Famous American Photographers

If there is anyone who can breathe life into quaint architectures, unexciting landscapes, and most ordinary of faces with their mind-bending representations, it is the photographers. And by photographers, we don't just mean any DSLR toting globe trotters or selfie clicking amateurs but real-time lens man who knows to create an eye popping visual feast with their camera trickery. Someone has truly said that a real photographer is one who doesn't just capture a fleeting moment, but elicit thoughts, feelings and emotions with their every click. Photography, unlike many things, is not everyone's ball game. It takes one with acute compositional and technical skills to make a pro, let alone be the best in the business. America has been lucky enough to home a slew of shutterbugs who have carved a niche for themselves in the realms of world photography. We dig the biography, trivia, timeline and facts about some such famous American photographers who have changed the way we "view" the world today, quite literally. Read on.

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

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 1 Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams.
4
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.
4
Famous As: Portrait Photographer
Birthdate: October 2, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.

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 Man Ray

Man Ray.
4
Famous As: Modernist Artist
Birthdate: August 27, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: November 18, 1976

Famous photographer, painter and filmmaker, Man Ray was the sole American who was a significant part of both the Dada and Surrealist movements. Despite his contributions in various artistic mediums, he is best remembered as a photographer who popularised solarisation and Rayographs techniques. He also made films including the Surrealist classic L’Étoile de mer and published his autobiography Self-Portrait.

 4 Robert Mapplethorpe

Robert Mapplethorpe.
4
Famous As: Photographer, Film director
Birthdate: November 4, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Floral Park
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 Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus.
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Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 14, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: July 26, 1971

 6 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

 7 Linda McCartney

Linda McCartney.
4
Famous As: Photographer, Musician
Birthdate: September 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, 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.  
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 8 Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 17, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Venice, Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper was an American actor, photographer, and filmmaker. His directorial film debut Easy Rider glorified the counterculture of the 1960s and became the cinematic symbol of counterculture, inspiring several youngsters. Also a photographer, Hopper’s photographs of the 1963 March on Washington were published. Hopper is also credited with influencing actress Amber Tamblyn whose father was one of his friends.

 9 Jason Lee

Jason Lee
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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.

 10 Cindy Sherman

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

 11 Alexandra Hedison

Alexandra Hedison.
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Famous As: Photographer, Actress, Director
Birthdate: July 10, 1969
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
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.

 12 Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz.
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Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: January 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hoboken
Died: July 13, 1946

 13 Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier
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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.

 14 Weegee

Weegee
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Famous As: Photographer, Photojournalist, Journalist
Birthdate: June 12, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: December 26, 1968

 15 Linda Fiorentino

Linda Fiorentino.
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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.

 16 David LaChapelle

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

 17 Richard Avedon

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

 18 Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant
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Famous As: Film Director
Birthdate: July 24, 1952
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Gus Van Sant is considered one of the most prominent auteurs of the New Queer Cinema movement. The American film director is famous for movies that deal with homosexuality. Also admired as a painter, photographer, and musician, Sant has released two musical albums and a novel. Van Sant’s famous films include Drugstore Cowboy, Good Will Hunting, Elephant, and Milk.

 19 Cynthia Daniel

Cynthia Daniel.
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Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 17, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Gainesville, Florida

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.

 20 Susan Mikula

Susan Mikula.
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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.

 21 Berry Berenson

Berry Berenson.
4
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: April 14, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Murray Hill, New York City, New York
Died: September 11, 2001

Berry Berenson was an American actress, photographer, and model. Apart from appearing on films alongside actors like Jeff Bridges and Anthony Perkins, Berenson also contributed as a photographer; her works were featured in popular magazines like Newsweek, Glamour, Vogue, and Life. Berry Berenson died aboard American Airlines Flight 11 during the September 11 attacks. 

 22 Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry
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Famous As: photojournalist, photographer, journalist
Birthdate: February 24, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Darby

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.

 23 Koo Stark

Koo Stark.
4
Famous As: Actress, Photographer
Birthdate: April 26, 1956
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, 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. 

 24 Lance Gross

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

 25 Barret Oliver

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

 26 Edward Weston

Edward Weston.
3
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 24, 1886
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Highland Park, Illinois
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.

 27 Chris Owen

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

 28 Russ Meyer

Russ Meyer.
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Famous As: Director
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.

 29 Margaret Bourke-White

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

 30 W. Eugene Smith

W. Eugene Smith
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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. 

 31 iO Tillett Wright

iO Tillett Wright
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Famous As: Television host
Birthdate: September 2, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, New York (state) New York

iO Tillett Wright is an American photographer, author, activist, TV and podcast host. He is credited with founding the now-defunct international street art magazine Overspray for which he served as the editor-in-chief until 2009. His podcast The Ballad Of Billy Balls was counted among the best of 2019 and was considered for television development.

 32 Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks.
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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.

 33 Mathew Brady

Mathew Brady
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Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: May 18, 1822
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Warren County, New York, United States
Died: January 15, 1896

Mathew Brady was an American photographer who captured the American Civil War through his lenses. One of the earliest photographers in the history of the US, Brady is credited with taking pictures of prominent personalities like Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and Andrew Jackson. Dubbed the father of photojournalism, Mathew Brady was the most renowned American photographer during the 19th century.   

 34 Lewis Hine

Lewis Hine
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Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: September 26, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States
Died: November 3, 1940

 35 Larry Clark

Larry Clark
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Famous As: Director
Birthdate: January 19, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

 36 Irving Penn

Irving Penn
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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. 

 37 Chris Stein

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

 38 Arlene Alda

Arlene Alda.
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Famous As: Musician, Photographer, Writer
Birthdate: March 12, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York City, New York

 39 Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen.
3
Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: March 27, 1879
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bivange
Died: March 25, 1973

Edward Steichen was a Luxembourgish American painter, curator, and photographer. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and prolific personalities in the history of photography, Steichen is credited with changing photography into an art form. During the 1920s and 1930s, Edward Steichen was considered the highest-paid and best-known photographer in the world.

 40 Tasya van Ree

Tasya van Ree.
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Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: April 30, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mililani, Hawaii, United States

Tasya van Ree is a popular American painter and photographer, known for her keen interests in visual presentation and mixed media. Also known for her distinctive sense of fashion, Tasya believes that people become what they wear. An openly gay celebrity, she serves as an inspiration to the LGBTQ community. She has dated personalities like Amber Heard and Caroline Vreeland.

 41 Tipper Gore

Tipper Gore
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Famous As: Advocate
Birthdate: August 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Mary Elizabeth Gore, better known as Tipper Gore, was married to former American president Al Gore. She had a major role in establishing the Parents Music Resource Center, which made CDs carry parental advisory stickers, to prevent their children from listening to music laced with profanity.

 42 Stephanie Sheh

Stephanie Sheh
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Famous As: Voice actor, Actor, Screenwriter, Audio engineer, Television producer, Photographer, Singer
Birthdate: April 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kalamazoo

 43 Francesca Hilton

Francesca Hilton
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: March 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: January 15, 2015

Born into luxury, comedian Francesca Hilton was the only child of Hilton founder Conrad Hilton and Hollywood star Zsa Zsa Gabor. It was later revealed that Francesca was born out of marital rape, and her parents divorced before her birth. Hilton left her a scanty fortune, and she died in poverty.

 44 William Eggleston

William Eggleston
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Famous As: Photographer, Artist
Birthdate: July 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Memphis

 45 Josh Gates

Josh Gates
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Famous As: Explorer, Photographer
Birthdate: August 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Gloucester

Josh Gates is an American television producer and presenter who specializes in hosting and executive producing paranormal reality television series like Destination Truth, Ghost Hunters, and Stranded. Josh Gates also has his own production company named Ping Pong Productions which he uses to produce such television shows as Ghost Nation. 

 46 Bob Guccione

Bob Guccione
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Famous As: Photographer, Film producer, Screenwriter
Birthdate: December 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: October 20, 2010

 47 Sally Mann

Sally Mann
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Famous As: Photographer
Birthdate: May 1, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lexington

Sally Mann is an American photographer whose works prompted Time magazine to name her America's Best Photographer in the year 2001. She is best known for releasing photography books such as At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women, Still Time, and Immediate Family. Her photographs are displayed in popular art museums like Metropolitan Museum of Art and National Gallery of Art.

 48 Tabitha Soren

Tabitha Soren
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Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: August 19, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Antonio San Antonio, Texas

 49 Walker Evans

Walker Evans
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Famous As: Photographer, Photojournalist, Journalist
Birthdate: November 3, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: St. Louis
Died: April 10, 1975

 50 Austin Swift

Austin Swift.
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Famous As: Photographer, Actor
Birthdate: March 11, 1992
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, United States

Austin Swift is an American actor best known for playing important roles in films like We Summon the Darkness, for which he also served as a co-producer. The younger brother of Taylor Swift, Austin Swift followed in the footsteps of his sister to establish himself in the entertainment industry.