Rarely Seen Photos Taken Just After History Was Made

Published February 6, 2017
Updated June 28, 2023

You've seen iconic moments as they've happened, but rarely do you see what life's like just after history's been made.

Neil Armstrong Historical Moments
Historical Moments JFK Assassination
After The Saigon Execution
Tank Man On Top
Rarely Seen Photos Taken Just After History Was Made
View Gallery

There are no good photos of Neil Armstrong on the moon. Few realize it and fewer still believe it when they first hear it, but it's true.

Any image you can call to mind of an Apollo 11 astronaut standing proudly on the lunar surface -- facing front, in focus, saluting the flag, and so on -- is almost certainly among the many photos that depict Buzz Aldrin, the second person to ever set foot on the moon.

Still, the most poignant photo of the whole affair was taken just after Armstrong's iconic moment. Back in the lunar module immediately following the historic moonwalk, Aldrin snapped a photo of Armstrong's beaming smile -- with all the awe, joy, and consequence of the moment written right across his face.

And so it is with countless other momentous historical episodes: Sometimes we find the truth and the full weight of the moment not in images of the moment itself, but in images of its immediate aftermath, whether it's hours, minutes, or mere seconds later.

You've undoubtedly seen many photos of the JFK assassination, September 11th, "Tank Man" at Tiananmen Square, and on and on. But now, it's what came right after those pivotal historical moments -- and many others -- that you really need to see.

Fascinated by these photos taken in the immediate aftermath of iconic historical moments? Next, check out 31 historical photos taken just before history was made. Then, have a look at 31 rare historical photos of landmark historical moments you didn't even know were photographed in the first place.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.