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As they say, "A picture is worth 1,000 words." So TIME's new project highlighting the 100 most influential photographs ever is worth at least 100,000. The magazine compiled some of the most amazing images of our time at 100photos.time.com (as well as in a new coffee table book, 100 Photographs), telling the stories behind the photos.
Here, a photo of John and Jackie Kennedy, circa 1953. TIME features the Kennedys because photographs of them "established the idea that celebrities are fair game no matter where they are, and it tested the question of whether public figures have a right to privacy."
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Taken at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, the photo of the Black Power salute given by athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos "captured a striking assertion during an event that had the eyes of the world on it and which exists to promote unity, and these athletes used that stage to make a statement that all is not well."
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The star-studded selfie Ellen DeGeneres snapped at the 2014 Oscars became the most retweeted entertainment tweet of the year, and was "$5 billion worth of advertising," TIME explains.
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The first-ever cellphone picture, snapped in 1997, was taken and shared by new dad Philippe Kahn, a software entrepreneur who jerry-built a device that could send a photo of his newborn to friends and family—in real time. It was simply a digital camera connected to his flip-top cell phone, synched by a few lines of code he’d written on his laptop in the hospital.
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"It was the first time that people actually knew what the Earth looked like," astronaut Bill Anders explains of the photograph he took (first in black and white, later in color) on Dec. 24, 1968, during Apollo 8's mission to orbit the moon.
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At a time when AIDS was still widely misunderstood — 1990 — this photo of a dying 32-year-old man named David Kirby helped normalize the disease and show that its reach went beyond victims and to their families, too. His parents released the image, which originally ran in LIFE, to the United Colors of Benetton, which used it in an ad (and received backlash) in hopes of raising awareness and understanding.
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