25 Popular Photographers And Where They Started - The Ultimate Inspiration

25 Popular Photographers And Where They Started - The Ultimate Inspiration

 One thing we often forget - All successful photographers started somewhere. This knowledge is motivation that fuels my every action and every photoshoot. We all have the power to exceed our expectations, to set goals and reach them. We may look back at our work and feel embarrassed, asking ourselves, “What was I thinking?” But remember, Rome wasn't built in a day.  Here's a show case for 25 popular photographers with their first photos, next to their recent work. Proof that you can be successful, too.

Photography is like a downward escalator: if you don’t keep working, keep practicing and keep walking up…you’ll just go downAs we grow and push ourselves, we learn more, we change and develop. Instead of being ashamed of our past, be proud. You started at the bottom…now you’re here. If a photographer is not pushing their own boundaries, there is no room for success. We all must work our way up to the top, slowly but surely. But you have to be the one to work for it. The following photographers didn’t stop when a challenge arose – they kept pushing. Compare their then and now images. Their "before" images look like any other beginner photographer's…but look at how far they've come. Set your goals high and don’t stop believing in yourself.

(Photos are clickable and can be navigated via the keyboard arrow buttons)

^Dani Diamond^

^Braxton Wilhelmsen^

^Lauri Laukkanen^

^Simchy Zuckerman^

^Julia Kuzmenko McKim^

^Ace Noguera^

^James Oliver Connolly^

^Taylor Robinson^

^Lisa Holloway^

^Rich Johnson^

^Douglas Sonders^

^Kevin Cook^

^Clay Cook^

^Chris Lambeth^

^Linus Pettersson^

^Sean Archer^

^Emily Soto^

 ^ Karl-Filip Karlsson ^

^Michael Woloszynowicz^

^Gina Parry^

^Craig Lamere^

^David Olkarny^

^Daniel Hager^

^Santiago Elliott^

^Jon Lemon^

Log in or register to post comments


Avrohom Perl's picture

Oh man I'm so happy to see you here Simchy!

If you just put the posing aside. My question is, what and where should I start learning photoshop skills. What would be the keywords or maybe a hint what should I be looking for online.

Avrohom Perl's picture

I would start with LR, not PS.

First things on your list should be the basic exposure, highlights, shadows, WB etc.
Try searching things like 'introduction to Lightroom', 'Lightroom for beginners', 'basic' etc.

Well yeah, LR is kind of basic stuff and I feel like I'm OK in that field. I just would like to step it up a notch. Thanks for your reply though

Bo Bickley's picture

Chris - you're in the best place to find out how to step it up a couple of notches. Honestly and sincerely seaking, with nothing in your portfolio to see where you are in terms of camera or lighting understanding it's hard to point you in a certain direction. If you take posing out of the equation then it's either camera or lighting.

This is a community. We all have a current base line as of today. Post a couple of pics in your porfolio and post again. I won't speak for every member but we are here to help others become better, as long as they want to of course.

Avrohom Perl's picture

Oh, my bad.
If you're past the basics you're going to need to know the name of a technique and use that to search.
If you're doing portraits I would say dodge and burn, curves, and toning.
And ya, Fstoppers and its facebook group are the best place to do that.

Dani Diamond's picture

I didn't start with lightroom and I'm glad I didn't. If I had started there i'd probably still be there. i'm a creature of habit and I hate change. I dove right into PS and I'm glad I did.

Avrohom Perl's picture

Personally I think when someone is starting to learn editing (the basics) PS can be overwhelming. Take a nebie and stick him in PS he will start playing with liquify when he should be learning exposure...

PS is def the superior editor. PS all the way!

Sven Uckermann's picture

I for myself have an completly differnent way. I started around 2002 with Photoshop doing Webdesign stuff etc .. a really good paid job for an guy in school. But now I'm a total LR junkie. Because every image now is often so over photoshoped that I like the more "raw" look of Lightroom. Because so I can create a look not everybody has. My hometown has like 40 good photographers with perfect photoshop skills I found my place as the guy doing stuff in camera and having done nothing in photoshop.

Anonymous's picture

Just learn to work first in Camera Raw (PS) and then the rest..
I do 85% retouch on Camera Raw. Cause I basicly work only on colors..
When you can work with that, learn the rest.
I think colors are the most important in a picture.
As for the rest I'm as well still learning.

Jason Ranalli's picture

My first try with Photoshop that's exactly what I did. It was terrible and I was terrible. I didn't get it, didn't have the motivation to learn it properly nor had the resources to teach me.

When I finally got serious about making good images I started with Capture NX then quickly found some limitations I couldn't live with then moved to LR/PS(back into PS rather) where all of my heavy editing is in PS now. I only use LR for some global adjustments, catalogs, and quick mock-ups.

The two things that were different on my second time around with PS were that A) I was dedicated to learning it and really put in the time and B) I dove into all the free online tutorials that were simply not around years back. I started on Phlearn with some of the free daily tutorials, bought a number of Aaron's paid tutorials and at least now I'm familiar and more importantly comfortable with a number of the tools. There's a TON of free stuff on YouTube and there's no excuse that the material isn't there to learn with.

I'm far from some of the folks here as far as PS skills but it'm far from where I started too which is good.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Phlearn....that's where I learned my Photoshop nuts and bolts. Go through EVERY free thing he has on that site because he has A LOT of great stuff and if you can apply all those techniques yourself comfortably you're in a good spot to start making some spectacular images IMO.

I pickup PS info from a lot of places now but I have to say that Phlearn was where it all started for me and Aaron explained it in a way where it finally *clicked* for me. Layers, masks, brushes, custom brushes, opacity, blend-if(huge feature), etc, etc

Yet despite all that I'm nearly always finding a new technique using any combination of things that I've never thought to put together!

Thank you Jason

Ryan MacKenzie's picture

Hello Chris,

Check out this link and subscribe to them. http://youtu.be/ryOgl4EDgn8

Granville James Collie's picture

If you want to start photoshop Aaron Nace just made a great intro to PS video. Its on the front page on Fstoppers as of today and he has alot of other stuff to help on his website. www.phlearn.com

Clay Cook's picture

Honored to be among such talented people. Thank you for that Dani. What an inspiring article!

Dani Diamond's picture

Clay your work inspires many out there! You deserve to be here!

Daniel Flanagan's picture

If this isn't motivation to keep pursing photography, I don't know what is...

Dani Diamond's picture

I like hearing that, Thank you!

And the first photo is...by the author. You should have really put yourself last or not at all

Chris Lambeth's picture

party pooper.

Linus Pettersson's picture

Wow, thanks for the feature here, Clay said it, an honor to be around such talented people! Thank you! =)
Crazy inspirational!!!! =)

Dani Diamond's picture

Linus it's my pleasure, keep up the good work!

Thank you so much for the wonderful article, Dani, and for the honor of being included amongst such talented artists. :)

Dani Diamond's picture

Lisa thanks for giving me the opportunity!

Kristjan Järv's picture

Very cool post!

Claude Lee Sadik's picture

That's mind blowing! I went back to my own photos of 2011 and now... There is a drastic difference as well, which makes me very happy :)

Dani Diamond's picture

Wow what a difference, keep up the good work!

Claude Lee Sadik's picture

Thank you Dani :)

Darren Nana's picture

Wow, big difference - Excellent work.