The world's most famous portrait photographers will tell you that the key to taking a memorable photo is to let your subjects shine. A good portrait photographer puts his subjects at ease. At the right time, he captures the essence of their character on film.
About famous portrait photographers
Reviewing the work of famous portrait photographers can go a long way to helping hobbyists looking for inspiration. The men and women listed below embody the ideals of an exceptional portrait photographer. Their ability to bring out different facets of their subjects' personalities is a lesson all photographers can learn. Plus, they illustrate that in order to be successful in portrait photography, you can't get by with above average photo skills. You must also understand human nature.
Some famous female portrait photographers
Gertrude Kasebier (1852-1934)
Gertrude Kasebier was one of the most sought-after and influential American portrait photographers of the early XNUMXth century. Its objective was to capture the expression of a subject in the most natural setting possible. She is known to strip her subjects to the bare minimum in order to better focus on their face or their stature. Kasebier has also made a name for himself by making evocative portraits of mothers, especially those of Native American origin. In addition, she is credited with promoting photography as a legitimate profession for women.
Diane Arbus (1923-1971)
Documenting the rejection of society was a passion of the American photographer Diane Arbus. She is best known for her portraits of individuals who lived on the margins of society, including dwarfs, giants, prostitutes and transvestites. Arbus has also won praise for capturing ordinary people in extraordinary poses and settings. Even today, historians attribute to Arbus the merit of having pushed the limits of portrait photography “in good taste”.
American portrait painter Elsa Dorfman has invaluable skill for her profession - she can communicate with a subject in record time. Dorfman stands out in the world of portrait photography because it uses a 50 x 60 cm Polaroid camera, rather than a sophisticated digital camera. The film costs around 45 euros per exhibition, so it is limited to two exhibitions per subject. So Dorfman has to work twice as hard to capture the essence of a subject's expression. Dorfman's artistic success as a portrait photographer has been exhibited in major museums around the world.
Some famous male portrait photographers
Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002)
Yousuf Karsh is considered one of the most famous portrait photographers of all time. The Canadian photographer of Armenian origin is best known for his portraits of dignitaries, politicians and celebrities. Some of his most famous subjects include:
- Mohammed Ali,
- Humphrey Bogart,
- Fidel Castro,
- Albert Einstein,
- Dwight Eisenhower,
- Robert Frost,
- Pinion Clark,
- Ernest Hemingway,
- Audrey Hepburn,
- Pope John Paul II,
- Helen Keller,
- Grace Kelly,
- Jacqueline Kennedy,
- John F Kennedy,
- Laurence Olivier.
Despite his work with the aforementioned famous personalities, Karsh's most famous portrait subject was Winston Churchill. Karsh cemented his place in the history of portrait photography on December 30, 1941 when he took the famous snapshot of a grumpy Churchill after a talk about the Second World War. Churchill's photo has brought Karsh international fame and is considered the most reproduced photographic portrait in history.
Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton (1904-1980)
Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton was an English fashion and portrait photographer best known for his work in documenting the British royal family for official publication. Queen Elizabeth regularly applauded Beaton's talents as a master photographer and once gave him a scented handkerchief as a souvenir of a very successful photo shoot. In addition to the countless portrait sessions Beaton completed with the Queen, he also took the famous wedding photos of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Francesco Scavullo (1921-2004)
American fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo is best known for his portraits of the Hollywood elite. One of his most famous and controversial plans was a central Comospolitan plan of a naked Burt Reynolds. Scavullo also made headlines at the start of his career for taking the provocative portraits of a young Brooke Shields, who many considered inappropriate. Scavullo's portrait work continues in movie posters, album covers and Broadway programs, including the famous photo taken by actress Julie Andrews for Victor / Victoria.
Herb Ritts (1952-2002)
Herb Ritts is considered one of the most influential portrait photographers of the 21st century. Ritts has worked with a virtual who's who of celebrities from around the world and is famous for his black and white portraits done in the style of classical Greek sculpture. Therefore, many consider him the grandfather of glamorous photography. During the 1980s and 1990s, Ritts became the first famous portrait photographer in the world. Among his most famous works are the first photos of a Christopher Reeve and Elizabeth Taylor paralyzed just days after having brain surgery. Ritts' notoriety has also allowed him to have unprecedented access to subjects such as President Ronald Reagan, actor Jack Nicholson and singer Madonna, whose portraits have brought in millions of euros.