Growing up, photographer Tom Roche learned about his Romani Gypsy heritage only through fragmentary stories and speculation. “My great, great uncle was stabbed in the heart with a wooden stake because he owed money for land,” says Roche, a recent University of the West of England graduate. “Then I had one aunt, aunt Liz, who used to pick crops, one aunt that made baskets, and another who sold pegs – or so I’m told; I don’t have any images, records, or concrete facts of my ancestors.”
“In the EU today, we take women’s rights for granted,” says Marina Paulenka, director of Organ Vida, a three-week international photography event held annually in Zagreb. Founded in 2008, the festival has always been driven by political context, and this year, for its 10th edition, its all-female team have chosen to emphasise female-identifying perspectives from around the globe.
“In a time of post-capitalist global turmoil, technological advancements, with the strengthening of rightwing extremism, the growing influence of religion that limits women’s rights again, and the semblance of democracy in the 21st century, we are facing a situation in which women must fight anew for the rights that had been won long ago,” Paulenka insists.
“Most people would walk by a dump pile and assume that there’s no picture there,” says global industrial landscape photographer Edward Burtynsky. “But there’s always a picture, you just have to go in there and find it.” Born in Canada in 1955, Burtynsky has been investigating human-altered landscapes in his artistic practice for over 35 years, capturing the sweeping views of nature altered by industry; from stone, to minerals, oil, transportation, and silicon. “Of course, it’s important to me to make sure that my pictures are attractive to the eye,” he says. “But beneath the surface there’s always a bigger, deeper environmental issue.”
In adopting the photobook as his primary medium, using complex sequences as well as free ranging associations to create what’s been described as ‘open metaphors’, Jason Fulford is more interested in questions than answers. He invites readers to become active participants in his work, presenting an open enquiry in which the various interconnecting layers are often cryptic and complex, and the meaning is less important than the experience of looking and thinking.
“I had access to what felt like this secret world,” says Dafydd Jones, who has worked as a social photographer since the 1980s for publications such as Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New York Observer, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Times. “I was taking pictures of elites that nobody had seen before. It was Thatcher’s Britain, a period of celebration for those that had money. People described it as the ‘last hurrah’ of the upper classes.”
In 1981 he won a photography competition run by The Sunday Times magazine with a set of photographs of “Bright Young Things”, named after the earlier group of hard-partying aristocrats immortalised by novelist Evelyn Waugh and photographer Cecil Beaton. Tatler editor Tina Brown hired Jones off the back of it, commissioning him to photograph the Hunt Balls, society weddings, and debutante dances that were a mainstay of the upper-class publication. Now Jones has put together a collection of his work for Tatler from 1981-89, titled The Last Hurrah and currently on show at The Photographers’ Gallery and put out as a publication by Stanley Barker.
Foam founder Marloes Krijnen, curator Yumi Goto, and photographers Rob Hornstra, Mark Power and Mariela Sancari highlight the photobook that have impressed them most so far in 2018 – including Senta Simond’s Rayon Vert, Christian van der Kooy’s Anastasiia, and John Myers’ The Portraits
“Tu sais qu’est-ce que c’est le rayon vert?” Marie Rivière’s listless character Delphine asks, her legs swinging, in Éric Rohmer’s 1986 film Le Rayon Vert [The Green Ray]. The film – a portrait of its main character’s halting search for summer romance – was based on Jules Verne’s 1882 novel of the same name. While in theory its title refers to an optical phenomenon – in which the appearance of the sun as it rises or falls beyond the horizon creates a brief flash of green, and with it a supposed moment of mental clarity for all those who see it – in reality its subject matter is far more elusive. “I related the ‘rayon vert’ phenomenon to the process of photography – this special and quick moment that happens rarely,” Swiss photographer Senta Simond explains, referring to her project of the same name. Her series, which will be published by Kominek and shown at London’s Webber Gallery soon, adds a new, compelling layer to the meteorological event/Jules Verne/ Éric Rohmer mix of references. Indeed, Simond, a former student of ECAL, University of Art and Design Lausanne, from which she graduated last summer, first encountered the concept via the 1986 film.
“These images, in all their diversity, reflect something of the richness of this nation and remind us of what there is to be celebrated,” says Martin Usborne, Portrait of Britain judge and Co-Founder of Hoxton Mini Press, the publisher of the first ever Portrait of Britain book. “We hope the book is a powerful snapshot of a moment in our shared history that stands the test of time.” Over the past three years, British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain award has gone from strength to strength. Originally conceived in 2016 in response to Brexit, the nationwide exhibition has flourished into a celebration of the many faces of modern Britain, reflecting the unique diversity of our country and its contemporary photographic talent. This year, the Portrait of Britain competition saw a staggering number of entries. The 13,000 submissions were judged by an elite panel of photographic experts, made up of Simon Bainbridge, Editor in Chief of British Journal of Photography; Caroline Hunter, Picture Editor at Guardian Weekend Magazine; Olivia Arthur, Magnum Photographer; and Martin Usborne, …
In 2014, Troy Charles knocked on the door of 2411, Mason Avenue, Las Vegas, hoping to find his ex-girlfriend. Instead, he encountered Stefanie Moshammer, an Austrian photographer who was living in the US for three months to work on a project. They spoke for five minutes, exchanging a few sentences. One week later, Moshammer received a typewritten, 35-line love letter, which told her: “I can be your ticket to USA citizenship”. In Not just your face honey, which takes its title from another extract from the letter, Moshammer documents the ambivalent feelings this unforeseen, obsessive declaration of love provoked. Central themes include love, illusion and identity, as well as ideas of the past, present, and future. “Of course, the series is about my personal letter, but it’s also about Las Vegas and how men try pursue women through the movie-esque American dream,” she says. In the letter, Charles offered Moshammer marriage, a room in his house, and a “cute, special fast car that’s almost new”. Though intended to be romantic, the propositions struck her as sinister, …
“In St. Louis, ZIP codes matter,” says Piergiorgio Castotti, an Italian photographer who lived in the US for three years. “North of Delmar boulevard, 95% of people are black, and life expectancy is 67. A few hundred yards south, 70% of people are white, and there is a life expectancy of 82.”
Index G, a collaborative project he’s made with photographer Emanuele Brutti, explores the harsh reality of this segregation, which is measured with the so-called Gini Index. Where once racial segregation in the US was obvious, and even enshrined in law, it’s now peppered throughout cities on a micro level, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and can therefore be easy to miss. “There were unexpectedly very few literal barriers in St. Louis; this meant that our first trip was a disaster,” says Castotti. “I didn’t know what to take pictures of.”