10 Famous Portrait Photographers (You Should Know)

If you love photography then you will agree that portrait photography can evoke the most authentic human expression in the most natural way possible. It is one of the most common types of photography around, no wonder we all tend to fancy them. Well, although judging a photo is subjective to individuals, there are talented photographers whose skill in photography cannot be overlooked. We are talking about those photographers that have mastered the art and science of portrait photography earning them plaudits around the globe.

There are many out there but below are some of the top cream portrait photographers in the industry:


Réhahn, a French photographer, is globally known for capturing emotions and people’s souls. Born on May 4, 1979, the talented photographer has been working towards appreciating the heritage of Vietnam’s tribes. He is an explorer of cultures in which he has over 50,000 photographs to his name.

Two of his top outstanding photographs are “Best Friends” where Kim Luan is captured praying on the face of an elephant. The second is “Hidden Smile,” found in Vietnamese Women’s Museum in Hanoi collections. His photos emit emotions that one cannot stop but awe at their beauty.

Other than portrait photography, in 2014, he was crowned fourth of the best travel photograph and the second most famous Fench photographer online.

2. Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry, an American photographer, is a holder of several photography awards. He is widely known for his 1984 photograph, “Afghan Girl,” which originally appeared in National Geographic.

His passion for photography goes beyond limits. McCurry left his job and began working as a freelancer. His career came to light when he disguised himself in Afghani garb and crossed over to Pakistan just before the Soviet invasion. With a roll of film meticulously sewn into his clothes, he took photos based on the effect of war on people and the environment. The pictures were published in various Magazines like The New York Times and won him the Robert Capa Gold Medal for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad.

3. Lee Jeffries

Lee Jeffries’ photography penetrates the soul of anyone looking at them. He lives in the United Kingdom and is known for taking photos of the homeless. Street photography blossomed in his heart after an encounter with a homeless girl. His photography tells a lot of tales you could never have known as the photos depict real emotions of homeless people.

4. Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson’s photography focuses on portraits of tribal and indigenous people. He was born in 1967 in Sevenoaks, Kent but grew up in Africa, Asia, and South America. His sojourn in photography started when he was 19, where he would take photos on his way to school.

Nelson is renown for his book “Literary Portraits of China,” a project assigned to him by Shell Oil. Together with his wife, they sojourned the country and produced compelling images, which were exhibited in the children’s palace o Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

 5. Lisa Kristine

Lisa Kristine is not only an American humanitarian photographer, but also an award holder of the 2013 Lucie Humanitarian Award at Carnegie Hall. She was born on September 2, 1965, and began her sojourn in photography at the age of 11. Her photography is based on human rights, indigenous cultures and social issues, for instance, modern slavery.

6. Eric Lafforgue

Travelling distant countries intrigues Eric Lafforgue. Art is embedded in his heart, and he shares his perception on issues using portrait photography. He has visited marginalized areas and unsafe places telling their stories in photography. Eric covered a story on the “People of Papua” which is displayed at VISA photojournalism festival in Perpignan.

In 2006, his began taking photographs, which were published in magazines and newspapers. Geo, Lonely Planet Magazine and Nat Geo are some of the platforms that published his work.

7. Joe McNally

McNally is well known for “Faces of Ground Zero-Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th “.  A set of these photos were exhibited in different cities and had been viewed by millions of people. Moreover, he was the first in 23 years to work for LIFE magazine as a staff photographer.

McNally has worked with Geo, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Time, LIFE and many more. He has also worked with top-notch magazine National Geographic magazine for over two decades. His photography is peculiar with the usage of Speedlight and CLS.  In 2008, 2009 and 2011, he published three books named: The Moment It Clicks, The Hotshoe Diaries and Sketching Light.

8.Phil Borges

Phil Borges’ photography is humanitarian, focusing on indigenous and tribal cultures. His photography is aimed at making people understand these languages and the challenges they go through. He has awards of incredible books to his name. His books have been published in different languages to reach a wider audience. Some of the books are Women Empowered, Enduring Spirit, Tibetan Portrait and Tibet: Culture on the Edge.

Phil Borges was born in 1942

9. Albert Watson

Albert Watson is an icon when it comes to fashion, commercial and portrait photography. He has worked with top-notch publications for instance Time and Rolling Stone and Vibe. Moreover, he was honored to photograph Prince Andrew’s wedding. Other than that, he has taken snaps of celebrities ranging from actors to musicians of various genres. Watson’s work is found in galleries and more than 250 covers on Vogue magazine making him a well-sought photographer.

10.Manny Librodo

Manny Librodo, from the Phillipines, tells tales of travel, people, and fashion using photography. He has captured people’s  hearts, and this is visible by his more than 12 million hits in Pbase and over 120,000 followers on Facebook. His work has appeared in Asian Geographic and calenders of UNICEF. Librodo’s photography is intriguing and has been said (Scott Kelby)  to have “phenomenal vision” and “creates pure magic.”

Librodo has mentored thousands of students who turned out to be very successful. He is actively involved in conferences and has worked alongside Joey Lawrence among other big names.

Final Thoughts?

Well, portrait photography can speak volumes and photographers around the world have shown us how it is best used. These top draw portrait photographers certainly deserve a thumbs-up for the stories they tell us in their photography. Let’s give a toast to much more to come!

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