50 Famous Portrait Photographers and their Pictures that will Leave You Inspired
January 01, 2015
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
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Jimmy Nelson
Before They Pass Away
Jimmy nelson is an award winning travel and portrait photographer, known for his striking pictures of indigenous people.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : David Lazar
The Girl with the Green Eyes
Daviz Lazar is a famous portrait and travel photographer with an impressive body of work.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Yousuf Karsh
Ernest Hemingway, 1957.
Yousuf Karsh is widely regarded as one of the greatest portrait photographers of the twentieth century.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Mario Testino
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Philippe Halsman
Known for his portraits of celebrities, intellectuals and politicians. His work frequently featured on the cover of Life and Esquire magazines.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Dorothea Lange
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 is an iconic photographer known for his candid and witty photographs.
Famous Portrait Photographer : August Sander
Young Farmers 1914.
August Sander is widely regarded as the father of modern portrait photography.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Diane Arbus
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
Greg Gorman is a celebrity and portrait photographer, most notable for his work during the 90's.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Anton Corbijn
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Don McCullin
Don McCullin is a british photojournalist, most known for his war photography, and pictures of the homeless.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Martin Schoeller
Martin Schoeller is a portrait photographer known for his detailed, up close portraits and unique lighting.
Famous Portrait Photographer : David Goldblatt
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
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Marco Grob
Marco Grob is a swiss photographer. His work regularly features in Time, New York Magazine, GQ, Vogue and Esquire.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Jürgen Schadeberg
Jürgen Schadeberg is a South African photographer, known for photographing Nelson Mandela from 1952 onwards.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Steve Pyke
Sir Aj Ayer, London, 1988
A remarkable portrait photographer who uses natural light and Rolleiflex cameras for his portraits.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Dan Winters
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Sebastian Kim
Sebastian Kim is one of the most highly sought after fashion photographers. He regularly takes editorial portraits for Interview Magazine.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Markus Jans
Markus Jans is a fashion and portrait photographer based in Paris and Berlin.
Famous Portrait Photographer : David LaChapelle
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Robert Maxwell
Robert Maxwell is a celebrity and magazine photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Bert Stern
Bert Stern (October 3, 1929 – June 26, 2013) was an American fashion and celebrity portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Nadav Kander
Famous Portrait Photographer : Jean-Baptiste Mondino
Jean-Baptiste Mondino is a popular french born celebrity and portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Tom Munro
Tom munro is a popular fashion and portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Pieter Hugo
The Hyena and Other Men
Pieter Hugo is a South African contemporary portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Ben Baker
Ben Baker is an Australian portrait photographer and regularly works with Time, The New Yorker, Elle and Fortune.
Famous Portrait Photographer : David Bailey
David Bailey is a British photographer who captured the swinging 60's in Britain.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Jerry Avenaim
Jerry Avenaim is a popular portrait and fashion photographer who started his career in 1985 after assisting legendary photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Vivian Maier
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Nigel Parry
Tommy Lee Jones
Nigel Parry is an award winning portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : 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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Nathaniel Goldberg
Nathaniel Goldberg is a notable fashion and portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Eugene Richards
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.
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
Peter Hapak is a commercial and editorial photographer based in the United States. He frequently photographs for Time Magazine.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Eric Lafforgue
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.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Phil Borges
Portrait of a Tibetan Refugee
Phil borges in an award winning social documentary and portrait photographer.
Famous Portrait Photographer : Chuck Close
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
Sadhu, Jaipur, India
Joel Santos is a famous portrait and travel photographer known for his vibrant and striking portraits.
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