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The Most Famous Street Photographers Of All Time

After talking about street photography in my previous article, I thought that I must do an article that includes The Most Famous Street Photographers.

The photographers I am about to mention completely changed the street photography genre as we know it today.

For a street photographer, the streets are pretty much like a stage full of possibilities and sudden actions.

It is a genre that has been with us since the invention of photography itself and will continue to do so.

Introducing the Masters of Street Photography:

 1. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Starting right away with the French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Known as one of the most famous and respected photographers on the Street, he is renowned as the “Father of the movement”.

Also known for the artistic term of The Decisive Moment, which means that if you are able to see the moment, you won’t be able to capture it.

Basically, it is a hard thing to master; since the photographers need to develop the ability to press the shutter button, just before the moment happens.

Also, it is worth mentioning that he is one of the founding members of Magnum Photos, back in 1947.

Magnum Photos is a worldwide known cooperative of photographers that share their ideas and work together to provide the world with great content. It is centered in cities like Paris, New York, and London.

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, 1932


2. Garry Winogrand (1928–1984)

Garry Winogrand was an American street photographer who made a name for himself with his spontaneous images of people in public who were doing their daily activities.

Even though he hated being referred to as a “street photographer” he was an outstanding street photographer; he just wanted people to know him as a photographer nothing more nothing less.

I hope he is not turning in his grave right now because he is definitely one of the best street photographers to ever live.

The most iconic work of Winogrand’s would be, the New York World’s Fair, 1964


New York World’s Fair, 1964


3. Vivian Maier (1269 – 2009)

Vivian’s story is quite interesting because she was unknown during her lifetime, and currently, she is one of the most famous street photographers.

John Maloof, who is a collector, discovered and purchased a whole amount of Vivian’s negatives and showed them to the world.

She had a dynamic style and photographed almost anything. From children to the poor, and the wealthy on the street. She shot everything that caught her eye, even her own self or say her reflection in windows.

She is quite known for her self portraitures; an example would be below.

You can safely say that she was the queen of “selfies”; she discovered them before they were a thing. 


Self-Portraiture, Mirrors , Vivian Maier 1956


4. Elliott Erwitt (1928 – )

Elliot Erwitt is an amazing American photographer who is well known for his candid and ironic shots of absurd situations in everyday life.

Elio Romano Erwitz is his original name, and he was born in France, but he lived in America. As I said, what made him special was his uncanny ability to capture the humor and irony of people’s daily life.

He was so good at taking sudden moments, or as I mentioned above, the art of the decisive moment, to the point that his work is often mistaken of being from Henri Cartier-Bresson.

A famous quote of him tells us in short words, about his style of photography:

“It’s about reacting to what you see, hopefully without preconception. You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organizing them. You just have to care about what’s around you and have a concern with humanity and the human comedy”.

Elliot Erwitt

USA. New York City. 2000.


5. Robert Doisneau (1912 – 1994)

Yet another french photographer, Robert Doisneau, was born on April 14, 1912, in Paris, and he is one of France’s most noted photographers.

He was highly influential to Henri Cartier, and in a way, he was more than a street photographer; he was a great concept artist.

An example and one of his most popular concept portraits would be the Les Pains de Picasso 1952. It is absolutely indescribable.

Besides Pains de Picasso, Doisneau’s “The Kiss”, received the same treatment and is a known photo to this day.

When it comes to street photography, it is quite hard to capture the humor – That was never the case with Doisneau because he mastered this type of photography.

The Kiss, Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville