Each year as part of Graduate Photography Online we ask a number of professionals from the world of photography to review all the BA work submitted and choose their favourites. We hope this makes an interesting introduction to the project as a whole.
The opportunity to spend time with the great range of photographic projects by BA graduate photographers this year has been a great privilege. Across the different categories - from commercial still lifes to intimate domestic portraits; suburban landscape to fashion shoots - the standard of technical proficiency was very high. The projects I have chosen stood out to me for different reasons: powerful subject matter captured in a quietly powerful way, or banal, everyday subject matter animated by a unique and eccentric eye. Ultimately, these were the projects that stayed with me days after viewing but they only scratch the surface of what is included here this year. I wish all of the graduating students every success and look forward to seeing how their work continues to develop.
Selector's Comment: MHz is an elegant meditation on the decline of industry through the record of objects and structures that have fallen out of use. For me, each individual image has appeal because of the pared-back composition and clean, graphic forms. Rhythm and interest is added by the variation of each structure and setting, and the use of different angles and viewpoints. The title, MHz (megahertz), references the incredible speed at which industry changes - a nice counterpoint to the still and steady quality of the photographs.
Selector's Comment: Bywater's photographs of the patches of landscape between housing estates have an oppressive quality that impressed itself upon me. By photographing her subjects, including a thicket of branches and murky pond, at very close proximity, she conjures a sense of claustrophobia and airlessness. Perhaps this is a comment on the surburbia that we glimpse - through the branches, above the trees - in just a couple of the images. The mystery and discomfort is emphasised by Bywater's inky tonal palette.
Selector's Comment: Connor's eye is drawn to the incidental in the everyday. She says that she seeks out 'pattern and repetition in shape, situation or emotion' and true enough, her eye for the idiosyncratic leads us naturally from one image to the next. It's playful, very satisfying to look at, and works because Connor's edit is so tight. The 'constellation' method of display (varying sizes, black and white as well as coloured prints, framed prints and vinyls) is very popular, and deceptively difficult to execute well, but here it's perfectly suited.
Selector's Comment: This project first stood out for me because it's a story that needs to be told. The UK's knife crime statistics are shocking. To know and understand the stories of people directly affected by this epidemic we rely upon photographers and journalists. Here, the combination of landscape, portrait, and still life studies, the thoughtful way in which they are sequenced, and the sensitivity of the images adds up to a quietly powerful photo essay.
Selector's Comment: You can't not look at these portraits of the flame-haired Ella, photographed in wild and empty landscapes. Their interest lies not only in the striking model, though. Pluhar's use of colour is extraordinary and transforms poetic, beautiful images into a project that feels altogether strong and celebratory. There is a sense of freedom. I also appreciate the attention to detail in how Pluhar often marries the tone and textures of the landscape with colour and form of Ella's clothing.
Selector's Comment: Wassmann's project beautifully captures the sheer weirdness of Ikea: somewhere that is so banal and yet so bizarre in terms of the experience that it manufactures. He has used close crops, unnatural angles, and taken advantage of stage-set like environments to create unusual compositions. This coupled with the brash colours and use of flash creates a brilliant sense of the eccentric and absurd. It made me smile!
Selection by Kate Edwards ▸
Picture Editor, Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Selection by Hannah Watson ▸
Director, Trolley Books.
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