Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been chasing light for years, chances are your photography will benefit from a healthy dose of inspiration. Like all artists, photographers must actively find ways to avoid falling into a creative rut. One of the easiest ways to do that is to stop and take a look at the work of those around us. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well…there’s no shortage of amazing artists working today, but the task of filtering through the masses can feel daunting. To make things easier, we’ve put in the time and compiled a list of savvy, inspiring photographers for you to follow.
Among the list of photographers that follow, you’ll find creatives whose work dips into a diverse mix of genres, from street and portrait photography to architecture and landscape photography. We believe that inspiration fuels creativity, and the inspirational photographers gathered here should help keep your own creative juices flowing, no matter which genre you specialize in.
Without further ado, here are 10 people you must follow for photography inspiration:
- Lindsey Adler
- Alex Coghe
- Sam Hurd
- Elia Locardi
- Michael Zelbel
- Sue Bryce
- Dan Hostetler
- Victoria Siemer
- Pye Jirsa
- Mike Kelley
Let’s get started!
Lindsay Adler is a well-known fashion photographer and educator from New York. In fact, in 2020, Lindsay became the first woman to win the Rangefinder Icon of the Year Award. Lindsay’s portfolio boasts a clean, bold style that has found its way into the printed pages of some of the fashion industry’s top publications, including Marie Claire, Elle Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel, among several others. You can also find Lindsay’s educational content on a number of platforms, including CreativeLive and Kelby One, as well as on the stages of the biggest photography conferences in the world. I recommend jumping into an overview of Lindsay’s portfolio here to familiarize yourself with her work, and then dive into her different areas of expertise for even more focused inspiration.
2. Alex Coghe
Based out of Mexico City, Alex Coghe captures city life with his own signature gritty, dark street photography. When compared to his contemporaries, Coghe’s work clearly stands out. In addition to working as a street photographer, Alex has also worked in editorial photography, as well as fashion and erotic photography, and he incorporates various techniques from each to create truly unique images within whatever genre he’s working. Alex has published several books and his work has been featured in exhibits in Italy, Spain, and the United States. You can learn more about Alex’s street photography techniques here.
3. Sam Hurd
Near the top of the list of descriptors used when discussing Sam Hurd, you’ll find creative innovator. Known throughout the world for his innovative photography techniques, many of which are attributed directly to him, Sam is a bonafide go-to for seeking photography inspiration. Whether he’s employing any one of his unique techniques, which include free lensing, capturing night-and-day portraits, or experimenting with various light bending tools like a prism or convex lens, Sam is always working to create memorable, one-of-a-kind portraits. It’s for this reason that Sam finds himself in high demand as both a wedding & portrait photographer and educator. Scroll through Sam’s portfolio or Instagram account and see for yourself why Sam is in demand.
4. Elia Locardi
Elia Locardi is an acclaimed travel photographer and educator, and for the sake of fueling your creativity, it is in your best interest to get to know both his images and his educational content. On the education side, check out Elia’s Photographing the World series over at Fstoppers, where you can follow Elia around the world to learn intermediate to advanced landscape and city scape photography techniques. To get a feel for his photography and get a direct hit of inspiration, you should also check out his website and Instagram profile. You won’t be disappointed.
When he’s not busy sharing photography lighting techniques in informative videos or blog posts, particularly in the area of boudoir photography, Michael Zelbel flexes his lighting mastery and creates striking portraits that study the human form in the stark contrast between light and shadows. Michael also shares a number creative activities such as using your images in custom movie poster templates, which you can learn more about here. You don’t need to be a boudoir photographer to appreciate and learn from Michael’s work. His creative techniques transcend any one genre.
6. Sue Bryce
It’s hard to imagine a photographer today who hasn’t heard of Sue Bryce, especially those who’ve ever looked into photography education or portrait photography in general. With three decades of experience under her belt, Sue made the transition from film into digital and then went on to become one of the world’s most sought after portrait photographers and educators. Her posing mastery and striking images speak for themselves and will undoubtedly spark some ideas for your own shoots. I recommend jumping into Sue’s Instagram profile to start before heading to any one of her many sites for educational resources and galleries for creative inspiration.
Driven by a philosophy of not just shooting what something “looks” like, but rather what it “feels” like, Dan Hostettler has done a fine job creating a portfolio that cuts to the core of portrait photography, particularly in the fields of fashion, glamour, and nude photography. In addition to his more traditional work regarding the latter, Dan has experimented with a unique style that aims to bring out the charm and soft tonalities of his subjects. You can learn more about this particular style, as well as how to capture your client’s personality, here.
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Take a quick jaunt through Victoria Siemer’s portfolio and you’ll quickly notice her unique body of work identifies as far from typical. Victoria has embraced the digital realm for all it can offer and she experiments with various editing tools to enhance the images she works with, often transforming them from basic snapshots/portraits into some surreal glimpse of a parallel existence. For photographers in search of inspiration, Victoria’s work serves to remind us that we can use our own photos as a starting point rather than a destination for creating something truly unique and satisfying. Do yourself a favor and get to know more of Victoria’s ever evolving projects.
9. Pye Jirsa
Know primarily for his wedding photography work with Lin & Jirsa Photography, Pye Jirsa has also built a reputation as an educator, podcaster, and even a TikTok influencer. In his workshops on SLR Lounge, Pye teaches everything from how to how to shoot a wedding to how to create your own golden hour effect, even after the sun has set (see the image above). As Pye often notes in his tutorials, education will always triumph over gear in terms of a photographer’s most valuable assets. He even teaches a course called Creative Photography 101, in which he captures amazing images using only an iPhone. You can catch a lot of free and inspiring information from Pye on his YouTube channel, as well as his podcast and various social media profiles.
10. Mike Kelley
Some know Mike Kelley for his renowned architecture photography while others might know his Ultimate Sky Library course from Fstoppers, in which he includes tutorials for replacing skies as well as over 200 raw images of skies in just about every weather condition you can imagine. If you’ve never switch out a sky before, it’s a surefire way to enhance your photos, whether for portraits or even travel & landscape photos. Be sure to visit Mike’s Instagram and official website as well to find inspiration in his stunning collection of architectural work and personal creative projects.
We hope you found this list of inspirational photographers helpful. While it is by no means exhaustive, it should give you a solid foundation for creative inspiration and hopefully inspire you to continue looking to your peers to keep a fresh perspective and always push yourself to elevate your art.