The Most Famous


Icon of occuation in country

This page contains a list of the greatest French Photographers. The pantheon dataset contains 105 Photographers, 15 of which were born in France. This makes France the birth place of the 2nd most number of Photographers.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary French Photographers of all time. This list of famous French Photographers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of French Photographers.

Photo of Nadar

1. Nadar (1820 - 1910)

With an HPI of 77.89, Nadar is the most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 56 different languages on wikipedia.

Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (6 April 1820 – 20 March 1910), known by the pseudonym Nadar, was a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist, balloonist, and proponent of heavier-than-air flight. In 1858 he became the first person to take aerial photographs. Photographic portraits by Nadar are held by many of the great national collections of photographs. His son, Paul Nadar, continued the studio after his death.

Photo of Henri Cartier-Bresson

2. Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 - 2004)

With an HPI of 77.62, Henri Cartier-Bresson is the 2nd most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.

Henri Cartier-Bresson (French: [kaʁtje bʁɛsɔ̃]; 22 August 1908 – 3 August 2004) was a French humanist photographer considered a master of candid photography, and an early user of 35 mm film. He pioneered the genre of street photography, and viewed photography as capturing a decisive moment.Cartier-Bresson was one of the founding members of Magnum Photos in 1947. In the 1970s he took up drawing—he had studied painting in the 1920s.

Photo of Dora Maar

3. Dora Maar (1907 - 1997)

With an HPI of 73.43, Dora Maar is the 3rd most famous French Photographer.  Her biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Henriette Theodora Markovitch (22 November 1907 – 16 July 1997), known as Dora Maar, was a French photographer, painter, and poet. A love partner of Pablo Picasso, Dora Maar was depicted in a number of Picasso's paintings, including his Portrait of Dora Maar and Dora Maar au Chat.

Photo of Robert Doisneau

4. Robert Doisneau (1912 - 1994)

With an HPI of 72.97, Robert Doisneau is the 4th most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Robert Doisneau (French: [ʁɔbɛʁ dwano]; 14 April 1912 – 1 April 1994) was a French photographer. In the 1930s, he made photographs on the streets of Paris. He was a champion of humanist photography and with Henri Cartier-Bresson a pioneer of photojournalism.Doisneau is renowned for his 1950 image Le baiser de l'hôtel de ville (The Kiss by the City Hall), a photograph of a couple kissing on a busy Parisian street. He was appointed a Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour in 1984 by then French president, François Mitterrand.

Photo of Elliott Erwitt

5. Elliott Erwitt (1928 - )

With an HPI of 68.24, Elliott Erwitt is the 5th most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Elliott Erwitt (born Elio Romano Erwitt, July 26, 1928) is a French-born American advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid photos of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings. He has been a member of Magnum Photos since 1953.

Photo of André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri

6. André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (1819 - 1889)

With an HPI of 65.91, André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri is the 6th most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (French: [ɑ̃dʁe adɔlf øʒɛn dizdeʁi]; 28 March 1819 – 4 October 1889) was a French photographer who started his photographic career as a daguerreotypist but gained greater fame for patenting his version of the carte de visite, a small photographic image which was mounted on a card. Disdéri, a brilliant showman, made this system of mass-production portraiture world famous.

Photo of Hippolyte Bayard

7. Hippolyte Bayard (1801 - 1887)

With an HPI of 65.27, Hippolyte Bayard is the 7th most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Hippolyte Bayard (20 January 1801 – 14 May 1887) was a French photographer and pioneer in the history of photography. He invented his own process that produced direct positive paper prints in the camera and presented the world's first public exhibition of photographs on 24 June 1839. He claimed to have invented photography earlier than Louis-Jacques Mandé Daguerre in France and William Henry Fox Talbot in England, the men traditionally credited with its invention.Bayard experimented with the new medium taking photos of plant specimens, statuary (including posing with them for self-portraits), street scenes, urban landscapes, architectural photos, and portraits. He photographed prominent figures and an ordinary worker. He also advocated combination printing and was one of the founders of a photo society.

Photo of Jacques Henri Lartigue

8. Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894 - 1986)

With an HPI of 64.68, Jacques Henri Lartigue is the 8th most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Jacques Henri Lartigue (French: [laʁtig]; 13 June 1894 – 12 September 1986) was a French photographer and painter, known for his photographs of automobile races, planes and female Parisian fashion models. His work was part of the painting event in the art competition at the 1924 Summer Olympics.

Photo of Claude Cahun

9. Claude Cahun (1894 - 1954)

With an HPI of 64.49, Claude Cahun is the 9th most famous French Photographer.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Claude Cahun (born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, 25 October 1894 – 8 December 1954) was a French surrealist photographer, sculptor, and writer.Schwob adopted the pseudonym Claude Cahun in 1914. She is best known as a writer and self-portraitist, who assumed a variety of performative personae. Cahun's work is both political and personal. In Disavowals, she writes: "Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me."During World War II, Cahun was also active as a resistance worker and propagandist.

Photo of Marc Riboud

10. Marc Riboud (1923 - 2016)

With an HPI of 64.14, Marc Riboud is the 10th most famous French Photographer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Marc Riboud (French: [ʁibu]; 24 June 1923 – 30 August 2016) was a French photographer, best known for his extensive reports on the Far East: The Three Banners of China, Face of North Vietnam, Visions of China, and In China.

Pantheon has 15 people classified as photographers born between 1801 and 1968. Of these 15, 3 (20.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living photographers include Elliott Erwitt, Sophie Calle, and Hedi Slimane. The most famous deceased photographers include Nadar, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Dora Maar. As of October 2020, 2 new photographers have been added to Pantheon including Willy Ronis and Lucien Clergue.

Living Photographers

Go to all Rankings

Deceased Photographers

Go to all Rankings

Newly Added Photographers (2020)

Go to all Rankings

Which Photographers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 11 most globally memorable Photographers since 1700.