Portrait Photographers

I’ve wanted to create a photo post–I’ve been camping and chasing waterfalls–but my camera is in the shop for repairs. Instead, I’ll share the work by a few favorite portraitists:

Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002)

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Yousuf Karsh Portraits Thank God for Uncle Nakash in Ottawa who received Yousuf in 1925. His displaced Armenian parents sent him to Canada for a better life. “If my first day at Sherbrooke High School proved a dilemma for the teachers—in what grade did one place a seventeen-year-old Armenian boy who spoke no English, who wanted to be a doctor, and who came armed only with good manners?”  Yousuf’s uncle was an established photographer and Yousuf learned the basics. After opening his own studio in 1931, who sits for him other than Winston Churchill, catapulting Yousuf’s career. I like his shots because they show personality.  Yousuf’s website

Annie Leibovitz (1949- )

I don’t often wish I were someone else, but Annie’s life is pretty amazing. Did you know she’s deemed a living legend? She thought she wanted to be a painter but became interested in photography in 1970. A new magazine came out called Rolling Stone and the editor liked her portfolio and made her a photographer for the magazine. What was her first assignment? John Lennon–how lucky is that?

She’s famous for her staging; there’s movement in the frozen image. Have you seen her collection featuring stars as Disney characters? I think they are beautiful.

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Queen Latifa as Ursula, The Little Mermaid.   You can learn more about her here: Annie Leibovitz

Gregory Heisler (1954- )

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Famous for his 70 + Time Magazine cover shots, his mastery of shadow and light and wide variety of businessmen, officals, and athletes make him an exceptional portraitist.  Gregory Heisler website

Do you like Mark Seliger’s work?

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Mark Seliger website

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is clear when a portraitist captures the spirit of a person. Do you have a memorable portrait you love or photographer for whose work you are drawn?

38 thoughts on “Portrait Photographers

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    1. Hi Ms. Cool — there are so many fine artists out there. There are also those one-hit wonders that everyone recognizes like the 1984 Afghan refugee girl on the cover of National Geographic by Robert Capa or Dorthea Lange with her Depression era shot of the mother and kids–I’d be very interested in knowing what inspires you–your favorites?

  1. Awesome stuff Cindy. Annie Leibovitz is simply a genius. Her work for Disney is incredible, wish I could afford buying the originals, I’d line up my basement w/ all those photos!

    1. Oops. Thought I answered you. Yes! I love the whole series. All our favorite stars, too. My favorites are Cinderella with Scarlett Johansson and this one here with Queen Latifa. They are stunning. Yes, our basements would be awesome–the best “girl-caves” ever 🙂

  2. What an incredibly engaging post, Cindy–I’m wholly captivated by the gorgeous photos. It’s so clear to see why these photographers are considered artists. Wow, to have a third eye like they do must be quite magical.
    Last night, I watched the film Lincoln (finally!) and was so taken aback with the cinematography in one area: the profile poses of a thinking Lincoln. I was drawn in like a magnet. It was brilliant.

    1. Hiya Shelley–good call, there with Lincoln. Spielberg manages to settle in on poses like a portraitist–you are so right and I hadn’t really thought of that before. I think of Wes Anderson films when I think of posing. I like films that allow you to drink in and savor all the complexities of the composition–like good Scotch 😉

  3. What a unique post. Really enjoyed it, I even checked out the websites of Yousuf Karsh & Mark Seliger, as well as the link of photographer Annie Leibovitz. And what an interesting contrast between the classic pics by Karsh and the modernist styles of Leibovitz. Love Leibovitz.’s work most from here. I’d like to add Andy Warhol, his Pop-art and post-modernist photography were both equally impressive and trés unique.

    1. Hi Nuwansen. Glad you’re back from Australia. Congrats to your sister. Thanks for taking the time to peruse the sites I discovered these formidable portraitists. Leibovitz is very special and sensual and I’m glad you mentioned Andy Warhol–he deserves a post all to himself. 🙂

    1. Hi Chris! Thanks for popping by. Yes, I love the Jeff Bridges shot, too. I think it’s the real heart of the man we see in the black and white–the ruffled hair, the contrast of I don’t care with high intelligence–wish I could claim ownership of the shot.

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