What Qualifies as Iconic Photography?

My friend Lindsay sent me an article this morning from NPR that I found quite interesting. It featured a picture of a couple laying down kissing in the midst of a riot-ridden Vancouver (after the local hockey team was defeated in the finals of the Stanley Cup). It poses the question of whether or not this could be the V-J day kiss in Times Square (a spontaneous moment of celebration at the announcement of the end of the war with the Japanese during World War 2 captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt) of our generation. Both the recent (very recent, last night) picture and Times Square picture are below.

I find the question interesting on several levels. While the images are obviously similar in content with a spontaneous kiss in the midst of chaos, the inspiration for the kisses are quite different. One was celebrating the completion of a war that had resulted in countless deaths, while the other apparently resulted at the victory of their favorite hockey team? I have to laugh at that though, because I wonder if these people were Bruins fans or simply drunk. Additionally, an update to the article suggested perhaps it was performance art.

While the similarities from the Vancouver image and this image at the Getty are quite similar, I question that theory for the mere fact that knowing a riot would ensue in Vancouver seems to be a bit out there. Do you think the riot image is real or staged?

It also raises the question of what qualifies as an iconic image. Is it a message that resonates the most with people? Is it the quality of the image? Is it the most graphic? And what are images from our generation that you think will stand the test of time? Below (as a native Oklahoman) is an image I’ll never forget.

What are some images from recent times you feel are iconic?

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One Comment on “What Qualifies as Iconic Photography?”

  1. Lindsay says:

    It’s definitely one of the most fascinating photos I’ve seen in awhile. However, I have a hard time calling it iconic — a riot over a hockey game can hardly be comparable to the circumstances surrounding the end of World War II or the Oklahoma City bombing.


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