Camera’s have been around for a long time. Nowadays most of the pictures being shot are useless anyway since it’s more quantity than quality. Also they didn’t have a narcissism-stick aka selfie-stick.
Apart from character shots, most photo’s had to be good on the first try. They had to tell something, they needed to be useful. Just like in the old days when you had a film roll, there were a limited amount of shots you could take before you’re full. And for most people that was it. In the really old days (1800’s) every shot mattered. A camera wasn’t cheap, just as the supplies.
But there were still a lot of people in different places of the world who went to documentate different events, some historical some not. Also not every picture is known and a lot is archive material, so most people will never get to see it. So thank god for internet and showing us some perspective on the old days.
Execution by cannon, in Shiraz, Iran, mid-late 19th century.
The Royal Navy on the way home from France with Queen Victoria on board, who had just visited Napoleon III, 1858.
Climbers bringing down corpses of their fellows from Mont Blanc, 1895.
Major General Horatio Gordon Robley with his collection of tattooed Maori heads, 1895.
Gold diggers marching through Chilkoot pass, the only way towards Dawson City, 1898.
Iceberg that had red and black paint on it. They believe that this is the iceberg that sank the Titanic. Photographed in 1912.
Selfies circa 1920
Melted and damaged mannequins after a fire at Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London, 1930.
A rare color photograph of two Parisian women from 1930.
Porsche showing the model of the beetle to Hitler, 1930s.
Class held in a train wagon (reason unknown), Ontario, Canada, 1932.
The Olympic flame arrives in Berlin, 1936
Toffs and Toughs – The famous photo by Jimmy Sime that illustrates the class divide in pre-war Britain, 1937.
Driving class at Michigan Highland Park University, 1939.
Searchlights on the Rock of Gibraltar, 1942.
Georges Blind, a Member of the French Resistance, Smiling at a German Firing Squad, October 1944.
A Dutch woman entering military captivity with her husband, a German soldier, 1944.
To demonstrate the superiority of the Red Army, 57.000 German prisoners of war are herded through downtown Moscow, July 1944.
Liberty bridge in Budapest made temporarily usable after the siege, 1945.
Japanese guards bow before US prisoners of war being released from a Yokohama detention center following the capitulation of Japan, 1945.
The last commercial sailing ship, Pamir, to round Cape Horn in 1949.
James Dean posing in the coffin in the local undertaker in his home town in the year of his car crash and ensuing death, January 1955.
Fidel Castro plays baseball in Havana, 1959.
A low-division hockey match is interrupted, Sweden, 1959.
Iranian woman before the Islamic Revolution, 1960.
Residents of West Berlin show children to their grandparents who reside on the Eastern side, 1961.
The Beatles looking back, 1962 and 1969.
The last prisoners leaving Alcatraz, 1963.
Frank Sinatra stepping off of a helicopter with a drink in his hand, by Yul Brynner, 1964.
Counter-protester with her daughters at a civil liberties rally by black people, Bogalusa, Louisiana, 1965.
Woodstock – The Opening Ceremony. Bethel, New York, 14 August 1969.
Detective in disguise in Brooklyn, 1969.
Rien ne vas plus in the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas while Man is landing on the Moon, 1969.
One of the two Riace Bronzes discovered by an amateur scuba diver is brought out of the Ionian sea. Calabria, Italy. August 1972.
Bill and Hillary Clinton as university students, 1973.
An assistant holding an umbrella over an actor’s head during the filming of the scandalous erotic thriller Caligula, 1976.
Pelé taking a break on the field of Hungarian football club MTK while filming “Escape to Victory”, 1980.
Following a jump worth a gold medal, pole vaulter Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz sends a message to Soviet supporters who had given him the raspberry. Moscow Olympics, 1980.
British soldier observing Argentinean helmets after the Battle of Goose Green on the Falkland Islands, May 1982.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates discuss the PC’s future at Jobs’ Palo Alto home, 1991. Photo by George Lange.
Camels and burning Kuwaiti oil fields that had been blown up by retreating Iraqi troops, 1991. Photo by Steve McCurry/National Geographic.
For the last one I’d also recommend Fires of Kuwait. A great documentary about those devastating fires and it’s aftermath.