me literally angry, the bloody Pentagon restricted such an honest and heartbreaking picture, to keep people from opposing the war I’m sure.

  • On the Sudan photographer. People have asked how he could have just taken the picture. As I recall, part of the answer is that he was pretty much surrounded by people in similar straights.

  • MOR

    I don’t think Marilyn was particularly celebrated for her acting prowess.

  • Rhey

    this is a really good site it helped me write an essay on the causes of the civil war

  • Wael

    Actually the Afghan girl was Found and named in a documentary by national Geographic 17 years later in Torra Borra

  • Wael
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