Most Influential Images


“Pictures can create an atmosphere where change is possible.” – James Nachtwey

The 100 most influential photos published in a website by time magazine is the perfect SPARK to talk about the power of images.

Striking and powerful images engage students towards deeper discussion where they not only describe the image, but also speculate on the stories behind them.

This lesson culminates in a task where students choose an image from the internet and talk about why it is influential and representative of 2016.

1969 A Man on The Moon Neil Armstrong, NASA
CONTEXT – Image spark:

Show Ss the ‘Man on the Moon’ image (see above).

  1. Create a context with a Q&A session about the photo (pair/group work).
  2. Write question prompts on the board – Who? What? Where? Why? When?
  3. Encourage students to ask and answer as many questions as possible about the image for an allocated amount of time. (3-5 minutes)
Suggested questions:
  1. What do you see?
  2. Who is it?
  3. Where is the astronaut?
  4. What is the astronaut wearing?
  5. Why is this photo important?
  6. What year is it?
  7. What is the title of this photo?
Step 2:

Ask Ss to complete the sentence in pairs: (after a couple of minutes of brainstorming, I alowed students to use dictionaries)

This photo is one of the most _____________ images of all time.

Gather all possible answers on the board then complete the sentence with influential 

Language expansion: At this point go deeper into the meaning of influence and influential.  For example, possible questions you can ask students – What does it mean to be influential to someone? Who is influential to you? Do you think you are a good or bad influence on people and why? , etc.  Depending on the level of your students and the time you have, this section has the potential to develop into quite exciting conversation where students share their stories – We recommend that you ask students to asnwer your questions in pairs followed by open class feedback.

Step 3 – Return to context:

Tell Ss that this image The Man on The Moon was chosen by Time magazine as one of the most influential images of all time. Ask Ss if they agree that this is an influential image.

Step 4: Choose 5 images from the following website:

Colour print the images and then stick them around the room, or alternatively, make them available on slideshare for students to access on their mobile device. (below are the images we used)

  1. Explain to Ss that they will describe and discuss 5 more images.
  2. Returning to ‘The Man on the moon’ example and the question prompts Who?, What?, Where?, Why?, How?, When?, encourage students to describe each picture and also choose a title for each of the images.
  3. In pairs, students walk around the room looking at and talking about the images.
  4. Ss choose an image that they feel is the most influential and provide a reason why it is influential to them.
  5. Ss discuss their favouite images in groups and then share their opinions in open class feedback.

Follow on task  – Ss research their chosen image further by looking online for the history behind the photo and reasons why it is influential. Finally, Ss report their findings to their groups/class.

Project time

Set the scene:
  1. Write on the board – The most influential image of 2016
  2. Ss are working for Time Magazine and have been asked to choose an influential image for the year.
  3. Ss look online to find an image for 2016.
  4. They have to describe the image and provide a reason why it should be choosen as the most influential image of 2016.
  5. Suggested websites –

Homework idea (personalized): – ‘Most influential photo of my year!’ Students choose their favourie photo that they’ve taken in 2016. They post it on instagram with your chosen #ClassTag and write about why it is important to them.

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