Portrait photographers take pictures of people showing their emotions and feelings. Contemporary portrait photographers take fashion portrait photos; 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 a career as a photographer. Soon he became one of the most popular portrait photographers specialized in shooting sports and celebrities.
His portraiture can be spotted 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 a project called “The Life of Man” which is dedicated to the 80-year anniversary of Esquire. Mark is on the list of contemporary photographers who have had a chance to work with many prominent American figures.
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 a neutral background, wearing conservative outfits, with simply styled hair and barely visible makeup.
His works are clearly inspired by the 1920s expressionistic German school of film photographers. The recognizable and ageless looks that he demonstrates in his shots, make Peter an absolutely famous portrait photographer.
Location: New York, U.S.
Terry Richardson is one of those extravagant portrait photographers who aren't afraid to shock the public with their explicit imagery. Terry's approach is about shooting well-renowned celebrities in an ordinary, day-to-day-settings using instant cameras.
He actively captures different aspects of sexiness, from real and imitated sexual intercourse to total nakedness. Terry loves to experiment with the idea of involving the photographer in an image one way or another.
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 from a completely new perspective. This portrait photographer's recognizable style, with identical background and lighting in all of his imagery, has drastically changed the way most famous people are perceived.
Location: Lima, Peru
Mario Testino made a breakthrough in the sphere of fashion photography with his exceptional portraits of Madonna, Kate Moss and the members of the Royal Family. 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 achieved recognition as a celebrity portrait photographer, he decided to try his hand in other roles such as businessman, museum founder, creative director and art enthusiast.
Location: Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Starting from the '80s, David became one of the most famous portrait photographers. As a teenager, David worked as a photographer for Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, and 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 such as Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Tupac Shakur, and athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Muhammad Ali.
Location: New York City, U.S.
Approximately 20 years ago, Lorenzo Agius achieved his first success with his stunning portraits of Ewan McGregor. He followed this work with the picture of Patsy Kensit and Liam Gallagher under a blanket with a Union Jack print for a Vanity Fair cover, and with this, Lorenzo became one of the most famous modern portrait photographers. You may see his works hanging on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery in London.
In addition, his work was the center of attention during the exhibition arranged by the British Fashion Council in honor of their 25th anniversary at the Natural History Museum He is also one of the professional portrait photographers whose pictures were used during the opening of the Cannes Film Festival.
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 perception of beauty.
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'Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York and Garnier Fructis.
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. In that period, she traveled a lot and even resided in Italy once. Initially, Corbin 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, the Irish countryside 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.
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.
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Steve McCurry is one of the world's best-known portrait photographers and photojournalists. He has 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.
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.
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 has traveled around India, Vietnam and Cuba in order to take his most prominent portraits. Réhahn captures the genuine communication between people, their reactions, their behavior and their routine.
This French portrait photographer is widely known thanks to 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 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.
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.
This is one of the most famous portrait photographers in the world. He loves taking pictures of new countries and their residents, as well as performing perfect fashion and beauty photoshoots.
Considering there are more than 27 million hits in his Pbase account, I can say that Manny Librodo is really popular. One of the top portrait photographers, he has more than 120,000 followers on his Facebook personal and fan pages. Moreover, he has been a judge at many international photography contests.
Location: San-Francisco, U.S.
UUnlike 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 beauty, diversity and mutual help. She creates incredible visual symbols and asks important questions through her works.
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.
With his fresh and interesting view of modern photo art, Antonin has 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.
He has taken portraits of Mongolia's street children as well as of David Bowie. He took photos of Iraq for Fortune Magazine and of Deborah Harry as well. Anyway, his works look really unique and professional.
Location: Connecticut, U.S.
Talking about the most successful portrait photographers, I can’t help but mention Joe McNally. He was born in the USA, but has worked in approximately 70 countries.
His technical skills are considered to be a great example of true professionalism. Among his clients are CEOs, celebrities, advertisers and magazines. Unlike most other great portrait photographers, he easily works both in the sphere of photojournalism and in advertising.
Location: New-York, U.S.
This is one of the American portrait photographers with a really unusual and mixed background. Sasha Arutyunova was born in the capital of Russia, then raised in Florida, and today is 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.
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 their crispness, high-quality and creative approach. You might even think that the photos have been staged. But you will definitely admire their beauty. Justin takes photos in the same style with another good lifestyle portrait photographer, Rodney Gray Jr.
Zhang Jingna knows portrait photography techniques that is useful for taking perfect fashion and beauty images. Her works are published in the top world’s magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar.
Along with this, she has solo exhibitions that demonstrate the beauty of people from different cultures and nationalities, their peculiarities and their specific features.
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 a result, they look attractive and natural both in the studio and in various locations. Brett believes that one of the best portrait photography ideas is to take pictures in a place where the person feels most comfortable.
Location: Athems, Georgia, U.S.
You can see the name of Brian Ingram in the list of famous photographers from Georgia. Moved to the U.S., he spent only four years mastering portrait photography tips and secrets to create lots of incredible works.
He's made thousands of realistic portraits. He is constantly developing his professional skills inside and out of his personal studio.
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 photoshoot 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.
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 challenges conventional aspects of gender, race, and other social problems. His photos touch on different topics: from film, fashion and music, to politics and society. This professional prefers the combination of strong forms and clean lines. You can see all this in his works.
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.
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 movement. 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 as one of the most talented fine art portrait photographers.
Next in our list is one of the editorial portrait photographers who live in Canada. The main thing you should know is that she has taken photos for I-D, Allure, Vogue and other top world’s fashion magazines.
Her works are full of creativity and demonstrate her good taste.
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.
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. Besides being one of the professional portrait photographers, he also specializes in documentary film photography and shoots for the beauty and fashion industry. His works are published in The New York Times, T Magazine, and The WSJ Magazine.
Location: Leipzig, Germany
If you are interested in portrait photographers with some creative background, pay attention to Charlotte Grimm. Starting out 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.
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, and photos for events, fashion, lookbooks and beauty. But she has a real talent in photographing loving couples on the best day of their lives.
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 their 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 to work. Its beautiful and unique nature gives her a fresh view on portraits and inspires taking unusual pictures. Moreover, she works in the spheres of editorial commissions, brand product photography, and events.
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Some professional portrait photographers are inspired by storytelling and ancient stories. One of these is Helen Warner, who is interested in the myths and legends of Northern Ireland.
You can also see bright supernaturalism and love for the 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 border of dream and reality.
Location: Munich, Germany
This celebrity portrait photographer from Germany graduated from the 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.
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 tenderness.
Location: New York City, U.S.
James White graduated from the Art Institute in Chicago. Then he moved to Italy where he learned the technical peculiarities of photography art. James decided on a career as a fashion photographer and 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 publications like Picture Magazine, Digital Photography Monthly, American and French Photo, Black & White and others.
Location: Manchester, England
The main subjects of Lee Jeffries' photography are homeless people. He is one of the portrait photographers who has attempted to capture at least a bit of hope and faith in their eyes. It results in truly affecting and heartbreaking photos.
You should know that many of the 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.