- Last Updated: Sunday, 30 January 2022 23:42
Ansel Adams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Famous photographers is a topic that a lot of us agree on, but ask a group of photographers what makes a photo great, and you'll get plenty of variety in their answers.
Some will offer answers that have to do with the technical nature of the photograph - it's sharpness, the use of light, and so forth.
Others will comment about the artistry of the image - the framing or composition.
Still others will note the meaning and emotion of the photo.
Yet, ask who the most famous photographers of all time are, and you're likely to get a much more streamlined set of answers.
Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Robert Capa, and, of course, many others, are the ones that consistently appear on the "best of" lists.
It makes sense that this is the case.
After all, photography is both a technical and an artistic venture, so it stands to reason that different aspects of a photo draw the eye of different photographers, which results in such wide variability in answers to the question, "What makes this photo good?"
But the question of "Who are the best photographers?" generates a slimmer list of answers because of the impact these people have had on photography.
We often see their pictures, read their books, read articles about them, and study their work.
Their photos serve as examples of what's good but also act like baseball cards for baseball fans. By that, I mean that just like there are tons of great baseball players, there are tons of great photographers. But only a select few ever have their cards and photos on the "best of" lists or their names associated with being a hero.
Having a photography hero is imperative because it gives you a benchmark to work towards, a standard of work to achieve.
This "best of" list offers up best photographers of all time in no particular order. It's by no means a complete list, but it's a great starting point for you to find your photography hero to inspire your work.
Famous Photographers: Ansel Adams Biography
By photo by J. Malcolm Greany [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Born: February 20, 1902
Died: April 22, 1984
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada (1946), Sierra Club John Muir Award (1963), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1981), Hasselblad Award (1981)
Perhaps the most well-known photographer of all time, Ansel Adams' work likely adorns the walls of households and businesses more than any other photographer.
A master of black and white landscapes, Adams spent much of his time documenting the wilds of the American West, perhaps most famously Yosemite National Park in California and the Tetons and Snake River in Wyoming.
His photos helped lead the charge to protect nature and wildlife, a pursuit Adams was as passionate about as photography.
Ansel Adams Photography
Ansel Adams [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
You can view and purchase replicas of Adams' work via the Ansel Adams Gallery, an organization run by his family.
The photographs he took on behalf of the National Park Service are available to view from the National Archives.
Ansel Adams in the National Parks offers a nice retrospective of his work in the American West.
Ansel Adams Quotes
"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer."
"You don't take a photograph, you make it."
Read more Ansel Adams quotes and quotes from other photographers.
Famous Photographers: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce Biography
Unknown [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: March 7, 1765
Died: July 5, 1833
You might not recognize any of the photos that Niépce took, but you will probably recognize his name associated with the world's first photograph. He developed heliography, in which a print was created from an engraved printing plate. That was way back in 1825.
Just a couple of years later, he used a camera obscura to create the oldest surviving photograph, an image he titled View From the Window at Le Gras seen above.
It's not the best photo - I'll be the first to admit that - but the fact that Niépce is considered one of the fathers of photography, he gets a spot on the list.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce Photography
By Joseph Nicéphore Niépce [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin offers a detailed look at Niépce and the image above.
The Photography School Spéos is an good resource for learning more about Niépce's work and his role in the invention of photography.
Learn more about Niépce on his Wiki.
Famous Photographers: Louis Daguerre Biography
George Eastman Museum [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: November 18, 1787
Died: July 10, 1851
For all you photography history buffs, Louis Daguerre created the process of the Daguerreotype, which was the first photography process used for commercial purposes.
That doesn't mean the Daguerreotype was a simple process, though.
Creating a photo involved exposing a silver-plated copper sheet to iodine crystals, which in turn created a layer of silver iodide on the plate that was sensitive to light. Exposing the plate to light in a camera produced an image, but only after an impossibly long exposure.
However, Daguerre soon discovered that the "negative" created by the image - which was obtained much faster than the typical exposure - could be developed into a photo. That makes him one of the fathers of photography alongside Niépce.
Louis Daguerre Photography
You can explore more information about Daguerre and his work at the Met Museum.
Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography, a True Story of Genius and Rivalry by Roger Watson and Helen Rappaport offers an interesting look at Daguerre's photography and his rivalry with Henry Fox Talbot.
Learn about the first candid photograph of a human, taken by Daguerre himself.
Louis Daguerre Quotes
"I have seized the light. I have arrested its flight."
"The daguerreotype is not merely an instrument which serves to draw Nature; on the contrary it is a chemical and physical process which gives her the power to reproduce herself."
FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS: KEN ROCKWELL BIOGRAPHY
Photograph provided by www.KarlGrobl.com
Ken Rockwell got his start in 1999 when he built his website as a place to keep and share his photos.
Since then, he has emerged as one of the strongest voices in photography, sharing gear reviews, photography tips, and general knowledge about photography with people worldwide.
In fact, his website has become his primary means of income thanks to his no-holds-barred reviews of all kinds of photography gear.
His passion for photography began at a young age - just five years old - and over the years he has used a lot of practice, independent learning, and field experience to turn himself into one of the most recognized photographers in the world.
KEN ROCKWELL PHOTOGRAPHY
You can view some of Rockwell's recent work as well as older images on his website.
Learn more about Rockwell and how he got his start in our Ken Rockwell article.
KEN ROCKWELL QUOTES
"No matter how advanced your camera you still need to be responsible for getting it to the right place at the right time and pointing it in the right direction to get the photo you want."
"Photography is the power of observation, not the application of technology."
Famous Photographers: Margaret Bourke-White Biography
Bureau of Industrial Service [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: June 14, 1904
Died: August 27, 1971
Awards: US Camera Achievement Award (1963), Honor Roll Award from American Society of Magazine Photographers (1964)
Margaret Bourke-White was a trailblazing photojournalist, and one of the first female photographers for Life magazine.
Bourke-White had a reputation for being a fearless photographer, throwing herself into just about any situation to get the shot she desired. That includes suiting up and going on bombing raids during World War II to document the ravages of war.
She's also got the distinction of taking the last portrait of Gandhi before he was assassinated.
Margaret Bourke-White Photography
Margaret Bourke-White [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
You can view and purchase prints of Bourke-White's work from the Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Margaret Bourke-White: Moments in History by Sean Quimby offers an interesting retrospective of her life and work.
Margaret Bourke-White Quotes
"Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand."
"If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses."
Famous Photographers: David Bailey Biography
Ben Broomfield [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: January 2, 1938
Awards: Commander on the Order of the British Empire (2001), Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society (2005), Lifetime Achievement Award, Infinity Awards, International Center of Photography (2016)
David Bailey is known amongst photography circles as one of the masters of fashion and portrait photography.
He gained wide acclaim in the 1960s for his work, including portraits of The Beatles, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, and other iconic figures of the time.
He even took photos of East End London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, which have a gritty, high-contrast look that remains iconic to this day.
David Bailey Photography
Bailey's work can be seen at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art and at Huxley-Parlour.
Birth of the Cool: 1957-1969 by Martin Harrison includes more than 200 of Bailey's works.
David Bailey Quotes
"It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter, because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the ordinary."
"Everyone will take one great picture, I’ve done better because I’ve taken two."
Famous Photographers: Henri Cartier-Bresson Biography
Born: August 22, 1908
Died: August 3, 2004
Awards: Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1981), Hasselblad Award (1982)
Considered by most to be the father of photojournalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson mastered the art of street photography. When you think of a candid portrait - one in which the subject is perfectly natural - you should think of Bresson's work.
He is also known for capturing some of the most seminal events of the 20th century.
He traveled to China during its revolution, the Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin's death, and came to the United States after World War II to document the social and economic upheaval after the war's end.
When it comes to photojournalism, it's hard to find a better example to follow than Bresson.
Henri Cartier-Bresson Photography
Photograph of Alberto Giacometti by Henri Cartier-Bresson via Wikipedia (Fair Use)
Many books have been written about his work as well, including Peter Galassi's Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century.
Here's a few photography tips you can learn from Henri Cartier-Bresson as well.
Henri Cartier-Bresson Quotes
"Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again."
"To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event."
Famous Photographers: Diane Arbus Biography
Born: March 14, 1923
Died: July 26, 1971
Awards: Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1966)
Diane Arbus joins the list of the photographers that were most famous for her documentary work that focused on the people on the fringes of society.
Where some of her contemporaries concentrated on wars, Hollywood, and social ills, Arbus made people like circus performers her muses.
Her photos are known for being highly emotionally intense, and, at times, even disturbing. Her use of flash for daytime portraits is another claim to fame.
Diane Arbus Photography
Diane Arbus Quotes
"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
"I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn't photograph them."
Famous Photographers: Philippe Halsman Biography
Born: May 2, 1906
Died: June 25, 1979
As connected as the name Ansel Adams is to landscape photography, the name Philippe Halsman is equally connected to portraiture.
For nearly 40 years, Halsman created portraits that weren't just eye-catching, but were creative, thought-provoking, and even groundbreaking. For example, he often asked his subjects to jump in their portrait, creating a silly, playful portrait in a time when such things weren't common.
His portraits of the likes of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe are among the most iconic ever taken.
It's no wonder, then, that Halsman has the honor of having more of his photos - a whopping 101 - on the cover of Life Magazine.
Philippe Halsman Photography
Halsman's book Philippe Halsman's Jump Book features Halsman's classic portraits of famous people in midair and is a spectacle of creativity.
Philippe Halsman Quotes
"The immortal photographers will be straightforward photographers, those who do not rely on tricks or special techniques."
"I drifted into photography like one drifts into prostitution. First I did it to please myself, then I did it to please my friends, and eventually I did it for the money."
Famous Photographers: Richard Avedon Biography
Image Credit: blaze6t9 [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] via Wikipedia
Born: May 15, 1923
Died: October 1, 2004
Awards: Hasselblad Award (1991)
As far as fashion photographers go, Richard is one of the most influential of all time.
His work for publications like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar remain as ideal examples of how to create a high-fashion black and white portrait. In fact, his high key portraits of people set against a white background are among the best created in the 20th century.
In the middle of his career, Avedon branched out, photographing such widely varied subjects as the Berlin Wall, Vietnam War protests, and the Civil Rights Movement, proving that no matter the subject, he had a knack for creating a compelling image.
Richard Avedon Photography
Richard Avedon [FAL] via Wikimedia Commons
The Richard Avedon Foundation is an excellent source for more information about his work, exhibitions, and archives.
Avedon is also an inductee to the International Photography Hall of Fame.
Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946-2004 by Michael Holm is a must-read for avedon fans.
Richard Avedon Quotes
"My portraits are more about me than they are about the people I photograph."
"I think all art is about control - the encounter between control and the uncontrollable."
Famous Photographers: Dorothea Lange Biography
Dorothea_Lange_1936.jpg: Dorothea_Lange (derivative work: Svajcr) [Public domain]
Born: May 26, 1895
Died: October 11, 1965
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada
Another photographer that earned her reputation through her photojournalistic work, Dorothea Lange is likely best-known for her images of the Great Depression.
Her photographs have a distinct emotion about them that humanized the impact of poverty on Americans during one of the most difficult times of the 20th century.
That human element was influenced by her own plight - having been afflicted with polio she walked with a limp - which is why she often focused her work on bringing attention to the obstacles that the less fortunate often faced.
Dorothea Lange Photography
By Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Her images from the Great Depression and World War II are at the National Archives.
Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond the Limits by Linda Gordon is a good read.
Dorothea Lange Quotes
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."
"While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see."
Famous Photographers: W. Eugene Smith Biography
Photo by Consuelo Kanaga [No restrictions] of W. Eugene Smith and his wife, Aileen. Via Wikimedia Commons.
Born: December 1918
Died: October 15, 1978
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada (1956)
Known for his indelible images of World War II, W. Eugene Smith was a contributor to Life Magazine.
Over the course of his tenure with the magazine, he became adept at creating photo essays that became a visual and textual story about everyday people, places and events. In that regard, his work is similar to that of Dorothea Lange, in that it sought to humanize the daily struggles of people from around the world.
As humanized as his images were, Smith was also a technically masterful photographer, creating images that are worthy of study as perfect examples of employing photographic principles.
W. Eugene Smith Photography
Photographed by War Correspondent W. Eugene Smith. Torpedo dropped by pilot Lt. Paul Eugene Dickson. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
For more details about Smith's life and work, John Hughes' W. Eugene Smith, His Photographs and Notes is a must-read.
W. Eugene Smith Quotes
"I’ve never made any picture, good or bad, without paying for it in emotional turmoil."
"I am constantly torn between the attitude of the conscientious journalist who is a recorder and interpreter of the facts and of the creative artist who often is necessarily at poetic odds with the literal facts."
James Nachtwey Biography
Photo by Victor Morozov [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: March 14, 1948
Awards: Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club (1983, 1984, 1986, 1994, 1998), Word Press Photo of the Year (1995), Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Photographic Society (1999), Dan David Prize from the Dan David Foundation and Tel Aviv University (2002), 12th Annual Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities from The Heinz Family Foundation (2006), TED Prize (2007), Dresden Peace Prize (2012), Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities (2016)
Like many other entrants on this list, James Nachtwey is most famous for his work covering various wars throughout the 20th century, right up to the early conflicts of the 2000s.
But wars aren't his only subject. Nachtwey documents all sorts of social and humanitarian issues, from civil rights to politics to famine. That includes being present in New York City on September 11, 2001, and documenting the aftermath of that event.
Nachtwey is still in the field documenting important events worldwide.
James Nachtwey Photography
Nachtwey's website is a fantastic resources for more details about his work, sample images, and his biography.
His upcoming book, Memoria, includes some of his most searing images of conflict, social issues, and war.
James Nachtwey Quotes
"I try to use whatever I know about photography to be of service to the people I’m photographing."
"I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated."
Lewis Hine Biography
Lewis Hine [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: September 26, 1874
Died: November 3, 1940
As photographers go, Lewis Hine is best-known for documentary images that helped shape American social policy in the early 1900s.
His images of immigrants at Ellis Island helped humanize the newcomers to the country, and his photos of child laborers as part of his work for the National Child Labor Committee transformed the workplace with added protections for child workers.
After that, Hine documented the construction of one of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Empire State Building. To complete his duties, he was often positioned in a basket dangling off the side of the building hundreds of feet in the air.
Lewis Hine Photography
Lewis Wickes Hine. Restored by Michel Vuijlsteke [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
To learn more about Hine's work to expose child labor, pick up Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor by Russell Freedman.
Lewis Hine Quotes
"If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera."
"[Photographers are] the Human Document to keep the present and the future in touch with the past."
Steve McCurry Biography
John Ramspott from Oxford, GA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: April 23, 1950
Awards: World Press Photo Award for General News (1992), World Press Photo Children's Award (1992), World Press Photo Award for Nature (1985, 1991, 1992), World Press Photo Award for Daily Life (1984, 1985),
Not only is Steve McCurry one of the most famous photographers of today, but he's also one of the best photographers of all time.
His seminal work, Afghan Girl, donned the cover of National Geographic in June 1985 to wide acclaim. Since then, the photo has been named one of the most recognized images in history.
McCurry's focus has typically been on cultural topics, like disappearing traditions, ancient rituals, and conflicts around the world. Yet his portraits, like the one of the Afghan girl, remain his most salient work.
Steve McCurry Photography
Learn more about Steve at National Geographic and see a breathtaking collection of his photos in Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs.
You can also learn a little about photography in our article featuring composition tips from Steve.
Steve McCurry Quotes
"Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face."
"The photograph is an undeniably powerful medium. Free from the constraints of language, and harnessing the unique qualities of a single moment frozen in time."
"A still photograph is something which you can always go back to. You can put it on your wall and look at it again and again. Because it is that frozen moment. I think it tends to burn into your psyche. It becomes ingrained in your mind. A powerful picture becomes iconic of a place or a time or a situation."
Yousuf Karsh Biography
J. Alex Castonguay [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: December 23, 1908
Died: July 13, 2002
Awards: Officer of the Order of Canada (1967)
Perhaps the best portrait photographer of all time, Yousuf Karsh managed to take portraits of some of the most important and influential people of the 20th century.
That list includes Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali, Pablo Picasso, Jackie Kennedy, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many others.
One look at Karsh's portraits and you can see why he was such a rock star photographer: he understood how to pose people and light them in a way that showed their human qualities, their personalities, and their emotions.
In fact, Karsh was a master of studio lighting, using unique techniques to draw out the best features of his subjects.
Yousuf Karsh Photography
Photo by Yousuf Karsh [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
To examine Karsh's work more closely, Karsh: A Biography of Images by Malcolm Rogers is a solid choice.
Yousuf Karsh Quotes
"Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera."
"There is a brief moment when all there is in a man's mind and soul and spirit is reflected through his eyes, his hands, his attitude. This is the moment to record."
Edward Weston Biography
By Photo taken by Fred R. Archer in approximately 1915 (http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/4aa/4aa228.htm) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Born: March 24, 1886
Died: January 1, 1958
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada (1937)
Where other photographers on this list are associated with a single type of photography, Edward Weston gained acclaim for his work in a variety of genres.
From nudes to still lifes to landscape photography, Weston demonstrated a knack for portraying his subject in simple, yet beautiful forms.
Perhaps more so than anyone on this list, Weston demonstrates that though there are many specializations in photography, given the right skills and understanding of photographic principles, one can indeed be a Renaissance Man and tackle many different types of photography and do it well.
Edward Weston Photography
Edward Weston [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Edward Weston Quotes
"Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual."
"Now to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk. Such rules and laws are deduced from the accomplished fact; they are the products of reflection."
Robert Doisneau Biography
Bracha L. Ettinger [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Born: April 14, 1912
Died: April 1, 1994
Awards: Kodak Prize (1947), Niépce Prize (1956), Grand Prix National de la Photographie (1983), Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour (1984), Balzac Prize (1986), Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) from the Royal Photographic Society (1991)
Robert Doisneau's specialty was documenting everyday life in France.
His images are known for having a gentle, natural, and sometimes humorous tilt on the mundane workings of daily life.
In fact, his photos often juxtapose people of different social classes, talents, personalities, and eccentricities to get that humorous tone.
Robert Doisneau Photography
Dozens of Doisneau's photos, as well as a biography of him, can be found here.
Additional samples of his work can be found at Huxley-Parlour and Hamiltons Gallery.
Robert Doisneau by Jean Claude Gautrand is one of the most extensive collections of Doisneau's work ever published.
Robert Doisneau Quotes
"A hundredth of a second here, a hundredth of a second there -- even if you put them end to end, they still only add up to one, two, perhaps three seconds, snatched from eternity."
"The photographer must be absorbent--like a blotter, allow himself to be permeated by the poetic moment.... His technique should be like an animal function...he should act automatically."
Alfred Stieglitz Biography
Gertrude Käsebier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Born: January 1, 1864
Died: July 13, 1946
At the turn of the 20th century, many thought of photography as a scientific and technical process.
Alfred Stieglitz changed that.
He was instrumental in bringing photography to the forefront of society as being an artistic form, something that likely had a lot to do with the fact that he was married to the famous artist Georgia O'Keeffe.
His best-known work is that of New York City, images that had a grittiness to them that was perfectly suited to the Big Apple.
Alfred Stieglitz Photography
Alfred Stieglitz [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Learn more about Stieglitz's work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection.
Dorothy Norman's book, Alfred Stieglitz: An American Seer is a must-read for fans of his work.
Alfred Stieglitz Quotes
"In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality"
"I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing."
Garry Winogrand Biography
Born: January 14, 1928
Died: March 19, 1984
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada (1964)
Another documentary photographer in the 1960s, Garry Winogrand's playground was mostly New York City.
Throughout his career, he was a prolific shooter, leaving behind a library of more than 300,000 images, including thousands of rolls of unprocessed and unproofed film.
Being from New York, Winogrand had a particular affection for street photography, and his work remains some of the best there is when it comes to finding prime examples of street photos.
Garry Winogrand Photography
For a deeper look at Winogrand's work and life, The Man in the Crowd: The Uneasy Streets of Garry Winogrand by Frish Brandt and Winogrand himself is a wonderful read.
Garry Winogrand Quotes
"Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed."
"Photography is about finding out what can happen in the frame. When you put four edges around some facts, you change those facts."
Andreas Gursky Biography
Hpschaefer www.reserv-art.de [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: January 15, 1955
Awards: Förderpreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen für junge Künstler (1988), Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize (1988), Infinity Award for Art from the International Center of Photography, New York (2001)
Andreas Gursky is unique on this list of the most famous photographers of all time because his focus was, in part, on public spaces and buildings.
His images are full of color and portray the high-tech, industrialized world as something that is both beautiful and surprisingly seductive.
To this day, Gursky's work is at the forefront of the contemporary art movement, with a style that's both unique and appreciated by the masses.
Andreas Gursky Photography
Andreas Gursky by Peter Galassi is a seminal work of Gursky's career.
His 99 Cent photo is certainly worth a look as well.
Andreas Gursky Quotes
"I am never interested in the individual, but in the human species and its environment."
"I read a picture not for what's really going on there, I read it more for what is going on in our world generally."
Robert Capa Biography
Photo by: Gerda Taro [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Born: October 22, 1913
Died: May 25, 1954
Awards: World Press Photo Award for General News
Another photographer that cut his teeth as a war correspondent was Robert Capa.
He documented an astounding five wars, from the Spanish Civil war to the early days of Vietnam.
Though he's known as one of the premier combat photographers of all time, Capa hated war and sought to bring attention to its negative impact through his photos.
His work is some of the most gritty, raw, and emotional photography of the 20th century.
Robert Capa Photography
Robert Capa [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Capa is also an inductee of the International Photography Hall of Fame.
Read all about Capa's experiences as a war photographer in Blood and Champagne: The Life and Times of Robert Capa by Alex Kershaw.
Robert Capa Quotes
"If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough."
"I hope to stay unemployed as a war photographer till the end of my life."
Joe McNally Biography
Arupkamal [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
Born: July 27, 1952
Awards: Third prize singles, People in the News, World Press Photo (1996), First prize singles, Portraits, World Press Photo (1997), Third prize stories, Arts and Entertainment, World Press Photo (1998), Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for magazine photography (1998), Second prize stories, Science & Technology, World Press Photo (2000), Third place, Science/Natural History Picture Story, Pictures of the Year International (2003)
Joe McNally is one of the most famous and best photographers at present, and is perhaps best-known for his contributions to National Geographic over the last two decades.
In the mid-1990s, McNally served as Life Magazine's staff photographer, the first person to hold such a position in over 20 years.
McNally's work after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks garnered him wide acclaim. The series, entitled Faces of Ground Zero - Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th, is a collection of 246 large-format Polaroid prints that McNally took in a studio near Ground Zero in New York City.
The series was created over a three-week period just after the attacks, and the images, which toured multiple cities in 2002, and the subsequent book, helped raise millions of dollars for the relief effort.
Joe McNally Photography
McNally has a profile on the National Geographic Expeditions, where you can peruse upcoming trips led by Joe himself.
We had the opportunity to interview Joe. Catch the interview here.
Joe McNally Quotes
"Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here."
"You’ve gotta taste the light, like my friend and fellow shooter Chip Maury says. And when you see light like this, trust me, it’s like a strawberry sundae with sprinkles."