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Famous Photographer List By Genre
This famous photographer list is intended to be an easy way to begin exploring the work of some pre-eminent photographers.
Any short(ish) list like this inevitably leaves out more brilliant photographers than it includes. But this isn't an encyclopaedia, just a handy reference for you to start exploring a selection of big names. Some of the people people below would have to be on any list, and some just had to be on my list!
I'm actually not a big fan of rigid genre distictions, which sometimes seem quite meaningless in photography. But it helps to organize things a little bit. So I've broken things down into 5 categories in the below famous photographer list:
- famous landscape photographers
- famous fashion photographers
- famous portrait photographers
- famous war photographers
- famous documentary photographers
Famous Landscape Photographers
- Edward Weston (1886 - 1958). A prolific early photographer who captured the landscape around his California home.
- Jim Brandenburg (1945 -). A National Geographic photographer who produces both landscape and wildlife images. Published a very famous book of images called "White Wolf".
- Ansel Adams (1902 - 1984). Legendary landscape photographer and conservationist. His images of the Californian wilderness are famous for their impressive tonal contrast. Ansel Adams' 400 Photographs is one of my favourite collections of landscape photography.
- David Muench (1936 - ). Another landscape photographer drawn to California and western America.
- Galen Rowell (1940 - 2002). American landscape photographer who brilliantly captured the drama of Californian landscapes.
- Charlie Waite (1949 - ). Produces landscapes from the UK around the world. His images are characterised by a sense of clarity and calm.
- Nick Brandt (1966 - ). Produces incredibly powerful images of the epic landscapes and wildlife of Africa.
- Luca Campigotto (1962 -). Italian photographer famous for both his natural and urban landscapes. Captured some fabulous images of Venice at night.
Famous Fashion Photographers
- Frank Horvat (1928 -). Born in Croatia and worked as a photojournalist before moving into fashion.
- Cecil Beaton (1904 - 1980). Captured the sophistication and style of the interwar period.
- Giovanni Gastel (1955 -). An Italian fashion photographer who is known for a highly innovative style that blurs the boundaries of the human form.
- Nick Knight (1958 -). British fashion photographer who has also produced documentary work and album covers.
- Martin Munkacsi (1896 - 1963) Hungarian photographer who worked in New York. His photography inspired the careers of Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier Bresson.
- Richard Avedon (1923 - 2004). Emphasised emotional expression and personality in his images. Avedon Fashion: 1944 - 2000 includes over 200 of Avedon's most memorable images from 6 decades of work.
- David Bailey (1938 - ). Famously captured the essence of swinging 60's London.
- Dennis Stock (1928 -). Magnum's man in Hollywood during its golden age.
- Mario Testino (1954 - ). Continues to photograph many modern icons.
Famous Portrait Photographers
- Dorothea Lange (1895 - 1965). Sympathetically recorded the hardship of the Depression era.
- Angus McBean (1904 - 1940). Photographed many celebrities with a surrealist slant.
- Yousuf Karsh (1908 - 2002). Photographed major 20th century figures and produced a truly iconic shot of Sir Winston Churchill.
- Irving Penn (1917 - 2009). Shot many leading cultural figures in bold compositional arrangements.
- Annie Leibovitz (1949 - ). Continues to produce striking, meticulously arranged portraits of well known people.
- Steve McCurry (1950 - ). Creates incredible images that combine emotional power and graphic beauty, like the famous Afghan Girl. The Unguarded Moment is an astonishing collection of McCurry's work over the last 30 years.
Famous War Photographers
- Alexander Gardner (1821 - 1882). An early photographer who recorded the American Civil War.
- Mathew Brady (1822 - 1896). Another early photographer who documented the American Civil War.
- Joe Rosenthal (1911 - 2006). Worked in the Pacific theatre of WWII, capturing the iconic ‘Raising the Flag On Iwo Jima’.
- Robert Capa (1913 - 1954). Covered a number of conflicts including WWII and the Spanish Civil War, the latter resulting in his shot 'The Falling Soldier'.
- Don McCullin (1935 - ). Photographed lots of conflicts, notably Vietnam and the Northern Ireland conflict. Don McCullin is a collection that features many of the 20th century's most powerful war photographs.
- Philip Jones-Griffiths (1936 - 2008). Well known for his images of the Vietnam War.
- Tim Hetherington (1970 - ). A brilliant modern photographer who has recorded the NATO conflict in Afghanistan.
Famous Documentary Photographers
- Eric Salomon (1886 - 1944). Photographed legal and political subjects in a candid style.
- Dorothea Lange (1895 - 1965). Shot the people and events of the Great Depression with a compassion for her subjects.
- Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898 - 1995). Produced a number of famous images from the first half of the 20th century, especially one of a soldier kissing a woman in Times Square on V-J Day.
- Margaret Bourke-White (1904 - 1971). Photographed the Depression era and WWII.
- Henri Cartier Bresson (1908 - 2004). Undoubtedly one of the best and most influential photographers/artistic figures of the 20th century, he captured many significant events including, famously, Gandhi’s funeral. The Man, The Image and the World is my favourite retrospective of Cartier-Bresson's work.
- Robert Capa (1913 - 1954). Powerfully recorded 20th century conflicts like the Spanish Civil War and WWII.
- Diane Arbus (1923 - 1971). Photographed individuals on the margins of society like transvestites, circus performers, dwarves and nudists.
- Manuel Rivera Ortiz (1968 - ). A modern photographer who continues to produce powerful images of people struggling in poverty in poor parts of the world.
This famous photographer list is, of course, a small selection of many great photographers whose images are worth discovering.
Who's my favourite photographer on this famous photographer list? I couldn't possibly choose just one!
But at the moment I'm loving Steve McCurry's amazing photos, and I think his reputation will continue to soar. I think he's amongst the best portrait, documentary and war photographers of all time.
I'm a big fan of Nick Brandt and Henri Cartier Bresson too!
Who else deserves to be on this famous photographer list? Share your opinions through the links below...
Here I've reviewed the stand-out coffee table photography books in my collection (the 3 below). At any one time I always have 1 of these on full show in my flat!