The very Best of Photo-London 2022, London’s most prestigious photography fair

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London’s most prestigious photography fair took over Somerset House last week for a four-day immersion in the creative vision of over a hundred international photographers. These were our favourite bits

Inaugurated on May 11 with a private press preview, the event kicked off with a talk by this year’s Master of Photography, the pioneering British photographer Nick Knight, followed by an introduction by Fiammetta Horvat to the homage she has curated to her father, the revolutionary fashion photographer Frank Horvat, and a tour of the exhibition by Photo London founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad.

The Death of Actaeon, Yushi Li, Courtesy of Hi-Noon
The Death of Actaeon, Image Courtesy of Hi-Noon

Reflecting upon his win as well as Nick Knight: Future, Knight’s Photo London-powered solo show retracing the rise of his photographic genius from the ‘80s until today, he said: “From politics to AI, I have been able to use the voice that photography gave me to present a vision of our future and find new ways of seeing the world.”

“It’s a great honour to be given this award,” he added. “I would like to use this occasion to demonstrate my enthusiasm for the future of image-making, and how incredibly important it is to realise it’s our purpose to show the world not just who we are but also who we want to be.”

When it came to presenting the homage to the late fashion photography game-changer Frank Horvat, his daughter stressed how — despite having travelled across the globe — London always maintained its special place in the memory of her father, who had relocated to the British capital in the late 1950s after years spent between Pakistan and India. Focusing on Horvat’s fashion work for leading magazines and images depicting the Parisienne nightlife back in the days, the exhibition highlights the photographer’s ability to transcend time by constantly reinventing his craft through the use of new technologies.

Whether artistically or realistically speaking, the 2022 edition of Photo London was characterised by an inspiring dialogue between what once was and what is yet to come. As Benson and Farshad explained, “Photo London’s mission has always been to show the best of the past, present and future of photography.”

“This edition is no exception, presenting exhibitors and artists whose work not only delights and surprises, but also challenges assumptions about what photography can be,” they added. “Invention is at the core of photography’s DNA and with it the ability to reach beyond its own moment.”

Blade of Light for Alexander McQueen, 2004, Courtesy of the artist
Blade of Light for Alexander McQueen, 2004, Nick Knight - Image Courtesy of the artist
1955, London, UK, self-portrait in Brick Lane market, Courtesy of the artist
1955, London, UK, self-portrait in Brick Lane market, Image Courtesy of the artist

To offer you a glimpse into the visionary world of the photographers part of this year’s Photo London, we have curated a selection of our favourite image-makers on display — featuring newcomers and established photographers alike. Discover more below.

Mary, 2020, Max Miechowski, courtesy of Open Doors Gallery
Mary, 2020 by Max Miechowski - Image courtesy of Open Doors Gallery

Max Miechowski, 2022 Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer of the Year

British photographer Max Miechowski only got his first camera aged 25, yet it didn’t take him long to have his name noticed by the international photo community. After initially pursuing a career in music, he quit his job to travel across Southeast Asia alongside some friends. It is on this journey that Miechowski discovers his love for photography: “I saw it as an opportunity to explore new places and meet interesting people,” he tells Re-Edition, adding that he hasn’t stopped taking pictures since. Having cut short his BA at Leeds College of Art to move to London and work as a photographer, Miechowski started documenting his neighbourhood in what became Burgess Park — the series thanks to which he was included in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery. From there, his career took off, allowing him to land exciting collaborations and work on new personal projects, including his celebrated A Big Fat Sky.

Since the early days of his photographic practice, Miechowski has always been concerned with community and connection; two concepts that inform even the latest of his visual stories, Land Loss, for which he won this year’s Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer Award. Set against the raw beauty of the UK’s East Coast — the fastest eroding coastline in Europe — the series documents the morphological changes affecting the landscape of different coastal towns while also offering a glimpse into the lives of those who inhabit them.  

Cliffs, 2020, Max Miechowski, courtesy of Open Doors Gallery
Cliffs, 2020, Max Miechowski, courtesy of Open Doors Gallery

“I began taking trips out to the cliffs and photographing them as they changed and slowly disappeared,” Miechowski says. “It was hard to imagine that, in a few years time, a lot of these landscapes would be unrecognisable or gone completely. It felt important to lens them, to try and preserve them somehow.” At once beautiful and unsettling, Land Loss also depicts the unique bond linking nature and the people that live in the East Coast of England. Speaking about those he met while developing the series, he explains that they wouldn’t want to live anywhere else: “Time seems to move differently there,” he says. “To have this endless view across the sea, and to watch it slowly edge closer, is hypnotic. We’re as temporary as the cliffs.”

Nana Yaw Oduro, People’s Choice Winner

Picked by the public among the names featured in the 2022 Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer of the Year shortlist, Ghanaian photographer Nana Yaw Oduro graced the attendees of this year’s fair with his sun-lit, cinematic shots inspired by themes such as boyhood, masculinity, acceptance, and self-awareness. The Accra-born visual storyteller knows how to transport you into a different dimension and does so by playing with his subjects’ poses as well as by accentuating colours, lights and shadows. Through his abstract, minimalistic portraiture, he doesn’t just absorb the attention of the viewer but also leaves them craving for more of his superbly composed, beautiful images.

Camel hat,  Nana Yaw Oduro, Courtesy of the artist
Camel hat,  Nana Yaw Oduro, Courtesy of the artist

Pablo Ortiz Monasterio

Mexican photographer Pablo Ortiz Monasterio tells stories through his lens like no others. The founder of the National Museum of Photography of Mexico, Monasterio was born in Mexico City in 1952. One of the most influential artists on the Mexican contemporary photography scene, his work has been exhibited in some of the most prestigious art institutions, from MoMA and Center Pompidou to the Victoria & Albert Museum. A 1970s graduate of the London College of Printing, Monasterio went back to Mexico a decade later and has since then dedicated himself to documenting the diverse realities of Mexican culture and society — including that of indigenous people — to preserve its heritage through time. Vivid and unfiltered, his work speaks of a distant humanity, exploring politics, religion, and identity so poignantly that it is impossible not to feel touched by it.

Monasterio, Pablo Ortiz, Courtesy of the artist
Pablo Ortiz Monasterio - Image by Courtesy of the artist

Yushi Li

Chinese-born, London-based photographer Yushi Li is gaining significant momentum as one of the most thought-provoking voices in the international photography community. Drawing on the concept of gender binary, the young image-maker aims at disrupting the countless stereotypes around the male and female gaze to validate women’s experiences and their sexual desire. Besides being objectively captivating, her photographs are highly conceptual: inviting viewers to question the gender dynamics that see nudity — whether in media culture or art history — as something more widely accepted when performed by female bodies and consumed by the eyes of men, in her shots, Li portrays white men in the place of the passive ‘muse’. Denouncing both the commodification of female bodies and the centuries-long fetishization of Asian women, the photographer strives to disrupt taboos around the female experience of sex by taking control over her male models in a man’s man’s man’s world.

Leda and the Swan, Yushi Li , Courtesy of the artist
Leda and the Swan - By Yushi Li, Image Courtesy of the artist

Ismail Zaidy

Self-taught photographer Ismail Zaidy is one to watch. Deeply inspired by his family and Moroccan cultural heritage, the young talent draws on calm, dream-like landscapes and pastel shades to project viewers into a world of his own. Here, his subjects become the protagonists of an effortlessly elegant, theatrical documentation of humanity permeated with references to Moroccan fashion and traditions. Only apparently suspended in time and space, his minimalistic photographs actively challenge the stereotypes and preconceptions around Morocco by proposing an alternative narrative through which to understand its complex legacy — a narrative imbued with equality, unity and unconditional love.

Ismail Zaidy, Courtesy of the artist
Ismail Zaidy, Courtesy of the artist

Prince Gyasi

No matter how hard you try, it is impossible not to lose yourself in the vibrant prints of Prince Gyasi. In fact, as the Ghanaian photographer explains, “colour can serve as a therapy, it can treat depression and transform emotions” — no wonder his work is so hypnotising. Shot with an iPhone in Accra, Gyasi’s hometown and main backdrop for his hyper colourful photography, his images showcase “the nobility and grace of black skin” through enhanced silhouettes and saturated landscapes celebrating beauty in all of its forms. With a focus on marginalised communities, the work of the Accra-born visual storyteller aims at voicing the stories of those who are pushed aside in society: a mission Gyasi also pursues through BoxedKids, his co-founded organisation supporting underprivileged children from Jamestown, Accra. Using his lens to re-interpret concepts such as fatherhood, motherhood and childhood, the rising photography talent adds a touch of colour to the lives of those who are lucky enough to come across his work.

Prince Gyasi, Courtesy of the artist
Prince Gyasi, Image Courtesy of the artist

Bowei Yang

Bowei Yang’s photographs are silent, delicate works of art. Channelling an inexplicable sense of lightness and nostalgia, the Hangzhou-born photographer engages viewers in a visual journey serving as a metaphor for his own quest for identity. In his prevalently monochrome shots, Yang portrays Chinese queer teenagers as they gradually free themselves from the burden of their conservative backgrounds. Mixing present-day experiences with what is left of his childhood, hence incorporating his own story into his photographic practice, the creative nullifies the distance that separates him from his subjects becoming one with the protagonists of his poignant portraits.

Bowei Yang, Zhang and the other side of a butterfly, Courtesy of Hi-Noon
Zhang and the other side of a butterfly, Bowei Yang, Image Courtesy of Hi-Noon

Anastasia Samoylova

A multidisciplinary artist working across observational photography, studio practice, and installation, Anastasia Samoylova turns to digital media and commercial photography to investigate themes such as environmentalism, consumerism and the picturesque. Based between Miami and New York City, Samoylova is the author of FloodZone (2019) and the co-author of Floridas (2022); two publications through which she sheds light “on the climatic knife-edge of the southern United States” by unveiling the contradictory facets of the Sunshine State. What happens when the rise of sea levels and hurricanes is not enough to stop mass tourism and the advance of luxury real estate?Samoylova’s photographs speak louder than any answer. With her craft, she talks about a world where the paradox prevails: “Living in Miami is bittersweet,” reads the introduction to her project FloodZone. “It looks and feels like a paradise, but the only secure roots belong to mangrove trees.”

Barge Miami River,2021, A. Samoylova, Courtesy of the artist
Barge Miami River,2021, Anastasia Samoylova, Image Courtesy of the artist

Bettina Pittaluga

French-Uruguayan photographer Bettina Pittaluga captures the warmth and vulnerability of the human experience. Her photographs are vivid, emotion-filled snapshots of life that celebrate the indescribable, elusive and beautifully diverse chaos that is people. With subjects coming from all walks of life, Pittaluga offers her viewers a comprehensive portrait of humanity diving into topics as complex as family, love, identity, and more. Moving across portraiture, documentary and fashion photography, the Paris-based photographer adapts to different contexts and situations while always preserving the element that lies at the core of her practice, authenticity. Intimate and heartfelt, her work embodies the complexity of our stories, bringing us all closer together.

YSEULT1, BettinaPittaluga, GalerieNumber8
YSEULT1, BettinaPittaluga, Image Courtesy of Galerie Number 8
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