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.
I was looking for an original story or theme with a cohesive visual narrative, and there were a lot of strong entries, particularly in the documentary and photojournalism catageory which I found hard to narrow down from my long list. Granted it is not always easy to do looking online at a small selection of images, but in some ways this context is surprising in that the things I am looking for can stand out. I always read the text, and did look at individual websites for further info and images in some cases. I understand it is hard to come up with original projects or show something in a way it has not been seen before with a unique photographic language or voice, so I was impressed with the level and variety of entries. Congratulations to all the graduates and look forward to seeing and hearing about you all more in the future.
Selector's Comment: A captivating subject of women wild swimming, with some lovely portraits in amongst the atmospheric landscapes of wintry river scenes. It is also evocative of the friendship and community between the women who meet on the dank banks of these rivers, and also shows the photographer has spent time with the group to access them and get some more intimate images which the swimmers feel comfortable with. (Also top marks for going underwater.)
Selector's Comment: At first sight these look like bad stage sets with windows to the outside world filled with overly artificial views, the sitters shot with bright flash which only adds to the artificial nature of everything, but then you realise the people are real and they are all in Ikea, that symbol of the modern home. Those picture-perfect brochures often have little resemblance to the millions of cheap coffee tables, beds and sofas in homes the world over, but this is the idea of the series, to unsettle what is real and what is fake, what is the dream and what is the reality. Ikea seems a most fitting and original context in which to explore these ideas.
Selector's Comment: These portraits are striking and bold and feel both retro and contemporary, African and Western. The make-up and styling is strong, and you also get a sense of the pride and identity which the photographer is trying to convey. They are skilled fashion portraits but with a relevant social content which goes deeper and makes the work much more interesting, so they could also be seen in a more fine art context as well as commercial.
Selector's Comment: As a series this holds together really well, there is consistency between the compositions and palette, and flow between the images, but without it feeling repetitive. The series cleverly presents images which do make you think of the queer male gaze, but subverts this by using straight male friends of the photographer as a way to confound your preconceptions, as well as those of the photographer, which is a nice duality. In essence it is not what it seems and that is the point, but it is nuanced and thoughtfully done, and the images can stand alone as a visually attractive series.
Selector's Comment: This series leaves a very strong visual impression that intriguingly uses the theme of the administrative office worker, tying in references, both personal to his parents and to the philosopher Guy Debord. There are also ideas of performance and self-portraiture, his own images staged with office furniture in a studio/office space mixed up with archival images. The project feels as though it has been thoroughly researched and thought about, and concisely edited and put together. This work stood out visually, which was reinforced with a solid concept and story.
Selector's Comment: A simple premise but an effective one, the inane repetition of the expression, the worker on the conveyor belt for the customer. Changing just slightly the monochrome colour backdrops with each different uniform, which are almost interchangeable between the recognisable brands. The idea that it is a real person but not, the smile is fake, the personality wiped out, the huge multi national brands are the only visible identity. This is a human but without any form of identity and truth. On the surface it is comical, but at the same time it is an inherently cynical portrait of our age.
Selection by Kate Edwards ▸
Picture Editor, Guardian Weekend Magazine.
Selection by Emma Lewis ▸
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