In this day and age, photography is seen as a veritable art form. In days gone by paintings were the only way of recording a scene, but nowadays everybody has the opportunity to capture moments and images right at their very fingertips. The way that people photograph the world has changed immensely over the last few decades, but some people have remained constants. Below you’ll find ten of the biggest names to come from the photography world, who have all created images that have influenced our lives today.
10 – Martin Parr
By Pete.M.Boyd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
British photographer Martin Parr is famous for his bright, saturated, richly coloured photographs. They often centre around the theme of the British seaside, which means that they have a very fun feel. He is still alive today, so his incredible photographic talent continues to this day!
09 – Walker Evans
By Edwin Locke, for the Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Walker Evans was an American photographer who usually shot black and white images. They often featured everyday buildings, people and families who weren’t necessarily well off, to create striking images that challenge our perceptions of humanity. His photographic style was very striking, as he could find art and creativity within the most mundane of scenes and situations.
08 – Elliott Erwitt
By Alfred Weidinger [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It appears as though French photographer Elliott Erwitt was inspired by the aforementioned Walker Evans, in that his style was predominantly black and white, featuring everyday people and children. However, the settings and positions in which his subjects were posed were rather striking and challenging; they continue to invite discussion to this very day.
07 – Diane Arbus
The subjects of the photographs by the American Diane Arbus were often people who were seen as slightly ‘unusual’ or ‘outsiders’ for one reason or another. Her images were striking and sometimes shocking, continuing to challenge perceptions amongst society well beyond her death in 1971.
06 – Henri Cartier-Bresson
By Les Hotels Paris Rive Gauche – AlainB (Flickr: Cartier-Bresson’s first Leica) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Considering that French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson lived throughout most of the 20th Century, some of his angles and perspectives are surprising in that they have a thoroughly modern feel. This hugely talented man always shot in black and white, creating a signature style which followed him through his entire life’s work.
05 – Guy Bourdin
Vogue Paris, May 1970 © Guy Bourdin
Guy Bourdin was a French fashion photographer whose images were always very artistic in terms of subject and composition. His colours were bright and his subjects often seemed to focus around specific areas of female anatomy, such as the hands or legs. As such, he created a style which has become instantly recognisable today.
04 – Irving Penn
Truman Capote © Irving Penn
Irving Penn was an incredibly talented American photographer who was famous for his stunning close-up portraits in black and white. He was lucky enough to work with and capture some very famous faces, from US Presidents to actors and actresses. He even had his images published in magazines such as Vogue, which launched both his career and his fame into the stratosphere.
03 – Helmut Newton
German photographer Helmut Newton enjoyed exploring the female form through his lens, pushing the boundaries of fashion, sexuality, and what was considered tasteful. He was born in 1920 into a time of great social and political change, which probably was a large influencing factor in his work.
02 – W. Eugene Smith
W. Eugene Smith was an American photographer who worked in black and white to tell stories through his images. Often focusing on war, injured people, or other unusual situations, he created photographs which have led on to the whole genre of photojournalism which is prevalent today.
01 – Richard Avedon
By blaze6t9 [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
As well as being one of the most talented, influential photographers of the last 20 years, American photographer Richard Avedon was also one of the most influential photographers of all time. He has snapped portraits of pretty much every big name that’s ever lived, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Twiggy (to name just a few), as well as models and lesser-known subjects. He had a distinctive style which is so classic and recognisable that it continues to influence photographers working today.