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Certain photos capture more than a moment: they capture history. Beyond the perfect lighting or the impeccable composition, there’s something else: a hint of emotion in the subject’s face, or perhaps a gesture that points to something deeper, something that elevates the image to a place where it helps defines a moment, or an entire era. Such classic images are incredibly rare—but what about the photos taken just before or just after those iconic shots?
LIFE.com scoured LIFE magazine’s archives to find just such forgotten frames—pictures that were made on the same assignments as classic photos, but wound up never making it into print. Viewing these outtakes adds new dimensions to the history and personalities we think we know. Here, then, a look at nine famous LIFE photos, each compared with a picture from the same shoot. Seen side by side, each set offers a fascinating look into the way a single picture can inform—and sometimes even alter—our sense of history.