And Weston was an early influence but I don't think I'd like him as a person. I liked Ansel Adams when I first started but more so as an educator than an artist.
George Curtis- My father
Ansel Adams -Pretty good photographer and friend of my father
Jim Bones- Wonderful Dye Transfer Artist and environmental photographer
John Sexton- Another level of Black and White
Merg Ross- Great Vision that I never really appreciated before seeing his work
Clyde Butcher- Wonderful Florida environmentalist photographer
Brett Weston-Seeing things we didn't
Bruce Barnbaum- Mathematician works at photography
Fred Picker- Not great photographs but, great developer and promoter of black and white equipment
Laura Gilpin- wonderful early New Mexico photographer
Almost my list! I'll include Josef Sudek, too.
This exercise has been surprisingly interesting. For me the top five were easy but the real horse trading came with slots 5-10. Caponegro or White - White did it first and with more intensity. Walker Evans or Wright Morris - Morris did less volume but boy when he hit it he really hit it dead on. Paul Strand's 1st half strong enough to carry the second? (yup)
I'd say my pool of photographers that matter would be more like 25 names deep. Also there are some who rate high as teachers but who's imagery might not earn them a slot. There are contemporaries whom I would not necessarily list as no one else knows of them.
Regarding greats who were jerks, well I just ranked based on the photographs which actually influenced me. Seems in many fields, and especially the arts, some people rise to the top on the backs of others. Or at least they live a life so self centered that people around them are used and hurt.
Two in my top five were jerks. Edward Weston as a "family" man and Alfred Stieglitz for blind siding the pictorialists. If I'd known them in person they might not have made the list - but I didn't.
Knew 'em just through the photographs - which spoke to me.
No particular order:
William Henry Jackson
I forgot this guy: http://maxaguilerahellweg.com/ he is quite significant and I invite you check him out. He was/is an editorial photographer who used a view camera - an Ebony no less - to photograph surgeries. He got so into that he went to Med school and became a doctor.
My top 10, in no particular order:
Horst P. Horst
Manuel Alvarez Bravo
This has been a great thread to make me remember to look at some other photographers too.
Top 10 personal influences, in order:
1 - George H. Seeley
2 - Edward Weston
3 - Anne Brigman
4 - Nadar
5 - Edward Steichen
6 - Southworth & Hawes
7 - Jan Groover
8 - Elizabeth Opalenik
9 - Richard Avedon
10 - John Pfahl
These folks also popped up as rounding out my top 25 while thinking about it:
Ralph Eugene Meatyard
I'd have to list W. Eugene Smith as the all-time best photographer although he isn't on my list of personal influences.
This is an interesting thread and I'll be investigating some listed by others who are unknown to me.
"There are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something." - Thomas A. Edison