10 legendary photographers you should know

Photo by tkemot/Shutterstock

Photography is an art form loved by millions of people around the world. Not only can it capture the beauty of our planet and of mankind itself, but photography has immortalized important and unforgettable moments in history.

August 19th is World Photo Day, so now is the perfect time to brush up on your famous photographers in history. From modern day artists to groundbreaking pioneers, here is a list of 10 photographers you should know.

Annie Leibovitz

A surrealistic photo by Annie Leibovitz.

Photo courtesy of boredpanda.com

Leibovitz is seen as the world’s most famous contemporary portrait photographer and is known for her work in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. Her photographs have a uniquely personal quality due to the intimacy Leibovitz encourages between herself and her subjects. Some of her most recognizable images are Yoko Ono and John Lennon, her Disney Dream Portrait Series, and her Vanity Fair cover images.

Nicholas Samaras

A photo by Nicholas Samaras.

Photo courtesy of www.pinterest.com.

Samaras is a unique photographer because he focuses on underwater imagery. His commitment to underwater scenes has brought him to the forefront of the photographic world in a short period of time. From sea creatures to the free-flowing fabric of a ball gown, to submerged athletes, Samaras has captured the magic of what lies beneath the surface. His award-winning photography has been featured on the cover of magazines such as National Geographic.

Michael Kenna

A photo by Michael Kenna.

Photo courtesy of www.michaelkenna.net

Kenna is a world-renowned landscape photographer. His black and white landscapes, often captured at times of the day and night when the light is fleeting, or in poor weather conditions, such as rain, fog, or snow, are reminiscent of the calm in a storm all with an ethereal quality. While Kenna has travelled around the world, his favourite subjects are France and Japan. His photographs are a part of permanent museum collections around the world.

Ansel Adams

A photo by Ansel Adams.

Photo courtesy of designyoutrust.com

Adams is a huge name in photography and is one of the world’s most famous photographers of all time. His talent in the darkroom is what sets his landscapes apart and what makes his images so visually stunning. Even before digital photography and photo editing software, Adams had amazing control over his images. He is also well known for creating the Zone System, a technique that helps optimize the exposure and development of film.

Dorothea Lange

A photo by Dorothea Lange.

Photo courtesy of www.historyplace.com

Lange became famous as a photographer during the Great Depression, capturing one of the most iconic images in history: “Migrant Mother”. She also captured images from Japanese internment camps, proving her dedication to the preservation of American history. Lange is well known for her complete coverage of one subject or theme, focusing on an issue until it was captured and documented.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

A photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Photo courtesy of pro.magnumphotos.com

Cartier-Bresson has influenced photography in many ways and is seen as one of the original photojournalists and the creator of street photography. Being one of the first to use 35mm film, he paved the way for modern photography. His aptly named “decisive moment” is evident in almost all of his photographs; a moment in the life of a person (people) captured forever.

Jay Maisel

A photo by Jay Maisel.

Photo courtesy of studio.jaymaisel.com.

Maisel is known for his simplistic technique. When he goes out shooting, he doesn’t use complex cameras or lighting systems; rather, he generally opts for natural light and just one lens. He relies on his eye to seek out interesting shapes and dramatic lighting, often finding beauty in the everyday. His photography has garnered many awards and in turn, he has become one of the most famous photographers alive today.

Brian Duffy

A photo by Brian Duffy.

Photo courtesy of www.theguardian.com.

Duffy is best known for his fashion photography in the 1960s and 1970s. His iconic photography captured the excitement and spirit of the generation. Some of his most famous images include musicians such as John Lennon and David Bowie, movie stars like Michael Cain, and fashion models like Twiggy. Unfortunately, he became dispassionate about his work late in life and burned many of his negatives and much of his portfolio.

Yousuf Karsh

A photo by Yousuf Karsh of Winston Churchill.

Photo courtesy of iconicphotos.wordpress.com.

Karsh is a well-known portrait photographer, able to capture his subjects in a totally vulnerable and illuminating way. His images reveal the person as they truly are, almost as if his lens can see deeper than the naked eye. This ability to capture the essence of each subject won him the role as one of the 20th Century’s greatest portrait photographers.

Robert Capa

A photo by Robert Capa.

Photo courtesy of www.metmuseum.org.

Capa is the most famous war photographer in history. He photographed five wars and was often found in the trenches with the soldiers, instead of at a safe distance. He is quoted as having said, “If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” His most iconic images are “The Falling Soldier” (above) captured the moment of a soldier’s death in battle during the Spanish Civil War and his coverage of D-day.

If you’re feeling inspired by the work of these brilliant photographers, here are a few things that we recommend:

  • Pick up a beginner digital SLR camera like the Rebel T6i to take your photography to the next level. It’s user-friendly and can shoot high-resolution photos and HD video. It also has built-in Wi-Fi for instant sharing.
  • For more advanced photographers, we suggest the full-frame EOS 6D. The ISO range of 100-25600 makes it ideal for low-light situations.
  • Looking for a lightweight point-and-shoot for your travel adventures? Try the versatile PowerShot G3 X. It captures photos with DSLR-like quality but without the extra lenses! With its 25x zoom power you can take beautiful wide shots, or zoom in close. Or try the pocketable PowerShot SX720 HS – small in size but big in zoom with a 40x optical (silent) zoom for detailed, undisturbed close-ups.
  • If you’re waiting for that perfect shot and you need a shake-free, steady camera while using a slow shutter speed, set it up on a tripod. Its collapsible legs make it compact and easy to pack.

Also on RNR: