100 Most Influential Images of All Time

Tank Man, Jeff Widener, 1989

Following the Tiananmen Square Massacre, an attack targeting pro-democratic activists, China fell into a state of tension and division. This picture, captured on June 5, 1989, unfolds an impossible situation, in which a single man blocks the terror of four, incoming tanks. Holding an innocent bag of groceries, this still unidentified man prevents the activity of numerous weapon transportations, later being “whisked away.” I found this photograph extremely impactful, because it highlights the influence of confidence and bravery. This man truly risked his life standing against these tanks, yet he still took the challenge with goals to fight for his beliefs and thoughts.

The Hooded Man, Sergeant Ivan Frederick, 2003

Unlike other photographs presented within this article, this eerie photo was captured by an unprofessional photographer with an unprofessional camera. Describing the torturous conditions presented within the Iraq prison, Abu Ghraib prison, Frederick and other U.S. soldiers also became victim of such punishment. During their stay, however, they took the opportunity to document thousands of pictures with their digital cameras. Out of these images, “The Hooded Man” soon became the most recognizable, a man forced into an interesting pose, stripped of clothes, sight, and freedom. I personally find this picture very meaningful, as it is record and evidence of the bravery found within the heart of a noble, American troop. Although he too was tortured and punished, the confidence he had to bring home documents of his experience allows the world a greater understanding of the condition found within other countries.

Munich Massacre, Kurt Strumpf, 1972

Capturing the creepy presentation of a member of the Palestinian terror group Black September, this image documents the bloody events of the Munich Massacre. Moments before the excitement of the 1972 Olympics, this terrorist group invaded the Munich Olympic Village, killing two athletes and capturing nine hostages. With ultimate intentions of releasing over 200 individuals of their group members from imprisonment, these terrorists took part in a 21-hour hostage standoff, later resulting in the murder of their nine hostages. This daunting photograph of one of the terrorist members allows us to remember and reflect on the experiences of this haunting day. Humanity is always at risk, and it is influenced by the emotionless mentality of individuals like this man.

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