• Matthew Brooks

People Person (Part 2)

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

If you consider yourself to be a people person you will probably be interested in seeing and learning about the work of famous photographers who could also be considered a people person. Having not learnt about the history of photography which you do learn in University...(click HERE to check my is Uni right for you blog)...I have taken time to do some learning myself. As I mentioned in Part 1 this will take a look back to the past and a look at the present; I will look at a few photographers that have caught my eye and who's photos captivate me. It is good to know what has been done before, firstly to see if you have an original idea and secondly to get inspiration from what's already been done. Looking at others work is a great way of seeing new ideas that you hadn't thought of. It can help you get out of a creative slump. Never copy someone else's work, but certainly find inspiration within it. There will be links underneath each description of every photographer listed to view their work.

Yousuf Karsh 1908 - 2002

Yousuf Karsh has produced some of the most iconic photographs for the most iconic people of their time. He was THE portrait photographer from the late 1930's working all the way up to the very late 1980's. That famous picture of Winston Churchill leaning on his walking stick other hand on his hip looking grumpy as hell - that's a Karsh. That famous Picasso photo of him next to a vase - that's a Karsh. That famous Mandela shot, that famous Fidel Castro shot - they are both Karsh. The list honestly goes on and on from the Royal Family to Mother Teresa to Audrey Hepburn. What is evident in all the photos is that he really knew great lighting. It gave amazing depth and shape to the subject and are timeless. To see a full list of his work check his website link below, also below that is the Instagram link.


Instagram -Yousuf Karsh

Mary Ellen-Mark 1940 - 2015

Mary Ellen-Mark is one of the most famous street photographers, taking a photojournalist/documentary approach. Often tackling some very difficult situations and socially uncomfortable stories. Stories and scenes that occur around the world but don't get depicted in images often like homelessness, prostitution, youth crime and delinquency. Sometimes even living on the periphery of those situations but not getting actively involved. Her most famous collections of work being "Falklands Road: Prostitutes of Bombay" and "Streetwise". These are not too much about being technically amazing photographs but more so about the stories and the people in them, the conditions they have to endure and what brought them into these situations.


Annie Leibovitz 1949 - Present

A modern day top photographer that everybody considers a great. A career spent working for the biggest magazines and photographing pretty much every celebrity around. Starting at Rolling Stone magazine and then Vogue and Vanity Fair. Her style is big studio production and often a little bit out there. There does also seem to be more than a hint of a classical renaissance painterly feel to many of her photographs. She photographed John Lennon the day he died. She also photographed the Queen on her 90th birthday. The most iconic and talked about Vanity Fair front covers over the last 25 years or so are Annie Leibovitz creations.

The Richest Magazine - Top 20 Annie Leibovitz photos

Instagram - Annie Leibovitz

Robert Frank 1924 - Present

Robert Frank is a documentary and street photographer who influenced a number of other famous photographers like Annie Leibovitz. His most famous work is his photo book "The Americans". It is vastly considered one of the most influential and important series of photos. It showed America and Americans with the ideas and view that Robert Frank had of the country, showing the hollowness of living to chase the American dream. The series broke the rules of photography. Not paying any attention to whether the picture was compositionally pleasing or sometimes even in focus, just focusing on the story it told. If you were to look at it single picture by single picture it wouldn't be fantastic and meant to view as a whole, as a story.

In-depth breakdown of "The Americans" by Eric Kim

Robert Capa 1913 - 1954

Robert Capa pursued photographing people in places that only the bravest and most heroic people dare to go of their own free will, active war-zones. Also not just simply photographing in a war torn country but often being on the front lines, as he was when the first American troops landed on Omaha Beach. For his bravery in documenting World War II he received the medal of freedom from President Eisenhower. The wars and war torn countries he covered were, the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Chinese resistance to Imperial Japan 1938, World War II, post war Russia 1947, First Indochina War 1954. It was in this last one that caused his untimely death when he stepped on a landmine. His pictures really captured the panic, chaos, loss, bravery and oppression that comes when in a war-zone. He was also one of the founding members of Magnum Photos.

Collection of Robert Capa work on Magnumphoto.com

Instagram - Robert Capa

Steve McCurry 1950 - Present

Even if you don't know his name you will have definitely seen his most famous portrait entitled "Afghan Girl". It was voted the most recognisable picture of all time. He has taken many great portraits while working on assignments for National Geographic, capturing faces from all over the world. He is a culture and travel photographer, edging on photojournalism, however he specifically states he is not a photojournalist. His head-shot type portraits capture a pure simplicity of that person and who they are. His environmental style portraits really do give more of a sense of what this person is about - their personality, interests, lifestyle.

Steve McCurry website

Instagram - Steve McCurry

Richard Avedon 1923 - 2004

Richard Avedon was mainly known for being a studio photographer using a white or light grey backdrop. His work very much was a fashion style. He incorporated movement into his studio shots which created interest and shaping in the images. I feel that it had a certain edginess and aesthetic look, which for that period of time in his earlier career, was ahead of its time. I think he has definitely helped develop the precedent for fashion photography and rounded off what defines it. He worked for many fashion magazines and other popular magazines and took many brilliant portrait of a wide variety of celebs and unknown people.


Instagram - Richard Avedon Foundation

Edward S. Curtis 1868 - 1952

Photography is something that can be used to gain a glimpse into the past and times that people have forgotten. The images that people take throughout time will only gain more significance as the world changes and develops in good ways and bad. Edward S. Curtis captured exactly that with his pictures. He captured a whole culture and people that for the most part do not exist the way that they once were. He actively spent over 30 years of his life documenting over 80 different Native American tribes in the west of the USA. He got amazing portraits showing the people as they were and candid environmental shots giving and insight into their way of life. His whole life work is now such an important part of American history and gives us that look into something that we will never see again.


Instagram - Edward S. Curtis

Phillipe Halsman 1906 -1979

The one thing you can definitely say about Philippe Halsman is that his portraits are diverse. He could really tailor his style to match the person he was shooting. Which really let the personality of the person he was shooting to shine through. He loved to shoot a comedic, wild portrait as much he did a serious headshot. Worked a lot with Salvador Dali throughout the decades. When speaking of Dali he said, "We were like two accomplices. Whenever I had an unusual idea, I would ask him to be the hero of my photograph. There was a cross-stimulation going on." Philippe also photographed stars like Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brandoe, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor.


Instagram - Philippe Halsman

Albert Watson 1942 - Present

The impression I get of Albert Watson is that he loves photography. This is shown in the variety of the subjects that he photographs. He hasn't just stuck to portraits but takes still life, landcapes and many other thing which relate to his own interests. Many of his photos have a cinematic style to them. His style I would say does not have a specific "look" to it, photographs and style has changed throughout the years. Also because he himself will admit to being a hard worker he has photographed a wide variety of people from rappers, film stars, musicians and other notable people. He has been front cover published on Vogue, Rolling Stone and Time many, many times. Photo District News named him as one of 20 of the most influential photographers of all time.


Instagram - Albert Watson

Brian Griffin 1948 - Present

Brian Griffin doesn't do a traditional portrait. The style definitely shows that he runs the photo shoot with the ideas that he has envisaged. Often he will put the client into strange poses or use seemingly random items in the picture. They have elements of comedy and some items or props he brings into the portrait will have personal meaning or a connection to the person he is photographing. The fact that no matter which celebrity or client he is shooting, bringing a bizarre twist to his style really does show the only thing that will limit you is your imagination.


Fan Ho 1937 - 2016

A lot of Fan Ho's work is a prime example of what I spoke of in Part 1. There is a human element which offers an initial focal point and connection, that human element might be a silhouette or far in the distance and not evident as who it is. But the overall picture is much more than the person in the picture. That is often the way that light and strong defined shadows interact with one another. How they create contrast and interesting shapes. This can be seen in what is probably his most famous picture "Approaching Shadow", but also across many others. Also lines is a major compositional theme that he uses.


Instagram - Fan Ho

Platon 1968 - Present

The headshot in its simplest form is essentially a true and accurate depiction of the person being photographed. However the headshot is mainly to do with psychology. It is to do with making the client feel comfortable and at ease from the start. Any awkwardness will show in the photos given that they are so close up. So the real skill is not taking a picture or setting up lighting, it is being able to converse with anybody of any background. It is a simple concept on the surface of it but he has done it so well. Everyone in the public eye would need a headshot for publicity and commercial work. It would seem that Platon has captured nearly everyone. Politician, film stars, musicians, sport stars and other notable stars. I won't list specific people as honestly there are too many big names to chose from, click on the link to his website below.


Instagram - Platon

Thanks for reading and i'll be back soon.

#portraiture #Learning #Style #People

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