35 Most Influential Conceptual Portrait Photographers

Portrait photography is, without a doubt, one of the most popular photography niches. This is partly because of the variety it has to offer.

There are so many ways to capture humans and their personalities. In this article, we have collected 35 of the most influential conceptual portrait photographers working today. Believe us, it’s worth following them!

What is Conceptual Portrait Photography
Simply put, conceptual photography is a genre that portrays an idea. It usually has a narrative or a hidden meaning behind the image. The photographer decides the concept before taking the image and tries to illustrate it in the most accurate way possible.

When it comes to portraiture, it often involves abstract faces, geometric shapes, vividly captured colours, and surreal details. It is not rare that the artists use conceptual portraits to express their own struggles or emotions through the images.

The niche strongly connects to Photoshop art, as many of the ideas are represented by a unique style of post-processing.

There are several artists that take mainly self-portraits and turn them into conceptual art.

The Most Influential Conceptual Portrait Photographers
Let’s dive into the work of these amazing conceptual portrait photographers!

Brooke Shaden
Brooke describes herself as someone who stands for radical self-reflection. This is probably the best way to outline her work as an artist. She is working with various models -mostly women- to capture their often dark emotions. Strong personalities and traumatic experiences shine through her photographs, creating a disturbing, yet beautiful look.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Brooke Shaden | creative soul (@brookeshaden)

Dasha Pears
Dasha is a visual storyteller who captures stories and ideas with her photos. Her concepts are minimalistic, and extremely well executed. She often uses geometric shapes and Photoshop overlays to emphasise her subjects’ story. Her images revolve around inner fights and finding our place in the world.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von DASHA PEARS (@dashapears.art)

Adam Martinakis
Creating sculptures has been a way of depicting humans for thousands of years. So it is not surprising that Adam chose a similar way to capture how he sees humanity. He creates a statue-like look in his images, visualising every detail of the human body. His photos are highly surrealistic, as he plays with shapes, colours, and composition to express his ideas.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Adam Martinakis (@adammartinakis)

Pol Kurucz
Pol redefines the concept of beauty with his conceptual portraits. His models aren’t perfect, they have their flaws as every human does. Pol has several photo series, dedicated to different ideas. Poor Billionaires, Angry Dolls, Hair Stories, and Bored in NYC are some of the concepts that Pol captures in his photographs. The images are colourful, full of unexpected elements and expressions.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Pol Kurucz (@polkurucz)

Claire Luxton
Claire is a multidisciplinary artist, combining conceptual portraits and Photoshop art together. She often takes self-portraits, transforming them into photos that capture her emotions and struggles in a perfect way. Her images illustrate concepts such as hope, truth, and dreams, executed in a colourful and close-to-nature way.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von CLAIRE LUXTON (@claireluxtonart)

Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk
Gemmy is a fine-art portrait photographer, creating images that remind us of a historic era. The studio setting, costumes, makeup and posing all contribute to the nostalgic feeling of her photographs. The images take us back to the renaissance, baroque, or Victorian eras. She also manages to recreate the dark atmosphere of old portrait paintings.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk (@gemmy.woudbinnendijk)

David LaChapelle
David is one of the most well-known conceptual portrait photographers out there. He uses a sense of humour to spice up his images while creating Biblical, historical, or sometimes even modern composites. He has stories to tell and knows exactly how to tell them. The viewer can see that not only his imagination is outstanding, but his technical knowledge allows him to bring that imagination to life.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von David LaChapelle (@david_lachapelle)

Hungry
Hungry’s conceptual portraits are based on the creative use of makeup and costumes. The end results are surreal, resulting in the models barely looking human anymore. These portraits show us a twisted version of humanity. The colourful makeup combined with the model’s serious expression leaves the viewer with a quite dark impression.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Hungry (@isshehungry)

Damian Drewniak
Damian is a Polish visual artist, who specialises in fine-art conceptual portraits. He speaks to you with his images, capturing atmospheres and concepts that everyone can relate to. The only difference is that he captures everything with a high sense of aesthetics and sophistication, which drags the viewer into his world.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Damian Drewniak (@drewniakdamian)

Patty Maher
Patty is a Canadian conceptual portrait photographer, focusing on female portraiture. She doesn’t show the faces of the models, they are either disguised or facing away from the camera. She uses postures, colours and symbols to convey emotions and stories. Her work balances on the boundaries of the real world and surrealism.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patty Maher (@pattymaher)

Saga Wendotte
Saga is a conceptual child photographer from Sweden. She has created several photo series based around various topics, such as travelling or flowers. Her “Little People” series captures children in a meaningful, yet disturbing setting. She captures controversial topics, creating a contrast between the world’s cruelty and the children’s innocence.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Saga Wendotte (@sagawendotte)

Karen Cantuq
Karen took up Photoshop art and conceptual portraits in order to express her inner world. She uses art for self-therapy, as she creates highly surrealistic composites. Her photos look as if a child’s imagination come true. The colourful, painting-like images illustrate the world of animals in a very unique way.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Karen Cantú (@karencantuq)

Flora Borsi
Flora is a Hungarian Photoshop artist who has been working with this programme for over 16 years. This is visible in her images, as she knows exactly how to make refined conceptual portraits. She takes self-portraits and transforms herself into otherworldly creatures. There are many natural elements appearing in her work, such as butterflies, flowers, or birds.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Flóra Borsi (@floraborsiofficial)

Ziqian Liu
Ziqian, like many others on this list, also works with self-portraits. What makes her different from the other artists on this list is that she barely ever captures whole portraits. Instead, she uses body parts, mirrors, reflections and creative blurs to create mystical and minimalistic portraits. Check out her account if you are looking for a unique, feminine style of conceptual portraits.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Ziqian Liu (@ziqianqian)

Anya Anti
Anya is a fine-art conceptual and lifestyle portrait photographer. She works mainly with self-portraits, placing herself in gorgeous locations and situations. A lot of her photos revolve around her connection to the Earth and nature. She portrays herself as part of her surroundings while creating a universal cold and moody style in her art.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Anya Anti (@anya_anti_art)

The Mystery Project
The Mystery Project is a photography community involving and featuring many contemporary portrait artists. Many of the images are dark, surreal, illustrating the darkest corners of the human soul. You can find several different styles and atmospheres in the mixture of the various artists’ work.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von #themysterypr0ject (@themysterypr0ject)

Joel Robison
Joel is a portrait photographer and Photoshop artist, working mainly with self-portraits. He uses his creativity and artistic skills to capture his conceptual visions and ideas. His images are often fairytale-like, featuring Joel as either a giant, a tiny man, or someone with magical abilities. He has a really smooth and consistent style that he applies during his editing.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Joel Robison (@joelrobison)

Bella Kotak
Bella describes herself as a fairytale fine-art photographer, which is an accurate description of her style. She mainly works with women, creating truly magical images in various locations. The costumes, makeup, and accessories resemble the fairytales we all grew up on. Bella uses the power of nature to bring a unique atmosphere into her photos.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Bella Kotak (@bellakotak)

Auguste Lefou
Auguste has probably the most modern photography style on this list. He captures humans merging with technology, often looking like robots and emotionless beings. His images address many contemporary issues, such as social media addiction and consumer society. The models’ faces are barely visible and not recognisable, which helps the viewer focus on the message.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Auguste Lefou (@auguste_lefou)

Kyle Thompson
Kyle is an American photographer working mostly with self-portraits. His work’s emphasis is more on the message than the visuals. His most popular photo series is called the “Sinking Ship”, where he visits an abandoned American town. He takes pictures full of self-reflection and hidden emotions, embracing the vulnerability that his portraits create.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Kyle Thompson (@kylejthompson)

Steve Gindler
If you are looking for a conceptual portrait artist with relatable and touching photos, you should definitely check out Steve’s account. With his honest portraits, he captures his model’s raw emotions and fears, often in an abandoned environment. He uses various disturbing settings and poses, often reflecting pain and hopelessness.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Святослав Гиндлер (@cvatik)

Vivienne Mok
Vivienne knows how to portray the feminine side of her models. Her images are dreamy and smooth, as she plays around with different lighting and props. She works with many actresses and singers, organising photoshoots that result in beautiful portraits.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Vivienne Mok Photography (@vivienne.mok)

Ade Santora
Ade is an Indonesian artist, creating twisted portraiture. His work is an excellent combination of digital art and conceptual portraits. He shows a surreal side of humanity, tearing and reattaching faces in his pictures. His subjects are mostly unrecognisable, depicted in a dark and disturbing way. Ade takes photos exclusively with his iPhone and edits all of his images with mobile apps.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Mobileart | Ade Santora (@adesantora)

Peyman Naderi
Peyman is an international multi-award-winning photographer from Persia. His goal is to represent his unique way of looking at various concepts. He creates his portraits in a studio setting, bringing several of his creative ideas to life. Many of his portraits have a surreal look, involving nature, fish tanks, strong makeup, and nostalgic props.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Peyman Naderi (@papillon_1990)

Tom Chambers
Tom creates conceptual photomontages which he uses his own images for. He combines landscapes, skies, foregrounds, and several subjects to create his composites. He often works with children and young adults, showing them in a rural setting. Tom’s work has been published and exhibited several times over his career.

 

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Tom Chambers (@tomchambersphotography)

Kaat Stieber
Kaat is a fine art photographer from the Netherlands who brings elements of surrealism and Dutch art into her images. She is aiming to create painting-like images. She does so with a combination of photography, costume making, and brainstorming about new concepts. Her photos give you the feeling as if you were looking at a classical painting.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von K A A T S T I E B E R (@kaat_stieber_)

Juul Kraijer
Juul is a dutch visual artist who is widely recognised professionally in her country. She has dozens of exhibitions, consisting of her conceptual portraits. She combines drawings and sculptures with photography, creating an extremely surreal look. The atmosphere of her images is dark, showing emotions and struggles through how she poses her models.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Juul Kraijer (@juulkraijer)

Milos Nejezchleb
Milos is a Czech, multi-award-winning photographer and visual artist. He often chooses current social issues as an inspiration to his images. He plays with colours and shapes, creating a style that is minimalistic, yet conveys the message he is aiming to deliver. Most of his portraits involve several models, whose interactions are also key elements of his photos.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Milos Nejezchleb (@nejmil)

Cameron Burns
Cameron is a 3D artist, using digital technology to make his conceptual portraits come true. The main model of his photos is an astronaut, participating in seemingly everyday activities in a usual setting. He addresses topics that concern everyone in their everyday lives: isolation in the middle of the pandemic, the therapeutic effect of music, or burning out from overworking.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Cameron Burns (@captvart)

Gabriel Isak
Gabriel creates surreal and melancholic scenes, which symbolise the human unconscious. He uses colours and strong symbols, such as birds, stairs or blindfolds, to capture what is really going on in the human psyche. His photos are very minimalistic, often showcasing faceless models in simple settings.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von GABRIEL ISAK (@gabriel_isak)

Kseniya Vaschenko
Kseniya’s images are a mixture of conceptual and fashion portraits. She uses twisted positions and dark colouring to express the agony and emotions of her models. The way she expresses feminine sexuality makes for sophisticated, yet powerful results.

 

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Ein von @kseniya.vashchenko geteilter Beitrag

Nanna Heitmann
Nanna’s images are painfully honest visualisations of nowadays’ reality. She addresses social issues, such as the problems with healthcare or lonely elders. She captures the story of many human lives, many of which are revolving around isolation. Her work has been published several times, in magazines like the National Geographic or the Time.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Nanna Heitmann (@nannaheitmann)

Astrid Verhoef
Astrid’s images are on the verge of surrealism and fine-art portraiture. She places subjects in unusual surroundings, creating landscapes that are unfamiliar to the human eye. By utilising juxtaposition, her images have a huge contrast between technology and nature, humans and still objects.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Astrid Verhoef Photography (@astrid_verhoef)

ThreadStories
The ThreadStories account is a collection of visual art that is made by combining threads and human portraits together. These threads replace the face while creating a facial expression on their own. The simple background and the vivid colours ensure that the viewer’s attention goes straight to the unusual concept which these photos revolve around.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von threadstories (@threadstories)

Rafael Avcioglu
Rafael is a contemporary artist and photographer, basing most of his work on humans and their emotions. His portraits create a world of vulnerability and intimacy, which is shown by his style as well as by the poses of the models. He promotes self-care and acceptance, inspiring thousands of people with his photographs.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Rafael Avcioglu (Av-Joe-Lou) (@rafael.avcioglu)

Conclusion
Conceptual portrait photography has many faces, as it includes several different niches. Whether you are looking for painting-like images, Photoshop art, minimalistic or detailed portrait shots, this article features artists that are all exceptional in their own field.

Do you agree with our list? Drop us a comment with your favourite conceptual portrait photographer under this post!

We are always on the lookout for exciting new photographers. If you are a conceptual portrait photographer, and you feel like you should be considered this list, make sure to drop us an email at emma@expertphotography.com with your bio, website, and Instagram link!.