Last updated: 12 may, 2010 - 14:15 GMT

Art and Culture

Every Picture Tells A Story

  • People wearing masks of Neda Agha Soltan
    Neda Agha Soltan's death during a Tehran street protest was graphically captured on a mobile phone and posted on a video-sharing website. It transformed her into a global symbol of Iranian opposition.
  • Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong officer
    American photographer Eddie Adams who took this famous Vietnam War picture of a Vietcong prisoner being shot dead, won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1969. However he later said it was unfair on the police chief who carried out the killing.
  • The Taj Hotel in Mumbai
    On 26 November 2008, gunmen launched attacks on the luxury Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai. It is a 105-year-old city landmark at the heart of India's financial capital, popular with tourists as well as the city's elite.
  • Mural by artist Shepard Fairey of Barack Obama
    Artist Shepard Fairey was more accustomed to making negative posters of politicians, but was inspired to create this image of Barack Obama after he attended the 2004 Democratic National Convention. This image became synonymous with Obama's presidential campaign.
  • Student protestor stops tanks of the Chinese Army near Tiananmen Square
    More than one million Chinese students and workers occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989 and began the largest political protest in communist China's history. To this day, the fate of this lone protester remains unknown.
  • The remains of a cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti after the island was struck by an earthquake
    The Roman Catholic cathedral in Port-au-Prince, like so many other buildings, was destroyed after the Haitian earthquake of January 2010. Officials say up to 230,000 died and left more than one million people homeless.
  • Hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 in New York City
    The heart of New York City was devastated after terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Centre. The twin towers, a prominent symbol of American financial might, collapsed within a matter of hours.
  • Rwandan soldier looks at the human skulls and remains of genocide victims in Bisesero, Rwanda
    Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 people were killed in the space of 100 days, in what is known as the Rwandan genocide. The dead were largely ethnic Tutsis, and most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus.
  • Fire boats battle a fire at the off-shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon on 21 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico
    An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on 20 April 2010 killed 11 workers and triggered a huge oil spill across the Gulf of Mexico. US President Barack Obama has said the oil disaster will have the same impact on the American psyche as 9/11.
  • Passengers wait to be rescued on the wings of a U.S. Airways aircraft that ditched in the Hudson River in New York
    A collision with a flock of birds caused this US Airways plane to lose power just after take-off. Captain Sullenberger took the decision to ditch the plane in the River Hudson, New York, saving the lives of 155 people.
  • The funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales
    The death of Diana, Princess of Wales, triggered an extraordinary outpouring of grief across the UK, which reverberated across the world. Thousands lined the route on the day of her funeral procession.
  • The aftermath of the Indian Ocean  tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on 5 January 2005.
    The Asian tsunami which struck 13 countries on 26 December 2004, was one of the worst natural disasters in living memory. Banda Aceh in Indonesia was one of the worst-hit areas, where more than 100,000 people died.
  • Sinking of the Argentinean cruiser - Belgrano - during the Falklands war
    The Belgrano sinking was the most controversial event of the 1982 Falklands War between the UK and Argentina. While defended by the British government at the time, many were critical of the sinking.

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The cell-phone footage of Neda Agha Soltan who was shot on a peaceful protest in Tehran in 2009. Eddie Adams's Saigon Execution photograph in 1968. The lone demonstrator with a shopping bag in front of a People's Liberation Army tank in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the rescue of the young boy Kiki, from the rubble of Haiti's earthquake earlier this year.

Images like these take on a life of their own far beyond their original inspiration or context.

As a result, they tell us much about events, how they happened and why they mattered.

Razia Iqbal investigates how modern images affect us and why they are able to appeal to our imagination even when we are distanced from the event or the person depicted.

Listen as Razia meets the image makers and discusses the need to contemplate the still picture in the 21st Century.

First broadcast on 5 July 2010


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