New photographers can struggle for inspiration – what type of images would you like to experiment with?
Are there any particular styles that you would like to emulate? What subjects make for stirring images? There is so much to contemplate – it can feel overwhelming!
What better way to find guidance and creative inspiration than to look at the works of the world’s most famous photographers? Since the camera was invented, there have been talented individuals who have excelled at photography. Furthermore, during different periods, legendary individuals have created works of art that remain fine examples of photographic techniques even today.
If you are looking for inspiration, or simply want to brush up on your history of photography, we have created a list of the world’s most famous photographers. From the iconic landscapes of Ansel Adams to the depression-era shots of Dorothea Lange, these individuals have captivated our hearts and imagination:
Ansel Adams usually enters lists of legendary photographers in the top 5. Born in the early 1900s, Adams created an iconic range of black and white photos depicting the landscapes of western America, including some gorgeous shots of Yosemite National Park. His black and white photos utilize natural light and really define the different natural landscapes of America.
Salgado has traveled the world and taken jaw-dropping photos from over 120 different countries. Moreover, this famous Brazilian photographer is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. His work mainly depicts peoples living in harsh conditions with little means, such as metal mine workers in third-world countries. Furthermore, he has developed a library of sublime landscape shots from various remote regions. His images of mining operations in Brazil are particularly impressive – sweeping shots of thousands of workers scaling the depths of the mine.
This famous female photographer actually photographed John Lennon on the same day he was assassinated. Her portrait work has a unique style and she has photographed a myriad of celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore, Keira Knightley, and Jonny Depp. She also held the position of chief photographer for the Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years.
If you fancy trying your hand at candid photography, we advise looking at the work of Henri-Cartier Bresson. He is considered a master of this craft and has produced some spectacular photos. In addition to this, Bresson was also an early pioneer of street photography and liked to capture particularly powerful moments in society. Be sure to check out his book entitled The Decisive Moment – this explores singular moments in time, and the relating physical and psychological elements that allow these feats to happen.
If you want to see fine examples of black and white street photography, check out the work of Brassai. This photographer was active during the two Great Wars in Paris. He wandered the streets of Paris and took stirring shots of every-day life – his photos were honest, un-filtered, and provided a wonderful insight into life within the city.
Robert Capa understands what it means to face danger – he was a photojournalist and preferred to take photos up close and personal. He was present during the iconic D-Day landings and some of his images survived. Furthermore, his greatest works are often considered to be taken during the bloody Spanish Civil War. His nickname – Capa, means shark which is a reference to his preferred style of close-up photography.
Gursky is a photographer from Germany who concentrates on epic architecture and landscapes. His photos show the vastness of different structures such as a huge warehouse full of books and packages. Moreover, another renowned shot shows a never-ending sea of solar panels. He frames man-made structures and objects in such a way that demonstrates their enormity. Much of his work is heavily post-processed using computer software with enhanced colors and tones.
Together with Henri-Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau was one of the first pioneers of photojournalism. During the 1930s, he photographed the bustling streets of Paris and concentrated on humanism – showing every-day actions and movements of Parisians. His images are often playful and contain interesting juxtapositions such as the mixing of social classes. He has also created many moving shots that show emotional scenes in the streets.
Lange has developed a superb range of photos in various styles. She initially created shots of the social elite in posed settings. As her career progressed, she turned to photojournalism and helped to create the genre of documentary photography. Her most notable photos involved working for the FSA (Farm Security Administration) during the Great Depression in America – her shots show the consequences of the depression and give a realistic overview of what it was like during this period. Lange has developed a superb range of photos in various styles. She initially created shots of the social elite in posed settings. As her career progressed, she turned to photojournalism and helped to create the genre of documentary photography. Her most notable photos involved working for the FSA (Farm Security Administration) during the Great Depression in America – her shots show the consequences of the depression and give a realistic overview of what it was like during this period.
Last but not least we have Anne Geddes. This photographer from Australia specializes in newborn photos. Her work is some of the most widely publicized in the world. She has published a myriad of books including "Down in the Garden" which topped the New York Times bestseller list. Furthermore, her new-born photos have been printed on millions of calendars.
Maybe one day you could aspire to be included in lists of legendary photographers?
Hopefully, this article has given you the inspiration to pursue your dreams. Look at the works of these iconic figures and see which photos you would like to emulate or draw from.