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34 Of The Most Powerful Photos Ever Taken

When you’re scrolling past endless selfies on Insta, sometimes you want to see something different, you know? Something that’ll make you feel. We can’t promise that everything here is warm and fuzzy (although some of it is), but it’s all powerful stuff.

1. Quit ruining it!

Reddit | VeggiesForThought

We’re so used to seeing the people in Victorian-era photographs appearing staid and stuffy. This photo booth sequence from the period shows the human side of things with these adorable candid snaps.

2. It wasn’t that long ago.

Reddit | AutisticKnight

This photo was taken in Texas in 1939 and shows a former slave with a horn used to summon slaves in from the fields. The last former slave reportedly died in 1971.

3. Bend but don’t break.

Reddit | Meunderwears

The Cologne Cathedral at the center of this image was struck directly with Allied bombs 14 times. It was heavily damaged, but stayed standing. It’s remarkable just how resilient these old cathedrals truly are.

4. This is Korea at night.

Reddit | clamalo

If you wondered exactly where the border between North and South was, this image is an incredible illustration of the difference.

5. A game-changer.

Reddit | zsreport

Now that AIDS is better understood and not nearly as deadly as it used to be, it’s easy to forget just how stigmatized it once was. This photo, where Princess Diana shook hands (ungloved) with an AIDS patient helped reduce that stigma.

6. Saying goodbye.

Reddit

This is the last male Northern White Rhino as he passed away in 2018. It’s not often that we can say goodbye to an entire species like this.

7. He’s seen some things.

Reddit | ethan_khan

When you stare into this Italian soldier’s eyes, you get the sense that he’s been through something serious. This picture was taken after 72 straight hours of combat, and exemplifies what’s called the thousand yard stare.

8. A slice of life.

Reddit | YourResidentRussian

The Iron Curtain effectively sealed off the Soviet Union from the west. But this 1961 photo of international students at Moscow State University shows that, despite the Cold War, ordinary people were still living their lives.

9. Grief is the same, no matter who you are.

Reddit | jjlew080

This is former President George W. Bush taking a moment to collect himself during his eulogy for his father, former President George H. W. Bush. No matter how famous or powerful they were in their lives, they were also a father and his son.

10. Worlds collide.

Reddit | Reporter_at_large

This Australian Aboriginal man looks hesitant to use the phone. That’s because the phone was recently installed in their remote stretch of the outback, and it was the first time he’d ever used one.

11. I’ll let the photographer speak for himself on this one.

Reddit | benhanan1

“My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer at 7 mo pregnant, started chemo 7 weeks ago and gave birth to a healthy baby boy early this morning! She is more beautiful than ever.”

12. Get the party started.

Reddit | exoduscv

This seething mass of humanity consists of soldiers stationed overseas, on their way home to the U.S. after World War II. Spirits would have been at an all-time high as they steamed back across the Atlantic.

13. First responders are everyday heroes.

Reddit | H_G_Bells

This image shows an EMT taking a well-deserved break after a particularly rough shift. It’s not just the physical danger that many first responders deal with, but an emotional toll too.

14. Isolated.

Reddit | Meunderwears

This powerful image shows a circus dwarf dining alone in 1958, trying to ignore the leering looks from the next table. The poor guy just wants to eat a meal in peace.

15. A profound loss.

Reddit | DailyCloserToDeath

The look on this soldier’s face is one of pure grief. He’s reflecting on a fallen Marine, touching his helmet and gun. It’s a powerful reminder of how dangerous this line of work truly is.

16. A boy and a dog.

Reddit | Prathameshgtav

Sometimes a photo has power even without full context. I don’t know if the dog belongs to the boy, if it’s a stray, or if they are both homeless and finding support through each other.

17. Paying their respects.

Reddit | NewRetroPepsi

Funeral trains are a fixture of American history when an important public figure dies. When Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, a train carried him from New York to Washington. All along the way, ordinary people paid their respects.

18. Still bros.

Reddit | ThatEnglishKid

This street scene from Burma shows two very different young men. But they share a bond that can’t be broken: they’re brothers. Whatever paths they may choose in life, family trumps everything.

19. Humanity…not at its best.

Reddit | DimeBarADozen

It’s hard to know what’s going on here without context. This shows a young African girl at a ‘human zoo’ in Brussels in 1958. It’s hard to believe people were doing this stuff so recently.

20. Modern medicine has come a long way.

Reddit | badboybirdman

This photo is of a polio ward in the 1950s. Dozens of patients were stuck living in iron lungs due to the effects of the disease.

21. Last of its kind.

Reddit | LividBit

Get a good look at this animal, because we’ll never see one again. This is the last living thylacine, which lived out its lonely existence in captivity. This picture dates to 1933.

22. There is something so powerful about these shoes.

Reddit | amoneh

No matter how many images we see from the Holocaust, it’s the mountains of shoes that really evoke the human scope of what was lost.

23. Heartbreaking.

Reddit | [deleted]

This boy is trying to rouse his alcoholic father from a bender. It’s a tough image to look at for anyone who’s ever seen a loved one battle with alcoholism.

24. Separated once again.

Reddit | superscott

It’s easy to forget that the Korean Peninsula hasn’t always been divided. Here we see a North Korean waving at his South Korean brother. They were briefly allowed to reunite in 2010 before being separated again.

25. You may think that this is just another missing child, until you see the date.

Reddit

Patricia has been missing for 44 years and her family is still looking for her.

26. A different kind of war hero.

Reddit | pubwithnobeer

We might take for granted that medical personnel will be spared in conflict zones. But in World War I, there was no such safety. Nurses had to scramble from one ward to another through trenches in war-torn France.

27. Nature is incredible.

Ryan Wunsch

There’s a reason we refer to things a “forces of nature” when we want to explain how powerful and unstoppable they are. This supercell was forming over the mountains of Montana.

28. Child soldiers are still a things in many nations.

Reddit | melzhas

This Ethiopian boy is paying homage to those who have died before him.

29. A glimpse of the apocalypse.

Reddit | N0thingtosee

The Great Smog of London killed thousands of people back in 1952, but it’s a mere footnote today. If you want to know what unchecked pollution looks like, this is it.

30. A whole new world.

NASA

This cold-looking image shows what sunset looks like on Mars. It’s incredible to think that we’re able to see what things look like on the surface of a different world.

31. Forest fires are some of the most incredible and terrifying of natural disasters.

Reddit | ericmatt96

This photo was taken of the Howe Ridge fire in Glacier National Park the summer of 2018.

32. Getting things into space is still amazing.

Reddit | HellsJuggernaut

This is the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket ever.

33. In an emergency, we all want to help.

Reddit | legoatdalek

Even children want to feel useful, which is why this boy is holding down a firehose with his own bodyweight while a fire in Bangladesh is being fought.

34. The beautiful game.

Reddit | emergency_seal

The beauty of a game like soccer is that it can be played nearly anywhere. These kids have a decent ball, but they don’t need a proper field or proper nets to have fun.

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