14 January 2014

Portrait Photography Masters – a Very Subjective List

By |14 January 2014|Articles|0 Comments

Portrait Photography Masters - a Very Subjective List

Photos in the image by Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman and Annie Leibovitz

As a follow up to a Quick Guide to Emotional Portraits, still in the topic of portraits, let me share with you my list of portrait photography masters. These are the icons of photography that at some point drew my attention and changed the way I think about portraits. Their photographs are not soulless images that make you click from one page to another in less than 2 seconds. These are truly powerful images that make you stop for a while.

Don’t let the numbers mislead you – this is not any kind of ranking. The numbers are random and the names listed here just follow my stream of thoughts about the photographers.

1. Richard Avedon ( 1923-2004 )

Also well known for fashion photography, but undoubtedly his portraiture is well worth your attention. These large scale black and white, images concentrate on capturing the humanity and frank intensity of the subject.

What I really like about Avedon is the fact that when photographing celebrities, he tried to get an image of the subject by stripping them of the Hollywood or media branding and strove to show basic human emotion. We may know little or nothing about the people on the photographs. Still, we get some idea about them, or at least we get a clear picture of what Avedon was trying to tell us.

The recipe seems to be: simple background and detailed close-ups. Hence you get very expressive faces. In his work with the model, he loved interaction and often through stories he evoked emotions and reactions just to get an intended expression.

See more of this photographer’s work:

Richard Avedon