5 Photos that changed the World order and their hidden stories 

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” A photojournalist said this as they go around the world to capture everyday life in the most unusual stills. Some photos are memorable, and some are downright sensational and iconic, making you re-think your life choices and eventually end up stirring emotions. 

But, amongst these memorable photos, you will have a few images imprinted deep in your mind with their level of greatness. These aren’t just images that speak ‘a thousand words,’ but they go way beyond. 

These photos haven’t stopped at just making great impressions but have gone to change the world. That is the true feeling of power, and today we look at 8 of the most iconic photos on the internet and the ever so viral inspiring story behind each of them. 

We’ve gone to the extent of bringing out five influential photos from the history books. 

Disclaimer – some photos could be disturbing. 

1. Sharbat Gula by Steve McCurry 

Photographed by ​​Steve McCurry in 1984

One of the most iconic National Geographic cover photos was the one of Sharbat Gula, which was once seen as the source of inspiration for thousands of refugees and how it is connected to the colors of the diverse people. Released on the cover in 1985, this was the narrative that everyone believed about the girl on the National Geographic cover. 

But the real story will not make you look at it like you did. 

In 1984, when McCurry was based as a photojournalist for National Geographic in Pakistan, he stepped into an all-Islamic school to take a photo of the eight-year-old student, Sharbat Gula. The image was iconic with Sharbat’s iconic green eyes, wrapped in a tattered shawl and gazing at the camera. 

The photo defined McCurry’s career, but in reality, it has a darker truth. For the readers in the west, the picture represented Afghanistan – an anonymous, distant location and a depiction of refugees in crisis. Yet, with such a lot of history, there is no mention of the Sharbat. 

McCurry had forced his way into the school, asked her teacher to cooperate, and posed her like an 80s glamor shot. At any point in time, there was no consent taken from Sharbat, and McCurry eventually would go on to publish the photo without any permission from her parents. 

Since the photo in 1985, life hasn’t been easy for Gula, who added in a recent interview after being discovered. She continued to live in danger with the magazine’s cover, sending her at risk of being identified by “conservative Afghans who don’t believe women should appear in the media.”

Since the Taliban takeover of the Afghan administration, the Italian government has provided a safe entry to the country for Sharbat as she looks for a new life in Europe. 

2. The Kiss by Alfred Eisenstaedt

The Kiss captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt, August 15, 1945

The iconic photograph of the sailor kissing a woman in Times Square after the news broke out that Japan surrendered during World Word II has lived eventful life ever since August 15th, 1945. 

“The Kiss” became an iconic war celebration captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt and was synonymous with every war triumph memory. During the time, the photographer added that he had no time to ask the smooching pair their names, as he mentions, “there were thousands of people milling around…..everybody was kissing each other.

This followed several people claiming ownership, but a 2012 book found the real pair as sailor George Mendonsa and dental assistant Greta Zimmer. When they kissed, it is said that Zimmer did not know Mendonsa at the time, and it was a spontaneous reaction. 

3. Starving child and vulture

Starving Child, by Kevin Carter (1993)

In March 1993, during Kevin Carter’s trip to Sudan and in the village of Ayod, Carter found a girl who had stopped to rest while struggling at a United Nations feeding center, where a vulture had landed nearby. 

In trying not to disturb the bird, he waited for 20 minutes until the vulture was close enough in order to click the best photo and then chased it away. Carter had just captured one of the most controversial photographs in photojournalism history. 

The photographer sold the photo to The New York Times, where it first appeared in March. Overnight, there were thousands of people reaching out to the newspaper to inquire about the fate of the child forcing the newspaper to run a special note stating that the girl in the picture had enough o walk away from the vulture. But they also added that her ultimate fate was unknown. 

This led to several questions about why the photographer opted not to help the girl and only used her for the photography. 

The following year, the photo won the Pulitzer prize, and in that same year, Kevin Carter committed suicide. 

Carter’s example stood as the toll of photographing suffering can impact a person. Along with this photograph, he was also famed for several other photos in the 1980s in South Africa that included jewels, shootouts, and executions. 

4. The Terror of War – Napalm Girl 

Nick Ut – The Terror of War (1966) 

The photograph tagged as “The Terror of War” and also known as “Napalm Girl” was captured through the lens of Nick Ut, a Vietnamese-American photographer assigned to the Associated Press. 

The photo in focus was taken with a Leica M2 lens on a Kodak tri x film. The camera from which this came out is still on display at a museum in Washington DC. 

In June 1966, when Ut heard about the fighting in Trang Bang, he was in the middle of the conflict and photographed the fleeing refugees who ran out of the temples after a bomb mistakenly hit a civilian-centric place. People started to run, and there was utter chaos. 

Nick saw children, terrified running away; he had captured the photo, put down his camera, and took water for the girl running for safety. He then picked up his car and drove the girl and the other kids to the hospital. After discovering that she would not survive after seeing she suffered third-degree burns, he helped transfer her to a hospital in the United States, eventually saving her life. 

As usual, the photo was ironic because there was a lot of controversy surrounding this. The photo caught President Richard Nixon’s eyes, who doubted whether the photo was authentic. Ut later added that “the photo was as authentic as the Vietnam war itself.”

Nixon was critical of the photo, adding that the girl was burned with oil since, until then, there were no survivors of the napalm bombing. 

5. The Roaring Lion Portrait of Winston Churchill 

In the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Ottawa to show his gratitude for their assistance. Unaware that a photographer was commissioned to take his picture, he refused to remove the cigar. 

Yousuf Karsh was one of the prolific photographers then, and this photo became one of the most reproduced pictures in history. 

In his book, “Faces of Our Time,” the photographer recollects how Churchill was in a sour mood from the time he walked in. He was in no portrait photo-taking nature and had been given two minutes to take the photo. He adds that it was 120 seconds for him to work the art to depict a man who has inspired the world in a picture. 

Churchill was unaware of the photoshoot, had pulled out a cigar, and was puffing away.

Churchill was not aware that he would be photographed on this occasion. He relented but simultaneously pulled out a cigar, lit it, and began puffing away.

As Churchill was adamant about not letting out the cigar, Karsh had to pluck it away from his mouth without permission, leading to the iconic portrait with the scowl. 

The photograph is appreciated worldwide for capturing the true essence of Churchill and what Great Britain was feeling at the time. Churchill went on to say that “you can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed” in appreciation of the photo. 

Thus, the photo was titled “The Roaring Lion.”

Photographs that changed history 

Photography has the power to inspire and change the course of history at most times, as we see through these examples. With the influence of NFTs, photography will reach try to leapfrog into the next dimension as they open new forms of ownership, authenticity, and credibility. 

Along with this move, Ikona is one such project that is predominantly looking to bring disruption in the NFT space. It exists as an art gallery on the blockchain through NFTs and acts as one in the real world. 

Check out what they have in store here