If you want to take truly memorable and moving photographs, you can learn something by studying the pictures of famous photographers. Some of the most beloved artists are deceased, but some are still delighting us with their photographs. The list below includes some of the more famous photographers that still impact our lives today.
1. Ansel Adams is probably the most easily recognized name of any photographer. His landscapes are stunning, and he achieves an unparalleled level of contrast using creative darkroom work. You can improve your own photos by reading Adams’ own thoughts as he grew older, when he wished that he had kept himself strong enough physically to continue his work.
2. Yousuf Karsh has taken photographs that tell a story, and that are more easily understood than many others. Each of his portraits tells you all about the subject. He felt as though there was a secret hidden behind each woman and man. Whether he captures a gleaming eye or a gesture done totally unconsciously, these are times when humans temporarily lose their masks. Karsh’s portraits communicate with people.
3. Robert Capa has taken many famous war-time photographs. He has covered five wars, even though the name “Robert Capa” was only the name placed to the photos that Endre Friedman took and that were marketed under the “Robert Capa” name. Friedman felt that if you were not close enough to the subject, then you wouldn’t get a good photograph. He was often in the trenches with soldiers when he took photographs, while most other war photographers took photographs from a safe distance.
4. Henri Cartier-Bresson has a style that makes him a natural on any top ten photographer list. His style has undoubtedly influenced photography as much as anyone else’s. He was among the first to use 35mm film, and he usually shot in black and white. We are not graced by more of his work since he gave up the craft about 30 years before he passed away. It’s sad that there are fewer photographs by Cartier-Bresson to enjoy.
5. Dorothea Lange took photographs during the Great Depression. She took one photo of a migrant mother that is also titled by that name, and is said to be one of the best-known photographs in history. In the 1940′s, she also photographed the Japanese internment camps, and these photographs show sad moments in American history.
6. Jerry Uelsman created unique images with composite photographs. Being very talented in the darkroom, he used this skill in his composites. He never used digital cameras, since he felt that his creative process was more suited to the darkroom.
7. Annie Liebovitz does fine photographic portraits and is most well known for her work with Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazine. Her photographs are intimate, and describe the subject. She was unafraid of falling in love with the people she photographed.
8. Brassai is the pseudonym for Gyula Halasz, and he was well known for his photographs of ordinary people. He was proof that you don’t have to travel far to find interesting subjects. He used ordinary people for his subjects, and his photos are still captivating.
9. Brian Duffy was a British photographer who shot fashion in the 60′s and 70′s. He lost his photographic interest at one time, and burned many negatives, but then began taking photos again a year before he died.
10. Jay Maisel is a famous modern photographer. His photos are simple, and he doesn’t use complex lighting or fancy cameras. He often only takes one lens on photo outings, and he enjoys taking photos of shapes and lights that he finds interesting.
Of course there are other famous photographers that may be a part of your top 10 list. There is much to be learned in the art and craft of photography and from those who inspire us most.