Over the years, I’ve been following a number of photographers who each have their own distinct style. What I mean by this is that when you see a photograph, you know it was taken by one of them. That’s one of the ultimate goals, isn’t it? To stand out from the crowd, to be unique, to have your own voice. Lately, I’ve taken a keen interest in wedding and family photography, mostly because I can connect with feelings associated with them – being a bride and a mom. Seeing brides and grooms on one of the happiest days of their lives makes my heart sing. (Sorry that was a little bit cheesy.) Being a mother I know how quickly babies can grow into kids so I’m excited when I get to capture their fleeting moments. I love seeing their countless expressions, from over-the-moon glee to uncontrollable sorrow.
The eight photographers in this post aren’t family or wedding photographers (except for Max Wanger). However, they’re photographers who’ve made a big impact on me by making me fall in with the whole genre of photography. While some are masters at creating whimsical scenes (Annie Leibovitz, Rodney Smith, Tim Walker) others are incredible at capturing the perfect moment (Henri Cartier-Bresson and Elliot Erwitt). Below one of their photographs, I’ve added in some quotes by them. If anything, I hope you come away with this post inspired.
He was one of the most accomplished and influential photographers of the 20th century; he was the acknowledged ‘master of the moment’, and many of his images are masterpieces of photographic history.
“To photograph: it is to put on the same line of sight the head, the eye and the heart.”
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
“To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”
“Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera.”
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.”
“You just have to live and life will give you pictures.”
“Of course it’s all luck.”
He is a British fashion photographer, who regularly shoots for Vogue and W Magazine. He’s known for his whimsical sets. Think Annie Leibovitz in male form.
“Only photograph what you love.”
“It is very difficult to make the ideas in my head come to life, but what is harder is making them look effortless.”
“Storytelling – fanciful storytelling – can only be told through fashion photography. It’s the perfect way to play with fantasy and dreams.”
“Looking back at my earlier pictures, I think that the work is very much coming from the same place. I have gone through a period of challenging myself with a complicated idea to currently challenging myself with the idea of simplicity.”
Annie Leibovitz is an American portrait photographer known for her elaborate sets.
“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.”
“The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”
“If I didn’t have my camera to remind me constantly, I am here to do this, I would eventually have slipped away, I think. I would have forgotten my reason to exist.”
With an illustrious career spanning over 45 years, New York-based photographer Rodney Smith has produced countless images that are a perfect blend of style and sophistication. The man is a genius at composition.
“People use the terminology ‘He’s a commercial photographer, he’s a fine art photographer, he’s a landscape photographer.’ I think it’s hard enough just to be a photographer. I think that in using the term ‘photographer’ one should be very careful about what that really means. I grew up in a tradition where being a photographer was a very noble pursuit. You pursued it for the love and the passion, and doing it was a very difficult thing to do. There are thousands and thousands of people who take photographs, but very few photographers, because one has to have an eye, one has to have the vision, one has to have something to say.”
“Many people believe that one is born with talent and some people have it and some people don’t. I actually don’t believe that. I believe that everyone has the ability; because everyone is a human being and everyone has feelings. If they are able to express those feelings, than that is part of their talent.”
Steve McCurry, recognized universally as one of today’s finest photographers, is best known for his evocative color photography.
“Most of my photos are grounded in people, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.”
“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.”
“The photograph is an undeniably powerful medium. Free from the constraints of language, and harnessing the unique qualities of a single moment frozen in time.”
As a staff photographer at The New Yorker for more than a decade, Martin Schoeller captured a wide range of famous characters, from President Barack Obama and Lady Gaga to the skateboarder Tony Hawk.
“Don’t think you have a Vanity Fair cover and you’re done; you’re only as good as your last photograph.”
“I think the best way to describe it is a certain moment of intimacy, of vulnerability, that I’m striving to capture.”
Elliott Erwitt is an advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings— a master of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment”.
“All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice.”
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
“I appreciate simplicity, true beauty that lasts over time, and a little wit and eclecticism that make life more fun.”
Max Wanger is a Los Angeles-based photography known for his simplicity and use of negative space.
“What makes photography interesting is that almost all photographers are unique. It’s very rare that two people are able to share the same moment from the same perspective. I guess that means my pictures are unique simply because I am who I am wherever I happen to be. Eyes (and shutter) open, of course.”
“Love what you photograph. if you love what you shoot, it comes across in your images. Also, scour books and magazines. And study composition.”