When the celebrated image of the Tiananmen Square Tank Man, shot by Associated Press reporter Terril Jones, was published for the first time in 1989 it was a smaller version (the one to the right), closely cropped magazine-style, with the Tank Man thwarting a small handful of tanks. I’m sure you remember it. I would say it qualifies as one of the most iconic images of the 20th century and a demonstration of the want for democracy by a subjugated population. Oh the days when democracy was cool.
I discovered today (okay very late) that this image was just a small part of the landscape on that street that day. As you can see, those four tanks were at the leading edge of a huge column of tanks rolling out, and if you look closely in the top right, you can see the pool from which dozens more were waiting to go.
Seeing this full sized photo and all its context, the heroics of Tank Man, a guy around whom a whole lot of mystery and controversy still swirls, is suddenly a little more profound.
On June 4, 2009, in connection with the 20th anniversary of the protests, Terril Jones revealed a new photo, one he took that shows the Tank Man from ground level, at a different angle than all of the other known photos of this historic moment. Seeing it somehow actually deepens the aura of importance of the moment even further.
Jones has a great first-person account of how the shot came to be as well that you should read right now.