We’re delighted to announce the 40 winners of this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards. These remarkable photographers hail from five continents and utilize quite diverse artistic approaches while presenting a wide range of thought-provoking topics.
The Critics’ Choice Awards are like no other. We ask experts to dig into hundreds of entries from across the globe to select their top three personal favorites. There’s no jurying as a panel; just essential picks brought to you straight from the museum and gallery curators, photo editors, publishers, and art directors making their way through many phenomenal submissions.
We hope you discover several new personal favorites, too. Enjoy!
Emma Lewis is a curator specialising in photography. Recent and upcoming projects include the book “Photography – A Feminist History” (Ilex/Tate 2021) and the exhibition Sue Williamson and Lebohang Kganye (The Barnes, 2023). As Assistant Curator, International Art at Tate Modern (2013–ongoing) she has organised or co-organised numerous exhibitions and displays, including Dora Maar (2019), Portraits and Community (2019), and Wolfgang Tillmans (2017). She is responsible for researching photography acquisitions for the permanent collection, with a specialist focus on women’s histories and feminist practices.
Rhea L. Combs, PhD is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and works with her curatorial team along with the History, Conservation and Audience Engagement departments to grow the Portrait Gallery’s collection, develop impactful exhibitions, and draw connections between portraiture, biography and identity. Prior to this, Combs was at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture where she served as supervisory curator of photography and film and head of the museum’s Earl W. and Amanda Stafford Center for African American Media Arts. She has curated numerous exhibitions related to film and photography both nationally and internationally, including: “Everyday Beauty: Photographs and Films from the Permanent Collection” (2016), “Represent: Hip-Hop Photography” (2018), and “Now Showing: African American Movie Posters” (2019). She is a co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition “Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898–1971,” which will be presented at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. She received a BA from Howard University and an MA from Cornell University before earning a PhD from Emory University.
Dr. Marta Weiss is Senior Curator of Photography at the V&A and Lead Curator of the second phase of the V&A Photography Centre, opening in 2023. She joined the museum in 2007 after two years in the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She studied history of art, specialising in photography, at Harvard (BA) and Princeton (MA, PhD). Her V&A exhibitions include Julia Margaret Cameron (2015); The Camera Exposed (2016); Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s (2015); Making It Up: Photographic Fictions (2013); and Light from the Middle East: New Photography (2012). She is author of four books and numerous essays, on topics ranging from Victorian photocollage to Diane Arbus. Her most recent book is Autofocus: The Car in Photography (Thames & Hudson/V&A 2019).
Jasper Bode founded together with Narda van ’t Veer The Ravestijn Gallery in 2012 in Amsterdam. The gallery focuses on inquisitive and provocative approaches to contemporary photography.
Bode and Van ‘t Veer respectively bring together several decades of experience curating photography exhibitions and representing a diverse group of photographic talents in the Netherlands and abroad. The gallery showcases several exhibitions a year aimed at exploring new perspectives for photography in all its forms and showing ambitious international works.
In addition to its exhibition program and participation in international photography fairs, the gallery holds an expansive collection of photography on site and gathers pictures from the twentieth century and other contemporary photographs.
Cortney Norman is the Associate Director at Yancey Richardson Gallery. Founded in 1995, the gallery specializes in contemporary photography and represents a number of influential and critically recognized photographers and artists including Mitch Epstein, Anthony Hernandez, Zanele Muholi, and Mickalene Thomas. Prior to joining Yancey Richardson, Cortney was the Assistant Director at Howard Greenberg Gallery, who’s collection of over 40,000 prints acts as a living history of photography. She graduated from New York University with a degree in Art History and focus on photography.
Clare Grafik is Head of Exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. She earned a BA Joint Honors in Philosophy/Art History at Leeds University, and MA in Image and Communications (Photography) at Goldsmiths College. She has worked in a number of public institutions in London including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Hayward Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. She has been at The Photographers’ Gallery since 2003 working in public programming and curating exhibitions. She has worked on exhibitions and projects with artists and photographers including Lise Sarfati, Isa Genzken, Larry Sultan, Mike Mandel, Taryn Simon, Katy Grannan, Antoine D’Agata, Cuny Janssen, Zineb Sedira and Keith Arnatt. Group exhibitions include The Photographic Object (2009) and Photography & Collage (2012). She has been a Sessional Lecturer at Birkbeck College, London, has lectured at institutions including University of the Arts, University of South Wales, Sothebys Institute of Art, and written for magazines including IANN and Art Monthly. Forthcoming projects include solo exhibitions with Viviane Sassen and Charlotte Dumas and a group exhibition ‘Double Take: Drawing & Photography’ with the Drawing Room, London.
Jim Casper is the editor-in-chief of LensCulture, one of the leading online destinations to discover new contemporary photography from around the world. As an active member in the contemporary photography world, Casper loves to meet with photographers and review their portfolios. He curates art exhibitions, publishes books, conducts workshops, serves as an international juror and nominator for key awards, and is an advisor to arts and education organizations.
After 6 years of experience in the museum industry, Gwen Lee co-founded Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF), a biennale international photography platform in 2008. Since then, she has curated & organised numerous photography exhibitions both in Singapore and overseas. In 2014, she curated Flux: Contemporary Photography from China at Art Science Museum. In 2016, she curated a special photobook exhibition with Steidl publishing at DECK, and a solo exhibition of Daido Moriyama at DECK. On a regular basis, she gives talks on professional development for photographers, and participates as a juror and portfolio reviewer in Asia and Europe.
Rebecca Morse is Curator in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Recent projects include “Thomas Joshua Cooper: The World’s Edge”, “Sarah Charlesworth: Doubleworld”, and “Larry Sultan: Here and Home”. She was previously Associate Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) where she organized “Amanda Ross Ho: Teeny Tiny Woman”, “Cai Guo-Qiang: Ladder to the Sky”, “Rodarte: States of Matter”, “The Artist’s Museum”, and “Florian Maier-Aichen”. Upcoming projects include a mid-career survey of the work of Barbara Kruger titled “Thinking of You I Mean Me I Mean You” and “Objects of Desire: Photography and the Language of Advertising” that examines the ways artists have appropriated the language of commercial photography.
Giuseppe Oliverio is an Italian entrepreneur and curator. In 2012, he launched PHmuseum, a platform for contemporary photography widely known for its grants program. Past grant recipients include artists Laura El-Tantawy, Max Pinckers, Diana Markosian, Jacob Aue Sobol, Sanne De Wilde, and Alejandro Cartagena. PHmuseum is based in Bologna, Italy, where Oliverio founded the PHmuseum Lab, a multifunctional space for workshops, talks, and exhibitions, and PHmuseum Days, the platform’s first international photography festival.
Oliverio has served on the juries for the Lucie Photo Book Prize, Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward, UPI’s The Fence, and Happiness OnTheMove, and regularly works as a portfolio reviewer at festivals such as Unseen, Photo Vogue Festival, and Visa Pour L’Image. He has also written for TIME magazine and L’Uomo Vogue. Oliverio holds a degree in economics from Bocconi University (Milan) and a Master’s in Quantitative Finance from Cass Business School (London).
Elizabeth Renstrom is a Brooklyn-based photographer, editor, and curator. As a photographer, she uses humor as a tool to investigate themes of feminism, the way we use images, and how we craft our identities in relation to pop culture. Her style is defined by its saturation and prop-driven arrangements in both editorial commissions and in her own projects. She has shot extensively for clients like The New Yorker, Refinery 29, TIME, Instagram, and Vice among others. No matter what, she isn’t afraid to make photography weird across commercial or fine art. As an editor and curator, Elizabeth has worked in the photo departments of Marie Claire, TIME, Vice, and, most recently, The New Yorker where, as Senior Photo Editor, she commissions original photography for the weekly magazine.
Alexa Becker is a Contributing Editor for photography and art books for Kehrer Verlag, a Germany-based publisher founded in 1995.
After earning her Master’s in Art History from the University of Heidelberg,she started her career at Kehrer in 2003, where she is responsible for selecting and acquiring new photography-related projects.
Alexa Becker provides artistic and marketing advice for photographers concerning the content and style of their work at several international portfolio reviews. She enjoys helping photographers and others appreciate the special qualities present in their work, in particular discovering novel, genuine visions of the world.
Alexa Becker is also a freelance consultant, advising and coaching photographers independently.
Dilys Ng is Senior Photo Editor at TIME. She commissions, produces and edits photography across platforms for high impact features and projects like TIME100, Person of the Year, Guns in America and Next Generation Leaders. She was previously at the Singapore International Photography Festival and has served as juror on multiple awards and reviews.
Catherine and André Hug founded their gallery in Paris in 2000. Located in the heart of the artistic and historic Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood, the Catherine and André Hug Gallery offers a photographic program that compares historical series to the most contemporary expressions. They have presented the work of Susan Meiselas, Raymond Depardon, Philippe Chancel, Kourtney Roy, Joni Sternbach, Reine Paradis, Mona Kuhn, and many more. Catherine has a degree in communications and worked as a sales director for 15 years prior to opening the gallery with her husband.
Raquel Villar-Pérez is a researcher, writer, and curator whose practice focuses on de- and anti- colonial discourses within contemporary art and literature from the ‘Global South’. She is interested in the work of image-makers who address notions of transnational feminisms, social and environmental justice, and do so in original, expansive ways.
Currently, she is the Curator at Photoworks, where she is instrumental to the development of the Photoworks Festival and she leads on the Annual, the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards, and the Ampersand Fellowship, among other projects. Prior to Photoworks, Raquel worked for Tate Modern as an Exhibitions Assistant. As a freelancer, Raquel has curated exhibitions of contemporary art and public programmes in London, Cambridge, Bogotá, Stockholm, Seoul, Málaga, and Valencia. Her exhibition project Poetics of Resistance from the Archive in Two Acts won the 2021 Peckham24 Open Call. She regularly sits in jury panels and contributes to publications such as British Journal of Photography, C&, C& América Latina, and Africanah.
Having graduated in Cultural Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in 2017, she is now a PhD candidate at Birkbeck’s School of Art. She has been recently appointed co-coordinator of the CILAVS Early Career Researchers Network and is a member of the research group Art and Identity Politics at the University of Murcia in Spain.
Dimitri Beck is the editor-in-chief of the Paris based photography magazine, Polka. Dimitri has been part of the executive management of Polka since 2008, contributing to the development of the magazine, gallery and website, including the magazine’s new feature-rich iPad version. Dimitri lectures on photojournalism at conferences and educational institutes. Prior to working at Polka, he was the Director of the Aina Photo Agency based in the Afghan capital Kabul.
Claartje van Dijk is head of the photography department at Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam since 2020. She curated various exhibitions including “Laia Abril - On Rape: A History of Misogyny, Chapter Two”, “Karolina Wojtas - We can’t live – without each other” and “Liz Johnson Artur - of life of love of sex of movement of hope”, among others. Previously, Claartje worked at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York as Assistant Curator, Collections. At ICP she conducted research on the museum’s collection and was a curator on numerous exhibitions, including “Perpetual Revolutions: The Image and Social Change” (2017), “Elliott Erwitt: Pittsburgh” (2018) and “Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection” (2019). Claartje has juried a number of awards including PDN: The Curator Award, Critical Mass and the Lucie Scholarship Program for The Lucie Foundation.
December 1, 2021 marked the 34-year anniversary of Catherine Edelman Gallery, a venue for contemporary fine art photography in Chicago. Since its founding in 1987, the gallery has established itself as one of the leading galleries in the US devoted to the exhibition of prominent living photographers, alongside new & young talent. The gallery showcases a broad range of subject matter, attracting both the seasoned collector and first-time buyer. Recently, CEG moved to a 4400 sq ft space, expanding its program to include artists readings and panel discussions, with a larger exhibition space and dedicated video room, as we seek to expand the vocabulary of photography. Our web site provides a wealth of information, including artist talks, interviews with art world professionals, an online only gallery for local talent, and extensive educational material.
In 2018, Catherine Edelman and Anette Skuggedal formed CASE Art Fund, a 501c3 non-profit that raises awareness about children’s human rights through the support and exhibition of photography, with the firm belief that every child has the right to an education, regardless of race, class or sexual orientation. CASE’s vision is to be at the forefront of presenting photographs that inspire and create a positive impact on social awareness, human rights, and children’s education. Photographic projects are exhibited in the public arena, including wall-pastings on the side of buildings, public libraries, art fairs, and other cultural venues.
Catherine is an active member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) and is widely respected as a leader, educator and specialist in the field of contemporary photography.
Louise has been the Director of FORMAT International Photography Festival for 18 years, which she co-founded in 2004 and the Artistic Director of QUAD a centre for contemporary art and film for 20 years. She works as an independent curator since 1998 directing commissions, publications, performances and exhibitions. Currently she leads the arts programme at Forestry England, including Earth Photo.
She serves as a Guest Curator for international exhibitions/festivals including Dong Gang (Yeongwol) South Korea; Photoquai Biennale Musée du quai Branly Paris; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Dali Photo, China; Venice Biennale EM15; Photo Beijing, and LishuiPhoto China; Korea International Photo Festival. A steering Group member for FORMAT International Photography Festival, and international award nominator, she has also contributed to numerous publications as producer/writer/editor and a regular juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker in Europe, America, Africa & Asia.
Congratulations to all 40 winning photographers! And sincere thanks to every photographer who participated, and to each of the experts who contributed their time and expertise.