We start with the 1960s. Andy Warhol gives us “pop” art; art and commerce are now indistinguishable. Were they ever distinct? Photography is now a regular in the fine art scene. Another interesting turn during this time period: Much of the photographs of note are staged or fabricated in some way, highlighting the performative aspects of the medium.
Andy Warhol, obviously deeply influential and iconic all around
Robert Rauschenberg also does photo transfer, silkscreen work
Garry Winogrand is one of my favorite snap shooter, street photographers. Check his Women Are Beautiful series. Also, by the time of his death he had thousands of unprocessed rolls of film because he photographed everything and a lot!
Lee Friedlander, who also did/does some interesting “on the street, the banality of it all” with his shadow often in the frame
Chuck Close, who we still know and love for his oil paintings. I love showing his interview on the Colbert Report. Close, finally, produces a nice symbiotic relationship between photography and painting by launching the art movement, “Photorealism”
Ray K. Metzker
Don McCulin, Eddie Adams, and Larry Burrows document the Vietnam war with color film. War looks even more gruesome and realistic.
Danny Lyon does photo essay work
William Eggleston-my favorite "snap shot" photographer. John Szarkowski launches a color (gasp) photo exhibit of his work at the MoMA and finally the art world embraces color photography
Bernd and Hilla Becher-the BECHER METHODOLOGY!!! Look it up.
Diane Arbus photographs the aristocrats-the freaks who are freed from conformity. Thank you Diane Arbus
Duane Michal’s theatrical work
Jerry Uelsman, the father of photomontage for surrealistic effect (Johnny Heartfield is the grandfather and Hannah Hoch the grandmother?)
Robert Heinecken creates photographs by exposing through advertisements, once again alluding to the fact that postmodern art uses everything commercial as source material
Bea Nettles’ work addresses an emerging second wave feminist movement
William Larson experiments with other forms of photographic imagery by making electronic prints from a fax-like machine. Oh my!
Les Krims and his theatre of the grotesque
Emmet Gowin looks at his own family for inspiration, ala Harry Callahan
Bill Owens’ work explores the suburbs-that rather bizarre and alienating place
Robert Adams goes back to the “new west” to find our untouched mountains are the pretty backdrops of human industry and suburban sprawl-the result of manifest destiny
Joel Meyerowitz, who will continue to make stunning color photographs, especially beautiful color landscapes,
David Leventhal does staged work with miniature figures. Fabrication becomes a part of the contemporary photography scene
Robert Mapplethorpe classically styled and shot photographs of his lovers and other things
Barbara Kruger. Feminist and consumer culture critic: “We Will Not Play Nature to Your Culture.” Represent
Cindy Sherman Her entire body of work is important but the b-movie stills are what make her famous. I like to think the b-movie stills are a response to Winogrand’s “Women Are Beautiful.”
Laurie Simmons works with miniature dolls and dollhouses to construct domestic scenes
Sandy Skoglund-fabricated and colorful sets kinda like an early Julie Blockman but better.
David Hockney, who is a painter and art critic as well
Andres Serrano but I don’t like looking at much of his work. His cadavers are extremely unsettling
Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency, nuff said
Mary Ellen Mark-her twins and other documentary works take on a Diane Arbus quality
Joel-Peter Witkin-his still life photos usually include some part of a cadaver, which create eerie and haunting imagery
Jeff Wall-directorial photographer and one of my influences
Abelardo Morrel-turns rooms in hotels across the globe into camera obscuras
Carrie Mae Weems
Krzysztof Wodiczko-projects images onto buildings to make political, public artworks
Edward Burtynsky-scortched earth landscapes
Andreas Gursky makes large-scale photos about consumption, which the art market loves
Sally Mann-photographs her family life in the rural south.
Pedro Meyer-early digital photographer
Susan Meiselas-her documentary photos of BDSM folks and circus performers are something worth seeing.
Kara Walker-her silhouettes are troubling/amazing
Gregory Crewdson one of my all time favorite directorial photographers
Renee Cox, her American Family exhibition one of my favorites
Alec Soth photographed mid-America during the George W. Bush years. It's worth a look back
Thomas Struth creates large format photos of families and they are really quite good
David Hilliard showed “angsty youth” in an interesting way by pulling apart scenes and piecing them together-showing the tensions of the age. Now he seems to take portraits of and for the wealthy and the beautiful. The compositions are starting to look sadly formulaic-but an art market will do that
Philip-Lorca Dicorcia his street portraits are stunning
Here and Now and the Future-more to come too
A totally subjective list of photographers I really dig right now
Michael Buhler Rose I am proud to say I curated a show of his work featuring the Hare Krishna women
Brian Ulrich does interesting work looking at consumption through a documentary and portraiture approach
Lori Nix a fabrication photographer
Loretta Lux makes eerie portraits of children, combining painting and photography
When googling contemporary photography, I also found this and cannot help but giggle.