If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera.
—Lewis Hine, American Photographer 美国摄影师刘易斯·海因
Photography can take us places we've never been before, perhaps never dreamed of. There are some photographs that will make you stop and think. These six photographs stopped the world and people hold their breaths for a few seconds to take it all in.
The Photograph That Raised the Stakes
“If your pictures aren't good enough,” war photographer Robert Capa used to say, “you aren't close enough.” Words to die by, yes, but the man knew of what he spoke. After all, his most memorable shots were taken on the morning of D-Day1), June 6, 1944, when he landed alongside the first waves of infantry2) at Omaha Beach.
Caught under heavy fire, Capa dove for what little cover he could find, then shot all the film in his camera, and got out—just barely. He escaped with his life, but not much else. Of the four rolls of film Capa took of the horrific D-Day battle, all but 11 exposures were ruined by an overeager lab assistant, who melted the film in his rush to develop it.
In an ironic twist, however, that same mistake gave the few surviving exposures their famously surreal3) look (“slightly out of focus,” Life incorrectly explained upon printing them). More than 50 years later, director Steven Spielberg4) would go to great lengths to reproduce the look of that “error” for his harrowing D-Day landing sequence in Saving Private Ryan.
The Photograph That Gave a Face to the Great Depression
For many, Florence Owens Thompson is the face of the Great Depression. Lange captured the image while visiting a dusty California pea-pickers' camp in February 1936, and in doing so, captured the resilience of a proud nation facing desperate times.
Unbelievably, Thompson's story is as compelling as her portrait. Thompson was a mother of seven who'd lost her husband to tuberculosis5). Stranded at a migratory labor farm in Nipomo, Calif. her family sustained themselves on birds killed by her kids and vegetables taken from a nearby field—as meager6) a living as any earned by the other 2,500 workers there. The photo's impact was staggering. Reproduced in newspapers everywhere, Thompson's haunted face triggered an immediate public outcry, quickly prompting politicos7) from the federal Resettlement Administration to send food and supplies. Sadly, however, Thompson and her family had already moved on, receiving nary8) a wedge of government cheese for their high-profile misery. In fact, no one knew the identity of the photographed woman until Thompson revealed herself years later in a 1976 newspaper article.
The Photograph That Ended a War but Ruined a Life
Adams' 1968 photograph of an officer shooting a handcuffed prisoner in the head at point-blank range not only earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1969, but also went a long way toward souring Americans' attitudes about the Vietnam War.
For all the image's political impact, though, the situation wasn't as black-and-white as it's rendered. What Adams' photograph doesn't reveal is that the man being shot was the captain of a Vietcong “revenge squad” that had executed dozens of unarmed civilians earlier the same day. Regardless, it instantly became an icon of the war's savagery and made the official pulling the trigger—General Nguyen Ngoc Loan—its iconic villain.
Sadly, the photograph's legacy would haunt Loan for the rest of his life. Following the war, he was reviled wherever he went. After an Australian VA9) hospital refused to treat him, he was transferred to the United States, where he was met with a massive campaign to deport him. He eventually settled in Virginia and opened a restaurant but was forced to close it down as soon as his past caught up with him. Vandals10) scrawled “we know who you are” on his walls, and business dried up.
Adams felt so bad for Loan that he apologized for having taken the photo at all, admitting, “The general killed the Vietcong; I killed the general with my camera.”
The Photograph That Isn’t as Romantic as You Might Think
On August 14, 1945, the news of Japan's surrender was announced in the United States, signaling the end of World War II. Riotous celebrations erupted in the streets, but perhaps none were more relieved than those in uniform.
Among the overjoyed masses gathered in Times Square that day was one of the most talented photojournalists of the 20th century, a German immigrant named Alfred Eisenstaedt. While snapping pictures of the celebration, he spotted a sailor “running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight.” He later explained that, “whether she was a grandmother, stout11), thin, old, didn't make any difference.”
Of course, a photo of the sailor planting a wet one on a senior citizen wouldn't have made the cover of Life, but when he locked lips with an attractive nurse, the image was circulated in newspapers across the country. In any case, the image remains an enduring symbol of America's exuberance at the end of a long struggle.
The Photograph That Kept Che Alive
Sociopathic13) thug? Socialist luminary14)? Or as existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre15) called him, “the most complete human being of our age?” Whatever you believe, there's no denying that Ernesto Che Guevara has become the patron saint of revolutionaries.
Annoyed by his efforts to incite revolution among the poor and oppressed in Bolivia, the nation's army captured and executed Guevara in 1967. But before dumping his body in a secret grave, they gathered around for a strategic photo op16). They wanted to prove to the world that Che was dead, in hopes that his political movement would die with him.
But by killing the man, Bolivian officials unwittingly birthed his legend. The photo, which circulated around the world, bore a striking resemblance to Renaissance paintings of Christ taken down from the cross. Even as Che's killers preened17) and gloated18) above him (the officer on the right seems to be inadvertently pointing to a wound on Guevara's body near where Christ's final wound was inflicted), Che's eerily peaceful face was described as showing forgiveness. The photo's allegorical significance certainly wasn't lost on the revolutionary protesters of the era. They quickly adopted “Che lives!” as a slogan and rallying cry.
The Photograph That Allowed Geniuses to Have a Sense of Humor
While Einstein certainly changed history with his contributions to nuclear physics and quantum mechanics, this photo changed the way history looked at Einstein. By humanizing a man known chiefly for his brilliance, this image is the reason Einstein's name has become synonymous not only with “genius”, but also with “wacky genius”.
So why the history-making tongue? It seems Professor Einstein, hoping to enjoy his 72nd birthday in peace, was stuck on the Princeton campus enduring incessant19) hounding by the press. Upon being prodded to smile for the camera for what seemed like the millionth time, he gave photographer Arthur Sasse a good look at his uvula instead. This being no ordinary tongue, the resulting photo became an instant classic, thus ensuring that the distinguished Nobel Prize-winner would be remembered as much for his personality as for his brain.
2. infantry [ˈɪnfəntrɪ] n. 步兵，步兵团
3. surreal [səˈrɪəl] adj. 超现实主义的
4. Steven Spielberg：史蒂文·斯皮尔伯格(1946~)，美国著名电影导演、编剧和电影制作人，曾两度荣获奥斯卡最佳导演奖，著名的代表作品有《大白鲨》(Jaws)、《外星人》(E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial)、《辛德勒的名单》(Schindler's List)等。
5. tuberculosis [tjuːˌbɜː(r)kjʊˈləʊsɪs] n. 肺结核
6. meager [ˈmiːɡə(r)] adj. 不足的，缺乏的，贫乏的
7. politico [pəˈlɪtɪkəʊ] n. 政客
8. nary [ˈneəri] adj. 一个也没有的
9. VA：退伍军人管理署(Department of Veterans Affairs的缩写)
10. vandal [ˈvænd(ə)l] n. 故意破坏者，破坏别人财产者
11. stout [staʊt] adj. 矮胖的
12. Che Guevara：切·格瓦拉(1928~1967)，出生于阿根廷的罗萨里奥，马克思主义革命者和古巴游击队领导人。他在卡斯特罗领导的古巴革命中扮演着重要角色。被捕入狱后，他成为第三世界共产革命运动中的英雄和西方左翼运动的象征。
13. sociopathic [ˈsəʊʃɪəʊˌpæθɪk] adj. 反社会的
14. luminary [ˈluːmɪnərɪ] n. 名人，杰出人物
15. Jean-Paul Sartre：让-保罗·萨特(1905~1980)，法国20世纪最重要的哲学家之一，法国无神论存在主义的主要代表人物，代表作有《存在与虚无》(Being and Nothingness)等。
16. photo op：亦写作photo opp，是photo opportunity的缩写，意思是“拍照机会；(名人政要等)接受媒体拍照的时间”。
17. preen [priːn] vi. 自负，自满
18. gloat [ɡləʊt] vi. 洋洋得意，幸灾乐祸
19. incessant [ɪnˈses(ə)nt] adj. 不断的，不停的