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Nydia Blas
Photography Nydia Blas, courtesy of Fotografia

The photo stories to flick through right now

From a beautiful portrayal of a family member with schizophrenia to a surprisingly fashionable extraterrestrial using Instagram – selected by Fotografia magazine

It might sound like a cliche but, for me at least, where words often fail, images have the ability to succeed. Seeing an image and knowing whoever made that image ‘gets you’ – even if they don’t know you. Or feeling relief after making a connection with a 2D, complete stranger staring back at you. Feeling empathy, or sympathy, love, pain, hatred, sadness, and knowing that you are actually still alive in there. Every month founder and editor of Fotografia magazine, Graziano Ferri, shares his 10 favourite stories of the month – originally published on their site. This month they bring us mental health, social media and black youth using photography for empowerment.


“Portraiture – and studio portraiture in particular – is one of the more popular and fruitful genres in the history of African photography. With her Studio Series project, young south Sudanese photographer Atong Atem plugs into the grand tradition of African studio portraiture by bringing to the table her own personal experience and that of her friends who posed for the portraits: as first and second generation migrants all raised in Australia, they find themselves in between cultures but take pride in their roots. The Studio Series portraits are in fact a celebration of their ‘core identity’ as black and African.”


“The practice of sharing selfies and images of our lives on social media has changed the way we think of ourselves and others. French photographer Brice Krummenacker took a quite original and only half-joking approach to tackling the subject of photography and social media: he created the fictional character of Robert-Maurice Debois, a witty and fashionable extraterrestrial who recently landed on Earth and turned to social media to make human friends. Robert-Maurice has regularly updated profiles on Facebook, Instagram and even Tinder!”


“Amsterdam has a lot to offer besides legalised marijuana. The Dutch capital is a beautiful city with great art, lovely canals and the distinct facades of its tall and slim buildings. Maybe then it’s not surprising that the idea to photograph the overlooked side of buildings – the back – came to an Amsterdam based photographer: Jordi Huisman. For his beautiful series Rear Window, Huisman takes fascinating images of the rear side of buildings at dusk and night time, when they are illuminated by artificial lights. Huisman started the project in Amsterdam, but the project developed to include similar pictures in other capital cities like Copenhagen, Singapore, and Rome.”


“It’s always a struggle to accept the fact that one of your family members suffers from a severe disease; it’s all the more harrowing when that family member starts suffering at a young age. American photographer Kathryn Harrison’s brother Ray was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was only a teenager: ‘our relationship became turbulent as I tried saving him instead of accepting’, Harrison told Fotografia in a recent interview. For her touching project Half in Two, Kathryn has been taking powerful portraits of Ray – the love she feels for her brother is evident in the delicate and respectful way she gazes at him.”


“There’s a vein of melancholy running across the great work of American photographer Missy Prince. You can see it in her choice of subjects – an empty road, a lonely dog, a subdued old lady – as well as in the faded hues and vintage-looking aesthetics of her images. The photographer acknowledges this, and actually reclaims it: ‘Loss, uncertainty, and longing are doorways to interesting places. They are more giving than joy or contentment. What is there to say about happiness? It’s too pure and simple. I don’t think people go to art for joy.’”


“The idea for the portrait-based project The Girls Who Spun Gold came to American photographer Nydia Blas as she worked with the black teenage girls participating in a Girls Empowerment Group Blas herself founded. Besides self-esteem workshops, reading books and other activities like deconstructing rap videos ‘with a focus on male/female relationships’, Blas also invited the girls to be portrayed in ways she would initially propose, and the girls would then contribute to with their own ideas and suggestions: ‘I wanted my subjects to reclaim, explore, and protect their bodies and sexuality, and to reveal the magic that happens between women and self. I would like this work to state that black and brown females have a right to pleasure and a right to fantasy.’”


“On the mountains of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Africa, the only means of transportations for the inhabitants of the smaller villages is the horse. When they need to reach the bigger cities, the men wrap themselves up in blankets and balaclavas and cross the mountains on the back of their horses. Inspired by their royal appearance, British photographer Thom Pierce made a series of stunning portraits of The Horsemen of Semonkong; the project also includes portraits of the increasingly more numerous women who take such trips, as well as the boys who hike up on the mountains to look after the animals.”


Thomas Rousset and Charles Negre are two young talented French photographers with a different approach to photography, but a common interest in experimentation. Combining their ways of working was a challenging but creative and successful venture that resulted in 164° On the Equator: through a brilliant and refreshing use of photography, in this work the two photographers construct a fictional, bizarre tropical community transforming reality – the pictures were made in Indonesia – into something else, a place where men put birdcages on their heads and snakes and bugs roam free in closed environments…”


“Vietnamese photographer Thy Tran’s face never really shows in the photographs of her series Cacher – sometimes it’s hidden in a shadow, sometimes behind a curtain or a wall, sometimes it’s just out of the frame. Tran is a closeted homosexual in a relationship with a girl: by escaping her own camera, she visualises her struggles to affirm her sexual identity: ‘As I try to mask the excess of my sentiment, I’ve come to acknowledge the common ground between desire and denial, pleasure and pain that lies in all human relationships.’”


“Unlike Brexit supporters, the young eastern Europeans living in Romania and Bulgaria – two of the latest countries to join the European Union – see in the EU a chance for a better, brighter future. Italian photographer Tommaso Rada explored the border between Romania and Bulgaria, marked for the most part by the Danube river; and observed on both riverbanks an economically depressed region, still bearing the signs of the Soviet era, where ‘the elderly tend to live passively, regretting a past forever gone; the younger – especially the Romanians – are full of hope that they can change their country, and believe in the European community.’”