"The Top 30 Most Socially Influential Photographers"

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by cyanatic, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. [Per eyefi.com] I am only familiar with a few of these photographers (Hawk, Ratcliff, Kelby, Kim, Bettany, Arias). I was a little surprised that the Humans of New York chap (Brandon Stanton?) was not on the list. Why do I care? I'm not sure that I do other than sharing it on PN as an interesting tidbit. And maybe a point of departure for a lively discussion...or not. Does it need to be said that "social influence" and "creator of significant photographs" are not always equivalent? I admire the work of some of these people, but there are a few about whom I can only say that luck and tireless (shameless?) self promotion got them their current level of recognition. And, really, there's nothing wrong with that.
    Take if for what it's worth...
    http://www.eyefi.com/company/blog/sip
     
  2. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    What does "socially influential" mean? Most Twitter followers? That's what it looks like. I don't think most of these people have much social influence over photography. And some of these people are not particularly interesting photographers.
    It's not a departure point for lively discussion in my mind. I have zero interest in how many Twitter followers anyone has.
    And when it comes to people who actually have influenced the way people use photography socially, Natacha Merritt is way in front of any of these people. She basically invented the "selfie" as a constant display of one's activities.
     
  3. I think the list is pretty much spot on. Regardless of how they got there they have done something to get their name out in the industry and you would be hard pressed to do a google/youtube search on something photography related and not see half the names on that list. I take "socially influential" to mean influencing the photographic community and not necessarily society as a whole, but that's just my read on the title. I also don't think the article is referring to people whose photographs have changed society, but rather whose methods, philosophies and techniques (even if not original) were highly promoted and made visible to the masses and induced some kind of change in the industry/community. Most of them have a somewhat large/sustainable following who consider it worthwhile to listen to what they have to say. This probably disgruntles the artistic elite but I give them credit for it. There are definitely a few of them that I have learned something valuable from whether it be technical or philosophical.
     
  4. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I am familiar with a couple of them and see nothing that goes beyond self-promotion. If that qualifies as "influential," then photography isn't going anywhere.
     
  5. The only one I've heard of is Eric Kim, but don't know anything about them. I don't have a Facebook or Twitter account and don't spend that much time surfing the web. When I surf the web, it is often photo related, but I have my hands full familiarizing myself with the photographers who've stood the test of time. Most of the contemporary photographers I'm exposed to are local or I find them in galleries and museums. Sometimes, a friend will send me a link to someone they think I may find interesting.
    I'm a little curious as to what the difference would be between socially influential and simply popular.
    Regardless, though, there's probably plenty of room in the world for all kinds of photographers. I do tend to be more interested in art photography and documentary photography than in most stuff I tend to see around, but what other people do rarely disgruntles me, unless I feel they've stepped over some ethical line. Does that make me one of the "art elite?" I don't know. It's not my call.
     
  6. If Erich Salomon isn't on the list, it must be off. - My 2 ct. - OK he stirred up the pot before WW2 with pictures of snoozing politicians, but I guess he a had lots of influence that way and photography existed before Twitter & such.
     
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Here's a way to think about this. Using what I suspect is a similar criterion for the list, the most socially influential musicians are Justin Bieber, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears.
     
  8. 30 ? Can you narrow it down to 10. I think probably Ansel Adams was one of the most influential. His name is practically a household name. Can't say the same for other 'influential' photographers. if you are not into photography you probably will never know who they are.
     
  9. The depression photographers. Margaret Bourke-White for Life Magazine. Photos meant more then as there was no TV. Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother. Alfred Eisenstadt. All of those who photographed the Holocaust. There are more but I just can't recall them. I grew up with Life and gained interest in photography from Life pictures. Joe Rosenthal and the Flag at the bloody island of Iwo Jima. I value substance more than entertainment or social media. Yousef Karsh's picture where he pulled the cigar out of Winston Churchill's hand is brilliant. The defiant look was priceless. There are more. I admire those who took pictures when the technology was more difficult. These people above influenced millions. You have to understand the times I think. I greatly admire those who captured pictures in Viet Nam. I think they influenced those who marched on DC to try and end the war. The list doesn't mean much to me. I don't know who any of them are. Are they on Facebook. Where are they published? I guess Harry is right this is an inside game at which I am not very sophisticated.
     
  10. I've heard of, well, none of them. Of course I finally realized I'm no longer the demographic and I've not seen any of their work that I know of but I'm suspect of any list that puts out a bunch of relatively new names and calls them 'socially' influential. What does that even mean? Avedon was influential. So was Adams (both of them), Liebowitz, Kennerly, Ioss Jr., and several dozen others over the last 80 years or so. Even more that remain obscure but had influence on a more local scale. Someone like Al Kaplan who was also a big selfie guy with his Leica and the work he did in Miami. I could name a dozen other local or regional shooters who left a mark on a smaller place in the world. I'll be interested to see how the shooters on this list are viewed in 20 years.
    Rick H.
     
  11. It's just Eyefi tooting their very own horn.
    As they so modestly point out
    Yet the future of photography is a vastly changing landscape. This discussion has recently been fueled by Eyefi, the global leader in digital camera connectivity. Eyefi, in partnership with influencer marketing agency Evolve!, have recently announced the 30 most socially influential photographers, drawing them into an in-depth conversation about the ensuing phase of evolution for this essential creative medium.​
    This seems more like an STD - socially transmitted disease - to me.
     
  12. These aren't socially significant photographers. They're social media mavens. Two entirely different creatures, although on rare occasions the two may overlap.
    That's a fairly accurate and comprehensive list of social media mavens among photographers. I list a few on my Facebook feed, although they're all relegated to an interest list that I check only a couple of times a week, not my main feed that I check daily.
    In terms of substance I see only a few names whose posts, blogs or videos I'd occasionally read or view: Zack Arias (who earns his keep by actively mentoring folks online with regular photo theme/critique sessions), David Hobby, Joe McNally, Peter Hurley (tho' the "squinch" video gives me the creeps, his others have solid and useful tips). The rest... meh. I'm not gonna clutter my news feed, let alone my brain or time, with their recycled, borrowed, stolen, cliched and lukewarm piffle. They mostly serve to give their followers a feelgood coattail effect that seldom goes deeper than the miniscule distance of a mouse click or finger tap on the "like" button.
    However, the vast majority of photographers I actually follow and read regularly are socially significant photographers - really substantive photojournalists, documentary and street photographers: veterans like Peter Turnley and David Alan Harvey, younger and underrecognized documentarians like Jim Mortram and Zun Lee. And many of my social media contacts are also fellow photo.netters who inspire me with their infusions of great photography. I'm not gonna name names because I might inadvertently omit one.
     
  13. cliched and lukewarm piffle
    I almost choked on my root beer! Love that, Lex. Sums up some -- though not all -- of the photographers on that list. And yes, Social Media Mavens is a good way to put it. And yes, these are the twitterati darlings and even more so, the Google+ darlings. The article is not about who was socially significant, it is about -- dubious and self-tooting on eyefi's part though it may be -- photographers who have influence now.
    Some years ago, one of the photographers on that list had a photo published in a fairly prestigious magazine. The category was supposed to be "straight" photographs (try getting 3 PN members to agree on what that means...). Some poor soul pointed out that this photographer had posted the same photo on their flickr account and identified it as HDR and had the audacity to suggest that this particular photographer had cheated. They were textually thrashed by hordes of the photographer's admirers. Another one on this list once posted a fairly pedestrian photograph of some blurry ("fantastic bokeh!") city lights on Google+. Googles of adoring comments and +1's for that particular image. Another poor soul dared to point out that they found nothing remarkable in the image. A firestorm of outrage ensued from this photographer's admirers. And so it goes in our internet world, like it or not. They have influence exactly because they have so many admirers. It's not the quality of the people who follow them, it's the quantity. That's how that particular game is played. And if one of them says, "X technique is the way to go..." you can rest assured that a large number of their followers will be trying out X technique. In that sense, decry it all we want, they do have some social influence.
     
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    They're social media mavens.​

    Exactly. As I said above, they appear to be judged by the number of Twitter followers. And that leaves you with Justin Bieber and Britney Spears.
     
  15. In all honesty, Eric Kim is the only name I'm familiar with and that's probably only because he's a bit of a controversial figure in Street Photography i.e. he really knows how to market himself as an instructor. I just don't follow photography in general I guess.
     
  16. >>> In all honesty, Eric Kim is the only name I'm familiar with and that's probably only because he's a bit of a controversial figure in Street Photography i.e. he really knows how to market himself as an instructor.
    I don't know what "socially influential" means. But Eric Kim has been very influential in introducing beginners to street photography through his blog and workshops. A good thing, IMO... .
    [​IMG]
    Eric Kim • Tenderloin, San Francisco • ©Brad Evans 2012
    .
     
  17. I think the granddaddy of socially influential is Matthew Brady. He should be on the list.
     
  18. Hmmmmmm. The question is, is "Socially Influential" a synonym for "Successful Marketing"? If so, it's really not a bad thing in the commercial world. (Also, if you scroll down to the 'Top 100' list, there are some good names on it.)
     
  19. wow. who are these people? i mean, like, all of them... sorry, i'm a noob, i've only been doing this for three decades and my photography library fits in my closet... i think i need some more social influence in my life :(
     
  20. There are some good photographers in the list (McNally and Hurley). And to be fair, i haven't heard of most of these folks. But I have
    heard of some amazing photographers who AREN'T mentioned here.

    Kelby has created a respectable training empire. He's sort of a special case.

    But the list as a whole seems more like a marketing stunt than a definitive list of influential photographers. Perhaps it's based on hash tag
    counts. In a world that make celebrities via Reality Television, perhaps that's what really matters. :)
     
  21. Never heard of any of them.
    But I have heard of Mac Donald.
     
  22. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    who are these people?​

    Active Twitter marketeers. I pointed this out in the first response to this question, this is not about the quality of photography, although some are good. It's about the quality of marketing. If you want to get millions of Twitter followers, these are good people to study. That's all that's being pointed out, although there are efforts to make it look like more than that.
     
  23. Marketing, the sales pitch.
    Photographers/Artists, do their own thing. For the love of it.
    Others about turning a coin....fame and fortune are also the windmills to be tipped.
    Their soul is in the golden coin...and popular acclaim.
    They ride on their ego and their Art is lost.
     
  24. Of course most of them do not have any Art they just good at flogging a product to those who do not know any better.
    But, hey, that's sales and marketing....as old as willing girls/guys.
     
  25. It is all about education, the search for understanding and knowledge. Cows chew the cud and they are happy.
     
  26. While the article doesn't specify, I think they are clearly talking about current and active photographers. Thus people like Ansel Adams etc. aren't on the list. Despite the hate, social media is the way of the world now. That doesn't mean that because a currently successful photographer has a Twitter account he is a hack or his success is strictly due to facebook likes. I don't know all of them on the list, but I certainly respect guys like Joe McNally and Chase Jarvis. They built themselves up to where they are and didn't have their current fame handed to them via social media. McNally has been in the industry for decades and shot the first ever all digital article for the National Geographic. That counts for something. He is one of the current "go-to" people when it comes to small flash. Joey Lawrence amassed quite a bit of published/highly visible work straight out of high school and the age at which he did it is pretty remarkable. David Hobby worked as a press photog for years before launching Strobist.com. His site is one of the main drivers in the current trend and popularity of off-camera flash photography. Some of the others might be strictly internet stars but a lot of them are quite active and noticed in the professional realm as well. Good, bad or indifferent, if your favorite guy isn't on the list, chances are not too many people are paying attention. That doesn't take away from their talent, but just means they aren't socially influential which is what the article addresses, not who is the most "artistic" photographer or who has the most "moving" photos. I'm sure there are plenty of people on Photo.net who are equally or more skilled than those on the list, but that clearly isn't the point of the article.
     
  27. " Despite the hate, social media is the way of the world now"
    So, if you are sort of a average photographer, but project yourself on social media, fame and fortune is yours. And you get the girls. Hmm, have to a think about it.
    ;)
     
  28. "Photographers/Artists, do their own thing. For the love of it.
    Others about turning a coin"
    Mapplethorpe and Warhol were fearless promoters of their own work and both wanted success and recognition. Patti Smith's book Just Kids is a good read to get insights into this and her own somewhat different way of being involved in her art as well as her own musings on what Mapplethorpe did to get his art seen. When an artist thinks he has something significant to say, he may well be driven to get his work out there and recognized.
    Throughout the history of art, I find many very sensitive and deep artists who were also very good at promoting themselves.
    But while that's true, it's also true that many people promoting themselves and gaining success are not terribly good artists at all and are much better promoters.
     
  29. "So, if you are sort of a average photographer, but project yourself on social media, fame and fortune is yours."
    Sometimes, but having good work and the experience of success lends some credibility and thus staying power. Projecting your image is hardly new. Ansel Adams wrote a series of books and connected with plenty of social elites to promote himself. Same with most well known photographers over the years. Connections and getting your name out in the world have always been necessary to keep artists from starving. It's only the method of doing so that that has changed.
    At the same time, there are plenty of low-talent (IMO) photographers/artists that are obscure and whom the "purist/elite" rave about. Failing to turn a profit on your craft doesn't automatically make you gifted/hidden talent either.
     
  30. While the article doesn't specify, I think they are clearly talking about current and active photographers.​

    How about "current and active" landscape, wedding, fashion, portrait, sports, and commercial photographers?How about the folks who work for Sports Illustrated, Vogue, National Geographic (granted McNally has done work for Nat Geo), and countless magazines and news services? How about the photographers who go to war zones and win Pulitzers and other prestigious prizes?

    There are lots of excellent photographers working today in all of these genres.
     
  31. What Dan said.

    I don't understand why it's surprising to some that many of the above photographers have made
    photography their business and are making a decent living, after starting from scratch with a lot of hard work and determination. Some I suspect are making a very good living. Seems like there's a lot of restating of what should be obvious. It's a
    job...
     
  32. "I don't understand why it's shocking to some that many of the above photographers have made photography their business and are making a decent living."
    Because if your photos or ideas ever leave your basement and sustain you, apparently you are selling out. There seems to be an idea that if one becomes successful they must have wronged society or destroyed the purity of the art (whatever that means) in order to do so.
     
  33. "How about "current and active" landscape, wedding, fashion, portrait, sports, and commercial photographers"
    Pretty much all of those fields are represented by at least one of the people on that list. Not sure about war correspondents.
     
  34. If that qualifies as "influential," then photography isn't going anywhere.
    I agree.
    There seems to be an idea that if one becomes successful they must have wronged society or destroyed the purity of the art
    The argument is not against success, but pushing gear beyond what is actually needed to do good work, and also against the premise that having (mostly other photographers) following you in social media equates social influence and is all that photographers can hope to achieve.
    Real social influence is out there in the world, and there are photographers who reach it and make an impact. I'm not saying none of the people on the list have had social influence; some are real photographers with meaningful work. Just that the selection as a whole is not based on social influence on the world, but something else, something that is in line with the goals of the Eyefi company (which sells wireless connectivity products; I wonder how these are related to photographers posting content on social media ...;-)).
    Instead of first world problems such as how to improve the lighting in your portraits, there are photographers who are concerned about social issues in the world, such as (social and economic) inequality, war, abuse (of people and power), etc. and are trying to change that or at least make people aware of the issues. There are also photographers who focus on the bright side of life and human achievements and have influence by motivating people to carry on.
     
  35. "Real social influence is out there in the world"
    "Instead of first world problems such as how to improve the lighting in your portraits, there are photographers who are concerned about social issues in the world,"

    Ilkka, the article doesn't specify their definition of "social influence," but from my perspective I think they are referring to influencing the society of photography and not on a world wide humanity level.
    "but pushing gear beyond what is actually needed to do good work"

    I don't know the details on all of them, but the individuals I am somewhat familiar with don't really spend much time pushing/selling brands of gear. (One of them does seem to be more inclined to this however). They may have ties to a manufacturer, but the content they put out revolves more around the skills needed to take photos, run a business and demonstrate how advances in technology affect all of that.
    "Instead of first world problems such as how to improve the lighting in your portraits, there are photographers who are concerned about social issues in the world, such as (social and economic) inequality, war, abuse (of people and power), etc. and are trying to change that or at least make people aware of the issues. There are also photographers who focus on the bright side of life and human achievements and have influence by motivating people to carry on"
    I think most photographers feel strongly about all of the above and show concern for social issues, but I think there is a difference between being socially involved in a cause and being socially influential. That goes with every industry. As I mentioned before, I don't think they are referring to photographers who are using their work to save the world or to influence humanity. I'm not really sure there are any photographers period whose work is consistently influential on that level.
     
  36. "Jeff Spirer [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Jul 13, 2014; 05:31 p.m.
    Here's a way to think about this. Using what I suspect is a similar criterion for the list, the most socially influential musicians are Justin Bieber, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Britney Spears."
    That sums it up PERFECTLY! Well stated.
     

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