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30 Of The Most Powerful Images Ever

A picture is worth a thousand words, but not all pictures are created equal. The pictures we usually feature on Bored Panda can be cute, beautiful, funny, or enchanting, but these pictures are powerful. They are gripping and unforgettable because of the volumes they speak about the human condition – about some of the best and worst moments of contemporary human existence.

We should warn our readers that some of these pictures may upset them, while others may fill them with joy. But that’s precisely because these images reflect some of the best and worst parts of the human experience and world events. Our post of must-see photos from the past described our history while these photos, for the most part, describe our present – our suffering and our triumphs, our perseverance and our failures, our compassion and our hatred, our intelligence and our stupidity.

Some of these photographs may mean more to some of our readers than to others. But hopefully, they will remind us all that the world can always use a little bit more love, tolerance, compassion and understanding.

P.S: we always try our best to credit each and every photographer, but sometimes it’s impossible to track some of them. Please leave a comment if you know the missing authors.

1. Starving boy and missionary

Image credits: Mike Wells

2. Inside an Auschwitz gas chamber

Image credits: kligon5

3. Heart surgeon after 23-hour-long (successful) heart transplant. His assistant is sleeping in the corner.

Image credits: James Stanfield

4. Father and son (1949 vs 2009)

Image credits: Vojage-Vojage

5. Diego Frazão Torquato, 12 year old Brazilian playing the violin at his teacher’s funeral. The teacher had helped him escape poverty and violence through music

Image credits: salvemasnossascriancas.blogspot.com

6. A Russian soldier playing an abandoned piano in Chechnya in 1994

Image credits: drugoi.livejournal.com

7. Young man just found out his brother was killed

Image credits: Nhat V. Meyer

8. Christians protect Muslims during prayer in the midst of the 2011 uprisings in Cairo, Egypt

Image credits: Nevine Zaki

9. A firefighter gives water to a koala during the devastating Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, Australia, in 2009

Image credits: abc.net.au

10. Terri Gurrola is reunited with her daughter after serving in Iraq for 7 months

Image credits: Louie Favorite

11. Indian homeless men wait to receive free food distributed outside a mosque ahead of Eid al-Fitr in New Delhi, India

Image credits: Tsering Topgyal / AP

12. Zanjeer the dog saved thousands of lives during Mumbai serial blasts in March 1993 by detecting more than 3,329 kgs of the explosive RDX, 600 detonators, 249 hand grenades and 6406 rounds of live ammunition. He was buried with full honors in 2000

Image credits: STR News / Reuters

13. Man Falling from the World Trade Center on 9/11. “The Falling Man.”

Image credits:  Richard Drew /AP

14. Alcoholic father with his son

Image credits: imgur.com

15. Embracing couple in the rubble of a collapsed factory

Image credits: Taslima Akhter

16. Sunset on Mars

Image credits: nasa.gov

17. Five-year-old gypsy boy on New Year’s Eve 2006 in the gypsy community of St. Jacques, Perpignan, Southern France. It is quite common in St. Jacques for little boys to smoke

Image credits: Jesco Denzel

18. Hhaing The Yu, 29, holds his face in his hand as rain falls on the decimated remains of his home near Myanmar’s capital of Yangon (Rangoon). In May 2008, cyclone Nargis struck southern Myanmar, leaving millions homeless and claiming more than 100,000 lives

Image credits: Brian Sokol

19. A dog named “Leao” sits for a second consecutive day at the grave of her owner, who died in the disastrous landslides near Rio de Janiero in 2011.

Image credits: Vanderlei Almeida / Getty Images

20. “Wait For Me Daddy,” by Claude P. Dettloff in New Westminster, Canada, October 1, 1940

Image credits: Claud Detloff

21. An old WW2 Russian tank veteran finally found the old tank in which he passed through the entire war – standing in a small Russian town as a monument

Image credits: englishrussia.com

22. Flower power

Image credits: Bernie Boston

23. A woman sits amidst the wreckage caused by a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunam, in Natori, northern Japan, in March 2011

Image credits: Asahi Shimbun, Toshiyuki Tsunenari /AP

24. The Graves of a Catholic woman and her Protestant husband, Holland, 1888

Image credits: retronaut.com

25. Greg Cook hugs his dog Coco after finding her inside his destroyed home in Alabama following the Tornado in March, 2012

Image credits: Gary Cosby Jr. / AP

26. Demonstration of condom usage at a public market in Jayapura, capital of Papua, 2009

Image credits: Adri Tambunan

27. Russian soldiers preparing for the Battle of Kursk, July 1943

Image credits: Shirak Karapetyan-Milshtein

Update: Our reader Leif-Erik pointed out that this photograph was actually created in 2006-2007 for a photo competition. It is based on archive photos from the war in Russia in 1941-1945.

28. During massive floods in Cuttack City, India, in 2011, a heroic villager saved numerous stray cats by carrying them with a basket balanced on his head

Image credits: Biswaranjan Rout / AP

29. An Afghan man offers tea to soldiers

Image credits: Rafiq Maqbool / AP

30. Some parents, likely now in their 70′s, still looking for their missing child.

Image credits: reddit.com

P.S: we always try our best to credit each and every photographer, but sometimes it’s impossible to track some of them. Please leave a comment if you know the missing authors.

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  • Olimpia Marina

    It is about what humans do to humans…..It is sad..it is reality..and it is going on and on…

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  • Echo

    OP obviously never been on 4chan.

  • Luna

    Could you please remove the slur “gyspy” in title 17? The respectful, non-derogatory term is “Roma”.

    • And

      just NO. gypsy is by no means offensive itself. it became dergogatory because of the actions done by the majority of its people.

  • Tenos

    Taking a step back, and looking at all of this from a bit more of a broad view (as I’d advise anyone to do, before commenting on anything, regardless of whether it’s in real-time, or online); I appreciate the compilation of images shown here, they cover a pretty wide spectrum of emotions and subtext, without a doubt. However, still, after years, nearly two decades now, of observing comment boards not unlike this one, I honestly still, to this day, cannot believe how stupid and utterly worthless some people are when it comes to giving general comments on random things lie this page… People never seem to come off any more educated than they did years ago, it’s all the same blather. Myself included I suppose, as I’m sure someone (perhaps a few different people) other than myself, did this same exact thing, took a step back, realized how damn stupid the comments looked, and felt a need to say something… But still, I can’t help but feel that the internet community, as a whole, is one gigantic asshole of an idiot… Have a great day guys! …Or don’t, ether way, I know I will. X’P

  • Bill

    We have over 150 years of photography and almost every image is from the past 15 years. While I appreciated the images, I found it lacking any breadth.

    • ass

      old

    • wmson

      From the intro: ” Our post of must-see photos from the past
      described our history while these photos, for the most part, describe
      our present – our suffering and our triumphs, our perseverance and our
      failures, our compassion and our hatred, our intelligence and our
      stupidity.”

      Could check out the other set…

  • Rodrigo

    Just wish humanity shouldn’t suffer that much in each picture we should take an example to motivates us to appreciate live and build a better society and a better future.

  • nabu

    Beautiful pictures, especially the one with animals. Tears in my eyes.

  • mrparker1

    Absolutely disgusting comments about these poignant photos here. Left wing fascists, you can besa mi culo.
    Yes, America is so terrible, that’s why people try to get in any way they can. Or is there a big rush of immigrants to Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Russia, etc.

    • Luciano Angelotti

      actually people do travel in large groups of illegal imigrants to Russia… Egypt no longer since the army take over, but untill 2 years back there was lots of them too…
      But it’s so easy compare a stable country with somehow stable economy with places took over by poverty and extremism…
      They try to get in any way they can (as your words) in Holand, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, England, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Lithuania even Armenia is having problems with illegal imigration recently…
      I even belive that more people try to enter in these countries than in USA… So you want people not saying that you right wings are nuts and live in a bubble? Look around you once and a while, specially before talk, there’s a big world around you, outside your belly…

      • texassa

        I also can’t help but notice your commentary style is to abrasively criticize and insult other posters. This adds little to constructive debate or helps get across your point of view. It’s always better to express yourself without immature insults and simply communicate your point of view. Better luck in the future.

        • Luciano Angelotti

          I only respond to the content of the poster. I rather keep my post criticizing your opinion than your person. If you post like this one I can keep a good conversation, if you post like Mr Parker up there I don’t have to be calm and polite, calling us left wing fascists and “besa mi culo” (“kiss my ass” in case your spanish isn’t working because yeah, most of us against right wings also speak spanish because this seems to be some hypster communist language or whatever)
          Anyway, you get your opinion by reading the comments on this picture #10, people saying that they don’t feel moved by that and people respond by “ignorant, parasite, fascist, idiot…” (so far those were some of the things I’ve been called in here for saying: Your army don’t represent my freedom)..

          • Paul Harvy

            IT MUST HAVE BEEN A TEXAN THAT KICKED YOUR BUTT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tessa.ashley.3 Tessa Ashley

    Joe

  • Disrespectful

    Amazing images! But, like Luna already pointed out, please remove the word “gyspy” in picture 17 as it is very disrespectful.

    • abc

      why do you consider the term gypsy disrespectful? it depicts an ethnicity that is known by ths term for hundreds of years

  • Frank

    Leaving a comment

  • stevie renenhan

    Just puts things in perspective when we moan about minute things in comparison to some of the images here also some up lifting ones to, every photo so powerful in its own way

  • MiddleGroundMan

    On the topic of #10, I don’t think the purpose of the photograph is to show the trials and virtues of this exact war, but more so a comment on the war itself. I’m trying to find the best way to articulate my thought but I’m not one for words. I believe that this is trying to paint a picture of how difficult war is on all people involved – it’s not trying to justify it; I believe it is condemning it. I agree that the war currently going on in the Middle East is unnecessary and short-sighted, and this image is showing that same thought from a less viewed perspective. This woman serves in the United States armed forces and she was torn away from her family out of her duty. But examine that duty – is this war worth splitting a family up? See how deeply affected she is by this reunion with her daughter and step back to examine the purpose of the war.

    Now, I’d appreciate it if everyone stopped bickering and in-fighting when there are no real consequences. Anyone can be big and tough on a message board. Let’s simply appreciate these images and the wide array of emotions they portray – these are all very powerful images and I appreciate this list.

    (I’ll step off my soapbox now.)

  • ZConfused

    So whats the best profession in the world to survive…

  • Cleide Teixeira Sappak

    Impressionante trabalho fotográfico que captura sentimentos muito profundos. Magnífico! A história registrada sabiamente pelas fotos…

  • cavewoman

    Amazing stories yet powerful connections to the human emotion….. and this is how stories should be told on face book…….

  • Tuguldur Bilegsaikhan

    Most people don’t go on deployments to make money. Actually most people in the military are severely underpaid when compared to civilian counter parts in those specialty fields.

  • Amanda Dontworrybehappy Parker

    Please tell me the embraced couple in the rubble was ok :-/

  • Sor Clarina

    De verdad es demasiado el dolor en el mundo…el mal se combate con ayuno, oración y abstinencia!

  • Lisa Whelan

    wow these are amazing xx

  • Claude

    #3, #5, #12, #24, #26 & #30 had the most “impact” on me, after seeing them. Amazing photos.

  • Trishia

    These pictures show that there is so much we can all do to bring more joy, kindness and happiness into this world. If each one of us did just one thing to help a situation or a living being what a change it would bring to this world.

  • Nomad

    Yes – most likely he was depressed after seeing such a traumatic situation.

  • Saosan

    I don’t know any information about the image credits but I wish there was more information in the caption about the Bangladeshi factory collapse, as there were for the other photos.

  • Matthew Chesher

    Just saw this and am in complete and utter shock at number 30. I don’t know anyone other than direct family with the same name as me. I feel speechless.

  • Siobhán Dublin Ireland

    All human ( and animal!) life is there. How powerful and moving.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lewischappelear Lewis Chappelear

    But you first have to look!

  • Angellina Santa Cruz

    #7 is my middle brother that was the crime scene of February 13, 2013 our little brother was murdered from behind at 17 years old. He was an amazing person his smile would brighten your whole day no matter how you felt he was an awesome father whom looked forward to going to college to play football to better hos feature and also his sons

  • India Ashanti Hill

    I wish a picture of slavery was added, my history. A sad time for Americans but also a time we need not forget, so that we can learn from.

    • Htreezy

      dude ur indian not black

      • India Ashanti Hill

        My name is India. I am a Black woman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ladyebonybell Ebony Bell

    Abigail Varney

  • Stickled Pink

    At one point or another, I have seen each of these photos. Some have stayed in my mind throughout the years, and some I had completely forgotten of. They each evoke a memory, something sad, something incredible—moments in my life that I have dealt with, or perhaps similarities in one of the faces made me think of someone I personally knew or what they had lived through…they each strike a chord in me that makes me feel every year old that I am. I’m only 35, but I feel I have emotionally lived all that time. In my heart, I am a thousand years old. So much hardship in life, but in the middle of it…true amazement and beauty, even in my moments of despair. I’ve dealt with losing my brother, my grandfather…my dad. Watching my mother change and dissolve into a stranger because of mental illness. Friends, dying. I have lived horror, tragedy…and I know moments that have taken my breath away. These are pictures of moments of someone else’s life. Their moment. It’s incredible to me that they weren’t alone going through it all. Someone was with them, watching through a lens. Someone happened to be at the place and eye in time to capture it’s second of reality. I don’t know if I could handle seeing a photo of ANY of my “moments”, but then part of me thinks, if I were ever to—would my hardest moments, be beautiful too? Would a photo of my demise, or construction—birth and even death, be just as meaningful to a stranger peering in through my life lens? I just hope, that through all my trials, someone can look back on it…and feel what I felt, so that somewhere in it all…I haven’t been alone. The world is full of people. To me the worst to see and feel, is loneliness. These photos prove to me in some way, that we are truly…truly, never alone. We are not unique—that everything is momentary. And life? is second to second and we have no control of it’s ending. Even in madness, is it all just fate anyway? Or were we all meant to live in our “seconds”? Are our moments, meant to be seen? Our “moments” proof that we have lived? If so, where is my photographer?

  • satya prakash

    it is full of humanity

  • Nesma

    Everyone has a free will and choice, right?!
    But me too wasn’t moved by the picture where a solider was holding her daughter!
    Because the moment she made a choice to go to war, she had expected some way or another that at some point, she could stand infront of another choice of killing a child at the very same age of her daughter!
    Where’s the sense in that!
    I’m talking here about the moment she agreed to join the mission/war wherever she was going to!But the media came at this very moment and shows how can they suffer!

  • DK

    These comments concerning that woman soldier are atrocious. She is a soldier. She missed her child. She may have been lucky to even see her child again. There were many who didn’t. Who cares if you hate America or think the war was wrong. That wasn’t her decision. She was just doing her duty. The look on her face should make any heart ache. Have some goddamn respect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sara.prophet Sara Prophet

    Jees such stupid comments! Just enjoy or however get impressed by these great pictures.Some people are so tighten up.

  • ah

    bored by north american nationalists

  • Michiel van der Blonk

    A really blissful moment: a man playing the piano. How do we know this is a blissful moment? We never can tell. Now imagine a soldier playing the piano in the middle of a war zone. We immediately feel the blissful moment, because of the contrast. Without contrast, an image is either completely white or completely black. With contrast, we suddenly see a scene appear. And that is why either completely ‘evil’ pictures are uninspiring (actual death sentence by hanging), and so are completely ‘happy’ pictures (weddings, birthdays etc).

  • http://www.facebook.com/gaffney.gaffney Joe Gaffney

    Francis Samuel

  • http://jobappplus.com/ Alex Miklin

    That was amazing.

  • anal_wizzard

    haha the 1st pic is some dude holding hands with ET, n i love the aushvitz one, the zero amount of blue zyclon b staining on the walls, yea thats great, if u took a picture of the floor u can see all the walls that used to be in those gas chambers cos they werent gas chambers, (look up david cole), see why in 1988 the death toll at aushvitz went from 4 million to 1.1 million, cos stupid fucks you reading, dont know shit. n look at all the muslim BS in this, yea they give u food n tea, but take away free speech n ur life if u apostate. apostasy is still a crime in many muslim countries. oh look russian soldies, right before they raped 20 women each, good job. This was clearly made by and for “left-wing” guilty middle class white people, yall make me sick, i got more respect for the poor whites with nazi tattoos than u pussies, yea and im black (a filthy nigga). atleast have the picture of the vietnamese prisoner being shot on there. god dam. lord have mercy, im gunna get me some fried chicken n fuck me a girl with a big ass, peace.

  • Toots

    Luciano,

    I cannot applaud you enough, informed, concise and accurate arguments and somehow calm in the face of such utter lunacy. You’ve noticed I’m sure how most posters resort to insults and grammar/spelling corrections after they’ve put forth the same ignorant point a couple of times, it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so depressing.
    I’m sure you understand that you’ll never change the opinions of those with whom you are debating but just because so many have given up learning does not mean others should not continue to teach.
    I tip my cap to you sir.

  • http://www.symphonyoflove.net/blog BK

    Powerful images indeed! Some of these images are heartwarming and some of them are simply heartbreaking.

  • Simon Ainley

    Missing the Hubble Ultra Deep Field!