100 Photographs - The Most Influential Images of All Time

How much do I want to read more? 7/10

Pictures really speak. It's fascinating to see how influencial and how memorable a photo can be.
It has a hidden power, just like a music can have on your mind. It can haunt you. It can make you shift. It can make you see the world differently.
This book has a nice way to briefly present each photo with an historical description and some random facts.


assemble a list of the 100 most influential photographs ever taken.
there are now far more pictures taken every day than there are canvases in all the world’s galleries and museums. In 2014 alone, hundreds of billions of images were made.
How do you narrow a pool that large?

they were the first of their kind, others because they shaped the way we think. And some made the cut because they directly changed the way we live.

our visual memories being stronger than those for numbers or words, we relied on pictures to serve as metonyms of events. Our history of the world is not substantiated by photographs; it is photographic.


in 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, the PR team for one of the world’s wealthiest clans set out to fan excitement for the family’s latest project: Rockefeller Center, some 6 million square feet of skyscraper space built on 22 acres in the heart of Manhattan. The team took a lot of photos that day, but only one became iconic. It showed 11 men sitting casually on a girder 800 feet above the pavement. They chat, scan newspapers, cadge a light, all while dangling their feet in an ocean of thin air. Lunch Atop a Skyscraper suggests the peril that yawned in 1932, when America, and the world, dangled over an abyss. And it contains the crazy confidence of a nation that knew the gravest danger was fear itself.

A photograph is, in a sense, the fossil version of light, a kind of time machine bringing a moment of the past forward while ferrying the present into the past. Iconic photographs, like those of the fossils of Olduvai Gorge, record more than a jawbone or a footprint. They suggest a world.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN | Mathew Brady, 1860

‘I had great trouble in making a natural picture.’ –MATHEW BRADY
As the portrait spread, it propelled Lincoln from the edge of greatness to the White House, where he preserved the Union and ended slavery.
“Brady and the Cooper Union speech made me President of the United States.”


‘If you see this picture once, you never forget it.’ –CHRISTINE ROUSSEL, ROCKEFELLER CENTER HISTORIAN
It’s the most perilous yet playful lunch break ever captured: 11 men casually eating, chatting and sneaking a smoke as if they weren’t 840 feet above Manhattan with nothing but a thin beam keeping them aloft. That comfort is real; the men are among the construction workers who helped build Rockefeller Center.

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper came to symbolize American resilience and ambition at a time when both were desperately needed. It has since become an iconic emblem of the city in which it was taken, affirming the romantic belief that New York is a place unafraid to tackle projects that would cow less brazen cities.

MIGRANT MOTHER | Dorothea Lange, 1936

‘You can see anything you want to in her. She is immortal.’ –ROY STRYKER, FARM SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
The picture that did more than any other to humanize the cost of the Great Depression almost didn’t happen.
Dorothea Lange kept going for 20 miles. But something nagged at the photographer and she finally turned around.
“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother in the sparse lean-to tent, as if drawn by a magnet,”
“I knew I had recorded the essence of my assignment.” Afterward Lange informed the authorities of the plight of those at the encampment, and they sent 20,000 pounds of food.
Migrant Mother has become the most iconic picture of the Depression.
Lange gave a face to a suffering nation.