Some of the most controversial photos of recent history...

Were these photographers singled out because of the shocking images they happened to capture? Was the outcry by the public warranted? Did the actual picture serve the articles well... and did they do their part in giving people a visual to create conversation on topics that needed to be discussed...

R. Umar Abbasi’s shot of Ki Suk Han, as he was about to be struck and killed by an oncoming train, is arguably one of the most controversial photographs in recent memory. The subsequent “DOOMED” cover shot in the New York Post in December of 2012 was taken by the photographer who says he was really trying to warn the train conductor with the flash of his camera. Was R. Umar Abbasi just being singled out because his image was published?… maybe, maybe not… But what of the others who swarmed around the body for their own cell phone pic that didn't get published? Is there a clear ethical line when it comes to photojournalism? And...what is the responsibility of a publisher?

A controversy erupted when the TIME issue on “attachment parenting” featured the 26-year-old Jamie Lynne Grumet and her three-year-old son breastfeeding on the cover. The debate was whether it was tasteful, or even criminal.  My opinion aside… but shouldn’t people have gotten focused more on the actual topic of the well written article of attachment parenting rather than so hung up on the image itself and the censorship dilemma?

On July 22, 1975, photograph Stanley J. Forman working for the Boston Herald American newspaper when a police scanner picked up an emergency: "Fire on Marlborough Street!"

After he climbed on a fire truck, Forman shot the picture of a young woman, Diana Bryant, and a very young girl, Tiare Jones when they fell helplessly.

The photo coverage from the tragic event garnered Stanley Forman a Pulitzer Prize. But more important, his work paved the way for Boston and other states to mandate tougher fire safety codes.

Meanwhile, that photo by Stanley Forman, doing the job that he did very well in the 70s (and still does today with a television camera) stirred somewhat of an outrage. He said there was not a single thing he could have done to save them.

Something like this happens in a split second and only those that have been witness to tragedy can understand how quickly things can go wrong. Those who second guess a situation like this are watching WAY too much television and are living a fantasy life. It's not the messenger's fault the woman died. The fact is that Stanley Forman's photographs of this incident probably single handedly changed many fire codes in Boston saving numerous lives after this incident.

Mr. Forman did not intend to take this picture. He was taking photographs of what he thought was going to be firemen saving the woman and her Godchild. Suddenly, the situation worsened and the fire escape fell. Plunging the two to the ground.

Mr. Forman was not on the ground and could not have leaned over far enough or fast enough to save either of them. He just happened to be taking pictures and caught the fall.

While this is the most iconic of the bunch, this is only one of a series of shots that Forman took - It is about 8th or a series of 10 pictures starting with the fireman trying to reach them and ending with the pair striking the ground.

South African photojournalist, Kevin Carter was blasted in 1993 for not helping the starving toddler he photographed being eyed by a vulture in Sudan.

The photo went viral and comments flew, condemning Carter… the result, Carter committed suicide in 1994, shortly after receiving a Pulitzer Prize for telling the world his story in Sudan through this, and other photos.

Can you think of other controversial photos taken in recent memory?


Kevin A Pepper

Kevin is a photographer and educator based in Waterloo, Ontario. His first love is photographing nature, regardless of the season or weather condition; the Ontario landscape and its wildlife are his inspiration. But you will also see other styles of photography in his portfolio. From street photography to urban exploration of abandoned buildings and architecture, he loves to capture it all with his camera for his corporate clients and his growing personal portfolio. Kevin’s images have been featured in Canadian Nature Photographer, PHOTONews Canada, Photo Technique Magazine, The London Free Press, The Weather Network, and National Geographic Online. His diverse client list includes the City of Cambridge, Olympus, GORE Mutual, TVO, and African Lion Safari. Kevin also operates “Northof49 Photography”, a company launched in 2012 dedicated to teaching amateur photographers through International and Canadian-based workshops. In the coming year, Kevin will be leading workshops in Iceland, Mongolia, Tanzania, Venezuela, Provence, and numerous destinations across Canada. Website: