Forums > Photography Talk > Best portrait photographers ever?

Retoucher

Orran Smith

Posts: 72

Peel, Peel, United Kingdom

I'm looking for inspiration and just thought, who actually are the best portrait photographers ever?

I think my favourite would have to be Yousuf Karsh - http://www.karsh.org/

do you know any others?

May 26 11 08:48 am Link

Photographer

John Hurley

Posts: 30

Salem, Massachusetts, US

You answered your own question! If you ever have the chance go and see his work on exhibit it is even better in person!

Regards

May 26 11 08:51 am Link

Photographer

Creative Image

Posts: 1333

Avon, Connecticut, US

Yes to Karsh.  Also Newman and Snowden.

May 26 11 08:55 am Link

Photographer

J Andrescavage Photo

Posts: 3311

San Francisco, California, US

I've always been a fan of Richard Avedon.  He solidified #1 in my mind when I went to the huge show of his work at the SF MOMA.  Seeing those massive prints in person is awe-inspiring.

May 26 11 09:02 am Link

Photographer

SoCo n Lime

Posts: 3283

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Orran Smith wrote:
I'm looking for inspiration and just thought, who actually are the best portrait photographers ever?

http://www.albertwatson.net/

Albert Watson

if you ever get the chance to see his work in real life .. just go.. left me speechless for days.. thats how powerful his work is for me

size scale and quality at its best

*edit* and yes i know he has varied work but the quality is consistent throughout anything that he shoots

May 26 11 09:02 am Link

Photographer

PANHEAD PHOTOGRAPHY

Posts: 1646

San Francisco, California, US

Irving Penn.

May 26 11 09:05 am Link

Photographer

A. KAYE

Posts: 317

Richardson, Texas, US

GEORGE HURRELL, DAVID HAMILTON

May 26 11 09:05 am Link

Photographer

Neil Snape

Posts: 9473

Paris, Île-de-France, France

So far so good. I think of both Avedon and Penn when I think think of the ones that made the most remarkable portraits. I like Albert Watson of course too, he was my fav when I started out.

May 26 11 09:10 am Link

Photographer

marknmanna

Posts: 305

Golden City, Missouri, US

May 26 11 09:14 am Link

Photographer

InnerGlow Studios

Posts: 1711

Washington, District of Columbia, US

Although he is probably best known for his pioneering fashion work for the Condé Nast magazines (Vanity Fair, Vogue), Edward Steichen is my favorite portrait photographer.

May 26 11 09:18 am Link

Photographer

J Andrescavage Photo

Posts: 3311

San Francisco, California, US

InnerGlow Studios wrote:
Although he is probably best known for his pioneering fashion work for the Condé Nast magazines (Vanity Fair, Vogue), Edward Steichen is my favorite portrait photographer.

I just read an interesting article about Steichen's session with JP Morgan which resulted in the famous "dagger" shot.  Real interesting dynamic between those two.

May 26 11 09:23 am Link

Photographer

Revprint

Posts: 204

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I am really liking the work of Disfarmer, I watched a documentary on him and it was facinating and his images are really interesting

May 26 11 09:23 am Link

Photographer

J Kegley Photographer

Posts: 489

Renton, Washington, US

I find it interesting that all those mentioned, for the most part, were users of film and larger format cameras.  Sort of says something about the amount of technical knowledge needed to produce outstanding work.  They also had what many portrait photographers seem to lack:  a true relationship with their client.

May 26 11 09:33 am Link

Photographer

Fred Greissing

Posts: 6418

Los Angeles, California, US

Helmut Newton in my mind is the most unique portrait photographer.

A few random portraits of his.

[img]http://www.opus-art.com/image_cache/9675_W350.jpg [img]

[img] http://www.theoldphotoalbum.com/images/ … ton-12.jpg[/img]

Great pet photographer too smile

http://www.theoldphotoalbum.com/images/2009/11/helmut-newton/Helmut-Newton-16.jpg

http://obscure.org/~crider/piclog/NewtonBowie.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_A9YOq9qHezo/TC0aUI28w3I/AAAAAAAAAAc/xN4BlV9b5CE/s320/helmut-newton-22.jpg

May 26 11 09:33 am Link

Photographer

Isaiah Brink

Posts: 2120

Charlotte, North Carolina, US

For me, I've always liked george hurrell, and fellow mmers Doug Lester (8047) and Marc Grant (3905) both have different styles but I find them to be insparational.

May 26 11 09:40 am Link

Retoucher

Orran Smith

Posts: 72

Peel, Peel, United Kingdom

fantastic list, there's enough material here to keep me occupied for ever.

May 26 11 09:45 am Link

Photographer

Mark Laubenheimer

Posts: 8885

Seattle, Washington, US

avedon.

disfarmer.

winters.

schoeller.

tillmans.

dijkstra.

close.

szabo.

etc.

May 26 11 09:51 am Link

Photographer

Monito -- Alan

Posts: 16524

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Yousuf Karsh
Arnold Newman
Philippe Halsman
Annie Leibovitz

May 26 11 10:06 am Link

Photographer

MN camera

Posts: 1861

Saint Paul, Minnesota, US

Skrebneski too...

May 26 11 11:05 am Link

Photographer

Chuckarelei

Posts: 9718

Seattle, Washington, US

There is no such thing as "the best ever" in the creative field. Today, I'm better than you, but you could be better than me tomorrow. But then I could again be better than you day after tomorrow.

May 26 11 11:06 am Link

Photographer

robbie

Posts: 324

Carmel, Indiana, US

If I were more of a historian, I'm sure some of the older names would be where these guys got their inspiration. Some of my favorites are as follows:

Mark Seliger
Sam Jones
Art Streiber
Timothy White
Platon

May 26 11 11:50 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

K E S L E R

Posts: 11574

Los Angeles, California, US

I like Lindbergh smile

May 26 11 11:52 am Link

Photographer

Pfrangle Images

Posts: 3641

Worland, Wyoming, US

http://www.modelmayhem.com/2484

I enjoy viewing Barry Druxman portrait work. He knows lighting
really well and just does an amazing job.

May 26 11 12:05 pm Link

Photographer

Joey

Posts: 455

Orange, California, US

Google Lillian Bassman and I would add Dorothea Lange, Lee Miller,  W. Eugene Smith, among others. Not as famous(due to their proximity of photographing famous people) as the others listed, but surely influenced generations of photographers and their work has stood the test of time.

May 26 11 12:23 pm Link

Photographer

g r e g g o r i o

Posts: 394

Los Angeles, California, US

best is subjective

but add  Sebastião Salgado


http://i923.photobucket.com/albums/ad78/shedlik/salgado1.jpg

May 26 11 12:24 pm Link

Photographer

BOYWITHCAMERA

Posts: 1865

Los Angeles, California, US

One of my favorites, for his portrait and fashion work, is Jock Sturges.

May 26 11 12:30 pm Link

Photographer

Fine Art by Ariston

Posts: 263

Los Angeles, California, US

May 26 11 02:42 pm Link

Photographer

Boston Pro Modeling

Posts: 714

Foxboro, Massachusetts, US

SoCo n Lime wrote:

http://www.albertwatson.net/

Albert Watson

if you ever get the chance to see his work in real life .. just go.. left me speechless for days.. thats how powerful his work is for me

size scale and quality at its best

*edit* and yes i know he has varied work but the quality is consistent throughout anything that he shoots

Very nice work, a definite eye.

May 28 11 06:00 am Link

Photographer

Paul Pickard

Posts: 367

Stafford, England, United Kingdom

Check out the available light portraits of Jane Bown

May 28 11 04:52 pm Link

Photographer

Herman Surkis

Posts: 9313

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

SoCo n Lime wrote:

http://www.albertwatson.net/

Albert Watson

if you ever get the chance to see his work in real life .. just go.. left me speechless for days.. thats how powerful his work is for me

size scale and quality at its best

*edit* and yes i know he has varied work but the quality is consistent throughout anything that he shoots

Most of his images I cannot imagine bothering to take.
Most of his images I wish I had taken.

May 28 11 06:28 pm Link

Photographer

Herman Surkis

Posts: 9313

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

g r e g g o r i o  wrote:
best is subjective

but add  Sebastião Salgado


http://i923.photobucket.com/albums/ad78/shedlik/salgado1.jpg

He is brilliant. Saw an exhibit of his work at the Sao Paulo Art Gallery.

May 28 11 06:29 pm Link

Photographer

Silver Mirage

Posts: 1579

Plainview, Texas, US

Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts

Penn, Newton and Snowden -- as mentioned already

Looks like most of us are thinking editorial portraits more than retail, Karsh being the noted exception.

May 28 11 10:08 pm Link

Retoucher

Jostein Roalkvam

Posts: 282

Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway

Although the well known masters are great and all, I'm much more inspired by more unknown photographers which I stumble upon on the internet etc. My favorite portrait photographer and biggest inspiration at this point has to be Jan Scholz www.micmojo.com (lots of nsfw) smile

May 29 11 09:54 am Link

Photographer

Drew Smith Photography

Posts: 5210

Nottingham, England, United Kingdom

Margaret Bourke-White, for everything she was as well as what she shot!

May 29 11 11:40 am Link

Photographer

KGSF

Posts: 1791

Santa Fe, New Mexico, US

Jostein Roalkvam wrote:
Although the well known masters are great and all, I'm much more inspired by more unknown photographers which I stumble upon on the internet etc. My favorite portrait photographer and biggest inspiration at this point has to be Jan Scholz www.micmojo.com (lots of nsfw) smile

That is some seriously wicked photography!

Lots of ideas there!

Thanks!!!

smile

May 29 11 11:44 am Link

Photographer

Glen Berry

Posts: 2791

Huntington, West Virginia, US

J Kegley Photographer wrote:
I find it interesting that all those mentioned, for the most part, were users of film and larger format cameras.  Sort of says something about the amount of technical knowledge needed to produce outstanding work.  They also had what many portrait photographers seem to lack:  a true relationship with their client.

It doesn't actually "say" that, but you're doing your best to "hear" that.  smile

The original poster asked for the best portrait photographers ever, not the best contemporary portrait photographers. Digital cameras are a very recent invention in the history of photography. They haven't been around long enough for anyone to likely develop a "legendary" reputation as a portrait photographer shooting with a digital camera. That reason alone could account for the prevalence of film shooters mentioned thus far. Karsh, Penn, etc didn't have the choice of shooting digital when they started shooting professionally. Many of them didn't have the choice at all, and died before professional digital cameras became commonly available. I suspect that several of these photographers would still have been just as admired if they had been shooting with a digital camera.

The art, vision, style, and talent belong to the artist, not the tools. I believe we celebrate these photographers for their artistry and talents, not for the particular hardware they purchased.

May 29 11 12:05 pm Link

Photographer

Mark Laubenheimer

Posts: 8885

Seattle, Washington, US

Glen Berry wrote:

It doesn't actually "say" that, but you're doing your best to "hear" that.  smile

The original poster asked for the best portrait photographers ever, not the best contemporary portrait photographers. Digital cameras are a very recent invention in the history of photography. They haven't been around long enough for anyone to likely develop a "legendary" reputation as a portrait photographer shooting with a digital camera. That reason alone could account for the prevalence of film shooters mentioned thus far. Karsh, Penn, etc didn't have the choice of shooting digital when they started shooting professionally. Many of them didn't have the choice at all, and died before professional digital cameras became commonly available. I suspect that several of these photographers would still have been just as admired if they had been shooting with a digital camera.

The art, vision, style, and talent belong to the artist, not the tools. I believe we celebrate these photographers for their artistry and talents, not for the particular hardware they purchased.

i agree. well said.

May 29 11 12:18 pm Link

Photographer

Glen Berry

Posts: 2791

Huntington, West Virginia, US

Other than Karsh and Hurrell, it's difficult for me to recall anyone else who was famous solely for being a portrait photographer. It seems to me, portrait photographers don't usually become quite as famous as other types of photographers. Perhaps that's because there are so very many portrait photographers, and it's difficult to distinguish one's self in such a large group?

I think Herb Ritts did some very nice portraits. Of course he also did advertising and fine art photography. That's just one of the few names I can think of which hasn't already been mentioned.

Also, no one has mentioned Weegee yet. Yes, he's something of a specialty, but he also created some memorable portraits in his day.  smile

Robert Mapplethorpe also created some rather memorable (if not entirely pleasant) portraits, especially his self-portraits. Of course, portraiture isn't what Robert will be remembered most for.  big_smile

May 29 11 01:47 pm Link

Photographer

-fpc-

Posts: 684

Port Chester, New York, US

many mentioned already

Penn
Hurrell
Avedon
Karsh


also Cecil Beaton

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Beaton

May 29 11 04:54 pm Link

Photographer

Stephen A Photography

Posts: 159

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

He is Canadian WOOO
but right now where i live they have his exhibit and I really want to go see it.

May 29 11 04:59 pm Link