TIME photography

LIFE Magazine and the Most Influential Photos of All Time

Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images On August 14, 1945 — VJ Day — a jubilant sailor plants a kiss on a nurse in Times Square to celebrate the Allies' long- awaited World War II victory over Japan. Originally published (not as a cover shot, as most people assume today, but as just one in a series of "VJ Day victory celebration" images featured in the middle of the magazine) in the August 27, 1945, issue of LIFE.

These images from LIFE Magazine made the list

When TIME’s photo team set out to create a list of the 100 most influential photographs of all time, everyone involved knew it would be a massive undertaking. But the project, which launched on Thursday, truly took on a life of its own, as an international team of experts collaborated to tell the story of how the medium of photography has not only captured our world, but also shaped our history.

Though LIFE published as a weekly for less than 40 years, its embrace of the power of photography led it to have a disproportionate impact on the history of the medium. So it should come as no surprise that several of the images in that list of 100 were either taken by LIFE staff photographers or otherwise bear a strong connection to the magazine.

Here are a few of those stories:

Fort Peck Dam (1936): The very first image to appear on the cover of LIFE, Margaret Bourke-White’s photograph of the New Deal project set the tone for what was to come. Read more here

V-J Day in Times Square (1945): Alfred Eisenstaedt’s picture of the jubilation that marked the end of World War II would go on to become one of American photography’s most recognizable—and controversial—milestones. Read more here

Gandhi and the Spinning Wheel (1946): Margaret Bourke-White visited the icon for a LIFE feature about India’s leadership. Read more here

Dalí Atomicus (1948): Philippe Halsman, who defied convention with his portraits of the artist Salvador Dalí, would end up shooting more than 100 covers for LIFE. Read more here

Country Doctor (1948): W. Eugene Smith spent nearly a month with a Colorado doctor and produced a series that defined the photo essay as a genre. Read more here

JFK Assassination, Frame 313 (1963): Still frames from Abraham Zapruder’s home movie of the killing of President Kennedy appeared in the pages of LIFE after editor Richard Stolley flew to Dallas to track down the amateur videographer. Read more here

Black Power Salute (1968): John Dominis shot Gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos during a medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics. Read more here

100 photos shop tout
Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team