The World’s Best Photojournalists; Past and Present

With so many groundbreaking photojournalists around the world, it might be hard to narrow down this list to just a few.  However, these journalists have made a lasting impression and have shaped the current structure of the profession.

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

McCurry has won over 45 national and international photography awards for his work. He is represented by Magnum Photos, an international cooperative owned by its members. Magnum is one of the most respected photography organizations in the world, representing the most talented individuals in photography.

Much of McCurry’s work focuses on people caught in the midst of war and is unique in his use of strong and bold colors.

“Everything has been photographed under the sun…everything is a variation on the same theme…now you’re trying to find that little wrinkle, that little nuance…it’s very difficult to come up with something original,” McCurry said during an interview with Al Jazeera.

He is most well known for “Afghan Girl,” an image that he took for National Geographic in 1985 of a 12-year-old girl living as a refugee in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  The image is one of the most widely recognized pieces of photojournalism in the world.

Click here for a collection of the photographer’s work.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier Bresson-autoritratto

Henri Cartier Bresson-autoritratto

Bresson was a French photographer who to this day is considered to be the father of modern photojournalism. He was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos, among photographers Robert Capa, George Rodger, David Seymour, Maria Eisner, William Vandirvert and his wife, Rita Vandivert.

His street photography focused on fleeting situations, which he called the “decisive moment” which allowed for deeper images that told a story.

Cartier-Bresson died in August 2004 at the age of 95.

Click here for a collection of the photographer’s work.

Robert Capa

Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War, May 1937. Photo by Gerda Taro

Robert Capa during the Spanish Civil War, May 1937. Photo by Gerda Taro

Robert Capa is a world-renowned war photographer, having covered five wars during his short life. Originally from Germany, Capa moved to France during the rise of Nazism during World War II. He changed his name from Freedmann to Capa when he struggled to find work as a freelance photographer. During his career he would cover the Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II, the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Frist Indochina War.

Like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Capa was a co-founder of Magnum photos and became well-known, largely for his work during the Spanish Civil War. His photograph, “Falling Soldier,” pictured the death of an Iberian Federation of Libertarian Youth soldier during the war. It had long been thought that Cerro Muriano had taken the photo. The authenticity of the photo has long been brought into question, as some believe that the photo had been staged.

Capa died in 1954 while on assignment for Life magazine. He had been commissioned to photograph the First Indochina War and stepped on a landmine while photographing the advance of soldiers.

Click here for a collection of the photographer’s work.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams.  Photo by J. Malcolm Greany.

Ansel Adams. Photo by J. Malcolm Greany.

Ansel Adams is most widely known for his work as a landscape photographer, more specifically, for his black-and-white photos of the American West and Yosemite National Park. Ansel generally used large-format cameras because they allowed him to further control the final product of his print by ensuring the sharpness of his images.

Adams founded the photography group f/64—a reference to a camera setting that is the ratio between the diameter of the aperture in the lens and the focal length of the lens.

Adams died in Monterey, California in April 1984.

Click here for a collection of the photographer’s work.

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange. Photo by Rondal Partridge.

Dorothea Lange. Photo by Rondal Partridge.

Dorothea Lange was an American documentary photographer, most well-known for her work in capturing the daily lives of those during the Great Depression. She was able to humanize the effects of the Depression by focusing her work on the characters within her photographs.

Lange worked as a portrait photographer in San Francisco before transitioning to street photography, in an attempt to capture the effects of the Depression. She was hired by the Farm Security Administration to document the poverty and exploitation of sharecroppers and migrant works.

She died in 1965 of esophageal cancer in San Francisco.

Click here for a collection of the photographer’s work.

About Sean Flynn

Sean Flynn is a recent graduate from City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. His work has appeared in The Buffalo News, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times 'Fort Greene Local', The Daily Meal, and FoxNews.com.
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