Hi guys! I know I’ve made this blog primarily about my work and how I’ve grown through it but I’ve never posted my story of how I got into photography or anything about my personal life. I’m grateful to say last year I had the opportunity to be interviewed as an up and coming Houston artist and be published in a notable local magazine! If you guys want to know more about me then click here to read the full interview.
Inspiration in photography is often hard to find because there are so many photographers hoping to make a name for themselves. I’ve discovered some truly amazing photographers throughout the years who I believe everyone should follow for photographic insight and creative inspiration. Here is a list of my favorite photographers, in order of who I think is absolutely phenomenal to who I think is still pretty amazing, along with some honorable mentions.
*disclaimer: all opinions are my own I think each of these photographers is amazing and they’ve all helped me grow in separate ways, take these ratings with a grain of salt. These are also only my favorite photographers from this era, this does not include the greats I’ve made multiple blog posts on them in previous years.*
Peter Lik is one of the most amazing photographers ever to exist. His image Phantom sold for a record-breaking $6.5 million and for good reason, because his work is absolutely phenomenal. Lik creates landscapes that make you feel as though you are standing right there in front of whatever he photographs. His images are reminiscent of Ansel Adams in terms of skill level. I was lucky enough to visit one of his galleries in Houston and I was blown away by his work I had to keep telling myself that everything was real because it was so astounding.
BEST overall PHOTOGRAPHER
Joey Lawrence, in my opinion, is the best photographer of 2018. Lawrence’s photographs are stunning, each one is crafted with an artistic touch and each photograph tells a different story than the others. He has been featured in many magazines for his extraordinary work as well as being a photographer in Jessica Kobeissi’s 4 photographers shoot the same model series.
@joeyldotcom on Instagram
BEST millennial PHOTOGRAPHER
Longnecker is an outdoor/landscape photographer who focuses on creating emotion and telling a story simply through landscapes. His landscape work is amazing, with gorgeous colors, beautiful use of composition and the ability to draw an almost abstract quality into all of his images.
@ryanlongnecker on Instagram
BEST current LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHER
Platon is a British photographer often known for his ability to capture emotion simply through the eyes of his subject. Many of you may already know Platon from his Netflix episode on the show “Abstract”. Platon primarily photographs world leaders, celebrities, and politicians showing a different side of them than the public eye might see.
@platon on Instagram
BEST current PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER
Daniel Inskeep + Rachel Gulotta
Daniel Inskeep and Rachel Gulotta are a photographic duo often referred to as Mango Street on Youtube. Their images are thought-provoking, often using odd poses, clothing or makeup to evoke a unique tone in all of their images. They often are referred to as “VSCO photographers” because many believe their images are very Instagram ready and coincide with a theme similar to one that might be seen on the app VSCO. Mango Street has inspired me a lot as a photographer in the way I edit and their tutorials quick and informative so they won’t waste your time.
@rachelgulotta, @danielinskeep & @mangostreetlab on Instagram
Petra Collins is a young and vibrant photographer based out of Canada. Collins photographs portraits of women to emphasize their femininity and power. Collins is known for photographing shocking images that some might find innapropriatte. She looks for emotion and beauty no matter what body part that might come from. I love that she is not afraid to break barriers in her work and motivate women in the process. Her style is very hazy and dreamlike which creates a nice juxtaposition between her subjects. She is well noted in the creative community as she has shot for Selena Gomez, Zendaya and Yara Shahadi.
@petrafcollins on Instagram
Jessica Kobeissi is another photographer who is mostly found on Youtube and is well known for her “4 Photographers Shoot the Same Model” series that has drawn a great audience with some videos accumulating up to 4 million views. Kobeissi is predominately a fashion photographer who’s style of portraiture is easily recognized. I personally enjoy Kobeissi’s multiple challenge videos that help me to draw creativity when I’m in a rut.
@jessicakobeissi on Instagram
MOST HELPFUL YOUTUBER
After her series entitled “Bikini in the Snow” went viral, Sorelle Amore quickly rose to become one of the most notable photographers in the creative community due to what she calls her Advanced Selfies. Sorelle is strictly a self-portrait photographer who photographs her travels across the world in different dynamic poses. She is also a Youtuber but she is mostly known for her beautiful Instagram portfolio filled with her jaw-dropping self-portraits. I love Sorelle’s editing style and her innovative take on self-portraiture, she is definitely a photographer to watch out for.
@sorelleamore on Instagram
Derrick Freske is an up and coming fashion photographer who in the past year has had work featured in many magazines and editorial pieces. Freske has a very distinct style where he often incorporates brightly colored lights in his images to light his models along with dynamic poses that catch the eye of all viewers. Freske has grown to become one of my favorite photographers of this year.
@dfreske on Instagram
Jessica Whitaker is one of the most knowledgeable photographers currently in the photography community. She is a photographer based out of Seattle, New York and Paris who shoots primarily lifestyle photos. Whitaker has a Facebook group called Build + Bloom that is extremely helpful for growing photographers such as myself. She is also a YouTuber who makes video content from behind the scenes videos to tips on how to grow your brand.
@jessicawhitaker on Instagram
MOST INFORMATIVE YOUTUBER
Erika Astrid is a fashion and editorial photographer based out of Portland and Los Angeles. Astrid has been featured in many magazines from Factice to Blanc and for good reason. Astrid uses models that would seem unusual to many, models who have gaps in their teeth or have an overall different look to them and creates beautiful images because of her odd style.
@erikaastrid on Instagram
BEST EMOTION & ANGLES
Jerry Maestas is a fashion photographer who shoots with a retro style and incorporates it into his editing process. One look at Maesta’s Instagram or portfolio will display his distinctive style. Many of his images are very warm toned with a hazy edit to them to create a film like quality to his portfolio of work.
@jerrymaestas on Instagram
MOST NOTABLE STYLE
Rudnyk, along with many photographers from this list is also a Youtuber who photographs mostly editorial and fashion images. Rudnyk stands out because of her distinct style of portraiture. She has a fascination with beauty, fantasy, and feminity and she shows that in each and every one of her portraits. Her images all look as though they are out of a fairytale as they each have this surrealistic allure to them that stands out an image of hers.
@irenerudyk on Instagram
MOST BEAUTIFUL PORTRAITS
Ron Dadon has two portfolio’s of work, I personally prefer her second book of work that is all black and white. The contrast and story in each of the images are breathtaking and reminds one of a portrait from many years ago. Each of her black and white has a timeless, film-like quality that won’t ever go out of style. Ron is also a singer/songwriter!
If you look at Brandon Woelfel’s feed on Instagram you will notice a common theme in his images, a cotton candy color palette. Woelfel often uses Photoshop to achieve these unique colors in each of his images but I found a way to achieve something very similar in Lightroom. Here are the steps to achieve a similar look to Woelfel, I, however, do not encourage copying his style in all of your shoots. I think it is important to emulate a photographer from time to time to learn how to shoot with styles different than your own and improve your photography game. Personally emulating Woelfel’s style showed me some tricks for photographing portraits at night that I might use in my own images.
First, you must photograph a model holding fairy lights at some time after golden hour. Woelfel often photographs at blue hour or at night time with artificial light to illuminate his image. I photographed at sunset into the night time and I didn’t have any trouble achieving the look. I would also recommend purchasing some serial killer/ oversized glasses to reflect more of the fairy lights. Mango Street made a Brandon Woelfel starter pack that is relatively inexpensive and a good starting point to begin photographing like him.
After photographing the image you will begin your editing process.
I started by adjusting the temperature of the image to make it a lot cooler and making the tint a bit more magenta to achieve that aqua and pink look in Woelfel’s images.
Next, I turned up the exposure a little to bring back some light on his face and brought down the contrast to create more of a faded look in the image.
After that, I raised the shadows, dropped the blacks and dropped the whites almost all the way to add a little bit of contrast back in the image and even out the light distribution on his face.
Next, I played with the tone curve a little bit to create the crushed black look and created a slight S curve from that point.
I then played with the hues of the colors by making the yellows more orange, blues more aqua, aquas more blue, purples more magenta and magentas more purple which might sound a bit counterintuitive but it creates the colors that I wanted.
After I adjusted the saturation by dropping the saturation of the oranges and yellows and bringing up the saturation of the blue and magenta to emphasize the colors further. I also brought the luminance of all of the colors up slightly.
I added a pastel pink color into the highlights and a pastel blue color to the shadows to really create that cotton candy look to the image.
Lastly, I raised the vibrance up and brought down the saturation while also bringing down the clarity slightly.
I’m not saying these editing techniques will work for every image but they worked fairly well for me to create a similar looking image to something I thought Woelfel might create. For a more in-depth tutorial, I would recommend watching Mango Street’s video on this very technique.
In the past couple of years a photography icon as surfaced by the name of Brandon Woelfel. I’ve talked about Woelfel in my 5 Best Youtuber Photographers post before so many of you will already know who I’m talking about. Woelfel has become famous for his iconic fairy lights, rainbows and cotton candy color palette he uses in almost every one of his images. His photographs are extremely recognizable and well known around America especially after the release of his photo book Luminescence. Woelfel primarily photographs internet sensations such as Lilly Singh,Bethany Mota, and the DeMartino Twins as well as other models.
The trend #dothebrandonwoelfel consists of photographers taking photos of their models at night or at blue hour while incorporating some sort of artificial light in their images as well as heavy cool tones in post. I did not do this challenge to rip off Brandon instead I tried to see what parts of his style I could use to incorporate into my own photography and try to challenge myself. I almost never shoot past 7 so it was interesting to learn how to shoot without my friend the sun there to provide the natural light. This challenge has inspired me to do more night shooting with my own style incorporated but for now here is my take on emulating Brandon Woelfel’s style.
The photographer I chose to emulate for Macro photography is Heather Angel, a macro and wildlife photographer.
Heather Angel is a macro and wildlife freelance photographer. Angel has been photographing for a very long time and even owns her own photographic agency where she gives classes to amateurs.
Angel tends to use lighting with a flash opposed to natural lighting so that she can highlight the features and detail of the subject. In macro photography Angel focuses on flowers and small animals such as insects and spiders. She uses a long lens to capture the detail up close of whatever she is photographing.
Angel was inspired by Eliot Porter who was a wildlife photographer. Angel actually graduated with a degree in Zoology and Marine Biology. She married Martin Angel who was an oceanographer who was also an inspiration to her nature photography.
Angel uses digital cameras for all of her photography. Her favorite camera is the Nikon D4 and the D800. Angel also recommends that people use tripods when photographing things in detail as well as a shutter release so that the camera won’t shake and make your photo blurry.
When Angel is photographing flowers for Macro she places the flowers on a piece of glass with a piece of black velvet underneath the glass. By doing this is adds depth and dimension to the photograph and really makes the colors in the flowers stand out more than anything else.
Angel records the things that might not be apparent in the picture like the emotions she wants the picture to show and captions she thinks of. Angel recommends writing down your exposures that look best and then comparing at different angels to get the best possible image.
I chose some of my favorites of her work, but I will link her gallery here as well so you can pick your favorites.
I chose to emulate Aaron Siskind for the Abstract photography style, also known as Abstract expressionism.
Aaron Siskind lived in a period of abstract expressionism. Abstract expressionism is a period of time around the 1940’s where art was really focused on making photographs that looked similar to abstract paintings. Abstract expressionism emerged during the chaos of World War II because photographers wanted to portray some sort of hope and show a different, bold style of photography.
Siskind was one of the first abstract expressionist photographers. Siskind formed his photographs to look like paintings and to make his art something different. Siskind’s abstract photography is so different from any other because he includes so many different details and hidden meanings into the image.
Siskind believed all of his photographs represented something other than just the subject itself, as if his images were a metaphor for something deeper. Siskind’s images were always peppered with little metaphors and deeper meanings so that they always managed to be much more than just a picture. Siskind never used color in his abstract pictures so that the viewer could focus on the textures, contrast and subject of the image and not have any colors to distract.
Siskind always zoomed in tightly to his subject and mostly focused on sidewalk markings, graffiti and torn posters. Siskind would position a small section of graffiti marks off center and focus on the asymmetrical lines and the contrast to the dark background. He loved emphasizing line and tone in his work.
Siskind differs greatly from Ansel Adams because unlike Adams, Siskind zoomed in very tightly to his subject and didn’t focus on any of the surrounding area. Adams always made sure to include a lot of landscape into his pictures with a lot of different natural elements; contrasting this style Siskind almost never included the scene around his pictures.
I have included some of my favorite of Siskind’s work below, you can click here if you want to see a full gallery of his work.
The photographer I chose to emulate for portrait photography is Richard Avedon.
Richard Avedon is one of the few photographers who knew he wanted to be a photographer at a very young age. His interest in photography started when he was 12 years old. When he got older he began photographing as a freelance photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. Avedon also ran a successful commercial studio where he photographed for Calvin Klein, Revlon, Versace and many others.
Avedon had a special type of lighting that he used which is now known as Avedon lighting. Avedon lighting is a combination of front, back and fill lights with a bunch of different reflectors. The lighting setups almost always involve a white background that strongly emphasizes the subjects face. The subject is removed from context and he focuses on their facial expressions. Avedon made sure that when he used white lights and a white background that his subject was wearing dark colors to emphasize them.
Avedon photographed people while looking their best or even looking their worst for a more authentic feel. Avedon also captured people when they felt uncomfortable or when they wore something that made them insecure. He conveyed his emotions through his subjects.
Avedon wanted to focus on real portraits of people. He loved the authentic look that facial expressions added to pictures. When he zoomed in tightly on a subject’s face then it allows the viewer to see the detail and true expression of the subject’s face.
I included some of my favorite’s of his work below, if you would like to see more of his work then check out his gallery here.
The photographer I chose to emulate for Landscape photography is the great Ansel Adams. Adams is not only one of the best landscape photographers but he is also one of the best photographers and environmentalists of all time.
Born in 1902, he had an early love for photography. He visited Yosemite with his parents when he was 12 and fell in love with art, he took pictures of Yosemite with his Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie camera. Adams returned every year after that to photograph the natural beauty of Yosemite until the year that he died. Adams would often stay in the mountains for weeks at a time, searching for the perfect picture.
Adams never used a digital camera, he was very proud of using film and editing his images in the darkroom. He would stay in the darkroom for hours at a time to make the perfect print.
Adams best work was later in his life when he learned to drop his horizon line to show the contrast between the sky and the ground. Adams was a very instinctive photographer, his amazing instinct is shown in his most famous picture, Moonrise Hernandez. When he was taking Moonrise Hernandez he didn’t have a light meter, only his brain and this is now one of the most well known photographs of all time.
Adams made sure to always fill the frame with landscape and never left any blank space in his image. He also always makes sure to take multiple of the same scene with different exposures and shutter speeds.
Adams was one of the best photographers ever because he focused on the photograph more than any rules for good composition. Many disliked that he went against the rules of good photography but he continued to photograph the way that he wanted to. Adams was one of the first photographers to photograph for an artistic purpose rather than a documentary purpose. This is different from Bernice Abbott who strictly photographed for documentary purposes.
I included a few of my favorites of his below but if you would like to see his gallery I will link it here.
The photographer I chose to emulate for Architecture photography is Berenice Abbott. Abbott’s photography style was very interesting, she learned from one of the greatest photographers of all time, Man Ray. Man Ray took pictures of the changing architecture in Paris so Abbott travelled to New York and did the same. Abbott photographed New York and the changing architecture during the great depression. The photographs she came up with are absolutely stunning works of art of the architecture in New York.
Abbott was inspired by the Social Realism era. Social Realism a photographic style that focuses on the hardships of everyday life and was very popular during the great depression.
Abbott loved showing off high contrast in her image as well as social contrasts in her images that weren’t architecture. Abbott also didn’t like to use any sort of abstract elements in her image, she was a very firm believer in “straight photography.” Straight photography is where the photographer doesn’t use any sort of special effects and minimal editing in their images. Abbott believed in showing the realism of the image and not something that she edited to perfection.
I included some of my favorites of her work that I hope to be able to recreate in some way. My favorite is the last one to the right of the single building, I think she captured the architecture of New York beautifully in this image.
These 4 photographs I included don’t even represent fully the extent of her talent. Click here for a link to her gallery, which holds more of her astounding photography