26 World’s Most Famous Photographers

26 World’s Most Famous Photographers

Who are these famous photographers whose portrait, landscape, street, and fashion photos are recognizable in the whole world? View more about these photographers and inspire for your future photo projects.

1. Henri-Cartier Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson tops this famous photographers list. He was a humanist photographer from France. Henri is often called one of the best street photographers ever. He was among the first to shoot with a 35 mm film while other photographers were actively using medium format cameras.

A Leica camera was his faithful companion. It was speedy, compact and was able to efficiently take a shot even of the briefest moment.

famous photographers henri cartier bresson

The way Henri perceived photography was reflected in a book called “The Decisive Moment”. It is mostly about the case when in a real-life situation, the psychological and visual elements of people are combined harmoniously to convey the true meaning.

famous photographers henri cartier bresson

2. Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon was one of the most well-known representatives of the fashion photography genre. He was photographing for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazines. Avedon belongs to the list of famous photography artists due to his unusual approach.

richard avedon famous photographers

He believed in the power of motion and was eager to photograph the emotional range of his models. Avedon wasn’t a fan of static shots. In addition, he never really enjoyed shooting in a studio – giving preference to outside locations.

That kind of approach is what makes Avedon’s shots livelier and more captivating to the viewer.

Many experts call his later photography work, “In the American West”, the most prominent he has ever done. For this book, Richard was traveling across the country and was taking pictures of day-to-day people that caught his attention.

richard avedon famous photographers

3. Dorothea Lange

Initially, Dorothea Lange was a studio photographer. Now she is known as one of the most famous photographers due to her photojournalistic and documentary shots.

dorothea lange famous photographers

The most legendary Lange’s shot was taken in the times of the Great Depression. It is called “Migrant Mother” and features a concerned mother who lives in a lean-to tent with her kids. Thanks to her photography work, the issues of farmers that had a hard time in Depression-era America rose to the surface.

 Lange’s shots convey empathy for the people who ended up being in a miserable situation. Lange had a great impact on the development of documentary photography into its current state.

dorothea lange famous photographers

4. Robert Capa

Robert Capa was the most famous war photographer and photojournalist. He captured 5 different wars – from the Spanish Civil War to WWII. Although Capa was one of the prominent war photographers, he absolutely hated war and put emphasis on its destructive force in his shots.

robert capa famous photographers

Capa wasn’t his real surname. The word “capa” means “shark” in Hungarian. Such a nickname can be explained by its up-close style of shooting. There is even a well-known saying by Robert Capa: “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”. He belongs to the list of world famous photographers of the 20th century with his straightforward shots full of emotion. Besides, Capa was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos, which is the most reputable photographic agency in the world.

robert capa famous photographers

5. Diane Arbus

Arbus was a famous photographer who gained recognition for her shots of NY people taken the 1950s and 1960s. The main subjects of here shots were people referred to as social deviants in that era.

diane arbus famous photographers

Diane’s documentary photography featured astonishing and eye-catching portraits of nudists, people with tattoos, mental illnesses, strippers, asylum inmates, midgets, drug addicts and the representatives of the LGBT community. Diane captured all these people in ordinary surroundings like their workplaces or homes to convey the idea that they are no different from others.

Her photography went beyond what was considered “normal” then. Arbus emphasized the meaning of equality and appropriate representation at times when the majority couldn’t accept people who wanted to lead a “slightly different” lifestyle.

diane arbus famous photographers

6. Edward Weston

Edward Henry Weston is considered one of the famous photographers of the 20th century who highly influenced and brought innovation into the world of photography. For 40 years, he was involved in photographing a vast array of subjects – from landscape photography to still life, portraiture, nude photography, genre scenes and eccentric parodies.

edward weston famous photographers

Thanks to Weston, the approach to photography was no longer perceived as paintings of the Victorian era. He initiated the modernistic approach of a large-format camera to take black-and-white shots with rich detail. Weston’s most well-known shots feature seashells, cabbage leaves and peppers that have a flair of mystery to them.

The main peculiarity of his photography work is the sculptural look of his subjects. Weston stopped shooting when Parkinson’s disease made him quit his lifetime project in 1948.

edward weston famous photographers

7. Robert Frank

Robert Frank is definitely one of the most famous photographers of the previous century. His unique artistic style couldn’t go unnoticed, and he quickly became known all over the globe. Frank became a prominent figure in the world of photography and managed to influence the development of the documentary genre.

robert frank famous photographers

Robert Frank began his career as a commercial shooter. Later, he understood that creating pics for glossy magazines was not exactly what he wanted. He got a 35mm Leica camera and completely changed his life.

The book The Americans published in 1958 brought him the most fame. In 1955, Robert Frank traveled across the USA and took photographs of ordinary Americans. The book became known around the world. It shows life as it is focusing on people living on the margins.

robert frank famous photographers

8. Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh specialized in portrait photography and became world-known thanks to his pictures of prominent people. He is considered to be one of the greatest portrait photographers of the previous century.

yousuf karsh famous photographers

Karsh created photo portraits of 51 most famous people of the century, including Hollywood stars, artists, world leaders and other notable personalities. Moreover, he was also placed on the list of the most honored personalities of the globe. His portrait of Winston Churchill was a turning point in his career and made Karsh one of the most highly regarded world famous photographers.

yousuf karsh famous photographers

9. Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz was not only a famous photographer but also an art dealer, publisher and gallery owner. He was a prominent figure in graphic art history who contributed greatly to the world of photography.

alfred stieglitz famous photographers

At the beginning of the twentieth century, photography was considered to be a technical and scientific process. Stieglitz turned it into real art. He devoted his life to making it a separate, individual form of art.

Alfred claimed that he didn’t use any tricks and manipulations. He depicted impressive textures, geometric shapes, tones using his skills and sharp focus. He became known thanks to his numerous photos capturing New York from various angles.

alfred stieglitz famous photographers

10. Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham was a famous photographer working in the genre of flower photography, industrial landscapes and nude photography. She belonged to Group f/64 based in California.

imogen cunningham famous photographers

Cunningham began her career creating pictorialist photographs. Pictorialism is a photography style of the early 20th century mimicking academic painting.

She used a soft focus to make her photos blurrier. It made her works look mysterious and enigmatic. Besides, Cunningham tried her hand at creating crispier pics and these attempts resulted in the appearance of a photography technique called sharp-focus photography.

imogen cunningham famous photographers

11. Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred Eisenstaedt is one of the most famous photographers ever working at LIFE Magazine. He is the photographer who managed to capture the V-J Day kiss in Times Square. Although back then photographers used huge press cameras with flash attachments, Eisenstaedt preferred a small 35mm film camera and natural lighting.

alfred eisenstaedt famous photographers

He was among the first photographers in the portrait photography genre, so he had all the chances to achieve success. His small camera made models feel comfortable and relaxed. All this helped Eisenstaedt succeed in candid photography creating powerful portraits of notable individuals.

alfred eisenstaedt famous photographers

12. Man Ray

Man Ray belonged to the most famous photographers working in the Dada and Surrealist styles. He experimented with photograms and called them “rayographs” referring to his surname. Man Ray created them by placing objects on the photosensitive paper and exposing them to light.

man ray famous photographers

He focused on negative space and shadows using hard-edged unmodulated color. He also worked in the genre of portrait and fashion photography. In 1920-30, he created a photo collection of famous Parisians. His photographs were printed in Harper’s Bazaar, Vu and Vogue.

man ray famous photographers

13. Irving Penn

Irving Penn experimented in many photography genres, but he became popular thanks to his portraits, fashion shots and still-life photographs. About 160 Penn’s photographs appeared on Vogue’s covers. Anna Wintour, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, claimed he was a unique photographer who made people perceive the world differently.

irving penn famous photographers

Penn belonged to those famous photography artists who were not afraid to apply new approaches and methods. He was the first to capture portraits with a simple gray or white background, and it was a success. What is more, he even made celebrities pose.

irving penn famous photographers
irving penn famous photographers

14. Walker Evans

Walker Evans is one of the most famous photographers of the twentieth century. He made a great impact on the history of American documentary photography. Evans began his career taking experimental photographs of the New York City streets.

walker evans famous photographers

From the mid-1930s to 1940-s he worked for the Farm Security Administration and traveled through the mid-West and Southern states. Evans was precisely documenting the life of farmers, and this unique series of documentary photos has become world-famous.

Walker Evans stated that as a photographer he wanted to make photos “literate, authoritative, transcendent”. Retrospectives of his works were held in well-known museums, like The Metropolitan Museum of Art or George Eastman House. A lot of his photographs became part of the permanent collections.

walker evans famous photographers

15. W. Eugene Smith

W. Eugene Smith is an American famous photographer and photojournalist. The unique photographs he made during World War II are known all over the world. He is the author of impressive photo series, which are often described as empathetic and social-conscious.

w eugene smith famous photographers

Among his best-known photo essay examples, you will find Country Doctor, Spanish Village and Man of Mercy. In 1939-1943, W. Eugene Smith worked as a war photo correspondent for Life magazine in the South Pacific. He was seriously injured but managed to make his greatest photographs during that period.

w eugene smith famous photographers

16. David Bailey

David Royston Bailey is one of the most famous portrait photographers. His fashion photographs are well-known and highly appreciated. He started a career as an assistant of David Ollins, later he worked with John French. Bailey took an active part in making and photographing a cultural revolution of the “swinging sixties”.

david bailey famous photographers

Although he is an outstanding fashion photographer, David Royston Bailey is famous not only in this field. He shot a lot of landscapes, reportage photos and nudes. Cinema had a great impact on his approach to photography.

Bailey highly appreciates technical skills and control; he prefers to work with a large 35mm-camera.

david bailey famous photographers
david bailey famous photographers

17. Elliott Erwitt

Eliot Erwitt is an American photographer, who is famous for his ability to capture humor and irony in some ordinary-life situations. His black-and-white photos are sincere and emotional.

elliott erwitt famous photographers

He had a great experience working as a photography assistant in the army of the United States. The series of photos of dogs made Erwitt one of the most popular and famous photographers. Besides, Eliot Erwitt achieved impressive results in the field of portrait and documentary photography.

He is also known as a talented street photographer. Erwitt’s credo is to have a camera, wherever he goes, not to miss any photo opportunity.

elliott erwitt famous photographers

18. Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton is a famous photographer who inspired a lot of people and created provocative, erotic black-and-white pictures that were used by Vogue and other fashion magazines. He became popular for his controversial photoplays, unusual lighting, and astounding compositions.

helmut newton famous photographers

He was the first to openly and inspiringly demonstrate female nude photos in fashion magazines. He took most ideas from daily newspapers, real life, and paparazzi pictures.

What defined his style was how he made a carefully planned photo look lively and vibrant. He enjoyed taking pictures outdoors, not in the studio.

helmut newton famous photographers

19. Garry Winogrand

Garry Winogrand is a famous photographer from New York, who lived and worked there almost all his life. His captured city life, people, rodeos, airports, and animals. These subjects are presented in his most exalted and important works.

garry winogrand famous photographers

His images reflect the reality of the noisy United States in the second half of the 20th century, due to which the photographer was called "the chronicler of America." Of course, he wasn’t the first to take photos of the streets but he managed to turn the art of observation into the art of participation. Winogrand's images are refined observations of everyday life, demonstrating his mastery of using a 35mm camera. He loved visual puns and tilted exposures.

garry winogrand famous photographers

20. Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is a truly creative photographer. She started a career as a photographer for Rolling Stone magazine, where she worked for 10 years. Now her photographs accompany a lot of publications but mostly she works for Vogue and Vanity Fair.

annie leibovitz famous photographers

Leibovitz became one of the most famous photographers, as she regularly takes pictures of popular celebrities. Many of her photos can be found in the list of the most iconic photos. Annie Leibovitz has her unique and recognizable style, which makes her photos really special. She uses a specific lighting setup, which makes colors muted and the image looks almost like a painting.

annie leibovitz famous photographers

21. Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is a well-known American photojournalist. You definitely know his work “Afghan Girl”, which was on the cover of National Geographic. This impressive photo is considered to be the most recognized image in the history of this magazine.

steve mccurry famous photographers

This famous photographer has received a lot of awards. He took photos of several armed conflicts, such as the Civil War in Lebanon and Cambodia, the Iran-Iraq War. He also has captured a lot of extraordinary pictures of disappearing cultures and rituals.

steve mccurry famous photographers

22. Sally Mann

Sally Mann is one of the most famous photographers from America, who was popular for her large-format, black-and-white pictures. She paid most of her attention to architecture, landscape, and still life photos. However, she is also well-known for personal photos of her family, mainly her children.

sally mann famous photographers

The most popular series of her works is called Immediate Family (1992) and it shows her three children, who all were less than 10 years old. Even though it mostly focuses on their everyday life moments like playing games, sleeping, or eating together, this series also touches the concept of sexuality and death. These strong images were often considered controversial but still have a huge impact nowadays.

sally mann famous photographers

23. Ellen von Unwerth

Ellen von Unwerth is a very famous photographer and director whose specialty is erotic femininity. Before becoming a photographer, she had worked as a model for 10 years and thought that models didn’t have the freedom of experimenting with poses. That’s why she decided to use her experience and start photographing. When working with models, she allowed them to express themselves and be more creative in terms of posing.

ellen von unwerth famous photographers

Ellen von Unwerth became famous when she first photographed Claudia Schiffer. Now, she is working in fashion, editorial, and advertising genres.

Her cinematic, sexy, and feminine pictures have appeared on the pages of Vogue, Interview, and Vanity Fair. She encourages her models to be sensual in their own ways.

ellen von unwerth famous photographers

24. Jerry Uelsmann

Jerry Uelsmann is one of the most famous photographers when it comes to multilayered imagery and photomontage. He is best known for his seamless and complex black-and-white photos. In his works, Uelsman combines several negatives to make landscapes more surrealistic and intertwines them with photos of trees, rocks, water, and people’s bodies in innovative ways.

jerry uelsmann famous photographers

His photomontages are very captivating and well-thought-out. He opposes artificial objects to organic and tends to use several focal points. His work with darkroom effects was a forerunner of using Adobe Photoshop for creating surrealistic photos at the end of the 20th century.

jerry uelsmann famous photographers

25. Frans Lanting

Frans Lanting is considered to be one of the greatest nature photographers of modernity. He has been photographing animals and greenery for over 20 years now and exploring the connection between people and nature traveling to multiple locations, from Antarctica to Amazon. He has received several awards for his works and nature protection.

frans lanting famous photographers

You can find his amazing works in books, magazines, and exhibitions all over the world. Besides, this photographer has also worked for the National Geographic Society as a photographer-in-residence. He created some of the National Geographic best photos without landscape retouching.

frans lanting famous photographers

26. William Eggleston

William Eggleston is one of the most famous photographers in the world and a father of color photography. He is largely credited with the growing popularity of color photography as a legitimate artistic medium. His images boast rich and saturated colors, and unique models’ poses. He doesn’t adhere to traditional rules of photography composition.

william eggleston famous photographers

He doesn’t fix or stage his scenes. He works with anything that attracts him and during this process, Eggleston reduces reality in a shot and turns it into a masterpiece by expressing his personal ideas.

william eggleston famous photographers
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