Bernd and Hilla Becher (1931 – 2007, 1934 – 2015, Germany)
Bernd and Hilla Becher were a famous husband and wife photography duo who were especially popular in the second half of the 20th century. They met each other in Düsseldorf in 1957 and got married four years later.
The couple gained international recognition through their black and white photographs of half-timbered houses and industrial buildings. Their work is classified as a part of New Objectivity (in German: Neue Sachlichkeit).
Together they founded the Düsseldorf School of Photography where many famous photographers attended such as Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff, Jörg Sasse, as well as others.
They contributed to the Documenta 5 (1972), Documenta 6 (1977), and Documenta 7 (1982) and brought attention to the uniqueness of industrial buildings. Many of the photographed buildings have long been demolished; thus, the couple is often seen as being archaeologists of industrial architecture.
Their unique photographs where usually taken with a large format camera (13 x 18 cm). The advantage of using such a camera is the distortion-free and extremely detailed depiction of the motif. The handling of such a large format camera is demanding and time-consuming. The developed image is superior to the quality of small and medium format cameras. Those interested in architectural photography should definitely take a look at the works of Bernd and Hilla Becher.
Annie Leibovitz (*1949, USA)
Anna-Lou Leibovitz is one of the most brilliant and well-paid photographers in the US. She’s taken portrait photos of many well-known people in politics, business, and pop culture. Thanks to her photographs, she’s gained international recognition.
Leibovitz first studied painting and photography with the goal of becoming an art teacher. At this time, she was making documentaries on a 35 mm film camera. She found inspiration in the illustrated books by Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Rolling Stone Magazine publisher Jann Wenner was so impressed by Leibnitz’s work that he hired her in 1970. After receiving her BA in Fine Arts, she worked as a senior staff photographer from 1973 to 1981.
A special feature of Leibovitz was the approach she used to photograph musicians. She wanted to completely immerse the viewer into the personality of the musician. She accomplished this by accompanying the musician she was responsible for photographing over the course of two to three days. This allowed her to produce photographs of the musicians in their natural environment.
Her most famous photograph is a picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono she took just hours before Lennon’s murder. This photo and her photo of a nude Demi Moore gave her both 1st and 2nd place of the 40 best front pages in 2005. Those interested in portrait photography should be sure to check out her work.
Ansel Adams (1902 – 1984, USA)
Ansel Easton Adams was an important landscape photographer, author, and teacher of artistic photography.
He is considered one of the co-founders of Group f/64. To counter the then-popular style of Pictoralism, Group f/64 used the larger f-number 64, which made it possible to take photos of a subject with a larger depth of field. Adams is also considered on of the pioneers of “pure photography.” This is a realistic kind of photography that places a special emphasis on natural tones, sharpness, and lighting. A subject photographed in this manner should be as realistically depicted as possible.
Adams is also to be considered the king of landscape photography. It’s worthwhile to take a closer look at some of the great landscape photographs he produced.
Helmut Newton (1920 – 2004, Germany)
Originally, Helmut Neustädter was a German-Australian photographer. He began learning photography from Else Neuländer-Simon in 1936, but had to flee to Singapore and change his name in 1938 because of his Jewish background. From 1940 he lived in Australia and opened a photo studio in Melbourne in 1945. He later photographed for the Australian edition of Vogue and other fashion magazines. He soon became one of the most respected and highest paid fashion, advertising, portrait, and nude photographers in the world.
August Sander (1876 – 1964, Germany)
August Sander is considered to be the most important portrait photographer of the previous century.
At the age of 28, he opened his first photo shop and studio in Linz, Austria. In 1910, he moved to Cologne with his family.
One of his most influential projects is the photo series Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts (People of the 20th Century), which is a project he worked on his entire life and made him famous. In the mid-1920’s, Sander began working on one of his first concepts. The band of works was organised into seven groups: The Farmer, The Skilled Tradesman, The Woman, Classes and Professions, The Artists, The City, as well as The Last People. These impressive photos document the changes society was going through at that time. In 1929, a selection of 60 photographs was published in his book Antlitz der Zeit (Face of our Time). It was 16 years after Sander’s death that the whole photo series of Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts was published thanks to Sander’s son.
Those of you who are interested in learning more about photography will definitely come across some of Sander’s work. He didn’t only concentrate his efforts on portrait photography, but also on landscape, nature, industrial architecture, as well as urban photography.