The Most Heartbreaking Photographs of All Time

Since the day the camera became portable, photographers throughout the years have captured some of the most terrible moments in recent human history. These are pictures that often convey the very worst that humanity has to offer, or suffering that most of us will never know.

These are photographs that aren’t meant for the faint-hearted, but exist as a reminder that our world is made up of both great happiness and dismal suffering, and that we must always keep them close to heart so that we never make the same mistakes from the past.

1. Omayra Sanchez

Taken in 1985, this photo shows 13-year-old Omayra Sanchez who had become trapped under construction debris after a landside that was caused by the eruption of Nevado de Ruiz, a volcano near to the village of Amero, Colombia. Despite a long and difficult rescue effort, rescuers were ultimately failed to free her from the debris, and she died after 60 hours of being trapped.

2. Viet Cong Guerilla Execution

This 1968 Pulitzer Prize winning photograph depicts one of the many gruesome acts that took place during the Vietnam War. Here, we see South Vietnamese Police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan as fires his pistol into Nguyen Van Lem, an official Vietcong member living in Saigon. Although many had felt upset about seeing the man being shot, he had in fact murdered a family, which is why he was executed.

3. The Famine in Sudan

Arguably one of the most recognisable pictures in the world, the Famine in Sudan shows an extremely young child as he’s hunched over and skeletally thin. Behind him stands a vulture, waiting for the child to die. The photograph was taken by Kevin Anderson, and it made him a household name. He sadly committed suicide just one year later, with the horrors he had witnessed in Africa being too much for him to cope with. It’s a glimpse into a world completely different to our own of fast food, convenience, and Geelong Cup betting.

4. Hiroshima

On August the 6th, 1945, an American plane dropped the first atomic bomb on a populous, in this case, the Japanese city of Hiroshima. One of pilots managed to snap a picture of the bomb exploding into a mushroom cloud that nuclear weapons are known for making. The resulting explosion left over 250000 people seriously injured or dead.

5. The Falling Man

Taken when the World Trade Centre towers were attacked by terrorists, this photograph shows a 43-year-old employee named Jonathan Briley as he hurtles toward the ground. He was one of the many people in the North Tower that had survived the initial crash, but realised that there was no other way to escape the building.

6. Phan Thi Kim Phuc

Often cited as the most famous war photograph of all time, this 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning picture shows a young girl, Kim Phuc, as she runs down the road. The girl was the victim of a napalm attack by the United States, and she had torn all her clothes off in order to not catch alight herself.