Someone or something always influences whatever we choose to do in life. I am a photographer and many different people have inspired me over the years. These 10 photographers have influenced and inspired me the most over the past 20 years.
1. Richard Avedon
Richard Avedon was a God of fashion and portraiture photography. There is so much that I could say about Avedon, but as I look at the photos that are hanging on my office wall I know that his images from In The American West influenced me the most. This collection of portraits of common everyday people shot on a white background with an 8×10 camera is amazing.
2. Helmut Newton
When I was in photography school, I wanted to shoot edgy fashion that included naked models. Helmut Newton was the perfect inspiration for this. In Los Angeles Newton lived at the Chateau Marmont and shot there many times. I would love to stay there sometime to see if it inspires me as much as it did him.
3. Irving Penn
Irving Penn is another classic fashion and portraiture photographer that was a master of simplicity. Some of my favorite Penn images were shot on a tightly angled corner for the background. It gave an interesting look, but was simple enough that the subject was the focus, not their surroundings. Penn also shot amazing still life photographs, my all time favorite is one of a simply stacked arrangement of box shaped frozen vegetables titled Frozen Food (with String Beans).
4. Herb Ritts
Herb Ritts was a major influence on me in photo school, as well as at the beginning of my photography career. His images of celebrities and fashion are what drew me in and made me want to shoot black & white portraits. A print of his photograph featuring fashion models Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Naomi Campbell all curled up into a group has hung on my wall for 15 years.
5. Robert Mapplethorpe
I think my draw to Robert Mapplethorpe was his shock value. Mapplethorpe was able to go from shooting beautiful images of flowers, to guys being fisted. His portrait work was influential and his hardcore images made me feel it was acceptable to sometimes take photographs to the extreme.
6. Annie Lebovitz
Some people love Ann Leibovitz’s photography and some people hate it. I fall somewhere in between. I was introduced to her work through images of celebrities in Vanity Fair. I loved them, especially the ones in their yearly Hollywood issue. When I first got into photography I was heavily influenced by anything that included celebrities and Lebovitz shot plenty of them. Good or bad, artistic or commercial, love it or hate it; I have to give Annie Lebovitz some credit for influencing me.
7. Ellen Von Unwerth
I won’t say I was influenced by Ellen Von Unwerth’s fashion work, but I was inspired by her photography book Revenge. Revenge is a 200 page sadomasochistic story told only with photographs. The images are beautiful and sexy. The way this book was shot makes it feel like it was handled more like a movie, not a photo shoot.
8. Peggy Sirota
Peggy Sirota is a celebrity portrait, fashion and advertising photographer. I worked for Peggy for 5 years as a production and photo assistant. For my last two years with Peggy I was her film coordinator. Over that time I saw literally hundreds of thousands of her images and learned her style down to the smallest detail. Even with her new work, I can point out a Sirota image without looking at the credit. I don’t want to shoot like Peggy Sirota, but the experience I gained during my time with her educated me more than anything else I have ever done.
9. Juergen Teller
I was recently introduced to Juergen Tellers’s work by photographer Chris Cuffaro. I had never heard of Teller before Chris showed me one of books. His candid portraits have a natural feel that makes you want to know the stories behind them. I’m inspired by that, and hope to bring that kind of imagery to TheAverageMo.com with my Mo of the Day images.
10. Richard Avery
What can I say about Dick. I first saw Richard Avery’s photographs on Twitter, they were different and more interesting than the other images I was seeing involving porn girls. Avery’s photos on his site Juliland.com have a fun, dark, I don’t give a fuck attitude to them. You can tell by his images that he has a great rapport with his models that allows him to get more out of them. I really like Richard Avery’s photography, but after working together with him on my site TheAverageMo.com, I have to say what’s influenced me the most is his work ethic. His work ethic inspires me to work harder, do more, and create things that I can all my own. He has encouraged me to stop talking about doing things and get out there and actually do them. Thank you Mr. Avery.