Famous Portrait Photographers

Top 20 Famous Portrait Photographers Review 2021

Photography are the style of art of having someone’s photograph taken or painting made that is known to have been famous portrait photographers and has prevailed through generations and continue to push boundaries till this modern age.

Back in the days, portraitures grew to be a driving force in the creative world, the earliest evidence of portrait painting dating back to ancient Greece and Egypt. Ofcourse, like almost everything else that technology revolutionized over the course of years, this was no different.

The invention of cameras shook the artistic industry as we witnessed paintings evolve into photographs. From the famous “Mona Lisa” to the viral “Afghan Girl”, portraits helped transform expressionism into the current form we see today.

Nowadays, celebrities, business men, and even for the general public, portrait photography has branched out into different genres allowing all kinds of people to dabble in the art.

Photographs have been one of the most vital inventions throughout time not only for its artistic values but also for its contribution to preserving memory and history by providing a means of recording the portraits of famous historical figures and events.

The skill of photography has transcended its purpose of being just for art to playing a huge role in showcasing issues and real problems that haunt us today.

Modern portrayals have proved to be the perfect medium for these kinds of themes and artists who are professional portrait photographers are able to capture this notion excellently. The absolute talent that can be found around the globe who take contemporary and celebrity portrait photography is immeasurable.

The 20 Best Celebrity Portrait Photographers 

1. Nadav Kander:

Nadav Kander

Location: London, UK

Kander is a brilliant photographer based in London. Having grown up in South Africa, his love for photography started at a young age and led him to study it  for decades. His name is prolific for taking portraitures and landscapes, enrapturing the beauty of the subject  in its purest form. Some of his noteworthy shots include great personalities like former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden and Eugene Kang.

2.  Eric Lafforgue

Eric Lafforgue

Location: France

This Frenchman has travelled all over the world and his captures are testaments to those stories by itself. His fascination towards the world’s hidden and isolated areas are what makes his collection tremendous. Lafforgue’s pictures carry out a beautiful job of expressing differences and similarities between cultures and countries.

3. Dmitry Ageev

Dmitry Ageev

Location: Russia

A young and upcoming gifted photographer from Russia. Dmitry’s amazing way of capturing emotion through expression is unique and truly thought provoking. He is on his way quickly to being recognized as a professional portrait photographer for modern art.

4. Dan Winters

Dan Winters

Location: USA

Winters is an American artist famous for his iconic celebrity portrait photography and the vast amount of topics his photographs can be left up to interpretation. Some of the biggest faces behind his lens were Leonardo Di Caprio, Johnny Depp, Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, Tupac Shakur and many more.

5. Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon

Location: USA

Undoubtedly, Avedon’s genius was legendary and his strive to go beyond the norm is something that inspires photographers, famous or not, till today. He specialized in capturing movement in pictures rather than capturing professional portrait studio-esque style that was trending during that time. His unique vision was significant to this art form for the 20th century and stylizing the modern world of photographs.

6. Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman

Location: USA

Cindy Sherman’s masterful work is one of the biggest influences in the world of modern photography. Her deceptively illustrated pictures and shots redefining the perception of beauty makes her stand out amongst the many others in the industry. Her series called “Untitled Film Stills” changed the game and two of her pieces are in the list of the most expensive photographs in the world.

7. Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin

Location: UK

Titled ‘photographer of the decade” by The Guardian, for his outstanding work on famous musicians in the 80’s, Britain’s gift to the world of portraiture is Brian Griffin. Griffin is said to be the first to establish a style of photography called “Capitalist Realism” with photographs consisting of symbolic imagery and inspiration from renaissance art. He has also worked on superstars like Helen Mirren and Jonathan Ross as an honed professional portrait photographer.

8. Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

Location: USA

This 71 year old American is one of the best photographers ruling the scene today. She is best known for her deeply emotional and personal celebrity portrait photography. She infamously captured the last image of John Lennon and Yoko Ono before his death.

9. Erik Almas

Erik Almas

Location: Norway

Almas is a Norwegian photographer with his work having beautiful and conceptualist and depiction of portraits. His ability to utilize lighting combined with his vision, Almas’ images created are thematic and moody, no doubt to set an ambience for the viewer.

10. Martin Schoeller

Martin Schoeller

Location: New York, USA

Work consisting mostly of closeups, Schoeller’s signature is simple but effective. His pictures of his subjects’ being so detailed is what gives his style a subtle feeling of depth. From prominent political figures to famous celebrities, he has worked on Bill Clinton, Sting, Heath Ledger and numerous more to capture a face for history to remember.

11. David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle

Location: USA

LaChapelle’s splashes of bright colours and integration of pop art into his pictures along with religious and historic imagery is something that is unique to only him. He is famous and is praised for his commercial pieces and celebrity portrait photography for stars such as Angelina Jolie and Amanda Lepore.

12. Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

Location: USA

With over a dozen books, McCurry is definitely an iconic and another one of the best photographers that we live to see. His portrait of a girl in Afghanistan with piercing emerald eyes or famously known as “Afghan Girl” has been cited as one the most important captures for history of photographs. His many pieces for National Geographic and Indian culture took the modern industry by storm and will continue to leave a mark for future artists.

13. Lisa Kristine

Lisa Kristine

Location: USA

Humanitarian Lisa Kristine’s eye opening shots gives the viewer a dose of reality of so many people around the world. Her work on unraveling slavery in this modern day and displaying the beautiful culture of indigenous people around the world are probably some of the best of her collection as well as for the industry.

14. Rehahn


Location: Hoi An, Vietnam

Next up on the list is the second artist from France who is credited as the portrait photographer who “captures souls”. Rehahn’s fascination and adoration of Vietnam led him to his success as he completed his mission of capturing every single group of tribal people in their traditional environment and displayed them in his gallery for appreciating and preserving their culture. He has moved to Vietnam and is currently based in Hoi An in Vietnam.

15. Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe

Location: USA

“To make pictures big is to make them more powerful.” – Robert Mapplethorpe

Best known for his black and white style portraits and photographs of controversial matters of subjects that were under much scrutiny from the 1960’s to 1980’s. Robert Mapplethorpe was big on using different techniques and collages for artistic effect. His most prominent works were of celebrity portrait photography and still life symbolising classical perception of beauty.

16. Peter Hapak

Peter Hapak

Location: New York, USA

This American photographer has taken portraits of some of the biggest names on TV and of Hollywood. A few of them namely Nicole Kidman, Timothee Chalamet, Roger Federer etc. . Besides that, he has worked with huge companies like Netflix, GQ, Time, Vanity Fair etc. His extraordinary pieces rely on minimalistic setting and tone, making his shots all the more alluring. Hapak mentions in one of his interviews that while it may seem simple, the process of preparation is very complex as well as it is crucial.

17. Platon


Location: New York, USA

One more addition to british talent, Platon has trademarked his iconic style in the industry over the years and it shows how much so as his works are so easily recognizable. With use of simple lighting and technique in his closeup portraits, Platon manages to bring out emotions through expressions beautifully. His photographs have the same white background with black and white style.

18. Pieter Hugo

Pieter Hugo

Location: South Africa

This 44 years old South African portrait photographer is a prominent name in the contemporary genre of this art style. He has symbolized social issues such as privilege, class, and violence with his captures. His shots were displayed in major art galleries and his books received great attention.

19. Sebastião Salgado

Sebastião Salgado

Location: Brazil

Salgado is a photojournalist from Brazil who gained acclamation due to his documentation of poor and helpless people. His experience of having traveled to over 100 countries helped him sympathize with these people better and capture harrowing shots of reality. He is a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and has also received many honorable awards for his upstanding work.

20. Mario Testino

Mario Testino

Location: Peru

Finally, the last artist on our list is this brilliant Peruvian photographer most famous for his portraits and fashion photography. His fantastic shots capture luxury in the most natural manner. This skillset has paved his way for him to work with fashion giants like Vogue, Vanity Fair and brands like Gucci, Chanel, and Versace.

Final Thought

Whilst this list covers nowhere near the totality of magnificent artists, it is an insight to some of the best photographers who helped shape this art form into the popular trend that it is today. Modern portrait pictures are getting more and more recognized by the general public and in turn has started off an onset of professional portrait studios to be set up that is tremendously helping aspiring photographers.

However, one thing’s for sure, and that is modern portrait photographers are constantly testing the limits of this art style and are helping to dissolve the divide between contemporary and pop cultural art and integrate it with beautiful storytelling.

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