Photographers reveal how they shot 14 of the most iconic images of all time

Tim MantoaniPhotographer John Paul Filo.

In 2006, photographer Tim Mantoani was sensing a major shift in the photographic industry as shooters began to move away from film and towards digital media.

So over Christmas, Mantoani, who had shot with film for most of his career until then, decided to rent a massive 20×24 Polaroid camera, “knowing that the opportunity to shoot on this format would most likely be limited,” he told Business Insider.

He knew he wanted to shoot something special with the massive camera, so he invited over two of his photographer friends, Jim Marshall and Michael Zagaris. “I asked each of them to bring in a few of their most iconic or favourite shots and I made my first portraits on this format. The process for both myself and subjects was special,” Mantoani said. He knew he was on to something.

Since then, Mantoani has photographed 150 photographers from California to Boston. He says the process was organic and happened somewhat by chance. “One referral and shoot led to the next,” he said. The subjects wrote about their experiences on Mantoani’s Polaroid prints.

“My hope is that people understand that cameras don’t make photographs, photographers do. Without the incredible dedication and passion of these image makers, these moments would not exist,” Mantoani said.

His series, titled “Behind Photographs,” has been compiled in a book which you can purchase here.

'Customs, 1972. I was travelling with the Stones and we were crossing from Canada back into the U.S. -- milling about. I saw the sign and called Keith over and took two frames -- then I looked up for Mick (thinking I'd get them both -- 'Jagger-Richards aka The Glimmer Twins'). The customs official noticed us and barked, 'Stop right away or we'll confiscate the film'. I stopped. I knew what I had and didn't want to lose it.' -- Ethan Russell

'John Lennon asked me to come to his penthouse apartment on the east side of New York to take pictures for the cover of his 'Walls + Bridges' album. After we took a series of portraits for the record cover, we took some informal shots to use for publicity. I asked him if he still had the New York City t-shirt I had given him a year earlier and he went and put it on and we made this photo.' -- Bob Gruen

'Originally an inside opener for Rolling Stone cover story of Nirvana in conjunction with the release of 'In Utero,' my first Polaroid (with negative) was by far the most emotional and revealing of his spirit. Two months later Kurt died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. This photograph became the memorial RS cover.' -- Mark Seliger

'One day in Montgomery, Alabama there were some demonstrations for Civil Rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King. I went into the downtown area where Dr. King was speaking when two policemen came up and placed Dr. King under arrest. I immediately started and photographed the police pushing Dr. King on the street leading to the Montgomery Jail...' -- Charles Moore

'9:00 AM -- All the windows were covered, lights down. Only the TV screen glowed silently . . . a reflection of the room's turmoil. I rode with the police night and day on 911 calls -- 'Domestics.' As the police cuffed the dad, the boy's voice exploded, 'I hate you for hitting my mother.' I couldn't see much so I prayed for everything to be alright as I squeezed 4 frames of the boy's reaction. Whoever sees and hears what a child really feels? That's the power of a photograph.' -- Donna Ferrato

'It really was a 'Miracle on Ice'. The Flag did help the celebration of the most famous jingoistic hockey game ever. USA beat Russia, wow! Lucky to be there -- along with 15,000 others.' -- Heinz Kluetmeier

'... I did the best job I could in photographing 9/11 so that future generations would have an idea of the scope of what happened, to have the evidence of how innocence can so easily be snatched away in a razor's edged moment of 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 can move forward into a time of grace and understanding.' -- Lyle Owerko

'Originally made for a poster to advertise a show of collaborative paintings. I am happy and proud of this photograph. It sums up everything I love about photography and my work. Photographed in my studio, New York City, July 10, 1985.' -- Michael Halsband

'I knew Mother Teresa for 15 years and was always most interested in photographing her one-on-one with my lights where I could talk with her at length. I remember driving her around the city this weekend to her appointments... I noticed she never judged anyone that came to her and I asked her about that when we got back to the car. She said I never judge anyone because it doesn't allow me the time to love them.' -- Michael Collopy

'Albert had cut out the backs of his penny loafers and I told him that it would be fashionable some day, he laughed.' -- Ozzie Sweet

''The Play' was taken with a Nikon F-1 camera with a 28mm lens as Kevin Moen jumped over the Stanford goal line at California Memorial Stadium on November 20, 1982. Final score: California 25, Stanford 20.' -- Robert Stinnett

'July 22, 1975, 4:20 PM -- A call for a fire in a building in Boston's Back Bay with people trapped. A valiant rescue attempt, fire escape collapses, two fall to ground, with the godmother fatally injured! April 5, 1976, 2nd year of Boston's forced busing to integrate schools. Anti-busing rally outside of City Hall goes out of control!' -- Stanley J. Forman

'Peshawar, Pakistan 1984. I looked for this girl for 17 years and finally found her in 2002. Her name is Sharbat Gula.' -- Steve McCurry

'I pre-visualized this possibility (of an image like this) from watching documentary films about bears at Katmai and seeing a photograph in an Alaska Air Magazine of a group of bears here at the falls.... I spent a week on a small platform above the falls trying to capture this image. I would go most days before sunrise and stay until dark. During that time I shot 35 rolls of film... 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. Sincerely -- Thom Mangelsen

Hear the inside details on some more important images.

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