Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

20 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PHOTOGRAPHS IN HISTORY

The title is a bit misleading as the images are those selected from one collection, that of The Royal Photographic Society. The choice therefore is a bit restricted but is still an interesting mix. I would be most interested to hear what you consider the 20 most important photographs of all time from whichever source you like.

The-Hippopotamus-at-the-Zoological-Gardens-1852-Juan-Carlos-Maria-Isidro-Count-de-Montizon-de-Borbon-copyright-NMeM_1080x1080The Hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens’ by Juan Carlos Maria Isidro Count de Montizon de Borbon, 1852 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Soldiers-of-the-Sky-1940-Nickolas-Muray-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Nickolas-Muray-Photo-Archives_592x888‘Soldiers of the Sky’ by Nickolas Muray, 1940 ©Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

In 1853, Prince Albert noticed how quickly the world of photography was developing, so urged the Royal Photographic Society to start collecting images quick smart, to be sure they recorded its rapid rise. And so they did. The result? A collection of more than 250,000 images, 8,000 items of photographic equipment and 31,000 books and documents, including some of the greatest examples of photography yet.

Now, for the first time, photography fans can witness some of the best images from the entire body of work. Drawn by Light, an exhibition running from 2 December 2014 to 1 March 2015 at the Science Museum’s Media Space, showcases shots by such high-profile names as Ansel Adams, Madame Yevonde and Lewis Carroll, right up to Don McCullin, Terry O’Neill and Martin Parr. From still lives, nudes and portraits to photo-reportage and landscapes, it spans the gamut of styles.

Afghan-Girl-Pakistan-1984-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Steve-McCurry_592x888

‘Afghan Girl’ by Steve McCurry, 1984

Science Museum has selected these 20 images from Drawn by Light,  exclusively for Condé Nast Traveller, for you to lose yourself in.  www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/drawnbylight

Aspen-New-Mexico-1958-Ansel-Adams-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Aspen’ by Ansel Adams, 1958 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Audrey-Hepburn-1950-Angus-McBean-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Audrey Hepburn’ by Angus McBean, 1950 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Bewengungsstudie-Movement-Study-1926-Rudolf-Koppitz-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_592x888‘Bewengungsstudie Movement Study’ by Rudolf Koppitz, 1926 ©National Media Museum, Bradford

Nude-on-Sand-Oceano-California-1936-Edward-Weston-The-RPS-Collection-National-Media-Museum-Bradford-copyright-Edward-Weston_1440x960

‘Nude on Sand, Oceano, 1936” by Edward Weston ©Edward Weston
Moonrise-Hernandez-New-Mexico-1941-Ansel-Adams-The-RPS-Collection-copyright-National-Media-Museum-Bradford_1440x960
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico’ by Ansel Adams, 1941 ©National Media Museum, Bradford
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5 responses to “20 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PHOTOGRAPHS IN HISTORY

  1. Jane Buekett November 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    This is the new show at the Media Space isn’t it? Well we all know about the RPS, but does anything make you think that the 20 ‘most important’ photos might have been chosen by a man?

    • oxfordschoolofphotography November 27, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      You mean because of the hippo? As for the RPS I only know it is a club I would prefer not to join but I do think they try to make photography more accessible so I should praise their attempts at least. Of course the images chosen for the blog were chosen by a man….but he was just trying to be a little controversial

  2. Jane Buekett November 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Or perhaps a little obvious? Count the breasts, phallic symbols, attractive young women. Couldn’t we have had one pert male buttock?

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