While in the past history was written on paper, and we could either believe or discredit what was written, today the proverb "It is better to see once than hear a hundred times" works the best with controversial photography. With the advent of photography, people quickly realized the value of being able to capture certain events as evidence of moments of significance.

If today professional photography has already entered the everyday life as art, for some as a job, nevertheless to this day, the same as before, a picture taken at the right time and in the right place can cause a lot of controversy and discussion. Today's topic will contain a lot of provocative photos that you may not like, but that is the whole point because it causes mixed feelings of shock and confusion.

However, it is a part of our history that reflects the reality that is supposed to be hidden from the eye but busted on a camera lens.

Controversial pictures now and then

And here we start with probably one of the most scandalous photos of this century yet.

This is undoubtedly the most controversial image of 9/11 taken by photographer Thomas Hoepker, it shows a group of friends chilling on a river having a casual conversation there, while there are burning twin towers in their background. Publication of the image was met by a huge public backlash. People simply could not believe they were so relaxed during an attack so horrific. They say it represents everything wrong with the Western world.

If the previous photograph was taken in the USA within this century, this is a screenshot from a video filmed in 1933. It shows a seven years old child giving a Nazi salute.

Now that alone causes thinking different things, but what makes it worse is that this girl is Princess Elizabeth Windsor, who did of course grow up to be the actual queen. This image was covered up for many decades. But it was published in 2015 by the newspaper ‘The Sun’. Part of the controversy was the implication that her uncle had taught her the salute.

We may think that is just a kid who does not know what she is doing, but questionable photos are usually exposed when you do not expect them. The world war had begun almost in the same decade, which gives us a hint that things can relate, but that is a part of the controversy already and that is the point.

Life-changing controversial images

This photograph shows a woman and her goddaughter falling from a fire escape.

To escape a fire in a building, they climbed onto the fire escape, but it collapsed beneath them, resulting in a 50-foot fall to the ground. The image caused a huge public outcry, which in turn led to new fire escape regulations. Within 24 hours of the incident, the regulation was restructured in the city of Boston, which was the location of the collapse.

The baby landed on her mother’s body and thus survived. This is one of those controversial images that draws serious public criticism and leads to inevitable changes to avoid this kind of thing from happening in the future.

Here is another example, when a photo emphasizes the imperfection of the government services, but a more recent one. Omayra Sanchez was a thirteen-year-old Colombian girl who died in a volcano eruption. The Neva do del Ruiz volcano erupted in 1985. It destroyed 13 villages and killed over 22 thousand people. In this image, we can see Sanchez trapped under debris from a collapsed house.

It became one of the controversial photographs worldwide, especially after she died of hypothermia. She was trapped alive for three days, but the Colombian government still did not rescue her, even after the red cross asked them for help. The death of Omayra Sanchez highlighted the failure of South American countries to prepare for natural disasters.

Questionable pictures for the mankind

Here we have what is possibly the most tasteless newspaper headline of all time.

Printing a scandalous picture of a man about to be hit by a moving train, the newspaper editor declared he is doomed.

The image is controversial for obvious reasons, the main one being the New York Post’s exploitation of the death of a man. But also that the photographer did not even try and save the man, he simply started taking pictures. The main question here is this a society we are living in now? Do we trade people’s lives for an intriguing photo?

Retouching controversial photographs with ‘inconvenient’ people.

Grigory Nelyobov was an astronaut in the Soviet space program. All information relating to him was stricken from the government’s record after his dismissal from the program in 1963.

The Soviet authorities even removed his image from photographs. The above is one of the photographs he was removed from. In this original version, we can see him at the back. But in this edited version below, he is gone.

Airbrushing him out of a photo was such a Soviet thing for the Soviets to do. And when people found out about this whole thing, they started wondering how many more people the Soviet Union has removed from history.

And the same we can find here and there with different political backgrounds.