Over my past 20 years building Getty Images, I’ve learned that pictures can have an extraordinary effect on you, if you let them.

Some, like the heart-wrenching images we see of war, disasters and strife, have the power to move people to act, even when they are halfway around the world.

Joseph Duo, a Liberian militia commander loyal to the government, exults after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebel forces at a key strategic bridge July 20, 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia. Government forces succeeded in forcing back rebel forces in fierce fighting on the edge of Monrovia's city center. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Joseph Duo, a Liberian militia commander loyal to the government, exults after firing a rocket-propelled grenade at rebel forces at a key strategic bridge July 20, 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia. Government forces succeeded in forcing back rebel forces in fierce fighting on the edge of Monrovia’s city center. Chris Hondros/Getty Images

 

Others cause us to contemplate the culture right on our doorstep – the athletes and celebrities we admire or despise, the politicians we study, the fashion trends we adopt (or not), as we consider both what is popular and why.

 

And others take the familiar concepts of art and advertising, “family,” “leader,” “success” or “love,” for example, and help us think differently about them, breaking clichés as we visualize our world.

The Legacy Collection encompasses all of this. A celebration of photography and photographers, it contains our most iconic and favorite images, curated from our growing collection of nearly 200 million assets.

We are fanatical about curation, so you can imagine how difficult it has been to pick only a few out of millions. We used following criteria: The images had to be shot either by a Getty Images staff photographer or one whose work we represent, and the pictures had to be iconic, the kinds of images that inspire, prick your emotions and make you think. This is our legacy, a reflection of our world and a piece of its visual history.

 

At Getty Images we believe the difference between looking and seeing is the power of the image. We hope this collection of captured moments will inspire and surprise you. Let them. That’s the power of photography, the language the whole world loves and understands.

Each week we’ll be releasing more stories behind the Legacy Collection images, here on Stories & Trends and also via the Getty Images app, available on the App Store on iTunes. Discover more.