Greatest Photographs on The Earth

Fifteen best black and white photographs

selected by the editors of Popular Photography Magazine

on the 150th anniversary celebration year of photography in 1989

The Flatiron

Migrant mother

Moment of death


Old glory goes up

Winston Churchil

Chinese baby

Death in a Spanish village


The Steerage


The Critic

A Parisian boulevard

Explosion of Hindenburgh

bhuniazone links:

Sandakphu photo album

Sandakphu video

Sandakphu Map

Pedong Aritar Tour

Pedong Aritar photo album

Kanchenjunga Beckons

Everest The Highest

Singalila ridge

Photo Album: bhuniazone

Trek Earth Gallery: bhuniazone

bhuniazone’s tribute to the best fifteen photographs selected in the year of 1989.

Incidentally those were all black and white shots.

Greatest Pictures Ever Made:

Popular Photography Magazine paid homage with this portfolio of memorable photographs, chosen by it’s editors, each of whom was asked to submit a list of outstanding images--photographs that deeply impressed them when first seen and that are most vividly remembered today. Of course, any such list is subjective, revealing as much about the taste, personality, and life experience of the person compiling it as about the subject involved. Why did these particular photographs stand out as memorable? There seems to be no one element, no single property. All the photographs are supercharged with graphic power, but vary greatly as to genre, style, content, and form and aesthetic sophistication. Yet a common effect links them: Once seen, they are never forgotten.

No Picture made since 1951 appeared on enough of the editors’ lists to justify the inclusion among the final 15. The selection of pictures here also is notable for including no colour (except for an alternate shot of the Hidenburg disaster). Editors were not told to omit colour or to try & include it. Apparently, most people making lists just couldn’t remember any colour photographs memorable enough to include. Was this because the more abstract quality of black-and-white photography requires a greater exercise of our imagination and thus makes a deeper impression? Perhaps, but a more plausible explanation is that black-and-white photography has been around much longer than colour provides us with the richest part of heritage. This selection is dedicated with fondness & respect to photography’s past and with anticipation to memorable images yet to come.

For photography there never was such a year as 1989. There were nonstop tributes to the medium’s 150th anniversary ranging from posters to postage stamps, exhibitions, monographs etc. The recognition given a form of visual art & communication long relegated to riding the back of the cultural bus was richly deserved, although one wonders what its inventors, Joseph Nicephore Niepce, Louis Jacques-Mande Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot would have made of it all.

Back to Top

Following are the serial list of those great photographs with related note.

Click the stamp to view a larger image.

Greatest Pictures Ever Made:

No: 1 (One)

The Flatiron:

Photographer: Edward J. Steichen

Year: 1909 print from a 1904 negative

Note: The striking, wedge shaped flatiron building in New York, completed in 1902. Photograph of the skyscraper was shoot at deep twilight. The gum-bichromate process over platinum added colour pigments to the black-and-white original during printing.


No: 2 (Two)

Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California:

Photographer: Dorothea Lange then shooting for the Farm Security Administration.

Year: 1936

Note: The photo touchingly symbolized the plight of millions of displaced American farmers during the ‘Great Depression’ and became the most widely reproduced of all F S A pictures.


No: 3 (Three)

Moment of Death:

Photographer: Robert Capa

Year: 1936

Note: Depicts a falling loyalist soldier during the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps the most famous war photograph ever taken. Republished innumerable times. Ambiguity about the circumstances under which it was captured has provoked controversy, but its symbolic power, as an instance of death on the battlefield is unsurpassed.


No: 4 (Four)


Photographer: Edward Weston

Year: 1930

Note: Of his many attempts to create an image more real and comprehensible than the actual object, this photograph remains one of the most memorable.


No: 5 (Five)

Old Glory goes up on Mt. Suribachi:

Photographer: Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press

Year: 1945

Note: a powerful symbolic image of World War II. It won Rosenthal a Pulitzar prize and inspired a national war-bond poster, a postage stamp, and a statue in Washington D.C. Hand grenades thrown by a hidden Japanese survivor had disrupted the first flag-raising by marines earlier in the day, and the event was restaged as shown here using a larger flag, while the battle still continued.

Back to Top

No: 6 (Six)

Winston Churchill:

Photographer: Yousuf Karsh

Year: 1941

Note: The famous portrait photographer had the coveted opportunity to photograph Winston Churchill during the latter’s visit to Ottawa, Canada, in 1941. He found the Prime Minister to be an uncooperative subject who insisted upon chomping on a freshly lit cigar.

As Karse recounts it “I said, ‘Forgive me sir,’ and plucked the cigar out of his mouth. By the time I got back to my camera he looked so belligerent, he could have devoured me. It was at this instance that I took the photograph.” Churchill quickly relented and allowed Karsh to take another, smiling portrait—but this bulldog scowl is the image that became world famous.


No: 7 (Seven)

Chinese Baby:

Photographer: H.S. “Newsreel” Wong.

Year: 1937, August 28

Note: Wong of Hearst Metronome watched three Japanese bombers attack the railroad station in Shanghai, recently evacuated by retreating Chinese Nationalist troops. Racing to the scene with his newsreel camera, he found a bloody burning shambles. More than 1800 people, mostly women and children—mistaken by the Japanese airmen for a troop movement—had been caught in the attack. According to Wong, a baby had been placed here by his father, who went back to pick up another injured infant. Wong exposed his last few feet of film for the crying child. A frame from the footage became a news photo classic.


No: 8 (Eight)

Death in a Spanish Village:

Photographer: W. Eugene Smith of Life magazine

Year: 1950

Note: Life magazine sent staff photographer W. Eugene to Spain to shoot a story. He spent two months and drove some 7,000 miles before he decided to focus on the small village of Deleitosa in Extremadura, where life continued amid “poverty and faith” that has changed little since medieval times. The result, ‘Spanish village’, published in Life, april 9, 1951, is regarded as one of the greatest photographic essays of all time. It closed with this death scene.


No: 9 (Nine)

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Photographer: Ansel Adams

Year: 1941

Note: Driving south along a highway in New Mexico, Adams happened to glance to the left and “saw an extraordinary situation” –late afternoon sunlight illuminating white crosses in a country graveyard as if a nearly full moon rose above mountains in a background. “I almost ditched my car and rushed to set up my 8x10 camera,” he recalls in his account of the occasion. The resulting picture—he had time to make only one exposure before the light changed—was the most financially successful photographic image of all time, prints of which regularly sell at auction for tens of thousands of dollars.


No: 10 (Ten)

The Steerage:

Photographer: Alfred Stieglitz

Year: 1907

Note: Picasso once praised this photo. It was taken while Steiglitz traveled to Europe aboared the passenger liner Kaiser Wilhem II. Contrary to popular belief, the steerage passengers were not headed for Ellis Island but were on their way home to the old country.

Back to Top

No: 11 (Eleven)


Photographer: Henry Cartier Bresson (discoverer of 35mm Leica Camera)

Year: 1933

Note: Children playing among ruins in Seville. A surreal formalism in his view on Seville.


No: 12 (Twelve)

The Critic:

Photographer: Weegee (Arthur Feeling) Freelance photographer

Year: 1943

Note: Famous for his raw slice of life flash the pictures of New York crime, violence, disasters, collected in his book Naked City. However this is a satiric eye on the opening night of an urban opera.


No: 13 (Thirteen)

A Parisian boulevard:

Photographer: Louis Jacques-Mande Daguerre

Year: 1838

Note: A prolonged exposure photo. An apparently empty street because vehicles & pedestrians moved too fast to be imprinted during the long exposure.


No: 14 (Fourteen) & 15 (Fifteen)

Explosion of The Hindenburgh Lakehurst, N.J

Photographer: Sam Sphere

Year: 1937

Note: When the German passenger carrying dirigible Hindenburgh exploded and crashed in flames on May 6, 1937, at Lakehurst, New Jersy, some 22 still and newsreel cameramen were on hand. Among many photographs of the catastrophe, those by Charles Hoff of the New York Daily News, Murray Becker of the Associated Press, and Sam Sphere of International News Photos have been most frequently reproduced.

Despite a myth to the contrary, the originals were not shot in colour but in black and white. However an enterprising New York daily mirror photographer, Gerard Sheedy, did load a 35mm camera with recently introduced Kodachrome. He and his paper scooped the world with what is generally credited to be the first spot news pictures published in colour. He didn’t however catch the giant craft in flames before it crashed, and for years his images were virtually forgotten.



This is a bhuniazone page


Your queries & feedbacks


bhuniazone links:

Kanchenjunga Beckons

Everest The Highest

Singalila ridge

Sandakphu photo album

Sandakphu video

Pedong Aritar Tour

Pedong Aritar photo album

Photo Album: bhuniazone

Trek Earth Gallery: bhuniazone

Travel Maps: bhuniazone

Back to Top