What does it take to be one of the greatest portrait photographers in the world? Skill? Talent? Inspiration? Courage? These are all features you are about to discover at our favorite portrait photographers. Some of the professionals featuring our list are world-famous, some are well-known in smaller circles, some tell cultural stories, others more personal ones. But they all have something in common: a unique, thought-provoking and sometimes truly mind-blowing perspective both on the art of portraiture and life.
Our list of portrait photographers you should definitely know about is open to other entries as well. There are, of course, many more portrait photographers worthy of praise and admiration. That is why we cheerfully encourage our readers and followers to reach out to us with any thoughts, ideas or suggestions. Feel free to add names and stories to our lists of inspiring photographers from around the world. Write your own list and send it to us to be published!
Portrait Photographer: Adrian Blachut
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Bio: Adrian Blachut is a Polish fine art portrait photographer who started his career in photography in 2007 after graduating economics and logistics. He is currently based in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, working as a commercial photographer and videomaker. His series of black & white portraits entitled ‘Faces’ is focused on what eyes say about people. You should definitely take a look at these expressive, intense photographs created in a classical artistic fashion.
Portrait Photographer: Lee Jeffries
Location: Manchester, United Kingdom.
Bio: Seeing the street portraits signed by Lee Jeffries you would say he has studied photography for his entire life, but he did not. Lee Jeffries is an accountant currently living in Manchester. He became a self-taught and self-funded photographer about 7 years ago. The subjects of his portraiture are homeless people from various corners of the world. He started his photographic project entitled LOST ANGELS with the photograph of a woman praying in Rome, but his first street portrait was the one of a homeless girl on the streets of London.
This brilliant portrait photographer’s work is seen not simply as photojournalism or street photography, but as powerful spiritual iconography. What makes these black & white images of homeless people stand out is the photographer’s use of lights and shadows, as well as the powerful emotions behind the shots. His portraiture work is so emotionally charged that he even declared that: “When I’m talking to these people, I can’t then leave that emotion, so when I get back to my computer so emotionally involved, sometimes I will start to cry when processing the image”.
His work has been featured in top lists of street and portrait photography across the web and praised in major publications such as Time, the Independent, Guardian and Huffington Post.
Watch more of his images in this video.
Website: Lee Jeffries Portrait Photography on 500px.com, Lee Jeffries Photography Facebook Page.
Portrait Photographer: Cato Lein
Location: Stockholm, Sweden.
Bio: Born in Båtsfjord, Norway, Cato Lein is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden. He is one of the most prominent and acclaimed Swedish portrait photographers, having worked for many publishing houses and magazines in Scandinavia. However, his photographic projects took his around the world. He is now working on a project in Poland. He has also exhibited portraits of Polish and foreign writers and translators in the past.
Cato Lein’s portrait photography is highly original, intense, and even provocative. His passion for powerful black & white imagery is his trademark. As concerns the way he approaches the art of portraiture, he says that:
“I often do two takes, one for the client and for myself. With my own, I test the limits of the possible – see how far I can go. This shot shows the person portrayed in a new way, never negatively but not flatteringly either. That’s what lots of my pictures are like: I’ve pushed the look in a direction that ends up surprising the models. Mostly, they like what I do and respect my artistic freedom.”
Portrait Photographer: Jimmy Nelson
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands and Ibiza.
Bio: Jimmy Nelson is a British photojournalist and photographer who traveled the world to document and photograph some of the most fantastic tribes left on the planet today. His vibrant and intriguing portraits of indigenous people taken in more than 44 countries around the globe have conquered our attention and admiration. Find out more about his stories and journey in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia and the South Pacific from his speech at TEDx Amsterdam.
Website: Jimmy Nelson Photography.
Portrait Photographer: Nina Mašic-Lizdek
Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bio: Nina Mašic is a 24-year-old photographer and retoucher currently based in Sarajevo. She sees photography as a means of exploring and experiencing life with more intensity. Her images reveal different aspects of the world around us in pure beauty.
Website: Nina Mašic Photography, 500xp.com Page, Facebook Page, Instagram.
Portrait Photographer: Maja Topcagic
Location: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bio: Maja Topcagic is the second portrait photographer born in Bosnia and Herzegovina featuring our list. She is currently working as a computer science teacher in Bihac, but also freelancing for Trevillion Images, 500px.com, Art+Commerce/Vogue Italia, and WIN New York.
She began her journey as a photographer at the age of 19 and since then she has invested energy both in hes passion for mathematics and photographic art. ‘Math and art are soulmates, and using these very natural things for a human being we can describe our world and our mind’, she says. It is better to let her images speak for themselves. Let’s take a look at one of her beautiful, dreamy portrait.
Website: Maja Topcagic Portfolio, 500px Page.
Portrait Photographer: Lisa Kristine
Location: San Francisco, California.
Bio: Lisa Kristine is a highly appreciated humanitarian photographer. Part of her praised work showcases aspects of modern day human enslavement. She has also gained international recognition for capturing portraits of indigenous people from over 100 countries in six continents. ‘Few artists know how to capture the diversity and dignity of indigenous people. Lisa Kristine’s portraits exquisitely convey their silenced messages’, says Cosette Thompson, from Amnesty International. Lisa has explored the world in search of people, places and stories, creating unforgettable and meaningful images.
Website: Lisa Kristine Photography.
Portrait Photographer: Annie Leibovitz
Location: New York City, NY.
Bio: We have already featured Annie Leibovitz in our top fashion photographers list, as well as in out 10 famous photographers you should know about, but it is simply impossible not to mention her again as one of the most talented American portrait photographers today.
Website: Annie Leibovitz Photography on Tumblr.
Portrait Photographer: Joe McNally
Location: Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Bio: Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed American photographer, author and instructor, listed by American Photo as one of the 100 Most Important People in Photography. He has worked as a photojournalist for 30 years now and shot cover stories for Time, Newsweek, New York, Fortune, Men’s Journal, National Geographic, LIFE and many more. He is the author of the first all-digital coverage of the history of the National Geographic, called ‘The Future of Flying’.
One of his noteworthy projects we want to bring into view is ‘Faces of Ground Zero’, created soon after the 9/11 tragedy, which is a collection of monumental, life-sized portraits of the heroes of September 11, 2001. As the official page of this projects reads, the photographs show ‘McNally’s brilliance as a photographer and his humanity in capturing everyday people in these historic moments’.
Portrait Photographer: Katarina Smuraga
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia.
Bio: Born in Vitebsk, Belarus, Katarina Smuraga is currently based in St. Petersburg, Russia. The images she creates are genuine and vivid, disturbing, yet refreshing. Katarina’s photos portray sensitive subjects and have an incredible emotional power.
Website: Katarina Smuraga Photography on Flickr.
Image Sources: photographs featured in this article belong to the portrait photographers listed above and are protected by copyright.