Some say it’s the most famous, perfectly composed news photo of all time.
The iconic photo, taken February 23, 1945, by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal wasn’t the first flag raised over Iwo Jima that day, and Rosenthal was’t the only one there taking photos. Marine Sgt. Louis Lowery, a photographer for Leatherneck magazine, captured U.S. Marines raising an American flag for the first time. A strange series of events, however, made this photo less well-known than Rosenthal’s.
Photographer Joe Rosenthal admitted that when he took a shot of five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, he had no idea that he had captured something extraordinary. He was setting up for a different shot when he spotted the group of men planting the flag and quickly took a snap without even looking through the viewfinder. The chance photo would become iconic overnight and go on to win the Pulitzer Prize.