It’s dangerous and often misguided to try to label or categorize many forms of art. In the case of photography, the term “conceptual” seems like a somewhat loaded yet meaningless catch-all rather than a description of a movement, tendency or approach.

So, with that acknowledgment, these 13 varied projects demonstrate some of the range that photography has to offer—from artful depictions of reality to the further bounds of dreams and fantasy.

These series were among the most popular with the readers of LensCulture in 2014. Enjoy!


Marja Pirilä, Interior/Exterior, Camera Obscura Dreams

These pictures began to form not only a person’s living environment but also to constitute an excursion into the mental landscape: reflections of memories, reveries, fears and dreams. Using an age-old natural phenomenon coupled with modern photography, the images are quite multi-layered, simply executed (no PhotoShop) — and visually delightful at the same time!

Ali Mobasser, A Life Told with ID Photos

This is the life story of Afsaneh Mobasser, born in Iran as a young girl of privilege, forced into exile, enduring unexpected journeys — all told through official government ID photos of her from age 7 to age 55. It won awards this year, and recognition around the world.

Daisuke Takakura, monodramatic

Somewhere out in the world, your other selves are lurking—alternative versions of you from moments that could have been or will be in the future. But what if all these selves came together at once…?

Katrina Kepule, Sit Silently

A conceptual view of life in contemporary Latvia — showing the ordinary in the form of a mysterious fictional photo narrative.

Julien Magre, On the Road, Dream Narrative

There is no narrator for this dark, mysterious visual story — Is it a cinematic sequence of a child’s memories, a dream, a diary, a nightmare?

Yoon A. Mi, At Night

A playful yet serious look at the psychological “shadow side” within each of us — using staged self portraits and multiple exposures by a young Korean photographer.

Michael Somoroff, Absence of Subject

In each of August Sander’s pictures Michael Somoroff has erased the subject, retaining only the background, removing what we have always believed to be the “essential element” — the subject, the portrait.

Nina Roeder, Mutters Schuhe

Three generations of women from the same family — grandmother, mother and the photographer — all pose in the same clothes and situations, creating a dizzying hall-of-mirrors exploration about memories and life-changing events.

Bill Viola, Video Interview: Martyrs

Martyrs is an interesting concept — “What would you give your life for? That’s a huge question, and that’s something that most of us don’t have to face every day.” Video artist Bill Viola talks about his 4-screen video installation in London’s Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Kirsty Mitchell, Wonderland

Just as all fairytales are rooted in psychological fears, hopes and real emotions—this elaborate photo story triggers dream-like reveries that echo deep inside the human psyche. A five-year labor of love which incorporates meticulous costume and set design into beautifully imagined tableaux.

Marta Berens, Dream Chapter

Fairy tale, dream-like images that suggest irrational connections with each other yet still seem to flow through a mysterious, intertwining dialogue.

Jon Horvath, Wide Eyed

Wide Eyed is intended to be a breathing body of images; a space to bounce and veer and double back while maintaining the sensation of being in a place of familiarity without specificity.

Manuel Cosentino, Behind a Little House

We all live beneath a single, shared sky — these photos show how notions of national identity may be discarded when we recognize the unifying nature of our common environment.

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