Photography lovers are passionate about the artform, valuing the power of the indexical image and how it can speak to many different people in many different ways. If you’re an expecting parent who loves photography, you can turn to it to help inform your baby-naming decisions. Now, there are names that relate to the camera and the act of photography itself. Field, Image, Canon, Kodak, Olympus, Pixel, and even Camera could work for adventurous baby-namers. But, we think there’s a better way to go about it.
Think of the photographers you love and how much their work has resonated with you. You can choose their given or surname, a name of an artwork, and more to inspire a potential baby name. These names feel more established than something like Field or Image. To get that creativity flowing, we have compiled a list of names inspired by some of our favorite photographers. Read through these evocative appellations and find a name or two to add to your shortlist!
Photography-Inspired Baby Names for Girls
We’re kicking this list off with a name inspired by one of our all-time favorite photographers, Cindy Sherman. Sherman usually photographs herself in arresting portraits that highlight societal issues. In addition to being an accomplished photographer, she is also a film director. Cindy is a diminutive of Cynthia or Lucinda. Thus the name can mean “little ash girl” or “moon goddess.”
An excellent name inspired by an accomplished photographer, Eve is inspired by Eve Arnold. Arnold was a pioneering photojournalist. She specialized in capturing genuine shots of famous celebrities and is known for some of the most striking photographs of Marilyn Monroe. Eve is a name of Hebrew origin that means “life.”
Diane Arbus famously pointed her camera at those on the fringes of society who were not often photographed or even discussed. Carnival performers, nudists, and middle-class families were all part of her catalog which includes a wide variety of subjects. Her portraits capture the beauty in what makes each of us different. Diane is a French form of Diana and means “divine.”
A documentary photographer who focused much of her time photographing migrant workers, Dorothea Lange is considered a hero who documented how cruel life was during the Great Depression. Lange’s most iconic capture entitled Migrant Mother is seen by many as the image of hardship and despair but also resilience. It now hangs in the Library of Congress. Dorothea originated in Greek and means “gift of God.”
Imogen Cunningham spent seven decades behind the camera innovating and evolving as she went on. She was the founding member of the f.64 Group, a progressive photo group seeking sharp focus and fine details within photography. Her nudes and botanical portraits are some of her most cherished works. Cunningham had an excellent name in Imogen which is of Celtic origin and means “maiden.” The name has never been widely used in the US so it would be a unique choice.
Many Americans do not know that Claude is actually a gender-neutral name. In France and beyond, the name is freely given to any baby. The name has fallen out of favor for boys and girls in the US today. It is of Latin origin and means “enclosure.” The name is inspired by Claude Cahun who was given the name Lucy at birth. They chose the gender-neutral name in early adulthood and moves from the US to France.
An artist through and through, Claude dabbled in sculpture and writing. However, they are most famous for their surrealist photography and self-portraits specifically. Fun fact: Claude worked as an anti-German propagandist during WWII publishing works meant to call out the evils of the Nazis.
Ilse Bing was born in Frankfurt, Germany. She started as a photojournalist for a German magazine and, in 1930, she moved to Paris to concentrate full-time on her photography career. She famously carried around a 35mm hand-held Leica camera. Thus, within a few years, Bing earned her reputation as the “Queen of the Leica.” She often photographed urban landscapes. Most of her prints from her time in France were lost as WWII broke out.
Bing and her husband were both sent to internment camps in the south of France because they were Jewish. The couple reunited and escaped to the US in 1941 leaving many of her works behind and those she brought with her were confiscated by US customs.
Ilse is a name of Dutch origin, a form of Elizabeth that means “pledged to God.”
Prolific street photographer, Vivian Maier kept her passion for photography a secret for most of her life. She was a nanny for 40 years and most people assumed that’s all Maier was up to. Nope! She captured some of the most energetic portraits and spontaneous photographs from the streets of New York and Chicago. Today, at the Chicago History Museum, you can see a splendid, multimedia collection of her brilliant work.
Vivian is one of America’s most popular and beloved names. The name is of Latin origin and means “life.”
We bet you can guess the photographer behind this inspired name. Annie Leibovitz is a generation’s most famous celebrity portrait photographer. She has photographed the biggest celebrities in the world for decades now. An American photographer, Leibovitz was the first woman portraitist to have her solo exhibition at the National Gallery in London.
Annie is a diminutive form of Ann or Hannah and means “grace.”
Carrie Mae Weems is an American artist working in text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video, and is best known for her photography. Often, these different mediums are combined to punctuate the subject matter of a photograph or photographs.
Her works documented and focused attention on the lives and struggles of contemporary African-Americans. “Let me say that my primary concern in art, as in politics, is with the status and place of Afro-Americans in the country,” she once said. Her politically potent photographs have won the artist countless awards.
Carrie makes for a true hero name, a form of Carol or Caroline, meaning “free man.”
Photography-Inspired Baby Names for Boys
Klein is a name of German, Dutch, and Yiddish origin, it means “little.” Klein is seen more often as a surname but we think it has potential as a given one. It has a crisp and cool sound and we love a name with a single syllable. It’s not been historically popular in the US but we think its fortunes may be changing.
The name is inspired by William Klein who began his career as a fashion photographer before using his skills in unique and Avant Garde ways employing odd angles and strange imagery that were Punk Rock before it was even a thing.
Paolo Roversi is an Italian-born photographer and one of the hottest working in fashion today. He is a favorite of Vogue magazine and is often used by the fashion house, Dior. He has a knack for finding the perfect balance between emotional yet elegant imagery.
Paolo has a great name! It is an Italian form of Paul and means “small.” Paolo is rarely used in the US even though it is one of Italy’s most popular baby names. We think it has a lot going for it and that more American parents, especially those with Italian heritage, should consider it.
Inspired by James Van Der Zee, James is an English name from Hebrew that means “supplanter.” It’s one of the world’s most beloved names and if you choose it your son will be in good company.
James Van Der Zee was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance and his photography captured the lives of Black New Yorkers of the age. He is most well-known for his portraits which on top of their artistic merit, act as documentation of the period.
Gibson is an English name that means “Gilbert’s son.” Gibson, although familiar, has never been a widely used given name in the US. You could change that, new parents!
Art photographer, Ralph Gibson inspired this option. While Ralph is a fine name, we actually only like it when it is correctly pronounced as “Rafe.” For whatever reason, most Americans can’t handle this so we went with Gibson. The artist was known for his erotic and mysterious photographs that often border on the abstract.
Guy Bourdin was a French fashion photographer who was best known for his work for Vogue magazine in the 1950s. His images are known for their hyper-real colors. Further, Bourdin was notable for his use of light and shadow.
Guy is a name of French origin that means “guide.” It was once a popular choice but it started slipping in the 1980s. Today, it would be a unique option as new parents have largely overlooked this French gem.
Walker Evans was an influential photographer who captured the hardships felt by many during the Great Depression. His humanist view and ability to capture a subject’s emotion and tie that emotion to the larger setting made him one of the most cherished artists of his day.
Walker is on the rise today as a name in the US and it will likely crack the top 100 this year or the next. Walker is an English occupational name that means “cloth-walker.”
One of the most famed photographers of the 20th century, Edward Weston captured images of natural objects in an imaginative and fascinating fashion. While Edward is a fine name, we have a soft spot for Weston. In the early 2000s, Weston followed its brother Easton into the hearts of many new parents. Both names are now extremely popular.
Weston is an English habitational name that means “from the Western town.”
Okay, so you could go in two different directions of inspiration for the name Irving Penn. Irving feels like a quintessential old man name today but it could be a unique option. Irving is a name of Scottish origin that means “sea friend” or “green river.”
The other direction is to choose the name, Penn. Penn is a name of English origin that indeed means “enclosure.” It is more familiar as a surname than a given one but we would never rule this tidy name out.
Irving Penn became a powerhouse fashion photographer, leaving his mark forever on Vogue magazine.
Laszlo is a name of Hungarian origin with a significant relation to royal heritage, thus the name means glorious ruler.” Despite being accessible, the name has never been a fashionable choice in the US.
We chose this name in honor of the Bauhaus artist and professor László Moholy-Nagy who believed that the camera afforded its user a “New Vision” to see the world. Consistent with the values of the Bauhaus movement, the artist experimented heavily with form and pushed the envelope of what a photograph could be.
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We love the photographs captured by the legendary Ansel Adams but it’s his unique name that we really love. Ansel is a name of German origin that means “with divine protection.” The name was last popular in the US in 1923! We think it’s due for a comeback! Ansel is growing in popularity, however, and it could enter the US top 1000 most popular name for boys in the coming years.
Ansel Adams is known for his iconic, black-and-white photographs of the American west. Documenting the natural splendor of our national parks and the American wilderness, Adams really proves a great excuse to choose this name.
There you have them! What did you think of these inspired photography names? We sure hope you found some worth considering. After all these appellations are inspired by heroes of the craft! If you’d like even more baby name inspiration, keep reading as we have rounded up names inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Lights, Camera, Action! Take a Look at These Baby Names Inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Cary as in Cary Grant would make an excellent name for your little leading man. Cary Grant was an elite actor working at the end of the Golden Age in the 50s and 60s. He’s known for such classic films as North by Northwest and His Girl Friday. The name Cary is of Latin origin and means “pleasant stream.”
Screen legend Greta Garbo started out making movies in Sweden before she made the leap to Hollywood silent movies. She made a splash in her second Hollywood film, Flesh and the Devil which brought her international fame. Greta retired from Hollywood at the age of 35 and became an avid art collector. Greta is German in origin and means “pearl.”
The “king of Adventure Films” Errol Flynn was an actor best known for portraying Robin Hood and Don Juan de Marco in classic escapist films. Many people don’t know this but Errol Flynn was actually Australian. The name Errol means “army leader” and is an old English name.
Child megastar Shirley Temple was Hollywood’s most valuable performer from 1935-1938. That’s right! She commanded more power than her adult contemporaries at the time. Shirley would go on to sit on several company boards as an adult including The Walt Disney Company and The National Wildlife Federation. The name Temple is extremely old and was an occupational name for someone who tended to the homes of the Knights Templar.
Laurence Olivier was a famed Shakespearean actor who was a legendary stage actor in London. He famously starred in Rebecca opposite Joan Fontaine. Olivier would be an elegant name for a boy. It’s a French name that means “olive tree.” Laurence would also be a handsome name for a boy. It’s Latin in origin (but still lives on in France) and means “laurel.”
EGOT winner Rita Moreno is a living legend who broke so many boundaries over the years. The Puerto Rican actress, singer, and dancer made her film debut in 1950 and continued her ascent until reaching new heights in The King I and West Side Story. The name Rita is short for Margarita and means “pearl.”
A beneficiary of the old Hollywood studio “star system,” Rock Hudson was a heartthrob and idol in the 50s and 60s. The name Rock is English in origin and was typically given to those who from “a notable crag.” Like Laurence Olivier, Rock Hudson has two names that would both be wonderful given names. The name Hudson comes from the same Germanic root as the name Hugh and means “hug.”
Charlie makes an excellent girl’s name! Although the name belonged to Charlie Chaplin, one of the most celebrated actors and directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age, it’s gained popularity as a name for girls recently. The name has French and English origins and means “free.”
The name Kirk is a Norse name that means “church.” Famously, Kirk Douglas proudly had the name and was a star who appeared in over 90 films including playing the title role in Spartacus. Kirk was born to an impoverished family and his parents were immigrants from Russia. Because of the tough times, he faced as a child, Kirk became a philanthropist and donated the majority of his $80 million fortune.
We can’t get enough of the Olive names. Oliver, Olivier, Olivia, Liv, etc. They’re all so good. Olivia de Havilland became famous starring opposite Errol Flynn in a number of adventure films including Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood. She also is famous for her roles in The Heiress and Gone with the Wind. The name Olivia means “olive tree” and is French.
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The name Cooper is an English occupational name that means “barrel maker.” Actor Gary Cooper had a successful film career for 25 years appearing in blockbuster after blockbuster until 1950 when his career stalled. Many trade magazines dropped him from their top 10 lists and he was written off as a “has-been.” Then, in 1951 he appeared in the biggest film of his career, High Noon.
Legendary actor, Audrey Hepburn is ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top three screen legends of all time. Starring in films like Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and My Fair Lady brought her international fame and critical acclaim. Audrey is an English name that means “noble.”
English actor Alec Guinness is best known to most as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars. Alec had a long and illustrious career before he found “the force.” He appeared in classics like The Bridge On the River Kwai and the film adaptation of the musical Oliver!. The name Alec is Greek and means “defender of man.”
The name Sophia is Greek and means “wisdom.” Italian actor, Sophia Loren actually spelled her name “Sofia” before becoming famous. In 1961, she starred in the film Two Women and won an Academy Award for Best Actress becoming the first (man or woman) to ever win the award for a foreign-language performance.
Actor Tony Curtis who appeared in classic films Some Like it Hot and Sweet Smell of Success is also famous for being the father of Jamie Lee Curtis. The name Curtis has the same root as the French word “courtois” and means “polite.”
Many people don’t know that actor Natalie Wood was actually born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko and was Russian-American. Famously she played the role of Maria in West Side Story. The name Natalie comes from Latin and roughly translates to “Christmas.”
Nils is a Swedish name that means “victory to the people.” Nils Asther was a Swedish actor born to socialite parents in 1897. He would go on to move to Hollywood in 1927 and pursue a successful film career. He starred in 10 silent films before the advent of sound. The foreign actor had to take diction classes to master the English accent.
Glamorous Ava Gardner was born on a tobacco farm in North Carolina in 1922. She would become one of the biggest Hollywood stars of all time. Appearing in films like On the Beach and Mogambo in the 1950s she was at the height of her career and decided to divorce her husband, Frank Sinatra. The name Ava was actually popularized in the United States by Ava Gardner. It means “bird” or “life.”
Actor Rex Harrison was an English actor who achieved Hollywood stardom beginning in the 1940s. He starred in some of the biggest Hollywood films ever, including My Fair Lady, Cleopatra, Doctor Dolittle, and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The name Rex is Latin in origin and means “king.”
Ruby Keeler was first recognized for her dancing skills in her native Canada in 1923. By the 1930s, she made the move to Hollywood and starred in several popular movie musicals opposite Dick Powell. One of her most popular films 42nd Street was so financially successful that it saved Warner Brothers from bankruptcy. The name Ruby means “red” and is taken from the gemstone ruby.
No one is as cool as James Dean. He became a cultural icon after playing a disillusioned teenager in the hit film Rebel Without a Cause. He appeared in a total of three films inducted into the Library of Congress which is substantial given that his career only lasted four years. The name Dean is English in origin and means “valley.”
The nickname Viv for Vivien is the cutest thing ever for a little girl. Vivien Leigh was one of the most talented actresses working in Hollywood’s Golden Age. However, she didn’t limit herself just to the screen. She appeared in many stage productions portraying Shakespearean characters Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, Juliet, and Cleopatra. Vivien or the alternative spelling Vivian are French names that mean “alive.”
In 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in Lillies of the Field. In 1974, he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II. And in 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Impressed? Consider naming your son Sidney! It’s a gender-neutral baby name that means “wide meadow.”
Silent picture star Theda Bara was one of the era’s most popular actors. She became known as “the vamp” after several successful turns as a femme fatale. She appeared in over 40 silent movies but many were lost in a vault fire at Fox in 1937. She never appeared in a movie with sound. She used the name Theda but her actual name was Theodosia. We’re not suggesting you name your daughter Theodosia, but by all means, do you. The name Theda has Greek origins and means “supreme gift.”
The name Sterling means “pure” and is English in origin. Actor Sterling Hayden appeared in several notable movies including Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather, The Killing, and The Asphalt Jungle. Sterling wasn’t just a talented actor, he also enjoyed sailing. In 1969, he purchased a canal barge in the Netherlands and then moved with it to Paris to live part-time.
You might have some reservations about naming your child after Joan Crawford, but if you just see how insanely good she is in Mildred Pierce, you’ll change your mind. Joan Crawford was born in Texas in 1904 and had a storied career filled with controversy. We urge you to let her work speak for itself! Joan is the English version of the French name Jeanne which means “gift of God.”
Actor Anthony Quinn was born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn, and we love each one of his names! He is an Academy Award-winning actor and starred in classics like Lawrence of Arabia, Zorba the Greek, Lust for Life, and Viva Zapata!. The name Quinn is Gaelic and means “counsel.”
Luckily actor Lauren Bacall rose to prominence after the advent of sound in movies. She’s known for her one-of-a-kind voice and cool intensity. She appeared in a number of hit films in the 40s and 50s that solidified her as a star of the Golden Age. The Big Sleep is one of her best. She worked until her death in 2014 and definitely made her mark on American cinema. The name Lauren means “laurel tree.”
Actor Omar Sharif is probably best known for playing Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia. He would later go on to star in the masterpiece, Doctor Zhivago. His groundbreaking career started in Egypt before he achieved international acclaim for his performance in one of the biggest movies of all time, Lawrence of Arabia. The name Omar is a very handsome name for boys and means “flourishing.”
According to the American Film Institute, Katharine Hepburn was the greatest female star of the Classic Hollywood Age. She was outspoken, assertive, and athletic, and wore trousers before they were fashionable for women. Bringing Up Baby, The African Queen, Little Women, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner are just a handful of notable films she starred in. The name Katharine is Greek and means “pure.”
There are so many excellent names to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood. We didn’t even get to Ingrid of Ingrid Bergman fame. Nor did we mention Orson, famously the name of Orson Welles. Sometimes to find the most unique and interesting names it’s a good idea to look to the past. These 30 names from Old Hollywood will definitely be a big hit. Every one of them would look good in lights.
- 1 Photography-Inspired Baby Names for Girls
- 2 Photography-Inspired Baby Names for Boys
- 3 Lights, Camera, Action! Take a Look at These Baby Names Inspired by Hollywood’s Golden Age.
- 4 30. Cary
- 5 29. Greta
- 6 28. Errol
- 7 27. Temple
- 8 26. Olivier
- 9 25. Rita
- 10 24. Rock
- 11 23. Charlie
- 12 22. Kirk
- 13 21. Olivia
- 14 20. Cooper
- 15 19. Audrey
- 16 18. Alec
- 17 17. Sophia
- 18 16. Curtis
- 19 15. Natalie
- 20 14. Nils
- 21 13. Ava
- 22 12. Rex
- 23 11. Ruby
- 24 10. Dean
- 25 9. Vivien
- 26 8. Sidney
- 27 7. Theda
- 28 6. Sterling
- 29 5. Joan
- 30 4. Quinn
- 31 3. Lauren
- 32 2. Omar
- 33 1. Katharine
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