Do you need some photographic inspiration? Check out these famous photographers to be inspired to get out there and start shooting with your camera again.
It’s easy to feel caught in a creative rut, but by gazing through famous photos from well-known popular photographers, you’ll quickly rekindle your enthusiasm for photography.
This guide will cover the world’s most famous photographers. There are numerous famous photographers from a variety of photography genres.
From famous portrait photographers to famous landscape photographers, this collection is sure to spark your imagination once again.
At a glance, here are the different types of famous photographers that will be covered in this guide; click a link to jump ahead to your favourite genre and get inspired.
Famous Landscape Photographers
Ready? Let’s find some new photography inspiration.
Famous Portrait Photographers
(1967 – )
Jimmy Nelson is a famous English photographer. His most famous photos depict portraits of tribal and Indigenous peoples.
His photographic career began at the age of 17, when he embarked on a two-year expedition through Tibet with a small camera. The English National Geographic released a compilation of his photographs, which received widespread international praise.
Following this trip, Nelson went on to document a number of combat zones, including Afghanistan, Somalia, and El Salvador.
These works have earned him a spot amongst the most famous Portrait Photographers of today.
(1950 – )
Steve McCurry is a portrait photographer from the United States who is frequently named amongst world’s most famous portrait photographers.
McCurry’s career began when he crossed the Pakistan border into rebel-controlled portions of Afghanistan soon before the Soviet invasion. He fled with rolls of film crammed between his socks and underwear and woven into his turban.
These photographs were later featured in The New York Times, Time, and Paris Match, and he was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad.
Among his most famous photos, Steve’s most notable has to be Afghan Girl. This photograph of a young woman with striking green eyes has featured on the cover of National Geographic several times.
Make sure you check out Steve’s most recent book!
(1949 – )
Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz is an American female portrait photographer best recognised for her engaging pictures of high profile celebrities, in intimate settings and positions.
She has worked as a professional photographer for Rolling Stone Magazine and Vanity Fair throughout her career.
The polaroid of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, shot five hours before Lennon’s murder, is one of Annie Leibovitz’s most famous photos. It is regarded as one of Rolling Stone magazine’s most iconic cover images.
Leibovitz is commonly considered as one of the most famous female portrait photographers in the world.
She was also the first American to create an official picture of The Queen in 2007. These famous photos from Annie Leibovitz were commissioned by The Royal Household to commemorate Her Majesty’s State Visit to the United States.
Wonderland by Annie Leibovitz is available now!
(1908 – 2002)
Yousuf Karsh was a Canadian-Armenian photographer recognised for his images of prominent people. He has been called one of the most famous portrait photographers of the twentieth century.
Karsh, an Armenian genocide survivor, migrated to Canada as a refugee. By the 1930s, he had established himself as a prominent photographer in Ottawa.
Out of his many famous photos, his 1941 portrait of Sir Winston Churchill marked a pivotal point in his 60-year career.
He went on to photograph several high profile political leaders, artists, and scientists, many of which can be found in his book Karsh: A Biography in Images.
Approximately 20 of Karsh’s famous photos were featured on the cover of Life magazine.
Famous Landscape Photographers
(1902 – 1984)
Ansel Adams was a landscape photographer and environmentalist best known for his famous black-and-white landscape photos of the American West.
Adams was a founding member of Group f/64, an association of photographers who advocated for crisp detail photography and the utilisation of the whole tonal range in a shot.
Adams was a lifelong supporter of environmental protection, and his photography work was intimately connected to this cause.
It’s unusual for Adams’ name to not be featured among a list of famous landscape photographers. His work has inspired many landscape photographers of today.
(1928 – 2019)
Georg Gerster is a Swiss aerial photographer known for his vibrant landscape photography.
Gerster’s photography has a scientific, factual feel to it, while the images themselves sometimes resemble enormous abstract paintings.
It’s important to remember that drone photography was not around, and these were mainly taken from aircraft.
Gerster has travelled the world photographing aerial landscapes. Sometimes, it can be difficult to pinpoint the specific place where his photographs are shot.
However, even without knowing where the photograph was shot, it is difficult not to be impressed by the earth’s immense and usually colourful beauty from above.
The book Paradise Lost: Persia from Above is worth a look to gain more insight into his photography.
His distinct viewpoint in his photographic work has gained him a lot of appreciation, and he is respected among famous landscape photographers.
If you’re inspired by Gerster’s work, you might want to invest in one of the best drones for beginners so you can start taking your own images from the sky!
(1954 – )
Michael Kenna, a British artist, is well-known for his unique and almost mystical black and white landscapes.
He has adopted an extreme approach to achieving his signature look, photographing at night with exposures up to 10 hours long.
Kenna’s art has a distinct and unusual aspect that is packed with minimalistic compositions and a profoundly thoughtful or meditative tone.
Kenna is regularly featured in lists amid the top famous landscape photographers of today.
Kenna has published numerous books and tends to produce a calendar featuring his work each year!
Famous Fashion Photographers
(1923 – 2004)
Richard Avedon was one of the most famous fashion photographers of his day.
He became interested in photography at a young age, joining the Young Men’s Hebrew Association Camera Club when he was just 12 years old.
When he first started his career and began shooting for Harper’s Bazaar, he refused to work in a studio and preferred to photograph models on the street, the beach, or at the circus.
This gave his famous photos a very natural appearance and gave his work a particular aspect that was widely regarded.
One of his most well-known photographs includes an impeccably dressed model posing with two elephants, embodying his distinct vision and style.
For more insight check out What Becomes a Legend Most: A Biography of Richard Avedon.
Ellen von Unwerth
(1954 – )
Ellen is a well-known German female photographer who incorporates a strong feeling of femininity into her work. She is highly regarded as one of the top famous fashion photographers.
She discovered her passion for photography after nearly a decade of successful modelling and coupled it with the skills she had learnt in the fashion industry.
These combined skills set her up to become a remarkably successful famous fashion photographer. See for yourself in the book Ellen von Unwerth: Fräulein.
Ellen Von Unwerth’s first significant photographs were of Claudia Schiffer, which she took in 1989.
Her work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview, I-D, and Playboy. She has also written and published many photographic books.
(1954 – )
Mario Testino is a Peruvian fashion photographer noted for his bold commercials and captivating photographs.
He is commonly acknowledged as one of today’s most famous fashion photographers.
His images have appeared in publications throughout the world, including Vogue, V Magazine, and Vanity Fair.
Testino has helped renowned fashion organisations succeed by generating iconic pictures for brands ranging from Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Estée Lauder, and Lancôme.
Mario Testino. SIR. shows off some of his best works!
(1944 – 2019)
Peter Lindbergh is famous for his genuine and natural-looking photos. He is frequently named as one of the most famous fashion photographers.
Few photographers refuse to retouch their photographs. However, when it comes to commercial images, Peter Lindbergh strictly prohibits retouching.
For many years, he has stayed firm on this rule, and he even requires publishers to sign a contract agreeing not to use retouching.
With this mindset, Lindberg presented a new sense of beauty via his work: raw and untouched. He is highly regarded as one of the innovators of contemporary photography.
Find some of his greatest shots in Peter Lindbergh: On Fashion Photography.
Famous Street Photographers
(1908 – 2004)
Henri Cartier-Bresson is widely considered to be one of the most famous French street photographers of all time.
Cartier-Bresson was a master of candid photography, highlighting the significance of capturing the pivotal moment.
Many street photographers look to Cartier-Bresson’s famous photos for motivation, as he had a wonderful sense of composition and a keen appreciation for the human component.
Henri Cartier-Bresson was a pioneer of 35mm film. If his work has captivated you, check out the best film cameras available to purchase now.
Get an inside into his magical mind in Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers.
(1926 – 2009)
Vivian Dorothy Maier was a female street photographer from the United States whose work was found and appreciated after her death in 2009.
Maier pursued her passion for street photography whilst working as a nanny in Chicago. During her lifetime, she shot over 150,000 images, mostly of people and architecture in Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles. She did, however, travel and capture images from all over the world.
When Maier neglected to make payments on a storage unit she rented on Chicago’s North Side. Her negatives, prints, audio recordings, and 8 mm film were auctioned off as a consequence.
Maier’s famous photos gained global attention in mainstream media following their discovery, and her work has appeared in art galleries, several publications, and documentary films.
You can find out all about it in the great documentary Finding Vivian Maier.
She is now frequently named among the most famous street photographers.
(1938 – )
Joel Meyerowitz is widely recognised amid famous street photographers from the United States.
He was an early supporter of the use of colour at a period when the notion of colour photography as serious art was met with scepticism.
He is the author of several publications, including Cape Light, a colour photography classic.
Among his most recognised works are the famous photos of the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, World Trade Centre attack.
Meyerowitz was the only photographer who was given unrestricted access to Ground Zero shortly after the incident.
This culminated in the publication of the book Aftermath: World Trade Centre Archive.
Famous Female Photographers
(1954 – )
Despite initially failing a required photography class, Cindy Sherman elected to repeat the course, which ignited her interest in photography.
Who would have guessed she’d go on to become one of the world’s most famous female photographers?
After graduation, Sherman moved to New York City to pursue her photography career.
She began photographing herself in 1977, using her downtown living and working loft as the primary setting for a series she subsequently dubbed Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills.
Sherman’s famous photos are largely self-portraits in which she depicts herself in various contexts and as a range of fictional characters.
(1895 – 1965)
Dorothea Lange was a famous female photojournalist and photographer from the United States.
Lange’s famous photos are likely to spring to mind when you think about certain periods throughout American history. One of her most famous photos, “Migrant Mother” was taken during the Great Depression.
Lange was the first woman to obtain a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1941.
Between 1942 to 1945 she worked for the United States government, documenting themes such as Japanese American internment camps and the foundation of the United Nations in San Francisco.
Later in her career, she joined the staff of LIFE magazine and worked as a freelance photographer throughout Asia, South America, and the Middle East.
The documentary American Masters – Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning provides a fascinating insight into her life!
Lange is considered one of the world’s most successful famous female photographers.
(1947 – )
Dominique Issermann is a female photographer from France.
She generally works in black and white photography and is well-known for her portraiture, fashion, and commercial work.
She became interested in fashion photography after winning first place in a photography competition. This start sparked her interest, and she went on to become one of today’s most famous female photographers.
With the exception of a Time Magazine assignment to document the Portuguese Revolution, the majority of her work has been portraiture.
Issermann has worked on successful campaigns for Christian Dior, Guess, Lancôme, and a variety of other brands. Her photography has also appeared in The New York Times, ELLE, and American Vogue.
Some of her great work can be found in Isabella Rossellini: Looking At Me: On Pictures and Photographs.
Famous Nature Photographers
(1951 – )
Frans Lanting is usually thought of as one of the most famous and popular nature photographers.
His photographs have been included in exhibitions, journals, and books all across the world.
Lanting has been shooting nature for over two decades, capturing the raw beauty of nature at its best, from flora and fauna to the relationship between humans and ecosystems.
He has shot in places ranging from Antarctica to the Amazon.
Some of his most recent work can be found in Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales.
Lanting has won several awards for his efforts as a conservationist and photographer.
Lanting’s famous photos have appeared in National Geographic as well as Life and Outdoor Photographer.
(1951 – )
Art Wolfe’s breath taking photographs inspire people to work hard to preserve nature’s beauty. He is highly regarded as one of the most successful famous nature photographers.
Wolfe’s photographs are recognised worldwide for their precision in perspective, composition, and colour.
Wolfe combines a journalistic and artistic style of photography in his work. By using this technique, he not only creates visual documentation of his subjects, but also educates his audiences.
Environmentalists have praised his work for its spectacular visual force and impact.
The United States Postal Service have commissioned two of Wolfe’s images to use on stamps.
In addition to his photography work, Wolfe has authored more than 60 books, including The Art of Photographing Nature Rainforests of the World.
(1883 – 1976)
Imogen Cunningham is one of the most famous female nature photographers, her photography comes to mind when you think of traditional botanical photography.
Much of this is on show in Imogen Cunningham: Flora.
Cunningham’s grasp of natural shapes, light, and shadow was a unique gift.
The magnolia was one of the plants Imogen Cunningham was most interested in, and she devoted two full years to studying it!
Cunningham also enjoyed shooting fellow humans, she was particularly drawn to the hands of artists and musicians.
Famous Wildlife Photographers
(1958 – )
Tim Flach is one of today’s most famous wildlife photographers.
He is based in London and best recognised for his highly imaginative photos of animals that span a wide variety of species yet are unified by a particular aesthetic.
“Fruit Bats” was one of Flach’s first collection of famous wildlife photos.
Flach shot these famous photos in a studio setting, and while doing so, he saw a polaroid showing them upside down.
This gave him the idea to shoot with their eyes above their feet, as he thought the bats looked so much nicer!
His book named “Dogs” is one of his most well known works!
Marina Cano is a Canon Ambassador and one of the most famous Spanish wildlife photographers.
Her creative compositions feature both low-saturation colour and black and white images.
Marina Cano’s photography mainly focuses on African biodiversity.
Her breath taking photos of the African animal kingdom have received several accolades and have been displayed all around the world. Many of these can be found in her book Inspiración & Naturaleza.
Cano’s famous photos have been featured on the cover of National Geographic several times.
(1968 – )
Paul Nicklen is one of Canada’s most well-known wildlife photographers. He also works as a filmmaker, author, and marine biologist.
Nicklen’s love of marine life is evident in his photographs, although Nicklen’s work is not limited to the ocean or undersea scenes.
He is an avid conservationist and has highlighted many species throughout his photography career. See some of his best work in the book Born to Ice.
Anyone who wishes to improve their wildlife photography should look at Nicklen’s work.
If you’re an aspiring wildlife photographer, you might be interested in reading this post about the best wildlife cameras.
There are so many more famous photographers that could have been featured in this list. It was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to just a few for each category.
From famous female photographers to famous portrait photographers, there is so much out there to be inspired by.
Hopefully, after reviewing these popular photographers, you’ve discovered some fresh motivation to pursue your passion for photography.
If you’re looking for some more inspiration head over to these Photography Quotes and Phrases To Inspire You.
Whether you’re seeking inspiration from famous portrait, landscape, street, fashion, nature, or wildlife photographers, this list should include at least one photographer who can give you a new perspective of your photography genre.
Get out there and shoot something new!
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