The Power of Photography

PhotographerIt’s no secret that photographs can be far more powerful than moving images or the written word. Photos can be moving, disturbing, funny, sad, frightening and evoke instant emotion.

Photographs are also very personal, as one person may be unaffected by an image and another moved to tears. Some of human history’s most cherished and celebrated moments have been captured on film and still resonate to this day.

The following gallery represents a few examples of photos that elicit that emotion and instantly tell a story much faster than film or written explanation. I found some from within a collection from The Meta Picture while others were the result of a Google images search.

Evelyn was incorrectly identified as 20 years old in the NY Times, May 2, 1947

Evelyn was incorrectly identified as 20 years old in the NY Times, May 2, 1947

The image of a young woman lying on top of a crumpled car after jumping from The Empire State building is especially moving. Her name was Evelyn Francis McHale and she was born in Berkeley, California, on September 20, 1923.

On the morning of April 30, 1947, Evelyn took the train from New York to Easton to visit her fiancée Barry Rhodes for his 24th birthday. The next day she boarded the 7:00 AM train to Penn Station.

He later said that “When I kissed her goodbye, she was happy and as normal as any girl about to be married.”

Upon arriving in Manhattan, she left Penn Station and walked across the street to the Governor Clinton Hotel at 31st Street and 7th Avenue. She obtained a room, and set about writing a note. It read (strike-throughs included):

“I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me. My fiance asked me to marry him in June. I don’t think I would make a good wife for anybody. He is much better off without me. Tell my father, I have too many of my mother’s tendencies.”

At 10:30 AM, she walked to the Empire State Building, and purchased a ticket to the 86th-floor observatory. She slipped off her coat and placed it along with her pocketbook on the floor against the railing. And then she jumped.

Evelyn’s sister, Helen , fulfilled the task of identifying her body. As per her wishes, she was cremated and there is no grave dedicated to her. But she lives on through that iconic photo of her final moment.

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