At LensCulture, we’re fortunate to have a global view of contemporary photography, and a community of talented, insightful writers, curators, and interviewers to dig a bit deeper into the various ways people from around the world are using the language of photography to tell stories, express themselves, and share their views of our world.

Here are some of the most popular highlights from 2021 — a mix of new discoveries (young and old), photobook reviews, interviews, essays, solo exhibitions and visual stories.

We hope you find some enjoyment and inspiration here, and we wish you the best for the coming year!

The Poetic Verisimilitude of the Vernacular
Bertien van Manen’s “Archive” offers a deep-dive into the Dutch photographer’s extraordinary career, mapping out her empathetic, vernacular approach to the documentary genre through images as well as extracts from her journal.

Photographs by Bertien van Manen. Essay by Doreen Schmid.


In Visible Light
In these award-winning photographs by Sam Ferris, intense golden sunlight bounces off the steel-and-glass urban canyon walls of Sydney’s Central Business District — illuminating passersby and setting the stage for countless fleeting encounters on the city streets.

Photographs and text by Sam Ferris.

Home in the Ozarks
Deep in the Ozarks, Terra Fondriest’s tender pictures document her family’s connection with each other, the land and with the surrounding community.

Photographs by Terra Fondriest. Interview by Justin Herfst.

Identification of Fruits
Drawing on his background as a fruit breeder and farmer, Masumi Shiohara’s award-winning images record and celebrate the identifying characteristics of different species of fruits that he grows. He creates photographic botanical art that not only serves as a practical tool but also depicts the multifaceted beauty of plants.

Images and text by Masumi Shiohara.

Cast Out of Heaven
In these barren, eerie landscapes, Hashem Shakeri unveils the failed promises of a major housing project on the outskirts of Tehran.

Photographs by Hashem Shakeri. Interview by Gregory Eddi Jones.

The Class of 2021
Across the world, students are graduating after an unimaginable year. With help from their fellow classmates, artist and writer Dylan Hausthor reflects on the wild ride of completing an MFA amidst the chaos of 2020.

Photographs by Yale Photography MFA Graduates 2021. Interviews by Dylan Hausthor.

Altered Negatives
Where does the photographer’s studio end and nature begin? Julie Hamel’s magical image-objects are whole worlds in themselves; a flurry of overlapping views that mimic the hazy edges of memory.

Photographs by Julie Hamel. Text by Magali Duzant.

Drummies
Alice Mann’s joyful portraits document South Africa’s drum majorettes, capturing the pride and performance of the young, all-female groups that practice this competitive sport.

Photographs by Alice Mann. Essay by Joanna L. Cresswell.

In Need of New Ceremonies
A 25-year-old Romanian photographer appropriates the same tools of the former Securitate secret police to try to come to grips with her parent’s and their generation’s apparent inability to embrace 21st century freedom.

Photographs by Kincső Bede. Text by Jim Casper.

Embodiment : Salvaging a Self
In her “salvage operation,” Sue Palmer Stone transfigures discarded debris into detailed, colorful sculptures, teetering on the edge of collapse.

Photographs by Sue Palmer Stone. Essay by Magali Duzant.

Spill
A comprehensive retrospective of Delhi-based artist Sohrab Hura’s restlessly inventive approach to photography spans genres from fiction to documentary, and formats from photobooks to video and more.

Photographs by Sohrab Hura. Essay by Joanna L. Cresswell.

Gwo Fanm — Being Strong in Vulnerability
Using her practice as a way to reflect on and heal family trauma, Naomieh Jovin works intimately with her family album, intervening in the archive and adding new perspectives with her own photographs.

Artwork and Photographs by Naomieh Jovin. Interview by Gregory Eddi Jones.


Homebound with my Parents
During Covid isolation, this Irish street photographer shifted his focus to staging irreverent cartoon-like tableaus starring his parents.

Photographs and text by Enda Burke.

7 Days of Garbage
Inviting his subjects to his Californian backyard with a week’s worth of their trash in tow, Gregg Segal’s confronting portraits draw attention to our careless relationship to waste.

Photographs by Gregg Segal. Interview by Justin Herfst.

Memory of the Eyes
In her surreal black and white photographs, Sara Cucè explores the in-between spaces of migration in search of a visual form that describes what it feels like to be neither here nor there.

Photographs by Sara Cucè. Text by Magali Duzant.


FINALLY: If you haven’t seen it yet, last year’s list of photobook recommendations from 39 international experts offers a great range of new publications to consider:

Favorite Photobooks of 2021
39 curators, artists, editors and other photography experts reveal their personal favorite photobooks from 2021 — a delightfully diverse list of great recommendations.


Cheers!