100 Most influential photographers of all time

- - Photographers

I love a list of photographers like this. Not because I think there could ever be a definitive list of 100 photographers that most people agree on, but because everyone should have their own list. And everyone should spend time studying the masters. All of my favorite working photographers have the influence of the masters in their pictures.

For anyone who loves serious photography, we live in an incredible time. A quick google search on any of these greats will give you plenty of material to study.

1. Richard Avedon American 1923-2004
2. W. Eugene Smith American 1918-1978
3. Helmut Newton German 1920-2004
4. Irving Penn American 1917- 2009
5. Guy Bourdin French 1928-1991
6. Henri Cartier-Bresson French 1908-2004
7. Diane Arbus American 1923-1971
8.Elliott Erwitt French 1928-
9. Walker Evans American 1903-1975
10. Martin Parr British 1952-
11. Juergen Teller German 1964-
12. Nick Knight British 1958-
13. David Bailey British 1938-
14. Cindy Sherman American 1954-
15. Andreas Gursky German 1955-
16. Edward Weston American 1886-1958
17. Garry Winogrand American 1928-1984
18. Bruce Weber American 1946-
19. Man Ray American 1890-1976
20. Paolo Roversi Italian 1947-
21. Herb Ritts American 1952-2002
22. Annie Leibovitz American 1949-
23. Ansel Adams American 1902-1984
24. David LaChapelle American 1963-
25. William Klein American 1928-
26. Bill Brandt German 1904-1983
27. Ralph Gibson American 1939-
28. Stephen Shore American 1947-
29. Robert Frank Swiss 1924-
30. Andre Kertesz Hungarian 1894-1985
31. Chuck Close American 1940-
32. Robert Mapplethorpe American 1946-1989
33. Steven Meisel American 1954-
34. Peter Lindbergh German 1944-
35. August Sander German 1876-1964
36. Nan Goldin American 1953-
37. Weegee Austrian 1899-1968
38. Don McCullin British 1935-
39. Slim Aarons American 1916-2006
40. William Eggleston American 1939-
41. Joel-Peter WitkinAmerican 1939-
42. Anton Corbijn Dutch 1955-
43. Brassai French 1899-1984
44. Erwin Blumenfeld German 1897-1969
45.Duane Michals American 1932-
46. Mario Testino Peruvian 1954-
47. Mary Ellen Mark American 1940-
48. Larry Clark American 1943-
49. Mert & Marcus Turkish and British 1971-
50. Corinne Day British 1965-

The rest can be found here: http://www.professionalphotographer.co.uk

There Are 67 Comments On This Article.

  1. No Jay Maisel, No Pete Turner, No Ernst Haas, No Elliot Porter, No William Albert Allard, no Albert Watson… it’s a very fashionable au currant (circa 2010) fashionista heavy list. No problem with that -all listed are terrific photographers — it is just a little bit biased.

  2. Mert & Marcus !?!?!
    Really these two no talent rip off HACKS made the list and Hort P. Horst did not?
    WTF!!

  3. Oh wait a minute….
    A Photo Editor did not make this list.
    He doesn’t create his own content.
    He takes posts from other peoples web sites to use as his own.

    • And yet you spend the time to go through each post just to make sure and then make useless comments. Congrats on your contribution.

  4. I’ve seen this bullshit list before. Yeah, I said bullshit! Any so-called list of the 100 most influential photographers that doesn’t include Gordon Parks is bullshit!

    Not only did Parks shoot many stories for Life that were so compelling that they sparked the audience to act toward solutions, but he influenced an entire generation of African-American photographers to follow that example. But, once again, just overlook the black guy.

    I can add a few more names to this dumb ass list that should replace some others. And how the hell is Robert Capa #95?

    • All these “lists” are non-conclusive but worthy of discussion.

      Gordon Parks was an accomplished and influential photographer but you insult the reader when you say he was overlooked because of race. Should he have been included because of his race? Should anyone?

      • I’m not saying that Parks was consciously overlooked because of race. What I am suggesting is that the contributions and accomplishments of many people of color, not only African-American, go unnoticed by many in the mainstream.

      • “Should he have been included because of his race?”

        No. He should have been included because of the great ‘influence’ he’s had on an entire generation of photographers.

  5. The fact that Tim Walker and Terry Richardson are next to each other perfectly illustrates how fashion photography is pretty much the richest, most creative and diverse area of photography. They’re two of the extremes, with a world of styles in between.

  6. A lot of great names and great work on this list. Of course creating the perfect list is impossible as we all have our faves, and our faves are in constant flux. Avedon however is always at or near the top of my list. Why? I relate to his commercial and fine art abilities. Avedon could shoot a model with a horse in the surf, at night, with an 8×10 camera, with his assistants driving in a Jeep parallel to him with old school high voltage strobes dangling from a boom above him, and deliver a wonderful image. Then of course there are his great portraits — like the one of Charlie Chaplin making devil horns before escaping his persecutors in the US. And how about the way Avedon capture the tortured soul of Oscar Levant?The coup de grâce (for me) is the movie Funny Face by Stanley Donen (friend and vacation companion of Avedon’s) — this movie was largely inspired by Avedon. Avedon was also a consultant and shot many photos for the opening credits. If Fred Astaire plays you in a movie with Audrey Hepburn as the love interest – then you’re great. :) Avedon was only 34 at the time of filming!

    And Sebastiao Salgado — who’s better at what he does than him? Who has walked further in pursuit of a photo? And his contribution to humanitarian issues — Wow! Right now I’m “feeling” Albert Watson and Bruce Weber’s greatness. I’m also a big fan of Sylvia Plachy.

    What I like most about this list, is that so many of the greats who are getting on in years, are still working. Of course the 2004 after Avedon’s name lays me low. But he died working on location. That would be my choice.

  7. APE Great reference for inspiration and teaching how to do it! I’m surprised those whose comments snubbing your efforts don’t understand? Keep on providing for the betterment of those who look beyond the surface and outside the barrier of limitations erected in their minds. Kudos to the APE team!

  8. good to see Guy Bourdin on there. He has only been recently recognised for the huge influence he had. I give lessons in fashion photography and had to add him to it about 4 years ago after his son did a retrospective and he was suddenly lifted out of semi-obscurity for a lot of people, me included.

  9. They only list the top 50 here, but check out the link for the full list of 100. There are still a lot of omissions. No Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, Atget, Phillipe Halsman, James Van der zee, Roy DeCarava, Bernice Abbott, Harry Callahan, Steve McCurry, Margaret Bourke-White, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Imogene Cunningham, Tina Modotti, etc…

  10. Leave it to the brits to pad the rolls with a bunch of… oh, I need to be more polite. Well the least they could have done is mention Meatyard. I guess that Olympics stuff just went to their heads (Just to be on the safe side, this is meant as a weak attempt at lighthearted poking)

  11. Andre Friedmann

    *The* most influential photographer of all time — bar none — is Eugene Atget. He didn’t make the list.

  12. PS: While I appreciate any list of great photographers, ranking them like sports results or a pop music hit parade is as pointless as those lists “the 100 greatest movies of all time” (consistently lead by “Citizen Kane”).

    Also: Why is Lartigue only in 97th place? And Atget is not on the list at all? Don’t the English like the French?

    PS: I’m also missing Vivian Maier. I just looked at the newest book about her work: a wonderful oeuvre. How could they have forgotten her?

    Lists are good, because there’s always someone that you haven’t seen enough. Just don’t cut it down brutally to a hundred. With Renger-Patzsch, Maier, and Atget we can call it “the 103 greatest photographers of all times”.

    To be extended…

  13. James Nachtwey being excluded is a big oversight. But skipping Margaret Bourke-White is egregious.

  14. Let’s not confuse ‘influential’ with ‘great’. ‘Influential’ is relative. I’ve been influenced by photographers who did not make the list, but then again I didn’t make the list.

  15. No Atget?? No Lee Friedlander? Since I can’t find a way to explain my opinion of this list politely, I’ll just repeat:

    NO ATGET?????????? NO FRIEDLANDER????????

  16. I love posts like this, they always bring out the worst in people when they comment. “This person instead of whositface, boohoo!” Make your own list, then. That’s the whole point of these blogs.

    Carry on, whiners.

  17. Joey Lawrence is not on the list, is it just because he’s to young ? man, he went to Mentawai, Indonesia and made amazing photographs in my country -.-“

  18. This list merely 100 list and the number is not a rank, how could they ? … Different genre and era . In my mind the greatest photographer is miss vivian maier , she was a true artist .. Parting herself into the needs of showing of her works ..

  19. Decent list, but how is Eddie Adams not there? He created a pulitzer prize winning photograph that helped end the Vietnam War, then goes on to photograph over 40 wars, then celebs, world leaders and finally gives back by putting on a free highly regarded photography workshop to emerging photographers that still runs after his death.

  20. It will probably be easier to make world peace than agree on the “perfect” list.

    When starting out Herb Ritts, Helmuth Newton, Jeanloup Sieff, George Hurrell among others was the closets I ever got to religion.

    Paolo Roversi, Sally Mann, Irving Penn, Andreas Gursky (latest works), Gregory Crewdson is some of my all time favorites.