Perhaps this goes without saying, but world leaders take great interest in their own image. Whether they see themselves as dignified and wise or as authoritative and all-knowing, powerful people love cultivating a certain public persona to portray to their adoring subjects. However, few leaders were born with power in their grasp. And – judging by their early photos – even fewer seemed immediately cut out for a life in politics. In fact, these famous – and infamous – leaders are so unrecognizable in their early images, you might need to look twice.
20. Winston Churchill
After graduating from the British Royal Military College in 1895, Winston Churchill joined the Fourth Hussars aged 21, where this image originates. But while his tenure in the armed forces was short, it did have a huge impact on his political career. Indeed, his military knowledge surely served him well as the U.K.’s defiant Prime Minister throughout World War II.
19. Josef Stalin
At first glance, this photo seems to depict a young poet or artist struggling to make ends meet. However, the shot actually shows a 24-year-old revolutionary named Josef Stalin who was then 20 years away from becoming the Soviet Union’s most infamous dictator. Suddenly, though, he doesn’t seem so dashing now.