10 Photographers to Look to for Inspiration

No matter what skill level you're at in photography, it's often helpful to take a break and spark the creative process on some new ideas by looking at the work of others; this shouldn't be confused with imitation, but rather used as a tool for building original ideas. The following list highlights the work and skills of creatives who offer inspiration throughout the industry that I, and many others turn to for a new perspective. Of course this is purely opinion, and readers who follow others who aren't listed are encouraged to promote them in the comments.

10. Peter Lik - Fine Art/Landscape 

While he doesn't offer the kind of informative content to the photo community as some others on this list, there's no arguing that Peter Lik knows what he's doing when it comes to shooting and marketing amazing landscape prints, as he's found unbelievable fame and fortune in the fine art world. His combination of surreal subject matter and expertise behind the camera creates a final product that will catch the eye of the most experienced photographers, and is in high demand for the walls of homes and offices around the world.

Website

9. Kai Wong/Digital Rev - Misc

The team at DigitalRev TV, a Youtube channel sponsored by the DigitalRev online photo store based in Hong-Kong, and hosted by Kai Wong, with co-hosts Alamby Leung and Lok Cheung  have found a loyal fan base through their videos ranging from gear reviews and helpful tips to tongue-in-cheek skits and creative challenges. The content is appropriate and entertaining for all photographers, and continues to raise the bar for the standard of what a Youtube Channel can offer to the masses, with their latest venture being an hour long 3 part special in which the team travels to Amsterdam and completes tasks assigned by the evil yet brilliant "bloody producer".

Full Channel

8. Eric Kim - Street Photography/Fine Art

Another Youtube star, Eric Kim has found fame in the industry primarily through his POV street photography videos in which he mounts a GoPro to his camera and walks around major cities like LA and Chicago taking portraits of strangers with varying reactions. For those interested in doing street photography themselves, he also has a huge library of gear reviews, helpful tips (like zone focusing with manual lenses), and behind the scenes videos of his street photo workshops around the world. By putting this content out there, he's built an entire culture of self-proclaimed "Streettogs" among social network groups like Flikr and Facebook.

I encourage you to check out some of his videos regardless of your interest in the genre, it was because of him that I found myself picking up a Pentax k1000 last summer to shoot for myself, which in turn opened my eyes to a new perspective of shooting with my commercial work.

Full Channel

7. Fabio Bacciarelli - Photojournalism

In a world where press photographers are losing their jobs left and right in favor of bystanders with camera phones, a few talented photographers are still willing to take their expertise and equipment into the action to share a story with the world. Fabio Bacciarelli was the gold medal recipient of the 2013 Overseas Press Club for his "Battle to Death" series highlighting conflict in Syria, and many of you were introduced to his work a couple months ago in this article about the awards. For anyone curious about what it takes to get the shot and be recognized today in the world of photojournalism, I would recommend taking a look at the up close and personal work on his site.

Dispaches from South Sudan(From the set "Dispatches from South Sudan")

BattleToDeath_05(From the set "Battle to Death)

Website

6. Yuri Arcurs - Stock

Few photographers can boast the level of financial success that Yuri has found in the world of stock photography, one of the most competitive industries in the world. While we often think of stock photos as generic, coming up with the subject matter and being able to predict what will be in demand requires a consistent creative process as well as in-depth technical knowledge of lighting, framing, staging, etc. Unfortunately his site doesn't seem to have been maintained much within the past year, but I still recommend checking out some of his articles that provide insight into the market as well as his vast portfolio.

For a strong case of studio envy, check out this video tour.

Website

5. Ian Ruhter - Fine Art

While he's likely not as well known as many on this list, you can't get much more creative than turning an entire truck into a giant wet plate camera.

the_camera_truck

To create his art, Ian backs his camera truck up to face his subject whether it's a landcape, person, or event and uses his manually operated shutter to form an exposure on a giant metal plate coated in silver nitrate. This is obviously a simplified explanation of the process, but not only is this method time consuming and costly, an incorrect exposure or uneven coating on the plate can completely ruin the image; when done right, however, the results are amazing.

Website

4. Ryan Brenizer - Wedding/Lifestyle

Best known for inventing the "Brenizer method", Ryan Brenizer displays an impressive and timeless portfolio of wedding and lifestyle portrait photography that pushes the limits of creativity in an industry that many consider to be plagued by mediocrity. If you're struggling to find originality in the environment around you, his work is a must-see.

rb_ryanbrenizer
ryanbrenizer_storyboard002

Website

3. Jeremy Cowart - Commercial/Fine Art

From working with some of the biggest Hollywood celebrities to pioneering a global movement called Help-Portrait to provide family portraits for those who otherwise wouldn't have one, Jeremy Cowart is the definition of creativity and inspiration. I was first introduced to his behind the scenes videos on Kelbytraining.com a couple years ago and have been following his work closely ever since. On top of all of this, he's somehow found time to not only travel the world with his LifeFinder workshops brining motivation to the masses, but also create intricate pieces of abstract art by merging graphics and photo skills with hours of hard work. You can see his work in this video demonstrating his print portfolio, as well as his insightful TedxNashville talk below for more info about Help-Portrait.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfNQRKbjCqA

Website

2. Joe McNally - Photojournalism/Commercial 

One of my favorite photographers of all time, Joe McNally not only has one of the most impressive client lists ever including National Geographic, Life, and the New York Times, he's still creating new content constantly to inspire the new generation of photographers, with helpful behind the scenes videos, three educational books, international workshops, and regular blog posts with fascinating stories behind his most intriguing portfolio work. It's easy to spend days if not weeks listening to all of his stories from his early career in journalism, and a good place to start is with his Authors@Google talk.

joe-mcnally-6

Website

1. Chase Jarvis - Commercial

Lets be honest, who didn't see this coming? Chase Jarvis is pretty much a younger Joe McNally having worked with a huge list of big name clients that many dream of having in their portfolio, constantly updating his site blog with incredibly helpful content, and creating both CreativeLIVE, and my favorite photo information series ever Chase Jarvis LIVE which is now in it's fourth season and continues to bring the most inspirational guests you can imagine from around the world to his Seattle studio to cover everything from marketing your business creatively, to understanding media manipulation, and everything in between. He's also the creative mind behind the "Best Camera" concept which promotes the mentality of the best camera being the one you have with you.

If you have a couple hours, check out this episode of Chase Jarvis LIVE with Ian Ruhter (#5 on this list) in which they take a wet plate shot with the camera truck in his studio.

802_1deserted_9_chasejarvis

Website

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Lonnie Shull's picture

Peter Lik? Really? People confuse the amount of money he makes with "skill". Where Peter Lik excels is he's a master marketer of his work and he has managed to make himself in en vogue among the rich and famous. As all well know, art is worth what someone will pay for it. However, just because he shoots with a panoramic film camera, which is a bit of a novelty, doesn't make him that skillful.

IMHO, most of his images are "weak" compositionally, and 90% of his photography is location. He shoots highly iconic locations and "the average joe" in the same spot could easily create similar images. The catch is, most of his (hollywood) clientele aren't familiar with these locations.

I can name about 100 landscape photographers who I think do better work than Mr. Lik.

Aaron Reed - http://aaronreedphotography.photoshelter.com/
Adam Barker - http://www.adambarkerphotography.com/
Adam Burton - http://www.adamburtonphotography.com/
Adam Clutterbuck - http://www.adamclutterbuck.com/
Adam Salwanowicz - http://www.panoramio.com/user/588149
Alain Briot - http://alainbriot.com/
Alain Proust - http://www.alainproust.com/
Alex Nail - http://www.alexnail.com/
Andris Apse - http://www.nzlandscapes.co.nz/
Andris Apse - www.andrisapse.com
Andy Mumford - www.andymumford.com
Ansel Adams - http://www.anseladams.com
Antony Spencer - http://www.antonyspencer.com/
Art Wolfe - www.artwolfe.com
Ben Jacobsen - http://www.benjacobsenphoto.com/
Bill Hatcher - http://www.billhatcher.com/
Bob Hudak - www.bobhudak.com
Bruce Dale - http://www.brucedale.com/
Camille Seaman - http://www.camilleseaman.com/
Carr Clifton - http://www.carrclifton.com/
Charles Cramer - http://www.charlescramer.com/
Charlie Waite - www.charliewaite.com
Chip Phillips - http://www.chipphillipsphotography.com/
Chris Friel - http://www.chrisfriel.co.uk/
Christian Fletcher - http://www.christianfletcher.com.au/
Christophe Carlier - http://www.christophecarlier.com/
Christopher Burkett - http://www.christopherburkett.com/
Colin Prior - http://www.colinprior.co.uk/
Cristal De Givre - http://www.cristaldegivre.com/
Dan Baumbach - http://www.timelesslight.com/
Daryl Benson - http://www.darylbenson.com/
David and Marc Muench - http://www.muenchphotography.com/
David Burdeny - www.davidburdeny.com/
David Clapp - http://www.davidclapp.co.uk/
David Fokos - http://www.davidfokos.net/
David Langan - http://www.thenorthlight.co.uk/
David Noton - http://www.davidnoton.com/
David Tolcher - http://www.davidtolcher.co.uk/
David Ward - http://www.into-the-light.com/
Dennis Frates - http://www.fratesphoto.com/
Everton Mcduff - http://www.macduffeverton.com/
Fran Halsall - http://www.fran-halsall.co.uk/
Galen Rowel - www.mountainlight.com
Garry Brannigan - http://www.garrybrannigan.com/
Geoff Ross - http://www.geoffrossphotography.com/
George Lepp - http://www.georgelepp.com/
gordon wiltsie - http://www.alpenimage.com/
Guy Edwardes - http://www.guyedwardes.com/
Guy Tal - http://guytal.com/
Helen Dixon - http://www.helendixonphotography.co.uk/
Iain Sajeant - http://www.iainsarjeant.com/
Ian Cameron - http://www.transientlight.co.uk
Ian Plant - http://ianplant.com/
Jack dykinga - www.dykinga.com
James Kay - http://www.jameskay.com/
Jay Patel - http://www.jaypatelphotography.com/
Jeff Jones - http://lumnos.com/
Jeff Swanson - http://www.interfacingnature.com/
Jeremy Walker - http://www.jeremywalker.co.uk/
Jim Brandenburg - http://www.jimbrandenburg.com
Jim Clark - http://www.jimclarkphoto.com/
Jim Paterson - http://www.jimpattersonphotography.com/
joe cornish - www.joecornish.com
John Greenwood - http://www.exposingbeauty.co.uk
John Sexton - http://www.williamneill.com
John Shaw - http://www.johnshawphoto.com/
Jon Gibbs - http://www.jon-gibbs.co.uk/
Jon Cornforth - http://www.cornforthimages.com/
Josef Hoflehner - http://www.josefhoflehner.com/
Kah Kit Yoong - http://www.magichourtravelscapes.com/
Keith Aggett - http://www.keithaggettphotography.com/
Ken Duncan - http://www.kenduncan.com/
Ken Schory - http://www.kenschory.com/
Kennan Ward - http://www.kennanward.com/
Kevin Mcneal - http://kevinmcnealphotography.com/
Lee Frost - http://www.leefrost.co.uk/
Maciej Duczynski - http://www.lonelywolf.pl/
Marc Adamus - www.marcadamus.com
Marcin Bera - http://www.marcinbera.com/
Mark Denton - http://www.markdentonphotographic.co.uk/
Mark Gray - http://www.markgray.com.au/
Mark Voce - http://markvoce.com/
Matt Lauder - http://www.mattlauder.com.au/
Michael Anderson - http://www.michaelandersongallery.com
Michael Fatali - http://www.fatali.com/
Michael Frye - http://www.michaelfrye.com
Michael Gordon - http://www.michael-gordon.com/
Michael Kenna - www.michaelkenna.net
Michael Levin - http://www.michaellevin.ca/
Michael Nichols - http://michaelnicknichols.com/
Michael Reichmann - www.luminous-landscape.com
Michael Schlegel - http://www.michaelschlegel.com/
Mike Mc Farlane - http://www.mikemcfarlane.co.uk/
Murray Fredericks - http://www.murrayfredericks.com.au/
Olivier Seydoux - http://www.oseydoux.com/
Patrick Endres - http://www.asmpalaska.org/members/EndresP/Endres.html
Patrick Smith - http://www.patricksmithphotography.com/
Paul Schilliger - http://www.paulschilliger.com
Paul Wakefield - http://www.paulwakefield.co.uk/
Peter Eastway - http://www.petereastway.com.au/
Peter Watson - http://www.peterwatson-photographer.com/
Rafael Rojas - http://www.rafaelrojasphoto.com/
Randy Dyar - http://www.ryandyar.com/
Rhys Davies - http://www.rhysdaviesphotography.com/
Ricardo Silva - http://www.theuntappedsource.com/
Rob Hudson - http://www.open-aspect.co.uk/section426194_357575.html
Rodney Lough Jr. - http://www.rodneyloughjr.com/
Rolfe Horn - http://www.f45.com/html/recent/recindex.html
Ryan Dyar - http://www.ryandyar.com/
Sally Gall - www.sallygall.com
Samuel Bitton - http://www.samuelbitton.com/
Scott Hotaling - http://www.lightofthewild.com/gallery-list
Shawn Thompson - http://shawnthompsonphotography.com/
Simon Beedle - http://www.simonbeedle.com/
Tad Moyseowicz - http://www.tm-photography.co.uk/
Tom Mackie - http://www.tommackie.com/
Tom Till - http://www.tomtill.com/photography/index.cfm
Tomas Kaspar - http://www.tomaskaspar.com
Tony Sweet - http://www.tonysweet.com/
Tristan and Cyril Campbell - http://www.absolutelynothing.co.uk/
Tristan Campbell - http://www.tristancampbell.co.uk/
Uwe Steinmuller - http://www.outbackphoto.com/
Varina Patel - http://www.photographybyvarina.com/
Vincent Munier - http://www.vincentmunier.com/
William Neill - http://www.williamneill.com
Xavier Jamonet - http://www.ecrinsdelumiere.com/
Yann Arthus-Bertrand - http://www.yannarthusbertrand.org
Zack Schnepf - http://homepage.mac.com/zackschnepf

Rick's picture

You have a long list, Rodney Lough's work sucks. No Tom Mangelsen? Peter Lik is making decent money living in a 10 million dollar house traveling the world shooting landscapes. He should be listed as he is making a lot of cash at this. Name another photographer on this list making over 30million dollars a year and still working? No one likes Peter Lik he is a idiot and has the ego bigger than the mountains he photographs, however he is making a lot of money in something that we all support. I feel its good to have a BIG mainstream person selling shots that decent amateurs can go check out themselves and shoot. There will be people that want a Lik looking image but without the price tag being 10K or better. Is landscape photography not about LOCATION? Come on, you don't see landscape photographers shooting in alleyways or in the suburbs....

Bert McLendon's picture

You have got to be kidding about Rodney Lough Jr.s work. If you're judging his work based off of his website that's complete ignorance. Walk into any of his galleries and if you don't take statement back I'll buy you a beer. =) His work (in person) is amazing, head exploding amazing.

Rick's picture

I have been in his gallery numerous times, I know people who work for him. I know the whole story.
I linked to some of the amazing stuff that he has there! That image must have been weeks to get there and wait for the light... OH wait...
Yeah the detail he gets from the dying last sheets of 8x10 film are impressive. However, you have to wonder who took it first?
I have seen the work, yes, I have seen images full size, I have seen gallery prints. The work as a WHOLE doesn't compare to others that have been posted. Maybe Rodney needs a lesson in culling his work down? Peter Lik in the long run has more money and will probably be known for this type of work. Next time you are in a Rodney Lough Gallery tell them yeah I saw this work it's Peter Lik, I bet they tell you oh no this is shot on film and look at the detail. HAHA.....

So let me know when I can get that beer... :)

http://www.rodneyloughjr.com/img/FotoFolioImages/sized/Horizontal/birthi...

Caryn Hill's picture

Peter Lik is famous as he "made it" on tv. I have guided with the very same guides that he used in Upper Antelope and they all said he won't shoot anywhere else, as he doesn't need to, meaning, his ego doesn't feel he needs too. True story. While I can appreciate his efforts, his attitude leaves me to not like him, much less be inspired by him. Besides, there are good "rumors" about how that 1 photo was really sold for top dollar. NOT inspiring to me at all.

Aaron Reed's picture

Thank you for the mention! Would you be willing to change my website to my current site at http://www.aaronreedphotography.com ?? Thank you for your time.

Aaron Reed

mark-eric c's picture

Kai?!?!? That guy is a doofus! Where is Zack Arias, Jared Polin, and Mark Wallace? Those three are the most helpful professional photogs on the internet. If anyone does a list like this and doesn't include those three I would say the list is more personal and not credible.

FroKnowsNothing's picture

I agreed with everything you said until I saw "Jared Polin" that guy is a marketer and branding specialist.. he's an average photographer with below average abilities.

mark-eric c's picture

where's your portfolio? I'd like to see it....

Abraham Pak's picture

Agree with Arias and Wallace, but Jared Polin is a bit of a doofus too. He doesn't deserve to be on this list for much the same reason Kai shouldn't be on here.

Sebastian Mas's picture

Kai Wong??? you cannot be serious!!!

Syed Hateem's picture

Joe L has really inspired me to look into photography more. Its not like he should b on this list but should have been number 1(go watch his portfolio if u disagree)

Syed Hateem's picture

In my opinion Joey L should be number 1 on this list, but he isn't even there was the biggest surprise.

Alejandra Torres's picture

Yes, these are all great photographers. I've been inspired by the last three. However, I just wish you would also include the great and inspiring female photographers out there. Including, Jasmine Star, Bambi Cantrell, Sue Bryce, Star Rush, just to name a few. I'm not being a feminist, I just know that I've been inspired by both male and female photographers.
Zach Sutton, I'm sorry you didn't make the list either, your work has also been an inspiration.

J Reed's picture

What's wrong with being a feminist? If you're a humanist, you're a feminist. At it's most basic level it's striving for gender equality, on both sides of the fence.

Alejandra Torres's picture

I can appreciate that, nothing wrong with being a feminist. I'm a feminist. It's just sad to see a list of 10 inspiring photographers and no women where included. I also recognize that it's all objective.

Zach Sutton's picture

Aw, thank you Alejandra

I'm just excited that you're familiar with my work....or atleast lie well enough for me to believe you :-)

lololalallll's picture

Your list just made my eye twitch with rage. Jasmine Star? Sue Bryce???? Could you at least pretend to know a photographer and not a marketing machine?

Why not try to study actual photographers like Cindy Sherman,Dorothea Lange, Vivian Maier, Imogen Cunningham, Julia Margaret Cameron, Uta Barth, Ursula Richter, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, Eudora Welty, and on and on and on...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_women_photographers

Alejandra Torres's picture

Someone didn't take their happy pill this morning. Really lololalallll? Did the list above not make your eye twitch with rage as well... marketing machine. Ha!

Hmmmm... I don't see W. Eugene Smith, Ansel Adams or Irving Penn listed above, since on your list only 3 of the 10 women are still alive. You don't know me. I've studied and have been inspired by 8 of the 10 great female photographers you've listed above and then some... thank you! Jasmine Star (featured in Chase Jarvis web show) and Sue Bryce are great photographers in their own right and have inspired me to become the best wedding photographer I can be. They are an inspiration and that's what this article is about.

And Jeremy Cowart is the reason why I donate my time and talent to Help-Portrait every year!

Jason Gaskins's picture

Joey L, should've def been on the list. Especially if you are talking about someone who is inspiring. Also Eolo Perfido's work is amazing and inspiring. http://www.eoloperfido.com/

Scott Cushman's picture

These are certainly inspiring photographers, but it seems strange that such a list would only include men.

kombizz kashani's picture

For sure interesting not staying at bed, instead shooting outside everywhere you imagine!

Patricia's picture

Where are all the inspirational women photographers?!?
You know, I used share the fstoppers articles with my students but I think I am going to stop.
I'm tired of the blatant sexism. I can think of 14 inspirational commercial and fine art women photographers off the top of my head.
Get it together.

James Robertson's picture

I'm sorry you feel this way, however this list is purely generated from my own opinions of the photographers who inspired me and created content that helped me coming up in my own career. I never once set out to exclude any group of people nor did it cross my mind until you mentioned it.

Lonnie Shull's picture

Sounds like you need tor broaden your photographic horizons. Both your "list" and comments bare this out.

IAM_THE_KGB's picture

But you titled the Post
"10 Photographers to Look to for Inspiration"
What do you expect. Next time title it truthfully as:
10 Photographers I Look to for Inspiration, or "10 Photographers who are all over Facebook that I think are Gods".

Misleading title, (many) misleading photographers.

lololalallll's picture

Here:
http://www.timeout.com/newyork/art/top-20-women-photographers

Every one of these women have produced more inspiring (and more valuable) work than the 10 guys above.

Michael Comeau's picture

This article reads more like X photographers that are popular on social media.

Aaron Grubb's picture

gosh, I'd add Karl Taylor, Zack Arias, Joel Grimes, Mark Wallace, Jared Polin, Matt Granger, and Michael the Mentor over Kai and Eric.

apollo's picture

Well, I'd add Karl Taylor and Zack Arias to this list for sure, but I'd rather leave Jared out of this. He's a good photographer and teacher but....not THAT good. But he definitely wins Kai, hands down.

Aaron Grubb's picture

I agree - I'd leave him out, but there are just so many better people I could add than a couple that WERE in there :( .....well, Apollo, perhaps Starbuck could back us up on this one ;)

Jay's picture

10th post by some twenty year old kid. What do you expect?

Zach Sutton's picture

Instead of all these people fighting over who should be on this list in the comments, perhaps they should focus on how they themselves can make these lists in the future :-)

Quit wasting your energy arguing, and focus your attention on being inspired and inspiring others.

Dario Toledo's picture

Thanks for the article, I already knew most of them but didn't check all their work out.

Miss Caprara's picture

Why are there no women on this list?

Kornel Flint's picture

To be honest i don't think that Kai Wong should be on the list, he just fools around on youtube advertising the shop, not much to do with proper photography, i'd rather see someone like Joey L, Zack Arrias, Peter Hurley, Gregory Heiser or Simeon Quarie, they provide much more inspiration for me personally.
Check simeon out, what he dose for me is simply mind blowing:
https://www.facebook.com/vividaproductions?fref=ts

Nick Li's picture

I couldn't agree with you more. DigitalRevCams produce mostly disturbing videos(except cheap camera challenge). I emphatically hate Kai dropped his cameras for so many times. Their reviews are so superficial that I don't even know what the Heck they are doing.

FroKnowsNothing's picture

I don't get this list... Kai isn't even a photographer, the rest are ok... but people should take this with a grain of salt, it's one person's opinion.

What's sad is that some of the photographers on this list might consider this to be a prestigious thing.. lol.

HoMan Cheung's picture

lol i think people forget this is a personal list. Also Kai-man Wong and the DRTV crew have done some great work introducing photography in a light hearted manner and done it well (most of the time) to a wider audience. The double exposure video and the light painting videos are great examples...no need to be so serious.

One person i would love to recommend is Benjamin Von Wong.

Óran Desmond's picture

I'd put McNally over Jarvis.

Danielle Alloy's picture

Pretty good.. but not a single woman on the list. Shameful.

Adrian Venner's picture

You are missing the point.....its not a "best" list, its a list of "inspirational" photographers, different people inspire people in different ways and on different levels. The main topic seems to be on Kai from DREV, I can tell you that I bet he is pretty inspiring to a whole world of people, his work and what he tries to achieve with his show is great, and I bet he has inspired many.

GokhanCukurova's picture

it's strange that this list includes Eric Kim, Kai etc. but not Zack Arias. :(

Lance Keimig's picture

meh

Jyoti's picture

Suprised to see no DAVE HILL here!! missing big time!

Jay's picture

http://fstoppers.com/digitalrev-allegedly-selling-used-cameras-as-new-an...

Oh, now I see why Fstoppers thinks Kai is inspirational.

Deleted Account's picture

The only one even worth looking at to me is Ryan Brenizer.. The rest are boring.

asdsa's picture

"inventing the Brenizer method" - Are you fuckin' kidding me?! A shitload of us who know how lenses work came up with that ourselves. It's really arrogant and just wrong to show it off it as your own method. That attitude won't make many of us like you, Ryan.

Chris Rogers's picture

Putting Kai Wong on this list makes it invalid imo. Where's Joe Mcnally? He's awesome.

John Fox's picture

I like this guy: https://milo.photography