50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See

50 Famous Portrait Photographers and their Pictures that will Leave You Inspired

50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See

Famous Portrait Photographers : The Selection

Here's a hand-picked selection of the most famous portrait photographers that will leave you inspired. We have compiled the ultimate list of famous portrait photographers.

Most of the famous portrait photographers featured here consistently feature on the covers of magazines like Time and New York Magazine.

Of all types of photography, I believe portrait photography is one of the most difficult genres to master. A good portrait photographer knows how to master the subject, light and composition. In a good portrait, the subject always takes center stage. Light and composition are secondary. 

In the work of two of the two most famous portrait photographers Richard Avedon and Steve McCurry, we see the use of natural light and simple compositions which allows the photographers to focus all their energy on engaging the subject.

What makes a good portrait?

A good portrait is never primarily about photography - the lens, the light or technical settings. It's about the person, the moment, the expression.
A good portrait is one that draws the viewer in. It draws a reaction or emotion from the viewer. A portrait that answers all the questions is boring. Good portraits leave the viewer with more questions than answers.

Unlike a landscape, where a photographer has a pretty good idea what a picture will look like, portraits are dynamic and unpredictable. A portrait freezes an expression, a moment in a person's life. It's a very powerful thing to be able to capture a person as they are at a particular point in time and freeze that moment forever.

We hope you enjoy this collection of famous portrait photographers, and please remember to share it if you like it.

Famous Portrait Photographer : Steve McCurry

Famous Portrait Photographers - Steve McCurry
Afghan Girl, 1984.
Steve McCurry is arguably the most famous portrait photographer of all time. His picture Afghan girl is one of the most recognizable portraits of all time. It has even been likened to Leonardo da Vinci's painting of the Mona Lisa.
Steve McCurry

Famous Portrait Photographer : Annie Leibovitz

Famous Portrait Photographers - Annie Leibovitz
Nelson Mandela, 1990.
Annie Leibovitz first gained recognition for her excellent work as photographer for Rolling Stone magazine. Later in her career she became staff photographer for Vanity Fair magazine.

Annie Leibovitz has an impressive body of work and is widely considered to be one of America's best portrait photographers.
Annie Leibovitz

Famous Portrait Photographer : Jimmy Nelson

Before They Pass Away - Jimmy Nelson
Before They Pass Away
Jimmy nelson is an award winning travel and portrait photographer, known for his striking pictures of indigenous people.
Jimmy Nelson

Famous Portrait Photographer : Irving Penn

Famous Portrait Photographers - Irving Penn
Al Pacino, 1995.
Known for his fashion and portraiture work, but will always be remembered as a portrait photographer.

Penn was a master of natural light.
Irving Penn

Famous Portrait Photographer : Richard Avedon

Famous Portrait Photographers - Richard Avedon
Ezra Pound, 1958.
Richard Avedon is perhaps the best and one of the most famous portrait photographers of all time. He had a unique ability to break down a subject's facade and reveal vulnerability.
Richard Avedon

Famous Portrait Photographer : David Lazar

Famous Portrait Photographers - David Lazar
The Girl with the Green Eyes
Daviz Lazar is a famous portrait and travel photographer with an impressive body of work.
David Lazar

Famous Portrait Photographer : Yousuf Karsh

Famous Portrait Photographers - Yousuf Karsh
Ernest Hemingway, 1957.
Yousuf Karsh is widely regarded as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the twentieth century.
Yousuf Karsh

Famous Portrait Photographer : Mary-Ellen Mark

Famous Portrait Photographers - Mary-Ellen Mark
Dennis Hopper, 1976.
Mary-Ellen Mark started her career as a movie set photographer. Her body of work is huge and her portrait photography is exceptional.
Mary-Ellen Mark

Famous Portrait Photographer : Mario Testino

Famous Portrait Photographers - Mario Testino
Kate Moss
Mario Testino is most known for hist fashion work. He often works with people over a number of years. His portraits of Princess Diana and Kate Moss are iconic.
Mario Testino

Famous Portrait Photographer : Albert Watson

Famous Portrait Photographers - Albert Watson
Mick Jagger, Los Angeles, 1992
The picture was created for Rolling Stone magazine’s twenty-fifth anniversary issue. Watson first photographed a leopard and then took a picture of Mick Jagger via a double exposure.
Albert Watson

Famous Portrait Photographer : Mark Seliger

Famous Portrait Photographers - Mark Seliger
Kurt Cobain, 1994.
A true master portrait photographer. He has numerous iconic portraits under his belt. His work as a whole is of a very high standard.

This portrait was taken 2 months before Kurt Cobain passed away.
Mark Seliger

Famous Portrait Photographer : Philippe Halsman

Famous Portrait Photographers - Philippe Halsman
Salvador Dali
Known for his portraits of celebrities, intellectuals and politicians. His work frequently featured on the cover of Life and Esquire magazines.
Philippe Halsman

Famous Portrait Photographer : Dorothea Lange

Migrant Mother, 1936. - 50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See
Migrant Mother, 1936.
An iconic portrait from a series of pictures Dorothea took while photographing migratory farm labor.

Famous Portrait Photographer : Elliott Erwitt

Cracked Glass with Boy, Colorado - Elliott Erwitt
Cracked Glass with Boy, Colorado
Elliott Erwitt is an iconic photographer known for his candid and witty photographs.
Elliott Erwitt

Famous Portrait Photographer : August Sander

Young Farmers 1914. - August Sander
Young Farmers 1914.
August Sander is widely regarded as the father of modern portrait photography.
August Sander

Famous Portrait Photographer : Diane Arbus

Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967. - 50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See
Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967.
Diane Arbus was known for her photographs of outsiders and people on the fringes of society.

Famous Portrait Photographer : Greg Gorman

Leonardo  DiCaprio - Greg Gorman
Leonardo DiCaprio
Greg Gorman is a celebrity and portrait photographer, most notable for his work during the 90's.
Greg Gorman

Famous Portrait Photographer : Anton Corbijn

Henry Rollins - Anton Corbijn
Henry Rollins
Anton Corbijn is an iconic portrait photographer most known for his portraits of musicians. In recent years he has done some celebrity portraiture.

He has a distinct style, with many of his pictures either printed with a Lith effect, or his color work cross processed.

He has work extensively with Depeche Mode, Henry Rollins and U2.
Anton Corbijn

Famous Portrait Photographer : Don McCullin

Homeless Irishman - Don McCullin
Homeless Irishman
Don McCullin is a british photojournalist, most known for his war photography, and pictures of the homeless.
Don McCullin

Famous Portrait Photographer : Martin Schoeller

Jack Nicholson - Martin Schoeller
Jack Nicholson
Martin Schoeller is a portrait photographer known for his detailed, up close portraits and unique lighting.
Martin Schoeller

Famous Portrait Photographer : David Goldblatt

At Geel, near Nietverdiend, Marico Bushveld, Transvaal, 1964. - 50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See
At Geel, near Nietverdiend, Marico Bushveld, Transvaal, 1964.
David Goldblatt is a South African photographer who took portraits of South Africans during the apartheid years.

Famous Portrait Photographer : Platon

Gaddafi - Platon
Gaddafi
Platon is a British photographer, most known for his portraits from the series 'Portraits of Power'.

He has a unique style - by using a wide angle lens he gets very close to his subjects.
Platon

Famous Portrait Photographer : Marco Grob

Steve Jobs - Marco Grob
Steve Jobs
Marco Grob is a swiss photographer. His work regularly features in Time, New York Magazine, GQ, Vogue and Esquire.
Marco Grob

Famous Portrait Photographer : Jürgen Schadeberg

Nelson Mandela - Jürgen Schadeberg
Nelson Mandela
Jürgen Schadeberg is a South African photographer, known for photographing Nelson Mandela from 1952 onwards.
Jürgen Schadeberg

Famous Portrait Photographer : Steve Pyke

Sir Aj Ayer, London, 1988 - Steve Pyke
Sir Aj Ayer, London, 1988
A remarkable portrait photographer who uses natural light and Rolleiflex cameras for his portraits.
Steve Pyke

Famous Portrait Photographer : Dan Winters

Brad Pitt - Dan WInters
Brad Pitt
Dan Winters is a famous portrait photographer who regularly contributes to Time, Vanity Fair, GQ, Wired and The New Yorker.

His portraits are instantly recognizable through his signature lighting technique.
Dan WInters

Famous Portrait Photographer : Sebastian Kim

Elsworth Kelly - Sebastian Kim
Elsworth Kelly
Sebastian Kim is one of the most highly sought after fashion photographers. He regularly takes editorial portraits for Interview Magazine.
Sebastian Kim

Famous Portrait Photographer : Markus Jans

Christopher Waltz - Markus Jans
Christopher Waltz
Markus Jans is a fashion and portrait photographer based in Paris and Berlin.
Markus Jans

Famous Portrait Photographer : David LaChapelle


Famous Portrait Photographers - David LaChapelle
Uma Thurman
David LaChapelle's photography has been described as "hyper-real and slyly subversive" and as "kitsch pop surrealism."
Color is often a striking feature in his photography.
David LaChapelle

Famous Portrait Photographer : Robert Maxwell


Famous Portrait Photographers - Robert Maxwell
Leonardo DiCaprio
Robert Maxwell is a celebrity and magazine photographer.
Robert Maxwell

Famous Portrait Photographer : Bert Stern

Famous Portrait Photographers - Bert Stern
Twiggy
Bert Stern (October 3, 1929 – June 26, 2013) was an American fashion and celebrity portrait photographer.
Bert Stern

Famous Portrait Photographer : Nadav Kander

Famous Portrait Photographers - Nadav Kander
Jude Law
Nadav Kander

Famous Portrait Photographer : Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Daniel Craig - Jean-Baptiste Mondino
Daniel Craig
Jean-Baptiste Mondino is a popular french born celebrity and portrait photographer.
Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Famous Portrait Photographer : Tom Munro

Tom Cruise - Tom Munro
Tom Cruise
Tom munro is a popular fashion and portrait photographer.
Tom Munro

Famous Portrait Photographer : Pieter Hugo

The Hyena and Other Men - Pieter Hugo
The Hyena and Other Men
Pieter Hugo is a South African contemporary portrait photographer.
Pieter Hugo

Famous Portrait Photographer : Ben Baker

Barack Obama - Ben Baker
Barack Obama
Ben Baker is an Australian portrait photographer and regularly works with Time, The New Yorker, Elle and Fortune.
Ben Baker

Famous Portrait Photographer : David Bailey

Jack Nicholson - David Bailey
Jack Nicholson
David Bailey is a British photographer who captured the swinging 60's in Britain.
David Bailey

Famous Portrait Photographer : Jerry Avenaim

Jeff Bridges - Jerry Avenaim
Jeff Bridges
Jerry Avenaim is a popular portrait and fashion photographer who started his career in 1985 after assisting legendary photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
Jerry Avenaim

Famous Portrait Photographer : Jill Greenberg

From the collection End Times - Jill Greenberg
From the collection End Times
Jill Greenberg is a portrait and fine art photographer. The picture above is from a series called End Times, and features a number of babies crying.
Jill Greenberg

Famous Portrait Photographer : Vivian Maier

Untitled - Vivian Meier
Untitled
Vivian Maier was a photographer who was unknown during her lifetime, but became famous when a historian and art collector discovered more than 30,000 of her images in storage after she passed away.
Vivian Meier

Famous Portrait Photographer : Nigel Parry

Tommy Lee Jones - Nigel Parry
Tommy Lee Jones
Nigel Parry is an award winning portrait photographer.
Nigel Parry

Famous Portrait Photographer : Lee Jeffries

What we Are - Lee Jeffries
What we Are
Lee Jeffries is an accountant from London who landed fame on Flickr after he started taking pictures of the homeless in London. He has since been published on Time's website and just about everywhere else.

His pictures are heavily processed to get such a dramatic effect, with some people being critical of that.
Lee Jeffries

Famous Portrait Photographer : Nathaniel Goldberg

Michael Fassbender - Nathaniel Goldberg
Michael Fassbender
Nathaniel Goldberg is a notable fashion and portrait photographer.
Nathaniel Goldberg

Famous Portrait Photographer : Eugene Richards

From War is Personal - 50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See
From War is Personal
Eugene Richards is a notable documentary photographer and filmmaker. The picture above is from a series called War is Personal.

Eugene captures powerful and emotive portraits.

Famous Portrait Photographer : James Nachtwey

Survivor from a Hutu Death Camp - Rwanda, 1994. - 50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See
Survivor from a Hutu Death Camp - Rwanda, 1994.
James Nachtwey is arguably the best war photographer ever. He captures moving images, almost always in Black and White.

"This is a picture of a man who had just been liberated from a Hutu death camp where mainly members of the Tutsi tribe were being incarcerated, being starved, beaten, abused and systematically killed. This man happened to be a Hutu himself, but because he didn't support the genocide, he was subjected to the same treatment. On the most basic level, I hope that people when they look at this work will engage themselves with it and not shut down, not turn away from it, but realize that their opinion counts for something, that they become part of a constituency, and people who have the power to make decisions that affect the lives of thousands of people know that there's a constituency forming out there, and they have to do something about it." - James Nachtwey

Famous Portrait Photographer : Peter Hapak

Robin Williams - Peter Hapak
Robin Williams
Peter Hapak is a commercial and editorial photographer based in the United States. He frequently photographs for Time Magazine.
Peter Hapak

Famous Portrait Photographer : Eric Lafforgue

North Korea - Eric Lafforgue
North Korea
Eric Lafforgue is a notable travel and portrait photographer.
In 2008, he travelled to North Korea six times and managed to take forbidden photos that shows life as it is in Korea. The above picture is from that series.
Eric Lafforgue

Famous Portrait Photographer : Phil Borges

Famous Portrait Photographers - Phil Borges
Portrait of a Tibetan Refugee
Phil borges in an award winning social documentary and portrait photographer.
Phil Borges

Famous Portrait Photographer : Chuck Close

Brad Pitt - 50 Famous Portrait Photographers You Need to See
Brad Pitt
Chuck Close is an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist through his highly inventive techniques of painting the human face.

He is also a notable photographer.

Famous Portrait Photographer : Jeol Santos

Famous Portrait Photographers - Joel Santos
Sadhu, Jaipur, India
Joel Santos is a famous portrait and travel photographer known for his vibrant and striking portraits.
Joel Santos

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