PDN’s annual “30 photographers to watch” is now live on their site. Always a favorite of mine because of the high quality and there are inevitably people who’s work I’m unfamiliar with. For the photographers on the list it’s a good opportunity to get some exposure and do a little marketing. Congratulations to this years class:

Rachel Barrett [Fine Art, Rich Colors]
David Black [Fine Art influenced portrait, light leaked color]
Bartholomew Cooke [still-Life, German Influence]
Philip Cheung [Documentary, war]
Nicholas Alan Cope [Still-Life, Dutch Light to monotone]
Katrina d’Autremont [Fine Art, Family]
Adam Dean [Photojournalism, war]
Nicolò Degiorgis [Documentary, living on the fringe]
Giulio di Sturco [Photojournalism, Art Influenced]
Rebecca Drobis [Kids Lifestyle, Rich Color]
Pari Dukovic [Documentary, Street]
Dyad Photography [Still-Life, Dutch Light]
Justin Fantl [Still-Life and Fine Art]
Dima Gavrysh [Photojournalism, Art Influenced]
Nick Hall [Active, Outdoor]
Erik Madigan Heck [Abstract Fine Art, Art Influenced Fashion]
Ryan Heffernan [Environmental Portrait, Active Outdoors]
Liz Hingley [Documentary, Fine Art]
Therese + Joel [Cinematic Environmental Portrait]
Matthew Kristall [Youth culture and lifestyle]
Spencer Lowell [Environmental Still-Life, Art influenced Landscape]
Silja Magg [Fashion, Rich Color, Dutch Light]
Joel Micah Miller [Commercial, Car, People]
Ivor Prickett [Documentary, Art Influenced]
Justine Reyes [Fine Art Still and Family, Dutch Light]
Jody Rogac [Contemporary Fashion]
Will Steacy [Environmental Fine Art]
Judith Stenneken [Fine Art, Abstract]
Daro Sulakauri [Documentary, Dutch Light]
Susan Worsham [Fine Art, Family]

Note: I added some descriptive tags that represent my internal way of cataloging. I’m a bit rusty at it, so I can remove if you think it’s a distraction.

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  1. Clark | Oshin Gallery will once again host PDN’s 2011 Emerging 30 Exhibition, co-sponsored by MOPLA (Month of Photography Los Angeles) and The Icon at their location at 5450 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. The opening reception is open to the public on April 27 from 6-9 pm. Clark | Oshin Gallery is a project of photo director Kathleen Clark and art director Nan Oshin, curators of contemporary photography exhibitions in a variety of locations, most recently at The Icon in Los Angeles.

    • @Kathleen Clark, Your name is linked, Miss Clark, and that would have sufficed.

  2. some really nice/interesting work… some “meh” stuff too though (imo).

  3. Glad to see Dave Black get some props. He is a funny, funny guy, and a joy to be around. Check his Daft Punk stuff from a few years ago.

    Note: I am not Dave Black.

    • @Donnor Party, yes, Black’s work is a standout, but still a bit trendy.

      • @Paul,
        Out of pure curiosity, what exactly about his work makes it standout?

        • @Blue, Black seems to toy with some in between moments rather than stagnant expressions. The way he uses light is also attractive. Who do you put yer monay on, Curious Blue Genes?

          • @Paul,
            I am kind of nerdy when it comes to photographers. I like HDR stuff, and there is a photographer who shoots for kcrw in los angeles that I like too, but if I could only choose from the list above I would say Pari gets my eye.
            But if I can choose some not on the list:
            Kurt iswarienko, Adam Voorhes, Matt Rainwaters, and winter lamaster, oh, and anyone messing around with slitscans.

            • @Blue, I do like Voorhes and Rainwaters, and they both know when to exercise their sense of humor. Pari’s work in PDN is fine, but it ain’t waking me up at night. HDR only works for certain images, in my opinion. When it’s misused because it’s the current fad, like on some portraits, it is truly ghastly.

              • @Paul,
                I agree with your HDR assessment. It is fun but jeez, some folks use it as the default when the image itself is a pile of crap. When in doubt HDR or any generic urban decay image.
                I like Pari cause the images feel right. It’s out of step, it was a risky treatment but I feel that he took control as the photographer and authored the story. I really feel like the others just either have no souls, or maybe the fact that they look the same as the last PDN contest winners is a result of the generation of shooters or judges??? Maybe the no soul comment was a bit much.

  4. you know it doesn’t say “and vermeer said, let there be light” in the bible…

  5. forgive me for being dutch and dumb
    but what is dutch light exactly?
    never heard the expression in holland
    allthough everything is bathed in dutch light there of course!

  6. i’m gonna say something awful, and i may very well take a shellacking for saying it, but it is my first gut instinct.

    to me when i look at the work of these lists, it seems that there is nothing new in photography, and i am no way interested in the causes since they are pretty much way outside of the realm of anyone’s understanding, even the so-called experts. even the most prepared genius historians and sociologist have a hard time understanding the cogs and machines that move a specific period. why would any of us even attempt to claim that we know anything today.

    so, american photography:

    minimalist landscapes devoid of human beings, framed perfectly off center, exposed gloriously in the non-reality of post-production, that says more about the timidity of a good portion of us artists to make human contact than about the actual aesthetic-reliance and obsessions with form, design, and barren space. that is a college student portrait, i have been there, who timidly goes out at night and shoots pictures of corners of places where no one sees him, and i have seen so many of the same pictures millions of times by now, same framing, same angle, same medium format. ditto for tighter framing of environment and objects and spaces. close your eyes, point the camera in any direction in your immediate physical setting, and click the shutter and move the camera in all asymetrical angles, and repeat until you get to the 15 number that galleries require for a full series. it says absolutely nothing. but the curator does step in to imprint “Gordon Gekko’s Illusion” with a Sophist menagerie of art-school-constructed language so that it can get into best-lists. you can take, with the Socratic method, any artist statement or curator essay and crush it to dust in under five minutes. all you have to do is question the meaning of the signifiers and language phonemes.

    Youth culture pictures of bare breasted 20 year-olds boys and girls acting like the world in on their shoulders, acting out existential angst, moodiness, because that is what is considered sexy for the camera. because showing young women’s breasts sells to over 40 year old collectors a la Britney Spears in school girl uniform? you can paper any wall with young women breasts in New York and you will have thounsand of men standing there for hours while their genetically-given sexual gonads are manipulated by psychologist’s dog experiments. these pics echo into infinity something already copycat to death by McGinley. it should have stayed at Golding, she built it, trully, and that was it. please, someone thwo away the mold already.

    photojournalism of war and human pain because in the u.s. or europe, we are a culture that lives either behind a desk 10 hours a day and then in front of a tv five hours a night, and so we do not exist or have experiences of our own but feel them vicariously through celluloid screens that exploit our lack of existence. and because the last admen standing know that prodding with a red-hot pincer our sense of moral outrage and our last figment of a collective conscience is very effective for keeping eyes cleaved to plasma screens and thus very effective for selling the remaining dollars of ad revenue. today, in my nobody’s opinion, photojournalism is exactly the same as “miseryPJporn.” if the object of study is not dying a torturous death, being killed slowly by awful diseases and drugs, is starving to death in war-torn africa, being raped collectively in state-sponsored genocide, or suffering human suffering, and pardon redundancy, upon human suffering, then it is not photojournalism? Admen love miseryPJporn, it spikes ad rates in an economy where ad rates are on their last deaththroes. guess what? human beings all over the earth are in a lot of pain, even your wall-street milionaire sitting behind a desk all of his awake life, is in a lot of pain. no amount of material gain can take away his absolute life emptiness. do we know why there are over 35 million americans taking sleeping pills? because no one is near even the smalles ounce of happiness. but if you go into the slums of any dirt-poor country, the human being and her condition there is fighting tooth and nail to survive, to smile even once during the day. where is the photojournalism that shows human zest for a better day even if within the louziest of squalor and pain? must we continue to be obssessed with human pain at its worst with miseryPJporn so we can keep ad revenue on lifesupport?

    in fine art, american photography continues its reliance purely on the structures of aesthetic language, as opposed to the language of content. how does a human being feel about her life, her work, her dreams, her road ahead, privately and collectively? what do we have to say about the human condition in a post-modern epoch where language has been deconstructed (and that includes signifiers as carries of collective meaning) to the point of unintelligible and disconnected fragments? no one knows anything today, while millions shout to the top of their voices that they know everything. no one can point to a single thing on earth and know in his spleen that he knows the thing completely. why? because post-modernism has taking a hammer and fragmented all knowledge and our experience of being. that is why all of this photography means nothing more or less than the photography of last year, or the year before. aesthetics alone, and specially one that is awfully fragmented, can not extend our knowledge or even offer anything new about ourselves.

    content remains missing in post-modernism.

    it’s the same exact photography of last year’s list, just change the post-production filters and angles.

    anyway. yeah. my penny on it. i dont mean to attack. i am interested in digging deep into the human condition, and so i look at these lists for inspiration, year after year, and today it just feels like iteration of things already done. i am a nobody in this field, and still consider myself a rookie, and i know in my own flesh the hard work and the amazing labor of love that all of us, those in the list and those outside of that list, bring to our every day work. today, all of us are giving it the best in ouselves, and doing it for almost free. so many of us are doing this with our teeth and nails, and with the same kind of love a mother expresses for her newborn. so definitely kudos for those on the list, though in my own private wrold, i like celebrating those outside the list, too.

    but we need to start looking outside of photography and its aesthetics for knowledge about the human condition so we can conceptualize fresh visual thinking. because when i look at this stuff, we are just repeating ourselves to sell ads.

    the emperor has no clothes.

    • Rob, i forgot to say thank you for sharing all of your articles. your blog has become my bible for our industry. i have a hard time keeping up, reminds me of being a subscriber to the new yorker. tenkiu tenkiu.

    • @marco aurelio, what are you even talking about dude

      • @elizabeth, just one nobody’s opinion, dudette. :)

    • @marco aurelio, a lot of what you have said makes good sense, but you need an editor. You could of said all of this in a simple few sentences, and the results would have resemble poetry. You are a decent shooter, but the same goes for your site. Rather than hundreds of images, how about narrowing it down to only your strongest? Just sayin’.

      • @Paul, no time for editing, the vomit comes out, and it’s ok. if i had money for an editor, then i wouldnt be placing my opinion here, right? besides, i blame it on social sciences papers. ha!

        yes, i know, have been working at editing for last 6 months. but have been merely shooting non-stop everything that called my attention, while searching for voice, both consciusly and unconsciously. it’s been school for me on my own the last few years. there is a time for everything. the editing time will come on its own. thanks for the input, i really appreciate it. :)

    • @marco aurelio, You make some good points. I would say that the empty landscape/deserted corner at night/portraits without a human connection are emblematic of our times, where a generation or two have forgone personal contact/intimacy in favor of the screen, life experienced third hand on tiny devices. Those empty landscapes and disconnected portraits are, intentional or not, very telling.

      • @Donnor Party, well put, Party Man.

      • @Donnor Party, agreed about the social disconecction in late 20th and early 21st, Cs. but Donnie, people were making those empty lanscape pics way before the internet took away human contact. you look at the work of college students at ICP in any decade and it is crammed with that type of photography. but take a look at Richard Misrach’s work just before he got into the Documentation school. large lanscape is one of the domains, and rightfully so, of photog college students. fine art is carpet bombed with the stuff, and it all looks dead.

        • @marco aurelio, oops, i meant Andreas Gurski before he got into documentation, not Misrach.



          Though, Misrach illustrates the point of stunning aesthetics applied to barren landscape, already well done. see his “desert Canto” series.

    • @marco aurelio,

      Jesus man, get off the amphetamines.

      • @Hunter S Thompson, but you sold those bennies to him, when you picked him up along the roadside. So don’t get your hot pink panties all in a knot.

    • @marco aurelio,

      You’re just making a romantic mistake. You take the beasts that work in the belly of the Metropolis and assume they are ready for poetry. One must have a soul to feel a need to polish it. And these are cattle born and raised to consume and be consumed. You ask these beings to see the skyes while their necks are rigid from eating with their muzzles down. It’s impossible. The same as their idols who can’t possibly tell a story because they have no story. And see their answers they can’t make the difference. It’s because they’re plain blind. They see the pictures with their ears. Somebody, somebody trustworthy for their petty minds, has said THIS is art. So how can they tell empty form from a search for perfection? They need to get an education, to belong to a culture (does McDonalds count as one?), have a need to find something. Yes, they do have a need to find something – a 9 to 18 job, a credit to buy sh*t they don’t need. How can such a mud creature feel the difference? In their world everything smells like manure, so the only way to tell value is if it shines.

      The trap you fell in is easy – semantics. Art. What you understand by this word is no way related with what they mean by it. Now any idiot can judge art. There are entire tomes dedicated to the idea that the “artist” should produce something that won’t puzzle the regular Joe. Assembly Line Joe should find easy to integrate art into his living room. Welding Joe choses a painting by the color of his new discount Ikea couch. And the artist shouldn’t be a nazi pig watching from above, he should be the servant of the servant as he is paid by the servant. I read here about uneducated big wigs who have the money and the ego to invest in “art” instead of factories. And their money and ego makes them knowledgeable and not just a pimp selling to the highest bidder. These dogs are called art buyers. Than you have the agents. And the agent, puhlease, it’s some partener. It’s true it’s a secretary that does some haggling, but it should be a partener. And so on. So what is an artist in this petty world of trading? It’s the servant of the servant, the slave of the art buyer and the partner of the agent. Are you there? Than the plebei would rule you an artist.

      For those who find it hard to understand I point Plato’s Cave. Something to be read and understand well before throwing your money away on some professor of the day. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikisource/en/wiki/The_Republic/Book_VII

  7. Your comments say it much better than I can, but my feelings towards the photos are about the same. I come away from these types of images/selections/presentations largely feeling that they are ‘all the same.’ Very seldom do I see a photograph by a photographer whose style I would recognize the next time around.

    • @christian harkness, well spoken.

    • @christian harkness,
      I agree in total, but it could be that the selection process is handled by the same people year after year.

  8. you didn’t give us the benefit of putting our photography in tidy little categories last year, rob! (just kidding)

  9. Oh boy, here we go again. More angst ridden portraits void of emotion or connection with the photographer, or the world. Might as well photograph mannequins.

    War is Hell. Always has been. DDD did it well, but so has practically everyone else brave, crazy or desperate enough to put themselves in harms way with a camera to record the senseless suffering/slaughter of man. War, in all its horror, may be the one thing we still haven’t totally desensitized ourselves to in the modern world. Hopefully we never will.

    Landscapes of (un)interesting nothingness. Cool. Really? As my daughter would say, meh. Another reflection of a tortured soul manifesting itself upon the electronic chip of life. Huh? Exactly. It’s art, dude.

    Still, with even with so much banal sameness a few inspiring individuals stand among the crowd. Bravo to those with a vision all their own and not cloned from the tormented hordes of a lost generation, whichever generation that may be.

    PS. For those too young to know, DDD = David Douglas Duncan. Google it.

  10. The world is a finite place. The challenge to see differently and therefore make photographs heretofore unseen is beyond daunting. Some photographers seek out the unusual in an effort to make unusual work. The result, when coupled with a chaotic technique, is often a visual mess. The fact is that the world around me/us/you is often fairly straightforward. To photograph the world straight is to risk the label “derivative” “not new” “boring”.

    Perhaps the answer lies with the viewer.

    See with new eyes all that you see. Even photographs.

  11. “here we go again,” a bunch of people being angsty on the internet because they didn’t get in.

    • Hahaha.

  12. I love this thread. Generally speaking I’m a big hater on things I don’t like, don’t get, can’t see the value of, or can see through, etc., and I don’t respond to most of these new winning shooters work either, but I’ve gotten over the hater-ness of my life.

    PDN is a big dream machine and a big company, they’ve got an angle they need to work to keep people engaged. They need to pick artsy, young award-winning, British hipster-ish types of shooters regardless if their work is really that epic or not… they’ve got to keep fueling the dream for everyone else so their advertisers can sell more shit. I’m sure some of the people who work for PDN care deeply about photography and put a lot of effort into finding and sharing what they think is new talent. But, their parent company doesn’t care about photography, art, or anything else but cash. That’s the world we live in.

    Whichever side, angle, or level you’re at in this business you just need to step back and see it for what it is… a big game and decide if you really want to play or not. But, hating on other people for trying to play doesn’t get you anywhere and nobody likes a hater anyway.

    Rather than dreaming about being in PDN – start the next PDN and put your photos on the cover. We live in a world now where you don’t needs to get permission from anyone else to validate your work – not even clients.

    Give yourself the 2011 world-wide award of being a bad-ass and call it good. Aren’t we all taking photos, making art, and trying to make a living for ourselves anyway?

    A good friend of mine recently said at a gallery opening we were at, “I don’t like any of this work. It’s bad. But, I’m still glad they made it.”

    • @Clark Patrick, you have made valid points. And the thematic competitions this mag sponsors are a joke. My friend, who continues to be gullible enough to enter these things, only comes to find out that no matter the judges, PDN seems to choose very commercial, postcard-pretty work to win these contests. Guess it’s another extension of their game.

  13. Same old, same old! It tickles me to see everyone get so up set about a competition. You all make it so black and white. You are either a hater or a lover. You hate PDN or you love PDN. We live in a grey world chaps. And more importantly we live in a world where any sensible photographer, who desires success (the ability to raise his children and provide for his family while pursuing his vision), does whatever it takes to get noticed, to harness marketing channels and to elevate their brand awareness. And that means entering these competitions and others and much more. Its just you guys either aren’t willing to admit it, or you’ve tried and been disappointed. To be quite honest many of you are beginning to sound a little jaded.

    Go out and make your own PDN and put yourself on the front cover and tell your self your the greatest in the world? Maybe….

    …Or go and make some remarkable work, pursue your vision and make work you are proud of. Then let your colleagues and this community decide if it’s the greatest in the world. After all it sounds like you could all do with a little pepping up.

    God save the Queen!

    • @BritishHippsterKinda, well, I assure you that under me thick skin is colored ashen grey, and narry a grain of black or white. Jaded? Me? God save those of us that preen, and smile for the gear in our face, called a camera machine.

  14. awesome !

    can’t wait to be on that list one day !

    especially loved all the bare chested folks !

  15. Ahhhh…the yearly reminder of one’s own mediocrity.

  16. Hey Marco Aurelio et all, do any of you nerds have anything to do other than blog about people’s work who are clearly younger than you, and more successful? All of these bloggers complaining about mediocrity here, probably aren’t half as talented or driven as any of the people in this year’s PDN. And, I don’t even think they the people mentioned are that great, but come 0n. You want to complain about contemporary photography start with the top down, Alec Soth on down, then talk about disappointment. These are young talents who are just on the rise. Youre probably just jealous.

    • @John Smith, you need to lighten up. And besides that, I checked out yer werk, and it is totally better than Soth. Dude, you got it goin’ on!

    • @John Smith,

      John, I am in no way denigrating people’s work, specially young artists’ work. That would be awful. i actually keep a very busy calendar, honestly, i need a vacation. the road has been awfully-rough going in this business for me. like a lot of us in this down market, i work 7 days a week, and sometimes 15 hour days. so, no, i dont spend my time blogging. but our friend Rob here is doing an amazing job at presenting us with opportunities to discuss our industry in manners that would not be possible for most of us, particularly those of us “outsiders” who will never belong to the powers that be. aphotoeditor is an amazing resource for me, where i come for insight i could never get on my own. so, i do take a moment or two once at month to opine, if possible.

      i do have a right to join conversations about our industry, right? i do have the right to express an informed opinion, right? even if that informed opinion is ridiculed, or attacked with silliness by someone hiding behind a stolen moniker. we all should be so lucky to join these types of conversations, and to do so with dignity, with honesty, and minus the vituperative language so often associated with any discussion in our society, right? how else can we grow as a community if we keep our opinions to ourselves? How else can those of us who are outsiders grow, evolve? how else can we challenge each other, young or old, if we do not tell each other how we feel exactly? how often do we find yourself keeping how you truly feel about anybody’s work just out of politeness? and we leave the building with the feeling that we would have love to know how others felt?

      making work, art, science, any work, is and will always be exposed to analysis, assessment, and the review and critique of peers. making work and putting it out there for the world to evaluate is necessary in a free society, John. i am only gently adn respectfully reminding you what you already know. It comes with the territory. We accept that covenant anytime we put work out for the world to see, in any field of knowledge.

      technically, i am nowhere half as talented as any of the chosen ones, i am being honest, not sarcastic (nor as old as you think! ha!). it is very possible, i will never be. i know in my spleen not to even try to submit work to these types of contests, that is how far my work is. i’d only be making a fool of myself. i am a nobody in this field. i lack the credentials to put forth any opinion. and, you are right, perhaps in my rush to speak candidly and register my honest opinion, and my first gut instinct, to which i am entitled in a fre society, even if it is a nobody’s opinion, perhaps I failed to sugarcoat my take on it not realizing that the talent chosen was exclusively that of young artists. so, i apologize for that — sincerely. but to a point. in my small community in south-america, i get my share of young photogs coming to me for morsels of knowledge and i do my best to bend over backwards to give them as much of what little i know as i can. i cherish doing that. and i have never, in the four years i have being doing this for a living, disparage their work not one-third of a stop or ISO; not even of those i disliked for their arrogance or bad manners. quite the contrary, i do my best to teach them how to see the glass half full and encourage them, and/or show them if i can, how to take their work to next level.

      Nevertheless, the work at issue here is public, and i have every right to assess the technical, aesthetic, and conceptual values, and the historical context of these works, regardless of gender or age, or ethnicity, et al. that opinion has to be blind to these variables, and more. and one can not sugarcoat opinions to protect someone’s ego or youth, John. i know you know that. What doesnt kill you will make you stronger. and critiques of any kind, challenge those who are ready to accept challenges. it is how a good professor at ICP cut me down to size and pushed me to make work i had no idea was in me.

      so… my commentary is about the state of photographic work in our industry, not a need to put down others. It is about the work itself, explicitly, and not about individuals, most certainly not about their age. my commentary is a challenge for us to begin a public conversation where we are not always idolatrizing a few, and denigrating another few, but are instead focus on the technical and conceptual aspects of the work we are making as an industry. because, frankly, John, we as an industry are in a lot of trouble, and in my humble opinion, the very fact that we idolatrize without some serious and honest discourse about what we are idolotrazing, is one of the main reasons why the common jane and joe isnt at all interested in most of the workd we do as a whole. perfectly exposed pictures and fictions on a piece of photographic paper are disconnected from the everyday realities of most humanity. the internet is killings us, but we are shooting ourselves in the foot by making work that is straight-jacketed by easy formulas that say nothing about what it truly means to be a human being.

      i believe my commentary was focused to what i see are weaknesses in today’s work as a whole, not on any specific individuals. i spoke about the obssession and realiance on aesthetics where contect is missing (let’s look up Barthes, Foucalt, Derrida, and see what thet have to say about the human condition and see how we can interpret that visually with our world); questioned Photojournalism’s entrapment to human pain as a cause of advertising driving forces; pointed my finger to the cookie-cutting formulas for making a fine art photography that is shaped by a market obssessed with Sophist, high-falutin language that says nothing new about our world, culture, and human condition; challenged my peers to step away from image-making that uses half a pound of sexual glands to manipulate attention in a society that no longer has any attention for what we do.

      Before we developed written language, before we developed verbal language, as a species, we had visual language for hundreds of thousands of years. it is our first language, and it is imprinted in our primal brain. it is why we dream in images, first. it is why the first written languages are drawings of images. it is why we hold cameras in our hands, because we have a primal and ancient need to make sense of our reality with images. Look at the paintings at the caves of Lascaux, and imagine what went on in there where very possibly there was yet no verbal language. imagine a single man, or woman, transposing to a wall the very souls of bulls and animals that the rest of the tribe only saw out there in the plains where they were terrified to venture. i can speculate that by telling those stories on a rock, our early tribes could conceptualize the idea that leaving the shelter of the cave once and for all was possible.

      humanity is in a cave since the industrial revolution too hold 300 years ago. the 20th C. is an ode to human genocide, exploitation, and pain. in the next 50 years, half of the remaing species will be gone forever. nature is about to expire right before our eyes and we are yet to know it. we are the visual makers. it is our responsibility to speak about these things. we need to leave behind easy formulas, and begin to conceptualize fresh visual paradigms. that is all i was saying.

      p.d. John, on a lighter note. Please define “nerd.” because at this point, no one on earth is not a nerd. :)

      • @marco aurelio,

        I think your passion is fantastic! But for the betterment of good discussion perhaps you can revisit these two words:

        Adjective: (esp. of something written or spoken) Briefly and clearly expressed.

        Adjective: Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

        • @Richard, thanks, in this case, it isnt passion, amigo. it’s just a nobody’s concrete, specifics-based opinion.

          But so, lemme get this straight, if someone speaks with a tiny bit of intelligence, then that is “pretentious.” check that. got it. and one may not place references, or speak at length without self-censoring, or have a take on something for more than two lines of text because that is also pretentious. ok. got that, too. check.

          because long-windedness, in the absence of having plenty of time to shorten and edit, is not permitted in any discussion. check that, too. the world would be a much better place with 3 line discussions, cromagnon-speak. now that is really smart!!! hahahaha.

          duuude!! lighten up! people are imperfect (that would be me big time)and obviously i am not a succinct writer! so what!? i write fasssst! and have a mind that spews out words by the hundreds. so what!? and so if i come from social sciences, and not photography, where academic papers are usually 200 pages long, and you are forced to read enormous amounts of books (references) in 10 disciplines, so i am not allowed to present my opinion and use references?

          dude, here’s a reference to give you a hard time, adjectives are the enemies of writing, because a thought stands on its own without an adjective, and some people would argue, does so much more muscularly. Hemingway killed them and single-handily transformed all writing, from fiction to non-fiction. an adjective by itself says nothing about any ine thing in particularly. a noun, and a verb do. now, saying that is being pretentious? not simply just stating a fact? got it. check that.


          apologies, my friend. but sometimes thoughts are not succinct, and that, Richard, doesnt make them less valuable, and thoughts need references as back up, otherwise why hold discussions.

          dude, if you can actually get in some thoughtful, pardon the redundancy, thoughts, on the specific and explicit issues i am trying to converse about, then perhaps we can get off the egos and the personal preferences and attacks and actually speak about why is photojournalism trapped in just showing human pain, or why is american fine art photography so obsessed with a heavy reliance on aesthetic elements. Richard!!! i am a culprit at the last one, and it’s killing me. my surfaces series started specifically with reliance on aestehtics. and i feel trapped. that is the whole point. i am trying to figure out how to get out of that trap, and when i look at these best-lists it frustrates me because even the best are trapped, in my nobody’s, non-credential opinion, mind you. just a little joe saying what he thinks.

          lemme give you a hard time, with a smile on my face, hoping that you can smile with me. rib rib. and not take ourselves so seriously. i’d love to share a beer with you so we talk about this crap directly. hopefully you can tolerate my longwindedness and roll your eyes when i place references and i will try to tolerate that american trait to pounce on personality that is out of norm (what’s with all the talk about individuality, if no one is allowed to be different, to speak differently?), to force everyone to behave with some kind of puritan, reserved, self-deprecating persona.

          laugh! with me. we are un-alike human beings. how boring if i spoke like you, or succinctly!

          here’s a pretentious ribbing, and long-winded quote from Wittgenstein:

          “what we know about we can speak about. what we can not know about, we must pass over in silence.”

          specifics. specifics. specifics.

          por favor.

          what do you think about photojournalism being obsessed with depicting pain? do you see a connection, like me, from the advertising need to sensationalize and grab viewership attention and sell ads at a lot of $$$ and the obsession with pain? take cnn, for example, unless they create conflict and mayhem and pain, they seem unable to tell a story that grabs your attention. how often do you walk away from a story at cnn knowing that it changed you as a human being? because, ultimately, Richard, as visual thinkers, that is what all of us are after. to literally change another human being with thought-provoking work.

          how do you feel about the Ryan McGinley style photography showing 20 year olds acting existential and showing nipples? and why is this type of photography still ruling today? what does it say to you? does it say anything to you?

          why is there so much photography of barren landscapes without a single human being in them? i opine that is saying nothing new (though someone up here had a terrific reference to the human disconnection via modern internet gadgetry). what are your thoughts on that?

          what questions do you have, Richard abou the photography in this specific list?

          come on! please. talk with me about these issues, not about whether you like my writing style or not, or whether you think my references are pretentious. surely, (no, i am not calling you Shirley, ha!) you have opinions about these things — succinctly. please, that is more interesting to me. to know what you have to say about it, without fear, or censorship. straight up. THAT is interesting.

          first beer is on me, bud.

  17. I really like Erik Heck’s work.

    • @Donnor Party, agree on your assessment, Party Man. Heck is an extremely talented young bloke.

  18. Work aside. I mean, there’s only so many ways you can photograph something, I took away a few troubling things about the list.
    1) there is not black or Latino photographer, yet plenty of black/Latino subjects. These are white people living in white countries.
    2) If you’re anywhere near 40+, fuck it. Time to enter the AARP contest for best Vacation shot or something. As a 37-yr-old who’s reletivly successful, this was troubling to me. And I’m not jealous, I mean good for the yung’uns that work it but what is emerging really? Will I make the list @ 41? Am I emerging if I’m 45, successful and a great talent but have only been shooting for 5 years?
    4) That race thing really bugs me. I find it hard to beleive that, ESP in NYC, there’were any minority photogs worth mentioning?
    5) In the end, this is an insiders game regardless of “good” photography or not. I find PDN contests a suckers bet. But at least it’s nice to look at.

    and @ John Smith. Word. You’re so right you don’t even know.

    • @JMG, Reyes in the PDN 30 is a Spanish surname, and therefore might qualify as a Latino.

      • @Paul, Whew. glad I was proven wrong…

  19. Rob,

    Any chance you could please explain the term ‘Dutch Light’? I’ve been looking around for an explanation but found nothing.


    • @SteveG, I’m pretty sure he means the lighting style of Rembrandt and the rest of the 16-17th cen. Dutch School, including Vermeer, Van Eyke etc…

      • This is surely what he means.

  20. British based documentary photographer and film maker Pogus Caesar launches new book ‘Sparkbrook Pride’.

    The foreword has been specially written by poet, author and activist Benjamin Zephaniah

    ‘Sparkbrook Pride’ consists of 70 black-and-white photos of residents of Sparkbrook, Birmingham, Great Britain – where Pogus grew up – all taken with his trademark Canon Sureshot camera.

    In the foreword Zephaniah says “I love the ‘rawness’ of these photos, they have a sense of place, yet nothing is staged, and the only information Pogus gives us about those featured is how they define themselves, nothing more. We need no more. So people – it is down to us to piece together the rest of this multicultural puzzle”.

    Last Autumn Pogus visited Sparkbrook several times, and the striking images in ‘Sparkbrook Pride’ are the result. Documenting the diverse individuals who live and work in the area, the book features both the long-standing residents from the West Indies, Ireland, India and Pakistan and the more recent additions to the community from Somalia, Sudan, Malawi and Afghanistan, celebrating the rich cultural mix that defines the area.

    Book details. Paperback, perfect bound, 160 pages, 70 black and white photographs, 11.6 x 8.2 x 0.8 inches. ISBN: 978-0-9566741-1-1


  21. There is far better work on Flickr. Photography that isn’t trying to emulate the media of print or web. Photographers without the weight of art school, film school and photography EDU. I’m so done with the war shots, 5D bring up the shadows, fake 620 1970’s random fashion crap. The only portfolio I liked was on film. Call me old fashion.
    Liz, stick to taking pictures. I agreed and understood a lot of what marco was feeling and said.

    Bill Gray

    • you sound upset.

  22. ur point?

  23. […] can read what is at times an interesting discussion of the ‘Top 30′ on the A Photo Editor blog, though I’m not sure that I see many of those selected as “artsy, young […]

  24. Show me anything on flicker and I will laugh at you in person. As to Marco whatever mr. latin america, nothing of what you have said in any of your overly lengthy pseudo intellectual photo critic, or somewhat pathetic self-depricaticing jargon is interesting or significant. If you are so over contemporary photography dont look at it. Yes, anyone with a computer has the “right” to comment on a blog, but unless you are an acting professional in the industry actually directing or making an impact on photography, professionally speaking, I dont really care what you have to say to be perfectly honest. I came from an MFA background (for those commenting on higher education in photography), and had to sit in class and listen to a whole bunch of nonsense from people who couldn’t make powerful images on their own, so they had to talk about other peoples work instead. Critique and criticism should be left in the classroom, for people who will stay in the classroom. The rest of the world will be out there making compelling images, despite your grandiose (and quite meaningless) opinions. The greatest photographers (Harry Callahan down to Juliet Margaret Cameron) were not writing dissertations, they were making work (Harry could barely speak on his work in public back in his RISD days). Go out and make some work, then apply next year. You’re spending too much time here trying to convince us of your own worth *like most art critics. Thats my last word, and my definition of nerd (to rhyme). I wont be revisiting this, the only reason I even took the 4 minutes to comment was that reading your writing infuriated me. PS. CNN isnt suppose to change you as a human being. Really? Do you need to even ask that question? I saw Anderson Cooper coming out of the Boom Boom room in NYC the other Sunday with his purse on arm, that changed me more than the morning news, as it should.

    • @John Smith, Don’t write or drive angry John, nothing good will come of it!

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