In a bit of a pictorial rut? Taking photos of the same old scenes? If you are in the need of some inspiration there is nothing better than heading to you nearest photo book shop or flicking through the pages of FOAM to motivate you to pick up your camera with renewed gusto.
Whatever your personal style, I thoroughly recommend getting acquainted with the international hotbed of talent out there. The photographic scene is full of people making astonishing and innovative work that you can learn from. And where better to look than to the bright young things of the present? Here’s our rundown of the five coolest (…and youngest!) kids on the block right now.
Olivia Bee: Originally from Oregon, 22 year old Olivia got into photography at 11 and had an international reputation and portfolio of successful ad and fashion work under her belt at just 15. With a distinctive, signature style she has worked for the likes of Converse, Adidas, Fiat, Levis and Nike but it is her personal work that really stands out.
Starting out on Flickr, documenting the lives, loves and tribulations of her circle of friends, it is hard to pin-point exactly what makes her images of teenage exuberance and adventure so original and ‘un-internetty’. Citing Nan Goldin as a major influence, instead of the steamy, bruised side of youth we witness a world of innocence and exploration. Highly personal and nostalgic, they almost seem to be a page torn from your own scrapbook. Bee’s work is storytelling, as authentic and heartfelt as it comes. Oh to be young!
Huang Jing: 26 year old Guangzhou-born, Huang captures visually arresting, black and white images of a China that eschews typical pictorial cliches of industry and colour. Seeing himself as something of an urban poet, he heads out into his home town of Shenzhen and points his camera at scenes we doubt other photographers would even look twice at.
Original light play and surprising angles make for almost otherworldly and peculiarly atmospheric pictures that evoke a certain uneasiness in the viewer. His shots are reminiscent of traditional Chinese paintings, yet feel distinctly contemporary – the guy is certainly an original. In 2011 Huang snatched the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award and he was also spotlighted by FOAM Talent in 2014.
Maria Gruzdeva: This 25 year old Russian, based in London, is another big prize winner: recipient of the IdeasTap and Magnum Photos Photographic Award and winner of the 2012 Magenta Flash Forward Emerging Photographer. Straddling the worlds of fine art and photojournalism, she has drawn attention for her hard work and well-earned results on her long-term documentary projects, underpinned by extensive research.
Her work is both technically outstanding and aesthetically beguiling. It is the Border – A journey along the edges of Russia series which has won the most acclaim and is due for publication as her first book in October this year. Examining the complex Soviet history and investigating current political, physical and cultural problems on the border territories, it makes for very interesting viewing.
Bobby Doherty: From serious photojournalism, to unashamedly silly still life, Bobby has made a major name for himself with his unique editorial which appears regularly in New York Magazine (where he is a staff photographer) as well as Subbacultcha Magazine and Wilder Quarterly. Whilst still at school (The School of Visual Art in New York, to be specific) he made a decision that everything he shot should be vertical, in colour and on 35mm film.
Turning his camera to hyper-real florals, fine jewellery, sandwiches between peanut butter and jam, dead octopuses and delightfully slippery eggs, he has stuck to this bizarre but effective princinciple. Doherty’s work is somehow very funny, in a glossy consumerist world. He manages to make his still-lifes look both hyper-real and simultaneously fake; both delectable and disgusting; commonplace and extraordinary. At 26, Bobby is as entertaining as his images… in a beguiling interview with NY Mag about his career to date, he cites “getting a cooked lobster to look like it was holding a fork and knife (that was never published)” as one of his favourite shoots!
Joey L: Another 26 year old wunderkid, Joseph Anthony Lawrence is a Canadian born portrait photographer who claims inspiration from the classical painters of the 17th – 18th centuries. He is obviously doing something right with advertising clients including including National Geographic Channel, The U.S. Army, Canon, the ACLU, Jose Cuervo, Lavazza, FX Networks, Summit Entertainment, History Channel and even The Government of Abu Dhabi.
Famous faces to be captured with his camera include Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito and Jennifer Lawrence. However, it is away from the gloss with personal and documentary projects that Joey’s empathetic portraits pack a real punch. Two series stand out for us, his pictures of Omo Valley in Ethiopia, and the portraits of Kurdish Guerilla Fighters taken whilst embedded on the flightline. These elegant and formal images show a human face to the Syrian conflict and have been featured in The Independent and Vanity Fair Italia.
What photographers serve as your inspiration? Let me know in the comments!