What to expect from the next year in… Photography
Ronan McKenzie, Ryan Duffin, Pelle Cass, Weishan Hu and Maxime Guyon give their two cents on what a new year and a new decade hold for photography.
If there’s a creative medium that has practically conquered the world, it’s photography. The first photographic technologies were produced in the 1830s and, over the course of the two centuries since, the medium has grown from a toy of the rich to one of the most widely used tools for visual communication. Today, nearly half the world’s population have a camera in their pocket.
The ushering in of a new year – and a new decade – is, therefore, an exciting time to consider what’s next for photography. What will new technologies allow photographers to achieve in the next 12 months? What visuals trends will we be sick of by the end of 2020? And will any new platforms pop up to rival the ubiquity of Instagram?
Here to give their two cents, and coming from the worlds of fashion, documentary, still life and even a little bit of sports photography, are photographers Ronan McKenzie, Ryan Duffin, Pelle Cass, Weishan Hu and Maxime Guyon.
It's Nice That:Is there anything in particular you would like your industry to discuss or tackle in 2020?
Ronan McKenzie:In 2020, I would like the industry to get rid of some of the old conservative and narrow-minded heads at the tops of big corporations and institutions and allow some space for more current (not necessarily young, but relevant) minds to be making decisions that allow the industry to develop and grow in a positive way. Also, if 2020 saw the end of late payments, that would be great too.
INT:What would you like to achieve within photography in 2020?
RM:In 2020, I’m actually excited to expand my artistic practice to other mediums. I love the power of photography, but my world is made up of so much more than images, and I’m looking forward to exploring and playing with different textures and ways of working. I feel it’s difficult for any creative person to stick to one singular method of expressing themselves, so the idea of naturally progressing into and combining photography with a wider portfolio of expression is what I’m hoping to achieve this year.
INT:Who would be your dream subject or brand to work with in the coming year?
RM:Erykah Badu has always been, and still is, my dream woman to photograph, but I’d love to photograph her with her family. It’s also less about brands I’d love to work with but places I’d like to explore in the coming year. I’m hoping to visit Ethiopia and Mexico, and maybe Mozambique if I can make it.
It's Nice That:How’re you hoping photography will progress in the next 12 months?
I’m eager to see a lot of aesthetics continue to be queried. Photo editors tend to settle into certain visual styles, and it’s starting to feel like we are at a standstill creatively!
Ryan Duffin:Is there something you would like the industry to do differently in 2020?
We need to continue to make our sets more diverse. The industry needs to make sure representation in front of the camera is balanced, but also that the talent hired behind the camera reflects the diverse world we live in. Not just photographers, but assistants, digital techs and everyone involved.
INT:What photographic trends or styles do you think we’re going to see in 2020?
RD:I think we’ll begin to see photographers experimenting with playful, messier image-making techniques. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more artists like Sharna Obsorne embracing lo-fi tech in their art – I love her work!
INT:Is this something you’ll be exploring in the coming year?
RD:I’m beginning to make some abstract work that is made entirely in-camera. It’s a departure from my typical types of subjects and processes, which have been pretty much exclusively digital. I’m stoked to perfect this and begin sharing this new approach.
INT:Is there anything from the fashion and commercial photography world that you would like to see the back of in 2020?
RD:Goodbye harsh explosions of colour gels!
It's Nice That:How would you like photographers to use the medium in 2020?
Pelle Cass:I would like to see more protest photos, not in the sense of photos of protests, but in the sense of Specifically Stop All the Horrible Right Wing Crap That’s Happening in the World Right Now. I’m not good at predictions, but I hope photography gets more stylish, more idiosyncratic, harder to figure out and more rewarding when you do. I hope new galleries start opening and old galleries reopen. I hope more people buy art and that people begin to talk more about art than politics. In turn, I hope this will force politicians to talk about art.
INT:How do you envisage creatives will continue to work with photo-montaging techniques?
PC:I hope Photoshop is used for good – making messes that are somehow rooted in reality or true feeling, rather than for evil – perfecting images of attractive people and places. Photo compositing should make things more real, not less!
INT:You shot your first fashion editorial back in September. Do you see yourself doing more of this kind of thing?
PC:Yes. In fact, I’ve already done another commission of divers for a sports/art magazine called Victory Journal partnered with a fashion retailer called Ssense. I like doing these things because the editors just ask me to do what I do without much direction except “make sure we can see that shoe or that bathing suit some of the time” and “go to Paris to do it”. The Paris part is not so easy since I’m a nervous traveller. But I like getting out of the house and away from Photoshop for a bit. I also like fashion because it’s very close to the art world, which is where I’m most comfortable.
INT:What else would you like to personally achieve within your medium in 2020?
PC:Somehow in the past year, I’ve published in a lot of print and online magazines and travelled to do a bunch of commissions. I’ve shown some, but what I’d really like is to exhibit more. I’d like to make more big prints and travel to friendly cities to show them!
It's Nice That:What’s the one thing you definitely want to see happen in photography this year?
Weishan Hu:I was really inspired by my fellow course mates during my last semester at London College of Fashion. A vast diversity of sophisticated photographic languages were celebrated among their graduation projects, ranging from intimate portraiture series of friends to documentary photography that explores broader issues of contemporary culture. I feel that such a sense of diversity and inclusiveness in photography is extremely beautiful and it is perhaps the biggest thing that I would like to see this year.
INT:What’s the biggest change you would like to see in fashion photography in 2020?
WH:I moved back to China from London about half a year ago and it was rather saddening to find out that fashion photography still remains as a rather commercialised and profit-driven practice. Personally, I feel that this phenomenon should be urgently tackled in the local industry and, perhaps as a young Chinese photographer, I should also consider creating works that are not only aesthetically or commercially pleasing, but also conceptually inspiring.
INT:What are you hoping to achieve within your medium throughout the coming year?
WH:Most of my previous projects tended to explore and discuss broader topics or cultural issues, such as femininity and the female gaze, or the rise of individualism in postmodern China. However, coming back to my hometown Guangzhou, a city where I spent most of my childhood and adolescence, I suddenly experienced a paradoxical mix of emotional connection and detachment with this place that I am so familiar with. Therefore, I think I am going to investigate the intricate relationship between individuals and their hometowns through a more personal and intimate perspective this year.
It's Nice That:What’s the biggest change in photography you would like to see this year?
Maxime Guyon:This question is really wide open. However, I guess the biggest change that I would love to see in photography would be a way of actually experimenting and consuming images on our little screens. I think Instagram has provided a great opportunity to communicate faster to a wider audience, but it has also very quickly globalised some current aesthetics. I would love to see more independent and experimental photography exhibitions, also online platforms such as blogs that we used to see like The Latent Image or The Wandering Bears, for example. I’m definitely not saying that I would like to see ourselves going back to a few years ago, but rather that I would love to see an abundance of visual experimentations that can create new dialogues and aesthetics. I’m positive and very confident that these changes will soon come.
INT:What about specifically in the still-life photography world?
MG:I think there will be a significant rise in independent creative set designers. In my opinion, set designers deserve more credit in the industry, especially the ones who dare to take risks and experiment.
INT:How can photography continue to compete with CGI and 3D rendering?
MG:I don’t think that the mediums are competing against each other. However, there are now new opportunities to create projects that can combine photography and computer-generated images. I’m very often working first by my own with rendering softwares to create sketches for clients. After the shoot, this allows them to see the magic of photography and how it leads us to never-ending possibilities and surprises we could never have reached with only computer-generated renders. It is obvious that the expansion of CGI has been a fantastic opportunity for photography to free itself from literal representation – this is why I really trust that this is a new wonderful chapter for photography to become more unexpected and powerful.
INT:What are you looking forward to working on in 2020?
MG:In Spring, I’m going to present one of my biggest personal projects that I’ve been working on for three years now, so I’m really excited for 2020. I’m also currently developing new approaches to creating moving image for commercial projects which is an important challenge for me.
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About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.