After the first issue of LIFE was released almost exactly 80 years ago, in November of 1936, the magazine quickly established itself as the home of iconic photography. Founder Henry Luce had promised as much in the prospectus for the magazine:
To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things—machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work—his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and to take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed;
Thus to see, and to be shown, is now the will and new expectancy of half mankind.
To see, and to show, is the mission now undertaken by a new kind of publication…
Over the course of the following decades, LIFE photographers pursued that mission to all corners of the Earth, producing images that stand the test of time. Whether capturing the joy on the faces of children at a puppet show (as Alfred Eisenstaedt did in 1963) or a grand monument of iron (as Dmitri Kessel did in 1948), they saw the world in a special way, and allowed others to do the same.
A selection of those revelatory photographs is available for purchase at the TIME Shop. Each print comes with the story behind the photograph and a certificate of authenticity.
Go to the TIME Shop for an opportunity to own a piece of LIFE.