Top 10 Best Documentary Photographers in the World

We all somehow have managed to capture some of the most iconic moments that happen around us. It could be a man blowing out fire from his mouth or a ballerina dancing out in the middle of a street. However, if we believed that this means we possess incredible photography skills, we might be fooling ourselves. Photography is an art, a craft that requires immense hard work and dedication, especially when we talk about capturing an iconic moment in history; we are talking about documentary photography.

Documentary photographers are people who witness and capture significant events, or they tell stories of people through the camera lenses. The art of documentary can be traced back to the black and white days when telling a story through the camera lens was considered ‘brave’ or risk-taking’. Witnessing and documenting disturbing events such as wars or terrorist acts and sending footage back to the world to watch and understand what is happening has always been risky.

There have been innumerable documentary photographers working in this specific genre, covering vital events in the world and telling stories through the camera. Following we present you the top 10 best documentary photographers in the world.

1 Mike Brodie

A young photographer who became famous by accidentally boarding the wrong train to meet a friend. The train took Mike Brodie in a completely opposite route. During the ride, he found a camera and began exploring America. Furthermore, he captured transients and veterans riding the rails all around America. Later on, he became known for telling travel stories in the US.

Mike Brodie photo examples

Mike rated as Best Documentary Photographer

2 Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is an American photojournalist as well as a photographer. He is an achiever of numerous awards which includes the magazine photographer of the year. One of his most popular pictures that have been printed on the cover of National Geographic is of an ‘Afghan girl’, a girl with intense sea green eyes. He is known for covering events such as The Gulf War, Afghan Civil war and so on.

Steve McCurry photo examples

Steve Best Documentary Photographer

3 Edward Burtynsky

A Canadian Photographer who is popular for his incredible work of capturing global industrial landscapes. Edward Burtynsky is one of the most accomplished contemporary photographers in the world. His work has been displayed in numerous museums, including the National Gallery of Canada. Furthermore, he mainly captured scrape piles, railings, mine tailings, and various other industrial landscapes. The true beauty of his pictures lies in depicting the environmental tension in his photographs. He went on to China to photograph the greatest engineering project known as the Three Gorges Dam.

Edward Burtynsky photo examples

4 Tim Hetherington

A British journalist, filmmaker, communicator, and photographer. Tim Hetherington is largely known for his work in Africa and his study on the American-Afghanistan war from 2007 to 2008. His book named Long Story Bit by Bit, features photographs, oral testimony, and memoir of his eight years spent in Africa. The great photographer died in April 2011.

Tim Hetherington photo examples

5 Corey Arnold

An American photographer and fisherman from Portland. Corey Arnold‘s documentaries tend to be about capturing the sea and stories of fishermen. Moreover, he has been photographing and making documentaries since 2002 and continues to tell stories of men and their correlation with the sea through his camera. His years of experience working in Alaskan coastal outposts and villages have made him an expert of the region. His documentaries have had the privilege of being published in National Geographic, The New York Times and many more.

Corey Arnold photo examples

6 Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist who is known for telling stories of women living in traditional setups. Her work mostly addresses the role of women in traditional societies as well as conflict areas with human rights issues. She began her journey in the year 2000 when she photographed Afghanistan under the leadership of the Taliban. Since then the photographer has been documenting various conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East, and Africa. She has received numerous awards, including Infinity award from the International Centre of Photography.

Lynsey Addario Photo examples:

7 Stephanie Sinclair

Stephanie Sinclair is also an American photographer. She is known for her work in defining various conflicts and documenting them. Furthermore, she has many photographs published surrounding Afghanistan and Iraq war uncovering or documenting the violence in these countries. She has also covered the brutalities faced by women and young girls globally.

Stephanie Sinclair photo example

Kauile dos Santos, 7, the son of Brazilian actor Paulo Cesar Oliveira dos Santos practices his moves near the parked train. He hopes to be just like his father someday.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus started in 1919 when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Currently, the circus maintains two circus train-based shows, the Blue Tour and the Red Tour, as well as the truck-based Gold Tour. Each train is a mile long with roughly 60 cars: 40 passenger cars and 20 freight. Each train presents a different “edition” of the show, using a numbering scheme that dates back to circus origins in 1871 , the first year of P.T. Barnum’s show.
The 2015 earthquakes devastated Nepal and left girls and women in an increasingly vulnerable position, leading experts to believe child marriage rates will increase over the coming years.
Twenty-three-year-old Lillian Seneme holds her newborn baby, Innocent, in swaddling blankets at the Juba Teaching Hospital in South Sudan. Hospitals throughout Sudan often struggle to find enough resources for their maternity wards.
Maternal and infant mortality in South Sudan.
A young man washes his elephant in a river in Jaipur, India. Bathing is an important ritual, one that helps bond the elephant to its mahout, or keeper.

8 John Decker

John Decker is a photographer with 20 years of experience in the field of photography. He is an award-winning photographer who is known to capture significant moments in history. He is also popular for covering or documenting various activities of the first lady named Maria Shriver. His incredible work has been featured in numerous magazines all around the world including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and many more.

John Decker photo example

9 Tomasz Gudzowaty

Tomasz Gudzowaty is an award winner of the best photo of 2012 contest. He is a Polish photographer and documentary/filmmaker. He has gained immense popularity for his success in World Press Photo where his photos were published nine times. He has traveled around the world and worked on various subjects and areas. However, his main focus has been on wildlife, sport, and various social issues. Furthermore, his work has been displayed in museums all around the world and has also been published in numerous magazines.

Tomasz Gudzowaty photo examples

10 Kitra Cahana

Kitra Cahana is a documentary photographer born in 1987 in Miami Beach, Florida. In 2009 she won the World Press Photo contest for her photography skills. Since then there was no stopping for her. She is known for exploring themes related to spirituality, and social, and anthropological topics. She has also worked on Modern American Nomads in the US.

Kitra Cahana photo examples

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Top 10 Best Documentary Photographers
There are many documentary photographers, covering vital events in the world and telling stories through the camera. Following are top 10 best documentary photographers in the world.
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