Today, photos are such a commonplace part of our lives that we have forgotten how important this free gift to humanity is. Photos express and immortalise our prized experiences, milestones in one’s life, as well as very powerfully convey events across the world. Despite the prevalence of TV and video, the ability of photos to move and inspire remains unchanged.
To celebrate the enduring importance and power of photography, 19th August has been defined as World Photography Day, an international day whose purpose is to recognise photography as a gift which is truly ‘Free to the World’. World Photography Day marks the invention of the Daguerroetype, a photographic process developed by Joseph Nicèphore Nièpce and Louis Daguerre, which was announced on 19th August 1839. Since then photography has come a long way with digital cameras and Smartphones.
To acknowledge World Photography Day, we bring you six life-affirming photos that capture historical milestones since the year 2000. While we are aware that the most instantly recognisable images from the noughties revolve around civil unrest, war and conflict in general, we have assembled for you six photos that depict human achievement, technological innovation, or a sense of triumph or nostalgia that has made the last 13 years so interesting. Please don’t hesitate to share with us any other pictures that have marked the decade for you.
1. The tribute in light shines on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Word Trade Centre in NYC. They shine both potently and hauntingly as a reminder of the presence of the absent twin towers, which were such a notable fixture on the NYC skyline. Today, the new building One World Trade Centre occupies the previous site, suggesting that symbolic rejuvenation is well underway.
2. The Concorde takes off for the last time as flight 216 on November 26, 2003 from Heathrow airport en route to Filton airport (near Bristol) where it would become part of a heritage centre. The Concorde breaks the supersonic barrier one last time at twice the speed of sound. This photo captures our sense of loss and nostalgia at the abandonment of a technological marvel.
3. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Michel Phelps won an unprecedented medley of Gold medals, while breaking numerous World and Olympic records. This photo was taken after he won the 4x100m freestyle relay swim, and has become one of the most defining photos expressing human perseverance and sporting achievement.
4. When Iceland’s EyjaFjallajokull erupted in 2010, it caused massive air transport chaos throughout Western Europe. However, on April 22 the Northern Lights were seen above the volcano – making for a splendid photo contrasting ethereal beauty in the skies and geographic violence on Earth.
5. The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne. This photo captures the exciting culmination of the Diamond Jubilee concert held on 4th June 2012, outside Buckingham Palace, and which was partially attended by the Queen.
6. On 19th July, 2013, NASA released a stunning photo taken from the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, showing our planet Earth as a ‘Pale Blue Dot’ amidst the cold expanse of space. Photos from the outer solar system are rare, and it was the first time people on Earth knew that they were being photographed. NASA had asked people to wave at the spacecraft at a pre-given time, in what the camera leader of Cassini called an “interplanetary cosmic photo session’. Few photos of Earth from space have ever been so striking.
What other life-affirming photos from the 2000s would you have included in this list? Are there any events from the 2000s that are particularly close to your heart, and which were poignantly captured on camera?
PhotoBox wishes you a very happy World Photography Day.