April 13, 2021

Top 10 Best Photographers of the World

It is spread all over the world, with many different types of photography existing to bring us the images we all know and love today. It is worth billions of dollars, making 1.7 billion pounds in the UK and $6.5 billion in the U.S. with some of the best photographers in the world. 

How Many Professionals Are in the Photography Industry?

There are many photographers in the industry that take different types of photography. They are all over the world, providing top-quality photos to their customers or clients. 

Different Types of Photographers

Black and White: Black and white photographers focus on taking black and white photos. 

Wedding: Wedding photographers focus on taking photos at weddings and wedding receptions.

Celebrity: Celebrity photographers focus on taking photos of different celebrities who are out and about, at events, or for photo shoots. 

Contemporary: Contemporary photography is an image from our time that reflects our values, compared to a much earlier period.

Landscape: Landscape photography focuses on capturing the beauty of a landscape within a photo. 

Interesting Facts About Photography

Due to the coronavirus, revenue from photography businesses is expected to decrease by 11.8% since they have been closed. There are approximately 200,000 professional photographers in the United States. The first photographic paper was made out of asphalt varnish that was poured on a copper or glass plate. The first color photograph was taken in 1861 by James Maxwell. In 1840, they started to retouch photos to make them color by using watercolor to paint them. 

When Did Photography Start?

The first projection camera was invented in 1021 B.C.E. and the first portable projection camera was invented in 1685. The first permanent photograph was taken in 1826 which led to Kodak selling the first-ever commercial camera in 1888. In 1948, Polaroid invented the first-ever instant image camera. In 1991, the first-ever professional digital camera was invented and in 2000 the first-ever camera phone was created. 

How We Chose the Best Photographers

We looked at their social media following as well as how unique their works were. We also kept in mind how well-known their works are, as well as who or what they have photographed in their lifetime.

How to Become a Photographer

Be creative and take as many photos as you can of whatever you want! These best photographers went above and beyond the standards of their time to create unique masterpieces. 

Top 10 Best Photographers of the World
1. Steve McCurry
Name Search / Names starting with S / Steve McCurry
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Profession/Category: Contemporary
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: He has taken photos of many international and civil war conflicts, including Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Cambodia. He focuses on the consequences of war from a human perspective, instead of a landscape perspective. He has been featured in many big magazines around the world, including National Geographic. Born: He was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1950. How he got into the industry: He became interested in photography when he started taking photos for a newspaper at Pennsylvania State University. When he graduated, he traveled to India to freelance in photography. That is where he watched and waited for life to happen so that he could take photos of it at the moment. Is he well-known or famous?: He became famous when he disguised himself in native garb and crossed the border into Pakistan. He then took photos of rebel-controlled Afghanistan just before the Russians would invade. His photos were then published all around the world which won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad. Big accomplishments: Mccurry has won many awards, including magazine photographer of the year which was awarded by the National Press Photographers Association. He has also won four first prizes in the World Press Photo Contest within the same year.
2. Frans Lanting
Name Search / Names starting with F / Frans Lanting
Location: Santa Cruz, California
Profession/Category: Nature
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: He has spent his career documenting the human relationship with nature in environments, which has helped spread awareness on how we could better preserve our ecosystems. He has been featured in many publications that have increased our awareness worldwide on endangered species. Born: He was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands on July 13, 1951 How he got into the industry: He moved to the United States to study environmental planning after earning his Master’s in economics. Soon after studying environmental planning, he started photographing animals in their natural environment. Is he well-known or famous?: His photos have been published in National Geographic magazines worldwide. He has also published many books that have won awards and many positive reviews. Big accomplishments: He has received many honors for his photographs. Some of these top honors have come from World Press Photo, BBC for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and the Sierra Club for the Ansel Adams Award. He has even been inducted as a Knight in the Royal Order of the Golden Ark by Prince Bernhard.
3. Annie Leibovitz
Name Search / Names starting with A / Annie Leib...
Location: New York
Profession/Category: Portraits of Celebrities
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: She has photographed many big-name celebrities, including John Lennon, Barack Obama, Miley Cyrus, the Rolling Stones, and many more. There was a controversy in one of her photos of Miley Cyrus due to it being a topless photo of her when she was only 15-years-old. Parents were outraged when Leibovitz claimed the purpose was supposed to be artistic. Born: She was born in Waterbury, Conneticut on October 2, 1949. How she got into the industry: She was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute where at first she wanted to study painting. She then became interested in photography after a night class in this particular medium. She then changed her major to photography, and got a job with magazine Rolling Stone. She became well-known when she took a photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono hours before he was murdered. Is she well-known or famous?: She has taken many well-known photos of celebrities. She photographed John Lennon and Yoko Ono hours before Lennon was murdered. Along with this, she also took a very controversial photo of Miley Cyrus topless when she was just 15-years-old. She has also photographed big names such as Barack Obama, The Rolling Stones, Adele, and many more. Big accomplishments: She has worked for famous magazines Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair bringing the public entertaining and artful photos of their favorite celebrities. She became chief photographer at Rolling Stone, and was able to accompany The Rolling Stones while they went on tour as their photographer. She left Rolling Stone for Vanity Fair, and has continued to bring us famous photographs.
4. Martin Parr
Name Search / Names starting with M / Martin Parr
Location: Bristol, England
Profession/Category: Documentary Photographer
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: Parr’s documentary photography showcase the intimate parts of one’s life doing ordinary tasks. For example, in his photo Sign of the Times: A Portrait of the Nation’s Tastes he went inside ordinary people’s homes to take photos of them doing everyday tasks. Born: He was born in Epsom, Surrey, England on May 23, 1952. How he got into the industry: Parr’s grandfather was an amateur photographer who interested him as a young teenager. He studied photography at the Manchester Polytechnic in the early 1970s and has been a photographer ever since. Is he well-known or famous?: Parr became well-known for his interesting black-and-white photos titled Bad Weather and A Fair Day. Big accomplishments: He became a member of Magnum Photos in 1994. He has published close to 50 books and has been featured in nearly 80 exhibitions all across the world. In 2008, he received the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and the Honorary Fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society.
5. Ellen Von Unwerth
Name Search / Names starting with E / Ellen Von ...
Location: Paris, France
Profession/Category: Fashion Photography
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: The goal of her photoshoots is to capture the sensuality of women while also empowering them at the same time. She never forces her models to do something they are uncomfortable with, and always respects what they want to do. She wants to showcase women being real, not stiff and fake. Born: She was born in Frankfurt, Germany on January 17, 1954. How she got into the industry: She was a model for 10 years before she got into photography. She felt stiff and restrictive while modeling, so she picked up a camera and started taking photos. Is she well-known or famous?: She became famous after landing a gig with GUESS in 1998 to do a photoshoot with model Claudia Schiffer. Big accomplishments: She has been the photographer for Duran Duran and has shot images for many celebrities’ albums. These celebrities include Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, and many more.
6. David Lachapelle
Name Search / Names starting with D / David Lach...
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Profession/Category: Contemporary Photography
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: He found a way to combine both painting and photography into one medium by hand-painting his own negatives to allow for color to stand out before processing his film. His unique works have challenged the style of traditional photography. Born: He was born in Hartford, Connecticut on March 11, 1963 How he got into the industry: He went to high school at North Carolina School of the Arts where he originally went for painting, but also got involved with the medium of photography. He then worked at his first photography show at Gallery 303. Is he well-known or famous?: Due to his unique style, his works have spread throughout the world, gaining attention in many different countries. Big accomplishments: He has become one of the most published photographers in the world, with books LaChapelle Land (1996), Hotel LaChapelle (1999), Heaven to Hell (2006), Lost & Found, and Good News (2017).
7. Sebastian Kim
Name Search / Names starting with S / Sebastian Kim
Location: New York
Profession/Category: Fashion Photography
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: He has taken photos of his all-time favorite celebrities such as Giorgio Moroder, David Lynch, and Woody Allen. He has also worked for Richard Avedon and Steven Meisel to learn darkroom, lighting, and more techniques to use with his camera. Born: He was born in Vietnam How he got into the industry: He was 15 years old when he became interested in photography. His mom gave him a camera, which was enough to make him want to study it as soon as he got into college. He attended Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. Is he well-known or famous?: He is somewhat well-known in the public eye, but is more-so known in the celebrity world. Big accomplishments: He has taken photos of well-known celebrities for various magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Time, Interview, GQ, The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle.
8. Cindy Sherman
Name Search / Names starting with C / Cindy Sherman
Location: New York, NY
Profession/Category: Self-Portraits
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: She uses herself as a model in a lot of her own work. She explores feminine stereotypes within her photos and debunks them. She has made a bunch of still photography films that have spread awareness on female stereotypes. Born: She was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey on January 19, 1954. How she got into the industry: She went to Buffalo State College where she took up painting. She would dress up as different characters to paint them, but got frustrated with the limitations of painting. After abandoning painting as a medium, she began taking up photography which she found she loved more. Is she well-known or famous?: She is well-known for her series “United Film Stills”, which are black and white pictures of herself in stereotypical female roles from the 1950’s to the 1960’s. Big accomplishments: She has been featured in many museum exhibitions, including the Museum of Modern Art in 2019 and the National Portrait Gallery at London in 2019.
Links: Instagram
9. Jimmy Nelson
Name Search / Names starting with J / Jimmy Nelson
Location: Amsterdam
Profession/Category: Portraits of Indigenous Communities
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: Shell Oil hired him by a commission to produce a book called Literary Portraits of China. He traveled across China for 30 months with his wife which allowed her to become his business partner. However, they are currently separated. Born: He was born in Sevenoaks, Kent, England in 1967. How they got in industry: At just 17 years old, he left his boarding school to walk Tibet on foot. He took a camera with him and was taking photos of his whole journey. From his trip, his photos were posted in the English National Geographic where he first got noticed. Is he well-known or famous?: He is known for his photography as well as a TED Talk he did. Big accomplishments: He’s written three books entitled Literary Portraits of China, Before They Pass Away, and Homage to Humanity.
10. David Bailey
Name Search / Names starting with D / David Bailey
Location: London, England
Profession/Category: Portrait and Fashion Photographer
Interesting stats/ accomplishments: He was the photographer for many artists’ album sleeve art including the Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull. Born: He was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England on January 2, 1939. How he got into the industry: He joined the Royal Air Force and bought a camera while in service. He wanted to pursue photography after leaving the Air Force. In 1959, he became an assistant at the John French Studio then a photographer for John Cole’s Studio 5. Is he well-known or famous?: He became well-known when he was contracted as a photographer for the British Vogue Magazine. He also helped many famous photographers with a ton of projects.

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