We are very pleased to present the 50 laureates of the 2017 LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards! The international jury believes that each of these photographers, many of whom have never received recognition from the global photography community until now, are worthy of our attention. Using the visual language of photography in diverse and original ways, these emerging talents demonstrate remarkable vitality, vibrancy and fluency in a wide range of approaches and subject matter. Read more »
The LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards are open to photographers of all ages, from all cultures around the world, and all genres of photography. Making this final selection was no easy task. Our international jury panel—composed of publishers, gallerists, artistic directors, critics and an award-winning photographer—carefully considered the range of submissions, which were sent by photographers in over 160 countries. The bar was set extremely high: as Nazraeli Press founder and juror Chris Pichler told us, “I was deeply impressed with the quality and seriousness of the work.” But after extended deliberation and discussion, these distinctive, remarkable photographic works rose to the top.
This is a selection of the strongest and most memorable work submitted to the competition this year. Here you’ll discover serious documentary and photojournalism projects, as well as pure aesthetic celebrations of the interplay of light, color, form and texture. Some award-winning series are profoundly personal, intimate, or poetic. Others winners have chosen to explore inventive uses of old analog processes, conceptual approaches, or sculptural still-life to express their visions.
Spend time with these winners—their work, and talent, demands it.
Each of the eight jury members selected one photographer to be awarded special distinction and a cash grant. Here are the jurors’ special selections with a brief quote from each juror explaining what they especially appreciate about their chosen photographer and their work.
From my first glance, I was intrigued by Aleksi’s work. There was something humorous, but also mysterious, spontaneous and deep in his images. Without offering much explanation, he defined the work simply as showing the “special relationship between Finnish people and animals.” I felt it offered a much more universal meaning. The soft, subtle tones of the images; the unusual scenarios (candid or staged, we do not know); the profound silence in them...all these elements spoke to me immediately, offering a view into a quiet, serene, peaceful world which I felt I wanted to be part of.
Thomas Freteur’s story, “The Faithful,” is filled with an unusually bright, warm light you experience only in a high arid desert—or when in a momentary state of grace. These mystically charged pictures share intensity and a hushed sense of quiet, ageless, spiritual devotion. With a deft, yet straightforward, manner, Freteur suggests profound connections between the shapes and forms of bodies in prayer, gestures of lone cacti, the weathered covers of prayer books, and the stark beauty of nature, all at the far limits of civilization.
By combining found imagery with her own photography, Giovanna Petrocchi creates surrealist collage works that occupy a space between fantasy and reality. Influenced by ancient worlds, artefacts and cave paintings, Petrocchi’s vision is primarily rooted in the representation of landscape, animals and figurines. The winning project, titled simply “Lanzarote,” depicts the otherworldly environment of this island, but could just as well be some distant planet. I chose this young artist for the Emerging Talent Awards because of the uniqueness and originality of her visual vocabulary.
It was a real challenge and pleasure going through so many strong bodies of work captured by many talented visual artists and photojournalists, from art, landscape, portraits, to photojournalism and others. However, my decision for the juror’s pick was made according to the way the story was told, the emotions in the images, and the urgency of the moment. “Born Refugee” is a powerful, moving and well-documented portrait series that tells the important story of the displaced Rohingya people.
In photography, I am often looking for that sense of the mysterious or the ineffable that you find in poetry so I was drawn immediately to the quiet mystery of Matthew Genitempo’s series Untitled (Jasper) about men who have chosen to live in seclusion in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. It has a sense of intimacy that only comes from patient engagement with a difficult, elusive subject: people who do not want to be found, never mind photographed. The work, though, does not feel intrusive. The use of black and white (and various gradations of grey) alongside the deft interplay of portraiture and landscape created a sustained atmosphere and a profound sense of place.
J. Fredric May’s photographs are immediately intriguing. They show what my eye cannot see, an approximation of the artist’s own sight, in the aftermath of it being severely affected by a stroke. He reveals the process of sight—the scopic view, and the brain’s filling in of the blank spaces through hallucination. These are sophisticated photographs, multi-layered in their production, revealing—to an extent—the work that the brain does to interpolate what we see. It’s a wonderful combination of art and science.
“Aenikkaeng” tells the largely unknown tale of the Korean community in Cuba and Mexico. Highlighting individual stories in a striking and captivating manner, Kim shows how these Korean descendants continue to incorporate their distant cultural heritage into their daily lives.
As difficult as it was to select one body of work from so many worthy contenders, in the end, the work of Daren You stood out for its confidence and originality. He rides a fine line with these images, and seems to do it with ease, seemingly unconsciously. The photographs may be the result of difficult and complex techniques, but their strength lies in their beauty and strangeness.
London, United Kingdom
Sean O’Hagan writes about photography for The Guardian and The Observer and is also a general feature writer. He was named interviewer of the year in the Press Awards in 2003 for his profiles of footballer Roy Keane and musician Brian Wilson, among others. He is the winner of the 2011 J Dudley Johnston Medal from the Royal Photographic Society “for major achievement in the field of photographic criticism” for his writing.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Emilia van Lynden is Artistic Director of Unseen, the leading festival for contemporary photography. Exclusively focusing on what’s new in the photography world, Unseen provides a channel for up-and-coming talent to showcase their work; the festival also presents previously “unseen” work by established artists. Unseen is a year-round platform with physical events throughout the year alongside the main event, Unseen Amsterdam. Additionally, Emilia serves as Editor-in-Chief for the annual publication, Unseen Magazine, which was founded in 2014.
London and New York
Chris Littlewood is the Photography Director at Flowers Gallery in London. Most recognized for its engagement with socio-cultural, architectural, political and environmental themes, the photography program has been curated by Chris for ten years. Running parallel to the main gallery, Chris has also staged exhibitions by invited artists and curators across a range of experimental photographic practices. Under his curatorship, the gallery now regularly exhibits at international photo fairs including Paris Photo, Unseen Photo Fair and Photo London.
Essays by Chris have been published in magazines including Hotshoe, 1000 Words and Aesthetica. He has lectured and tutored at UK and international institutions including University of the Arts London, Architectural Association London, Magnum Photos London, National Museum Cardiff and Fotografiska Museum Stockholm.
California, United States
Chris Pichler founded Nazraeli Press in Munich, Germany in 1989. In 1997, the press moved to the United States and in 2002 opened a subsidiary in the United Kingdom. Nazraeli Press has published over 500 books on the fine and applied arts with an emphasis on contemporary photography. The books are distributed throughout the world. Pichler edits and designs most of the books published by Nazraeli. He is known for his unorthodox use of common materials—such as papers, wood, plastic, metals—and for introducing elements of handiwork into otherwise mass-produced objects. The press’s award-winning books have themselves been the subject of exhibitions and books about books.
Born in Jerusalem in 1981, Muheisen joined the Associated Press in 2001. As the former chief photographer for the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan, he covered major events across the region, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. He has also worked in China, Egypt, South Africa and across Europe. Most recently his work has focused on the refugee crisis and specifically the issue of stranded unaccompanied refugee minors for the National Geographic Magazine. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning phootjournalist and he’s the founder of the Everyday Refugees Foundation. He was also named TIME’s Wire Photographer of the Year in 2013.
Among other exhibitions, a collection from a decade of his work about life in war was shown at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France. His work about refugees was exhibited at Festival des Libertés in Brussels, Belgium, and work about the displaced people was shown at THE FENCE in Brooklyn, Atlanta, Boston and Houston in the USA. He has served as a jury member in the 2016 Picture of the Year International, the 2015 World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass and the 2013 Visa D’Or for Visa pour L’image.
Brooklyn, New York
Debra Klomp Ching is the co-owner of the Klompching Gallery in New York. Since its founding in 2007, it has become well known for its dynamic roster of artists and exhibitions. Debra brings more than two decades of curatorial experience, and ten years as an art dealer and gallerist, to the jurying process.
Additionally, she is a freelance writer specializing in photography, and a photo editor for At Length magazine. As a freelance consultant, she works with emerging and mid-career fine art photographers, advising on creative and professional development. Since 2014, she has served as adjunct faculty at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
Arianna Rinaldo is a freelance professional working with photography in a wide variety of ways. Since 2012, she has been the artistic director of Cortona On The Move, an international photography festival in Tuscany, Italy. She is also curator of photography for PhEST, a new festival of art on the Mediterranean, taking place in Monopoli, Italy. In 2014 she was appointed guest artistic director for DOCfield, the documentary photography festival in Barcelona.
Arianna has previously worked for Magnum Photos, COLORS magazine and D, the weekend supplement of La Repubblica. She was the director of OjodePez magazine, a bilingual documentary photography quarterly published by La Fabrica for 7 years. She collaborates with major publishing houses for special projects and is a regular participant in portfolio review events and jury panels worldwide, as well as speaker and lecturer. Based in Barcelona since 2012, Arianna continues to develop photography projects at an international level and is intrigued by storytelling photography wherever that may take her.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jim Casper is the editor-in-chief of LensCulture, one of the leading online destinations to discover contemporary photography from around the world. As an active member in the contemporary photography world, Casper organizes annual international photography events, travels around the world to meet with photographers and review their portfolios, curates art exhibitions, writes about photography and culture, lectures, conducts workshops, serves as an international juror and nominator for key awards, and is an advisor to arts and education organizations. He serves on the board of directors at SPE, the Society for Photographic Education, the world’s largest association of photography educators.
LensCulture would like to thank every photographer who participated in this competition—your diverse responses to our call for inspiring emerging photography came from more than 160 countries all over the world! We are thrilled to discover such innovative new visions of the world around us. We would also like to extend our sincere thanks to the members of the jury who dedicated an immense amount of time and effort to reviewing the entries to the competition and ultimately selecting the diverse work displayed here.