Famous Black and White Photographers : The Masters

A Selection of the Most Famous Black and White Photographers of All Time

We bring you a selection of the most famous black and white photographers. Each and every one of these photographers were not only famous, but they were master black and white photographers.

Black and white photographers of today still reference the work of many of these photographers, as they remain the gold standard in black and white photography.

Ansel Adams
Arguably the most famous black and white photographer of all time, one of Ansel Adams’s photographs are the first thing that springs to mind for many people if they think of black and white photography.

The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) - Ansel Adams
The Tetons and the Snake River (1942)
Ansel Adams

Robert Frank
Robert Frank’s book titled The Americans, earned him a place as one of the best street and black and white photographers of all time. The Americans is also one of the most iconic photo books of all time.

The Americans : Trolley, New Orleans, 1955 - Robert Frank
The Americans : Trolley, New Orleans, 1955
Robert Frank

Mary Ellen Mark
Probably the most famous black and white photographer alive today, Mary Ellen Mark’s work has consistently delivered a very high standard of work. She works in portraiture, advertising and photojournalism genres.

Damm Family - Mary Ellen Mark
Damm Family
Mary Ellen Mark

Irving Penn
Irving Penn was a master portrait and fashion photographer. His work has influenced just about every notable portrait and fashion photographer since his time.

Freckles - Irving Penn
Freckles
Irving Penn

Henri Cartier Bresson
Henri Cartier Bresson almost exclusively worked in black and white. The author of The Decisive Moment, he is very likely the most famous photographer of all time.

Spain, 1933 - Henri Cartier Bresson
Spain, 1933
Henri Cartier Bresson

Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon’s best work was usually done in black and white. His most notable work, In the American West, was shot using a large format camera on black and white film, and remains the gold standard in portraiture.

Beekeeper. In the American West. - Richard Avedon
Beekeeper. In the American West.
Richard Avedon

Diane Arbus
Diane Arbus was famous for her black and white photography of edgy people, livining on the edges of society. She is most famous for the black and white photographs titled Identical Twins and Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park.

Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park - Diane Arbus
Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park
Diane Arbus

Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange was a photojournalist. Her work done during the American depression-era for the Farm Security Administration made her famous. Her picture, Migrant Mother, is one of the most iconic photographs of all time.

Migrant Mother - Dorothea Lange
Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange

Yousuf Karsh
Yousuf Karsh was a Canadian portrait photographer, and easily one of the most famous portrait photographers of all time. His work was almost exclusively done in black and white. His portraits of Yousuf Karsh and Ernest Hemingway are his most famous, although he has several very recognizable portraits.

Ernest Hemingway - Yousuf Karsh
Ernest Hemingway
Yousuf Karsh

Edward Weston
Widely known as one of the most influential American photographers of all time, Edward Weston was one of the great masters of the 20th century. He worked across several genres including landscapes, nudes, still lifes and portraiture amongst others. He was a master of form and light, and comfortably earns his place  as one of the most famous black and white photographers.
His most famous photograph is titled Pepper #30.

Pepper #30 - Edward Weston
Pepper #30
Edward Weston

Sebastião Salgado
Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian social documentary photographer, is known for his spectacular black and white photography. He is one of the masters of the black and white photography medium. He has several iconic and well known photographs.

Africa - sebastião salgado
Africa
sebastião salgado

Bill Brandt
Bill Brandt was a humble, quiet photographer, and another master of shape and form. He saw the unusual in the usual. His black and white photography is phenomenal and a must see for any black and white photographer.

Fingers - Bill Brandt
Fingers
Bill Brandt

Elliott Erwitt
Elliott is well known for his witty, funny and candid black and white photos. His ability to capture photographs with a deeper meaning in candid, unique situations is second to none. He has been Magnum photographer since the early 1950’s.

USA. 1950. Pennsylvania. - Elliott Erwitt
USA. 1950. Pennsylvania.
Elliott Erwitt

Margaret Bourke White
A notable Life Magazine photographer, she is most notable for her photographs of young black miners in South Africa.

Miners - Margaret Bourke White
Miners
Margaret Bourke White

James Nachtwey
One of the best, if not the best war and documentary photographers of all time. Known for his powerful, thought provoking photos, he has brought attention to several humanitarian issues around the world.

Survivor of a Hutu death camp - James Nachtwey
Survivor of a Hutu death camp
James Nachtwey

August Sander
Widely known as the father of portrait photography, he is most famous for his black and white photograph titled, Young Farmers, 1914.

Young Farmers, 1914 - August Sander
Young Farmers, 1914
August Sander

Paul Strand
One of the pioneering photographers who established photography as an art form during the early 20th century.
His most famous photograph is titled Blind, 1916.

Blind, 1916 - Paul Strand
Blind, 1916
Paul Strand

W Eugene Smith
One of the iconic Life Magazine photographers, he is also known as one of the best documentary photographers of all time. His black and white photograph of his own children, titled Walk to paradise garden, has been voted as one of the best photographs of all time.

Walk to Paradise Garden - W Eugene Smith
Walk to Paradise Garden
W Eugene Smith