Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Favorite Photographers

LAST UPDATED: March 4, 2012

WARNING: Some portfolios will contain shots not suitable for work environments or children. Use caution when viewing.

To me a favorite photographer is someone who has a collection of work that I look at with awe and say "I'll never be that good" or "I would have never thought of that". The photographers in the list below represent that ideal to me as they have pictures that exceed my picky bar of what is good and nothing that I would look at and say "that's crap". I aspire to be this good, so the highest complement I could get is to say I have a shot that looks like it could have been in the portfolio of one of these great photographers.

As of the date shown above, my top 20 favorite photographers are (don’t get hung up on the numbers, it’s not a true stack ranking):

  1. Tim Wallace* (Automotive) - This guy is simply amazing. His Automotive Photography work is what I dream I could do, so simply put I aspire to be this amazing one day. Read my interview for more about Tim as a paragraph simply isn’t enough.
  2. Douglas Dubler* (Fashion & Print) – Douglas is not only an amazing photographer, but in my opinion one of the top print masters in the world. His 60” tall fashion prints can stand up to the scrutiny of examination from inches away under a light box where I dare you to find a flaw. His work is simply breath taking and for Douglas, it’s go large or go home so his bigger than life prints will wow you time and time again. His attention to detail is second to none.  
  3. Michel Tcherevkoff* (Digital Art) - A creative master who goes beyond just taking photos, but using those images to create digital art like you’ve never seen. His work is not a drawing, and it’s not painted. Instead, it’s composite of real photos processed brilliantly to create an exciting new style of work that is all his own. Michel is simply the most creative human being I’ve ever met, and given my day job that’s saying a lot! 
  4. Gary Parker (You Name It!) – His Genius Series alone is enough to blow away the best portrait photographers on the planet away, but that’s just the beginning. From his Cat & Dog Photography work to his Little People of America recognized dwarf photography work, a quick glance through his portfolio and you’ll quickly see that there’s nothing that Gary can’t shoot. He has an amazing portfolio of images that are so sharp with such perfect color that you'll dream of having a portfolio like this one day (I know I do). I follow his new work and time and time again I’m just floored with what he comes out. He truly is a Photography Magician!
  5. Tyler Stableford* (Adventure Photographer) - There's a good reason why he's won 6 picture of the year awards - he'll go anywhere to get the great shot! Tyler’s also great instructor who’s on the top of my list of people I’d like to go shoot with.
  6. Clint Clemens* (Commercial) - You've seen this guy's work in car brochures, magazines, and more. Simply amazing stuff and a lot of it!
  7. Nick Brandt (Black & White / Safari) - I hate black and white photography, but this guy's safari work is so amazing that you can't help but be in awe.
  8. George Fulton – George’s composition is amazing. I can look at a picture of his for hours as my eye wanders around the scene seeing how all the parts connect. A true composition master! He also has some pretty amazing medical photography too!
  9. Greg Gorman* (Celebrity) - You name the celebrity and this guy has photographed them – flawlessly! He’s also an amazing print master in my printing series!
  10. Jill Greenberg (Celebrity) - While I hate her on a personal level for some of the stunts she has pulled, her post-processing and award winning shots are indeed noteworthy.
  11. Stephen Eastwood* (Fashion) - His site is slow to load, but worth the wait as his work is pure perfection hundreds of times over.
  12. Trey Ratcliff* (Travel & HDR) – Mr. HDR who is doing great work with both texture overlays and colors that makes you rethink how you process even your most boring photos to make them exciting!
  13. Ryszard Horowitz (Digital Art) - You can't do these shots in camera, but they are amazing indeed.
  14. Steve Liss (Journalism) - Ever heard of Time Magazine? If so, then you've seen this guy's work many times. Amazing stuff.
  15. Gerald Pope (Wedding) - Want to be a great wedding photographer? Then study this guy's work - it simply redefines what great wedding photography should be.
  16. Jim DiVitale (Commercial) - His golf club photos are a perfection in color, composition and sharpness. WOW!
  17. Nick Vedros (Lifestyle) - His work will make you laugh at life, but as a photographer the quality of the work will make you say there's more here than just great composition
  18. Joe McNally (Journalism) - Joe is one National Geographic photographer who has kept up with the times and continues to crank out masterpieces in this day and age. His book is an inspiration for what can be done, and his teachings on flash photography show us all what is possible with those damn things!
  19. Scott Kelby* (General) - Not only is he a good author who has taken the time to read all of the great Photoshop and Photography books and turn them into something you can just pickup and put into practice, he's a pretty darn good photographer in my book. Fantastic color and composition are his trademarks.
  20. Bryan F. Peterson* (Portraits and Industrial) – If this list was written last year, Bryan would have been in the top 5. Compositionally speaking, Bryan is also one of the best in the business. His books are a fantastic must read and his enthusiasm is infectious.

* = Link takes you to the interview on this  blog which has photos and a portfolio link

I admire the sharpness, color (including B&W), clarity, composition, and content of their photos as a collective. While they may have isolated shots that I do not care for, a majority of their online portfolio demonstrates what I consider to be the highest quality photography.

This list isn't about famous names, what magazine covers they've done, their reputation, or popularity. Some of these people are ordinarily people like you and me and others are very famous.

But what about ...

I know that there are some great photographers that I'm probably missing from this list, but I went through some of the best of Nikon and Canon photographers as well as many links I've accumulated over the past couple years and these were the ones that impressed me the most.

I know some people will expect Ansel Adams, William Albert Allard, Sam Abell, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and other legends of photography to be in this list. However, while I appreciate their contribution to Photography, I feel that these modern day photographers are carrying in their footsteps to create works that surpass these masters. Technology and time have given the photographers an advantage to create works that I think these forefathers would be proud of.

I also am primarily sticking to photographers who use Photoshop and shoot digitally, as that is what I do. However, greats like Adams and Jerry N. Uelsmann have been doing great post-processing long before our high tech gadgetry of today existed!

I also know there are great photographers works who I've seen and forgot to create links for, so feel free to add your favorites that are missing from this list in the comments section of this blog article.

Honorable Mention

The following photographers have some outstanding shots, but their portfolio is lacking something to be compared with the top photographers above. However, each of them have select shots are so good that I can't help but mention them:

  • Kim and Adam Bamberg (Wedding) - Based on composition alone they are probably one of the top photographers in the wedding category, but then you add the color and sharpness each and every photo offers and you end up with something truly special. Kim and Adam were on my Top Photographers list for years, but only until mid-2010 did I have to bump them to make room for others. If I had a 21st spot, it would be theirs. For many they’d be in the top 10.
  • Rarindra Prakarsa (People / Landscapes) - An up and comer who is a post-processing guru. The colors and images he produces simply draw you into the photo and keep you locked there.
  • Zhang Jingna (a.k.a., zenmotion) (Fashion) - Her self-portraits are simply amazing, but it is her fashion work that really sets her apart from the average photographer.
  • Marco Grob - (Portraits) – Fantastic stuff and a favorite photographer of my #1, Tim Wallace. I had a hard time not putting him in the top 20, but he’s current my #21 by a mile.
  • Bambi Cantrell* (Portraits) - There are a lot of great portrait photographers, so Bambi's impressive collection just missed the cut.
  • Ari Bixhorn (Landscape) - I'm pleased to say I work at the same  company with Ari in my day job (although I've never met him), but his landscapes are some of the best I've seen. Ari was a top 20 member until 3/30/09.
  • John Shaw (Nature) - This one was tough to not put on the list because he's a photography icon without question.
  • Floris van Breugel (Nature) - There's moments of brilliance and others that make me shake my head
  • David  Hobby - Mr. Strobist.com is a great photographer and a master of the flash for sure. Keeping him out of my top 20 was difficult, but, I felt there shots in his portfolio that I'd probably mark as rejected so that kept him out of the top 20.
  • Art Wolfe (Landscape / Wildlife) - A great photographer from my current hometown (Seattle).
  • Denis Reggie (Weddings) - At one point in time Denis was high on my list, but others have been bumped up on my list.
  • James Neeley (Rural Life / Landscape) - Great stuff for sure but I thought Ari Bixhorn was better.
  • Mary Duprie (Fashion) - Lots of high quality fashion work by someone who shares her knowledge with aspiring photographers.
  • Bob Davis (Wedding / Magazine) - Very good wedding photographer who knows how to put photos together in a fun story.
  • Jairo Marcos (Formula 1 Racing) - The best F1 photographer you've never heard of.
  • Zack Arias (Studio) - Another master of light who has a blog with lots of great stuff for any photographer wishing to master the art of studio photography.

Keep in mind, I'm not worthy of any of these photographers either, so at this point I aspire to be on this list!

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This blog is intended for freelance writing and sharing of opinions and is not a representative of any of the companies whose links are provided on this site.

The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

8 comments:

Ron Martinsen said...

I knew when I wrote this that I'd have to keep coming back to add sites and make changes, so here's the first of them.

I'm not one to get stuck in the past, so while I have respect for the history of photography I am generally not too impressed with a lot of black & white and film photography I see. However, when I look at the work of Jerry Uelsmannn and realize that he's been doing this for years using film and in a darkroom (NO PHOTOSHOP) then I get very excited. This guy is amazing!

polaroider said...

i like lilya corelli a lot and sophie touvin..

Eric said...

I liked your list of photographers. I will be back to your site again.....Thanks

Eric

Abi Yeni Rotimi said...

Thank you for sharing the list with us one of my favourite photographers from that list is Bambi Cantrell

Dave Adams said...

Excellent list, not come across http://www.jairomarcos.com/ before.

SUPERMHR said...

hi ron.
i grew fond of your blog because of it honest content (and sharing some similarities...starting with canon gear!)
i checked this section today and i realized that you might be unaware of my favourite criteria, Astrohptography, and its masters. so i ask you to check these guys out along with their gallery on the same page:
Babak Amin Tafreshi
known for his skysacapes often chosen for NASA publication along with Sky&Telescope and Astronomy Magazine:
http://twanight.org/newTWAN/photographers_about.asp?photographer=Babak%20A.%20Tafreshi
_________
Wally Pacholka
his work is simply jaw-dropping! you'll wonder about his processing method like forever!:
http://twanight.org/newTWAN/photographers_about.asp?photographer=Wally%20Pacholka
_________
Amirhossein Abolfath
he is widely known for his time-lapse photography of celestial events. breathtaking as they are:
http://twanight.org/newTWAN/photographers_about.asp?photographer=Amir%20H.%20Abolfath
____________
and of course you must've encountered Jennifer Wu, canon explorer of light.
well that good for starters...
oh and best of all...they're mostly canon shooters! (remember the time that canon released the astronomy specific camera body, EOS 20Da?)
Thanks!
M.H.Rahmani

Ron Martinsen said...

Thanks for your feedback SUPERMHR!

As I say in the article, this is my favorite (which is a list that changes over time), but others will no doubt have their own.

Thanks for sharing your faves. Those are some amazing astro shots from Wally and Amirhossein!

I have a joke about photography that goes basically like this...

So you've finally done it - you've got the great pro camera body and killer lenses - you've got the perfect gear setup, but what now? Where does all of that credit left on your card go?

The answer is simple - astrophotography - the perfect hobby to spend as much money as you could possibly ever make - even if you were as rich as Bill Gates!

I admire astrophotgraphy from a distance. I don't want my credit card to go there!

SUPERMHR said...

yeah i hear you loud and clear!
i still remember people choosing full mechanical, some rather expensive, SLR bodies over newer AE bodies. or nowadays they choose EOS 40D over 50D for better "long exposure noise" performance. and you're right! it's always the best excuse for buying the best and latest camera bodies!
the way i look at it, its just like landscape photography with considering one more element: sky. but when it comes to deep-sky (nebulae, galaxy and stuff)... i even think of it as a waste of money. (cause 90% of the time Mr.Hubble's way ahead!) but admire it as one of the most sophisticated and challenging types of photography. (two absolutely masters are Robert Gendler (http://www.robgendlerastropics.com/) and Tony Hallas (http://www.astrophoto.com/) which literally produce images even better than hubble's!!)
and what i like about them is that they always use the best possible optics. even the least expensive Apochromatic telescopes produce sharper images than our sophisticated lenses (check out William Optics (www.williamoptics.com) for reasonable fine quality telescopes or Takahashi Optics for just dreaming about an f/2.8 telescope, rather large in diameter for gathering unimaginable amount of light. there is also Swarovsky which is something between them). or Ritchey Chretien optics that have no kinds of optical aberrations AT ALL! (priced at least 10,000$ though. there are fine quality RC optics with reasonable prices found at www.Celestron.com or www.Meade.com)
as you mentioned in your blog, considering buying a telescope is not a bad idea. i think of one of those beautiful WilliamOptics white Megrez telescopes or those prestigious Carbon Fiber Ferrari editions for a +300mm equivalent lens.
______
wow. i lost the subject...sorry about that. :)
one thing that bothers me is only a few photographers out of your list would came out like Scott Kelby or Bryan Peterson to teach as good as their catch. same here in astrophotography, we miss a Scott Kelby for retouching those noisy skyscapes (heh! skyscape! funny name!). some long exposures even get rare "scanline noise" which is like drawing a line on a black mercedes with a dime.
__________
if you endured reading my "comment" until this line...thank you!
just joking...thank you anyways. keep up the good work. obviously you're needed here more than most techy sites all over.
best regards.
M.H.Rahmani