14 photos behind the history of the century

Photographers can do what is beyond the control of any cameraman, artist or journalist: capture those fractions of a second that have shaken or turned over this world for eternal memory

Cult photos better than any history textbook can tell about the most important thing in our past, be it a historical event, a scientific discovery or technical progress.

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1.First Lady of the Internet

In 1973, a group of scientists from the University of Southern California looked for a test photo with a good dynamic range to study digital image compression. They stopped their choice on the girl of the month from the November issue of Playboy, who was lying in the laboratory. One of the researchers, Alexander Savchuk, scanned a fragment of a poster with a resolution of 100 lines per inch. It turned out the image format 512 by 512 pixels.The file was named for the model - Lenna.

Gradually, Lenna became the industry standard of the industry and is still used in scientific work to test and illustrate image processing algorithms (compression, noise reduction, etc.). The same image was first transmitted digitally in the ARPANET network, which was the prototype of the modern Internet.

Playboy initially threatened to sue for the unauthorized use of photography, but then changed his decision, on the contrary, telling in his ad about the event. It is worth noting that the November issue eventually became the best-selling in the history of the magazine. The magazine with the “First Lady of the Internet” sold in circulation in 7,161,561 copies.


3.Nubian wrestlers

Nuba, or "people of the hills" - the common name of the ethnic groups living on the border of Sudan and South Sudan in the Nubian Mountains. In 1947, photographer George Roger and his wife, traveling across Africa on the instructions of National Geographic, learned about the noob, who lived just like their ancestors a thousand years ago. Roger received permission from the Sudanese government to document the life of the tribe. In 1949, a pair of photographers became the first to photograph the life and customs of these “people of the hills”.

Among their photos are many staged shots, but the most famous were documentary photos from sports events, tribal ceremonies and noob dances. Published in 1952 in National Geographic, the photo of the fighters was the most famous. She appeared everywhere: on postcards and in textbooks. For many years, this was exactly the portrait of Africa.

4.Jump to freedom

August 15, 1961. 19-year-old non-commissioned officer of the GDR Hans Konrad Schumann was sent to the intersection of Ruppiner Straße and Bernauer Straße to guard the construction of the Berlin Wall begun two days earlier. At this stage, the wall was just a barbed wire fence. Under the pretext of checking the barrage, Schumann put his wire in one place with his foot. His actions attracted attention, and from the western side they shouted to him: “Jump over!” - and the approached police car stopped at 10 meters and opened the door, waiting for him.

19-year-old photographer Peter Leibing, seconded to the wall from the FRG, watched a nervous soldier for an hour and a half. “I did not take my eyes off him for more than an hour. I had a feeling that he was going to jump. It was a kind of instinct ... I learned to do it in the racing derby in Hamburg.It is necessary to take a photo at the moment when the horse leaves the ground, but before it crosses the barrier ... And this moment has come. I pressed the shutter button, it was all over. ”

Leibing Photography won a 1961 Overseas Press Club award in the Best Photo nomination. Konrad Schumann settled in West Berlin. After the fall of the wall, he moved to his native Bavaria. But parents, brothers and sisters avoided Conrad, condemning his act. Tormented by depression Hans Konrad Schumann June 20, 1998 hanged himself in the garden of his house.

5.Queen Elizabeth II

In March 2007, Annie Leibovitz, a famous American photographer specializing in celebrity portraits, made several portraits of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. In the picture shown above, the queen, wearing a white and gold evening dress, a fur cape and a diamond tiara, sits in the White Room of Buckingham Palace. The source of inspiration for Annie Leibovitz was the painting "Queen Charlotte" by Thomas Gainsborough, exhibited in the National Gallery.

Leibovitz remembers shooting like that. "She (the queen) entered the room as quickly as her heavy regalia allowed her, and grumbled:" Why should I wear all these heavy clothes in the middle of the day ?! "And I just admired her."


The Titanic, a British steamer of the White Star Line, was laid down on March 31, 1909 at the shipyards of the Harland and Wolf shipbuilding company in Northern Ireland and launched on May 31, 1911. The ship was considered unsinkable. And when the New York Times came out with the headline “The Catastrophe on the Titanic” - it was a sensation. The rest of the newspapers, relying on the information of the White Star Line shipbuilding company, spoke of "some problems after the collision with an iceberg."

Ned Parfett, a 15-year-old young man in a photograph, sells a newspaper near Oceanic House, which housed the White Star Line office.

7.Hug huma

It is no secret that in the United Kingdom there are a large number of outdoor video cameras. Therefore, the hooded sweatshirt (hoddie), which allows to hide the face, became the “uniform” of the young offenders. In 2006–2007 she even became a political symbol.

After introducing restrictions on wearing these clothes in 2006, David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, gave a speech at the Jan Duncan Smith Social Justice Center and spoke about his vision of the problem.

Although David Cameron’s speech never spoke about hugs,this part of the future prime minister’s campaign was called Hug Hoody. In 2007, Cameron visited one of the most dysfunctional estates of Manchester. In the photo, seventeen-year-old Ryan Florenzi “shoots” the party leader to impress friends.


On October 23, 2002, a group of armed militants led by Movsar Barayev seized the building of the House of Culture OAO Moscow Bearing, which included the musical Nord-Ost. Confrontation between special services and terrorists lasted for three days. On October 26, a sleep gas was pumped into the building through ventilation. Experts believe that it was a fentanyl based chemical agent, but the exact composition of the gas remained unknown, including the physicians who saved the hostages.

As a result of the terrorist act, according to official figures, 130 people were killed, including 10 children. Of the dead hostages, five people were shot before the assault, the rest died after being released as a result of the poisonous effect of the gas. Although the presence of the press at the scene was limited, Sunday Telegraph photographer Justin Sutcliffe managed to take a picture of the liberated woman who was unconscious on the bus immediately after the storming of the Theater Center.

The photo won the 2003 World Press Photo Award.Journalists of the Sunday Telegraph tried to find out the fate of the woman from the photo. Unfortunately, it is not known how this search ended.

9.Jesse Owens

The XI Summer Olympic Games were held in Berlin from August 1 to 16, 1936. Hitler used these games as a propaganda tool. The opening of the Olympics was first broadcast on television live, the Olympic competitions became the material for the creation of the Leni Riefenstahl film Olympia. However, the Nazis could not control the results of the games. And four gold medals of American black athlete Jesse Owens coolly questioned Hitler's theory of racial superiority.

10.Tennis player

If one picture could visually convey the spirit of sexual emancipation in England in the 1970s, it would be a photograph of Martin Elliott’s “Tennis Player”.

The photo was taken in early September 1976. In the frame, Fiona Butler is Elliott’s eighteen-year-old girlfriend. The picture itself was not made by chance, Martin Elliott asked his girlfriend, who had not played tennis before, to change into a uniform and pose for him on the court. During filming, the model lifted her skirt so that it was obvious that she was wearing no underwear.The picture, quite ordinary by today's standards, caused a storm of emotions when the art retailer Athena released it as part of the calendar timed to coincide with the silver jubilee of Elizabeth II. As a result, the calendar has sold more than two million copies.

Photos brought wealth to Martin Elliott. Fiona Butler, who did not receive any deductions from the sales calendar, eventually married a millionaire and said that she was not at all ashamed of that photo shoot and did not regret that she did not receive money. The plot of the photo went down in history and was repeatedly used and played up by different authors.

11.Newspaper headlines after November 22, 1963

Karl Maydans worked for 36 years in the magazine LIFE. He was a full-time photographer throughout the period when the magazine was published weekly (from 1936 to 1972). On his pictures were captured scenes of punishment of French women who collaborated with the Nazis, the release of prisoners from the camp of Santo Tomas, the surrender of Japan aboard the battleship Missouri, the Fukui earthquake in 1948. The picture above was taken on a train to Stamford, Connecticut, the day after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

12.Alfred Krupp

On the instructions of the editors of Newsweek, Arnold Newman contacted the famous industrialist Alfred Krupp. Besides the fact that Alfred Krupp was known as a businessman, he was followed by the glory of a war criminal who used slave labor to make weapons for the Nazis.

Upon learning that Newman was Jewish, Krupp refused to take pictures, but Newman insisted that Krupp at least look at his portfolio before making a final decision. After seeing the pictures, Krupp changed the decision. On July 6, 1963, an industrialist and photographer set about shooting at a factory in Essen, the same place where prisoners of war worked.

When Krupp first saw the portrait, he was furious. Newman announced: "I am a Jew, and this is my small revenge."

13.Blast of joy

Photography "Blast of Joy" Glory Veder is a Pulitzer Prize winner. The picture was taken on March 17, 1973 at the Travis military base and became a symbol of the end of the Vietnam War. In the picture, US Colonel Robert L. Stirm meets with his family after five years in captivity in North Vietnam. The F-105 fighter-bomber, controlled by a lieutenant colonel, was shot down over Hanoi on October 27, 1967, and Stirm was held in captivity until March 14, 1973.

The centerpiece of the photo is Steirma’s daughter, 15-year-old Lorry, who meets her father with open arms. The rest of the family follow her. Despite the joy captured in the picture, the family was not happy. Three days before arriving in the United States, Robert Stirm received a letter from his wife stating that their relationship was over. In 1974, the lieutenant colonel divorced.

After the photo became the winner of the award, all family members received copies of the picture. However, Robert Stirm did not hang it in his house, as he was "unable to look at it."

14.Fireman buys a pumpkin

On the cover of the liberal American Prospect, dedicated to roadside America, was placed devilishly strange picture. The fireman buys a pumpkin while the farm, the fire on which, apparently, brought him there, burns in the background. The photograph was taken by photographer Joel Sternfeld, driving his Volkswagen through the town of McLean in the state of Virginia.

In this case, the fire was a controlled workout, while the firefighter himself had a break at that moment. However, this fact passed by the attention of the public. When the photo was printed, first in LIFE, and then in many other magazines and exhibitions, the caption to the photo indicated only “Joel Sternfeld. Macklin, Virginia. December 1978 ". The photographer himself was reveled in this ambiguity.In a 2004 interview with The Guardian newspaper, where a journalist called him the chronicler of the “sinister curiosity of modern America,” he said:

“Photography has always been able to manipulate. Every time you frame the world around, you already interpret. I can direct the camera to two people standing nearby and not take in the frame of the homeless person lying to their right, or the murder that is happening to the left. You take 35 degrees out of 360 and call it photography. There are an infinite number of ways to take a picture. A photographer is always an author. ”

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