20+ Most Famous Historical Photos

Famous Historical Photos

Photography has the unique ability to capture moments that define history. Certain images have become iconic from the medium’s early days to the digital age. They represent key events and movements.

These iconic photographs are special because they don’t just show images; they tell stories, bring out feelings, and shape our shared memories. In this blog, we’ll delve into some well-known historical photos, each with an impactful story.

Whether it’s the haunting image of war or the inspiring moment of a space landing, these photos have left an indelible mark on the world. This collection showcases historical milestones. It also shows the power of photography.

1. The Birth of Photography

View from the Window at Le Gras

Photo: View from the Window at Le Gras (1826) by Nicéphore Niépce

Imagine a world with no photos – it’s pretty hard to picture, right? This blurry shot, taken by Nicéphore Niépce, marks the start of photography. He snapped it from a window in France, and it’s now the oldest known photo, freezing a calm moment in time.

2. The First War Photograph

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Photo: The Valley of the Shadow of Death (1855) by Roger Fenton

War is brutal, and Roger Fenton’s photo proves it. He snapped a pic during the Crimean War that shows us what’s left after the fighting stops – a field littered with cannonballs. It’s a quiet, eerie scene. Fenton was one of the first guys to show the world what war looks like.

3. The Dead of Antietam

The Dead of Antietam

Photo: The Dead of Antietam (1862) by Alexander Gardner

This battle was one of the worst days in American history. A photo showed people at home the brutal reality of the Civil War. It’s a powerful reminder of war’s devastating cost and how photos can show us the harsh truth.

4. Lincoln at Gettysburg

Lincoln at Gettysburg

Photo: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg (1863)

Here’s President Abraham Lincoln giving his famous Gettysburg Address. This speech was a huge deal in American history. He’s standing at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, dedicating it to the soldiers who fought for our country.

5. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima

Photo: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima (1945) by Joe Rosenthal

These Marines raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima during World War II is an iconic moment. Joe Rosenthal snapped the historical pic, which stands for hope and loyalty when things get rough. Today, it’s a symbol of American guts and perseverance that still inspires us.

6. The Migrant Mother

The Migrant Mother

Photo: Migrant Mother (1936) by Dorothea Lange

During the Great Depression, Dorothea Lange took a photo of Florence Owens Thompson and her children. Lange’s photos showed the humanity of the poor. They made their struggles widely known and inspired more support for assistance.

7. The Hindenburg Disaster

The Hindenburg Disaster- historical photo

Photo: The Hindenburg Disaster (1937)

The Hindenburg disaster was a total bummer. This one picture of it going down in flames still shocks people today. It’s a harsh reminder that even our most amazing creations can fall apart.

8. V-J Day in Times Square

V-J Day in Times Square

Photo: V-J Day in Times Square (1945) by Alfred Eisenstaedt

The famous picture shows a happy sailor planting a big smooch on a nurse. This photo was snapped in Times Square when World War II finally ended. Alfred Eisenstaedt took the shot, and it’s like a snapshot of how everyone felt – relieved and over the moon. That spontaneous kiss turned into a symbol of hope, love, and the return to peace after years of war.

9. Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper

Photo: Lunch Atop a Skyscraper (1932)

Eleven construction workers are chillin’ on a steel beam high above New York City, eating lunch like it’s no big deal. This was back when they were building Rockefeller Center. It’s a huge credit to the brave and determined people who built the skyscrapers that give New York its iconic look.

10. The Falling Soldier

The Falling Soldier

Photo: The Falling Soldier (1936) by Robert Capa

Robert Capa took an incredibly powerful photo during the Spanish Civil War – a soldier falling, about to die. It shows the brutal truth of war, and how it can happen in a flash. This picture changed photojournalism and reminded us of the real people affected by war.

11. Rosa Parks on a Bus

Rosa Parks on a Bus

Photo: Rosa Parks Sitting on a Bus (1955)

This photograph shows Rosa Parks sitting on a Montgomery bus. It was taken after her historic act of defiance against segregation. The photo is a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. By refusing to give up her seat, Parks ignited a wave of activism and change.

12. Little Rock Nine

Little Rock Nine- historical photo

Photo: Elizabeth Eckford and Hazel Bryan (1957)

This famous photo shows Elizabeth Eckford, one of the brave Little Rock Nine, walking through a crowd of angry people. She was trying to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. You can see her calm and collected, even when faced with hate, while Hazel Bryan looks furious. This image says a lot about the racial problems back then.

13. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

MLK at the Lincoln Memorial

Photo: MLK at the Lincoln Memorial (1963)

Here’s Martin Luther King Jr. giving his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. You can see the Lincoln Memorial behind him. This photo says it all – King’s passion, the crowd’s energy, and the fight for freedom and equality.

14. Earthrise


Photo: Earthrise (1968) by William Anders

You’ll still get chills looking at “Earthrise”, a photo taken during the Apollo 8 mission. It shows our planet slowly rising over the moon’s horizon. Astronaut William Anders snapped this amazing shot, and it changed the way we see ourselves. It’s a powerful reminder of how fragile our planet is and how we’re all in this together.

15. The Moon Landing

The Moon Landing- historical photo

Photo: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon (1969) by Neil Armstrong

Buzz Aldrin is standing on the moon in this famous photo, taken by Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission. You can see the American flag and the lunar module behind him. It’s one of the coolest moments in history, and it proves we’re always looking for ways to explore and do more.

16. The Blue Marble

The Blue Marble

Photo: The Blue Marble (1972) by the crew of Apollo 17

The Apollo 17 crew captured a famous picture of our planet known as “The Blue Marble.” This stunning historical photo reveals Earth’s beauty as it drifts in space. It serves as a gentle reminder of our planet’s delicate nature. Now, environmental champions see the environment as a powerful symbol. It shows how all life on Earth is connected.

17. The Mars Rover’s First Selfie

Curiosity Rover’s Selfie

Photo: Curiosity Rover’s Selfie (2012)

NASA’s Curiosity Rover is hanging out on Mars, snapping a selfie of its new digs. This photo is a big deal – it shows we can make it to other planets and learn a thing or two. It’s a reminder that we’re curious by nature and space has no bounds.

18. Hubble’s Deep Field

Hubble’s Deep Field

Photo: Hubble Deep Field (1995)

This amazing picture, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, reveals thousands of galaxies in just a small part of the sky. It helps us understand the vastness of the universe. The Hubble Deep Field image is truly mind-blowing, showcasing the incredible diversity of galaxies. It serves as a gentle reminder of our place in the universe.

19. The Napalm Girl

The Napalm Girl- historical photo

Photo: The Terror of War (1972) by Nick Ut

This iconic photo shows a young girl, Kim Phuc, running for her life – naked and screaming – as napalm bombs explode around her during the Vietnam War. The image, taken by Nick Ut, shocked the world and changed people’s minds about the war. You can’t help but feel the raw fear and horror it conveys.

20. The Tiananmen Square Protests

Tank Man

Photo: Tank Man (1989)

The iconic image of a courageous individual confronting a line of tanks during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in Beijing speaks volumes. In the photo known as “Tank Man,” we see a person standing up boldly to adversity. It shows the importance of standing against injustice and for values like freedom and human rights.

21. The Berlin Wall Falls

Fall of the Berlin Wall

Photo: Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)

Berliners from both sides of the wall came together to tear it down, and this photo caught the happy moment. It shows what happens when people unite and communist governments fall. This moment changed history, giving people hope and proving what we can do when we work together.

22. Nelson Mandela Released

Nelson Mandela Released

Photo: Nelson Mandela’s Release (1990)

Nelson Mandela’s release after 27 years in prison symbolizes overcoming challenges. His freedom marked the beginning of the end of apartheid in South Africa and the start of a new era of forgiveness and democracy. The moment, captured on camera, radiates joy and holds significant historical value.

23. The Persian Gulf War

Highway of Death

Photo: Highway of Death (1991)

This photo shows what’s left of the “Highway of Death” after Iraqi forces retreated and got attacked by coalition forces during the Gulf War. You see charred cars and trash all over the place. It’s a harsh reminder of how bad war is and what happens when we send in the troops.

24. The Oklahoma City Bombing

Firefighter and Baby

Photo: Firefighter and Baby (1995)

This devastating photo of a firefighter holding a dying baby after the Oklahoma City bombing gets to you. Someone took a photo right after the attack on the Alfred P. Murrah building. It speaks volumes about the cruelty of the violence and the kindness of the first responders.

To Conclude

Photos have a crazy power to freeze moments that change how we see history and ourselves. These iconic pics are more than just random shots – they’re bits of our shared past, reminding us to learn from yesterday and make tomorrow better.

As we look back on these iconic photos, we see the events they depict, the emotions they evoke, and the changes they inspire. They have the power to move us, to provoke thought and action, and to connect us across time and space.

Let us continue to honor and learn from these powerful images. They show the role of photography in documenting our shared journey through history.