Google is where most people learn about photography, and who Google ranks as the most popular photographers just might surprise you.
Ask someone who the most popular photographers are, and you’ll probably get the usual list of classic names rattled off to you. The thing is, times have changed. The ways in which people find and consume their photography have moved on from the days of LIFE magazine. It’s all about Google rankings these days.
Here’s a list of the most popular photographers according to Google. Of course, there are some of the classic names on this list, but there are also some names you would have never thought should be there.
Some of these popular photographers are savvy with digital and social media; others are simply so great that people continue to write about them. Find out who they are below. Do you agree with Google?
David Bailey – 50,300,000 results David Bailey may not shoot much these days apart from various corporate-sponsored campaigns, but his appeal has not waned in the slightest. In fact, the legend grows. While some may say the ageing portrait photographer is long past his prime, his web savvy shows he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Rankin – 35,600,000 results Love him or hate him, you have to give Rankin credit: he knows how to market himself. Mr Waddell is one of the more recognisable brands in photography today, and his early adoption of video and other new platforms has certainly helped his cause.
Ansel Adams – 7,150,000 results Ansel Adams is a bit like The Shawshank Redemption. No matter who you are, how old you are, what you believe or like to look at, most people can come together and agree on one thing: Ansel Adams was pretty damn good at what he did. Don’t believe the hype? Just check out any of the millions of tributes to him online.
Sue Bryce – 6,730,000 results Australia’s ‘portrait photographer of the year’ for the last 138 years, Sue specialises in the ‘before and after’ style of glamour shots that aim to give subjects such a transformation you’ll do a double-take. She could ask for first-born children as payment, and people would still queue up to sit in her studio, where careful lighting, make-up and a human touch do the work many rely on Photoshop to do. She’s also incredible at spotting new trends (and dismissing the fads) and was one of the first photographers to use Facebook and Twitter successfully.
Annie Leibovitz – 5,520,000 results Annie Leibovitz needs little introduction – and nor does she need much help justifying her relevance as a driving force in modern photography. Perhaps one of the most written about photographers working today, every new Annie Leibovitz portrait draws blog posts and mainstream media attention far and wide across the internet.
Martin Parr – 5,190,000 results Magnum’s reluctant favourite son has reminded the more erudite in his profession that photography is also meant to be fun – and consumed. Parr’s quirky images are among the most stolen on the internet. And somehow we think he’d take that as a compliment.
Anne Geddes – 5,000,000 results We know how you probably feel about Anne Geddes, but lets put the babies in Victorian garb aside for a moment. Any pro will tell you that the key to being successful in photography is to find your niche that no one else is doing… and exploit the hell out of it. OK, now bring in the fancy dress babies. No one else is doing it; and there are at least 5 million people out there looking for it.
Albert Watson – 4,380,000 results Perhaps the most underrated famous photographer of all time, if you’ll allow us to coin an awkward phrase. Watson has taken most of the famous magazine covers (and every picture of Kate Moss) you can think of in the genre of arts and entertainment, yet mention his name and people shrug. We were a little surprised to see him be so popular on Google, but a little light research shows it’s the sheer volume and popularity of his images.
Art Wolfe – 4,190,000 results The ageless wildlife and nature photographer has transitioned well from the dying days of print to become a relevant photographer in today’s online world. Wolfe continues to undertake interesting photography projects, and keeps his name out there working with other photographers.
Scott Kelby – 3,220,000 results Scott Kelby is THE MAN when it comes to photography and Photoshop training. His popular website is chock full of training videos and tutorials, and he’s cleverly grown his international appeal with a very successful roadshow of seminars and workshops that takes him all over the globe.
Terence Donovan – 3,180,000 results A contemporary of David Bailey and one of the great portrait photographers of the past century, Terence Donovan had a distinct style continues to inspire and draw interest even after his untimely passing.
Henri Cartier-Bresson – 3,080,000 results Often up there with Ansel Adams on lists of the best photographers of all time, Cartier-Bresson inspired just about every photographer you admire to pick up a camera. That he’s this far down the list, frankly, surprises us.
Richard Avedon – 2,720,000 results Like Cartier-Bresson, we’re a little surprised to see Avedon so far down the list. He died not too long ago, and was generally regarded as one of the finest portrait photographers of the 20th Century. Still, that he ranks at all is a testament to his immense talent.
Irving Penn – 2,330,000 results Wait, did we say Albert Watson is the most underrated famous photographer of all time? Can he and Irving Penn share that title? Penn spent nearly three-quarters of a century shooting iconic portraits of people he long outlived. And when he wasn’t shooting for magazines he used his camera for more meaningful projects, such as his wonderful series from the 1950s documenting trades people in their traditional uniforms.
David LaChapelle – 2,310,000 results Famous for his bright, plastic fashion images and generally pushing the boundaries, it must be said that LaChapelle’s Google popularity has probably been helped a bit by a public feud with singer Rihanna, whom he accused of using his images as inspiration for a music video.
Lara Jade – 2,100,000 results Lara Jade started her own photography business when she was just 17 years old. Now, just a few years older, she’s moved from the UK to New York City and lists the likes of Sony Music, Goldsmiths, The Observer and Elle in her client list.