Discovering a new photography series (or single photograph) that pulls at your core and plucks a string deep inside your chest is a unique and powerful moment—one that we are lucky to experience many times over here at LensCulture. I felt that pull when I first came across Robert Blombäck’s series “Sauna,” an intimate and lyrical look at decades of family tradition and relationships in one of northern Sweden’s remote archipelagos. The series is filled with images of fleshy, soft bodies against the vast, rolling landscape, and the deep connection between family members of all ages resonates throughout the story.

After we published the story, I was thrilled to see that Blombäck’s series inspired similarly strong feelings in people from all corners of the globe. On social media, readers commented to say how much they loved the work—several people said that it inspired them to pick up a film camera again. As editors, this kind of reaction is the highest form of praise. We feel so lucky to have such a passionate, engaged, and diverse community.

Looking through the list of our most read and shared articles from the past year, our editorial team was struck by the variety of interests in our readers. As an online magazine, we reach photographers, editors, and photography-lovers from a plethora of cultures, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that this list would include such a range of topics. And yet, we were pleased to see exceptional projects, covering such different genres—fine art, portrait, street, and more—rise to the top. Below, you’ll find a compelling interview with Alec Soth; raw black and white style from Tokyo; advice from the renowned artist Todd Hido; an interview with the photographer for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Vogue; an exclusive piece that includes unpublished images from a popular photobook and many other pieces.

If you missed these articles when they first came out, we hope you enjoy exploring these slices of life from around the world; if you caught them earlier in the year, we hope you discover something new in your second look. We certainly did.

—Coralie Kraft, Associate Editor

Martha © Sian Davey

Fleeting Truths: Thoughts on Portrait Photography

Managing editor Alexander Strecker interviewed Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery in London, to discover his observations on the genre of portraiture. The result is a wide-ranging discussion with one of the world’s leading curators of portrait photography—touching on temporality, identity and the changing nature of the medium itself.

Adenoidectomy, 2007 © Elinor Carucci

Mother: The Images I Still Love

In 2013, photographer Elinor Carucci published her book Mother with Prestel. The stunning book focuses on Carucci’s experience as a mother of twins; it follows her through her pregnancy and the early years of her children’s lives.

At the beginning of this year, LensCulture reached out to Carucci to see if there were any photographs that didn’t make it into the published version of Mother—and the answer was an emphatic “yes.” In this exclusive article, Carucci reveals a hand-picked selection of previously unpublished works alongside a few words to accompany her choices.

Untitled © Todd Hido

A conversation between LensCulture Editor-in-Chief Jim Casper and Todd Hido, one of the masters of contemporary

photography in America. In this wide-ranging interview, Hido offers his insights on creating powerful portraits—and shares one of his favorite photographs in the genre, an image by Richard Avedon.

Red. © Gareth Bragdon. 3rd place, Single Image, LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2016.

In Search of the Poets and New Masters of Street Photography

Who are the next great street photographers? Where will we find them? In this interview with LensCulture, Olivier Laurent—currently a photo editor at the Washington Post—shares his thoughts on the venerable genre. Laurent discusses the “poetic” nature of street photography as well as the one question he always asks the photographers he meets.

From the series “Sauna” © Robert Blombäck

Sauna: Requiem from the North

A poetic series on life in one of Sweden’s remote archipelagos—shot against a stark, immobile landscape over a period of 20 years as a family grows, lives, ages, and diminishes. A rumination on family history, relationships, and the comforting constancy of tradition.

© Annelie Vandendael, Winner, LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2016.

Sois Belle

Look once—then look again. These luscious, surreal images challenge the unrealistic standards of perfection set by fashion photography, provoking playfulness rather than airbrushed beauty. A series that reacts (and offers an alternative) to the tenant of fashion photography arguing that personality is irrelevant.

[Editor’s note: if this image looks familiar, it’s also on the cover of our book, The Best of LensCulture, Volume 1!]

Portrait Through Vinyl Umbrella. From the series “Tokyo Street / Vision and Fascination” © Tatsuo Suzuki. Finalist, LensCulture Street Photography Awards 2017.

Tokyo Street / Vision and Fascination

Sometimes cruel, sometimes seductive, but always buzzing with vitality and humanity, Japan’s capital city is viewed here through a photographer’s lens. The article includes both traditional street photography and portraits shot on the street; although the latter are not candid photos, they are based on shots captured on the street. A project that explores the interplay between series and styles.

02.22.09 © Cornelia Hediger/courtesy Klompching Gallery, New York

Insights from a New York City Gallery

Gallery director and owner Debra Klomp Ching spoke to us about the close (and complex) relationship between photographer and gallery. How do you find a gallery that’s a good fit for your photography? Klomp Ching discusses these subjects as well as the best way to print your work if you’re interested in showing your work to a gallery professional. Valuable advice.

Mick Jagger © Mark Seliger

Rolling Stone to Christopher Street: 30 Years of Portraits

Rolling Stone’s former chief photographer Mark Seliger (a renowned editorial photographer who frequently shoots covers for Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Rolling Stone), discusses his current series, “On Christopher Street,” while offering invaluable wisdom for aspiring portrait photographers.

Charles. Vasa, Minnesota, USA. 2002 © Alec Soth / Magnum Photos

Simply Paying Attention with Alec Soth

For well over a decade, the distinctive voice and eye of Alec Soth have inspired photographers all over the world. In this enlightening interview, Soth offers his views on the changing photography world and his advice to fellow photographers, delivered with a welcome dose of his characteristically spare, poetic wit.

Editors’ note: For more of our end-of-year coverage, you can explore the 11 top photobooks picked by our panel of critics; a list of 25 books that were picked as personal favorites by photographers, publishers, and editors; and our editors’ favorite stories from the entire year.