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50 Master Photographers
1-10: Adams - Curtis

By Mason Resnick

Who are the most influential photographers of the (mostly) black-and-white film photography era? Here's my very subjective list. Yes, you'll have your turn to add your faves in the comments, below.

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1: Ansel Adams
One of the most widely-known photographers, Adams was a conservationist and an artist with a camera. His photos of Yosemite, the Southwestern US and portraits are equalled only by the techniques that he pioneered.

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2. Diane Arbus

Her controversial portraiture looked beyond the superficial and into her subjects' often troubled souls, as well as her own. But her magazine work showed she could have a split personality.

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3: Richard Avedon

Avedon's up-close, show-every-hair-follicle approach to portraiture can be jarring, but his ability to render both his and his sitters' personalities in each image he creates is uncanny.

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4: Phil Borges

Photographer of all things Tibetan, including the Dalai Lama.

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5: Margaret Bourke-White

One of the original Life magazine staff photographers, Bourke-White was a pioneer in both photojournalism and womens' work roles. Her images of World War II--especially the liberation of concentration camps--were deceptively simple. Her images would often be the perfect combination of fact and beauty.

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6: Brassai

His portraits and Paris street photos are touching and perceptive. Even his photos of hookers.

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7: Henri Cartier-Bresson

The father of Photo Reportage and co-founder of the legendary Magnum photo agency, "HC-B" has influenced generations of photojournalists, documentary photographers and street photographers. Influenced and inspired by classical, surrealist, and impressionist art and freed by the portability of the Leica, HC-B changed the way we look at the world around us.

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8: Frederic Brenner

Frederic Brenner's single book, Diaspora, is a massive two-part photographic exploration of the worldwide Jewish diaspora. As much an anthropological study as it is a masterful photographic work, it shows how adopting the local culture and customs may be one of the keys to Jewish survival. Of interest to some: Author Mason Resnick first discovered and publicized Brenner's work during his tenure as managing editor of Popular Photography.

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9: Imogen Cunningham

Cunningham's career spanned the first three quarters of the 20th century photographed many of her subjects draped in exotic clothes in images with moral themes and tableaux representing works of poets. Later nudes were shocking for their time, but rather tame now.

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10: Edward Curtis

Curtis built an illustrious career documenting Native Americans in the 1900s. The images resonate 100 years later.

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Who did we leave out? Who are your favorite photographers?

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