To look through Todd Hido’s lens is to view the world darkly. The San Francisco-based photographer’s entire oeuvre of compelling visual narratives is shrouded in inky obscurity, and in this regard, his latest work is no exception. The difference is that for the first time he has departed from his usual territory of suburban landscape and its relation to his own troubled childhood. Instead Bright Black World results from extensive travels abroad, and is steeped in a deep sense of pessimism about the future from the perspective of the present, attempting to “photograph the darkness that I see coming”.
There is something universally foreboding and immense happening here; work that captures nature on an awesome scale. And yet it can be read as a metaphorical measure of our individual existential lives, a dark poem alluding to our preconditioned mortality. His landscapes are magnificent in their brooding seduction, inspired by Norse mythology and the concept of Fimbulvetr – the long, harsh winter that precedes the end of Earth. Hido travelled to places he’d never visited before to capture these spectacles of natural devastation and melancholy, including the chilly vistas of the Norwegian tundra.
BJP’s annual Cool + Noteworthy issue is back, presenting the people, places and projects that have caught our eye over the past year.
Among this year’s noteworthies is the photographer behind our cover story, Tyler Mitchell, who became the first black cover photographer of American Vogue when he shot Beyoncé for the September 2018 issue. He tells the BJP about his new-found mission since returning home after living in London: “I realised I have a responsibility to be, specifically, a black American photographer and filmmaker.”
We also spotlight Kensuke Koike, a Japanese collagist who gives new life to old photo albums. Koike has attracted a loyal following on Instagram with his savvy cut-and-move videos, making his latest book one of the most anticipated on 2018. Feng Li is another newcomer who has made waves in fashion photography over the past year. This issue we feature Li’s playful fashion shoot in his native Chengdu, a creative city on the rise in China.
With €10,000 up for grabs to realise a project, the Greenpeace Photo Award is a great opportunity – and this year, the public decides who wins. Run with support from Geo Magazine, an awards jury has shortlisted seven photographers to choose from, each from a different country and each working on a series with an environmental theme.
The public has until 31 October to vote on the winner; a further €10,000 will go to a second winner selected by the jury, which this year includes curator and lecturer Lars Willumeit, and Geo Magazine chief photo editor Lars Lindemann.
The shortlisted photographers are: Niels Ackermann (Switzerland); Magda Biernat (USA); Arko Datto (India); Niklas Grapatin (Germany); Katrin Koenning (Australia); Pablo Piovano (Argentina); and Ian Willms (Canada).
Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1988, Hashem Shakeri studied architecture in TAFE (New South Wales Technical and Further Education Commission of Australia), and started his professional photography career in 2010. In 2015 he was Commended in the Ian Parry Scholarship, and in 2017 his images were included in the Rencontres d’Arles exhibition Iran, Year 38, alongside work by photographers such as Abbas Kiarostami and Newsha Tavakolian.
Shakeri’s ongoing series on climate change in Sistan and Balouchestan looks at the effect of drought in the Iranian province, which is located in the southeast of the country, bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has been suffering from drought for the last 18 years, which has created severe famine in a region once famed for its agriculture and forests. “Nowadays, the Sistan region has faced astonishing climate change, which has turned this wide area into an infertile desert empty of people,” writes Shakeri.
The November issue of BJP takes you on a round the world trip with Journeys. From the markets of Lagos to the search for Jesus across the world, these are more than just trips; these journeys will alter your way of looking at the world.
“I meet people with more empathy and more care towards one another in war situations or in conflict around the world than I have ever experienced in Europe. People want to share the little they have with me because I have talked to them and shown an interest in them,” says Jan Grarup. His work has taken him to the sites of the worst conflicts – from obvious examples such as Iraq and Iran, to forgotten areas like the Central African Republic. Each place he visits, he stays to learn about the culture and customs of the people before taking their photographs. In these places of despair and destruction, Grarup often finds hope and resilience. But the Western world needs to be more active and share the responsibility to help these regions return to a peaceful existence.