25 of History’s Most Iconic Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and nowhere is it truer than within the context of history. A special moment in time forever immortalized through a frame of a camera lens. We present you with some of the history’s most iconic photos ever taken.

Disclaimer: As with any list-based article, the choice and ranking can be highly subjective. If you believe a certain photograph should have been included in the list, share the link with us and the rest of the viewers in the comments.

#25. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

History's Most Iconic Photos
Taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal

#24. Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

History's Most Iconic Photos
Taken during construction of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan (1932).

#23. Death at Gettysburg 

History's Most Iconic Photos
Dead soldiers lying on the battlefield at Gettysburg, 1863

#22. Untitled

History's Most Iconic Photos
Indian space agency transporting a satellite by bullock cart – 1981

#21. Tank Man

History's Most Iconic Photos
An unidentified man standing against a column of tanks in Beijing, China (June 5, 1989).

#20. Normandy Landing

History's Most Iconic Photos
On 6 June 1944, the Allies mounted the largest seaborne invasion ever in history, paying the way for the opening of the Western Front and eventual victory in World War 2.


#19. The Falling Man

History's Most Iconic Photos
The photograph was taken by Associated Press photographer Richard Drew of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. 9:41 AM, 11 September 2001

#18. Guerrillero Heroico

History's Most Iconic Photos
Taken by Alberto Korda on March 5, 1960. The photo, in conjunction with Guevara’s subsequent actions and eventual execution, helped solidify the charismatic and controversial figure as a cultural icon.

#17. Black Power Salute

History's Most Iconic Photos
American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise controversy by raising their fists in the air in a black power salute at the 1968 Olympics. The image is now used as a symbol of defiance and equality in the face of adversity.

#16. Fall of the Berlin Wall

History's Most Iconic Photos
On 9 November 1989, the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe fell, uniting not only a nation but bringing an end to the Cold War.

#15. Earthrise

History's Most Iconic Photos
Image taken by Astronaut William Anders while in orbit around the moon during the Apollo 8 mission, 1968.

#14. Cheeky Einstein 

The famous image of Einstein taken by United Press photographer Arthur Sasse on his 72nd birthday. March 14, 1951

#13. The Afgan Girl

History's Most Iconic Photos
Photographic portrait by journalist Steve McCurry. Appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.

#12. Gandhi and his spinning wheel

History's Most Iconic Photos
In the run-up to the partition of British India, American photographer Bourke-White arrived in India to work on a feature, titled “India’s Leaders,” for the issue of LIFE Magazine. One of her photographs, that of Gandhi readings besides his cherished spinning wheel would go on to become one of his most recognized portraits.

#11. Burning of Hindenburg

History's Most Iconic Photos
On May 6, 1937, the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire while attempting to dock and was quickly engulfed in flames. Of the 97 people on board, 35 were killed in the infamous disaster.


#10. Situation Room

History's Most Iconic Photos
On May 1, 2011, as the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound was underway, official White House photographer Pete Souza captured this tense moment inside the John F. Kennedy Conference Room. Photographs of Osama Bin Laden’s death have never been released, leaving Souza’s photograph as the sole public image of the moment of America’s most important victory against the ongoing war on terror.

#9. Abbey Road’s Cover

History's Most Iconic Photos
The famous band had been responsible for some of the most well-known album covers. Yet the most iconic of them all would be just a picture of them walking down the street outside their studio.

#8. Marilyn Monroe’s Flying skirt

History's Most Iconic Photos
This famous image of Marilyn Monroe was shot by photographer and good friend Sam Shaw during the filming of “The Seven Year Itch”.

#7. The vulture and the little girl

History's Most Iconic Photos
This image of a frail famine-stricken girl collapsed with a vulture eyeing in the background was taken by photojournalist Kevin Carter during the worst of the Sudanese famine. The picture won the Pulitzer Prize award in 1994. Four months after, Carter committed suicide.

#6. Aylan Kurdi

History's Most Iconic Photos
On 2 September 2015, the body of a 3-year old Syrian boy washed ashore near Bodrum, Turkey. The photograph, taken by journalist Nilüfer Demir, went viral and sparked renewed debate in the developed world regarding the ongoing refugee crisis.

#5. Portrait of Adolf Hitler

History's Most Iconic Photos
This infamous portrait of the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is easily amongst the most recognizable and has stirred many political satires to this day.

#4. Raising the flag over the Reichstag 

History's Most Iconic Photos
Fighting still raged on in the streets of Berlin after Hitler had committed suicide. Red Army soldier Yevgeny Khaldei took this photograph as his comrades hoisted the communist flag over the parliament building, heralding the closing chapter of the war on the Eastern Front.

#3. Portrait of Lord Kitchener

History's Most Iconic Photos
This photograph of Lord Kitchener with his signature mustache was the inspiration behind the influential WW1 British recruitment poster.

#2. Buzz Aldrin saluting the US Flag 

History's Most Iconic Photos
The ‘ripple effect’ on the flag was due to the wire frames in the fabric unable to extend fully. Aldrin’s fingertips can be seen on the far side of his visor.


#1. The Horse in Motion 

History's Most Iconic Photos
“When a horse gallop, does it ever go airborne?” was the question photographer Eadweard Muybridge sought to answer using his ingenious stop-motion technique. His pioneering work allowed the capture of movement too quick for the naked eye to distinguish separately and helped pave the way for the motion-picture industry.

Mike Rogers

Writer, history buff and a caffeine-dependent life form.

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