written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/20/2011
Here are five of the most famous female photographers of all time. Discover the work of these famous artists and why they were considered some of the greatest personalities in the world of photography.
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Seeing the World from a Woman's Point of View
Art is universal, so it is quite natural that all forms of art can come from all kinds of people, regardless of race, creed and gender. If you are looking for people to look up to in the field of photography, you will also see that there are a variety of voices in the medium. For photography as an art form from a female's point of view, you have a wide range of people to choose from. Here are five famous female photographers that have brought a feminine touch to the world of photography.
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One of the most famous and influential photographers of all time, regardless of gender, is Annie Leibovitz. She studied painting and photography at the same time, but she opted to pursue a career in photography instead. Her first major photography gig was for Rolling Stone magazine where she contributed several of the magazine's covers in a course of 10 years. This alone has made her an icon of her time. She did not stop there, though. She continued her illustrious photography career by contributing photos to Vogue and Vanity Fair. She even got into advertising as she worked with some of the world's most recognizable brands such as The Gap and American Express.
Annie Leibovitz has a knack for capturing personalities, drama and emotions in her photographs, making her one of the greatest magazine cover photographers of all time. Her most notable cover is the Rolling Stone cover of the John Lennon commemorative issue which featured a naked John Lennon curled up with Yoko Ono. The photo used in the cover was shot mere hours before Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment.
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Dorothea Lange made her mark in the field of photography during the Great Depression as she took some of the most moving and dramatic photos of people and circumstances in that era. She was tasked by the government to document this difficult time in America's history, and she was the perfect woman for the job. Her photography sense is about capturing the essence of people and moments in one photograph. She started taking photographic portraits of rich and famous people, but she really shined when she started walking around the streets and mingling with people who are mostly down on their luck. Her work during this time not only defined her career, it also dictated how documentary photography developed. Most photographers just capture people in their photos but Dorothea Lange captured their humanity, earning her a spot as one of the most famous female photographers of all time.
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Next on our list of famous female photographers is Sally Mann. Sally Mann likes to capture candid moments of life, and her most famous and infamous works of photography centered around her own children. For her, it was a labor of love. She captured images of her children in their most vulnerable and natural moments, often featuring natural poses and in some instances, nudity. For her, it was an innocent work of art that is deeply personal because it involves her family. However, she gained attention not because of the beauty of the photographs, but the graphic suggestions they conveyed. Some critics deem the photographs of her children bordering on child pornography. Her photographic sensibilities were aimed at conveying drama and moody atmospheres, but her choice of subjects opened up a world of controversy for her and her children. No matter what critics say, Sally Mann sticks to her vision of using old style photography to explore humanity and our loss of innocence.
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When it comes to photographing people and animals, Jill Greenberg is considered one of the best. Her photography sensibilities range from art photography to commercial photography, both of which led her to take photographs of animals, children and famous celebrities. Some photographers go to great lengths to convey a natural feeling in their photographs so they won't look staged and posed. Jill Greenberg does not hide how staged and posed her photos are. She uses great lighting, perfectly arranged settings and a lot of retouching to produce striking and visually stimulating photographs. She is perfectly comfortable in breaking boundaries and leaving traditional photography ideas at the door.
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Unlike most of the famous female photographers in this list, Cindy Sherman gained her fame not just because of her style which is using a single photograph to tell a story, but also because of her usual subject and model in her photos: herself. For most of her career, she used her own body and image as the subjects of her photographs which are usually provocative and sometimes controversial. Her conceptual photography has raised a lot of eyebrows, but that didn't stop her from continuing with her career as a photographer. She also entered the world of filmmaking, but her work as a conceptual photographer will always be her pride and joy.