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Review of the Year 2016: Top 25 Photography

Say cheese! Here’s a run down of the top 25 photography stories from this year, which includes an array of editorial projects, documentary photography and fascinating stories. It’s a brilliant reminder of the beauty and power photography has to communicate a narrative, so take a peek.

  • Jennifer-loeber_int_list Work / Photography Jennifer Loeber captures the teens desperate to get into Cannes Film Festival

    The glamour of the Cannes Film Festival lures in the glitterati each year but within the crowds of stars and filmmakers are groups of teenage cinephiles eager to gain entry to the festival. “For years I had heard from my husband (a film critic and journalist) about the teenagers who showed up each year holding up signs outside the velvet rope begging for tickets to the screenings,” says New York photographer Jennifer Loeber, who has captured the teens in her series Pleasures of the Uninvited. “My recent work has focused on themes of youth and identity so I immediately felt a kinship with these outsiders at one of the most hierarchical film industry events in the world.”

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Its_nice_that Work / Photography Yoshinori Mizutani captures the colourful, rain soaked commuters of Tokyo

    “I always thought of rain as something gloomy and unpleasant,” says Tokyo-based Yoshinori Mizutani. “One day, however I stepped out into the city and realised how rain can alter our everyday landscape.” The photographer has shot a number of pedestrian crossings from an elevated vantage point as the citizens and traffic pass below. The monochromatic rhythm of the wet tarmac and road paint is interrupted by people dressed in brightly coloured clothes or passing traffic. The images are a vibrant snapshot of life on a grey day that that are carefully composed to preserve each individual’s anonymity. “Even the most mundane details such as wet ground and rain drops can reveal a whole new world to us if we observe them from a slightly different angle,” says Yoshinori. “Rain is one of my continuing attempts to present a new perspective and interpretation towards our often overlooked daily phenomenon.”

    Owen Pritchard
  • Tajmahal-list Work / Photography Oliver Curtis photographs the world’s most famous monuments, the wrong way round

    Photographer Oliver Curtis has travelled the globe capturing the most famous landmarks the world over: the Colosseum, the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge….the list is endless. But looking through his images, it’s unlikely you’ll recognise any of them. That’s because Oliver Curtis looked at his subject, then abruptly turned around and photographed the forgotten, and often rather forlorn landscape in the opposite direction. It makes for a rather sad, but equally hilarious snapshot of the most famous places around, seen in a totally new light. It feels like that moment when the curtain is pulled back and we see the wizened little figure of the Wizard of Oz, pedalling away and shouting into a megaphone.

    Emily Gosling
  • Bompass_and_parr_its_nice_that_list_image Work / Photography Bompas & Parr explores the strange world of sploshing (NSFW)

    “When we started Bompas & Parr one of the first calls we got was an inquiry about whether we catered for splosh parties. Innocently we looked online to see what this might involve – to find a seamy scene were folks get turned on by sitting in puddles of baked beans. At the time we declined,” explains Sam Bompas, co-founder of Bompas & Parr.

    Owen Pritchard
  • Brian_finke_ny_times_int_list Work / Photography Sad lunches and awkward eating faces: Brian Finke captures desktop dining

    Lunching at your desk is never a glamorous affair; crumbs gather in your keyboard, mayo gets smeared on your mouse and the reality of spending more time at your desk at work than at home slowly sets in as you gulp down the low fat yoghurt you bought as a “treat”. Capturing the banality, misery and tediousness of eating at your desk is American photographer Brian Finke for The New York Times Magazine earlier this year. Known for his bold, colour-saturated style of photography, like the bodybuilders we showed last year, here Brian manages to elevate the act of eating a sandwich next to a computer into a cinematic affair. Brashly lit with the focus solely on the eater and their lunch, never has a Tesco meal deal seemed so compelling. 

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Swimm_it's_nice_that_7 Work / Photography Mária Švarbová’s calm and surreal images of bathers at a Slovakian swimming pool

    “My photographs are a succession of short scenes in which the frontality and absence of contrasts remove any narrative dimension,” says Slovakian photographer Mária Švarbová of her two new photo essays Swimm and Swimming Pool. Each tightly framed and directed shot depicts bathers at a swimming pool in Malacky, near Bratislava. The pastel hues with pops of saturated colour, combined with a theatrical direction of the models, create a thoughtful and compelling sequence of scenes.

    Owen Pritchard
  • Arne_svenson_int_list Work / Photography Arne Svenson’s portraits of his New York neighbours taken through apartment windows

    Photographer Arne Svenson’s painterly portraits of his neighbours are a voyeuristic insight into the day-to-day movements of strangers behind apartment windows. “The project began when I inherited a telephoto bird-watching lens and started photographing the quotidian activity of my neighbours in the glass-walled apartment across the street from my Manhattan studio,” says Arne. “The subjects I photographed were unaware at the time but I was stringent about not revealing their identities. I was not photographing these people as specific, identifiable personages, but more as representations of human kind.” The result is no shots of full faces in the series, but rather a beautiful collection of body parts including bent knees under tables, shoulders leant against windows and silhouetted fingers reaching out towards something out of shot.

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Robert_benson_int_list2 Work / Photography Nipple charts and rubber faces: Robert Benson captures a Californian sex doll factory

    After doing some research about the growing fascination with realistic, high-tech sex dolls, photographer Robert Benson was interested in discovering how they were actually made. He found that one of the largest “love doll” making companies was right near San Diego where he lives and set about shooting the factory for his series Sex Dolls.

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Nico_young_nytmag_its_nice_that_li Work / Photography 16-year-old photographer Nico Young shoots the New York Times Magazine cover

    For the most recent issue of the New York Times Magazine, 16-year-old photographer Nico Young was commissioned to shoot a photo essay and cover. Nico, a student at Santa Monica High in California, was instructed by Kathy Ryan, director of photography at the magazine, to “document the timeless rituals of high school – the mad dash between classes, lunchtime cliques, yearbook signings, the prom, and dissections in the science lab. When the athletes and band members returned for preseason practice in August, he was there to document that too.”

    Owen Pritchard
  • Casper_sejersen_list Work / Photography “Nymphomaniac” photographer Casper Sejersen's explosive images

    There’s something unsettling in the work of photographer Casper Sejersen. In one image, a woman stands serenely in a flimsy creamy yellow dress. On the wall next to her is a shattered full length mirror, and her eyes direct us to her feet – placed apart to tread on the mirrored fragments. Another series, titled Wish You Were Here from Man About Town features a ginger quiffed Bowie lookalike, his hair refracted in additional images around him, his eyes rolled to heaven. Among images of near-deathly stillness, there are images of explosive life – a car shattering into shards in a cloud of smoke.

    Bryony Stone
  • Chris_verene_int_list Work / Photography A voyeuristic insight into the seedy camera clubs of the 1990s from Chris Verene (NSFW)

    The term “camera club” can be used for anything that advocates photography, but in Chris Verene’s series he stepped into the seedier interpretation of the phrase, where “groups of men used to lure young women into modelling nude by pretending to be professional fashion photographers.” These mid-90s “clubs” were organised through classified newspaper ads, flyers or word of mouth and in a pre-internet age it gave the photographers a disturbing power. “The photographers could say a lot of things about their fame without being Googled or legitimised,” says Chris. “The resulting pictures might never be seen by anyone beyond the photographer and certainly could only be seen in person.”

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Www.junekorea.com_-_152303 Work / Photography June Korea’s photographic fantasy: one man’s relationship with his sex doll

    Still Lives: Eva is a constructed reality photographic series about one man’s relationship with his beloved sex doll. His love began the day he cut open the tape to her man-sized box, delivered by FedEx on 29 December 2014.

    Jamie Green
  • Listblaisecepis_itsnicethat_selects4 Work / Photography Blaise Cepis’ offbeat portraits mix arousal and body horror

    Imagine the scene: you go on a date, you manage to convince a perfect specimen to come home with you and then, when you’re rummaging in their pants, there’s a knee where their bits should be. Still turned on? It’s this line between erotic and grotesque that New York-based artist Blaise Cepis tentatively treads, creating deformed, yet kinda hot, bodies using collage and photography.

    Laura Snoad
  • Homemadesushi-list Work / Photography Pixy Yijun Liao’s strange photography challenges what relationships and love should be

    Not only is creating an image of a man lying prone, dressed as a piece of sushi hilarious; it’s also a way of succinctly challenging the patriarchy. The beauty of this picture, as with the rest of photographer Pixy Yijun Liao’s work, is that it mixes instant gratification with more unsettling and politicised undertones. Her work was recently brought to our attention thanks to a feature in TjejLand magazine, a publication that represents only female photographers. In the new issue, Pixy was interviewed by Ana Rosado, and revealed to her that the inspiration for much of her work was taken from a conversation about her boyfriend. A male friend had asked the photographer about why she had chosen a boyfriend who was, in his eyes, more like a girlfriend: “younger, prettier and obedient.”

    Emily Gosling

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