Monday, 29 September 2014

The Most Influential Photos of Modern History

We’ve seen the world change by universally recognised, historical photos, the ones that stopped wars and changed perceptions, that captured hearts and broke souls. The 1972 napalm attack during the Vietnam war, the last jew of Vinnitsa and the tank man in Tiananmen Square in 1989, are just a few examples of the devastating and beautiful history captured through a lens.

As much as time has evolved, have we? As I look through the iconic images of modern history I still see genocide and war and hate. See my list of the most influential photos of last few decades. These images will make you both hate the human race and restore your faith in humanity, they will make you question what this world has come to and expose how ignorant we've been, some will make you tear up for the good and others for the bad.

In 1993 photojournalist Kevin Carter took this horrifying photo of a Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture. Cater won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo, which exposed the reality of famine in Africa and the rest of the third world. Along with commendation came the criticism; the world questioned why Carter took the iconic shot instead of helping the Sudanese girl. Carter committed suicide in 1994.

The Falling Man is one of the most well known photos of the modern day. Richard Drew captured this image of a man falling from the World Trade Center in New York after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 image became a representation of the 200+ people who fell or jumped to their deaths after the planes hit the twin towers and a symbol of the terror attacks we are all too familiar with today.

Fast forward 10 years with this quintessential moment. President Barack Obama and members of his national security team monitor the Navy SEALs raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. It was a crucial moment in American history, and White House photographer Pete Souza captured the tension in the room.

A firefighter gives water to a koala during the destructive Black Saturday bush fire that burned across Victoria, Australia, in February 2009. The fires occurred during extreme bushfire weather conditions and resulted in Australia's highest ever loss of life from a bushfire. The photo is both cruel and kind as we see such devastation juxtaposed with such compassion.

Terri Gurrola is reunited with her daughter after serving in Iraq for 7 months in 2007. Since 9/11, 3.16 million Americans have entered military service. This moment became an all too familiar scene of American (and allied countries) families along with post traumatic stress syndrome and other mental illnesses.

This baby boy was found abandoned in Fuyang, China and many other babies found dead on the same path. The People’s Republic of China enforced a One Child policy in 1979, but it wasn’t until the 2000’s that mainstream media and the general world population were exposed to the knowledge of how many Chinese babies were being left to die in order to avoid being fined. In December 2013 China eased it’s one child policy allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child.

A show of what faith and religion is really about; the photo captures Christians protecting Muslims during prayer in the midst of the 2011 uprisings in Cairo, Egypt. This picture was taken 1 month after the Alexandria Bombing where many innocent Christians died and Muslim radicals were blamed. The people of Egypt show the world, during a period of religious misunderstanding, that terrorists and radicals are the ones declaring war and killing innocent lives, rather than one religion or race.

Elite runner Jaqueline Kiplimo helps a disabled Chinese athlete drink during the 2010 Zheng-Kai marathon. She stayed with him for several miles, costing her the 1st place finish and the $10,000 prize.

From 2003 – 2010 the Sudanese government had carried out an ethnic cleansing against the non-arab minority in Darfur, resulting in almost 400,000 people killed. The methods ranged from air strikes, to burning villages and poisoning wells. Women were systematically raped and  innocents were killed and tortured. On March 4, 2009 the International Criminal Court (IIC) indicted Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir for genocide and crimes against humanity. The investigation is still pending, many African and Arabic countries support al-Bashir and refuse to cooperate with the IIC. 

In August 2014 a picture of an empty Malaysian Airlines flight went viral. The lack of passengers on the plane signified the mistrust of the airlines after 2 major incidents. On March 8, 2014 Malaysia Airlines flight 370 (MH370) from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared midflight with no real explanation as to how or why it happened. Then MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014 as it flew over a Russian/Ukraine war zone. These 2 incidents have sparked many conspiracy theories about Malaysia Airlines and generated distrust of the airlines capabilities of keeping its passengers safe.

Phyllis Siegel, 76, and Connie Kopelov, 84, are finally able to get married in New York (2011). 16 countries alongside some US and Mexican states have legalised gay marriage. Phyllis and Connie symbolise the long wait and ongoing battle for equal rights in the modern world.  Same sex marriages are often debated amongst politicians and general populations, countries are slowly embracing the legalisation of marriage equality.

James Foley was the first of (seemingly) continuous innocents being beheaded in a series of propaganda videos from militants from Islamic State (ISIS). Each video shows a masked man and a captured innocent (from a country fighting against ISIS), after a direct demand to the country’s leader the innocent is beheaded. The videos end with another captive in the same orange gown a shaved head and a promise of beheading if demands are not met. Foley’s (US) video was released on 19 August, Steven Scottloff's (US) on 2 September and David Haines (UK) on 13 September 2014. UK British worker Alan Henning is identified as the next victim at the end of Haines’ video. The militant group is known to have sophisticated knowledge of social media and have often used the virtual world to gain mass attention and recruiting impressionable youths. ISIS is an unrecognised state and not a representative of Muslim people.

I've chosen not to use the more horrific and graphic photos of the events, I think we all understand the enormity of each moment without exposing innocents.


Ivy x

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Ivy and Loan xx