Everyone has a list of photographers who have made them learn and think. They start with those that got them started, those whose work they admired, and those whose work makes them think. I prefer that last group, photographers who make me look at their images and ask myself what makes it good and what can I do with my photography, not to emulate them, but make mine different.
Every photographer has their innate strengths in their photographic eye and the weakness, those things they just don't see or have to think to see. We're all in this camp. It may reflect some aspects of their personality and perspective or the opposite. For example, I tend to look and see whole scenes and struggle looking at the small things, or even the asymetrical images. So I like to see the work of photographers who do see differently than me along with those who are far better than me at what I like to do.
And so, like everyone, I have my list. And who are they?
Henri Cartier Breeson.
1890's photographers, especially those working around Mt. Rainier.
Ansel Adams, but for one image, View of the Sierras at Sunrise from Lone Pine, California.
I have a poster print of this image by Adams because I've been in the area of where it was taken, but more so admire the whole scene to capture a moment. I don't know if this was an instant see and capture photograph, like the one, Moonrise of Hernadez, New Mexico, or a planned one, often his method working in the Sierras.
These are photographers I keep going back to and looking at the body of their work and their books, and also at their character and work as a photographer, clearly far more than I have done or will ever do, but still something to admire and inspire.