10 Real Stories Behind Famous Photos

A picture paints a thousand words, right? But what if that image was doctored to suit the needs of the media, photographer or the person in the shot? Forget what you know, and take a look at the 10 real stories behind these famous photographs…

1. Construction Workers at Lunch

New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam

This famous image depicts construction workers having lunch on top of a 840 feet New York skyscraper with no harnesses. However, it was actually a promotional shot that the workers posed for.

Have we ruined that image for you forever? It might make you feel better to know that they were actually on the 840 skyscraper with no harnesses. Here are a few of them chilling in between shots…


2. Bob Dylan and Rubin Carter

Bob dylan rubin carter

Bob Dylan was disappointed not to see Rubin “Hurricane” Carter behind bars when he visited him in prison, as he had imagined a moving shot between him and the boxer who had been wrongfully imprisoned.

This photo was therefore staged, as the bars are just a grate that was pulled down from the ceiling in the middle of the hallway.

3. Abbey Road

abbey road cover

The Abbey Road album cover is one of the most famous shots of The Beatles, but it was actually doctored a little. The American publisher removed the cigarette from Paul’s right hand – without his permission.

4. Winston Churchill

winston churchill

The above photo of Winston Churchill was taken on 30th December 1941, after he had spoken to the Canadian Parliament. The photo session followed his speech. Yousef Karsh, the photographer, asked Churchill to remove his photo but he refused; however, Karsh would not take no for answer and removed the cigar from the unhappy prime minister. Churchill frowned that his beloved smoke was taken away from him – which Karsh just so happened to snap, and it is now one of the most iconic portraits of the politician.

5. Iwo Jima

iwo jima

This iconic image shows how five US troops rose the flag on Iwo Jima. The photo was taken by photographer Joe Rosenthal on 23rd February, 1945, and was reprinted in thousands of publications. However, this was the United States Marines and United States corpsmans’ second attempt at raising the flag, as the first flag was too small. Here is the first image…

Iwo Jima

6. Children for Sale


The above photo was taken in Chicago (1948) of a mother hiding her face in shame after putting her children up for sale. However, the woman in the photo, Mrs. Louise Chalifoux, actually thought she was doing what was best for her children, as she was struggling to keep food in their mouths and a roof over their heads. Her husband, Ray, had recently become unemployed, and so they made the heartbreaking decision to sell their children, as they faced eviction from their home.

Find out what happened to the children by clicking here.

7. Ruby Bridges

ruby bridges

Ruby Bridges was the first African-American student to join William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here she is being escorted to school by US marshals. However, what the image doesn’t show is that a large crowd gathered outside the school to shout and throw rocks at the little girl.

8. Russian Cosmonaut

russian cosmonauts

This famous photo is of the Russian team of Cosmonauts who were the first humans to complete an orbit of Earth. However, Grigoriy was removed from the picture, as he was expelled from the program for misbehaviour.

9. OJ Simpson

oj simpson

The above photo of OJ Simpson was altered after his arrest for murder. Time Magazine manipulated the shot to make the American football star appear darker and more menacing. Newsweek, however, published the original version.

10. Bin Laden

Bin laden fake photo

British newspapers published a rather disturbing photo of Osama Bin Laden when he was killed by US forces in Pakistan on 2nd May 2011. However, the photo is actually a composite of an alive Bin Laden and the top portion is of a completely different person.

Take a look at more historic photos by heading on over to 10 Photographs Taken Moments Before Tragedy.

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1 Response

  1. September 20, 2014

    […] Take a look at more historic photos by reading 10 Real Stories Behind Famous Photos. […]

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