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Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 3 comments

What’s the Greatest Photograph Ever Taken?



This will be an unusual column.

For one thing, it’s interactive.

Second, there are no right or wrong answers.

Finally, your opinion matters.  Well, maybe.  Your opinion matters if you give this topic some serious thought and you craft your explanation wisely.  Here it goes….

I have no actual data on this, but it’s probably accurate to guess at least a hundred billion, perhaps even a trillion photographs have been taken since the first camera was invented about 170 years ago.  That’s a lot of photographs.

So, given the broad history of modern civilization, so widely documented with the camera by some truly remarkable people who have put themselves in danger in order to capture an image, my question is this:  What is the single greatest photograph ever taken?  More to the point — why?

For me, this is an easy answer.  I came to this realization earlier tonight while accidentally stumbling upon the well-known image, and really for the first time, recognizing its awesomeness.  Later on, I’ll share this revelation with you.  But for now, I won’t spoil the fun of speculation for those who want to engage in the discussion and perhaps even debate with others.  In fact, if someone posts a compelling enough image and argument, then (perhaps) I could be persuaded to change my mind.  I think we all want to enter this exercise with an open mind.  So, please try and draft your reasoning wisely.

The task is simple, should you chose to accept this challenge.  Google search the one photo you believe to be the greatest ever in history and then post it.  “Greatest” could also mean most shocking, most meaningful, the bravest, or perhaps even the most beautiful.  That’s entirely up to you.  The photo you chose can be of any subject.

Please visit Facebook [EASY TO DO — CLICK HERE] and post your selection.  So that others might also enjoy the discussion, your photo must also be accompanied by a paragraph or two, explaining your reasoning.

In a follow-up article sometime in the near future, I’ll cut and paste the TEN best photos and write ups.  I’ll get the final say, but also might call upon some professional photographers to offer their assessment.  Some friends I am considering calling upon would include — Neil Stoddart, Joe Giron, Jayne Furman, Erick Harkins, and David Plastik.  Let’s see how this goes.  I might even add a prize if this topic gains some steam.

And so now, let the debate begin about the greatest photograph of all time.



  1. I don’t have a Facebook account, so I’ll post my answer here. It’s a photo so iconic I don’t even need to post the image. It’s the “The Blue Marble Shot” taken of Earth by the crew of Apollo 17. Why? Pretty obvious.

    Runners up: Ali standing over Liston, “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square, VJ Day in Times Square, The Burning Monk in Vietnam, and The Black Power Salute at the ’68 Olympics. Again, I don’t think I need to actually link to any of these. Let me also throw in Pillars of Creation from the Hubble space telescope.

    • Had already thought it has to be the blue marble pic of earth.

  2. Nolan,

    First a couple of mind numbing stats – as of 2014 1.8 billion photos per day were being uploaded to internet.

    In 2017, an average of 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (imagine what that would go up to if we included YouPorn and xhamster 😉

    My point is that there are so many photos out there that most likely none of us have ever seen the greatest photo ever.

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