Life is filled with many moments, from the ephemeral to the eternal. But it is the art of photography that allows us to capture and immortalise them. World Photography Day, celebrated on 19 August, is a tribute to this remarkable art form. From the first daguerreotypes to today’s digital age, every click of a camera shutter tells fascinating stories. In honour of this momentous day, we have carefully selected a collection of 20 iconic photographs that span different eras, chronicle different events and evoke a multitude of emotions. This selection invites us to savour images that invariably rekindle our admiration for the art of photography.

From the depths of human struggle to the heights of triumph, these photographs capture moments that are forever etched in our memories. Their beauty, sometimes stark and sometimes uplifting, serves as a visual reminder of the important role the camera plays in our lives. It is not just an observer, it creates narratives that might otherwise remain in the annals of time. Collectively, these images carry the transformative power of photography. Not only are the subjects mesmerising, but also the unique perspectives they introduce us to. As we journey from the earliest photographs to the moments that defined the twentieth century, we reflect on the photographers who shaped history with their discerning eye.

“View from the window at Le Gras” by Joseph Nicephorus Niépce

The earliest surviving photograph.

“Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange

A poignant portrayal of the Great Depression.

“Tank Man in Tiananmen Square.”

An anonymous act of resistance and courage in the face of repressive regimes.

“The Moon and the Half Dome” by Ansel Adams

A testament to the greatness of nature.

Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl” for National Geographic

An eye-catching look that has become an icon.

“Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston” by Neil Leifer

The triumph of a boxing legend.

The Beatles' “Abbey Road” album cover by Ian Macmillan

A casual stroll that has made music and photography history.

Earthrise, filmed during the Apollo 8 mission

The first image of the beautiful isolated Earth obtained by man from space.

“Victory Day in Times Square” by Alfred Eisenstadt

A spontaneous expression of joy after World War II.

“Lunch atop a skyscraper.”

Construction workers eating lunch on the beam of a skyscraper.

“The Blazing Monk” by Malcolm Brown

A chilling protest against persecution.

Twiggy by Barry Lategan

The evolution of beauty standards through iconic fashion moments.

“Kiss” by Robert Duano

A candid glimpse of romance in Paris.

“Splash of Joy” by Slava Veder

A returned prisoner of war is greeted with joy by his family.

The scene in Marilyn Monroe’s white dress

How photography helps create iconic moments in cinema.

“Behind St Lazare Station” by Henri Cartier-Bresson

The “decisive moment” in street photography.

“Atomikus Dali” by Philip Halsman

Surrealism brought to life.

“Gandhi and the Spinner” by Margaret Bourke-White

A peaceful revolutionary in a candid setting.

9/11 Falling Man by Richard Drew

The need for resilience even in one of the most tragic moments of humanity.

“The Light Will Conquer” by Orestes Kozacki

A stark reminder that light dispels darkness and good always triumphs over evil.