These days, everyone’s a photographer, from the studio owner shooting weddings on the weekends, to your cousin with a camera phone. Cameras are more widely available now than ever before, and many people are discovering a love for photography. Some even choose to pursue it as a career, taking on photography courses or a full degree in the subject. Whether you’re a serious student, accomplished artist, or a hobbyist, there is much to learn from these icons of photography, both from today and years past.
1. Alfred Stieglitz: Alfred Stieglitz is known as the patron saint of straight photography, pioneering the idea that a photo should be about the subject, moment, and artist’s vision rather than a contrived manipulation. In Stieglitz’ time, photography was not considered much of an art form, but this artist worked passionately to ensure that his photographs had as much or more artistic expression as a traditional artist’s work. In today’s age of styled shoots and Photoshop, studying his approach to photography offers a refreshing look into photography as artistic expression.
2. Ansel Adams: Of all the photographers on this list, Ansel Adams is perhaps the most widely recognized, and for a good reason. His photographs of the American West, particularly Yosemite National Park, are iconic and beloved. In addition to his impressive body of work, Ansel Adams left his mark on photography by developing the Zone System. This system was a way to determine proper exposure and contrast in the final print, and it resulted in intense clarity and depth, as evidenced by his photographs. His intense commitment to quality is inspiring to photography students.
3. Diane Arbus: Norman Mailer said that “Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child.” Her photographs are shocking, catching subjects in an unmasked moment, whether they were of famous writers and actors or transvestites. In this style, Arbus teaches a lesson about not aiming to capture the surface of a subject, but rather, working to reveal the subject’s true self through art.
4. Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre: Lovers of photographic prints owe a debt of gratitude to Daguerre. Although he was a Romantic painter, printmaker, and inventor of the Diorama, Daguerre’s most monumental contribution to society is the daguerreotype, the world’s first reliable process of creating a permanent photo. Using light and chemistry, Daguerre created photographic images on silver-plated sheets of copper that are the ancestors of today’s photographs.
5. Phillipe Halsman: Philippe Halsman is best known for his jumping photographs of famous subjects from the middle of the 20th century, from Richard Nixon to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Halsman’s body of work also includes surreal portraits of the artist Salvador Dali that leave the viewer puzzled and trying to figure out how the photograph was physically possible. Any photography student who is interested in pushing the envelope with portraits should study Phillipe Halsman’s portraiture.
6. David LaChapelle: Although many iconic photographers are from centuries and decades past, David LaChapelle is a fine art photographer currently working today. He offers photography students inspiration for creating their own strong and individualistic photography. In his work, you will see bold, surreal examples that highlight an understanding of social and political issues with a sense of humor.
7. Sally Mann: Another actively working photographer, Sally Mann is just in the middle of her career. She was named America’s Best Photographer by Time magazine in 2001 for her stunning work of her family, as well as southern landscapes and her series of decomposing bodies. Her work has pushed buttons, from nude photographs of her children to rotting corpses, and she likes it that way. Students can study her work to see how it’s possible to keep a consistent style and vision, even when working with subjects that are completely unlike one another.
8. Jerry Uelsmann: Jerry Uelsmann believed that using a camera allowed him to exist in a world outside of himself, in the work that he captured. The world in Uelsmann’s photographs looks much different than the one we live in, as he created composite photographs depicting surrealist images. With a digital camera and Photoshop, photographers today might be able to create similar work with relative ease. But Uelsmann did it before Photoshop, using multiple negatives, enlargers, and extensive darkroom work to create his work, bucking the idea that a final image could be composed from many negatives. His commitment to doing something extensively different is an inspiration to today’s photography students.
9. Jacques Henri Lartigue: Lartigue began taking photos at the age of 7, documenting his friends, family, and the world around him. He is known as the father of modern photography, and the first “amateur” photographer. Photography students can learn the pure joy of photography from this unsuspecting artist. He lived most of his life as an amateur photographer, not even knowing how remarkable his work was until his childhood photographs were discovered and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at the age of 69.
10. Elliot Erwitt: Photography students interested in a lifestyle or photojournalistic approach to photos will enjoy studying Elliot Erwitt’s life and work. He is the purveyor of the “non-photograph,” taking a casual approach that unveils a true portrait of his subjects, whether they are dogs or Marilyn Monroe. Study his work to learn about the beauty of casual and uncontrollable photography.
About the Author
I’m Adam Park, a freelance writer and blogger. I regularly contribute to the http://www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com/blog/, which discusses about education, students life, college life, career and History. Particularly love to connect with my readers. Please be open to send me your questions comments or any suggestion to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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