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.

Vote for Your Favourite American 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
(Photographer)

Annie Leibovitz
8
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
(Photographer)

Robert Mapplethorpe
7
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.

 4 
Man Ray
(Modernist Artist)

Man Ray
5
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.

 5 
Diane Arbus
(Photographer)

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

 6 
Dorothea Lange
(Photographer)

Dorothea Lange
4
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
You May Like

 8 
Linda McCartney
(Photographer)

Linda McCartney
4
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.  

 9 
Jena Malone
(Actress)

Jena Malone
4
Birthdate: November 21, 1984
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sparks, Nevada, United States

As a child actor, Jena Malone delivered a Saturn Award-winning performance in Contact. She later starred in Donnie Darko, Sucker Punch, Into the Wild. and The Hunger Games franchise. She also sings as part of Jena Malone and the Blood Stains and is a talented photographer who has held exhibitions.

 10 
Vivian Maier
(Photographer)

Vivian Maier
8
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.

 11 
Alexandra Hedison
(Photographer)

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.

 12 
Alfred Stieglitz
(Photographer)

Alfred Stieglitz
4
Birthdate: January 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hoboken
Died: July 13, 1946

 13 

Linda Fiorentino
5
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.

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

 15 
Cynthia Daniel
(Photographer, Actress)

Cynthia Daniel
4
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.

 16 
Berry Berenson
(Photographer)

Berry Berenson
4
Birthdate: April 14, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Murray Hill, New York, United States
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. 

 17 
Weegee
(Photographer, Photojournalist, Journalist)

Weegee
4
Birthdate: June 12, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: December 26, 1968

 18 
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.

 19 
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.

 20 
David LaChapelle
(Photographer)

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

 21 

Keegan Allen
4
Birthdate: July 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Southern California, California, United States

 22 
Koo Stark
(Photographer)

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. 

 23 
Barret Oliver
(Photographer)

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

 24 

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

 25 
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.

 26 
Austin Swift
(Photographer, Actor)

Austin Swift
4
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.

 27 
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.

 28 
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.

 29 
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. 

 30 
Chris Owen
(Actor)

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

 31 
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.

 32 
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

 33 
Chris Stein
(Musicians)

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

 34 
Arlene Alda
(Musician, Photographer, Writer)

Arlene Alda
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

 35 
Tasya van Ree
(Photographer)

Tasya van Ree
5
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.

 36 
Edward Steichen
(Photographer)

Edward Steichen
3
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.

 37 
Bob Guccione
(Founded the adult magazine Penthouse in 1965)

Bob Guccione
3
Birthdate: December 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, United States
Died: October 20, 2010

 38 
Lewis Hine
(Sociologist)

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.

 39 
Tipper Gore
(Advocate)

Tipper Gore
4
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.

 40 
Lee Miller
(Photographer)

Lee Miller
3
Birthdate: April 23, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Poughkeepsie, New York, United States
Died: July 27, 1977

 41 
Irving Penn
(Photographer)

Irving Penn
3
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. 

 42 

Austin O'Brien
3
Birthdate: May 11, 1981
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon, U.S.

 43 
Gilles Bensimon
(photographer)

Gilles Bensimon
3
Birthdate: February 29, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vic-sur-Cère

Gilles Bensimon was born to a painter mother and had struggled with dyslexia in childhood. He had also served the French army in the Algerian War. Nicknamed The Tripod, he later became one of the most popular celebrity photographers of his time, with a client list that included Madonna and Sharon Stone.

 44 

Francesca Hilton
4
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.

 45 
Sally Mann
(Photographer)

Sally Mann
3
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.

 46 
Tao Ruspoli
(Filmmaker)

Tao Ruspoli
4
Birthdate: November 7, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bangkok, Thailand
Italian-American director Prince Tao Ruspoli is the son of Prince Alessandro Ruspoli and actor Debra Berger. Best known for the documentaries Being in the World and Flamenco: A Personal Journey, he has also founded LAFCO and the Bombay Beach Biennale. He is a skilled flamenco guitar player and photographer, too.

 47 

Deborah Foreman
3
Birthdate: October 12, 1962
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montebello, California, USA

 48 
Terry Richardson
(Photographer)

Terry Richardson
4
Birthdate: August 14, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 49 
Tabitha Soren
(Journalist)

Tabitha Soren
3
Birthdate: August 19, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Antonio San Antonio, Texas

 50 
Stephanie Sheh
(Voice actress known for notable voice roles include Hinata Hyuga in the Naruto franchise, Orihime Inoue in Bleach)

Stephanie Sheh
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States