The United Kingdom has always been a hotspot for photographers, and some of the most creative and imaginative practitioners of the craft have emerged from this country. Let’s take a look at some of the best photographers that Britain has to offer; whether they’re fashion photographers, street photographers, or photojournalists, each one has earned their place in our private hall of fame.
When you can be recognised simply by your middle name, you definitely know you’ve made it. Otherwise known as John Rankin Waddell, Rankin is one of the most prolific fashion photographers working today. Having worked with some of the world’s most influential brands, and photographed some of the world’s most beautiful models in his stark, unflinching style, Rankin has cemented his iconic status in the fashion industry.
Probably one of the most influential names in fashion photography, Nick Knight broke the conventions of his craft to produce provocative portraits that challenged the conventions of fashion photography. For many aspiring fashion photographers, the work of Nick Knight is a go-to, having changed and developed over nearly three decades in the industry. Aside from being famous in his own right, Knight is also well known for his networking and professional collaborations, having worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior and John Galliano.
Pattie Boyd has had a storied life. She was a world-famous model, and the artistic muse of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, all before becoming a renowned photographer in her own right. Prolific through the 70s, 80s and 90s, Pattie turned the camera the other way, using her lens to depict the not-so-glamourous aspects of her life. Many of her subjects include her famous friends, and Pattie Boyd’s work has been influential in changing our perceptions of celebrity, making her one of Britain’s most famous photographers.
From shooting for issues of Vogue in the early 1960s, David Bailey has cemented himself as an icon of British photography. Best known for his stark photography style, mixed with harsh, contrasted lighting, Bailey has transformed the world of British fashion photography by injecting it with elements of counter-culture and ‘punk’. By breaking down the rigid class barriers that surround the fashion industry, David Bailey brought a message to his art, making him one of our most celebrated photographers.
While David Hockney is best known for his paintings, he shouldn’t be overlooked as one of Britain’s best photographers. In the world of photography, Hockney’s “joiners” have become instantly recognisable. These are made by taking multiple pictures of one subject and pasting them over each other to create a semi-three-dimensional effect, which Hockney himself has described as being in the Cubist tradition. For his contribution to British art and photography, David Hockney makes the list!
The 5th Earl of Litchfield achieved worldwide fame with his candid, personal portraits of the Royal Family, specifically of Queen Elizabeth. On top of this, Patrick Litchfield created the well-known Unipart calendar, which has cemented his reputation as one of Britain’s best photographers. If you’re looking for inspiration on portraits, this the guy to go to.
At just 19 years old, Oliver Charles is rising through the ranks of British photography with his unique sense of self-portraiture. Evoking fragility and harmony with nature in a range of his shots, Oliver uses digital enhancements to add a surreal element to his work. By breaking new ground in this field and proving himself as a frontrunner in 21st century photography, Oliver Charles is certainly one to watch.
Having spent years as the picture editor of The Sunday Times magazine, Lord Snowdon – or Anthony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones to his friends – has gained a reputation as one of Britain’s best photographers. In 2001, a career retrospective was held in his honour, with pictures from nearly four decades presented. Often the first name in photojournalism, Lord Snowdon’s contribution cannot be overlooked.
Probably best regarded for his sculptors, Andy Goldsworthy’s photography takes inspiration from nature, using mostly natural lighting with very little digital enhancements. These shots are often entwined with his sculptures, combining the two pieces of art into one unified work. However, he has been known to take commission work, adding a variety of projects to his already stellar catalogue.
One of the pioneers of modern street photography, Linda Wisdom turns her camera to the forgotten corners of our cities, highlighting individual in stark realism. Her three Cs mantra – content, composition, critical timing – has become a guiding light to aspiring photographers everywhere, so if you want to learn from the best, check her out.
So now you know who to look to for inspiration in your photography! Did we miss anyone or are their people you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.