What is a photograph to you?
A recorded moment in time?
I moved from image to image in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential Images of All Times. Some of them were new to me, most I had seen before, and the details of others were so etched in my brain it was as though I see them every day, so familiar to me are they still.
Curious why some were more compelling to me than others – I have a preference for black & white photography – why a few didn’t ‘grab’ me emotionally or intellectually, and why I wanted to zoom in to certain details on others.
Stopped cold at a few, remembering where I was geographically when the image first appeared, at what stage of my life I was in, at what age, where I was in my work, my personal relationships.
A few from the (relatively) early days of photography are wondrous – Mathew Brady’s 1860 portrait of Abraham Lincoln, and Eadweard Muybridge’s 1878 series of The Horse in Motion.
A few are purely beautiful (to me) – W. Eugene Smith’s Country Doctor, taken in 1948, and Malick Sidebe’s Nuit de Noel from 1963.
Some are of old friends – Winston Churchill by Yousuf Karsh, Margaret Bourke-White’s portrait of Ghandi and the Spinning Wheel, and Ron Gallela’s Windblown Jackie.
But mostly I was struck by the fact that fully 1/2 of these photographs were of scenes of war, social unrest, political tragedy, violence and human dismay.
Photojournalism is represented here, in Nick Ut’s The Terror of War, from 1962. And Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother from 1936. Who among us doesn’t know these images?
There is also Fine Art photography represented here, in Andres Serrano’s Immersions: Piss Christ, and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare Sant-Lazare.
But the lines between photojournalism, fine art photography and celebrity portraiture, fade, blur and disappear as my mind wanders from photo to photo, remembering years of life and experiences shared with people around the world…
…all of it recorded by photographers capturing moments we should never forget, some of them beautiful, wondrous and smile-inducing, others painful, agonizing and horrifying.
Take your own journey if you will. You can click on each photograph for a fuller story behind the circumstances of its taking.
Why only 100? Well, this is just Time’s list…and I am sure there are many others.
If you are interested…or so inclined…I would love to know which images raise the goosebumps on your own arms, which make you smile, gasp…think…dream.