Photography is an art that is forever evolving. It is also enriching, and the list of the most famous photographers in the world continues to grow every year. Currently, there are many talented photographers and more are being born daily. This can make any list subjective, and because it is considered an art, the lists should be subjective. With that said, the following list is a compilation of the 4 best photographers in the world, past and present.

Annie Leibovitz

Many people are not familiar with her work, but it can be seen at every corner of the Internet. Because Annie Leibovitz seems to be a favourite among celebrities, any list of the best photographers should include her.

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz, also known as Annie-Lou Leibovitz, was born in 1949 in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA. She began her career as a photographer as a staff photographer for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970.

In the span of her life, her photographs have appeared in numerous galleries, books, and magazines. Among her many accolades, she is also the first female photographer to ever hold an exhibit at Washington’s National Portrait Gallery.


The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.

Leibovitz

She also has many celebrity portraits in her portfolio, and she often features these celebrities in intimate poses and settings. In fact, she is credited with some of the most memorable photographs of Demi Moore and Whoppi Goldberg. She is also known for taking the last known photograph of John Lennon just hours before he was killed.

Leibovitz also photographed Queen Elizabeth II twice. The first time was during the Queen’s state visit to the United States in the mid-2000s, and again at Windsor Castle in 2016 to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Elliot Erwitt

Born in 1928 in France, Elliot Erwitt was born to Russian immigrants. He is an American documentary and advertising photographer, and he is known for capturing absurd and ironic candid black and white photographs. It is undeniable that he has the skills, talent and experienced to be included on any list of the best photographers.

Elliot Erwitt
Elliott Erwitt

His talent has also been certified in this lifetime through his photographs that have been published in magazines and books around the world.

Erwitt’s photography career began when he was assigned to be a photographer’s assistant in the United States Army whilst he was stationed in Germany and France. However, it would be later meetings with Robert Capa, Edward Steichen and Roy Stryker that influenced his decision to pursue photography.

One of his favourite subjects to photographs are dogs, and they have also been the subject of several of his books including:

  • Dog Dog
  • To the Dogs
  • Woof
  • Elliot Erwitt’s Dogs

Erwitt is also an author of over two dozen photography books and is a long-standing member of Magnum Photos. His other achievements include the International Center for Photography’s Infinity Award and the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal.

There are galleries in every country fighting to get his newest works through their doors. There is little doubt that whatever best photographer list is compiled, Elliot Erwitt’s name should be included.

Brian Duffy

Born in London in 1993, Brian Duffy was a film producer and fashion photographer in Britain in the 1960s and the 1970s. During World War II, he and his siblings were evacuated to Kings Langley where they were taken in by actors Ursula Jeans and Roger Livesey.

Brian Duffy - Concrete Spiral Staircase 1962
Brian Duffy – Concrete Spiral Staircase 1962

He began as a freelance photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. This was when he first came into contact with commercial photography. Soon, he sought a job as a photographer assistant. Two years later, he was hired by British Vogue. Working under the direction of John Parsons, he remained at the company until the early 1960s. During this time, he photographed many models including:

He began as a freelance photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. This was when he first came into contact with commercial photography. Soon, he sought a job as a photographer assistant. Two years later, he was hired by British Vogue. Working under the direction of John Parsons, he remained at the company until the early 1960s. During this time, he photographed many models including:

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  • Paulene Stone
  • Joy Weston
  • Judy Dent
  • Jennifer Hocking

Duffy also had a long-term working relationship with David Bowie. He provided creative concept for over three key sessions and also provided the photographic images for three of Bowie’s album covers.

One interesting fact about Duffy is that he became disinterested in photography for a period of time. He burned almost all of his negatives. The only reason why all of the negatives were not destroyed is that his neighbours complained and the council was called out to his home.

Fortunately, for photography enthusiasts, he began taking photographs again before he died. The story of his life has been documented into a BBC documentary in 2010. It is called The Man Who Shot the 60s.

Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz Self Portrait
Alfred Stieglitz Self Portrait

Regarded as a groundbreaker in the photography niche, not only did Alfred Stieglitz promote his own work, he worked tirelessly to promote other photographers during this era.

Stieglitz was born in 1864 in New Jersey. He was a modern art promoter, and he operated several art galleries in New York City over the span of his 50-year career. He was also credited with introducing many avant-garde European artists to the United States, and he was married to Georgia O’Keefe.


In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality

Alfred on “reality”

He had an early interest in photography and was friends with Wilhelm Hasemann and Adolf von Menzel. He purchased his first camera whilst travelling in Europe and took many photographs of the countryside. It was through these travels and his self-study, he discovered photography is an art form.

By no means is this list conclusive. No matter who is added to the list, we can all agree that there is much that can be learned about the craft and art of photography. All photographers can inspire us at some level.