10 Best Celebrity Photographers of All Time

Artist(s) in Focus, Top Lists, Photography

October 13, 2016

Celebrity Photographers could be understood as authors dedicated to a specific subset of figurative genres within the contemporary photography art. Celebrity photography is found within the fields of portrait photography, news or photojournalism and fashion photography, with just an emphasis on the chosen subjects – the celebrities from various fields of public domain. Throughout the second half of the 20th and the first two decades of the 21st century, there were a number of artists, widely known and profiled as famous celeb photographers, even though their body of work is built under many different photography genres. The photographs they shoot, in many cases influenced the way general public perceive the theme and know details about the celebrities, and is of great importance in forming collective memory - the iconic pictures of leading people in music, sport, politics, fashion or art. List of celebrity photographers here presents authors along with their best projects alphabetically.

Scroll down to see our selection of the best celebrity photographers of all times!

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Featured images: Terry Richardson - Cara Delevingne; Helmut Newton - Madonna; Irving Penn - Audrey Hepburn; Peter Lindbergh - Pharrell Williams.

Vulnerability of Celebrities - Richard Avedon

Richard Avedon is American photographer raised in tradition of the fashion magazines, since he worked for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue more than 20 years. He built his artistic expression trough the pushing the boundaries of motionless editorial photography in favor of reaching close insights into the subject’s personality. In his minimalistic compositions he focuses on the feelings of vulnerability and hypersensitivity mutual for the photographer and the subject. Thus, his work with many celebrities such as Andy Warhol, The Beatles, Merlin Monroe, Ezra Pound, Alan Ginsberg and many more, as well as for supermodel campaigns for Versace, Calvin Klein or Christian Dior in 80s and 90s, now is considered as part of photography classics.

Featured images: Richard Avedon - Naomi Campbell, Kristen McMenamy, Linda Evangelista, Stephanie Seymour and Christy Turlington for Gianni Versace, 1993, detail; Richard Avedon - Marilyn Monroe.

Demystification of Photography - Elliott Erwitt

Among celeb photographers, Elliott Erwitt comes from the fields of advertising and documentary photography and filmmaking. Throughout his professional career in photography he always insisted on the demystification of the media, always stating that shoot the world is simple and easy. His style is recognizable by the black and white photos of ironic and absurd everyday situations and meaningful part of his professional interest are dogs, and he dedicated four photo books to this topic. In order to express the sarcastic opinion on the contemporary photography and photographers, Erwitt even created his alter-ego, character of pretentious André S. Solidor, abbreviated as ASS. Erwitt’s celeb photos includes iconic images of Marilyn Monro, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, as well as the list of american presidents…

Featured images: Elliott Erwitt - Che Guevara; Elliott Erwitt - Marilyn Monroe.

Kemp Pop Surrealism - David LaChapelle

Name of David LaChapelle is inseparable from the celeb world from the eighties on. Started as photographer of Andy Warhol , Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons in his teens, LaChapelle soon become one of the most influential commercial photographers, music video director, film director and artist. His vision of pop culture is ironic and humorous hyper realism, sometimes described as "kitsch pop surrealism”. His exaggeration in colors, themes or style is always understood as subversive manner to point out bizarre character of popularity. List of the super celebrities, LaChapelle worked with includes most influential people who defined what we understand as pop culture today - Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Muhummad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Pamela Anderson, Whitney Houston, Jay Z, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Naomi Campbell, Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonardo DiCaprio, David Beckham, and Angelina Jolie.

Featured images: David LaChapelle - Ewan McGregor- Dollhouse Disaster, Love Scorned, 1997; David LaChapelle - Pamella Anderson.

Personal Reportage - Annie Leibovitz

Career of Annie Leibovitz started trough the music portrait photography under the Roling Stone magazine in seventies. Her style is often described as personal reportage, visual narrative trough the portrait and she was productive in various fields of photography, bot commercial and artistic, documentary and fiction, working on portraits of famous musicians, philosophers as well as making the unknown people and news events unforgettable. Leibovitz entered celeb photographers’ hall of fame when she captured the last picture of John Lennon, before he was assassinated. She was the first woman to exhibit in National Portrait Gallery, she actively participated in rising awareness of war in Bosnia and furthermore she was the first game changer photographer in long history of Pirelli Calendar, because in 2016 she makes it socially engaged, affirming the positive body image and just with refusing to make pictures nude female models in favor of dressed women roll models with outstanding new professional, social, cultural, sporting and artistic accomplishment.

Featured images: Annie Leibovitz - Leonardo DiCaprio, 2007; Annie Leibovitz - Patti Smith, 2016.

Minimalist approach - Peter Lindbergh

In the best and the most famous photography art, Peter Lindbergh was late bloomer, since he has started to work in his 30s as a commercial fashion photographer. His style is seen as minimalistic approach to photography, as his models appear on the staged set, in discreet wardrobe, with natural hair style and invisible make up interventions. Origins of his artistic approach could be tracked to the German school of expressionism within the film in 1920s. In front of his objective there was many of the famous super models and celebrities and he made their appearance iconic and their pictures - timeless. Lindbergh is the first photographer in the long history of the Pirelli calendar, to be invited to work on it for a third time for the 2017 edition.

Featured images: Peter Lindbergh - Daft Punk; Peter Lindbergh - Tilda Swinton.

Story of the Eye - Helmut Newton

The name of Helmut Newton is inscribed in history of art and in every list of best celebrity photographers, although he was primarily a fashion photographer associated with leading publications, editors and designers. His shocking style of picturing impressive beautiful naked blond women in heels in stark black and white, intelligently play on the edge with pornography, including liminal sex practices of bondage, sadomasochism, voyeurism, fetish, prostitution and even murder. Newton perfectly reflected all the new values of the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s in his work and even go beyond it defining contemporary erotic art trough his work for Playboy, where he introduced the new aesthetics. Within the field of art photography his work will be remembered as the perfect research on the topic of the male gaze on the female body and the photographic expression of the gendered eye of the camera.

Featured images: Helmut Newton - Madonna; Helmut Newton - Charlotte Rampling.

Modern Notion of Elegance - Irving Penn

Irving Penn is one of the most influential photographers within the field of celebrity photography. Classical and modern art notions of elegance as well as formal and graphic minimalism characterize his style. Penn has worked in fashion and fashion publications, with special emphasis on his seven decades career in Vogue. As his body of work was so prolific and fruitful, he is one of the eyewitnesses or rather creators of the 20th century visual history of art, culture and fame in general. His subjects are most frequently depicted in front of the simple background, or put into the corner, even though they were icons like Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, Audrey Hepburn, Elisabeth Taylor and John F. Kennedy.

Featured images: Irving Penn - Salvador Dali, 1947; Irving Penn - Audrey Hepburn.

Rock Star of Photography - Terry Richardson

Terry Richardson is considered to be a rock star among the photographers, because his personal lifestyle reflected his engagements in fashion and portrait photography, as well as advertising campaigns and music videos. His style is characterized putting high-profile celebrities in everyday life and extensive use of instant camera. Exuberant portrayal of sexuality and practices of depicting full-frontal nudity as well as simulated and actual sexual acts makes him edgy and shocking artist. Celebrities were often photographed in front of a white background and he frequently plays with the concept of the celebrity and role of the author – posing with his models or makes them impersonate him wearing his glasses.

Featured images: Terry Richardson - Salvador Dali, 1947; Terry Richardson - Audrey Hepburn.

Celebrity Hyperrealism - Martin Schoeller

The hyper detailed close up celebrity photographs of Martin Schoeller brought a brand new look on the topic. The faces of celebrities on his “big head” portrait technique are so hyper realistic those publicly display completely new and unseen side of the world most famous people. His first photo book Close Up: Portraits 1998-2005 pubished by teNeues in 2005, gives retrospective of seven years of his celebrity photography practice with over 300 portraits. Whether he portrays known or unknown subjects he uses similar lighting, background, and tone so the unifying and mannerist style poses the power of redefining the very concept of the celebrity.

Featured images: Left: Martin Schoeller - Paris Hilton / Right: Martin Schoeller - George Clooney; Left: Martin Schoeller - Clint Eastwood / Right: Martin Schoeller -Angelina Jolie.

Everyday Dolce Vita - Mario Testino

Fashion photographer Mario Testino has become worldwide famous for his celebrity portraits – from the members of the Royal Family to Kate Moss and Madonna. Testino trademark is practice of shooting lifestyle photos of subjects in large groups reenacting the real life in everyday situations. His new and specific style is celebrating of dolce vita and its visible both in his artistic and commercial work. After he gained international fame as prolific author with more than 40 notable solo exhibitions worldwide, Mario Testino gets to know how to become famous himself, and explores various aristic roles of a creative director, editor, museum founder, art collector/collaborator and business entrepreneur.

Featured images: Mario Testino - Kate Moss; Left: Mario Testino - Princess Diana / Right: Mario Testino - Madonna.

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