Portrait photographers take pictures of people showing their emotions and feelings. Contemporary portrait photographers take fashion portrait photos, the photos of strangers, friends, children, family members or even self-portraits. If you are going to become a professional portrait shooter, find inspiration from these 40 world's best photographers of portraits.
The professionals described below are a generation of gifted artists. These great portrait photographers constantly receive tons of likes and have an immense number of followers around the world. If you are only an amateur photographer, I highly recommend you to check out the social media profiles of these 40 best portrait photographers and get inspired by their portfolios.
Location: New York City, U.S.
Mark Mann was born in Glasgow. He learned photography at Manchester Polytechnic and gained his first experience while assisting fashion shooters – Miles Aldridge and Nick Knight. Three years later he moved to New York, where he pursued the career of a photographer. Soon he became one of the most popular portrait photographers specialized in shooting sports and celebrities. His portraiture was spot on the pages of such print media as Billboard, Men’s Health, Spin, Esquire, Fortune, etc. Mark's incredible works feature a number of famous artists, for instance, Rihanna, Iggy Pop, Stevie Wonder, Queen Latifah, the Black Eyed Peas and many others. Recently he finished the project called “The Life of Man” which is dedicated to the 80 years anniversary of Esquire. Mark is on the list of contemporary photographers who had a chance to work with many prominent American figures.
Photo by Mark Mann
Location: New York City, Paris, Arles
Even though Peter Lindberg started his career as a commercial fashion photographer later than the others (when he was more than 30 years old), he still managed to achieve success in this sphere. Peter's peculiar style is characterized by minimalism. In his images, models are shot in the studio, on the neutral background, wearing conservative outfits, simply styled hair and barely visible makeup. His works were clearly inspired by the 1920s expressionistic German school of film photographers. The recognizable and ageless looks, which he demonstrates in his shots, made Peter an absolutely famous portrait photographer.
Photo by Peter Lindbergh
Location: New York, U.S.
Terry Richardson is one of those extravagant portrait photographers who aren't afraid to shock the public with the explicit imagery. Terry's approach is about shooting well-renowned celebrities in an ordinary, day- to-day-setting using instant cameras. He actively captures different aspects of sexiness, from real and imitated sexual intercourses to total nakedness. Terry loves to experiment with the idea of involving the photographer in an image one way or another.
Photo by Terry Richardson
Location: Munich, Germany
Martin Schoeller managed to create a totally different perception of familiar portrait photography. He is widely known for the one-of-a-kind technique of shooting famous people extremely close. His portraiture allowed people to see worldwide prominent figures in a completely new perspective. This portrait photographer's recognizable style, identical background and lighting in all of his imagery have drastically changed the way most famous people are perceived.
Photo by Martin Schoeller
Location: Lima, Peru
Mario Testino made a breakthrough in the sphere of fashion photography with his exceptional portraits of Madonna, Kate Moss and the Royal Family members. In his portraits, Mario recreates certain day-to-day scenes while involving big groups of people in order to make the shot as realistic as possible. His primary achievement includes more than 40 exhibitions all around the world. When Mario got the recognition as a celebrity portrait photographer, he decided to try himself as a businessman, museum founder, creative director and art enthusiast.
Photo by Mario Testino
Location: Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Starting from the 80s, David became one of the famous portrait photographers. Being a teenager, David worked as a photographer for Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat. David's unique perception of popular culture and comical hyperbolized realism is typically referred to as “kitsch pop surrealism”. There is a hidden meaning in the way he exaggerates the colors, styles and ideas. David photographed the leading stars of the modern music industry – Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Tupac Shakur and athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Muhammad Ali, etc.
Photo by David LaChapelle
Location: New York City, U.S.
Approximately 20 years ago, Lorenzo Agius achieved his first success with the stunning portraits of Ewan McGregor. Followed by the picture of Patsy Kensit and Liam Gallagher under the blanket with a Union Jack print for Vanity Fair cover, Lorenzo became one of the famous modern portrait photographers. You may see his works hanging on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Besides, his work was the center of attention during the exhibition arranged by the British Fashion Council in the honor of their 25th anniversary at the Natural History Museum In addition, he is one of those professional portrait photographers whose pictures were used during the opening of the Cannes Film Festival.
Photo by Lorenzo Agius
Location: New York City, U.S.
Kenneth Willardt began developing his photography skills in Denmark, where he was born. Then he decided to try his luck in New York and he soon became one of the greatest contemporary portrait photographers. The majority of Kenneth's works are dedicated to illustration and embodiment of the beauty perception. His exceptionally thought out scenes along with diverse subject matters and tones turn his portraiture into ageless and elegant masterpieces. For instance, during the last 17 years, Kenneth has been creating promotional images for such famous beauty brands as L’Oreal Paris, Maybelline New York and Garnier Fructis.
Photo by Kenneth Willardt
Location: Charleston, South Carolina, Southern California
One of the most famous wedding photographers, Corbin Gurkin, started her career working in the sphere of wedding photography for many years. At that period, she traveled a lot and even resided in Italy once. Initially, Corbin was concentrated on drawing and painting, but after visiting Photographic Workshops in Maine, the art of photography sparked her interest. Corbin is known for shooting weddings in very exotic but picturesque locations like magnificent Thailand beaches, inspiring villages of Tuscany, California wine districts, Irelan country-seats and, of course, romantic Paris. Her images are being constantly published in such print media as Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Martha Stewart Weddings and Vogue.
Photo by Corbin Gurkin
Location: Charleston, Southern California, U.S.
Olivia Rae James belongs to the list of well-renowned traveling wedding photographers. In her pictures, she depicts the unfeigned beauty of true-to-life events and situations. Condé Nast Brides and Harper’s Bazaar rightfully entitled Olivia as one of the best wedding photographers in the world. All of her wedding shots look very different, as she tries to highlight the uniqueness of every wedding.
Photo by Olivia Rae James
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Steve McCurry is one of the world-known portrait photographers and photojournalists. He managed to produce an unbelievable number of images during his career and doesn't plan to stop. His portraiture may be described as inexplicable, as he pushes all the possible boundaries in terms of art, outlook and worldview.
Photo by Steve McCurry
Location: Sevenoaks, Kent, England
In his portraits, Jimmy Nelson brings up the pressing subject of nations whose heritage is on the verge of extinction. As one of the top contemporary photographers, he is noted for conveying empathy for these particular nations. The aim of his portraiture is to attract attention to the problem of the disappearance of various cultures in different parts of the globe.
Photo by Jimmy Nelson
Location: Hoi An, Vietnam
Réhahn isn't only one of the brightest fine art portrait photographers, but he manages to effectively include the documentary style in his works. He traveled around India, Vietnam and Cuba in order to take his most prominent portraits. Réhahn captured the genuine communication between people, their reactions, behavior and their routine.
Photo by Rehahn
Location: Location: France
This French portrait photographer is widely known thanks for his pictures from North Korea. What is special about this talented professional? His genuine interest in different stories. Actually, he can tell you something about each person whom you can see in his shots. Pay attention to his pictures of tribes from Namibia and other exotic countries. These images evoke really powerful emotions.
Photo by Eric Lafforgue
Location: Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
If you are looking at a photo of some American celebrity, politician or a high society representative, most probably it was taken by Annie Leibovitz. Firstly, she became well-known in the industry when she worked as the main photographer at Rolling Stones magazine and then at Vanity Fair. A great number of Vogue covers were also created under her guidance. She was called one of the top portrait photographers of the second half of the 20th century due to the popular culture vibe reflected in her imagery.
Photo by Annie Leibovitz
Location: Location: Philippines
This is one of the most famous portrait photographers in the word. He loves taking pictures of new countries and their residents, as well as performing perfect fashion and beauty photo shoots. Considering more than 27 million hits in his Pbase account, I can say that Manny Librodo is really popular. One of the top portrait photographers has more than 120,000 followers on his Facebook personal and fan pages. Moreover, he was a judge at many international photography contests.
Photo by Manny Librodo
Location: San-Francisco, U.S.
Unlike many other professional portrait photographers, Lisa Kristine takes photographs of social causes and native people. Being an International humanitarian photographer, she works all over the globe. Her professional portrait photography makes you think about the beauty, diversity and mutual help. She creates incredible visual symbols and asks important questions through her works.
Photo by Lisa Kristine
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Like many other famous modern portrait photographers, David Lazar takes most of his pictures while traveling. He aims to transmit real life, as well as show the unique beauty of various cultures and places. This traveling photographer visits places with rich cultural or exclusive traditions. His shots are currently used for various publications. You can find them in magazines, newspapers, books and journals. For example, in such famous publications as Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Asian Geographic. 2014 was the most successful year for this famous portrait photographer, because he won the “Best Culture Photographer” award by Garuda Airways.
Photo by David Lazar
Location: Location: Czech
With his fresh and interesting view of the modern photo art, Antonin created his own, specific and recognizable style. It is based on personal experience, not privileged voyeurism and intimate conditioning. The ability to show different characters and show immutable truth has made him one of the best portrait photographers in the world. You can see his pictures in a lot of publications in different languages. The thing is, he took portraits of Mongolia's street children, as well as of David Bowie, he took photos of Iraq for Fortune Magazine and of Deborah Harry. Anyway, his works look really unique and professional.
Photo by Antonin Kratochvil
Location: Connecticut, U.S.
Talking about the most successful portrait photographers, I can’t but mention Joe McNally. He was born in the USA, but worked in approximately 70 countries. His technical skills are considered to be a great example of true professionalism. Among his clients are the CEOs and celebrities, advertisers and magazines. Unlike most other great portrait photographers, he easily works both in the sphere of photojournalism and in advertising.
Photo by Joe McNally
Location: New-York, U.S.
This is one of USA portrait photographers with really unusual and mixed background. Sasha Arutyunova was born in the capital of Russia, then raised in Florida and finally based in Brooklyn. She enjoys taking portraits, but also successfully works in many other genres of modern photography. For example, she loves shooting professional and amateur artists on stage.
Photo by Sasha Arutyunova
Location: New-York, U.S.
Justin Hogan’s monochromic pictures represent one of the most beautiful types of portrait. The music portrait photographer takes really fascinating shots. They are unique because of crispness, high-quality and creative approach. You can think that the photos have been staged. But you will definitely admire their beauty.
Photo by Justin Hogan
Zhang Jingna knows portrait photography techniques that are useful for taking perfect fashion and beauty images. Her works are published in the top world’s magazines. I mean Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar. Except for this, she has solo exhibitions that demonstrate the beauty of people from different cultures and nationalities, their peculiarities and specific features.
Photo by Zhang Jingna
Brett Harkness works in a wide range of modern photography genres. Based in the UK, he takes portraits, lifestyle and wedding photos, as well as interior shots. He helps his models to feel relaxed and confident. As the result, they look attractive and natural both in the studio and on various locations. Brett believes that one of the best portrait photography ideas is to take pictures in the place where the person feels most comfortable.
Photo by Brett Harkness
Location: Athems, Georgia, U.S.
You can see the name of Brian Ingram in the list of famous photographers from Georgia. Moved to the US, he spent only 4 years mastering portrait photography tips and secrets to create lots of incredible works. They are thousands of realistic portraits. He is constantly developing his professional skills inside and out of his personal studio.
Photo by Brian Ingram
If you want to see a professional portrait photography gallery, visit Michela Riva’s personal website. You will enjoy excellent fashion images and high-quality portraits. The photographer handles the end-to-end artistic and organizational process of each photo shoot to achieve the best result. Her works are conceptual, they have a special mood and idea. Moreover, she is really good in visual storytelling and uses this skill in her work. We can say that her personal style is romantic and recognizable.
Photo by Michela Riva
Location: Los-Angeles, U.S.
This famous portrait photographer comes from the USA. Taking black and white pictures, Herb Ritts adds a unique touch to his works. He follows the principles of classic art and positions his models in the style of Antique sculpture. It’s a quite unusual interpretation of fashion and beauty photography, which is really popular nowadays. He often challenged conventional aspects of gender, race and other social problems. His photos touch different topics: from films, fashion and music, to politics and society. This professional preferred the combination of strong forms and clean lines. You can see all this in his works.
Photo by Herb Ritts
This talented portrait photographer was born in Norway. Capturing the fantastic beauty of his native people and nature, he became famous around the globe. Thanks to experiments with lightning and illumination, he creates an unusual atmosphere in his photos.
Photo by Erik Almas
Location: New-York, U.S.
The story of one of the best portrait photographers started in Puerto Rico. Once he met Marcel Marceau, a famous mime actor, who inspired him how to show the beauty of movements. His career as a photographer began in Paris. Nowadays Omar Z. Robles takes elegant and nice photos of ballet dancers. However, many years ago he shot celebrities, athletes, artists, politicians and other people to develop his personal style of one of the most talented fine art portrait photographers.
Photo by Omar Z. Robles
Next in our list is one of the editorial portrait photographers who live in Canada. The main thing you should know is that she took photos for I-D, Allure, Vogue and other top world’s fashion magazines. Her works are full of creativity and demonstrate her good taste.
Photo by Petra Collins
Location: Los-Angeles, U.S.
American Olivia Bee is one of the contemporary portrait photographers. She understands her mission as showing the charm and grace of everyday life. The photographer has a deep interest in the way memories touch people. And it isn’t important whether they are real facts, or just a fantasy. Olivia Bee doesn’t want to become one of the most famous portrait photographers. The aim of her work is a professional study of different characters.
Photo by Olivia Bee
Location: New-York, U.S.
Many of the top photographers in the world became famous after working in exotic countries. Parisian Clément Pascal is one of them, because his best shots were taken in Dakar, Sénégal. After that, he successfully worked in Paris, New York and Cairo. Except for being one of the professional portrait photographers, he also specializes in documentary film photography and shoots for beauty and fashion industry. His works are published in The New York Times, T Magazine, and The WSJ Magazine.
Photo by Clement Pascal
Location: Leipzig, Germany
If you are interested in portrait photographers with some creative background, pay attention to Charlotte Grimm. Started as German painter, she now stands among world's best photographers. She understands photography as not only taking images. The capturing of unique moments and sincere emotions are of vital importance for her. Although her photos may seem dark, they transmit a special mood and inspiration for new experiments.
Photo by Charlotte Grimm
Being one of the most famous wedding photographers in Great Britain, Alexandra is good at live and promotional band photography. Furthermore, she is also invited to take actors headshots, events, fashion, lookbooks and beauty images. But she has a real talent in photographing loving couples on the best day of their lives.
Photo by Alexandra Cameron
Talking about the top contemporary photographers in the UK, I want to mention Shelley Richmond. She often travels around the world, taking part in various international projects. Her passion is photographing people in the natural environment, showing contrasts or harmony. Shelley loves adventures, so she is ready for all types of commercial or private photo shoots and other projects. The Peak District National Park in central England is her favorite place for work. Its beautiful and unique nature gives her a fresh view on portraits and inspires for taking unusual pictures. Moreover, she works in the spheres of editorial commissions, brand product photography, and events.
Photo by Shelley Richmond
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Some professional portrait photographers were inspired by storytelling and ancient stories. For example, Helen Warner, who is interested in myths and legends of Northern Ireland. You can also see bright supernaturalism and love for Irish landscape in her works. She successfully experiments with different materials and props to create fantastic and emotive pictures. They seem to be on the verge of dream and reality.
Photo by Helen Warner
Location: Munich, Germany
This celebrity portrait photographer from German graduated of Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. Then, Nina Masic worked as a graphic designer and started taking photos. Now she is a successful fashion, portrait and beauty photographer, as well as a high-end retoucher. She works on a freelance basis and really loves her profession.
Photo by Nina Masic
Location: Perugia, Italy
Alessio Albi isn’t one of the ordinary portrait photographers. He is a skillful and talented professional, who creates a special mood and atmosphere in each shot. His portfolio is full of ideal portrait photography examples. You can see simple and refined, but intriguing shots. The models there aren’t just nice faces. Each of them tells a story of love or loneliness, hope or regret, fear or tender.
Photo by Alessio Albi
Location: New York City, U.S.
James White graduated from Art Institute in Chicago. Then he moved to Italy where he learned the technical peculiarities of photography art. James decided on a career of a fashion photographer when he left for New York. There he realized himself in the sphere of professional portrait photography working with celebrities. James' imagery perfectly represents what Hollywood is chasing after – beauty, sexual appeal and pure lust. The fame of one of the most distinguished portrait photographers even reached some reputable editions like Picture Magazine, Digital Photography Monthly, American and French Photo, Black & White and others.
Photo by James White
Location: Manchester, England
The main subjects of Lee Jeffries' photography are homeless people. He was one of the portrait photographers who attempted to capture at least a bit of hope and faith in their eyes. It resulted in truly affecting and heartbreaking photos.
Photo by Lee Jeffries
You should know that many talented photographers from this list don’t have top-quality equipment and plenty of accessories. So, you shouldn’t buy the most expensive camera to create one of the best photography websites. You can use natural light instead of professional illumination. It’s free. Instead of dreaming about the best camera in the world, you can develop your skills with the device that you already have.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.