We've come to the end of our visual journey. These are the last 25 of the most famous photographers of all times. At the end of our journey we are grateful, richer, and more curious to learn and discover amazing people and their incredible work. Despite the emerging of digital cameras, artificial intelligence algorithms, image processing techniques, social media publishing, and sophisticated lighting systems, photography continues to express feelings, convey important messages, and tell impressive stories. At almost 200 years since the birth of photography, we are still discovering its grace and beauty.
Known for his fashion photographs taken between 1950s and 1980s, Frank Horvat (b. 1928) is one of the photographers who embraced technology. He was one of the first photographers to use Photoshop, try a compact camera, and believe in an iPad application.
Frank Horvat worked for Elle, Vogue, and Harper's Bazaar. But he did more than fashion photography. He traveled through Asia as a freelance journalist and published his travel photographs in Life magazine, then traveled around the world and published the photographs in Revue magazine. He did portraits, landscapes, nature photography, and photojournalism. He experimented cinema and video production, did interviews and collages. Frank Horvat is a complete visual artist.
He says "photography is the art of not pushing the button". His photographs are stylish and elegant, but also profound and touching. From the glamours fashion scene to dramatic travel snapshots, the work of Frank Horvat is unforgettable.
Alexander Rodchenko (1891 - 1956) was a Russian photographer, one of the founders of constructivism. He did social photography and photomontage, using a new style. He took pictures from awkward angles and tried to shock the viewer and achieve recognition of new aesthetics.
Alexander Rodchenko was one of the first photographers who decomposed images in layers. He was a great influencer in graphic design and many of his photographs were used as magazine covers. His abstract works and portraits are still inspiration for modern artists of all kinds.
You can admire his works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Julia Margaret Cameron ( 1815 - 1879) was one of the first female photographers. She did mostly portraits of her family and famous people and had a preference for artful works. She used Arthurian and heroic themes and transformed photography in an art.
Using soft focus and the wet collodion process, Julia Margaret Cameron caught beauty in its pure form. In her autobiography, Annals of My Glass Hour, she wrote "I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied."
Her photographs were published only in the mid XXth century. Today, her portraits are considered some of the finest in the history of photography and her works are exhibited in museums around the world.
Angus McBean (1904 - 1990) started his career as a stage photographer in 1936. He was commissioned to take production photos and photograph Vivien Leigh. He would soon become a portrait photographer, famous for his celebrities portraits and surrealist style. Among his subjects there are Agatha Christie, Audrey Hepburn, and Laurence Olivier.
From theater and art productions Angus McBean moved to music and did album covers for Cliff Richard and The Beatles. His surrealist mark was everywhere. He used fantastic props and theatrical lights. Every portrait was a story, a fantasy, and a work of art.
Some say Angus McBean is the best portrait photographer of the XXth century. His spirit continues to be an inspiration and his portraits bring back the glamour of an era.
Deborah Turbeville (1932 - 2013) was a fashion photographer known for her mysterious and gritty approach on fashion photography. She worked for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar and introduced new techniques and artistic visions.
Deborah Turbeville's images are black and white, sepia, or pastels. Grain is almost always present. Using an edgy style she transformed glamours and bright fashion photographs into something more realistic and dark. She refused both photographic and gender conventions, and she spoke about using women as objects in fashion and everyday life.
Tim Page (b. 1944) is a press photographer who became famous photographing war zones and dangerous situations. He worked as freelancer and published photos from Laos, Vietnam, and South China. He was severely wounded four times and saw his friends and colleagues killed or went missing in the war. Tim Page found Indochina Media Memorial Foundation to raise awareness about people in media who risk their life to document conflict areas.
You can see his pictures and read about his experiences in many books he wrote or contributed to. Among them Ten Years After: Vietnam Today (1987), Requiem (1997), and The Mindful Moment (2001).
Harri Peccinotti (b. 1935) became famous for his fashion photography with erotic influence. He did two Pirelli calendars (1968, 1969), was art director of Nova magazine, and worked for Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, and Rolling Stone.
He has a sensual style and photographs shapes and suggestive close-ups. His Pirelli calendars are considered erotic and provocative for their time. Even colors are used to provoke and enhance sex-appeal.
Harri Peccinotti broke many standards, from showing a nipple in Pirelli calendar to featuring black models in his fashion pictorials. His graphic and exotic style inspires generations of photographers.
Eve Arnold (1912 - 2012) was photojournalist and member of Magnum Photo agency. She gained fame photographing iconic figures of her times, doing social documentaries, and photographing people wherever she went. From Marilyn Monroe to a Cuban family, Eve Arnold used the same gentle and caring perspective. As she said in an interview "I see them simply as people in front of my lens."
She traveled a lot. Among her photographs you'll find people from Mongolia, China, Cuba, Soviet prisoners, and Muslim women. She was involved in women rights and did a movie about the position of women in Muslim societies. She also documented the life of potato pickers from her hometown, migrant workers, Vietnam veterans, and South Africa apartheid.
Jane Bown (1925 - 2014) did wedding portraits until she was hired by The Observer to do Bertrand Russell's portrait. Then she became one of the best portrait photographers in England and the list of famous people photographed by her got really long.
Some say her style is similar with Henri Cartier Bresson style but with an English perspective. Jane Bown photographs are mostly black and white and taken with the available light. She kept things simple, without tricks or staged compositions. Her minimalist approach and candid compositions still win a lot of hearts.
Michael Thompson is a fashion and beauty photographer known for his attention to detail and commercial approach. He was the assistant of Irving Penn and worked for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair, GQ, and many more fashion and lifestyle magazines. He also did campaigns for big names in fashion industry including Tiffany & Co, Armani, Chanel, and Gap.
Besides fashion photography, Michael Thompson does movie stars and celebrities portraits. His work is unpredictable, cinematic, and stylish. You can recognize his signature in clean and sharp images. Working both in black and white and colors, creating connection between his models and the story he tells, Michael Thompson may be the future in fashion photography.
Oliviero Toscani (b. 1942) is an Italian photographer famous for the controversial campaigns he did for Benetton. He was art director at Benetton between 1982 and 2000 and came back to the company in 2018.
His campaigns included references to AIDS, anorexia, homosexuality, racism, war, religion, and capital punishment. Oliviero Toscani doesn't save the viewer from explicit and dramatic views. It's his way of conveying strong messages and to raise awareness about social and political issues. Colorful, edgy, and brutally honest, Oliviero Toscani's photographs show us the true power of photography.
Pierre et Gilles
Pierre Commoy (b. 1950) and Gilles Blanchard (b. 1953), known as Pierre et Gilles, are two French artists that have been working together since 1976. Pierre is photographer and Gilles is painter. Together they produce a unique world where the two arts meet. They photograph in their studio, building impressive sets, and then apply paint to complete their artistic vision.
Pierre et Gilles did fashion photography and portraits before settling to their own creations. They are inspired by their travels, fantasies, history, and religion. Their work is a complex mix, unpredictable, and sometimes controversial.
Robert Doisneau (1912 - 1994), the ultimate street photographer, spent his entire life photographing the streets of Paris and their characters. A pioneer of photojournalism and humanism photography, Robert Doisneau left a rich legacy.
Among his iconic pictures there is "The Kiss by the Town Hall" ("Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville") from 1950, a meaningful post-war image. Romantic, optimistic, and candid this photograph is hard to forget. Capturing the stories of Paris brought him notoriety. He remained a romantic and produced portraits and advertising work.
Joel Sternfeld (b. 1944) is a professor and fine-art photographer famous for using large-format pictures to document social issues. He uses color photography in a very artistic way and his style is an inspiration for many.
Joel Sternfeld started by documenting human-altered landscapes in United States. He photographed ordinary things and transformed them in artful objects. Using color, irony, and storytelling he transformed a dull subject into works of art. In the same manner he approaches all his subjects: violence, New York public cemetery, social stereotypes, an abandoned railway, and portraits.
You can admire his works in permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and at Getty Center in Los Angeles.
Richard Billingham (b. 1970) is a photographer, artist, film-maker, and art teacher. His photographic achievements are related to his family and his birthplace. Using common subjects and his personal life, Richard Billingham won important awards, exhibit in personal and collective exhibitions, and published three photography books.
He's an example of how great works come from unexpected places. His first characters were his alcoholic father and his obese mother. Richard Billlingham documented the life of 1980s as he lived it. He also does landscape photography and portraits, using the same affected and realistic style.
Paul Strand (1890 - 1976) was a photographer and filmmaker who militated for establishing photography as an art. He started with formal abstractions and urban perspectives. Later in life he did still photography and street portraits.
He was one of the pioneers of American modernist photography. He considered photography not only an art, but a tool to raise awareness on social issues. Paul Strand is famous for his abstract shapes and shadows, his architectural clean style, and his empathy for the life surrounding him. You can see his works at Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Chris Killip (b. 1946) is a professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and a photographer with a long list of exhibitions and publications. He photographs people and places, especially from England and focuses on working class and rural communities. He gave a fresh approach to British reportage in the 1980s.
Chris Killip works mostly in black and white. His photographs are bleak and gritty. They document social changes and you can feel Killip's engagement with his subjects. For example, it took him six years to gain the trust of people of Lynemouth so that he could take pictures of workers on Seacoal Beach. His pictures came to life only after he understood their survival struggle.
You can admire his 1,400 of his photographs at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol.
Tony Ray-Jones (1941 - 1972) was a British photographer who believed in the non-commercial purposes of photography. He photographed English way of life using candid photography and surrealist humor. Among his subjects are festival, leisure activities, people living in housing estates, and urban landscapes.
Tony Ray-Jones produced anthropological pictures of the British society. He died very young and didn't have time to become famous. But his genuine style and ironic approach remain an inspiration. He believed that "Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think it is possible to walk, like Alice, through a looking glass and find another kind of world with the camera".
Helen Levitt ( 1913 - 2009) was a street photographer who believed in artful photography and followed the path of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Her black and white photographs are taken on New York streets, with a Leica camera.
Street culture and children were her favorite subjects. Helen Levitt had a perceptive, gentle, and almost poetic style, which is appreciated and inspiring. She was a pioneer of color photography, but most of her color photographs were stolen in 1970 and never recovered.
You can admire Helen Levitt's photographs in permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Robert Capa (1913 - 1954) was a war photographer and photojournalist, famous for his combat and adventure photographs. He covered five wars: Spanish Civil War, Second Sino-Japanese War, the Second World War, Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War. He was the only civilian on D-Day, photographing the landing on Ohama Beach. His photographs were published in newspapers and magazines.
His photographs capture motion and invite the viewer to take part at the events. They are cinematic and realistic, true visual documents of the time. He insisted that good photographs require taking risks and being present and active during the events.
George Hurrell (1904 - 1992) photographed the Hollywood glamour during the 1930s and 1940s. He remained in the history of photography with movie star portraits and perfect looking compositions.
He worked for MGM Studios and photographed actors for marketing purposes. Among his subjects are Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and Myrna Loy. He continued his career at Warner Brothers Studio and Columbia Pictures where he met and photographed Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and Rita Hayworth. Almost all Hollywood stars have benefited from his magic touch.
Regardless his famous subjects, George Hurrell based his work on a exceptional sense of lighting and paining-like compositions. In the last part of his life he did fashion photography and film sets photographs. At that time, movie star portraits weren't appreciated anymore, but his photographs are an important visual document of film history and American society.
Jacques Henri Lartigue
Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894 - 1986) photographed sports, racing cars, planes, and fashion models. Shooting both in color and in black and white, Jacques Henri Lartigue showed us a world of energy and glamour. Many of his photographs capture motion, speed, and the amazing flow of life. Nothing is dull or stationary in his work.
Jacques Henri Lartigue had an informal and dynamic style. His characters don't seem to notice the camera and are usually involved in some activity. Most of his works were published in Life magazine. You can admire his photographs in permanent collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Bert Stern (1929 - 2013) was a commercial photographer and worked for Look and Flair magazines. He became famous for taking the last pictures of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 for Vogue magazine, a series of photos called The Last Sitting.
During his career Bert Stern adopted a different style for advertising and commercial photography. He used dynamic and meaningful images that not only accompanied a text but also convey part of the message.
Peter Beard (b. 1938) transformed his passions in a full-time job. His photographs have followed his journeys and feature Africa, wild animals, portraits, and collages. Peter Beard accompanies his photographs with journals and personal stories. His books are a mix of photographs, text, newspaper clippings, dried leaves, and drawings.
Documenting Africa came like a glove for Peter Beard, an activist for wilderness. He declared “The wilderness is gone, and with it much more than we can appreciate or predict. We'll suffer for it.” He continues to document the industrialization of the continent and the ravages of civilization.
John Rankin Waddell (b. 1966) alias Rankin is a portrait and fashion photographer. He founded Dazed and Confused magazine and worked for Vogue, Marie Claire and GQ. He's known for celebrity portraits including David Bowie, Madonna, Heidi Klum, and Kate Moss.
Rankin does more than fashion photography. He did a HIV/AIDS campaign for Nike, documentaries, reality shows, and music videos. He's an icon maker in everything he does. With a special sense for questioning social standards and beauty norms, Rankin pushes his limits and challenges himself to be different and creative.
You can admire his photographs in more than 30 books and in galleries around the world.
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