Recently, I saw some powerful, disturbing, mind-changing photographs. (I don't want to say what the subject was.) I began thinking about the ability of photography to change people's ways of thinking. Also, I began thinking about how quickly a single photograph can change our ideas about the world. In an instant our opinions of something can be completely changed - just by seeing a photograph. What I saw recently was very disturbing, but a photograph can change people's minds in other ways, too.
I began thinking about specific photographs that have changed my mind and the minds of other people. I'll list some of them. They are in no particular order.
Photographs or war certainly change people's minds. Eddie Adams' famous photograph certainly has affected many people. Photographs of the Holocaust have, too.
Photographs of galaxies have changed the way that I think about the universe. The photographs made by people on the moon, especially the "Earthrise" photograph, changed the minds of many people.
Photographs of the small-scale structure of the universe have changed minds. Photographs of cells and other biological structures have changed the ways in which we think about life.
Harold Edgerton's stop-motion photographs allowed people to see parts of the world that they had never seen before.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list.
What are some photographs that have changed your mind and the minds of others?
Certainly William Henry Jackson's photos of Yellowstone changed the minds of Congress and were a major influence in creating the first National Park. They provided the irrefutable proof that the tall-tales of the Yellowstone area were true.
For me personally, I think Weston's Pepper #30 did more to alter my perception of what constitutes "an important subject" than any other photo. It gave me the idea that no subject is too small, mundane, or unimportant - it was only my failure to see the intrinsic value within the subject. Something I've been working on ever since - trying to see the importance of things that surround me.