Photography is basically unique in its capacity to preserve moments of time for evermore, so recapping the top ten photography projects of the year feels akin to stepping into a Labyrinth-esque alternative realm where you can look over the whole of 2014 in one neat glass ball clutched in David Bowie’s capable hands. This year we’ve got a woman who photographs herself every year in a pair of Y-fronts, two grown men re-enacting childhood photographs and some inimitable music photography from the 1990s, so step back, picture Bowie and let through our highlights.
To quote Liv when she first posted about Henrik Purienne’s beautiful book morena back in May, “Don’t be shocked at the photos you see here. Clicking on a Henrik Purienne article and complaining about the nudity is like going to the Louvre and complaining that there are too many paintings.” Seven months down the line and the NSFW publication is a luscious as it ever was, designed by Barcelona-based studio Córdova – Canillas and shot by king of nude photography Henrik Purienne. Nobody channels natural beauty and that 70s aesthetic quite like Henrik.
Evidently a hardcore fan of the fairer months, Krista Long made a series of photographs this year entitled I love Summer, in which she photographed people at the exact moment they shot out of a water flume. Simple, yeah, but so effective that we couldn’t resist it. Neither could you evidently, as it’s at number nine.
No matter how many tea rounds or beer runs you’ve done, nobody has taken one for the team over the last twelve months quite like Kaija Straumanis. In a photographic series aptly called Things being Thrown At My Head she stood impossibly still while other people hurled the offending objects at her in a bid to capture the exact moment of contact. Which they did, fortunately enough – whether it be a pumpkin, a punnet of strawberries, a book or, ahem, a pint glass smashing into her face. Kaija, we applaud you.
Gilbert Blecken is living proof that some of the best photography out there can start out simply as an afterthought. A keen fanzine creator, Gilbert used to travel the country watching and interviewing bands to include in his zines, and would often sneak in while they were setting up to grab a few minutes talking to them.
He first started photographing his subjects after interviewing them “because it felt weird not to,” and as a result he snapped some crystal clear portraits of some of the most iconic faces of 90s music, from Damon Albarn and Kurt Cobain to Trish Keenan from Broadcast. It wasn’t until later that he realised the photographs were a treasure in their own right. We heartily agree, and his feature on the site is one of our absolute favourites this year.
Number six on the top ten photography posts this year would also be in the top ten of the most terrifying projects, if that were a thing. And maybe it should be. Mario Santamaria trawled through the internet to screenshot moments from Google’s scheme in which the search engine aims to bring internet users from the world over into art museums and galleries by way of a camera. Brainy Mario caught the moments when these cameras, draped in a weird silver cloth, caught sight of themselves in a mirror, and it’s creepy, but also fascinating.
It’s not surprising that photographer Francesca Jane Allen’s work has snuck into the top ten – it’s nuanced, emotive and does what it sets out to do beautifully – but what perhaps is surprising is that the post that has made it in is an Opinion piece she wrote in which she outlines exactly why art school was not for her, prompting an honest and insightful conversation with commenters. Francesca was one of our Graduates 2014 and it gives us huge pleasure to see her succeeded at doing exactly what she loves best.
LCC’s Professor in Photography Research Tom Hunter was a traveller back in the day, and he diligently photographed the free spirits around him in their buses and on their travels. Thankfully, earlier this year he dusted off all of these photographs to exhibit them in an exhibition entitled Life on the Road. Hippies hanging out in buses and caravans, skinny dipping in lakes and soaking up the sun surrounded by happy naked babies and painting friends, it’s basically a beautifully shot call to quit your job and embrace the good life.
Nothing made us feel justified in the stacks of books, magazines and crap old 1990s memorabilia we hoard an our homes this year like George’s World by Corinna Kern, a funny and touching ode to George Fowler, whose hoarding problem is infinitely worse than ours. Corinna shot George lounging nonchalantly around his castle of stuff, invoking humour as well as a poignant sympathy and the nagging voice of my mother shouting at me to have a clear out.
It’s been a full eleven months since we first received the Luxton Brothers’ email tentatively asking if we might be interesting in seeing the reenactments of childhood photographs they created for their mum for Christmas (er, yes), and it’s still as unexpectedly hilarious now as it was back in January. Their painstakingly recreated family snaps are an encouraging reminder that all you really need to make a first-rate project is a brilliant idea and enough time and energy. And can we all just take a moment to appreciate Joe in a yellow babygro?
It’s not every day you come across a project which spans a whole, brilliant, brave life, let alone one measured out by yearly shots of the protagonist wearing nothing but a pair of Y-fronts, but that’s just the beginning of why Birthday Suits is so wonderful. Lucy Hilmer has taken a self-portrait on 22 April every year from 1974 until the present day, creating a magnificent insight into a life. Birthday Suits went crazy almost the moment it went up on the site, proving the infinite wonder of photographic series that explore human nature. And pants.
About the Author
Maisie joined It’s Nice That fresh out of university in the summer of 2013 as an intern before joining full time as an Assistant Editor. Maisie left It’s Nice That in July 2015.