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35 Influential Conceptual Photographers to Follow in 2023

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Portrait photography is, without a doubt, one of the most popular photography niches. This is partly because of the variety it has to offer.

There are so many ways to capture humans and their personalities. This article has collected 35 of the most influential conceptual portrait photographers working today. Believe us, it’s worth following them!

A conceptual portrait photography of a beautiful young black women

What is Conceptual Portrait Photography

Simply put, conceptual photography is a genre that portrays an idea. It usually has a narrative or a hidden meaning behind the image. The photographer decides the concept before taking the image and tries to illustrate it in the most accurate way possible.

When it comes to portraiture, it often involves abstract faces, geometric shapes, vividly captured colors, and surreal details. It is not rare that the artists use conceptual portraits to express their own struggles or emotions through the images.

The niche strongly connects to Photoshop art, as many of the ideas are represented by a unique post-processing style.

Several artists who take self-portraits and turn them into conceptual art.

a close up conceptual portrait photo in black light of a face with paint

The Most Influential Conceptual Portrait Photographers

Let’s dive into the work of these amazing conceptual portrait photographers!

1. Anya Anti

Anya is a fine-art conceptual and lifestyle portrait photographer. She works mainly with self-portraits, placing herself in gorgeous locations and situations. Many of her photos revolve around her connection to the Earth and nature. She portrays herself as part of her surroundings while creating a universal cold and moody style in her art.


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A post shared by Anya Anti (@anya_anti_art)

2. Brooke Shaden

Brooke describes herself as someone who stands for radical self-reflection. This is probably the best way to outline her work as an artist. She works with various models -primarily women- to capture their often dark emotions. Strong personalities and traumatic experiences shine through her photographs, creating a disturbing yet beautiful look.

3. Jovana Rikalo

Jovana is a brilliant fine art portrait photographer from Serbia with a unique ability to capture miniature stories in single images. Jovana creates magical scenes that depict dream-like scenarios. You can tell from her pictures that she spends most of her time planning her shoots. As you can see from her photographs, this planning pays off!


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A post shared by Jovana Rikalo (@jovanarikalo)

4. Dasha Pears

Dasha is a visual storyteller who captures stories and ideas with her photos. Her concepts are minimalistic and exceptionally well executed. She often uses geometric shapes and Photoshop overlays to emphasize her subjects’ stories. Her images revolve around inner fights and finding our place in the world.


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A post shared by DASHA PEARS . ART (

5. Adam Martinakis

Creating sculptures has been a way of depicting humans for thousands of years. So it is not surprising that Adam chose a similar way to capture how he sees humanity. He creates a statue-like look in his images, visualizing every detail of the human body. His photos are highly surrealistic, as he plays with shapes, colors, and composition to express his ideas.


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A post shared by Adam Martinakis (@adammartinakis)

6. Pol Kurucz

Pol redefines the concept of beauty with his conceptual portraits. His models aren’t perfect. They have their flaws, as every human does. Pol has several photo series dedicated to different ideas. Poor Billionaires, Angry Dolls, Hair Stories, and Bored in NYC are some of the concepts that Pol captures in his photographs. The images are colorful full of unexpected elements and expressions.


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A post shared by Pol Kurucz (@polkurucz)

7. Claire Luxton

Claire is a multidisciplinary artist, combining conceptual portraits and Photoshop art together. She often takes self-portraits, transforming them into photos that perfectly capture her emotions and struggles. Her images illustrate concepts such as hope, truth, and dreams, executed in a colorful and close-to-nature way.


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A post shared by Claire Luxton (@claireluxtonart)

8. Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk

Gemmy is a fine-art portrait photographer, creating images that remind us of a historical era. The studio setting, costumes, makeup, and posing all contribute to the nostalgic feeling of her photographs. The images take us back to the renaissance, baroque, or Victorian eras. She also manages to recreate the dark atmosphere of old portrait paintings.

9. David LaChapelle

David is one of the most well-known conceptual portrait photographers out there. He uses a sense of humor to spice up his images while creating Biblical, historical, or sometimes even modern composites. He has stories to tell and knows precisely how to tell them. The viewer can see that not only is his imagination outstanding, but his technical knowledge allows him to bring that imagination to life.


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A post shared by David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle)

10. Hungry

Hungry’s conceptual portraits are based on the creative use of makeup and costumes. The results are surreal, resulting in the models barely looking human anymore. These portraits show us a twisted version of humanity. The colorful makeup combined with the model’s serious expression leaves the viewer with a pretty dark impression.

11. Damian Drewniak

Damian is a Polish visual artist who specializes in fine-art conceptual portraits. He speaks to you with his images, capturing atmospheres and concepts everyone can relate to. The only difference is that he captures everything with a high sense of aesthetics and sophistication, which drags the viewer into his world.


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A post shared by Damian Drewniak (@drewniakdamian)

12. Patty Maher

Patty is a Canadian conceptual portrait photographer focusing on female portraiture. She doesn’t show the faces of the models. They are either disguised or facing away from the camera. She uses postures, colors, and symbols to convey emotions and stories. Her work balances the boundaries of the real world and surrealism.


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A post shared by Patty Maher (@pattymaher)

13. Saga Wendotte

Saga is a conceptual child photographer from Sweden. She has created several photo series based on various topics, such as traveling or flowers. Her “Little People” series captures children in a meaningful yet disturbing setting. She captures controversial topics, creating a contrast between the world’s cruelty and the children’s innocence.


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A post shared by Saga Wendotte (@sagawendotte)

14. Karen Cantuq

Karen took up Photoshop art and conceptual portraits to express her inner world. She uses art for self-therapy, as she creates highly surrealistic composites. Her photos look as if a child’s imagination come true. The colorful, painting-like images uniquely illustrate the world of animals.


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A post shared by Karen Katar (@karencantuq)

15. Flora Borsi

Flora is a Hungarian Photoshop artist who has been working with this program for over 16 years. This is visible in her images, as she knows exactly how to make refined conceptual portraits. She takes self-portraits and transforms herself into otherworldly creatures. There are many natural elements appearing in her work, such as butterflies, flowers, and birds.


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A post shared by Flóra Borsi (@floraborsiofficial)

16. Ziqian Liu

Ziqian, like many others on this list, also works with self-portraits. What makes her different from the other artists on this list is that she barely ever captures whole portraits. Instead, she uses body parts, mirrors, reflections, and creative blurs to create mystical and minimalistic portraits. Check out her account if you are looking for a unique, feminine style of conceptual portraits.


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A post shared by Ziqian Liu (@ziqianqian)

17. The Mystery Project

The Mystery Project is a photography community involving and featuring many contemporary portrait artists. Many of the images are dark, surreal, illustrating the darkest corners of the human soul. You can find several different styles and atmospheres in the mixture of the various artists’ work.

18. Joel Robison

Joel Robison is a portrait photographer and Photoshop artist, working mainly with self-portraits. He uses his creativity and artistic skills to capture his conceptual visions and ideas. His images are often fairy tale-like, featuring Joel as either a giant, a tiny man, or someone with magical abilities. He has a smooth and consistent style that he applies during his editing.


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A post shared by Joel Robison (@joelrobison)

19. Bella Kotak

Bella describes herself as a fairytale fine-art photographer, which accurately describes her style. She mainly works with women, creating genuinely magical images in various locations. The costumes, makeup, and accessories resemble the fairy tales we all grew up on. Bella uses the power of nature to bring a unique atmosphere into her photos.


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A post shared by Bella Kotak (@bellakotak)

20. Auguste Lefou

Auguste has probably the most modern photography style on this list. He captures humans merging with technology, often looking like robots and emotionless beings. His images address many contemporary issues, such as social media addiction and consumer society. The models’ faces are barely visible and not recognizable, which helps the viewer focus on the message.


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A post shared by Auguste Lefou (@auguste_lefou)

21. Kyle Thompson

Kyle is an American photographer working primarily with self-portraits. His work’s emphasis is more on the message than the visuals. His most popular photo series is called the “Sinking Ship,” where he visits an abandoned American town. He takes pictures full of self-reflection and hidden emotions, embracing his portraits’ vulnerability.


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A post shared by Kyle Thompson (@kylejthompson)

22. Steve Gindler

If you are looking for a conceptual portrait artist with relatable and touching photos, you should check out Steve’s account. He captures his model’s raw emotions and fears with his honest portraits, often in an abandoned environment. He uses various disturbing settings and poses, often reflecting pain and hopelessness.

23. Vivienne Mok

Vivienne knows how to portray the feminine side of her models. Her images are dreamy and smooth, as she plays around with different lighting and props. She works with many actresses and singers, organizing photoshoots that result in beautiful portraits.

24. Ade Santora

Ade is an Indonesian artist, creating twisted portraiture. His work is an excellent combination of digital art and conceptual portraits. He shows a surreal side of humanity, tearing and reattaching faces in his pictures. His subjects are primarily unrecognizable, depicted darkly and disturbingly. Ade takes photos exclusively with his iPhone and edits all of his images with mobile apps.


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A post shared by Mobileart | Ade Santora (@adesantora)

25. Peyman Naderi

Peyman is an international multi-award-winning photographer from Persia. His goal is to represent his unique way of looking at various concepts. He creates his portraits in a studio setting, bringing several creative ideas to life. His portraits have a surreal look, involving nature, fish tanks, strong makeup, and nostalgic props.


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A post shared by Papillon (@papillon_1990)

26. Tom Chambers

Tom creates conceptual photomontages for which he uses his own images. He combines landscapes, skies, foregrounds, and several subjects to create his composites. He often works with children and young adults, showing them in a rural setting. Tom’s work has been published and exhibited several times over his career.

27. Kaat Stieber

Kaat is a fine art photographer from the Netherlands who brings surrealism and Dutch art elements into her images. She is aiming to create painting-like images. She does so with a combination of photography, costume making, and brainstorming about new concepts. Her photos give you the feeling that you were looking at a classical painting.

28. Juul Kraijer

Juul is a dutch visual artist widely recognized professionally in her country. She has dozens of exhibitions, consisting of her conceptual portraits. She combines drawings and sculptures with photography, creating an extremely surreal look. The atmosphere of her images is dark, showing emotions and struggles through how she poses her models.


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A post shared by Juul Kraijer (@juulkraijer)

29. Milos Nejezchleb

Milos is a Czech, multi-award-winning photographer and visual artist. He often chooses current social issues as an inspiration for his images. He plays with colors and shapes, creating a minimalistic style, yet conveys the message he is aiming to deliver. Most of his portraits involve several models, whose interactions are also key elements of his photos.


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A post shared by Milos Nejezchleb (@nejmil)

30. Cameron Burns

Cameron is a 3D artist, using digital technology to make his conceptual portraits come true. The primary model of his photos is an astronaut, participating in seemingly everyday activities in a usual setting. He addresses topics that concern everyone in their daily lives: isolation in the middle of the pandemic, the therapeutic effect of music, or burning out from overworking.


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A post shared by Cameron Burns (@captvart)

31. Gabriel Isak

Gabriel creates surreal and melancholic scenes, which symbolize the human unconscious. He uses colors and strong symbols, such as birds, stairs, or blindfolds, to capture what is going on in the human psyche. His photos are very minimalistic, often showcasing faceless models in simple settings.


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A post shared by GABRIEL ISAK (@gabriel_isak)

32. Kseniya Vaschenko

Kseniya’s images are a mixture of conceptual and fashion portraits. She uses twisted positions and dark coloring to express the agony and emotions of her models. In her work feminine sexuality makes for sophisticated yet powerful results.


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A post shared by @kseniyavashchenko

33. Nanna Heitmann

Nanna’s images are painfully honest visualizations of nowadays’ reality. She addresses social issues, such as problems with healthcare or lonely elders. She captures the story of many human lives, many revolving around isolation. Her work has been published in magazines like National Geographic or the Time.


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A post shared by Nanna Heitmann (@nannaheitmann)

34. Astrid Verhoef

Astrid’s images are on the verge of surrealism and fine-art portraiture. She places subjects in unusual surroundings, creating landscapes unfamiliar to the human eye. Her images have a huge contrast between technology and nature, humans and still objects by utilizing juxtaposition.

35. Bara Prasilova

Bara Prasilova creates surreal conceptual photographs that have you second-guessing each image. The way she frames and composes each image instantly makes the subject stand out and sets the scene nicely for odd encounters. I like how particular she is, all the way down to the small details, including the color pallet she uses.


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A post shared by Bara Prasilova (@bara_prasilova)


Conceptual portrait photography has many faces, as it includes several different niches. Whether you are looking for painting-like images, Photoshop art, minimalistic or detailed portrait shots, this article features exceptional artists in their fields.

Do you agree with our list? Drop us a comment with your favorite conceptual portrait photographer under this post!

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