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.


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)


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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Previous comments

I joined just to agree with this comment. Kai isn't the Ansel Adams of 2013, but he is animated and engaging. I was in a slump and watched his Digital Rev channel for something different and I found it interesting and gave me a boost to try different things.

Sorry to disagree but this is more like a random list of photographers, I can't believe you mixed in Kai and included McNally whose obviously not a lesser known photographer.

This is a random list of photographers in your "Like" list. Nothing more. Facebook does not make anyone an "inspirational" photographer...

Knew most of them, great photographers!

If you want a ton of inspiration in one place.... The Mammoth Men are hard to beat (Newsom especially). Besides that solid list.

Kai Wong?!? Hes funny but thats all...replace him with von Wong, Joey L. or someone else that is less funny and more a photographer =P

Definitely agree.


Eric Kim is a glaring stand out on this list for his inclusion. The guy hypes himself as a famous street photographer who's work is no different than the thousands of other street photographers out there. He video's his outings? And? He's stolen from the likes of Gilden and Cartier-Bresson, and tries to pretend he just came up with their style. He buys an $8000 digital Leica, then tells everyone if you want to be a serious street photographer, sell your digital cameras, since only serious street photographers shoot on film, black and white film, never digital.

Seriously, if you're going to include a street photographer, you actually choose Kim over Bruce Gilden?
Inspiration is not Eric Kim.

Definitely agree.

Agree 100%. Plus, if you see some of his videos, he blatantly directs and poses his subjects to get the type of shot he wants... which goes against all grain for what street photography really is.

Is there going to be a list of female photographers as well? Because I would say there are some female photographers that are incredible and worthy of inspiration.

Thank you Keegan! I was wondering the very same thing!

Uhhh.... It's like photography didn't exist until the digital age with your list here.

If you want inspiration, you should try looking farther back in history to actual masters of the craft and not just modern celebri-tographers.

Try these instead:

Edward Weston
Richard Avedon
Irving Penn
Vivian Maier
Jerry Uelsman
Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Capa
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Herb Ritz
Alfred Steiglitz
Edward Steichen
Ansel Adams

Gary Winogrand

Yousef Karsh

Joel Meyerowitz

Alexander Rodchenko


Christopher Hoffmann's picture

Denis Reggie, Neil Van Niekerk, David E Jackson, Jerry Ghionis, Douglas Sonders, John Keatley, & Jeff Ascough are a few that have not yet been mentioned. Most of which are in the wedding genre.

Great list ...I would also add Joey L, Karl Taylor, Zack Arias, Joel Grimes, Mark Wallace & Von Wong to my own list since they all have tons of youtube vids, they all have their own style, they share great hints/tips and always try to help other photographers improve.

Aaron Grubb's picture

and here it is - these photographers are who I was just going to add to the list...or replace Kai, Eric Kim, etc. Thanks.

Eric Kim??! I've watched Eric's videos and his technique is horribly intrusive and invasive It's embarrassing to watch. I'm surprised he's not been punched in the face for the way he goes about.

Very True..He's crap

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

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....

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.

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... :)


Fetching image ...

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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