Friday, 4 April 2014

Top 10 Photographers of all time

This is a super long post, but hopefully you will enjoy it and maybe learn something new! Please note that most of these photographers are still in copyright and for legal reasons I have not added their photographs to this blog post. There are many links throughout the blog to images of their works. Let's get started!

10. Rankin (b.1966)

Rankin's use of colour is like no-one else. There is so much light in all of his photographs and each one looks so crisp and precise, yet there is still so much life in them. They are no doubt very commercial, but I would say they are the best commercial photographs out there. 

Some of his best work can be seen in the Archive section of his website. 

9. Annie Leibovitz (b.1949)

Leibovitz is the master of constructing an image. She is most well known for her photography for Vanity Fair and Vogue. She puts together elaborate scenes but has also taken incredibly emotive photographs. My favourite photograph by Leibovitz is John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1980. Lennon is nude and wrapped around a fully clothed Yoko Ono. Five hours after this photograph was taken Lennon was shot, dead.

Leibovitz was also, reportedly, $24 million in debt in 2009. Hearing this made me realise that even if you were one of the best photographers in the world, you can never be rich from this industry alone. Nevertheless, she has given us some of the greatest images of all time, and she's a woman!

8. Diane Arbus (1923–1971)

Arbus never photographed the 'beautiful people', instead she photographed real life and real people but is associated with photographing predominantly unusual looking people, including giants and dwarfs. One of her most famous works if of the Identical Twins. I love her work as, described by the V&A, it is 'contemporary anthropology'. Sadly, Arbus committed suicide in 1971. However her legendary photographs live on and are held by some of the most established galleries in the world.

7. Daido Moriyama (b.1938)

I first saw Moriyama's work next to William Klein's work at the Tate exhibition in 2013. I noticed that most of the books of Moriyama's work had been lent by Martin Parr, who we will come on to later in this list. Being a huge fan of Martin Parr's work I was intrigued to understand Moriyama's work, as it had so obviously influenced Parr. Moriyama's work is often grainy but shows the gritty reality of life. It is difficult to choose a favourite work of his as it is really a whole continuous body of work. It is also hard to find much of his work online due to the vast amount of copyright restrictions. 

6. Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879)

Woohoo, Cameron is out of copyright! Time for an image!

I most associate Julia Margaret Cameron with William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites. As I was researching Cameron I came across a bizarre article on the Mail Online that has the headline 'The photos that began the art of the selfie 150 years BEFORE Instagram'. The majority of the photos in this article are taken of other people, so not sure what this article is trying to prove! Anyway... Cameron's works are often very hazy and are often the images we associate with the Victorian era. Interestingly she was born in Calcutta, India. It was often the case that those from a wealthy background could afford to become photographers in Victorian England. The best example of this would be Henri Cartier-Bresson who is often credited with the birth of photojournalism. The V&A and the National Portrait Gallery both hold noteworthy collections of Cameron's photographs.

5. Steve McCurry (b.1950)

Possibly one of the most famous photographs of all taken was taken by McCurry in 1984, this is, of course, Afghan Girl. Interestingly, in 2002, they found her again and she had not been photographed since the famous photograph was taken, 18 years later.

McCurry has produced some of the most awe-inspiring photojournalism and most notably focuses on war. Like others on this list McCurry is a Magnum photographer. Magnum has a fantastic website, where you browse his photos and photo essays in great quality. As far as I'm concerned, he is one of the geniuses of our time.

4. Martin Parr (b.1952)

It has almost become a bit of a cliché to say Martin Parr is your favourite photographer as he is now so famous. The majority of college students will say their work is based on Martin Parr. But when you first see his work, you do get obsessed. It is witty, brightly coloured and far too close to home! His most famous work is probably The Last Resort, which depicts a seaside town called New Brighton, in Liverpool. My favourite body of work by Parr is Autoportrait where he has his photo taken by studio photographers, street photographers and photo booths around the world. It is hilarious, but fascinating at the same time.

3. Eugène Atget (1857–1927)

Atget is a photographer I have come across in my History of Art studies. Cartier-Bresson is credited with the birth of photojournalism but Atget is credited with the birth of documentary photography. Neither of these two did this alone and they have contemporaries, so do look these other photographers up! Atget's photographs are predominantly of Paris and the move towards modernity. There are many academic texts written about Atget's works and you can see why. The subtle meanings conveyed through the photographs are fascinating. You can read more here.

2. Tim Hetherington (1970–2011)

My second favourite photographer of all time and I have only recently looked properly at his body of work after watching 'Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington' on BBC Four. As you may notice from his dates, Hetherington died young. He died in Libya during the civil war. His photography is incredible, he was obsessed with the story of the people behind the war, in particular, of the young men who fought and what drove them. In the film I watched there is a moment where some rebels in Liberia were about to shoot their only medic, however Hetherington steps in and bargains with them to not shoot him. It is one of the best documentaries I have ever watched and Hetherington's photographs are unbelievably moving. He died doing something he loved, something he was so talented at, it is devastating that the world lost such an inspirational person.

1. Philip Jones Griffiths (1936–2008)

I fell in love with Philip Jones Griffiths' work when I went to see his exhibition 'Recollections' at the National Conservation Centre in Liverpool. I bought the exhibition catalogue, came home, read the entire essay at the front of the book and I now look at his book at least once a month. I looked at it a few days ago and thought 'I still love this photography'. When you look at his photography it is still so modern, so clever and so powerful. Some of my favourite works by him are from the 1960s and 1970s, such as Mowing the lawn and Ban the Bomb enactment.

I hope that you enjoyed this post and please do let me know of any photographers you would have put in this list, or who is your favourite photographer.

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