A classic English idiom says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” True enough, photos are able to convey a message to audiences of different backgrounds and walks of life, even transcending language barriers in the process. Here, we take a look at five world-renowned photographers whose works have inspired lives and caused ripples of change in the industry.
Ansel Adams is one of the biggest names in the field of photography, even before the advent of digital cameras. He is well noted for his landscapes, which have vividly striking black-and-white contrasts that he was able to achieve through his exceptional skill in the darkroom.
Adams also collaborated with a fellow photographer, Fred R. Archer, in developing the Zone System, a technique that allows an individual to achieve optimum results in film exposure and development.
Robert Capa is a famous war-time photographer who covered five major wars in his lifetime: the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), World War II in Europe (1939 – 1945), the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the First Indochina War (1946-1954).
Born Endre Friedman to a Jewish family, Capa moved from Hungary to Paris, France and changed his name when Hitler rose to power. He became well-known for taking great risks to capture the realities of war, even getting into the trenches with soldiers. This had set him apart from his contemporaries who took photographs from a safer distance. One of his most iconic photographs is “The Falling Soldier,” which showed the exact moment a soldier died in battle.
“If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said Capa.
Annie Leibovitz is an American photographer highly revered for her portraits, especially those she has produced for the magazines of Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, as well as for the Disney series. One of her most remembered photographs is of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, which she took hours before the former Beatles member was fatally shot by an obsessed fan in December 1980.
Leibovitz’s distinctive style includes creating a sense of intimacy and rapport with her subjects. She is known for uncovering the personality of her subject and showcasing it through portraiture. Leibovitz has cited noted fashion and portrait photographer, Richard Avedon, as one of her key style influences.
Marylin Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, The Beatles, Andy Warhol, and Whitney Houston are just a few of the well-known portraits taken by Richard Avedon. He had a meticulous approach to taking minimalistic portraits that captured the raw character of his subjects and preserved that single point in time.
His commercial works include spreads for the largest fashion magazines in the world, such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Life. Avedon helped shape the fashion industry by deviating from the prevailing motionless fashion photography at the time. Instead, he pushed for the surreal, the provocative, and the controversial.
Photojournalist Steve McCurry is an award-winning photographer most famous for his photograph called the “Afghan Girl,” which was published on the cover of the National Geographic magazine in June 1985.
One of the notable awards McCurry has received is the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad. His extensive experience and photographic portfolio includes coverage of major armed conflicts worldwide, including the Iran-Iraq War, the Cambodian Civil War, and the Gulf War.