If you find it difficult to find inspiration for your photography, we’re not surprised. But the problem isn’t a lack of great photography material. In fact, we are inundated with it.
The problem is knowing whose photos you should be looking at and learning from. In a world where photography is the largest art source, feeding us news and photos of cats, this is not an easy feat.
Currently, there are over 800 million active Instagram users. Active. And the only way to be active is to share or like images. Not surprisingly, that put a wow on my face.
Likewise, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA), over 73 million DSLRs were sold in the last five years. Again, wow.
Luckily for you, we have collected 49 of the best famous photographers to follow, covering landscape, portraiture, and photojournalism. Here, content is king.
49. Florian Schulz
For more than 25 years, Florian Schulz has been following his passion for nature photography. His work opens a window into the natural world.
And looking at his stunning images, you can experience moments that few have ever seen. He is first on our list for a reason.
Alex and Rebecca Norris Webb are a photographic duo. Their street photography in Istanbul is what cemented my love for their work. This quote says it all.
47. Karla Gachet
Karla Gachet is an artistic and documentary photographer. Her time in the USA after studying allowed her to return to Ecuador with a fresh perspective.
Her freelance career allows time for personal projects. I highly recommend looking through her project Ceci: Tango in El Caminito.
46. Simon Norfolk
Simon Norfolk is the gold standard for landscape fine art and documentary photography.
Warfare was an important area for him and his visual imagery until he turned to his project ‘When I am Laid In Earth’.
Not only is it a clever idea of the constant changing of the landscapes worldwide, but also an indirect complaint towards the effects of global warming.
45. Theron Humphrey
Theron Humphrey loves his dog almost more than he loves photography. Thankfully he can meld both of them together to create a 1.something Instagram following.
The storytelling of his day-to-day life is inspiring for artists, photographers and even those wishing to jump off the grid.
44. Frans Lanting
We should all be thankful that Frans Lanting left his Economics background behind. Otherwise, the world would have been robbed of his beautiful, visual imagery.
For three decades he has documented wildlife from the Amazon to Antarctica to promote understanding about the Earth.
43. Martin Schoeller
German photographer Martin Schoeller is an award-winning portrait photographer. He is renowned for extreme close up portraits, especially his projects on twins.
Other subjects range from world leaders and indigenous groups, movie stars and the homeless, from athletes and artists. Who else is there?!
42. Jeff Kerby
Jeff Kerby’s wildlife photography is what brought his name to National Geographic. The Gelada monkeys in Ethiopia were his models for this.
Drone and aerial photography is also common in his work, and he uses it to stand out from the ‘sky crowd’.
41. Brian Lehmann
You can’t say that photojournalist Brian Lehman isn’t fully immersed in his work. Being the third wheel to a hyena and its owner is no small feat.
If that isn’t enough, his photographic journey has seen him contracting both malaria and leptospirosis. He goes the full distance.
40. Paul Nicklen
Paul Nicklen is a Canadian photographer and marine biologist. His work has taken him around the globe.
He has been documenting the beauty and the plight of our planet for over twenty years.
BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the prestigious World Press Photo for Photojournalism are just two of his awards.
39. Stephen Wilkes
Fine art photographer Stephen Wilkes will always be a favourite of mine. He takes panoramas of cities, showing the transition from night into day.
These images capture a 24 hour period in one image – I told you photography is a waiting man’s game.
38. Vincent J Musi
Vincent Musi is an award-winning photographer for National Geographic and numerous other international magazines.
He is the Doolittle of animal photography, capturing wildlife in a way that makes them less wild and more familiar.
37. Matthias Haker
Architecture is the focus of Matthias Haker. Whether this means empty spaces, spiraling staircases or facades that resemble paintings, he has photographed it all.
Originally from Germany, he still resides there as a freelance photographer.
36. Marcus Rodriguez
Still life and food photographer Marcus Rodriguez makes his contemporary subjects look like Victorian paintings.
He is a master of not only natural light but mixing that with other sources. Not an easy feat. Bu then, that’s partly why his work is so great!
35. Erlend & Orsolya Haarberg
Erlend & Orsolya Haarberg are in our top twenty names.
What makes them stand out is their perspective on the landscape. The texture and desaturation of this image below create an abstract image, with a complete lack of scale and size.
They both work as freelance landscape photographers in Norway, and it isn’t difficult to see why.
34. Ami Vitale
What can I say about Ami Vitale, except that she is one of the best and most proficient photographers around.
She documents wildlife and people like no other, which means posing, lighting and human contact are second nature to her.
33. Angeliki Jackson
With a great eye for composition, Angeliki Jackson is our mobile photography guru on this list. She has generated a large following on Instagram.
The Best 25 Instagram photographers of 2014 by PASTE magazine included her, so she must be doing something right!
32. Dustin Vaughn-Luma
Predominantly a street photographer, Dustin Vaughn-Luma can turn his hand to newborn and portrait photography very easily.
He most definitely knows about the decisive moment and how to put it to great use. An inspiration to all of us.
Website | Facebook | Instagram
31. Victoria Siemer
If this isn’t beautifully done abstract and contemporary photography, then I don’t know what is.
Victoria Siemer, or ‘Witchoria’, is a Visual Artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her works exist very much in the digital realm.
Photo manipulations create a surreal mood for ennui, existential crisis, and heartbreak.
30. Dirk Bakker
An Amsterdam based photographer, Dirk Bakker uses his knowledge and education in graphic design to bring us beautiful street photography.
He coined the term ‘PhotoGraphic’ (very clever!) and often abstracts images by isolating forms to create a rhythm pleasant to the eye.
29. Jane Samuels
No landscapes on earth look like those from Jane Samuels. I wish I knew what she knows, and I guess most of us do.
Her landscapes are so colorful, they remind us that color exists outside of our grey, concrete jungles. More please
28. Nora Lorek
Nora Lorek has captured projects ranging from live music to constructed shanty towns in Europe.
The work that stands out for me is her simple portrait photography. Her portraits come out as very intimate and powerful due to the content and positioning, not over editing.
27. Muhammed Muheisen
Muhammed Muheisen is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist.
This National Geographic photographer documented the refugee crisis around the world, concentrating on portraiture and settings.
His portraitures and use of landscapes together are unparralleled.
26. Gabriele Galimberti
He is an Italian photographer, born and raised in Tuscany. He uses portraits to tell us stories.
The project I like most from Gabriele Galimberti, is his work on ‘fathers’, capturing a multitude of different people, ages and cultures.
As fathers are becoming more and more prominent in today’s society, it is a welcome breath of fresh air (yes, I am a father too so slightly biased).
25. Amber Bracken
Amber Bracken’s work covers portrait, commercial and corporate photography, predominantly in Canada, but also internationally.
Her passion for indigenous cultures and their struggles shines through her work.
The way in which she captures light astounds me, and I follow her with a passion.
24. Jonas Bendiksen
Jonas Bendiksen has many projects that really interest me. The one that sticks out the most is his project for National Geographic named ‘The Last of The First Skiiers’.
This project encapsulates the Altai mountains in the far northern corner of Xinjiang province.
Here, the mixtures of ethnic Kazakhs, Mongolians and Tuwas use ancient ski creations for hunting, likely to die out soon, if it hasn’t already.
23. William Albert Allard
He is a photographer of people, capturing scenes in hunting scenarios, among women and surrounded by blues musicians.
22. Charlie Hamilton James
Charlie James has seen the insides of two huge continents, focusing on the Amazon river and then Africa in its totality.
From looking at his images intensely, you can easily see he is a master of people in their environments.
His images look easy, but they really are unique and almost impossible to recreate.
21. Andy Bardon
The outdoor world inspires this adventure photographer, and he is driven to document human interaction with wild environments. Brave lad!
American born Andy Bardon spends every free minute outdoors immersed in adventurous pursuits, telling stories with his camera. With a genuine smile on his face.
20. Wayne Lawrence
Wedding photographer Wayne Lawrance shared his series of interracial marriages with National Geographic.
His work represents a visual diary of his life’s journey. He often focuses on communities otherwise overlooked by mainstream media.
19. Daniel Cheong
“‘Straight out of the camera’ is a concept which I am not familiar with. I don’t pretend to show reality, but an idealized version of it.”
In his own words, Mauritius born Daniel Cheong uses digital manipulation in his images, through techniques of blending and fusion – similar to HDR photography.
18. Michaela Skovranova
Michaela Skovranova is an Australian based photographer, focusing on visualizing the ocean and nature.
Her images look at the habitats of wild animals, the land/seascapes themselves and often incorporating her own, natural body.
Often desaturated, her images create a very specific mood and feeling while documenting these beautiful creatures.
17. Juan Arredondo
Juan Arredondo is a photographer whose work explores social inequality and human rights issues found in his mother country of Columbia.
His black and white work is powerful, and beautifully processed.
16. Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts is a British photographer whose work aims to deconstruct conventional interpretations of landscapes and people. Social commentary is his game.
He uses a studio, and photographs on scene, partly funded from awards and grants. Most recently he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.
15. Tasneem Alsultan
Tasneem Alsultan was born in the US and educated in England, returning to Saudi Arabia for her undergraduate studies. After teaching, she ventured into photography.
Her focus is mainly on human rights specific to gender and social issues in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf region. The portraits she captures are beyond powerful.
14. Nina Robinson
Nina Robinson shows us a mixture of past experiences, bridging documentary, personal, and fine art via the tool of photography.
Her singular and grouping of people within her work is astounding. Every image is a story of incredible wealth.
13. Ken Geiger
Ken Geiger has been a visual leader in global media organizations, working 12 years for National Geographic as deputy director of photography.
This means he knows a thing or two about what you want to photograph. Just look at his published images of Stone Henge.
He has been named national press photographer’s association and pictures of the year international magazine’s picture editor of the year.
12. Joe Riis
Joe Riis is a wildlife biologist turned wildlife photojournalist known for his pioneering documentation of animal migrations in the West.
His work can be found in National Geographic magazines on 5 continents, which is all down to his strong visual images.
11. Meridith Kohut
Meridith Kohut is an award-winning American photojournalist based in Caracas, Venezuela.
She has worked covering Latin America for the foreign press for the last 11 years and shows no signs of slowing down.
Her powerful images give us stories of other people and how they live. We need more photographs taken from her gaze.
10. Dina Litovsky
Dina Litovsky’s work became known to me after seeing her visual story on ‘Where The Amish Vacation’. Since then, I have been an avid follower of her work.
Social performances and group interactions in both public and private spaces are key in her imagery.
It is possible it might have something to do with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
9. Erin Trieb
Erin Grace Trieb grew up in Dallas, Texas and earned a Bachelor’s of Science. After that, she built her photography career from photographing the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
She is now based in Istanbul, photographing for magazines such as Rolling Stone and ESPN.
Cultural identity and women’s issues are at the centre of her work. My favourite project is based on the post-war street photography of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
8. Laurent Ballesta
Laurent Ballesta is a marine and underwater photographer and project leader for Andromède Océanologie.
Here, he is one of the famous photographers dedicated to his field – for the preservation and development of the marine environment.
His unique stories document life under the surface, and sharks seem to be his biggest passion of late.
7. Martin Edstrom
Martin Edstrom is an award-winning National Geographic photographer, telling stories in moving and inspiring ways.
He is very partial to showing his ideas through immersive techniques—including 360-degree photography and virtual reality.
This Swedish photojournalist is just one of the few famous photographers who started at a young age of 21, and continues to this day.
6. Dave Yoder
Originally a Hoosier (Resident of Indiana, USA), Dave Yoder now lives and works from France.
A National Geographic Magazine photographer, he has also contributed towards The Smithsonian, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal.
He is one of the few famous photographers who has documented the Pope in his residency in Rome.
His work focuses on the ‘moments’ of everyday life, through images of the street or travel photography.
5. Gillian Laub
Gillian Laub was born and still photographs in New York City.
Her first monograph started as a response to the media coverage during the second intifada in the Middle East.
This work is comprised of portraits and testimonies from Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Lebanese, and Palestinians.
All of whom are all directly and indirectly affected by their complicated lives and situation.
She photographs ‘behind the scenes’ photography which offers a documentary approach to the world which we do not see.
4. Hannah Reyes Morales
Hannah Morales hails from Manila, the most densely populated city in the world. She is a photojournalist, focusing on the workers and impoverished people of her home country.
The moments she captures remind us of the ‘dust bowl’ era, where Dorothea-Lange saw herself become a household name.
Her photography focuses on personal stories, on and off the street.
3. Mauricio Lima
Mauricio Lima is a freelance documentary photographer. His photographic journey takes him far and wide, following the struggles of daily life.
He marched with Syrian refugees in Europe, captured the recent conflicts in Ukraine and even seen the lives of the Chiapas in Mexico.
2. George Steinmetz
No one quite does aerial photography like George Steinmetz. He is slowly covering the world, one image at a time.
He is a photographer for National Geographic and NY Times Magazine. His focus is creating an aerial perspective on climate change and global food supply.
1. Robert Clark
Robert Clark is a genius among many photographic styles. People, places and animals are his forte, but his still life is what grabbed my attention.
He is a freelance photographer based in New York City, working with the world’s leading magazines, publishers and cutting edge advertising campaigns.