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A Look At Some Famous Portrait Photographers

By Christi Larsen

Not all photographers are able to do portraits well. This very particular field of photography requires a special skill and expertise. Some photographic experts have been able to capture individuals in breathtaking, powerful and especially memorable images, some of them celebrities but not always. These are some famous portrait photographers of the 20th century.

Cecil Beaton is, without a doubt, one of Britain’s most famed photographic geniuses. Born in the early 1900s, he received his first camera when he was eleven years old. During the 1920s, he worked as a photographer on the staff of both Vogue and Vanity Fair, having moved to New York from London for better opportunities. It is during this time that he developed his unique style.

The Photographic Society of Great Britain made Cecil Beaton an Honorary Fellow in nineteen sixty-five. He received knighthood in nineteen seventy-two. When he died at the age of seventy-six, Cecil Beaton had a number of clients under his belt, including British royalty, politician Winston Churchill and actress Marilyn Monroe.

Philippe Halsman was a Latvian-born photographer. He lived in France for some time after leaving Austria following his father’s death, which he was charge for. When the French invasion happened, he moved to the States. One of his most famous images is that of Albert Einstein, world-renowned scientist. That image landed on the TIME magazine cover, where Einstein was ‘Person of the Century’. The image consequently was used in nineteen sixty-six on a postage stamp from the U. S.

Another of Halsman’s subject was the surrealist painter Salvador Dali. His relationship with the artist was strengthened through their various artistic and photographic collaborations. Philippe Halsman has also photographed a number of Hollywood personalities, including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn.

Yousuf Karsh is a photographer who has captured images of some of the world’s most influential individuals. Born in Turkey to an Armenian family in late 1908, he is considered to be one of the most accomplished photographers to ever have lived. Sent to Canada by his family to live with his uncle, also a photographer, he then apprenticed with a portrait photographer in the United States, John Garo, for four years.

He rose to international acclaim when he took a portrait of Winston Churchill. That particular image is supposedly the world’s most reproduce photographic portrait ever. Karsh also found himself on the twentieth century’s 100 most notable individuals. He was the sole Canadian on this list. He has photographed Brigitte Bardot, Mother Teresa, Fidel Castro and Albert Einstein, to name but a few.

Famous portrait photographers become known for their ability to capture the essence or personality of their subject. They are able to convey with just one image an emotion or a thought. For some photographers, an individual does not need to be famous for the image to be iconic. As in the case of Steve McCurry’s portrait entitled ‘Afghan Girl’, all it takes is one special image to catapult a photographer into the realm of immortality in their work.

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MLA Style Citation:
Larsen, Christi "A Look At Some Famous Portrait Photographers." A Look At Some Famous Portrait Photographers. 10 Apr. 2013. 24 Jul 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Larsen, C (2013, April 10). A Look At Some Famous Portrait Photographers. Retrieved July 24, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Larsen, Christi "A Look At Some Famous Portrait Photographers"

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