From the trans youth community in the Amazon to the queer ballrooms of Scandinavia, we revisit some of the year’s most spectacular documentary photograph stories from around the world
Travel is perhaps one of the deepest ways to educate and enlarge your perspective. Unfortunately, in the wake of the lockdowns and now, as we enter a cost-of-living crisis, not everyone is afforded that luxury. Photography, however, allows us to glimpse unfamiliar worlds and cultures, walking through an exhibition or flicking through an online gallery has the power to transport us instantaneously across different continents and thousands of miles.
2022 was a year in which Dazed had the pleasure of platforming some truly amazing photographers and the stories they set out to depict. The galleries below tell stories of people from the Amazon to the Himalayas, many tales born from resistance, joy, trauma, and pure curiosity. Down below are some of our favourites from the past 12 months.
Brazil is a country that, until October this year, was on the precipice of another four years of bigotry under ex-President Bolsonaro. Like A River [published by Loose Joints] is a portrait of the trans and queer communities of the Rainforest. Photographer Daniel Jack Lyons told Dazed back in June that the Amazon is “a space that accentuates the seemingly reckless courage of youth to live in truth, in spite of the relentless pressure to submit and conform.”
Life in Nigeria under SARS was one that saw many lives lost at the hands of a brutal, inhumane regime, leaving countless people with their own traumatic encounters to retell. In conversation with Dazed earlier this year, photographer Daniel Obasi said, “If we can’t protest on the ground, we must find other ways to protest with our work and how we live.” Obasi’s Beautiful Resistance serves as a protest to the past and ongoing oppression within Nigeria, choosing to reimagine his home country as an Afrofuturist state where the Queer minority hold power through a vibrant and surrealist scope.
A child’s perspective is one of beautiful innocence, fuelled by curiosity and unaffected by the banality of life. Six-year-old Nepalese photography wonder-kid Tenzing has captured the hearts and minds of many with his joyous, colourful images documenting the wondrous Himilayian village that surrounds him. Tenzing captures the world in a way only a child could, with constant fascination and amazement being his main source of inspiration. Back in March of this year, Tenzing became the youngest person to shoot a cover for Dazed.
Skating is a passion and subculture that has offered a safe space and community for countless youths for decades. Skateboarding in Johannesburg, for the most part, is inclusive,” photographer Karabo Mooki tells Dazed earlier this year, in a city where gender-based violence has been an ongoing issue for quite some time. Island Gals, the focus of Mooki’s project, are a skateboarding community based within the city who are reclaiming areas in which they previously felt unsafe by occupying these spaces in numbers, using their passion as a means of protest. The project is still ongoing with Mooki hoping for “the world to recognise the grace and dedication that these women are investing into skateboarding and beyond.”
Gabriella Agnotti-Jones’ zine I Just Wanna Surf is a beautiful exercise in shifting preconceptions about what we expect from surf culture, the photographer explained over email, “Growing up, it was mostly white men and boys in the water, but now that’s slowly changing.” The zine showcases the experience of POC women and non-binary surfers in California, moving away from the competition side of the sport, with Agnotti-Jones showing that “surfing is really about friendships, travelling to new places, eating good food and taking naps in random places. Surfing is waking up at five in the morning for swell, screaming with friends, sore muscles and peeing in wetsuits.”
Eros And Its Discontents explores and embraces the often marginalised queer community in India. “The people in the images are treading a psychological minefield; their lives are a criss-cross of complexities arising out of a religious, conservative and homophobic Indian culture,” Surpanav Dash explained to Dazed earlier this year. Many of the monochrome images feel timeless and entirely modern though Dash embraces tradition by taking aesthetic inspiration from Indian mythology, Ajanta Cave Frescoes and Bengali folklore. The project was a collaborative process, Dash listening to the subject’s stories which allowed them to be photographed in the way they wished to be shown.
Luo Yang’s work offers a glimpse into the societal shifts that have been taking place in China over the past decades, featuring generations of young people that are unbothered by the expected social norms and focusing on youth culture within Beijing and Shanghai. Carpe Diem, published by La Maison De Z, brings together two of her seminal projects Girls and Youth, capturing her subjects in an open and intimate manner and allowing them to fully express their individuality. Of the projects, Yang explained to Another “I hope the photos are able to connect and speak to their audience, make them feel touched, comforted and encouraged that we all share something in common.”
Mallakhamb is a sport in which the body appears to defy gravity and human ability whilst participants mould and contort themselves to support their weight in a way that defeats logic. Vivek Vadoliya’s book, Mallakhamb, captures the athletes who practise the sport not only suspended in extraordinary poses but the equipment and the actual people who practise it, providing real insight. Vadoliya told Dazed earlier this year, “For me, the sport is about preserving a sense of Indian national identity. It’s an ode to the rich history, the soldiers and warriors who moved in this way.”
For many LGBTQ+ people, their ballroom communities feel more like family, offering a safe space for self-expression. “It’s really important for me that I have this space where I can be Persian, I can be queer, I can be non-binary, I can be who I am without having to watch over my shoulder,” Chai Saedia told Dazed earlier this year. Their kinetic collection of images – Scandinavian Ballroom – captures the burning energy in the room; the heat almost radiates from the images as participants strut and dance their way to potential victory all the while dressed in dazzling costumes.
Quilo was a project born out of rebellion, a project created to showcase the captivatingly varied communities of Brazil that were muted and shunned under Bolsonaro’s presidency. “Any sense of culture in Brazil completely evaporated and vanished,” Editor Mico Toledo spoke to Dazed earlier this year, explaining: “[Bolsonaro] was really against any alternative voices that were not the voices of the conservative right.” Within the journal’s 300 pages, we travel from the small fishing village of Sepetiba to see a community which still is deeply rooted in folklore and tradition to the cowboys based in the north-east of the country, offering a glimpse into Brazil’s often forgotten or under-represented communities.