Photography is powerful. That’s not a new concept or one that we, as photographers, are unaware of. Most of us won’t create an iconic image that will be seen around the world for centuries, but our images are important nonetheless. They may only be seen by a few eyeballs, but the wedding photo of a bride and her father is precious to those in that family, and even more so when the loved ones are no longer with us.
Then there are images we see in the newspapers, online, and in magazines that are part of the history of our world that will someday be looked upon by future generations to get a glimpse of what life was like, and the world events that shaped the future as they happened during this time – just as we, today, look back at images of the past. There are images that are so recognizable and iconic they have the power to immediately transport us back to where we were when we saw them. Such is the power of photography.
When I was twelve years old, I was rollerskating outside my parent’s restaurant, and in the front of the store there was a row of newspaper dispensers. I remember stopping in my tracks one day and seeing an image of one man in a white shirt standing in front of a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square. I was completely enthralled with the bravery of that man and bought the newspaper to share it with my class the next day. Even today, I feel emotional when I see that photograph, and in the COOPH video below, that image blends into a montage as only one example of the truly iconic photographs in our history (minute 1:36).
The remainder of the almost 6-minute video shows the powerful stories that photographs can tell, and have told through the years. From Dorthea Lange’s portrait of the “Migrant Mother,” showing the desperation and starvation of families in the US during the Great Depression, to Marc Riboud’s image of a woman placing a flower in the barrel of a soldier’s gun in protest to the Vietnam War; and some of the lesser known images such as the couple who had just lost their infant son at sea by John Gaunt. The series of images in this video will move you and serve as a reminder, to “take out your camera” and capture a moment in history – however large or small.