photograph magazine began in 1988 as a gallery guide to let people know about the photography shows opening all over New York City. The guide steadily expanded to become a magazine, one that now covers photo-based art throughout the United States and abroad.

Today, photograph is an invaluable resource for all photography lovers, covering the work of photographers, galleries, museums, publishers, and curators. We at photograph are passionate about photography, and we are honored to share this passion with so many talented and brilliant minds in the photo community. That’s why we asked 30 of them to celebrate our 30th anniversary with us by choosing one photograph that they loved in 2018 and telling us why. Their selections are just as beautiful, poignant, thought-provoking, and wondrous as you’d expect. We hope you enjoy them.

 

Contributors

Vince Aletti, Erin Barnett, Ann-Christin Bertrand, Elisabeth Biondi, Lucas Blalock, Susan Bright, David Campany, Bruno Ceschel, Clément Chéroux, Matthew Connors, Joanna Cresswell, Mark Alice Durant, Michael Famighetti, Stephen Frailey, Jason Fulford, Marvin Heiferman, W.M. Hunt, Helen Jennings & Sara Hemming, Shane Lavalette, Matthew Leifheit, Michael Mack, Shoair Mavlian, Nicholas Muellner, Sean O’Hagan, Libby Pratt, Lyle Rexer, Mariela Sancari, Sarah Schmerler, Nadya Sheremetova, Noelle Flores Théard

Joanna Cresswell

Writer, curator and editor specializing in photography and culture, based in London

“He was the kind of guy I’d rob banks for,” wrote David Wojnarowicz in his memoir. I’ve always adored that line. I keep thinking about it lately. I love the way Wojnaworicz wrote. And the way he photographed. The way he conjured searing, sensuous images through words and pictures. He was a photographer, painter, poet, activist. This portrait of Wojnarowicz, taken by his one-time lover and mentor Peter Hujar, is crystallized in my mind and sits on my desktop with a small selection of others. It’s staged and wonderfully sensitive. Just look at his gaze. It distills so much of how I imagine him. The two men photographed each other extensively, and when Hujar died, Wojnarowicz photographed his body. How lucky we are to bear witness to the visual dialogue that unfolded between them. What beautiful souls. 

Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz Eating an Apple, 1983. © Courtesy 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

 

Michael Famighetti

Editor of Aperture magazine

Liz Johnson Artur has worked for many years making stunning, intimate images related to the African diaspora. Her photographs span the globe, from London to Paris to NYC to Jamaica to Zimbabwe, and other locations. She has a magical way of capturing community and people being together. There’s incredible warmth and tactility to her vision. I was honored to feature Johnson Artur in the current Family issue of Aperture. In the accompanying feature, writer Ekow Eshun describes her work as a family album for the African diaspora, making her work the inevitable choice for the issue’s cover.

Liz Johnson Artur, Under 18th rave, East London, 2004. Courtesy the artist

 

Lucas Blalock

Artist living in Brooklyn, NY

Our growing familiarity with computer space has at once given us a model for engaging with the virtualities latent in the material world, and new tools with which to picture them. Lales’s self-portrait as a time traveler seems to exploit this increased flexibility while nodding to photography’s famously singular temporality. It is funny and wise and weird. The eye contact is astonishing. Sci-fi is all around us these days but it is rarely so convincing.

Petros Lales, The Time Traveler, 2017. Courtesy the artist

Susan Bright

Curator and writer based in Paris and guest curator for PHoto ESPAÑA in 2019

It is a very rare occasion that you come across work and just know, deep in your gut, that the artist is going to continue to make work that will inspire and surprise. This image is from the series Aurelian, which explores British butterfly houses. I love the idea of the natural and the artificial co-existing and the connotations of Victorian invention and exploration all swirling obliquely together in one image. The atmosphere is one of both beauty and sorrow. I think it most wonderfully sums up Rebecca Solnit’s words, “The world is blue at its edges and its depths.”

©Alexander Mourant, Blue Tree, from the series Aurelian, 2017. Courtesy the artist

Jason Fulford

Photographer and co-publisher of J&L Books

Sara Perovic’s mom told her, “I fell in love with your father because of his beautiful legs.” This photograph comes from a series by Perovic that is part conceptual art, part art-as-therapy. I met Sara this summer in Latvia at ISSP. As a child in Croatia, she had to compete for her father’s attention with his primary obsession: tennis. In this series, titled My Father’s Legs, she obsessively photographs her boyfriend as stand-in, posing in various tennis postures. I love the twist, and the mix of concept and emotion.

 

Sara Perovic, Legs OBPH02. Courtesy the artist

 

Marvin Heiferman

Curator, writer, and the author of Photography Changes Everything (Aperture/Smithsonian, 2012) and the upcoming Seeing Science (Aperture/UMBC, 2019)

The gutter – in the publishing world and on city streets – is a place we’re often cautioned to avoid. But in After Silence, photographs Pacifico Silano made of vintage gay-porn magazines, the gutter becomes a site of fascination, the place where images butt up against each other with only a paper fold, white border, or staple separating one from the next. I haven’t stopped thinking about this particular one since I first saw it because, split right down the middle, it’s about here versus there, nature and the nature of looking, and, of course, scenarios designed to excite.

Pacifico Silano, Untitled (Mirror), 2018. Courtesy the artist 

 

Michael Mack

Founder of London-based independent art and photography publishing house MACK

Representing other people’s difficult situations is a notoriously double-edged problem for photography. Ask the photojournalist or socially concerned documentary photographer accused of “poverty porn” and facing the anhedonia of an audience numbed by endless images of disaster. Nigel Shafran’s brilliant project reverses these complex power relations. Shafran approaches homeless people begging on the streets of London and after explaining to them his project, he pays them to photograph him with his own camera. The images, usually taken from the low vantage point of the homeless person and emphasizing the blur of unconcerned life passing by, are captioned with the details of the photographer.

Nigel Shafran, Dave, Euston Square Station, NW1, from The People On The Street, 2016-17. Courtesy the artist

 

Bruno Ceschel

Writer, curator, and lecturer at ECAL, The École cantonale d’art de Lausanne, and founder of Self Publish, Be Happy

Having worked on Carmen Winant’s book My Birth for over six months, I became familiar with the photographs of her mom giving birth, as well as the found images that visually echoed them. And yet, I was not quite prepared for the installation Carmen created for the New Photography show at MoMA last spring, two walls covered in more than 3,000 found images of birth. It took my breath away. The installed images moved me, shocked me, and left me speechless. Carmen’s work was able to touch something within me that intellect cannot explain, a rare case of art surpassing words and tapping into a collective consciousness.

©Carmen Winant, My Birth (detail), 2018. Courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York, photo: Martin Seck

 

Sean O’Hagan

Writer for The Guardian and The Observer, curator and critic

In our profligate image-culture, I find myself drawn more and more to quiet photography, but I was not quite prepared for the silence that emanates from this portrait of a young nun by Alys Tomlinson. It belongs to a series called Ex-Voto, which was made at pilgrimage sites in rural France, Poland, and Ireland. Some of her subjects evince a certain awkwardness that recalls the work of Diane Arbus, but in this one, a sense of serenity prevails. Isolating her subject and shooting on a large-format camera, Tomlinson ensures that everything extraneous falls away. You are left with that gaze, unquestioning yet penetrating. It stays with you.

Alys Tomlinson, Sr Vera, from the series Ex-Voto, 2016-18. Courtesy the artist

 

Shoair Mavlian

Director of Photoworks

Robin Maddock’s image Thamesmead was exhibited in the recent Brighton Photo Biennial “A New Europe,” where his solo exhibition presented his archive of more than 20 years’ work documenting England. Maddock’s investigation into nationhood and his attempt to bring disparate aspects of England into close proximity is captured in this one image – shaped by the two poles of good and evil – the elegant swans juxtaposed with an upturned shopping cart is one tiny piece of the country’s likeness; a perhaps humorous attempt to present the conflicting ideas of what it is to be British in this time of uncertainty.

 

Robin Maddock, Thamesmead, 2017. Courtesy the artist

 

Lyle Rexer

Writer, curator, critic, and columnist

I encountered the work of Chiara Samugheo for the first time in the exhibition Neorealismo, recently on view at the Grey Art Gallery in New York City, and it came with the shock of recognition. In a house in Puglia in 1988, I listened while a friend of the photographer Tony Durso told us how, as a little girl, she went to the church in Galatina with her mother. When the doors were closed and everyone else was kept out, the women gave in to their visions. Possessed, they writhed in convulsions, climbed the church walls, and experienced a reality alternative to the difficult lives they led in a southern Italy still devastated by war and poverty.

Chiara Samugheo, Possessed Women (from Cinema Nuovo magazine no. 50), Galatina, Puglia,1955. Courtesy Admira Milano

 

Mariela Sancari

Photographer and founder of Folio in Mexico

This photograph is part of the series La Familia Flores, by Argentinian photographer Cecilia Reynoso, focusing on her extended family. I first encountered it when I was invited by Asunción Casa Editora to be part of the editing team that would turn her series into a photobook. I was immediately struck by this beautiful and fascinating image, which is so harmonious and well balanced. The subject and aesthetics recall ancient classical paintings without taking away from its potency. On the contrary, it is informed by these silent references, making it all the more layered and appealing. The sculptural figure created by the woman’s body resting on the bright green grass, along with her maternal gesture of leaning to kiss her son, who is covered by a wrinkled sheet, create a poetic and telling composition.

Cecilia Reynoso, The Flowers Family, 2013. Courtesy the artist

Libby Pratt

Artist, educator, publisher, and director at Baxter St at CCNY 

Although Ivan Forde’s blueprint, Morning Raid, takes the ancient epic poem Gilgamesh as a starting point, the work feels solidly contemporary. What initially seems like a battle between man and nature shifts upon closer examination. Numerous delicate, ephemeral characters attempt to wrangle and take control of a monumental tree in some graceful choreographed dance. It seems they are trying to topple it, though their movements feel strangely celebratory, as if honoring this tremendous life-giving monolith. The physical power of the figures’ gestures is offset by the fragility of the thin, bright red string. I see my own relationship to nature so clearly in this image. This back and forth – wavering between delicacy and brute force, control and submission – is what drew me in, what I love, and what keeps me looking.

Ivan Forde, Morning Raid, 2017. Courtesy the artist

Ann-Christin Bertrand

Curator at C/O Berlin responsible for young, contemporary art positions as well as for questions about the future of the medium

I love eating, and maybe this was one of the – very simple – reasons why I particularly loved this image. The artistic strategy of Torbjørn Rødland, as well as the effect his images have on the viewer, are expressed perfectly: I was first attracted by the deliciously shining cinnamon roll, then discovered the set of teeth, which immediately turned the image from something attractive into something disgusting, uncanny – leaving me ambivalent. As with ALL his images, any attempt to decode it threw up new questions. His work frequently unites disparate visual worlds in which mysterious and disturbing details emerge. At the same time, they arrest the gaze and captivate the viewer, thanks to their intelligence, peculiar lighting, and sterile modern setting, evoking commercial photography and pop culture, as well as erotic innuendos. It is precisely this mixture of intelligence and intuition, with various links to Surrealism, that gives them their strength.

Torbjørn Rødland, Cinnamon Roll, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and STANDARD (OSLO)

Clément Chéroux

Senior Curator of Photography, SFMOMA

David Horvitz is part of a generation of artists confronting the influence of the internet on art. In 2009, he posted on the internet a tagged photograph with his head in the freezer and encouraged others to do the same. This viral meme shows how the sharing of images now supersedes the making of images in today’s culture; it will be on view in snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks, opening at SFMOMA in March 2019.

David Horvitz, 241543903, google research images project. Courtesy the artist and ChertLüdde, Berlin

David Campany

Curator and writer, currently based in London. He teaches at the University of Westminster, London.

Anastasia Samoylova’s ongoing series FloodZone is a gentle but poignant response to climate change (for which 2018 may be the defining year: the issue reached mass consciousness, but with the frightening realization that it may now be too late). Samoylova lives on Miami Beach, a place of extreme weather and impending sea-level rise. She photographs indirect but telling symptoms. The city shrouds its booming construction sites in idealized photo-realistic murals. As if images can fortify against the reality everyone now knows is coming. Much of coastal Florida will be under water, perhaps within a generation.

Anastasia Samoylova, Real Estate Billboard, Miami Beach, from the series FloodZone, 2018. Courtesy the artist

Vince Aletti

Curator, writer, and photography critic

In Philadelphia, the New Year’s Day Mummers Parade has a long history. Andrea Modica tapped into that history ten years ago and has photographed revelers in working-class South Philly every year since. January 1, a book of that work, was published this year by L’Artiere, and I’ve been looking at it a lot. Her subjects are men and boys in dresses – homemade Mother Hubbard-style frocks, ruffled and frumpy. Pulled out of the parade and posed in front of Modica’s 8×10-in. view camera, they can be so aggressively, defensively masculine they look like they’re spoiling for a fight. Or, like the young man here, with his beads and tattered feather, they can appear touchingly vulnerable, poised on the verge of a revelation.

Andrea Modica, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 1, 2017. Courtesy the artist

Nadya Sheremetova

Curator and Director of FotoDepartament 

We know that photographs are constructed by reality and contain its traces. We also know that photography constructs realities. I like this image, and the entire project Sentimentality for Jess by Russian artist Irina Zadorozhnaia, because it is a paradoxical picture. We see a homogeneous space in which one body is the material on which multiple roles and emotions, as well as social and relational patterns, are constructed.

Irina Zadorozhnaia, Sentimentality for Jess 09, 2018. Courtesy the artist

Stephen Frailey

Chair of the BFA Photography and Video program at SVA from 1998-2018, editor of Dear Dave, magazine, and director of education for Red Hook Labs

Amongst the photographs in our home, Sarah Charlesworth’s reminds us of her absence and influence. In the series The Academy of Secrets, groups of symbolic totems are dispersed across a glossy color field. Subtle Body offers a vertical rosary of images that represent the female body, from a snail at the base to a crowning halo, corresponding with the seven chakras of Eastern belief. Beneath the glossy membrane, the image is luminous in its milky caul and seems poised on the threshold of meaning. The female body is proposed as a sacred and ancient container that maps our cultural history. Its evanescence suggests dispersal to air and light, that spirit will triumph over the physical, and that the image itself is a form of divinity.

Sarah Charlesworth, Subtle Body, 1989. © The Estate of Sarah Charlesworth. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Erin Barnett

Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the International Center of Photography

So simple, so direct. And so problematic. Taken by British missionary Alice Seeley Harris, it shows a father gazing at the severed hand and foot of his child, who was murdered by the ABIR militia. As scholar Sharon Sliwinski noted, this picture was part of the first humanitarian movement to use atrocity images as an integral aspect of its campaign; they were published in newspapers and presented in magic-lantern shows around the world highlighting Leopold II’s brutal reign. Can shocking images still bring about social change? What does it mean for visual narratives of state-sponsored abuse to be controlled by outsiders?

Alice Seeley Harris (British, 1870-1970), Nsala of Wala with the severed hand and foot of his five-yearold daughter murdered by ABIR (Anglo-Belgian India Rubber) company militia. This was all that remained of a cannibal feast following the murder of his wife, son, and daughter, Nsongo District, Democratic Republic of Congo, ca. 1904. Anti-Slavery International / Courtesy Panos Pictures

Sarah Schmerler

Contributor to photograph, teaches critical studies at the New York Academy of Art and English composition at the New York City College of Technology.

Where are we? How did we get here? Many of Simon Roberts’s pictures beg those sorts of deep questions, but this one in particular compels me. It is melancholy, delicate, yet strong. Here I am in a world that, at least for a moment, has been blotted out. The tiny weather vane points north. The British flag hangs limp. Whatever breeze once came through here has since passed. No need to get my bearings now; I know this psychic place because over the last year I have awoken to an America that more and more I don’t recognize. And the tide, it is rising.

©Simon Roberts, Clevedon Pier #B, Somerset, 2011. Courtesy Flowers Gallery London and New York

Nicholas Muellner

Photographer and writer based in Los Angeles and West Danby, NY. He co-directs the Image Text MFA and Press at Ithaca College.

The future is hardly ever photographed. Humans try to picture it, but our narcissism intervenes. Ron Jude’s Welded Tuff #1 drew me into that future, with a dread that bled into melancholy pleasure. An enormous, dark photograph of a barren rock-face, refusing all devices of perspective or formal tension to direct our gaze. The scene is epically present, but not photographically seen. An image without an eye (or an I). Its darkly exquisite presence, I realize with a start, is not for me. These rocks live alone, unseen, in that future, without us. A curse removed from this enduring matter.

Ron Jude, Welded Tuff #1, from 12 Hz., 2017. Courtesy the artist

Matthew Connors

Photographer and professor at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston

Jeff Mermelstein’s rough-hewn cellphone pictures of other people’s cellphones emanate from a lifetime commitment to street photography, but look unlike anything else we’ve seen in the genre. Setting aside the poetics of chance pedestrian choreography and dramatic midtown light, Mermelstein surreptitiously photographs disembodied hands clutching private text conversations on fractured screens. The results feel less like the dispatches of an auteur than the voyeuristic obsessions of an eccentric genius who has cracked a code and opened up small portals to the desires, insecurities, and heartbreaks brewing below the surface of the public sphere.

Jeff Mermelstein, #nyc, 2018. Courtesy the artist

Shane Lavalette

Photographer, publisher/editor, and director of Light Work

I was recently talking with a friend about her curious fondness for pictures of eggs, which made me smile because it called to mind one of my favorite photographs of all time. It’s one that I’ve adored since the very first moment I saw it, years ago. There’s a certain magic that finds its way into an Emmet Gowin photograph and, in particular, this surreal portrait of Edith’s niece holding out two eggs with her arms twisted around one another, eyes closed. Looking at this image fills me with wonder, in a way that reminds me of one of the many reasons that I fell in love with the medium of photography in the first place – here, its ability to reveal the absurd beauty of this fleeting life.

 

Emmet Gowin, Nancy, Danville, Virginia, 1969. © Emmet and Edith Gowin. Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York

Elisabeth Biondi

Visuals editor of The New Yorker for 15 years, she now works as an independent curator, writer, and teacher.

I came across Philippe Cheng’s black-and-white print of an olive tree in Samos, Greece, as I walked into his studio. I fell in love. The print is stark, as if bleached by the hot Greek sun, except for the olive in its center tree, which is three-dimensionally vivid. Deeply rooted into the ground, the twisted trunk gives way to the wildly sprouting branches reaching up to the sky. Like poetry, it touches my heart and I am smitten. For me, the picture is about life, being rooted, growing old, but also about the magic of being alive – leaves bathing in the sunlight reaching up into the sky.

 

Philippe Cheng, Untitled, Olive Series #7, 2017. Courtesy the artist

Mark Alice Durant

Artist and writer living in Baltimore and the founder of Saint Lucy Books

Pictures of people are fundamental to the history of photography. It is a relatively simple act – pointing the camera at another. When I was a child, I loved old photographs of my parents. As a young artist, I had no patience for portraiture. Now older, looking at pictures of others has become an obsession. Recently, I discovered Rachael Banks’s photographs of her family in Kentucky. Guided, as they must be, by the contradictions of love, her portraits of her brother, sister, father, grandmother, and close friends, are cool and elegant, yet haunted by an undercurrent of desperation, sometimes rage, just below the surface.

 

Rachael Banks, The Wedding, 2017, from the series Between Home and Here. Courtesy the artist

Matthew Leifheit

Brooklyn-based photographer, editor-in-chief of MATTE Magazine, and adjunct professor of photography at Yale and Pratt Institute

What use is vanity if your world is horror? To me, this is a picture of a vanity table inverted. It is a reminder of the terror of mirrors – their unyielding recognition of time passing and predilection for drawing out our most troubling insecurities. But it’s just one picture out of context, and what can you really tell from that? One image on its own is always a mirror. (This picture is part of an ongoing body of work by first-year Yale MFA student Dawn Kim.)

Dawn Kim, courtesy the artist

Helen Jennings and Sara Hemming

Jennings and Hemming are, respectively, Editorial Director and Creative Director at Nataal Media.

This image is by South African photographer Alice Mann from her ongoing series Drummies. Nataal included Drummies in New African Photography, our annual show at Red Hook Labs in May, and it has since gone on to win her the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, 2018. Alice is a young talent who hopes to use portraiture as an empowering force. This series depicts the drumming majorettes of Dr Van Der Ross Primary School in the Delft Township of Cape Town, a deprived area where gang violence is rife. What comes through in the image is the sense of confidence, community, and pride these girls get from being part of an all-female, team-driven sport. It feels uplifting and carefree, and Nataal couldn’t be prouder of Alice!

Alice Mann, Dr Van Der Ross Drummies, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017, from the series Drummies. Courtesy the artist

W.M. Hunt

Champion of photography. Photography changed his life; it gave him one.

É Nóis, 2011, by the Brazilian photographer Cássio Vasconcellos, is the most thrilling photograph I have seen in a very, very long time. I’m a believer so my first reaction to this was to see it as an astonishing overhead shot of a crowd like Arthur Siegel’s 1939 Right of Assembly. It’s a construction. Look at the detail and then the whole image. The artist printed it in black & white and color, and it measures more than seven feet in width. Wow.

Cássio Vasconcellos, É Nóis, 2011. Courtesy the artist

Noelle Flores Théard

Programs Manager at Magnum Foundation

Cinthya Santos Briones’s image of children playing in a church sanctuary reminds me of how children, who are most impacted by the potential deportation proceedings against their parents, still have a need for play, even in the most dire of circumstances. They have reappropriated the sanctuary as a playroom of their own. Their imaginations expand far beyond the walls that protect their parents from the ICE agents who would take them away.

Cinthya Briones, Living inside Sanctuary, September 2017. Courtesy the artist