[This is an essay from Ben Long’s The Practicing Photographer, available soon from CDP Press.]

If you’re ready to start looking at the work of some other photographers, you’ll find yourself immediately facing the question, “Whose work should I look at?” To help you get started, here’s a list of photographers I believe are worth looking into.

I have a reason for including everyone on this list, but I’m not going to tell you any of those; finding your own reasons is part of the learning process. I should also say that I don’t like the work of every photographer on this list. Looking at work you don’t like is important: you might learn to like it, and thus expand your aesthetic, or you might figure out why you don’t like it, and so improve your own skill set.

I’ve broken this list roughly into four timelines, from the beginnings of photography in the 1800s, through the 20th century, and up to today. The links are designed to help get you started with respect to each artist. We wanted to avoid sending you to sites that are ad- or subscription-supported, most of the links go to the artist’s home page, a Wikipedia entry, or another web page that has relevant information and images.

For ideas about acquiring used photography books without breaking the bank, check out The Practicing Photographer support page.


19th Century


Early 20th Century


Mid 20th Century


Early 20th Century – Present