Famous 20th Century Photographers

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Find out more about the greatest 20th Century Photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, Helena Christensen, Jacques Cousteau and Robert Mapplethorpe.
Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Photographers
 1 
Ansel Adams
(Photographer)
Ansel Adams
6
Birthdate: February 20, 1902
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: April 22, 1984

Ansel Adams was an American photographer and environmentalist. Best known for capturing the beauty of the American West, Adams helped found the Group f/64. He also formulated a photographic technique called the Zone System, which helped photographers come up with clearer images. For his photographic work and advocacy for environmental conservation, Ansel Adams was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 2 
Annie Leibovitz
(Portrait Photographer Who is Known for Her Engaging Portraits of Celebrities in Intimate Settings)
Annie Leibovitz
11
Birthdate: October 2, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waterbury, Connecticut, United States

Anna-Lou Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer whose career is defined by intimate photographs of celebrities, as exemplified by her famous portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, hours before the English musician’s murder. The Rolling Stone magazine provided the platform for her photographic talent during the early years of her career. She was involved in a controversy over an apparent topless photo of Miley Cyrus.

 3 
Diane Arbus
(Photographer)
Diane Arbus
6
Birthdate: March 14, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: July 26, 1971
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 4 
Robert Mapplethorpe
(American Photographer Best Known for His Black-And-White Photographs)
Robert Mapplethorpe
8
Birthdate: November 4, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Floral Park, New York, United States
Died: March 9, 1989

Best known for his black and white photographs, Robert Mapplethorpe chose homoerotic themes to express himself. His male nudes reflected the gay BDSM subculture of New York. His works also included flowers, still lifes, and portraits of celebrities. The gay photographer-artist eventually died of aids.

 5 
Robert Capa
(Photographer, Photojournalist)
Robert Capa
5
Birthdate: October 22, 1913
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: May 25, 1954

Robert Capa was a Hungarian-American photojournalist and war photographer. Regarded as the greatest adventure and combat photographer of all time, Robert Capa is best remembered for covering five major wars, namely Second Sino-Japanese War, Spanish Civil War, World War II, First Indochina War, and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. In 1947, he was honored with the prestigious Medal of Freedom.

 6 
Dorothea Lange
(Photographer)
Dorothea Lange
5
Birthdate: May 26, 1895
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died: October 11, 1965
 7 
Cindy Sherman
(Photographer, Film director)
Cindy Sherman
6
Birthdate: January 19, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glen Ridge
 8 
Henri Cartier-Bresson
(Photographer and Painter)
Henri Cartier-Bresson
5
Birthdate: August 22, 1908
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chanteloup-en-Brie, France
Died: August 3, 2004

Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French humanist photographer. Considered a master of candid photography, he pioneered the genre of street photography. He was among the earliest users of the 35 mm film. In 1947, he became one of the founding members of Magnum Photos, an international photographic cooperative. In his later years, he explored drawing and painting. 

 9 
Vivian Maier
(American Street Photographer Whose Work was Discovered After Her Death)
Vivian Maier
9
Birthdate: February 1, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: April 21, 2009

Vivian Maier was an American street photographer whose works received critical acclaim after her death. Maier's photographs were unpublished during her lifetime. However, her works went viral on the internet when it was published on Flickr five months after her death. Vivian Maier's life and work have inspired documentary films like Finding Vivian Maier.

 10 
David Bailey
(Photographer)
David Bailey
6
Birthdate: January 2, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Leytonstone

David Bailey is an English portrait and fashion photographer. He is credited with co-creating the Swinging London movement along with Brian Duffy and Terence Donovan during the 1960s. Bailey is also known for his work with the famous Vogue magazine. The character played by David Hemmings in the 1966 mystery thriller film Blowup was inspired by David Bailey.

Richard Avedon
5
Birthdate: May 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: October 1, 2004
 12 
Helmut Newton
(Photographer)
Helmut Newton
3
Birthdate: October 31, 1920
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: January 23, 2004

Helmut Newton was a German-American photographer whose works earned him accolades all over the world. His photographs were featured on popular fashion magazines like Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. He also worked closely with Playboy, shooting several pictorials of models like Kristine DeBell and Nastassja Kinski.

 13 
Cecil Beaton
(Photographer)
Cecil Beaton
3
Birthdate: January 14, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England
Died: January 18, 1980

Cecil Beaton was a British war, portrait, and fashion photographer. A multi-talented personality, Beaton is also known for his work as a painter, diarist, interior designer, and costume designer. Cecil Beaton worked with popular publications like Vogue before becoming a leading war photographer. His work as a costume designer for the theatre and films earned him Oscars and Tony Awards.  

 14 
David LaChapelle
(Photographer)
David LaChapelle
5
Birthdate: March 11, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fairfield
 15 
Linda McCartney
(Photographer)
Linda McCartney
5
Birthdate: September 4, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Scarsdale, New York, United States
Died: April 17, 1998
Linda McCartney, the first wife of Paul McCartney, formed the band Wings with her husband, after the Beatles disbanded. An animal rights activist, she wrote several vegetarian cookbooks, apart from launching Linda McCartney Foods. She was also a skilled photographer and published a photo book. She died of breast cancer.  
 16 
Alexandra Hedison
(American Actress and Photographer Known for Her TV Series ‘The L Word’ and ‘Prey’)
Alexandra Hedison
5
Birthdate: July 10, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Alexandra Hedison is a renowned photographer and has exhibited her creations at numerous galleries, throughout the U.S. and Europe. She has also appeared in the series The L Word and Nash Bridges. Openly lesbian, she has dated Ellen DeGeneres in the past and is now married to Jodie Foster.
 17 
W. Eugene Smith
(Photographer, Photojournalist, War photographer, Journalist)
W. Eugene Smith
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1918
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wichita
Died: October 15, 1978

W. Eugene Smith was an American photojournalist whose major photo essays include photographs of the Second World War. His work, Country Doctor, which he photographed for Life magazine, is now widely regarded as the first extended editorial photo story. An organization named W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund has been established in his honor to support young photographers. 

 18 
David Hockney
(Painter)
David Hockney
5
Birthdate: July 9, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bradford

Painter, photographer, printmaker, and stage designer David Hockney is best known for his works such as Portrait of an Artist, which became the most expensive piece of art by a living artist ever auctioned, at $90 million. His works have explored themes such as homosexuality. He has synesthesia, too.

 19 
Kevin Carter
(Photographer)
Kevin Carter
4
Birthdate: September 13, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Johannesburg
Died: July 27, 1994

Kevin Carter was a South African photojournalist whose photograph titled the vulture and the little girl, which depicted the 1993 famine in Sudan, earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 1994. Carter committed suicide in 1994 after suffering from depression. A book titled The Bang Bang Club, which was later made into a film, depicts his story.

 20 
Leni Riefenstahl
(Film Director, Photographer and Actress Known for Her Seminal Role in Producing Nazi Propaganda)
Leni Riefenstahl
4
Birthdate: August 22, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 8, 2003

Leni Riefenstahl was a German film director and actress best remembered for her role in producing Nazi propaganda. She made her directorial debut in 1932, becoming one of the few women to direct a movie during the Weimar Period. Riefenstahl is credited with directing two of the most technically innovative propaganda films of all time, Olympia and Triumph des Willens.

 21 
Linda Fiorentino
5
Birthdate: March 9, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Linda Fiorentino is an American actress best known for her portrayal of Bridget Gregory in the 1994 neo-noir erotic thriller film The Last Seduction, for which she received a BAFTA Award nomination and won a couple of prestigious awards, including the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

 22 
Gina Lollobrigida
(Actress, Photojournalist)
Gina Lollobrigida
4
Birthdate: July 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Subiaco, Italy

Gina Lollobrigida is an Italian actress and photojournalist counted amongst the highest-profile European actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. Considered a  sex symbol in her youth, she had a successful career both in the film and TV industries. She later built a second career as a photojournalist. She is a recipient of the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award.  

 23 
Edward Weston
(Photographer)
Edward Weston
3
Birthdate: March 24, 1886
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Highland Park, Illinois, United States
Died: January 1, 1958

Edward Weston was an American photographer and archer. Regarded as one of the most influential and innovative American photographers of all time, Weston became the first photographer to be honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1937. Some of his photographs, such as Nude, 1925 and Nautilus, are among the most expensive photographs ever sold.

 24 
Sebastião Salgado
(Photojournalist, Painter, Journalist)
Sebastião Salgado
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aimorés

Sebastião Salgado is a Brazilian photojournalist and social documentary photographer. His photographic projects, which have appeared in numerous books and press publications, have taken him to over 120 countries. Sebastião Salgado is a recipient of several prestigious honors and awards such as the Oskar Barnack Award and Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal.

 25 
Helena Christensen
(Danish Model, Co-founder of 'Nylon' Magazine, Former Beauty Queen and ‘Victoria's Secret Angel’)
Helena Christensen
5
Birthdate: December 25, 1968
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark

Helena Christensen is a Danish photographer and supermodel. A former beauty queen, clothing designer, and Victoria's Secret Angel, Christensen has been featured on cover pages of magazines, such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Well-known for her philanthropic activities, Christensen has participated in campaigns to raise awareness about climate change. She has also launched fundraising campaigns to fight against breast cancer.

 26 
Margaret Bourke-White
(Photographer, War photographer, Photojournalist, Journalist)
Margaret Bourke-White
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1904
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: August 27, 1971
 27 
Ann Curry
(Journalist)
Ann Curry
5
Birthdate: November 19, 1956
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hagåtña, Guam

Born to a Japanese mother and an American father, journalist Ann Curry is best known for her extensive war reporting and has covered disturbances from areas such as Syria and Afghanistan. The Emmy Award-winning journalist has had a long stint on NBC. She also supports cancer research.

 28 
Zdzisław Beksiński
4
Birthdate: February 24, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sanok, Poland
Died: February 21, 2005
 29 
Susan Mikula
(Photographer, Rachel Maddow’s Partner)
Susan Mikula
9
Birthdate: 1958 AD
Birthplace: New Jersey, United States
Self-taught photographer Susan Mikula is known for using old Polaroids and pinhole cameras to create her masterpieces. She was an accountant earlier and has also worked for the U.S. consulate in Mexico. The LGBT icon is in a long-term relationship with her partner, journalist and TV personality Rachel Maddow.
 30 
Robert Frank
(Photographer)
Robert Frank
5
Birthdate: November 9, 1924
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: September 9, 2019

Robert Frank was a Swiss documentary filmmaker and photographer best remembered for his photographic book The Americans which earned him comparisons with the likes of Tocqueville. An acclaimed photographer, Robert Frank won many prestigious awards, such as Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography in 1996 and the Edward MacDowell Medal in 2002.

 31 
Barret Oliver
(Photographer)
Barret Oliver
4
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
 32 
Lance Gross
4
Birthdate: July 8, 1981
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oakland, California, USA
 33 
Eadweard Muybridge
(Photographer)
Eadweard Muybridge
4
Birthdate: April 9, 1830
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Died: May 8, 1904

Eadweard Muybridge was an English photographer best remembered for his contribution to photographic studies of motion. Muybridge achieved international prominence when he exhibited photographs of Yosemite Valley in 1868. He is said to have inspired several artists and inventors like Sol LeWitt, Thomas Eakins, William Dickson, and Francis Bacon.

 34 
Koo Stark
(American Photographer and Actress)
Koo Stark
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Renowned photographer Koo Stark has held numerous exhibitions. Her works have also been showcased at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She has also been an actor and a model, and has been in the news for her relationship with Britain’s Prince Andrew. Stark is a cancer survivor. 
 35 
Abbas Kiarostami
(Film director, Screenwriter, Photographer, Film producer, Poet, Film editor)
Abbas Kiarostami
4
Birthdate: June 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tehran
Died: July 4, 2016

Abbas Kiarostami was an Iranian screenwriter, film director, film producer, photographer, and poet. Over the course of his illustrious career, Kiarostami was honored with numerous awards such as the Jury Special Award at the Tehran International Film Festival and Best Film Award at the Iranian Film Festival for Children and Young Adults. 

 36 
Gordon Parks
(Photographer)
Gordon Parks
4
Birthdate: November 30, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Fort Scott, Kansas, United States
Died: March 7, 2006

Gordon Parks was a writer, photographer, musician, and film director. He was the first Black American to direct and produce major motion pictures pertaining to the experience of slaves and African-Americans. He is credited with co-creating a new film genre called blaxploitation and his works have influenced filmmakers like Spike Lee. He is also credited with co-founding Essence magazine.

 37 
Andy Goldsworthy
(Sculptor & Photographer)
Andy Goldsworthy
4
Birthdate: July 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cheshire, England

English sculptor, artist, and photographer Andy Goldsworthy has revolutionized outdoor art by creating masterpieces with naturally available material such as rain, snow, and rocks. A farm laborer in his younger days, he developed an early love for nature and the elements. Rain Shadows remains one of his best-loved works.

 38 
Dora Maar
(Photographer, Painter)
Dora Maar
4
Birthdate: November 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 16, 1997

Born to a French mother and a Croatian father, Dora Maar spent her childhood in Argentina and later studied art in Paris. The renowned surrealist artist and photographer later gained fame as Pablo Picasso’s lover and muse, and was featured in his paintings such as Weeping Woman.

 39 
Lewis Hine
(American Sociologist and Muckraker Photographer Best Known for the Documentary Images of Child Labor Practices)
Lewis Hine
3
Birthdate: September 26, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States
Died: November 3, 1940

Lewis Hine was an American photographer and sociologist. Hine's photographs played a key role in the passage of the child labor laws in the USA. He worked with non-profit organizations like Russell Sage Foundation and National Child Labor Committee and captured the plight of several child laborers in the steel-making districts. These photographs helped enact the first child labor laws.

 40 
Mary McCartney
(Photographer)
Mary McCartney
4
Birthdate: August 28, 1969
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London

Mary McCartney is a British photographer best known as the daughter of Linda and Paul McCartney. McCartney is credited with capturing portraits of popular personalities like Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes, and Sam Taylor-Wood. Apart from being a photographer, Mary McCartney is also an animal rights activist. She is a Global Ambassador for initiatives like Green Monday and Meat Free Monday.

 41 
Gerda Taro
(The First Woman Photojournalist to Have Died While Covering the Frontline in a War)
Gerda Taro
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1910
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany
Died: July 26, 1937

Gerda Taro was a German Jewish war photographer who was active during the Spanish Civil War. As a young woman, she became interested in Leftist politics. She then became involved with photographer Robert Capa and began her own career in photojournalism. She died in 1937 while covering the frontline during the Spanish Civil War.  

 42 
Chris Owen
(Actor)
Chris Owen
4
Birthdate: September 25, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Houghton, Michigan, U.S.
 43 
Russ Meyer
(Director)
Russ Meyer
4
Birthdate: March 21, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Leandro, California
Died: September 18, 2004

Russ Meyer was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, editor, and cinematographer. He is best remembered for directing a series of popular sexploitation films, such as Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! After his death, the majority of his estate and money went to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, as per his will.

 44 
Irving Penn
(Photographer)
Irving Penn
4
Birthdate: June 16, 1917
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Plainfield
Died: October 7, 2009

Irving Penn was an American photographer best remembered for his portraits, fashion photography, and still lifes. He was one of the earliest photographers to pose his subjects against a white or grey backdrop. During his illustrious career, he worked for popular publications like Vogue. He was honored by the German Society for Photography with the prestigious Cultural Award in 1987. 

 45 
Steve McCurry
(Photojournalist who gained fame for his work, Afghan Girl, which was featured in National Geographic magazine)
Steve McCurry
4
Birthdate: April 23, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Steve McCurry is an American photographer and photojournalist whose photo Afghan Girl has appeared on the cover page of National Geographic magazine on multiple occasions. Over the course of his illustrious career, Steve McCurry has won numerous awards and honors, such as the Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and the Lucie Award for Photojournalism.

 46 
Melissa Auf der Maur
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
 47 
Chris Stein
(Musicians)
Chris Stein
4
Birthdate: January 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA
 48 
Yousuf Karsh
(Photographer)
Yousuf Karsh
4
Birthdate: December 23, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mardin, Turkey
Died: July 13, 2002
 49 
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
(15th and last shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan)
Tokugawa Yoshinobu
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1837
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Died: November 22, 1913

Tokugawa Yoshinobu was the 15th and last shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. During his tenure, he aimed to reform the shogunate but was largely unsuccessful. He resigned in 1867 and went into retirement, choosing to lead a private life away from the public eye. He had multiple hobbies, including photography, oil painting, archery, hunting, and cycling.

 50 
William Eggleston
(Photographer, Artist)
William Eggleston
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Memphis