Creating Powerful Symbols of Peace for World Peace Day

November 17 marks this year’s World Peace Day. Started as a grass roots movement to encourage individuals to create and display origami paper cranes as an awareness campaign for peace – World Peace Day has evolved into a political action campaign to help promote peace through policy.

Japanese Origami Toys Folding Instructions; How to Play

Cranes represent the Japanese symbol for good luck, and have been adopted as a metaphor for world peace. The organizations website has detailed descriptions for how to fold the animal and encourages everyone to send the finished product – or picture of one hanging – to their local representatives along with a plea for peace.

As stock photographers, we are all about representing such complex concepts as peace visually in imagery, so I thought World Peace Day would be a great time to highlight the symbols of peace with a little of their background and some ideas for creating stock worthy imagery using them.

V finger sign

The ubiquitous peace sign is the holding up of two fingers in the shape of a V. This arose from WWII when soldiers and civilians alike celebrated the end of the European and Japanese offensives by signaling V for Victory or peace.

Peace sign

Use the V Sign when showing protestors at an anti-war rally, or flashed by a child in war torn region longing for peace. The symbol is so linked to the concept of peace, using it in any scene will strongly convey the message.

The Peace Symbol

We all know the sign for peace, and have seen it reproduced on bumper stickers, t-shirts, flags and more, but did you know that the roots of this symbol are from a nuclear disarmament campaign? The symbol is created by combining the flag signal formations for N (nuclear) and D (disarmament) inside a circle.

Peace symbol on rainbow

The Peace Symbol is such a universally recognized sign that it’s inclusion anywhere in the image or by itself will express the concept you are looking for.

An Olive Branch and a Dove

Both have their roots in religion and have been used for centuries across geographic regions to represent peace. They are probably the two most recognized symbols for peace we have.

Dove carrying leaf branch

Of course include an olive branch or a dove on their own or in combination with other imagery in a picture can put forward the notion of peace. But don’t forget about the use of humor as well. Show a dove dive bombing factions at war or leaving droppings on the heads of governments as they argue can create a powerful message as well.

A White poppy

The Red Poppy was adopted by the Royal British Legion as a remembrance for fallen veterans on memorial days. The White Poppy was adopted to show an alternative to war.

White poppy

A field of red poppies invokes the sadness of war, so why not a field of white poppies as a hope for peace. White poppies can replace their red counterparts on lapels as well. Show them being carried by young people during peace rallies for added effect.

Rainbow flag

With roots in Europe of woman sewing together colorful banners to promote peace in conflict regions, the LBGTQ community has adopted the rainbow flag for their rally banner to promote acceptance and tolerance for all the wonderful diversity of humankind.

Gay rainbow flag painted on hands forming a heart isolated on white background, gay and LGBT love concept

Wave the rainbow flag as a message of diversity, love, acceptance and peace.

Broken rifle

The broken rifle was first used by War Resister’s International as a symbol against violence and for civil resistance. Various Veterans organizations and other military related groups have since adopted it to promote the adoption of nonviolent resolution to issues.

Broken rifle

Place a broken rifle next to a soldier’s grave, or in the home of the widow of a fallen soldier. Show it in the place of the mother or father lost in family settings, or on flags carried by the children of fallen warriors.

Hippy culture

A hippy is the very embodiment of peace. The hippy lifestyle represents peaceful acceptance and coexistence for all.


Just include a Hippy in any setting to represent peace and love. Have them flash the V peace sign for added emphasis. Then put white poppies in their hair. Or have them releasing doves. You get the point.

So add some of these great icons of peace creatively in your next shoot to create your own powerful images of peace on this World Peace Day and throughout the year.

Photo credits: Delstudio, Eiko Tsuchiya, Karen Foley, Tina Poletan, Rccster, Sakesan Khamsuwan, Maksym Gorpenyuk, Denys Zazimko.

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