Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

A Few Updates About the Blog

with 46 comments

I write. I don’t usually care about grammar or style–and if someone finds fault in it (and someone always does, be it Mrs. Wendell at my prep or an officious reader), so be it. That didn’t stop me from writing articles, blogs and diary entries, most of which are probably testaments of my innate fascination with Self. (I bet I would mutter myself to death if I were living in the Stone Age).

A year ago, I started writing what would latter become the foundations of this blog, a list of ten supericonic photographs. Among the complaints that I received for the list from my friends were that the photos accompanying them were not big enough, that the list was not informative enough and, most importantly of all, that I didn’t name their favorite photos as being iconic–which, in retrospect, was a sound idea because their top choices perhaps included Nick Nolte’s mug shot, goatse and Marilyn Monroe’s Playboy spread. But their complains helped start this blog.

I have a few apologies . One, the information on this site is not 100% correct. I do my research, but sometimes a few mistakes here and there do slip in. So, be warned–if you are doing your Ph.D. research this is not the place to start. Two, if a newspaper clipping or wikipedia blurb can express my thoughts better and more concisely, I use it. To some it may be plagiarism, but come on, give me a break–This is not an academic project and i use up my freetime on here, and sometimes, it is hard to come by.

To admit, I never felt comfortable about infringing copyright. Yet, I did it and one year on, only one commenter felt he should denounce my “shrine to copyright infringement”. I don’t derive any monetary gain from this blog, and make me lose a few precious hours which I should better devote to smoking, drinking and other activities that shorten my life.

I guess I usually shied away from controversy. There is no Abu Garib, no gory pictures coming from 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq and no pictures that could be seen as pornographic (Mapplethrope’s for one). However, sometimes iconicity and controversy are inseparable–Garry Gross’ Brooke Shields picture for instance. I posted about it months before Tate Modern controversy, which reduced the comment pages of this blog to an online equivalent of a lavatory wall. We still cannot have a discussion online without everyone concerned being reduced to offensive stereotypes and caricatures. I find it funny and sad that people who felt strongly to wage a moral crusade against the people whom they have never met (and will never either) instead of actually doing something about the issues concerned. Maybe it is just the signs of the times.

I don’t know how many of you who read this blog personally knows me, although I do see some commenters compared me to my illustrious father (a totally false comparison–I have neither his fluid writing style, his curmudgeonly jeremiads nor his girth). Thank you all for reading.

I think we have moved far (really, really far) from the title of the blog: Iconic Photos. The photos and events about which I blog recently may be newsworthy but iconic they were not. I have to admit that a year and some 600 posts later, iconicity is in short-supply and my free time also too. For instance, I squandered this week in Denmark working for a climate agreement that will never materialize. And next week, I will head off to Dubai for a business/pleasure trip that hopefully will be more relaxing and fruitful than this one.

Ciao. Happy 2010!

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

December 18, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Politics

46 Responses

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  1. I’ll stop lurking long enough to tell you that once I found your site, I lost hours of productivity reading page after page. Now I subscribe and read soon after you publish.
    In my view, the most important thing your site does is to draw attention to significant events. You give a good description of the circumstances surrounding the photo, offer a little insight into the history, and leave it at that. More than once I have gone on to further research an event you highlighted. If there are grammatical errors, they are few, and never did I expect your analysis to be exhaustive.

    Thank you for this remarkable site and keep up the great work.


    December 18, 2009 at 5:56 pm

  2. i love your blog as it is. keep it up. thanks.


    December 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm

  3. I don’t remember how I found your site, but I’ve been totally hooked ever since. Keep up the good work!

    Oh, and regarding copyright and such, I get the impression you’re in Europe? I’m a U.S. lawyer and can answer questions you may have about U.S. IP law. Feel free to send an e-mail if you’d like.


    December 18, 2009 at 6:15 pm

  4. Just taking this opportunity to thank you for the blog. I haven’t seen any photos here that are not in my opinion iconic. Great concept, well done.

    Eric Riback

    December 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

  5. I check this blog everyday and always learn something interesting! Love your blog and keep up the good work.

    Happy Holidays!


    December 18, 2009 at 6:49 pm

  6. Like the others I just want to say I’m a loyal RSS subscriber and this is in my top 10 blogs.

    Keep up the great work.


    December 18, 2009 at 7:26 pm

  7. Love it, keep it up! I am neither worried about your writing style nor your accuracy. If your (usually well written) blurb interests me, I do more research myself.

    Thanks again.



    December 18, 2009 at 7:44 pm

  8. I enjoy this site a great deal. Ignore the haters, keep it up!


    December 18, 2009 at 7:58 pm

  9. This is an absolutely incredible site. Thanks for putting in all of the hard work and time.

    US Democrazy

    December 18, 2009 at 9:31 pm

  10. When I began to read this apologetic and uncharacteristic (of this site) post, my heart sank as I feared that by the end it was going to announce the end of Iconic Photos. Thank goodness it didn’t. I have loved the photos and the commentary. Obviously you hope to make everything accurate. I don’t care about the rest.

    Like scribblevillage, I’ve happily lost hours here, and am much more knowledgable for the investment. I’ve also shared the site with everyone whose opinion I respect.

    In sum, thank you.


    December 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

  11. Excellent work. Keep it up on all fronts.


    December 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

  12. I found you last month and have subsequently idled away hours perusing your postings; don’t change a thing!

    Thanks for all of your efforts, on this blog and in Copenhagen.

    Mammoth Lakes, California


    December 18, 2009 at 9:41 pm

  13. this is one of my favorite sites…

    keep it up man. don’t mind the critics.🙂


    December 18, 2009 at 10:00 pm

  14. I am a regular reader of this blog. And no, grammar-good or bad- does not bother me one tiny bit. It is far more meaningful to come here and look at the image you have picked out than to glance through the excess of images being produced by the media on a daily basis.



    December 19, 2009 at 3:58 am

  15. The post that I saw with a large negative reaction was the “Black Power Salute” at the Olympics, where you maybe didn’t make it clear at all if the summary was from TIME Magazine in the 1960s, or your own opinion.

    That being said… if you’re going to have pleasure in Dubai, it’s worth reading these:



    I don’t think I could ever enjoy myself there with a clear conscience.


    December 19, 2009 at 4:52 am

  16. Please ignore the critics. I am regular reader and agree with the other positive statements written here.

    “I haven’t seen any photos here that are not in my opinion iconic” – I agree with these statements. It’s the valuable context which you help provide which makes it iconic.

    Please keep up the good work.

    White Ninja

    December 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

  17. I daily check this wonderful website and every now and then new great stuff is posted. I love the info and learned a lot. Thank you from the cold Netherlands & please eep it up!


    December 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

  18. I agree with all above – this blog is a treasure – just keep em coming! I absolutely love the historical perspective you bring these images, and in many cases re-contextualize them for me. The Melli affair for one. I followed the story at the time but never got the historical significance till I saw it here. Thanks.


    December 19, 2009 at 10:12 pm

  19. I really appreciate and love your site, please keep it up.


    December 19, 2009 at 11:14 pm

  20. …so I meant to just leave a nice comment and then go back to lurking, and then spent far too much time looking through the archives here. The effort, work, and (former) free time you put into this is definitely appreciated! Thanks a lot!


    December 20, 2009 at 1:46 am

  21. Enjoy the blog. Keep up the updating. Bugger the critics and the snides.


    December 20, 2009 at 6:03 am

  22. I’ve got to admit also, that your blog is totally awesome. I found so much historical photos i searched for years. If there some interesting story to this photoevents, i would always request further search for information, cause only many sources can be compared to an half objective point of view. But this blog is an great opportunity to start.
    Theank you so much for all this work and keep it up.

    By the way, I’ve got some interesting photo which i never found. It must be around 1910 published in an english or french newspaper, and is featuring Wilhem II. from germany and his uncle the English king. Wilhem is hunting his uncle with a walking stick around a pond in Windsor park. By this time it had become a symbol for the growing concurrence and hatred between germany and england before WW I. I would be so happy i you were able to find this photo.


    December 20, 2009 at 11:53 am

    • currently, there is a few thousand miles between me and my photo library, but i sense that photo will be a neddle in the proverbial haystack, since i have never seen it and we know so little about the name of the paper, photographer or even the exact year.
      i wonder where you saw that pic–clearly you couldn’t been alive c. 1910 to have seen it in a paper. a book or a libery portfolio perhaps?


      December 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      • My teacher told me about it years ago in school, so im not exactly sure of the sources, it was a snapshot which wasnt really sharp, so the quality wasnt so good, but at least im pretty sure that it existed, cause there was a source which was telling about the conflict between Wilhelm and his uncle. But i understand, that there is not much information which would help to find this photo.


        December 31, 2009 at 4:44 pm

  23. Your blog together with “Letters of Note” are the only reason I still read blogs. Love it, please continue.



    December 20, 2009 at 6:33 pm

  24. I was sent a link to your website about a month ago by some friends, and I have to tell you that since then I’ve been hooked. The old journalist in me, a degree I never use anymore, loves the look back at historical events, and the pictures that are our clearest reminders of those events.

    I hope Dubai is great to you, and I look forward to when you return and give us more of these great iconic events to look at.

    It’s been very pleasurable to ignore the work I do in the night club for a while each day as I read a few entries, sometimes new ones, and sometimes catching up on all of your work that I miss.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    John Stephens

    December 21, 2009 at 1:36 am

  25. Love your site…I don’t care where you get any of the photos or text from. Its interesting, informative and believe it or not thought provoking….

    Thanks for puttin’ in tha werk! lol


    December 21, 2009 at 12:16 pm

  26. Your blog is a pleasure mostly (dying Diana photo is a notable exception for me) and I hope you keep doing it. Love the history, love the photos! You’re the best!


    December 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm

  27. Dude, whats the matter with you… Ignore them🙂

    You are the bestttt!!!


    December 21, 2009 at 9:47 pm

  28. Iconic Photos is one of my favourite blogs. Long may it continue! Merry Christmas🙂


    December 21, 2009 at 10:39 pm

  29. I’m glad to see so many people feel the way I do about this blog–it’s excellent and informative, and each photo seems plenty iconic.

    I will admit that I do notice the grammatical errors, but I think they stand out because the blog seems so professional otherwise.


    December 22, 2009 at 4:06 am

  30. This my absoute favourite blog on the net – even one of my favourite websites. Interesting, moving, inspiring.

    Pleas, keep it as it is.

    a fan from Hungary


    December 22, 2009 at 9:36 am

  31. Completely agree with Rachel above about the grammatical errors. Very minor detail since the rest is so perfect.


    December 22, 2009 at 10:32 am

  32. Chiming in here from the NW corner of the US to say keep it up. Whiners need to get a life. So do the fanatical editors. Only those who have never made a mistake, grandparents, great aunts and school teachers are allowed to correct others.


    December 22, 2009 at 11:33 pm

  33. I think (along with many others I see) that you make a wonderful contribution to the blogosphere and really sincerly hope you stay inspired and keep helping us to pass an idle hour reading something thats both interesting and informative.
    From a history student in australia😉


    December 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm

  34. Hi,

    This is the best photo I’ve seen in a long time:



    December 24, 2009 at 5:32 am

  35. Ever since I came across your blog when I was searching for that controversial photo of Brooke Shields, I loved it. And I usually read blogs about frivolous things that I really shouldn’t be ogling over. I admit that sometimes the photos you post here make me cringe and just wonder WHY, but I’m not complaining. I know these photos provoke. Keep up the great work, you bring great material to the web.🙂


    December 24, 2009 at 6:38 am

  36. You have been doing a great job. Thanks for it all!


    December 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  37. How I stumbled across this blog is entirely irrelevant and quite beyond my grasp of knowledge, but I figured it was worth it to add in my gratitude to you alongside the multitude of fans you seem to have acquired. Unlike most of the other commenters, I haven’t had the pleasure of scouring the archives of this wonderful collection, but I plan to one day in a fit of passion, and from what I’ve seen I believe it will be quite glorious.

    I thank you wholeheartedly for this blog, I find it to be fascinating and quite educational (seeing as I’m young and our educational system neglects teaching most of the important events outside of the great white north here). Even if the knowledge isn’t perfectly correct, it’s a start, and more enlightening than visiting a gallery of works in person. Your blurbs are quite sound- grammatical errors make us human!


    December 30, 2009 at 10:03 am

  38. Still one of my favourite sites.
    I like the writing style and the content.
    It’s one of those rare sites where you actually find something interesting and worth visiting again…


    December 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm

  39. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got coming! It’s great as-is!


    December 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

  40. I agree – ‘iconicity’ is in short supply now, but I still learn something new with almost every post you put up. Also, you help to keep the past iconic pictures alive and in a medium that we can all access and enjoy. This is great work and I am glad you take the time to do it.

    Enjoy a productive and interesting 2010.


    January 2, 2010 at 9:14 am

  41. Just sending some more thanks your way. Keep it up, I love checking in every day to learn something new.


    January 6, 2010 at 2:10 am

  42. Your blog is a gold mine ! keep it up😀


    January 6, 2010 at 7:49 pm

  43. I “officiously” weighed in with an extract from John Quincy Adams Journal that dates his dauguerreian image some three years prior to the wonderful “first presidential” photo you feature of Andrew Jackson. When it comes to spelling, you may take comfort in President Jackson’s words: “I can never trust a man who knows only one way to spell a word!”

    Jim Cooke

    March 14, 2010 at 11:09 pm

  44. listengyao

    April 19, 2011 at 8:40 am

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