The Best, Most Famous, Professional Contemporary Photographers

The Best Photographers Portfolio provides you with the tools to help you identify collectable photography from some of the word’s greatest, most famous, professional photographers. Though art photography existed in the 19th century, it exploded in the 1900’s. Galleries and museums started exhibiting photographs as a well-regarded form of artistic expression, and many talented photographers made paying the admission fees agreeable and enjoyable.

Collectable photography is divided into dozens of genres, including documentary, nature and fine portrait photography:

Paul Strand (1890-1976) was an American documentary photographer who started his photography career as a top advertising photographer. Strand’s most famous works were bold, with a severe modernism that makes them distinctive. Strand believed that there was beauty in our everyday surroundings and used a straightforward approach to capture his portraits of urban cities and people.

Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of America’s best photographers, and probably the most-well-known, was a nature photographer. Adams’ haunting photos of the western United States are instantly recognizable to photography buffs. His stark black and white photos brought his concern for the environment to the forefront of America. Like Strand, Adams believed in a straightforward approach to fine portrait photography, in direct opposition to earlier staged portraits by photographers.

Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was an American fine portrait photographer who specialized in taking documentary photos of unique, diverse people previously ignored by photographers. Her subjects have a strong sense of individuality and also show a great deal of vulnerability. Look for tightly sprung emotions and great intensity in most of Arbus’ photo portraits.

Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York introduces collectable advertising photography and Devin Richardson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin discusses another genre, editorial photography. And Mark Wilson of San Antonio, Texas explains why collectable photography could be the perfect way to diversify your investment portfolio.

It’s Not Just Toothpaste: Top Trends in Collectable Advertising Photography by Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota

The Best Photographers Portfolio would be remiss not to include advertising photography in its discussion of top collectable photography trends. Many of the worlds’ greatest photographers, including Richard Avedon and Gordon Parks, got their start as commercial photographers, comments Anthony Pierpont, a photography hobbyist himself.

The best advertising photography is innovative, creative and of course, sells a product. The advertising is often so subtle that it’s difficult to tell what’s being sold! The top advertising photographers typically specialize in one aspect of photography like portraits or nature, making their work instantly recognizable to ad execs, collectors and fans. Collectors in turn look for their favorite photographers’ works, or collect photos related to a specific brand, like vintage Pan American Airlines’ photos, or they purchase specific photographic subjects, like photos of food or cars.

With the move to digital cameras by many photographers, the art world is always keen to find advertising photographers who stand out from the pack. Robert Silvers (1968- ) combines photography and art into photomosaics. The iconic collages combine individual photos that when put together, look like one large photo.

Silvers’ photomosaics have made him a sought-after advertising photographer, considered to be one of the best of our day. Silvers’ largest installation to date was in London in 2002, when he combined 3500 digital photos to create a mosaic that appears to be 15 people from a distance. Perhaps the largest advertising photograph ever commissioned, it’s an outstanding example of Silvers’ work.

When you’re starting your collection, look for vintage advertising photography that inspires some nostalgia for a now defunct company or brand. Or, take a chance on a new commercial photographer that shoots a product in a way that strikes your fancy. Photographers like Robert Silvers, who have a unique or creative take on the medium, are a good bet for your photography collection, too.

Capturing a Moment on Film- the World’s Best Editorial Photographers by Devin Richardson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The best editorial photographers do more than just support an article in a magazine or newspaper- they tell a story using photos. Editorial photographers specialize in different subjects and take photos that capture the image of their parent publication. Their works are notable as they often lack staging- they have to work on deadlines and with available subjects to get the best editorial photographs.

African-American portrait photographer Gordon Parks (1912 – 2006) started his career doing fashion photography and portraits of society women. He secured a job as an editorial photographer with Life magazine in 1948, and worked for the magazine during their heyday, throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Parks’ diverse portrait photographs of ghettos, segregation, fashion and celebrities sparked the imagination of collectors and curators, and make him a lasting favorite among the top editorial photographers of our time.

Start your search for the best editorial photographers for your collection in your favorite magazines or newspapers. The photographers who work for your favorite publications will have a body of work consisting of topics that interest you, and will likely support your political, social and economic beliefs.

Your Art Investment Portfolio Earnings Click with the Best Collectable Photography by Mark Wilson of San Antonio, Texas

Advance your art investment portfolio with collectable photography that increases in value over time. Photography is relatively inexpensive compared to other forms of art, so it’s a painless way to amass a comprehensive personal collection. Look for limited edition photos and multi-media prints to increase in value after you buy. Vintage and antique photography is always popular, especially if you can unearth a regional series of photos, antique advertising photography or photos of children. Editorial photos that document the world around us often become valuable to collectors too.

Find the best photographers for your portfolio by remembering a few basic tips. When you’re ready to buy, look for artists who received awards or recognition for their works like Ansel Adams, who received a number of honors in his lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Seek out photographers who were published like Paul Strand, or had photography exhibits like Gordon Parks during their lifetime. In addition, a comprehensive body of work that’s cohesive and consistent indicates a high quality photographer who might just be right for your art portfolio.

One thing collectors can agree upon: you should love the photos you collect. Get to know the photographers by researching them and their works; this will provide you with a background that’s helpful to understanding their art. And finally, before you add a piece of traditional or contemporary art to your investment portfolio, make sure the seller is reputable. A certificate of authenticity and information about the numbers of prints available should accompany the sale.

Los Angeles based Photographers Worth Knowing About

Palmerino Photography focuses on digital headshot photography as well as product and movie stills photography.

Roman Salicki Photography lives in Los Angeles and is best known for his celebrity clientele including Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Nicolette Sheridan and David Hasselhoff.

We thank our contributors:

  • Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York
  • Devin Richardson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Mark Wilson of San Antonio, Texas

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