The Best Photographs We Saw at Hyères 2019

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This year’s festival saw emerging and established photographers alike take over Villa Noailles in the south of France

1. Alice Mann (above)

A jury led by fashion photographer and AnOther contributor Craig McDean – including AnOther’s creative director Marc Ascoli, journalist Paris Lees and model Guinevere Van Seenus, among others – chose photographer Alice Mann to take home this year’s Grand Prix for photography. The series, Drummies – which also won the 2018 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize – captures young, all-female drum majorette troupes (affectionately known as ‘drummies’) most of which come from her native South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities. Mann’s photographs capture the pride and aspiration of the ‘drummies’ involved, celebrating the sport’s unique power to foster belonging, and emancipate the young women, if momentarily, from the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives. 

2. Craig McDean

Head of the photographic jury Craig McDean held an exhibition of his own at the festival, taking over Villa Noailles’ squash court, built in the 1920s, with a series of images from the mid to late 1990s. A formative and well-recognised era in the renowned fashion photographer’s work, the exhibiton contains images of Kate Moss, Guinevere Van Seenus and Amber Valletta, among others, and work for Vogue and Jil Sander – for the latter brand he worked alongside Marc Ascoli on several memorable campaigns (Ascoli creative directed). The focus of the exhibition, though, is the process of printing itself: in a vitrine in the centre of the room you can see original contact sheets, marked with McDean’s handwriting, ticks and crosses, giving you a glimpse into his process, and several previously unseen images. Those who find themselves in the French Riviera over the coming month should make time to see the self-titled exhibition: it remains at the villa until May 26.

3. Andrew Nuding

Irish-born Andrew Nuding is a fashion photographer on the rise: recently, he photographed the Simone RochaMoncler lookbook, alongside Dazed’s creative director Robbie Spencer. As a shortlisted photographer at the festival’s Prix de la photographie he chose to show a personal project which captures his home country in a manner both banal and beautiful, combining photographs of towering figures among distant landscapes with still lifes of discarded crisps, cider, McDonalds bags and flowers. Fashion continues to feature in Making Strange – named for an Irish expression which means to act nervous or shy when encountering an unfamiliar situation – including pieces by Hyères fashion prize designer and compatriot Róisín Pierce, styled by Kieran Kilgallon.

4. Eva O’Leary

Last year, American photographer Eva O’Leary took home the Grand Prix for a series of portraits of young women which played on the selfie: she instructed each of her subjects to pose in front of a two-way mirror until they were happy with the image they saw, at which point she took the picture. This year, on return to the festival, she presented new work which explored the promise and pressure of youth, taken on location in Pennsylvania State College, close to where she grew up. Titled Happy Valley, the series – from the sparkle of lipstick and braces to a gathering of sweating, chanting men – captures life in an American college town, exploring how “American normalcy” can have oftentimes toxic effects on its participants.

5. Kerry J Dean

British photographer Kerry J Dean first travelled to Mongolia in 2015; in the years since, she has returned to the country, photographing those who live there, from the women of the Gobi Desert to Bökh wrestlers in training. Shortlisted for this year’s photography prize, her series Observations & Orchestrations was taken over a three-year period in the country. Perhaps the most arresting images from the series are those of young women with “pom-pom” headpieces, a dying tradition; in the images, the colourful pom-poms contrast with Mongolia’s vast blue skies.

Hyères Prix de la photographie, Craig McDean and Eva O’Leary run at Villa Noailles, Hyères until May 26, 2019.