The most famous picture you’ve never seen

Xie Hailong - Little Big Eyes. Anhui province, Jinzhai County, Taoling Town, Zhangwan Village, China.

You probably haven’t seen the picture above, of a young girl named Su Mingjuan in rural Anhui Province, China, but it’s one of the most well-known pictures in the world. The girl has been nicknamed “Little Big Eyes” Here’s the story of the photo’s creation, use, and follow-up about the girl in the picture. There are obvious similarities to Steve McCurry’s iconic photo of an Afghan girl, though this picture’s fame results from it becoming the face of an education charity in China.

Su Mingjuan became the image ambassador for Project Hope. The Chinese Youth Development Foundation used “Big Eyes” as the promotional icon. Based upon an incomplete tally, as of 1994, this photograph was used more than 100 million times in newspapers, posters and other materials and that probably made it the most printed photograph in history. It is ranked number one in the survey of “most memorable photographs in the first 50 years of the nation.” Project Hope has collected 2 billion yuan [ed. about US$300 million) in contributions. A survey of the donors showed that half of them were not familiar with Project Hope and its work, but there were few who didn’t know “Big Eyes” and many of them donated money on account of that image. Some critics have said that this photograph has left an indelible imprint on the history of human education, culture and photography.”

From Zona Europa’s history of Little Big Eyes.

Comments are closed.