When photography becomes art: a journey through the top names

When photography becomes art: a journey through the top names

Knowing who made the photograph is important.

Today photography is loved by many, but few know the rules of composition of a good photograph. Technology and freedom of expression have turned everybody into aspiring photographers. Everybody talks about themselves, expresses their own thoughts, makes explicit what they like. Photography is all this, it is rule and feeling, knowledge and instinct, but the big names that have been able to subvert it, change it, make it grow, are very few.

We are talking of photographers who have immortalized moments of history and made them eternal. We have seen some of their photographs several times, they have marked the different historical periods. 20th Century is full of symbolic photos that photographers have sent to press agencies or newspapers. Images that had a unique meaning, such as to touch the soul of those who were on the other side of the world.

Photography in this context is understood as art, no longer as a technique. It is the expression of the photographers who, thanks to their originality, creativity and sensitivity, have created it. Some photographers have been able, more than others, to be remembered for their genius. 

Let’s discover who they are. 

Henri Cartier-Bresson 
Henri Cartier-Bresson was the first photographer to try his hand at photo-journalism, remembered for this and for his shots that showed most hidden and, at times, painful realities. Nicknamed “the eye of the century” he founded, with Robert Capa, David Saymour, George Rodger, the Magnum Photos photographic agency. Beyond the photo- journalism Henri Cartier-Bresson has also been able to stand out for the photos he has taken of Coco Chanel, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many others.

Sebastião Salgado
Salgado’s life as a photographer began following his trip to Africa. His photograph is a social complaint on the burning issues, such as poverty and workers’ rights. 
Black and white characterize his photography.

Ansel Adams 
Ansel Adams is an American photographer famous for his black and white photos at the American National Parks. The charm of nature materializes through the contrasts of shadow and light. Adams, as well as for the beauty of his photos, is remembered for having invented the technique of the zonal system, which allows to translate the light with specific densities on the negative and on the paper, so as to have greater control over the photo. Ansel Adams was also one of the first to conceptualize the idea of viewing the finished print, which is based on the light values acquired.

Irving Penn 
Irving Penn is one of the photographers who is remembered for his classic and unique style. His style is imposed by the strong contrast between the main subject and the background. Through this technique the protagonist of the photo stands out immediately. Furthermore, his style includes a subject behind which two backdrops are arranged at an angle. His are the photos of many famous people from the world of entertainment.

Robert Capa 
One of the most important photos of the last century is that of the soldier with the white shirt killed in the war. The author of this shot is Robert Capa, one of the most important photographers in history thanks to his testimony on the war field. He was present on the field in the Spanish Civil War, Sino-Japanese War, World War II, Arab-Israeli War, First Indochina War.

Robert Doisneau
Robert Doisneau is the author of the photo Kiss in front of the Hotel de Ville, a photo taken in the streets of the French capital. All his work has been characterized by glimpses of society and the Parisian environment.

David LaChapelle

David LaChapelle is a famous photographer who has established himself in the field of fashion and advertising. His work is characterized by surrealism, in fact his photos are always characterized by the extreme details. The most important international magazines hosted his photos. His most important works are those made for: Nokia, Tommy Hilfinger, Diesel, Smirnoff, H&M, Armani Jeans, Motorola, L’Oreal and Lavazza.

Steve McCurry 
Everyone, at least once in your life, has met the green eyes of the Afghan Girl. It is the most important and best-known photo of Steve McCurry, a photojournalist who sees his life change following his trip to India. His famous phrase: “If you wait, people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up to be seen”. 
The compositional rules of this photographer have become so famous that he himself wrote an article about them.

Oliviero Toscani 
Oliviero Toscani is an Italian photographer known all over the world thanks to his commercials with intense emotional impact and more. He is one of the greatest representatives of Italian photography and has expressed his best work within the Benetton advertising campaigns.

Diane Arbus 
Diane Arbus is a New York photographer, mainly remembered for her photo portraits. The photographer constantly tries to express the diversity that distinguishes each face, without forgetting to go beyond the concept of normality. Her most famous photograph is “Child with Toy Hand Grenade“: what makes this photo very particular, besides the grenade in his hand, is his almost demonized expression.

Dorothea Lange  Dorothea Lange is the photographer of the Great Depression. This historical period characterizes her work and her approach towards photography, making her an excellent documentary maker of the great migratory movement towards California. Her most important work is “The Migrant Mother”, an exceptional shot that reveals the tiredness of a woman about to change her life, but who has not forgotten pride and dignity.

Elliott Erwitt  The contribution that this photographer has made to photography is to make it humorous. A poet “with an ever-optimistic look, but always elegant”. A provocateur, capable of always grasping the ridiculous and funny side of people and situations. His favourite subjects are dogs.

Jerry Uelsmann  Jerry Uelsmann stands out for his innovative approach, as opposed to aesthetics. His photos tell a dream, are lost in the dream world. Important tributes to painting, specifically to Renè Magritte and to Carl Jung’s psychology. The works of this artist are mental journeys made analogically with sophisticated combinations of shooting and printing techniques. His influence on later photography is impressive.

Annie Leibovitz This American photographer launches the collaboration between photography and fashion. The peak of her success was in the period in which she worked for Rolling Stone magazine, from 1970 to 1983. In 1990 she was awarded with the Infinity Awards and in 1998 she also started working for Vogue. Her most famous photo is of John Lennon naked who embraced a dressed Yoko Ono.

Mira Nedyalkova  The expressive power of this Bulgarian photographer imposes itself on the international photography scene. Her ability is to merge the concept of photography and painting and express her personality through her works. Her works are also made fascinating by the use of water that welcomes the models, the plasmas, caresses them, models: an element through which Nedyalkova manages to fully express herself and her personality.

Philippe Halsman The life of this artist is marked by the meeting with Salvador Dalì, with whom he started a fruitful collaboration. Their photos are surrealist paintings. In the 1950s, Halsman developed the Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book project, a collection of shots of people from the world of entertainment, sport and politics in the act of jumping.

Richard Avedon  Another name of international photography is that of Richard Avedon, capable, through his black and white portraits, of conquering the whole star system. His is a drastic change in glamor photography. The models are no longer immobile but move, excite, fascinate, become interpreters of a glossy and sensual world.

The contribution that each of these artists has made to the world of photography is immense: they have transformed it into art, adding to the technique and the emotional and communicative aspect.

Photography begins to communicate with them: it communicates an unease, a pleasure, a pain. It’s a healthy carrier of emotions, positive or negative. The horror of war showed up in the stolen shots of the people, the sensuality of the woman’s body intensified, the wonder of nature left everyone speechless. 
These geniuses of photography have not only been able to prepare a set, choose the light, frame a subject, their greatness has been in inserting their thinking into photography and addressing it to others. From bourgeois portraits to glossy magazines, from the quiet sitting room to the war zones. Physical and mental changes that have translated the concept of photography. Here simplicity is combined with the complexity of the human mind, the uneasiness of thought, the pride of man, the sadness of a look, the thinness of a child, the smile of an elderly person.

It’s a linear concept. Just press a button and hear a small click. A simple concept, yet the most complex ever.

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