Iconic Photographers Pose With Their Most Famous Photographs


There are a number of photos you see and recognize as famous images, but do you know who the photographer behind the lens is? Some of the world’s most iconic photographers, responsible for some of the world’s most famous photos, are finally revealed in Tim Mantoani’s “Behind Photographs” series.

It all started back in 2006, when photographer Tim Mantoani rented a 235-pound 20×24 Polaroid camera—a rare thing with its very own custom wheeled tripod. In an interview with Bored Panda Mantoani said, “Since renting the camera was expensive, I wanted shoot something that was important to myself and I called a couple of photographers that I knew, legendary music shooter, Jim Marshall and sports shooter, Michael Zagaris.”

Mantoani took photos of each photographer holding one of his or her most famous pictures. He then asked the artist to write something beneath the self-portrait. The original results were even better than expected, and so Mantoani decided to take his project further. As the project unfolded he approached photographers “from California to Boston, and over a period of give years recorded over 150 photographers on this format.”

Jeff Widener-Beijing 1989


Harry Benson—The Beatles


Harry Benson fondly remembers the moment surrounding this classic photograph. It was 1964 and Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, had just announced they were number one in America and headed to New York; photographer Harry Benson was coming along for the ride.

Lyle Owerko—9/11


The touching, handwritten text beneath Lyle Owerko’s photo reads: “No one knew such beautiful warm day would serve as the backdrop to one of the most painful and confusing events to the heart of mankind. This picture is one small part of such a huge event that ties the threads of thousands of stories and millions of people together. Written words will never convey the whole scope of the event, nor summarize the sounds, the smells or even voices that are frozen in my memory bank from that day. I did the best job I could in photographing the 9/11 so that future generations would have the idea of the scope of what happened, to have the evidence how innocence can so easily be snatched away in a razor’s edged moment in time. My hope is that in time the wounds and pain will heal and that wisdom and peace will prevail among the darkness of this event, so that humanity could move forward into a time of grace and understanding.”

Steve McCurry- Girl In Afghanistan


This famous photo taken by Steve McCurry drove the photographer wild for many years. He always wondered who the woman really was. Finally, after 17 years of searching McCurry found the woman from the picture again, her name is Sharbat Gula.

Marry Ellen Mark—Ringmaster With Elephant

This photo was taken in 1990 in Ahmedabad, India, and was included in Marry Ellen Mark’s Circus Project. The photographer writes, “I love India and I love the circus, so photographing eighteen circuses all around India was an incredible experience.”


The photo features Ram Prakash Singh and his favorite elephant Shyama, sadly the beautiful elephant died only a few months after the photo was taken; “Supposedly, he succumbed to poisoned chapatti – Ram Prakash Singh was heartbroken – me also.”

Thomas Mangelsen- Brown Bear


Mangelsen writes beneath his photo: “Brown bear, Brooks Falls Katmai National Park, Alaska. July 1988. I pre-visualized this possibility (of an image like this) from watching documentary films about the bears at Katmai and seeing a photograph in Alaska Air Magazine of a group of bears here at the falls. At the time, I was on a flight to Anchorage working on a documentary film about Sandhill Cranes and had a week between shoots. I phoned the park headquarters from the airport in Achorage and asked about getting a campsite. They said they were all full – except for one site, that was near the bear trail and nobody wanted it. I told them I would take it. I spent a week on a small platform above the falls trying to captures this image. I would go most days before sunrise and stay until dark. During that time I shot 35 rolls of film of pretty much just head + shoulders of bears + sockeye salmon leaping the falls. Six weeks later I opened the yellow box to see this image. It was a nice surprise. I hadn’t known that I got it.” 

David Doubilet- Circle Of Barracuda


Shot in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Doubilet writes of this image, “The school of chevron barracudas circled the diver three times and pow they were gone into a dark afternoon sea.   The oceans of the world have no straight lines; geometry like a perfect circle is a rare thing, but these barracudas will do this as a defense.  70% of our planet is an ocean.  It is a place of infinite hidden beauty.  It is a place where light behaves in a very different manner.  Global warming/ climate change is about water.  Coral reefs where I have spent most of my life are very threatened now—not just from rising temperatures but from the change in ocean chemistry = This is a world where my partner Jennifer Hayes and I go into.  It is most of our planet.  A world without corners that may be gone by the end of the century.”

May Pang- John Lennon

This photo was taken in 1974 and titled “Family Portrait,” it features a relaxing moment shared between father and son.


Neil Leifer- Ali vs. Liston

This iconic boxing photo was taken on May 25, 1965 in Lewisotn, Maine.


Elliott Erwitt—Two Dogs With Owner


Elliott Erwitt snapped this photo back in 1974, “just across the street from my apartment in New York’s Central Park. It has been 38 years since that event and sadly I have lost track of the participants.”

Lori Grinker- Mike Tyson


Lori writes beneath her photo: “Mike Tyson  – 1980, age 14. I began a project on young boxers when I was a student. The legendary Cus D’Amato told me Mike would be the next great heavy weight champion, he was right – and I continued on with him for nearly a decade. He was a trouble but sweet kid who veered off the good path he was led to with all that comes with being a celebrity in that world.”

Nick Ut- Napalm Attack In Vietnam


Herman Leonard—Jazz Musicians


It was early 1948 at the Royal Roost in New York. An afternoon rehearsal gave me a unique opportunity to photograph many giants of jazz with my trusty 4×5 Speed Graphic. What a great career! To do what you love and be entertained at the same time!” 

Douglas Kirkland—Marilyn Monroe


“This is from my Evening with Marilyn.”

Carl Fischer- Muhammad Ali


See more of Behind Photographers, purchase the book on Amazon!

Photo Credit: behindphotography.commantoani.comAmazon