Photography is about a single point of a moment. It’s like stopping time. As everything gets condensed in that forced instant. But if you keep creating these points, they form a line which reflects your life.
Photography is a medium of contradictions. It is both ridiculously easily and almost impossibly difficult. Being able to see things is easy, as we need only open our eyes for stimuli to enter, but being able to capture a very specific and meaningful moment is the difficult part.
A good photo is comprised of many things, not only one must hit the shutter at the right moment in time, but the composition, color coordination, light and perspective play a significant role too.
A photographer is an editor of reality in trying to make sense of reality; he tries to distill the essence of his subject- a scene, feeling or persona, into a single, two-dimensional image.
The work of all photograph artists is about the nature of the photographic-the making of the images, rather than the taking of a photograph. As with much conceptual art, the process seems to be as important as the end result.
We’ve listed Top 10 Contemporary Photographers who are known for their passion, dedication and style.
Table of Contents:
- Annie Leibovitz
- Lee Jeffries
- Timothy Hogan
- Réhahn Croqueville
- Steve McCurry
- Jason M. Peterson
- Joe McNally
- Boogie (Vladimir Milivojevich)
- Tomasz Gudzowaty
- Nobuyoshi Araki
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The legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz is probably the most well-known and well-respected living American photographer.
Annie Leibovitz began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970, and was the first woman to be named chief photographer at Rolling Stone at her early age of 24.
In 1983, she joined the staff of Vanity Fair magazine and Vogue afterwards, where, over four decades, she has developed a large body of work- dramatic, quirky and iconic portraits of actors, musicians, athletes, writers, business and political figures, offering a collective portrait of contemporary art.
Her signature style is crisp, well lighted and perfectly tailored to these celebrity-fuelled times.
Leibovitz deliberately conceals her subjects behind concept and costume; celebrities become sculptures or theatrical players. Her interest is not in the unguarded moment, but the staged moment; not the inner life, but the outer life.
She has been designated a Living Legend by the U.S. Library of Congress and has received many honors including The American Society of Magazine Editors’ first Creative Excellence Award, the International Center of Photography’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Centenary Medal of the Royal Photographic Society in London.
Up next, Lee Jeffries…
Jeffries is a self-taught and self-founded photographer based in Manchester, England. His striking series of black-and-white portraits of homeless women and men has surprised the insular photography world.
His subjects came from London, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, New York and other urban areas whom he gets to know by living rough with them; the relationship between them enabling him to capture authenticity and intimacy in his portraits.
Jeffries takes close-up head shots on his subjects, capturing the emotional expression of those who are often invisible to a majority of the population. He uses light and shadow in a religious way, and his images have been described as ‘religious iconography’.
Lee has also been on a mission to raise awareness of, and founds for, the homeless. He has published two acclaimed fund-raising books,
Homeless and Lost Angeles and donated thousands of pounds of his own money to help those he photographs.
He has taken the gold, silver and bronze titles in the annual Amateur Photographer magazine competition over the last three years, but despite the recent recognition his work continues to be self-funded.
Read our feature, “Lee Jeffries – Portraits of the Homeless“
Up next, Timothy Hogan…
American photographer Timothy Hogan is award-wining photographer well-known for his lighting mastery, craftsmanship and uniquely precise still-life images.
Over twenty years he shoots for international brands and advertising agencies in the beverage, technology, beauty, fashion fragrance and design industries including Chanel, Calvin Klein, Budweiser, Target, Tommy Hilfiger, Visa among numerous other companies.
His photographs integrate his impeccable eye for design, the California lifestyle with his passion of surfing and exploration.
Creative and inventive since childhood, Timothy’s history of taking things apart yields a unique ability to create elegant solutions to even the most complex image request.
His work can be dramatic and his images filled with a wealth of symbols and a vivid play of lighting and colors.
He keeps things creative but takes a craftsman’s approach to setting up the shoot; this, coupled with support from the best producers, retouchers and studios, allow Timothy to produce incredible results in photography in the high-pressure advertising world.
Hogan is one of two Hasselblad Ambassadors in the U.S. with work featured in Communication Arts, Graphics, Victor by Hasselblad and many other publications all over the world.
Read our feature article, Timothy Hogan – When Art and Commerce Collide
Up next, Réhahn Croqueville…
A French born photographer based in Hoi An, central Vietnam, Réhahn Croqueville is particularly known for his portraits of Vietnam, India and Cuba.
His passion for photographic art started a crescendo line after his first journeying to the northern regions of the Vietnam making his way down; he published his first book ‘Vietnam, Mosaic of Contrast in January 2014.
It aims to show Vietnam in a natural and spontaneous light. By capturing images of these exceptionally contrasting cultures of Vietnam, he has witnessed the complex diversity and fragility of some ethnic groups’ cultural heritage.
Collecting their traditional costumes and artifacts, he has built up the Precious Heritage Collection, which is now the core of the Art Gallery Museum in Hoi An, central Vietnam.
Réhahn was described as the photographer ‘who captures the soul of his models’; his photos is the random and natural moment, of which he captures when spending his time with his subjects.
Réhahn collaborates with BBC, Travel Live, Conde Nast Traveler, The Times, National Geographic, among others top media, on a regular basis for the purchase of his photos.
He is very active on social networks and today he is one of the most featured photographers of the last five years, having amassed a serious following.
Read our article, “Réhahn Croquevielle – Making It Personal“
Up next, Steve McCurry…
Documentary photographer and storyteller Steve McCurry is one of the iconic figures in contemporary photography for almost forty years, best known for his evocative color photography.
His work spans conflicts, ancient traditions and contemporary culture from six continents and countless countries capturing the essence of human struggle and joy.
McCurry has covered many areas of civil and international conflict, including, Pakistan, Beirut, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Gulf War, the former Yugoslavia, Tibet and Afghanistan.
He focuses on the human consequences of war, not only showing what war impresses on the landscape, but rather, on the human face.
His work has been featured in every major magazine in the world; a high point in McCurry’s career was the rediscovery of the previously unidentified Afghan refugee girl that many have described as the most recognizable photograph in the world today.
McCurry has received some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including Robert Capa Gold Medal, four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest, Olivier Rebbot Award, and a Centenary Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the Royal Photographic Society in London.
Read our full article, “Steve McCurry – Revealing The World’s True Colours“
Jason M. Peterson
As the Chief Creative Officer for Havas North America, Jason M. Peterson’s work in advertising impacted his photography enhancing his ability to tell a story through monochromatic imagery.
From stunning cityscapes to candid street photography, Peterson aims to evoke emotion through his work. His work is moody, but crisp and clear. He works with shadows, lines and angles to draw out unique forms within composition.
His photographs, juxtaposing urban architecture with human silhouettes have a bold, graphic quality that is immediately recognizable.
The Chicago based photographer has been taking pictures for over 25 years, but recently started sharing his work widely; his alluring black and white photos have earned him an unparalleled 1 million followers on Instagram.
Read our feature article, Jason M. Peterson – High Contrast Hustler
Joe McNally is a long-time photojournalist and internationally acclaimed American photographer.
Although the majority of his career has been spent shooting for magazines, such as National Geographic, Time or Sport Illustrated during the 90s, McNally served as Life magazine’s staff photographer, the first one in 23 years.
The photographer is known for his ability to produce technically and logistically complex assignments with expert use of light and colour, but his charming demeanour, humour and confidence make him a sought-after choice from CEO’s to celebrities to commercial and magazine clients alike.
He is one of the rare photographers who have bridged the world between advertising and photojournalism. One of McNally’s most notable projects, Faces of Ground Zero, has become known as one of the most significant responses to the tragedy at the World Trade Center.
McNally’s impressive marketing, advertising and promotional work has amassed the top-rated clients including FedEx, Adidas, Bogen, American Ballet Theatre, Nixon, Sony, General Electric, Epson, New York Stock Exchange, MetLife, Beijing Cultural Commission, and so on.
Up next, Boogie (Vladimir Milivojevich)…
Boogie (Vladimir Milivojevich)
Serbian photographer Vladimir Milivojevich, well-known as Boogie, is considered as ’one of the most influential photographers of street culture in the new millennium’.
Since his first book “It’s All Good” published by PowerHouse in 2006, Boogie has been granting his audience with rare access into a world defined by poverty, violence and disarray. His pictures of heroin addicts and gang members were pretty shocking at times.
The streets of the world are his playground. Rarely romanticizing the origin of intent behind his work, Boogie’s intimate images offer a vivid portrait of metropolitan cities around the world.
From Belgrade to Brooklyn he is a dedicated documentarian of street culture; according his own world, he isn’t trying to change the world just document it honestly. He captures human fragility with sensitivity, while his straightforward compositions submerge us into the bleak reality of the time.
Boogie has also shot commercial work for various clients including Nike, Lee jeans, Puma, Element skateboards and HBO and his work was appeared in numerous publication from New York Times to even Playboy. He’s had six book published so far.
Read our feature article, Boogie – Showing the Dark Side of Street Life
Up next, Tomasz Gudzowaty…
Tomas Gudzowaty is a Polish documentary filmmaker, portrait and art photographer based in Warsaw who began his career with nature photography, and eventually turning to social documentary and sports photography.
For the past few years, Gudzowaty has resolved to focus on sport-related issues grounded in an idea of a long- standing project in which he aims to show dynamic images of people of all ages involved in sports.
Gudzowaty has made a name for himself documenting popular sports in far corners of the world, which depict a rare blend of modernity and tradition in global cultures.
He is particularly interested in atypical, non-commercial sports, outside the media mainstream such as sage yogis in India, amateur drag racers in Mexico, child polo players in Mongolia, Japanese sumo wrestler.
The Sport Features’s photographs series depicts a striking humanity, as if delving deep into each individual personality.
His works have been published in mainstream publications including The Guardian, Newsweek, Time, Photo, L’Equipe; he has exhibited worldwide and published several photo books.
As a multiple winner of the profession’s premier contests, he gained international recognition; some of these awards include Pictures of the Year, NPPA Best of Photojournalism and World Press Photo award.
Read our article, “Tomasz Gudzowaty – Iron & Sinew“
If Araki is known for one thing in particular, then it his highly sexual and controversial black and white photography.
Throughout a prolific career, Tokyo-born photographer Nobuyoshi Araki has delved perhaps further that any other Japanese photographer into the themes surrounding death, sex, domination and Tokyo street scenes.
His work over a 48-year span has seen him publish more than 450 photobooks tackling a variety of subjects such as prostitution, sadomasochism, love and intimacy.
The ideas of submission, control and eroticism that are found in Kinbaku-bi, the Japanese art of rope-tying, make it the most alluring of subject matters for Araki, and the practice of depicting women in these positions has been an obsession of his throughout his career.
One of Japan’s most fearless photographers the 78-old’s skill behind the camera is still very much in demand.
His personal and sometimes voyeuristic photographs have sparked much controversy, but his graphics use of imagery has been an instrumental force in breaking taboos surrounding nudity in modern Japanese culture.
Born in Tokyo in 1940, Nobuyoshi Araki has been active in publishing, photography and filmmaking since his first solo exhibition in 1965 in Japan. Some 400 books about Araki and his work have been published to date, a testament to his prolific output and energy.
Thank you for reading this article. If you disagree or think that someone was glaringly missed, please let me know. I love to hear peoples’ thoughts.
Of course, like all lists, this one too is subjective and simply based on what I’ve seen and what I appreciate. I do think, however, that much like any other kind of artist, a great photograph taken by someone with the right eyes can make your average person stop and take stock of their own situation, and perhaps think of things in a different way.