The Five Photographs That (you Didn't Know) Changed Everything

Episodes

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01Anna Bertha's Hand2015021620160727 (R3)

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on the world of medicine and our relationship with our bodies.

The photograph of Anna Bertha Ludwig Rontgen's left hand taken in 1896 astounded the scientific world and alarmed the public. For the scientists it signalled the beginning of medical radiography. For the public it gave rise to fears about intrusion and privacy in much the same way as the introduction of the TSA body scanner did in 2007. From medical imaging to airport security, Kelley Wilder shows how X-ray photography changed the world.

Kelley Wilder is Reader in Photographic History, De Montfort University, Leicester

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

01Anna Bertha's Hand2015021620160727 (R3)

Kelley Wilder discusses how the 1896 x-ray photograph of a hand changed medicine.

01Anna Bertha's Hand20150216

01Anna Bertha's Hand20150216

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on the world of medicine and our relationship with our bodies.

The photograph of Anna Bertha Ludwig Rontgen's left hand taken in 1896 astounded the scientific world and alarmed the public. For the scientists it signalled the beginning of medical radiography. For the public it gave rise to fears about intrusion and privacy in much the same way as the introduction of the TSA body scanner did in 2007. From medical imaging to airport security, Kelley Wilder shows how X-ray photography changed the world.

Kelley Wilder is Reader in Photographic History, De Montfort University, Leicester

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

02The Nebula in Orion2015021720160728 (R3)

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on our world.

Today high-resolution photographs of nebulae or galaxies saturate our culture to such an extent that they are almost kitsch. But when Henry Draper took the very first pictures of a nebula in 1880 it was one of the greatest achievements of photography. Omar Nasim tells the story of how this photograph defied the imagination and raised questions not just about the size of the universe but about the very origins of humanity.

Omar Nasim is lecturer in the School of History at the University of Kent.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

02The Nebula in Orion2015021720160728 (R3)

Omar Nasim discusses the very first pictures of a nebula, taken by Henry Draper in 1880.

02The Nebula in Orion20150217

02The Nebula In Orion20150217

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on our world.

Today high-resolution photographs of nebulae or galaxies saturate our culture to such an extent that they are almost kitsch. But when Henry Draper took the very first pictures of a nebula in 1880 it was one of the greatest achievements of photography. Omar Nasim tells the story of how this photograph defied the imagination and raised questions not just about the size of the universe but about the very origins of humanity.

Omar Nasim is lecturer in the School of History at the University of Kent.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

03The Dogon2015021820160801 (R3)

Jeanne Haffner on how aerial photography changed the spaces we live in.

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on the organisation of our living spaces.

The birds-eye photograph of the Dogon tribe working their fields in Mali was taken by the French Africanist Marcel Griaule. He'd trained in aerial photography during the First World War and he argued that the Dogon landscape, seen from the air, revealed the patterns and secrets of the lives of its inhabitants, patterns which could teach Western city planners and architects how to build a happier society.

Jeanne Haffner is lecturer in the Department of History and Science at Harvard University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Jeanne Haffner discusses how aerial photography changed the spaces we live in.

03The Dogon20150218

03The Dogon20150218

Jeanne Haffner on how aerial photography changed the spaces we live in.

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on the organisation of our living spaces.

The birds-eye photograph of the Dogon tribe working their fields in Mali was taken by the French Africanist Marcel Griaule. He'd trained in aerial photography during the first world war and he argued that the Dogon landscape, seen from the air, revealed the patterns and secrets of the lives of its inhabitants, patterns which could teach Western city planners and architects how to build a happier society.

Jeanne Haffner is lecturer in the Department of History and Science at Harvard University.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

04The Broom Cottages2015021920160803 (R3)

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on the way Britain sees what has come to be known as its cultural heritage.

The man who took the photo, W. Jerome Harrison, launched a scheme for recording the country's past in which amateur photographers up and down the land took pictures of the buildings which were important them. Wiki-buildings and English Heritage do this now on a much grander scale. But Elizabeth Edwards argues that the mass participation of people in defining what matters about the past began with Harrison, and changed the way in which a nation viewed itself.

Elizabeth Edwards is Research Professor of Photographic History and Director of the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Elizabeth Edwards on W Jerome Harrison's photo of the Broom cottages in Warwickshire.

04The Broom Cottages20150219

04The Broom Cottages20150219

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on the way Britain sees what has come to be known as its cultural heritage.

The man who took the photo, W. Jerome Harrison, launched a scheme for recording the country's past in which amateur photographers up and down the land took pictures of the buildings which were important them. Wiki-buildings and English Heritage do this now on a much grander scale. But Elizabeth Edwards argues that the mass participation of people in defining what matters about the past began with Harrison, and changed the way in which a nation viewed itself.

Elizabeth Edwards is Research Professor of Photographic History and Director of the Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

05The Tichborne Claimant2015022020160804 (R3)

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on our legal system.

In 1866 a butcher sat for his photograph in the remote town of Wagga Wagga, Australia. Three years later this likeness had Britain transfixed. Jennifer Tucker tells the story of how it was central to the longest legal battle in 19th-century England, and sparked a debate about evidence, the law, ethics and facial recognition that has continued ever since.

Jennifer Tucker is Associate Professor of History and Science in Society at Wesleyan University, USA.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.

Exploring how an 1866 photograph of a butcher taken in Australia changed British law.

05The Tichborne Claimant20150220

05The Tichborne Claimant20150220

You won't find this photograph in a glossy coffee table book. It's not art and the person who took it doesn't feature in the Photographers Hall of Fame. But this picture has had an enormous impact on our legal system.

In 1866 a butcher sat for his photograph in the remote town of Wagga Wagga, Australia. Three years later this likeness had Britain transfixed. Jennifer Tucker tells the story of how it was central to the longest legal battle in 19th century England, and sparked a debate about evidence, the law, ethics and facial recognition that has continued ever since.

Jennifer Tucker is Associate Professor of History and Science in Society at Wesleyan University, USA.

Producer: Rosie Dawson.