I post this thing every year as my students begin to work on their artist/research papers. I add to it every year, as I realize someone isn’t on the list. Heck, I’ve started a whole list of new photographers, too, but these are the classics. These you should know.
Berenice Abbott – architectural studies of New York City in the 1930s – the Atget of Manhattan
Ansel Adams – Majestic landscapes of the American West
Robert Adams – Documenting the environmental destruction of the American West in the late 20th century
Manuel Alvarez Bravo – cultural and surreal imagery from Mexico
Diane Arbus-sometime shocking and confrontational photographer of the 1960s
Eugene Atget – documentary photos of Paris architecture in the early 20th century
Tiny Barney- refabricated documents of northeastern families
Bernd and Hilla Becher- created a systematic approach to photography, specifically industrial architecture
E. J. Bellocq – prostitute portraits from the red-light district of New Orleans in 1912
Karl Blossfeldt – Early 20th century, magnified photos of plant life revealed surreal, even Art Noveau forms
Margaret Bourke-White – Photojournalist, made some of the first photodocumentation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Bill Brandt – surrealist and working class imagery, British, 1930-60
Mathew Brady- known for his political portraits and his photography documenting the Civil War
Brassai – after dark in the Paris underworld between the wars
Harry Callahan – formalistic, minimalist portraits and landscapes
Julia Margaret Cameron – Victorian portraits, soft focus, from the early days of photography
Robert Capa—major war photographer
Alvin Langdon Coburn – pioneer of abstract photography with his “Vortographs”
Larry Clark—important documentary photographer (and film director) dealing with drug use and lust in teens
Gregory Crewdson–amazing and surreal images with elaborate stage set ups using color and light
Imogen Cunningham – American modernist, best known for closeups of flowers and plants
Roy DeCarava – documenting the African-American experience and its cultural icons
Robert Doisneau – Happy photos of Parisian life in the mid 20th century.
William Eggleston – deceptively banal color photos of contemporary American rural and suburban life
Walker Evans – imagery of American society during the Great Depression
Roger Fenton – the first war photographer: the Crimea, 1850s
Lee Friedlander – Contemporary, humorous, visually exciting
Emmet Gowin – “Gowin’s simple yet intensely seen daily events take on the quality of ritual” – Jonathan Green
John Gutmann – 1930s America but NOT the Great Depression, a precursor of the street photographers of the 50s
Lewis Hine – activist documentary work from early 20th century, from Ellis Island to child labor to sweatshops
Hill & Adamson – mid-19th-century calotypists, interesting collaboration between artist and technician
Yousuf Karsh – Canadian portrait master, created some of the iconic portraits of world leaders in the 40s and 50s.
Andre Kertesz – Eastern Europe to Paris to New York, ranging from surrealist imagery to street photography
William Klein – New York street photography in the mid-fifties
Josef Koudelka – Czechoslovakian, 1970s images of his Exile in Western Europe
Dorothea Lange – documented American poor during the Great Depression
Jacques-Henri Lartigue – a child photographer, with exuberance and delight, France before World War I
Clarence John Laughlin – haunting images of abandoned cotton plantations and cemeteries in New Orleans.
Helen Levitt – street photography from early 1940’s New York City.
Danny Lyon–works in the style of photographic “New Journalism”, meaning that the photographer has become immersed, and is a participant, of the documented subject
Sally Man–best known for her large black-and-white photographs—specifically her photographs of her children in “Immediate Family”
Robert Mapplethorpe – erotically charged imagery from a gay perspective
Ralph Eugene Meatyard – surrealist vision from middle America in the 1950s and 1960s
Joel Meyerowitz – moving from street photography to landscape; from black-and-white to color; and from 35mm to 8 x 10 format
Duane Michals-creates photo-sequences and the incorporation of text to examine emotion and philosophy
Lisette Model – an important pioneer in street photography and portraits from the edge
Tina Modotti – revolutionary images from 1920s Mexico
Eadweard Muybridge – 1880s, the first to use the camera to analyze motion too fast to be seen with the naked eye.
Nadar – Paris, 1850-1870, portraits, early photographic pioneer
Arnold Newman – One of the greatest portrait-makers in the history of photography
Timothy O’Sullivan – Civil War and American West, wet plate photography
Paul Outerbridge – 1920s and 30s surrealism and fetishistic nudes; a pioneer in color photography
Gordon Parks – documented the post-WWII African-American experience, portraying the common people and icons of the civil rights era
Irving Penn – much, much more than just a fashion photographer
Jacob Riis – photos were only a tool for his crusade against poverty in early 20th century New York City slums
Alexander Rodchenko – 1920-30s in Russia, formalist, odd angles, a new way of looking
Sebastiao Salgado – documenting the human condition in late 20th century, from Ethiopian famine to Brazilian hell mines
Cindy Sherman – artist using the photographic self-portrait as a means to express narrative.
Stephen Shore – master of large format camera, working in color depictions of urban scenes and landscapes.
Julius Shulman- architectural studies in LA of 60s
W. Eugene Smith – documentary photography with a moral edge, the King of the Photo Essay
Frederick Sommer – Surrealist imagery somehow from realist content
Edward Steichen – protege of Stieglitz, pioneer in pictorialism before moving on to fashion photography
Alfred Stieglitz – the Prophet of photography as an art form, his own excellent work is too often overlooked
Paul Strand – another Stieglitz protege, pioneer of Straight Photography
William Henry Fox Talbot – early photographic pioneer, developed some of the first methods of fixing shadows on paper
Jerry Uelsmann – complex multiple prints utilizing “post-visualization” to depict ambiguous and humorous imagery
Roman Vishniac: A Vanished World shows jewish life before the holocaust
Max Waldman – celebrating theatre and the dance, 1960s and 1970s.
Carleton E. Watkins – premier landscape photographer of the American West in the 1800s
Weegee- depicted unflinchingly realistic scenes of urban life, crime, injury and death in press photography
Edward Weston – photographer’s photographer, f64, landscapes, portraits, still lifes, all done in same realist manner
Minor White – cofounder with Ansel Adams of the Zone System, also a great educator
Garry Winogrand – compulsive street photographer, imagery is edgy, disorienting
Lothar Wolleh – a master of the portrait, featuring photographs of modern artists