Famous 20th Century Photographers

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century Photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, Helena Christensen, Jacques Cousteau and Robert Mapplethorpe.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Photographers

 1 Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams
5
Famous As: Photographer
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

Annie Leibovitz
8
Famous As: Photographer
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 Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe
7
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: November 4, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Floral Park, New York, United States
Died: March 18, 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.

Recommended Lists:

 4 Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus
6
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 14, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
Died: July 26, 1971

 5 Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange
4
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: May 26, 1895
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died: October 11, 1965

 6 Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman
6
Famous As: Photographer, Film director
Birthdate: January 19, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glen Ridge

 7 Robert Capa

Robert Capa
5
Famous As: Photographer, Photojournalist
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.

You May Like

 8 Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson
5
Famous As: Photographer and Painter
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

Vivian Maier
8
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: February 1, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
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 Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon
5
Birthdate: May 15, 1923
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: October 1, 2004

 11 Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton
3
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 12 David Bailey

David Bailey
6
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 13 Linda McCartney

Linda McCartney
4
Famous As: Photographer
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.  

 14 Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton
3
Famous As: Photographer
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.  

 15 David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle
5
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 11, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fairfield

 16 Alexandra Hedison

Alexandra Hedison
5
Famous As: Photographer
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 Jason Lee

Jason Lee
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 25, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Huntington Beach, California, United States

Jason Lee is an American actor, photographer, producer, writer, and former professional skateboarder. The recipient of the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Lee has also received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his work as an actor. A multi-talented personality, Jason Lee is credited with co-founding a company named Stereo Skateboards which manufactures skateboard decks, apparel, and equipment.

 18 Kevin Carter

Kevin Carter
4
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 19 Linda Fiorentino

Linda Fiorentino
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 9, 1958
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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.

 20 Helena Christensen

Helena Christensen
5
Famous As: Model
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.

 21 David Hockney

David Hockney
5
Famous As: Painter
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.

 22 Edward Weston

Edward Weston
3
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 23 Cynthia Daniel

Cynthia Daniel
4
Famous As: Photographer, Actress
Birthdate: March 17, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gainesville, Florida, United States

Cynthia Daniel is a photographer and former actress. The twin sister of Brittany Daniel, Cynthia followed in the footsteps of her sister to become an actress. However, she retired from acting in 1997 and chose to become a photographer, even as her twin sister Brittany Daniel continued to pursue acting.

 24 Sebastião Salgado

Sebastião Salgado
4
Famous As: Photojournalist, Painter, Journalist
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 Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry
4
Famous As: Photojournalist who gained fame for his work, Afghan Girl, which was featured in National Geographic magazine
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.

 26 Gina Lollobrigida

Gina Lollobrigida
4
Famous As: Actress, Photojournalist
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.  

 27 W. Eugene Smith

W. Eugene Smith
3
Famous As: Photographer, Photojournalist, War photographer, Journalist
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. 

 28 Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White
3
Famous As: Photographer, War photographer, Photojournalist, Journalist
Birthdate: June 14, 1904
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: August 27, 1971

 29 Ann Curry

Ann Curry
5
Famous As: Journalist
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.

 30 Robert Frank

Robert Frank
5
Famous As: Photographer
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 Susan Mikula

Susan Mikula
9
Famous As: Photographer, Rachel Maddow’s Partner
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.

 32 Zdzisław Beksiński

Zdzisław Beksiński
4
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: February 24, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sanok, Poland
Died: February 21, 2005

 33 Yousuf Karsh

Yousuf Karsh
4
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: December 23, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mardin, Turkey
Died: July 13, 2002

 34 Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon

Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon
7
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 7, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Belgravia
Died: January 13, 2017

From working as a photographer to becoming one of the members of the British royal family, Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon had an amazing journey. Despite being known for his marriage with Princess Margaret, he was also known for his philanthropy and charity work. He also co-designed the Snowdon Aviary, which is now part of the famous London Zoo.

 35 Lewis Hine

Lewis Hine
3
Famous As: Sociologist
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.

 36 Koo Stark

Koo Stark
4
Famous As: Photographer
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. 

 37 Barret Oliver

Barret Oliver
4
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 38 Lance Gross

Lance Gross
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 8, 1981
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oakland, California, USA

 39 Irving Penn

Irving Penn
3
Famous As: Photographer
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. 

 40 Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami
4
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Photographer, Film producer, Poet, Film editor
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. 

 41 Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge
4
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 42 Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy
4
Famous As: Sculptor & Photographer
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.

 43 Dora Maar

Dora Maar
4
Famous As: Photographer, Painter
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.

 44 Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks
4
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 45 Chris Owen

Chris Owen
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 25, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Houghton, Michigan, U.S.

 46 Mary McCartney

Mary McCartney
4
Famous As: Photographer
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.

 47 Gerda Taro

Gerda Taro
4
Famous As: Photographer
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.  

 48 Melissa Auf der Maur

Melissa Auf der Maur
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

 49 Agnes Varda

Agnes Varda
4
Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: May 30, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium
Died: March 29, 2019

Agnes Varda was a Belgian-born French film director, screenwriter, and artist. She was a key figure in the development of the French New Wave film movement of the 1950s and 1960s. She often made films addressing women’s issues and other social justice problems. She was honored with an Academy Honorary Award. She was married to director Jacques Demy. 

 50 Chris Stein

Chris Stein
4
Famous As: Musicians
Birthdate: January 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA