Nearly every news story you read online is accompanied with an image, sometimes an entire gallery. All those pictures have to be taken by photographers, and anyone working today owes a great debt to the defining artists of the past. This list is dedicated to those trailblazers whose work in the field of photography left an indelible mark on the art form.

9 Photographers Who Revolutionized The Medium

  1. Ansel Adams - landscape images in Yosemite National Park
  2. Robert Capa - combat photography while embedded with soldiers
  3. Robert Mapplethorpe - shocking images of New York subcultures
  4. Henri Cartier-Bresson - street photography focused on "The Defining Moment"
  5. Yousuf Karsh - intricately-lit portraits of notable individuals
  6. Dorothea Lange - photojournalist who captured The Great Depression
  7. Carol Guzy - emotional images of modern conflict zones
  8. Steve McCurry - captured faces in periods of combat around the world
  9. Annie Leibovitz - dramatic portraits of celebrities and politicians

Annie Leibovitz On Her Famous Portraits

Do Professional Photographers Use Film Or Digital Cameras?

Many of the people included on this list did their work before the advent of digital cameras. While there are some artists who prefer to take black and white photos on film and have greater control over the developing process while making prints, it isn't as practical for photojournalists, who now don't have to worry about switching out film and can instead take pictures much more rapidly. Digital also allows for easier editing and photo selection, which aids those who work for publications. Film certainly has its advantages stylistically, but if you're getting into the game now, you'd be wise to learn the digital trade. Try this list of the best DSLR cameras available.

Carol Guzy On The Defining Moments Of Her Career

More Information

Most of us take photographs every day to document our travels or show off the nice dinner we had, but some people have elevated the snapping of images beyond mere mementos, developing forms of visual art and using imagery as a means for pertinent storytelling. Let's take a look at some of these revolutionary photographers who have transformed the medium through their unique vision and style.

#1 on the list is American photographer Ansel Adams, who specialized in landscape images, and is renowned for his signature snapshots of the American West. Adams rose to fame after his iconic shots of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in 1927. He is highly regarded for his attention to light gradations and proper exposure, and his techniques have become integral to any education in photography.

At #2 is Robert Capa, a Hungarian photojournalist who redefined the documentation of war by joining soldiers on the battlefield and closely capturing the grim nature of combat. Capa gained global recognition for his photo "The Falling Soldier," taken during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. His World War II coverage earned him the "Medal of Freedom" from U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Capa co-founded "Magnum Photos," which was the first association for freelance photographers worldwide.

Robert Capa was covering the First Indochina War in Thai Binh, Vietnam, in 1954, when he stepped on a landmine, which ended his life. Hungary issued a gold coin and stamp in commemoration of his legacy.

Coming in at #3 is famed New York photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Known to shock his viewers with obscene, graphic, and highly sexual work, he revolutionized the industry with taboo images that challenged moral standards and notions of what is considered art. His most controversial work was his portrayal of New York's B.D.S.M. subculture and gay scene during the late 60s and early 70s.

He toned down the sexual explicitness of his work in the 80s, but continued to produce iconic images, including portraits of famous personalities like Andy Warhol, Donald Sutherland, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Up next, at #4, is Henri Cartier-Bresson, a former painter who became a photojournalist and street photographer. He is recognized for his focus on capturing candid shots of spontaneous and random moments, which he called "The Decisive Moment," an idea which became the title of his book. His photos demonstrate his ability to recognize details that are often overlooked or unnoticed, and focus on these subtleties as essential aspects of life. Among his famous subjects were Truman Capote, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. Henri is also one of the four who co-founded "Magnum Photos" with Robert Capa.

#5 on the list is Armenian-Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. He is revered for his portraits of prominent individuals, over 20 of which were published in "Life" magazine. He took portrait shots of Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Muhammad Ali, and Audrey Hepburn, among other widely known figures. Noted for his distinct ability to unveil the hidden characteristics of his subjects, Karsh had a particular style of lighting the hands separately from the face, drawing attention to both as essential parts of one's personality.

Coming in at #6 is American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange. She is well regarded for her photos of the Great Depression, where she captured images of migrant farm workers. Her most recognized photograph is the "Migrant Mother." Since she considered herself a journalist first and an artist second, her works were focused on conveying the reality and suffering of people, which in turn raised awareness of social issues, and helped transform documentary photography.

At #7 is American photojournalist and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Guzy. She is best known for captivating images that show intense human emotion in the midst of tragic and dramatic events. Guzy was lauded for her coverage of the mudslide catastrophe in Armero, Colombia, the military intervention in Haiti, and the Albania-Kosovo armed conflict in 1999.

Up next, at #8, is American photographer and photojournalist Steve McCurry. He is known for documenting conflict with striking use of color while capturing subtle human emotion through a focus on the subject's face. His most popular portrait is the "Afghan Girl," which first appeared on the cover of "National Geographic" in June 1985. He has received several awards, including "Magazine Photo of the Year" from the National Press Photographers Association.

Last but not least, at #9, is American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. She is highly regarded for her celebrity portraits and her distinctly dramatic artistic style. Her most iconic photograph was of John Lennon with his wife, Yoko Ono, taken just a few hours before his assassination. Leibovitz was the chief photographer for "Rolling Stone," and later worked for "Vanity Fair," where she expanded her subject pool, working with actors, athletes, and politicians. She has also made her mark in the advertising industry, with high-profile projects like the well-known "Got Milk?" campaign.

Although there are many other exceptionally skilled photographers we haven't mentioned, these 9 are among the few who have gained recognition for their distinct masterpieces, original concepts, and exceptional dedication to their work, which serves as proof of their significant influence on the art of photography.

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