31 Best Portrait Photographers in 2024

Portrait photography is an age-old genre that still remains popular today. To capture an excellent portrait photo, it requires not only skillful composition but also a deep understanding of the subject in order to express their emotions and personality. When browsing through photos online from certain photographers, we often come across images that lack emotional depth, personal characteristics, lack creativity and surprise.

While some images may initially catch our eyes, they can quickly become tiresome and uninteresting upon closer inspection It seems that these photographers may focus too heavily on technical aspects and the subject's appearance, while devoting less time to truly understanding the subject and their characteristics.

In this article, let's learn the works of some of the greatest portrait photographers of all time to discover their exceptional creations and gather inspiration that can be applied to your own project.

  1. Annie Leibovitz: 

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Born in 1949, Annie Leibovitz is a renowned American portrait photographer, widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time. She is known for her exceptional portraits of celebrities, political leaders, and cultural figures. At a young age, she discovered her passion for photography and later studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute.

During the early stages of her photography career, Leibovitz worked for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. One of her most famous photos is the iconic portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, taken just hours before Lennon's tragic death.

Through various interviews, it is evident that Leibovitz invests significant time in understanding her subjects and capturing their true personalities through her images. Additionally, her photographs convey a sense of mood and individuality for each subject.

Annie Leibovitz often employs dramatic and cinematic techniques to create depth and mood in her photographs. She is also skilled at utilizing natural light to enhance her compositions. Furthermore, she excels at storytelling through the subject's pose and the surrounding environment, effectively conveying narratives within her images.

  1. Steve Mccurry

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Steve McCurry, born in 1950 in Philadelphia, is an acclaimed and influential documentary-style photographer. His photography focuses on subjects such as war, culture, and the human condition, offering viewers a poignant glimpse into diverse worlds.

In 1984, McCurry's work "Afghan Girl" gained widespread acclaim and numerous awards. This captivating photograph portrays a young girl with an intense gaze, drawing attention to the realities of life in a refugee camp. Now, you can catch a glimpse of the current situation of the Afghan Girl in the National Geographic Magazine.

Presently, Steve McCurry continues his globetrotting journeys, capturing countless images that forge connections and evoke empathy between subjects and individuals worldwide.

  1. James Van Der Zee

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James Van Der Zee, born in 1886 in Lenox, was a significant African American photographer and a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. His work primarily centers around the lives of African Americans, with a particular emphasis on the emerging middle class in Harlem. Van Der Zee skillfully documented important occasions such as weddings, graduations, and family portraits. His photography career flourished throughout the 1920s and 1930s, coinciding with the establishment of his own photography studio.

His images provide valuable insight into the lives of African Americans in the 18th century, offering important historical information. Through his photography, one can observe Van Der Zee's meticulous attention to detail and composition. Moreover, his subjects exude elegance, dignity, and pride, reflecting the spirit and strength of the African American community.


  1. Julia Margaret Cameron


Julia Margaret Cameron, who lived from 1815 to 1879, is widely regarded as one of the renowned portrait photographers of the 19th century. Unlike the aforementioned photographers who began their photographic journeys at an early age, Julia Margaret Cameron received her first camera from her daughter at the age of 48, igniting her passion for photography.

Cameron's distinct style is characterized by soft focus, deliberate blurring, and skillful manipulation of light and shadow. Her photographs possess a certain ethereal quality, often capturing subjects in a dreamlike atmosphere. Among her notable works is "The Dirty Monk" (1865), a photograph featuring Tennyson in a contemplative pose. This image evokes a sense of mystery and introspection, showcasing Cameron's ability to create a captivating narrative within her portraits.

5 . Yousuf Karsh

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Yousuf Karsh, born in 1908, was a celebrated Canadian-Armenian portrait photographer. His extensive portfolio included portraits of numerous individuals who have since achieved fame, most notably his iconic photograph of Winston Churchill in 1941. This particular portrait not only established Karsh's reputation but also propelled his flourishing career in portraiture.

One of Karsh's strengths lay in his ability to build strong connections with his subjects, emphasizing the significance of deeply understanding them when seeking to capture exceptional portraits. Additionally, Karsh was renowned for his meticulous attention to detail, expert control of lighting, and skillful approach to capturing the true essence and emotions of his subjects.


  1. Richard Avedon

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Richard Avedon, a renowned American fashion and portrait photographer, made a lasting impact through his work with prestigious magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. His exceptional talent lay in capturing movement within still images, particularly in the industry of fashion, theater, and dance.

Avedon's fashion photography stood out for its fresh and innovative approach, departing from traditional poses. He could perfectly incorporated movement and dynamic energy into his images, offering viewers a sense of novelty and delight. His career soared after joining Harper's Bazaar as a staff photographer in 1945.

One of his remarkable projects was "In the American West," a collection of portraits that depicted ordinary Americans in the western United States. Additionally, Avedon's involvement in fashion photography for publications like Vogue solidified his reputation as an influential force within the industry.

  1. Diane Arbus


Diane Arbus, born in 1923, was an American photographer known for her distinctive focus on capturing documentary-style portraits of individuals on the fringes of society. In the later stages of her career, she dedicated her attention to these overlooked individuals, presenting viewers with a profound sense of empathy and dignity through her images.

Arbus initially discovered her passion for photography when her husband gifted her a camera. Her famous work, "Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey" (1967), garnered widespread recognition and acclaim worldwide.

Tragically, Diane Arbus took her own life in 1971.

  1. Irving Penn


Irving Penn, born in 1917, was a renowned American studio portrait photographer celebrated for his exceptional fashion photography and his remarkable ability to inspire models while capturing the essence of his subjects. From an early age, he displayed a keen interest in art, and during the early stages of his career, he worked as a graphic designer and assistant art director at Harper's Bazaar. He later transitioned into a photography role within the same magazine.

One of Penn's notable works, "Mouth (for L'Oréal)" (1986), demonstrates his mastery of combining studio lighting and composition to showcase a woman's lips in an innovative and creative manner. This image exemplifies Penn's willingness to experiment with visual elements.

Penn was a trailblazer in the realm of environmental portraiture, which involved capturing subjects within carefully arranged settings and environments. This approach added depth and context to his portraits, enabling a more comprehensive representation of the individuals he photographed.


  1. Cindy Sherman

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 If you enjoy taking selfies, Cindy Sherman is an artist you should know. Born in 1954 in the United States, she gained fame for her remarkable self-portraits. One of her most recognized works is the series titled "Untitled Film Stills" (1977-1980). In this series, she portrays herself as various female characters, capturing the aesthetics of classic Hollywood films and film noir.

Sherman's images are notable for their exploration of different facets of human identity, blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction. She delves into the complexities of people's personas, challenging viewers to question the authenticity of the portrayed characters. Through her self-portraits, Sherman invites us to contemplate the constructed nature of identity and the influence of popular culture on our perceptions.

Her ability to transform herself into diverse personas, combined with her keen attention to detail, has made Cindy Sherman a highly influential figure in contemporary art and self-portraiture.

  1. Arnold Newman

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Arnold Newman, who lived from 1918 to 2006, is widely regarded as the father of environmental portraiture in photography. His pioneering work in this genre was fueled by the extensive experience and skills he gained while working as an assistant in various portrait photography roles.

Arnold Newman's portraits were distinguished by his meticulous attention to composition, which added a visual sophistication to his images. He had a penchant for employing close-up shots to capture the expressions and faces of his subjects, allowing him to reveal their essence and characteristics to a significant extent.

One of his most renowned works is "Stravinsky" (1946), an iconic portrait that exemplifies Newman's ability to capture the essence of his subjects.

11.Sally Mann


Sally Mann, born in 1951, gained fame for her intimate photography, which explored themes such as family, childhood, mortality, and the American South. For aspiring children’s photographers, Sally Mann serves as an excellent role model to learn from. Her passion for the art form was ignited by her father, and she developed a deep interest in capturing images.

One of Mann's most celebrated works is the series titled "Immediate Family," which revolves around her own children. In these photographs, she embraces imperfections and the unpredictability of life. Mann's images capture genuine moments, revealing the raw and authentic aspects of childhood. By accepting flaws and embracing the unexpected, she creates a compelling narrative that resonates with viewers.

Sally Mann's ability to convey intimacy and vulnerability through her photography has established her as a significant figure in the art world. Her work serves as an inspiration for photographers seeking to capture the essence and authenticity of their subjects, particularly in the realm of children's photography.

  1. Herb Ritts

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Born in 1952 in Los Angeles, Herb Ritts gained fame as a prominent fashion photographer, particularly noted for his captivating black and white portraits of models and celebrities. His work graced the pages of esteemed magazines such as Interview, Esquire, Mademoiselle, Glamour, and more. Notably, Ritts' photographs exhibit a unique emphasis on shapes and simplicity, showcasing his artistic vision and style.

One of Herb Ritts' most famous works is his photograph titled "Fred with Tires" (1984). This iconic image features the renowned actor and dancer, Fred Astaire, striking a pose while holding two large tires.

  1.  Nigel Parry

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Nigel Parry, a British-born portrait photographer, has garnered recognition for his work published in numerous prestigious publications, including Time, Newsweek, and others. Born in 1966, Parry commenced his career as a freelancer in the late 1980s. His photography encompasses a diverse range of subjects, including celebrities, political figures, and cultural icons, allowing their individual personalities to shine through. Parry's portfolio is characterized by an intimate and subtle approach, capturing the essence of his subjects with finesse.


  1. Mark Seliger

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If you have dedicated yourself to the field of portrait photography for an extended period, it is necessary to know the renowned photographer Mark Seliger. Today, he is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost portrait photographers. With a professional career spanning over 20 years, his work has graced numerous publications and exhibitions. From an early age, Seliger drew inspiration from his father, a highly acclaimed photojournalist. His exceptional talent quickly garnered recognition, particularly through his iconic images of pop stars such as Nirvana and Eddie Vedder for Rolling Stone magazine. Seliger's photographs are celebrated for their refined and striking compositions, exemplifying his meticulous attention to detail.

  1. Anton Corbijn

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Born in 1955 in the Netherlands, Anton Corbijn is widely regarded as one of the world's leading portrait photographers. He first made his mark in the industry as a music photographer, capturing a multitude of images featuring the band Herman Brood & His Wild Romance. These early works not only propelled his fame but also garnered international recognition for his exceptional talent.


  1. Jimmy Nelson


Born in 1955, Jimmy Nelson is a renowned British photographer known for his captivating portraits and documentary work. He has dedicated his lens to shining a light on indigenous cultures across the globe. Notably, his project titled "Before They Pass Away" stands out, as it documents indigenous communities on the verge of disappearing amidst the forces of globalization and modernization. Nelson's photographs are characterized by vivid colors, intricate details, and a profound focus on the individuals he captures.

Moreover, Nelson's illustrious career includes being recognized as one of the leading fashion photographers for top brands like Gucci, further solidifying his reputation and expertise in the field.


  1.  Phil Borges

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Borges, born in California, USA, exhibited a passion for photography from a young age. His portfolio revolves around the lives of marginalized communities and serves as a reflection of pressing social issues. Borges' photographs leave a profound impression on viewers, as they artfully blend the beauty, resilience, and wisdom of these marginalized groups. Among his notable works, "Enduring Spirit" stands as a widely acclaimed series that captures indigenous people grappling with cultural erosion and displacement while tenaciously preserving their invaluable heritage.

  1.  Angus Mcbean


Angus McBean, born in 1904 in Scotland, was a gifted portrait photographer who garnered recognition for his exceptional talent. At a young age, he moved to London, where his passion for photography blossomed. McBean's remarkable ability to capture captivating images of prominent figures in the artistic and theatrical spheres propelled his career to new heights.

During the mid-20th century, McBean's imaginative photographs captured the public's imagination and enjoyed widespread popularity. He had the privilege of working with esteemed celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and The Beatles, solidifying his status as a sought-after photographer.

McBean's artistic exploration extended to various photography styles and techniques, including double exposures and composite images, which added an extra layer of creativity and surrealism to his already mesmerizing photographs.

The impact of McBean's images and distinctive styles continues to exert an impact on portrait photography, leaving an enduring impression that shapes the field even to this day.

  1. David LaChapelle

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David Lachapelle is one of the famous portrait photographers and takes many excellent and amazing images. Born in 1963, his first image is about his mother Helga on a family vacation in Puerto Rico. He worked for Andy Warhol as an assistance at his early age and in 80s, he gained recognition across the world because he worked for some famous magazines, such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone.

David LaChapelle is a renowned and celebrated portrait photographer, known for his exceptional and breathtaking images. Born in 1963, LaChapelle's photographic journey began with capturing his mother, Helga, during a family vacation in Puerto Rico. He started his career as an assistant to the iconic Andy Warhol, which provided him with valuable experience and exposure.

In the 1980s, LaChapelle gained international recognition for his work with prestigious magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Rolling Stone. These collaborations further solidified his position as a prominent figure in the world of photography.

What sets LaChapelle's images apart is their bold use of colors, extravagant sets, and unconventional compositions, challenging traditional notions of portraiture. His photographs are visually striking and often convey a sense of extravagance and surrealism.

In addition to his photography, LaChapelle has delved into the realm of music videos, creating visually captivating and widely acclaimed works that have gained popularity worldwide.

Overall, David LaChapelle's talent and creativity have made him a prominent figure in the world of portrait photography. His bold and unconventional approach, along with his ventures into music videos, have solidified his status as an influential and renowned artist.

  1.  Lorenzo Agius

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Lorenzo Agius, a celebrated British photographer born in London, has gained fame for his exceptional skill in capturing celebrity portraits and creating iconic black and white images. Agius launched his career as a freelance photographer in the 1990s, honing his craft and capturing captivating moments through his lens. His notable achievements include collaborations with renowned Hollywood stars, and his photographs have featured in the pages of esteemed publications such as Vanity Fair and GQ.

What sets Agius's work apart is its raw and intimate quality, which allows viewers to build a deep connection with the subjects of his photographs. His expertise and talent have firmly established him as a leading figure among professional portrait photographers, earning him the privilege of having his images featured during the opening of the Cannes Film Festival.

  1.  Kenneth Willardt

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Kenneth Willardt, born in Denmark, is a highly sought-after contemporary portrait photographer. From a young age, he nurtured a profound interest in photography, which drove him to pursue his dreams in the vibrant city of New York after studying graphic design and photography.

Willardt's images exude a vibrant energy, exceptional creativity, and meticulous attention to detail. His remarkable talent has led to collaborations with prestigious publications including Chanel, Dior, Gucci, and L'Oréal Paris, among others.

Even today, Kenneth Willardt continues to wield a significant impact on the realm of fashion photography, thanks to his distinctive style and artistic vision. His work possesses a unique ability to captivate and inspire, leaving an enduring imprint on the industry.

  1. Corbin Gurkin

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Corbin Gurkin is widely recognized as one of the world's most renowned wedding photographers, with a wealth of experience in the field spanning many years. Throughout her career, she has embarked on numerous journeys, drawing inspiration from her travels that is vividly reflected in her work.

Her images capture the essence of these experiences, inviting viewers into a world of beauty and emotion.

One of Corbin's distinctive artistic inclinations lies in her penchant for incorporating elements of drawing and painting into her photography. This unique approach not only adds depth and creativity to her work but also serves as a source of inspiration for fellow photographers.

Corbin Gurkin's mastery of wedding photography, coupled with her ability to infuse her images with travel-inspired aesthetics and artistic touches, has earned her an esteemed reputation in the industry. Her work continues to inspire and captivate audiences around the globe.

  1. Mark Mann

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Mark, a British-born photographer, has had the privilege of collaborating with numerous celebrities throughout his career. Renowned figures including Robert De Niro, Michelle Obama, and David Bowie, among others, have graced his captivating photographs.

Mark's images offer a compelling glimpse into the multifaceted lives of these notable individuals, unveiling their lesser-known sides to the world.

His exceptional talent has garnered recognition, with his work prominently featured in prestigious fashion magazines such as Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times Magazine.

A notable strength of Mark's is his ability to swiftly connect with his subjects, establishing a strong and friendly rapport. This proficiency allows him to authentically capture their emotions, resulting in a lasting impact on viewers.

  1.  Peter Lindbergh

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Peter Lindbergh, born in 1944 and sadly passing away in 2019, remains a highly influential figure in the German fashion photography industry. Renowned for his iconic black and white portraits, Lindbergh was celebrated for his ability to capture authenticity with a raw and unfiltered style.

What sets Lindbergh apart is his unique perspective on imperfections, valuing the individuality of his subjects and refraining from excessive retouching. He believed in presenting both the subjects and the images authentically, allowing their genuine beauty to resonate with viewers.

Lindbergh's lasting impact on the fashion industry includes his pivotal role in shaping the "supermodel" phenomenon of the 1990s. During this era, he skillfully captured a group of legendary models, such as Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington, catapulting them to global prominence.

25. Terry Richardson

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Born in 1964 in New York City, Terry Richardson emerged as a highly influential fashion portrait photographer with a global impact. Throughout his career, he formed collaborations with prestigious clients, including renowned fashion brands like Gucci, Marc Jacobs, and Vogue magazine.

While Terry Richardson gained notoriety for his controversial style and provocative imagery, it is worth acknowledging his unique approach to capturing well-known celebrities. Rather than orchestrating elaborate setups, he sought to portray them in everyday, relatable settings, often employing instant cameras to capture candid and authentic moments.

  1. Rehahn

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While Réhahn may not have attained widespread fame as a portrait photographer, his exceptional images possess a distinctive style that stands out. With a passion for exploration, he has traveled extensively to different countries, skillfully capturing stunning photographs that beautifully depict the local culture and its people.

27. Mario Testino

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Born in 1954, Mario Testino is an exceptional and renowned photographer specializing in fashion portrait photography. He has had the privilege of working with a multitude of famous celebrities and notable individuals. Testino's work has been prominently featured in prestigious magazines such as Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair, and GQ, both domestically and internationally. Furthermore, his talent has been sought after by renowned brands including Gucci and Burberry. Testino's exceptional work has garnered widespread recognition and admiration from the public.



  1. 2 Zhang Jingna

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Zhang Jingna is widely recognized as a prominent portrait photographer, celebrated for her flawless fashion and beauty images. She has had the opportunity to collaborate with prestigious publications such as Vogue, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar, where her exceptional work has been prominently featured.

Zhang possesses a remarkable talent for capturing the inherent beauty and outstanding characteristics of her subjects. Through her artistic vision, she skillfully highlights and presents the unique traits and allure of each individual, resulting in captivating and visually stunning portraits.

  1.  Herb Ritts

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Herb Ritts is a renowned and highly talented photographer who achieved fame for his exceptional work with numerous notable celebrities. His reputation soared on a global scale during the 1980s and 1990s, leaving an indelible mark on the industry. Ritts' images have been prominently featured in various renowned magazines, captivating audiences worldwide.

Ritts' distinctive style is characterized by minimalist compositions, bold contrasts, and a profound emphasis on the human form. His photographs showcase a remarkable ability to capture the essence of his subjects with simplicity and elegance. In addition to his contributions to fashion photography, Ritts demonstrated proficiency in music videos and fine arts, showcasing his diverse artistic capabilities.

Unfortunately, Herb Ritts tragically passed away at the age of 50 in 2002, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire and influence the world of photography.

  1.  Petra Collins

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Petra Collins, a prominent editorial portrait photographer based in Canada, is renowned for her exceptional ability to capture stunning portraits that not only showcase the beauty and personality of her subjects but also reveal their true essence. Collins' photography style seamlessly blends artistic creativity with a contemporary edge, resulting in visually striking and thought-provoking images. Her remarkable talent lies in her capacity to establish a genuine connection with her subjects, allowing their unique qualities to shine through. This proficiency has made her highly sought-after in the realms of fashion and editorial photography.

 31.  Albert Watson

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Albert Watson, born in 1942 in Scotland, embarked on his photography career after initially treating it as a hobby. In 1970, he moved to the United States, where his journey as a professional photographer began. Watson's unique and distinctive style quickly garnered attention, leading to opportunities with renowned publications such as Mademoiselle, GQ, and Harper's Bazaar.

Throughout his  career, Watson created images for numerous successful advertising campaigns on behalf of major corporations including the GAP, Levi's, Revlon, and Chanel. Additionally, he ventured into directing over 100 TV commercials and capturing striking posters for prominent Hollywood movies such as Kill Bill and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Watson's talent extended beyond commercial work, as he had the privilege of collaborating with esteemed individuals, including the influential figure Steve Jobs. His diverse portfolio and remarkable contributions to the field have solidified his status as a highly respected and celebrated photographer.


These famous photographers have exceptional talent and their works can undoubtedly serve as a great source of inspiration and ideas for photography enthusiasts and professional photographers. By immersing yourself in their images and studying their techniques, you can gain valuable insights and fuel their own creativity.

It's important to note that while having professional cameras and lenses can enhance the technical aspects of photography, you can still create excellent images using a smartphone. The key lies in understanding composition, lighting, and storytelling, regardless of the equipment being used.