The Top Photographers of the 21st Century

One requires a certain gift, a passion, a talent, a desire, and above all, a need to create photographs, to use the camera as an extension of the self and share an ongoing vision of and with the world. Photographers are singular types, much like cats, making their own way in the world. Crave Online looks at 7 of the top photographers of the 21 century so far, each producing epic bodies of work.

Per-Anders Pettersson

© Per-Anders Pettersson

Swedish born photographer Per-Anders Pettersson became a photographer while serving in the military. After completing service, he began traveling the world on contract with a Swedish newspaper. In April 1994, he arrived in South Africa to report on the elections, and never left. For the past two decades he has been documenting the continent, winning numerous awards. His first book Rainbow Transit looks at South Africa in the decade following Mandela’s presidency.

Nina Berman

© Nina Berman

Nina Berman is fearless. Using the camera as witness, she trains her lens on the militarization of American life and the media dialogue around war, patriotism, and sacrifice. The author of two monographs, Purple Hearts – Back from Iraq and Homeland, Berman explores the way in which the “War on Terror” has become integrated into American life after 9/11, both on the domestic and foreign fronts, revealing the imprint of a haunting new world.

Eric Johnson

Gaga © Eric Johnson

Hailing from Newark, Eric Johnson currently lives in a midtown Manhattan loft that is at once a photo studio, gallery, a disco and lounge. The space, called Upstairs at Eric’s, is reminiscent of the old school energies of New York. Since 2006, Johnson has been the photographing the heads that come through the space for a series of portraits and candid photographs of old school favorites likes Maxwell and Rosie Perez, as well as up-and-coming artists like LE1F and Junglepussy.


© JR

JR is a revolutionary. Using the streets of the world as his canvas, he has captured the imagination of people around the world in his glorious celebration of the common man and woman. A self-described “photo-graffeur” JR employees the tenets of graffiti to scout and prepare for the best quality locations for his work. From the favelas of Brazil to separation wall between Israel and Palestine, JR uses these locations for his artwork, commanding attention. Whether using a full or cropped face, the result is the same: JR made you look and in doing so he forces you to see. What that ultimately means is open to interpretation…

Nick Knight

Susie Smoking © Nick Knight

Born in London, Nick Knight is one of the greatest fashion photographers of our age. His first book of photographs, Skinhead, was published in 1982, an auspicious start for the young lad. He began shooting for i-D magazine, which launched a fashion, music, and commercial career that has spanned over 30 years. In 2000, Knight launched, an online fashion broadcasting company specializing in new, live fashion media. Always on the cutting edge, Nick Knight is.

Slava Mogutin

Slava Mogutin © Bruce LaBruce

At the age of 14, Slava Mogutin moved from his native Siberia to Moscow, where he worked as a reporter. By the age of 21, he was the target of two highly publicized criminal cases, charged with, among other things, “malicious hooliganism.” In 1994, he attempted to register for the first same-sex marriage in Russia. A year later he was forced into exile, moving to New York where he began a career in photography. His work has been exhibited around the world and published in two monographs, Lost Boys and NYC Go-Go. Most recently, Mogutin released Food Chain, the first translated volume of his Russian writings.

Dave Schubert

Dave Schubert ©

Dave Schubert is an army-brat who was given his first camera by his father to help him overcome the trauma of moving. A self-taught photographer, Schubert began shooting the skateboard scene in the 1990s, and went on to create some iconic images of the age like the photograph of Dash Snow wearing nothing but a hat while smoking a cigarette while lounging in a bathtub of Polaroids. He’s so low-key, he doesn’t even have a website. Schubert lives and works in San Francisco, where he sometimes publishes zines and exhibits his work. He’s the type of photographer who proves patience is a virtue.