The photographers capturing unseen environments

From snapping public transport scenes to tracing the steps of an Indian mythical prince, we showcase ten of the most eye-catching photographers from the past month

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Gabriella Sturchio
Photography Gabriella Sturchio

Photographs, in all their often carefully formulated glory, are funny little things. What may be hailed as the most psychologically penetrating, aesthetically engaging or technically perfect image by one person may induce no more than a shoulder shrug from another. Like a mirror with a memory, cameras are arguably the most accurate way to capture reality, but despite the fact that the sheer ease of the process is making this world a place of photographic amateurism, it does take a certain knack. Graziano Ferri, founder and editor of Fotografia magazine, picked out his top ten photographers featured on his site this month who have it sussed down to a tee.

MAYUMI HOSOKURA

“One of the hottest names of new Japanese photography, Mayumi Hosokura, has distinguished herself for her captivating and often erotically charged visual studies of youth and beauty. While a beautiful use of false colours has typically marked her previous works, for her latest project, Transparency Is the New Mystery, Mayumi switched to monochrome photography – the series mixes pictures of the nude human body and silhouetted hand gestures with mesmerising images of salt crystals vaporising in the sunlight or solidified on leaves and branches. The work suggests a sense of uniformity between humans and nature (another recurring presence in Mayumi’s practice).”

MCNAIR EVANS

“Every day we pass strangers on the streets, on public transportation and in any other public space without knowing anything about them, and vice-versa. With his beautiful project In Search of Great Men, American photographer McNair Evans glimpses into this incredible profusion of life that usually remains concealed. Over three years, McNair took many trips on Amtrak trains (the long-distance trains in the USA) and approached passengers to take their portraits and collect their life stories in a diary that the passengers themselves wrote in. ‘I find the best way to gain the trust of strangers is to be truthful myself,’ he said. ‘Only through complete transparency and honesty could I ever hope to elicit the same from those I meet on the train.’”

EDOUARD SEPULCHRE

“When we think of Paris we conjure images of a romantic city of low historical buildings, elegant boulevards and cosy bistros with small tables lined up right on the sidewalk. Well, there’s more to Paris than just this. For his series Color Cube, French photographer Edouard Sepulchre moved beyond the city centre into the French capital’s outskirts, and stumbled upon unexpected urban landscapes: ‘Some of the images remind me of the United States, eastern Europe, Japan, north Africa… Others come across as completely unidentifiable.’ Indeed, it’s hard to recognise Paris in these unremarkable pieces of urban environment.”

ANNI LEPPÄLÄ

“Despite the fact that she never works in what is traditionally considered a photographic series, most single pictures by Finnish photographer Anni Leppälä seem to belong to the same, ongoing body of work. As Leppälä explains herself, ‘(My practice) is more like a layered entity of images which can be read and proceeded to various directions.’ A group of certain elements recur in her suggestive images: redheaded young girls often seen from the back as a preferred subject, the woods as a preferred setting, and the indirect presence of nature even in interiors in alternative forms, like small plastic trees or as the theme of a mural.”

ARNE SVENSON

“‘While taking photographs of pathology specimens in the Mütter Museum, a Philadelphia-based institution dedicated to medical arts and history, I came across a strange object: a sculpture of a woman’s head replete with eyeglasses and a brown, wavy wig.’ This is how American artist Arne Svenson learned about the forensic art of recreating the faces of unidentified corpses as sculpted works in the attempt of helping with identification by circulating the image of the sculpture. Svenson was so impressed that he initiated Unspeaking Likeness, a series of portraits of these sculptures that he photographs in such a way as to humanise them – bring them ‘back to life’.”

RANA YOUNG

“American photographer Rana Young and her former partner Matty had been together for years already when they started to feel a distance creeping in between them. With her partner’s complicity, Rana decided to use photography to investigate that new stage in their relationship, and as pictures were taken both Rana and Matty realised that part of the problem was that traditional gender roles didn’t feel right for either of them: Rana’s series The Rug’s Topography explores in intimate and cinematic photographs a keenly contemporary issue through the filter of the photographer’s own personal experience.”

VASANTHA YOGANANTHAN

“The Ramayana is one of India’s largest and most ancient epic poems. In brief, it follows the story of Rama, a prince banned from his kingdom by his father, as he travels across India with his wife to fight against his enemies, and attempts to return home. French photographer Vasantha Yogananthan has engaged in an ambitious but great-looking editorial project titled A Myth of Two Souls: for the next years, he plans to retrace the steps of Rama and his wife throughout India and make photographs inspired by their story. A Myth of Two Souls will comprise seven books (the first is already out), as many as the chapters in which The Ramayana is divided.”

JON HORVATH

“Probably no other discipline has studied and explored the transformations of the American West like contemporary photography, and what remains today of the myths that have enveloped it since the times of the early pioneers. American photographer Jon Horvath joined the crop of photographers who have made work – each in their own way – in this legendary territory with his ongoing project This Is Bliss, Bliss being a small town in the US state of Idaho rich in history but with a current population of just a little over 300 residents. His mix of portraits, landscapes and still-lifes speaks of a reality that is quite distant from a constituent mythology of the US identity.”

GABRIELLA STURCHIO

Gabriella and Bianca Sturchio are two American twin sisters who share a uniquely intimate relationship. Both suffer from mental illness: knowing the struggles and hardships that their health condition puts them through has created a bond so strong that allows for a maximum degree of sincerity between them about their vulnerabilities. In her series Chasing Light, Gabriella, the photographer, turns her camera on herself and on Bianca to explore their relationship; but in fact it’s a collaborative process where both sisters decide together what kind of images to create and how to represent their special connection.”

PETER WATKINS

“British photographer Peter Watkins’ mother killed herself at sea when he was only eight years old. When, about ten years ago, Peter also lost his father, he spontaneously felt the need to confront the grief and traumas that have marked his life. So was born The Unforgetting, a ‘coming-to-terms-with kind of project’ that makes use of still-life photography to retrace his family history. While some elements of the project are employed in a literal way – the logs of wood hint at the family’s German origins, for example – other images, like that of a baptismal dress, are more enigmatic and reflect how memory and the passing of time can blur our original experience of even the most tragic events.”

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