7 Photographers to Get You into Portrait Photography

Do you have a niche or topic in photography that you really enjoy? Sometimes you might stick with just that niche or topic – there’s nothing wrong with that!  For instance, maybe you have a naturally good eye for landscapes or architecture. But, when it comes to photographing people, it might not come as naturally – and remember, it’s totally normal to feel intimidated by this! 

Creating an interesting or beautiful portrait is a skill that takes practice. In our list below, we wanted to show you a few photographers that might give you the push to get into portrait photography and try it out, and the possibilities that come with honing your skills!

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Photo by Szabo Viktor

1. Annie Leibovitz

Arguably one of the most famous American portrait photographers, Annie Leibovitz is known for her exceptional work portraying celebrities in, at times, intimate settings. Her work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Vogue. She is known for her use of bold colors, intriguing light, and unique poses.

2. Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is an American Photojournalist who has worked for National Geographic, and has won countless awards for his photojournalism and coverage of various wars throughout history. His portraits are incredibly moving and personal.

3. Dorothea Lange

Having played an important role in the development of documentary photography, Lange is an influential photographer and American photojournalist. Her portraits humanized the lives and consequences of those affected during the Great Depression. Throughout her life, Lange was committed to the power of photography and social justice issues.

4. Margaret Bourke-White

Another pioneering female photographer, Margaret Bourke-White was the first female staff photographer hired for LIFE magazine and is also regarded as the first American female war photojournalist. She had many accomplishments in her career where she traveled the world extensively documenting major events in modern history spanning from World War II to the Korean War.

5. Robert Frank

A Swiss American photographer and director, Frank is considered one of the most influential photographers of the mid-20th century. His most notable work, The Americans (1958), was widely hailed as a classic and established him as a major creative photographer. The book is characterised by a bold composition, and reflected the nuanced outsider’s view of American society in an ironic, social commentary. Critic Sean O’Hagan, wrote in The Guardian (2014), that The Americans “changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it. [ … ] it remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the 20th century.”

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Photo by Marissa Lewis

6. Francesca Woodman

While known for photographing herself, Francesca Woodman’s self portraits were far from traditional fare. Her work is personal and intimate and many of her photographers are focused on women as subjects using blur, movement and different photographic effects. It seems that in the last few decades, her work has garnered more attention, interest and posthumous recognition. 

7. Diane Arbus

An American photographer, Diane Arbus was known for her intimate black and white portraits. Her subject matter often focused on people who were on the fringes of society at the time. She photographed her subjects in intimate and familiar settings, and her work is known for its intensity. She has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Sunday Times Magazine and Artforum.

And that’s a wrap! We hope this short list of portrait photographers has given you the incentive to go out and get into some portrait photography – or sparked some interest in these thought provoking photographers.

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