In any artistic discipline, whether it is painting, writing, filming, or photographing, it is important to have works and artists in your mind that inspire you in your own artistic endeavours. Viewing or reading a great piece of art can be the thing that gets you excited to make your own impact on the world. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, viewing a great artist’s work can help you discover your own style by way of the artistic path that has already been paved. Pablo Picasso famously said: ‘good artists copy, great artists steal.’ Obviously, here at BorrowFox, we do not condone plagiarism. What we do condone, and indeed encourage, is using all the tools possible to make your work the best it can be. With some good kit, a keen eye, and a little inspiration from the masters of the craft, you too can make your imprint on the world of photography.
That is why we have compiled a list of four of the most influential photographers of the 20th century – photographers that might inspire you to continue to follow your own creative dreams.
Ansel Adams was an American born photographer and environmentalist who gained widespread success in the mid-1900s. His landscapes of the American countryside, primarily shot with large cameras in order to maintain the clarity of his prints, are some of the best representations of the vast beauty of the United States. He is probably the best, if not most famous, landscape photographer in American history. His photographs can inspire even the most urban inclined photographer to trek into the wilderness in order to capture the vast beauty nature provides.
Diane Arbus was a New York City based photographer who made her name by capturing the lives of those who were often gawked at, and marginalized by society. Her most famous works captured the lives of so-called “freaks” who, by all measures, were rarely the subjects of other photographers. While some have criticized her for blatant sensationalism, her work is haunting, affective, and beautiful.
Dorothea Lange is one of the key figures in the documentary photography discipline. Her striking compositions and ability to capture a range of emotions in her subjects – from pain, joy, excitement, and sadness – makes her one of the most influential photographers in history. Her documentation of the great depression in the farm land of the United States is incredible, and she is the photographer of perhaps the most iconic photo of the 20th century.
Gordon Parks, like Dorothea Lange, was a key figure in documentary photography as well as photojournalism. Also like Lange, Parks captured some of the most disturbing, but also some of the most important moments in American history. Parks was particularly interested in photographing the black civil rights movement. He captured the pain of disenfranchised black Americans, but did so in a way that also sought to uplift the community.