Top 10 travel Portrait Photographers you should know

@ Lisa Christine

This is a list of travel photographers created by one of our members. These photographers focus on social issues and inequality in various societies across the globe.

Their portraits capture emotions and history, sadness and hope, vulnerability and strength. A good travel photographer must be good at establishing connections and breaking the ice with strangers around the world.

Here is a top-10 list of photographers that are excellent at bridging the gap between communities:

1. Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry, recognized universally as one of today’s finest image-makers, is best known for his evocative color photography. In the finest documentary tradition, McCurry captures the essence of human struggle and joy.

He is best known for his 1984 photograph “Afghan Girl” which originally appeared in National Geographic magazine.


The most iconic picture in the world – the girl has been found again years later. Photo:
The most iconic picture in the world – the girl has been found again years later. Photo:

2. Pieter Hugo

Pieter Hugo (born 1976 in Johannesburg) is a photographic artist living in Cape Town. Hugo has participated in numerous group exhibitions at institutions including Tate Modern, the Folkwang Museum, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, and the São Paulo Bienal. Hugo received the Discovery Award at the Rencontres d’Arles Festival and the KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008, the Seydou Keita Award at the Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012.

Through his images, Hugo confronts issues of race and injustice in South Africa.

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3. Phil Borges

Beginning in 1994 Phil traveled to Tibet as well as northern India and Nepal to interview and photograph Tibetans and Tibetan refugees in an effort to understand what had happened to them, to their country and their culture. These are some of the people he met in this deeply spiritual culture—everyone from the nomads of the remote Himalayas to the Dalai Lama himself—each committed to their unique Tibetan culture and to the practice of compassion while coming to terms with the aggressive occupation of their homeland. In partnership with the Tibetan Rights Campaign and the International Campaign for Tibet we created the exhibition and book Tibet: The Power of Compassion.

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4. Lee Jeffries

Lee Jeffries lives in Manchester in the United Kingdom. Close to the professional football circle, this artist starts to photograph sporting events. A chance meeting with a young homeless girl in the streets of London changes his artistic approach forever. Lee Jeffries recalls that, initially, he had stolen a photo from this young homeless girl huddled in a sleeping bag. The photographer knew that the young girl had noticed him but his first reaction was to leave. He says that something made him stay and go and discuss with the homeless girl. His perception about the homeless completely changes. They become the subject of his art. The models in his photographs are homeless people that he has met in Europe and in the United States: «Situations arose, and I made an effort to learn to get to know each of the subjects before asking their permission to do their portrait.» From then onwards, his photographs portray his convictions and his compassion to the world.


5. Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson started working as a photographer in 1987. Having spent 10 years at a Jesuit boarding school in the North of England, he set off on his own to traverse the length of Tibet on foot (1985).

In 2010 he began his journey to create the iconic artistic document that became “Before They pass Away”. After visiting 35 chosen Indigenous communities, part 1 was published to International acclaim at the beginning of 2014. Jimmy received many awards.

Today Jimmy is still traveling and photographing to produce part 2 of the project. His communication and his passion are found on a far wider platform. He is exhibiting at International Museums, shows his work at the world’s leading Photographic Art galleries, speaking at international conferences and is at the moment setting up the Jimmy Nelson Foundation.

jimi nelson2

6. Eric Lafforgue

Ever since he was young, he has been fascinated by far away countries and traveling, and spent some time in Africa.

Eric started taking photographs in 2006. Quickly, magazines and newspapers from all over the world like Geo, Nat Geo, Lonely Planet Magazine, etc began using his work for illustrations on North Korea, Papua New Guinea, the tribes of Ethiopia, etc.

Eric Lafforgue spends most of his time traveling the globe to share his encounters, through the perception of an ethnologist and the heart of an artist, privileging the regions or populations in danger and less usually visited countries.

North Korean Soldier , North Korea

7. Lisa Kristine

Acclaimed humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine creates more than images, she inspires change. A master storyteller, Lisa documents indigenous cultures in more than 100 countries on six continents, instinctively identifying the universal human dignity in all of us. Awakening compassion and igniting action in a worldwide audience with powerful, broad-sweeping images of courage and tender, intimate portrayals, Lisa elevates significant social causes—such as the elimination of human slavery and the unification of humanity—to missions. Her work resonates in the heart and moves us to act.


8. Tariq Zaidi

Tariq Zaidi (a self taught photographer) has become one of those success stories one occasionally reads about. In Jan 2014, he gave up a senior corporate position, to follow his dream of becoming one of the world’s most respected travel portrait photographers with the aim of capturing the dignity, purity and soul of people, within their environment. Over 90 of his images have already won several major international photography awards. Tariq has held numerous exhibitions and published two books. He has successfully completed commissions in Sierra Leone, Cuba, Russia, Cambodia, Uganda, UAE, Japan and recently in the remote Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra, Indonesia. He is also a Getty Image contributor and has taught courses on Photojournalism and Digital Photography, at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London and other photographic institutions in the UK. In search of truly unique images, Tariq continues to travel around the world. He is also working on his 3rd publication The White Building, Living in the Shadow of Modern Phnom Penh. The book forms part of an ongoing personal project to develop a visual anthology capturing the dignity of mankind in some of the poorest communities in the world.


9. Stephanie Sinclair

Stephanie Sinclair is an American photojournalist known for gaining unique access to sensitive gender and human rights issues around the world. After university, Sinclair worked for the Chicago Tribune, which sent her to cover the lead up to the war in Iraq. She later moved to the Middle East covering the region for six years as a freelance photographer. A regular contributor to National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine, Sinclair is the recipient of numerous awards including the CARE International Award for Humanitarian Reportage, the Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot Award, a Pulitzer Prize, two Visa D’Ors, and three World Press Photo awards. In 2010, Sinclair’s photographs of self-immolation in Afghanistan were exhibited as part of the Whitney Biennial in New York. She is an owning member of VII Photo Agency in NY.


10. Giles Clarke

Giles Clarke (1965, England) is a photojournalist with Getty Images Reportage based in New York City. He focuses on social documentary photography.


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