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News & Insight

TIME Magazine Explores The 100 Most Influential Photos & How Each Shaped History

By Bing Putney on November 18th 2016

TIME Magazine has been a dominant force in the world of journalism over the last century. In fact, their centennial anniversary is not long off, so perhaps it’s fitting that TIME should be creating a digital celebration of what are, in the estimation of their editors, 100 of the most influential photographs ever taken.

Many will be immediately familiar to viewers of all ages. They are images which have been seared into the fabric of our cultural history. Others may be slightly less recognizable, but their cultural significance is undeniable.


As photographers, we can sometimes become lost in our own process, or the technical minutiae involved in getting the shot, and lose sight of the enormous potential power of a single frame. Photography has the capacity to capture a moment in time, preserve it, and present it to the wider world. It can serve as evidence of atrocities, substantiation of our collective memory, or celebration of human achievement. These photos are a striking reminder of the influence of our chosen art form.

[REWIND: Nick Knight Says Photography Is Dead | Is It No Longer The Medium Of Truth?]


The photographs contained in Time’s collection span the gamut of the medium, from photojournalistic to experimental, showcasing subject matter both illustrious and marginalized. Some were made with highly advanced, one of a kind feats of engineering, and others were shot on cell phones. They include images like Ali standing over a broken Sonny Liston, defeated after a single round, the rise of the Earth as seen from the moon for the first time, and a fearless single citizen halting tanks in Tiananmen Square. The images are poignant, politically defiant at times, but almost always with the human experience front and center. They stir the emotions of generations, and move the masses to action.

The photos will be featured in the  issue of TIME Magazine released today, and showcased on an online virtual museum, which includes brief stories of their creation, and in many cases mini-documentaries exploring their influence. TIME will also be releasing a companion book

The collection is incredibly inspiring. It is a look at both the history of photography itself, and the visual history of the world over the relatively short time since photography was invented. It is a wondrous rabbit hole, and if you have some spare time this weekend, I strongly encourage you to dive in:

Which images stand out most to you? Share your thoughts below in the comments.







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Bing is a professional portrait and on-set still photographer who lives in Los Angeles, and frequently travels the world to explore new and interesting cultures and pastries.

Instagram: @bingputney

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