“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” -Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969

50 years ago, yesterday, human beings landed on another body in our solar system for the first time. The first words spoken on a world other than earth were “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the moon. Armstrong descended the ladder on the lunar excursion module’s leg to become the first person to step foot on the moon. As commander of the mission, it was one of his jobs to take most of the photographs we revere today that depict man on the moon for the first time. The pictures are of his crewmate Buzz Aldrin working on the surface.

Reflection in a space helmet

One of the few photos we have of Armstrong on the moon is his reflection in the helmet in his portrait of Buzz Aldrin. While neither Armstrong or Aldrin were professional photographers, NASA did train them on how to make pictures with their Hasselblad ELM “moon modified” cameras. Their work remains as a historical record of one of man’s most daring accomplishments.

Buzz Aldrin by Neil Armstrong

Read other vignettes of influential photographers in On Photography.