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11 Modern Classic Photographs to Own

The art of creating classic photography is not a thing of the gelatin-silver past. We’ve chosen a collection of affordable photographers that stack up against history’s greatest masters of the lens.

By Lori Zimmer | 19 Dec 2016

The time of classic photography might appear to have slipped into history with the dawn of Instagram and smartphone cameras. If everyone can be a photographer, is the time of the true masters of the craft gone forever?

Yet, the art of exceptional photography is not a thing of the gelatin-silver past. Contemporary photographers with expert eyes continue to make beautiful, timeless photographs that uphold the morals of traditional photography – and are comparable to the classic photographs which are coveted at the vintage photography departments of leading auction houses. We’ve chosen a collection of affordable photographers that stack up against history’s greatest masters of the lens.


1. Watch Strap, Louisa Seton

Seton's gorgeous portraiture of the indigenous peoples of her native Kenya capture the mesh of tradition and modernity of the nomadic Dassanech tribe. Here, the beautiful subject surprises the viewer by incorporating an element of recycling into her dress – using a found watch strap in her delicate headpiece.


2. Pink Rose, Study III, Paul Coghlin

The beauty of nature is accentuated with expert lighting in the photographic studio. While Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe’s black and white photographs of flowers may be financially out of reach, Coghlin's exude the same delicate detail and beauty of form.


3. Deco StairsIan Hoskin

The swirl of a spiral staircase becomes an organic form in classic black and white, emulating the curvature of a snail, while paying tribute to Art Deco architecture.


4. Sunrise, Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula, Adriaan van Heerden

Van Heerden's photographs transport viewers to incredible vistas around the globe. Here, the sky and beach are reflected and intersected by the sandy Three Cliffs Bay in Western England.


5. St Tropez BeachTommy Clarke 

Like famed photographer Andreas Gursky, Clarke creates an otherworldly perspective – allowing viewers to discover the expansive details of a scene bit by bit, with new surprises revealed each time the photograph is viewed. The packed beach of St Tropez becomes an abstract field of colourful patterns and dots, obscuring context and redefining the typical beach day with his elevated aerial view.


6. Point Reyes Flood NarrativeGeoffrey Ansel Agrons

Edward Burtynsky’s classic “Shipbreaking” series is called to mind in this beautiful image of a derelict boat in California by emerging – and far more affordable – photographer Agrons.


7. In Your FacePedro Correa

Classic street photography, popularised by historical photographers like Eugene Atget and Bernice Abbott, relied on the decisive moment and in-camera framing to create enigmatic images that capture chance encounters and random incidents that celebrate city life. Here, Correa continues this photography tradition, using reflections and movement to make his captured moments somewhat surreal.


8. White VillaGina Soden

Soden travels to the far edges of Europe, exploring architecture forgotten by time. Her photographs show the timeless beauty of decay, acting as both a documentation of once beautiful buildings, and her own adventure – in subtle hues that are likened to painting.


9. HigashishinbashiRiccardo Magherini

Magherini evokes the vibrance and energy of Tokyo by digitally collaging various moments captured in one location. The buzzing effect depicts the hectic city life he loves.

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