Most Famous and Well-known Women Photographers of All Time


Every image tells a story and every time we look at a photograph, we wonder about the story that led to the moment that has been captured. But ever wondered about the person behind the lens? For most women photographers who have clicked famous photographs, there is an intriguing story that caused them to become who they are. They honed a craft in the field that they were given reluctant admission to, surpassing naysayers and people who doubted them. Today, photography has come a long way from the male stronghold that it was, but thanks to women photographers who fought for their rightful place to make this possible.

Most Well-known Women Photographers of All Time

There are some women photographers who transformed the way people looked at women in the field of photography. They broke the barriers that were in place and earned the rightful spot that women photographers deserved. Let us take a look at the most famous photographers of the fairer sex.

Diane Arbus

Born in 1923, Diane Arbus had a penchant for taking photographs of subjects that most photographers of the age shied away from. Born to parents with an interest in photography, Diane Arbus worked with Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and the Sunday Times Magazine. She specialized in taking photographs of people with handicaps, circus performers, and people who were generally discriminated against, because of their appearance. It was her technique of capturing beautiful black and white photos with soft lighting that catapulted her to worldwide attention. She, sadly, took her own life in 1971.

Dorothea Lange

Best known for her photographs during the Great Depression, especially the photo known as Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange was one of the first female commercial portrait photographers in the world, and is without a doubt one of the most famous photographers in the world. Lange is also well-known for the work she did with people in relocation camps during the Second World War. In fact these images created such an impact that they were confiscated by the Army as the photos were openly critical of the policies in place. She also was the co-founder of the magazine, Aperture.

Julia Margaret Cameron

A photographer from Britain, when Julia Cameron started working in the field of photography, the field in itself was one that was being discovered. She was trying to find her own place and did this by developing a portrait style that was characterized by close cropping, softened focus, and an emphasis on the personality of the subject. Cameron photographed many famous personalities including Charles Darwin, Alfred Tennyson, George Frederic Watts etc. Many of these photographs are some of the only images that exist of these famous people, which secures her place in the list of famous photographers of the world.

Margaret Bourke-White

A pioneer in the world of photojournalism, she was the first female war correspondent in the world, covering combat zones in Germany, Africa, and Italy. At the same time she was also working with magazines like Fortune and Life. Bourke-White was the only American photographer in Russia during the battle of Moscow, and also clicked photos of the Buchenwald camp survivors. A pioneer in the field of photography, it is not surprising that she is one of the most famous photographers in the world.

There are many other famous women photographers in the world who paved the way to make photography a viable profession for other women. This included famous black women photographers like Eslanda Robeson and Adine Williams.

Contemporary Women Photographers

If you make a famous photographers list, the list can go on, even if it is gender specific. With the evolution that photography has seen, you know that things have changed largely. Let us take a look at the names of famous photographers who have made a mark in the industry.

Anne Geddes

Based in Australia, Anne Geddes’ work is popular in the entire world. She is best known for her images of children and infants. If you have seen postcards with photographs of babies in settings like flowerpots, gardens, etc., then chances are you have come across Anne Geddes’ work. The reason she is one of the most well-known women photographers can also be credited to the fact that she has absolutely no formal training in photography.

Annie Leibovitz

No list of famous female photographers in the world can be complete without a mention of Annie Leibovitz. One of the leading entertainment photographers in the world, her work has been featured in publications like Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. She is famous for the intimate images that she has clicked of many celebrities. Her photos are characterized by a voyeuristic focus on the subjects. One of her most famous photographs is one of John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono that she clicked for Rolling Stone. It is just one of the photos that makes it impossible to take the names of famous photographers without including her name.

Jodi Cobb

She is famous as being one of the first photographers who entered China when it opened its borders. Other than the People’s Republic of China, she has traveled to 50 other countries as the international photographer for National Geographic. Most of her images focus on women’s issues and there are many famous photos to her credit which focus on geisha, women in Saudi Arabia and Brazil. She grew up in Iran and today, spends a lot of her time conducting workshops for aspiring photographers.

Susan Meiselas

A photojournalist famous for her work on human rights issues, many of her most famous works are based in countries in Latin America. She has received many awards for her photographs and for revealing aspects of human rights issues, that until then were largely ignored. Currently she works for Magnum Photos, and spends time between New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo.

These are just some of the most widely known women photographers in the world who have paved the path for generations to come, and made the task of breaking into a predominantly male bastion like photography, much easier. They serve as an inspiration to aspiring women photographers.

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