A list of some of the most influential photographers in Asia…
This eclectic list of contemporaries and pioneers is contributed by the IPA community via an informal poll, and we hope it serves as a reference to prominent names in Asia photography. By no means is this list complete and exhaustive as it currently is. The featured names have been influential either through their own practice, their approach to photography, or contributions and influence to community, locally and/or internationally.
We will continue to add more names as we progress as a celebration of photography in our part of the great big world. Which other Asian photographers do you think has been influential, perhaps even in your country or local community? Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
1. Rinko Kawauchi, Japan
Best known for her serene and poetic photographs depicting the ordinary moments in life, Rinko Kawauchi is one of very few celebrated female photographers in Asia and beyond. Rinko is also known for her prolific and innovative photobook-making.
2. Daido Moriyama, Japan
Daido Moriyama is likely the most referenced name from Asia when it comes to street photography all over the world. Daido is most known for his stark black and white ‘photocopies’ of the Shinjuku area in Japan.
3. Dayanita Singh, India
Best known for her portraits of India’s urban middle and upper-class families, Dayanita Singh describes herself as a ‘bookmaker working with Photography’. In 2013, she became the first Indian to have a solo show at London’s Hayward Gallery.
4. Nobuyoshi Araki, Japan
Considered one of the most prolific artists alive or dead in Japan, Nobuyoshi Araki is best known for his exploration of erotic art photography and his intimate photographs of his late, beloved wife. Read an Interview with Nobuyoshi Araki on IPA.
5. Rongrong&inri, China
Prominent contemporary photographers RongRong (China) and partner inri (Japan) collaborate not only in their practice, but also in their founding of the highly influential Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing – China’s first and only privately run, non-profit center devoted to photography and video art.
6. Raghubir Singh, India
India’s pioneer and master of color photography and best known for his vivid, complexly layered photographs of his home country. Read more on Raghubir Singh here: Raghubir Singh and the Importance of Identity.
7. Raghu Rai, India
Protégé of Henri Cartier-Bresson and one of the very few Asian names on the Magnum Photo Agency roster. Rai has documented India for over 4 decades, from the Sadhus of Kumbh Mela to Mrs Gandhi and Mother Teresa to the victims of Bhopal. Read our exclusive 3 PART interview with Raghu Rai here: Invisible Interview: Raghu Rai
8. Chang Chao-Tang, Taiwan
Taiwan’s master surrealist Chang Chao-Tang’s influence extends far beyond his own photography practice. Chang is credited with being a strong mentor and curator to many young Taiwanese photographers. Read our exclusive with Chang here: Breathing Different Air – An Interview with Chang Chao-Tang 張照堂
9. Lu Nan, China
Lu Nan is acclaimed for his documentary on patients at mental hospitals and Catholicism in China, and peasant life in Tibet. His photographs were previously distributed by Magnum Agency.
10. Pablo Bartholomew, India
Pablo Bartholomew is one of India’s leading photographers and the first from South Asia to win the World Press Photo (WPP) Award in 1975, when he was just 19. Read an interview with Pablo published on IPA: Interview with Pablo Bartholomew
11. Hiroshi Sugimoto, Japan
Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, best known for his Dioramas series, is one of the most prized, exhibitied and collected contemporary artists from Asia today. Hiroshi is based in Tokyo and New York.
12. Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh
Godfather of photography in Bangladesh, Shahidul Alam founded the highly regarded Drik Picture Agency and Chobi Mela, one of Asia’s premier photography festivals. He also founded Majority World, an initiative formed to provide a platform for indigenous photographers.
13. Shomei Tomatsu, Japan
Regarded by some as the man who changed Japanese photography forever, Shomei Tomatsu is part of the Post-War Japan generation of photographers alongside Eikoh Hosoe, photographing iconic images of change and flux in their country.
14. Prabuddha Dasgupta, India
Prabuddha Dasgupta was one of India’s leading photographers working in the commercial fashion and fine-art field for over 3 decades. The theme ‘Grace’ of Delhi Photo Festival 2013 was a tribute to Prabuddha.
15. Manit Sriwanichpoom, Thailand
Thailand’s Manit Sriwanichpoom is one of Southeast Asia’s leading and prized contemporary photographers and artists. Manit is best known for his influential ‘Pink Man’ series made during post-Asian Crisis Thailand of the late 1990s. Manit is currently curating photography by forgotten Thai Pioneers and Masters at his Kathmandu Photo Gallery in Bangkok.
16. Eikoh Hosoe, Japan
Eikoh Hosoe is best known for his psychologically charged images exploring death, erotic obsession, and irrationality during of post-World War II Japan. During his early days in photography, Daido Moriyama assisted Eikoh.
17. Lu Guang, China
One of China’s most regarded documentary photographers today, Lu Guang focuses on contemporary social and economic issues in China, notably the country’s industrialization and pollution.
18. Chien-Chi Chang, Taiwan
Another of the very few Asian names on the Magnum Photo Agency roster, Chien-Chi Chang is best known for The Chain, his portrait work of inmates at the Long Fa Tang in Taiwan.
19. Oscar Motuloh, Indonesia
Oscar Motuloh is one of Indonesia’s most renowned photojournalists, and also the country’s photography curator of choice. Oscar is also founder of Antara Gallery for Photojournalism (Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara), Indonesia’s most important organisation involved with photography curation, education and exhibition.
20. Li Zhensheng, China
Li Zhensheng is a Chinese photojournalist who captured some of the most telling images from China’s Cultural Revolution. His recent book “Red-Color News Soldier”, edited by Robert Pledge, is both, a critical and commercial success.
21. John Clang, Singapore
John Clang is without doubt one of Singapore’s most successful photographers and artists, finding a successful balance between commerce and art, in Singapore and internationally. John Clang’s recent ‘Being Together’ series is one of his most acclaimed and was recently exhibited at the National Museum Of Singapore.
22. Tay Kay Chin, Singapore
Singapore’s most respected practitioner, educator and mentor in photojournalism and documentary photography. Tay Kay Chin is best known for his award-winning panoramic documentary of Singapore and his evangelism at PLATFORM, a Singapore photography group he co-founded. Read our exclusive interview with Kay Chin here: Invisible Interview & Photo Essay: Tay Kay Chin.
23. Nick Ut, Vietnam
Born in Long An, Viet Nam, Nick Ut photographed what most would argue the single, most iconic image of the tragedies suffered during the Vietnam War.
24. Ho Fan, Hong Kong
Ho Fan is probably Hong Kong’s most awarded photographer, with a masterful body of work in the classical street photography tradition. Check out Fan Ho’s Photo Essay on IPA: Ho Fan – A Hong Kong Legend Returns.
25. Wang Fuchun, China
26. Takuma Nakahira, Japan
Friends with Shomei Tomatsu and Daido Moriyama, his photobook For a Language to Come (Kitarubeki kotoba no tame ni) has been described as “a masterpiece of reductionism.”
27. Erik Prasetya, Indonesia
Regarded as a peer to Oscar Motuloh, Erik Prasetya is best known for his improvisational street photography and documentary journal of Jakarta amassed over 15 years. Check out his Photo Essay feature on IPA: The Banal Aesthetics of Erik Prasetya’s JAKARTA
28. Che’ Ahmad Azhar, Malaysia
Malaysian photography educator Che’ Ahmad Azhar is also the country’s most prolific and influential street photographer. Che’ Ahmad is most known for his long term project ‘Walk of Life’ – a documentary of Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. Read more on Che’ Ahmad Azhar on IPA.
29. Chang Tsai, Taiwan
Chang Tsai is known as one of the ‘3 Swordsmen’ of Taiwanese Photography during the 1930s to 1950s. Tsai’s most famous quote: “I am not highly educated. I just use my camera to observe people and things. It doesn’t have to appear artistic.”
30. Alex Baluyut, Philippines
One of Philippines’ preeminent names in photojournalism, Alex Baluyut is also a founding faculty member of the Diploma in Photojournalism programme at Ateneo de Manila University.
All photographs copyright their respective creators.