Pin It
Périphérique by Mohamed Bourouissa
La main, 2008© Mohamed Bourouissa 2021. Courtesy Loose Joints

The Ten Most Visually Arresting Photo Projects of 2022

From Clifford Prince King’s tender portraits of Black, queer intimacy to Renell Medrano’s album artwork for Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Stepper, Adam Murray looks back at the best photo projects from the past year

Lead ImageLa main, 2008© Mohamed Bourouissa 2021. Courtesy Loose Joints

As I was searching for ten of the best photography projects from 2022, I was struck by how the following series all challenge the culture of instant gratification, individual praise and mass of visual content that we have become so familiar with. These are projects that are testament to the value of time, of reflection, of study, and of collaboration.

New books by Mohamed Bourouissa and Nigel Shafran both feature work made many years ago, yet manage to avoid nostalgia. There are striking similarities in the way photographers Hannah Lister, Kaitlin Maxwell and Sackitey Tesa Mate-Kodjo, all use photography to engage with their everyday experience, despite living and working in different continents. Thaddé Comar and Philip Montgomery’s unflinching approach to documenting significant global events encourages viewers to reflect on their importance, whether lensing the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests or the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Renell Medrano and Clifford Prince King both centre their work in domestic space to examine notions of biography, community, and performance, while Jack Davison’s debut exhibition explored the material potential inherent in photography.

Périphérique by Mohamed Bourouissa (lead image)

Published by Loose Joints, Périphérique, was the standout photo book of 2022, as proved by recently being awarded the Paris Photo – Aperture Book of the Year prize. It is certainly an outstanding body of work, originally made during 2005-2008, during which time Bourouissa employed a constructed scene approach in an attempt to “give a place in French history to individuals usually neglected and overlooked in contemporary society.” Those new to Bourouissa’s work should look beyond this publication to discover how the artist uses photography, moving image, sound and installation. His 2021 exhibition Hara!!!!!!hAaaRAAAAA!!!!!!hHAaA!!! held at Goldsmiths CCA is a good place to start, featuring an extensive selection of his work such as Horse Day (2014-15), a two-channel video installation documenting horse riders at urban stables in North Philadelphia.

How Was Your Dream? by Thaddé Comar 

Published by Morel Books, How Was Your Dream? by French-Swiss photographer Thaddé Comar features photographs made in Hong Kong between August to October 2019 during the pro-democracy protests. The project examines the ways that demonstrators have developed a repertoire of techniques to counteract the tools of control used by state and police, with Comar explaining that “my artistic practice tends to get rid of the codes of photojournalism that usually comes along with the classic representation of news.”

Photographic Etchings by Jack Davison

For his debut UK solo exhibition at Cob Gallery, Jack Davison chose to explore his archive of monochrome images that depict the human figure, architecture, animals, objects, landscapes, and townscapes. As the title suggests, the prints in the exhibition were produced using a polymer photogravure technique. The result changes the way an audience experiences his work: “the whole point is making things which are different from what people have seen digitally,” says Davison. This deliberate exploration of the materiality inherent in photography made this an exhibition that needed to be visited in real life.

Read AnOther’s interview with Jack Davison here.

Orange Grove by Clifford Prince King

The LA-based photographer’s recently released debut book Orange Grove – published by TIS books –  features tender, intimate portraits documenting his experience as a queer Black man. In an interview with AnOther, King explained that the images in the book were made since 2016, when he first moved to Los Angeles. “My apartment at the time was very empty, we didn’t have much furniture. Being queer and Black and single, I was meeting people, having casual sex and encounters and I was just documenting that.” Describing the work being made into a book, the photographer hopes that “my audience should see themselves within that, a little nod or thumbs up from the back.”

Read AnOther’s interview with Clifford Prince King here.

Various by Hannah Lister

Artist Hannah Lister grew up in the small town of Morecambe on the north-west coast of England, and graduated from the prestigious Royal Academy School in Summer 2022. For her degree project, Lister “worked with analogue photography to capture subtle, ambiguous and symbolic moments in the play of everyday life”. The resulting work hints at notions of family and companionship, alongside an exploration of landscape and domestic space that feels both familiar yet uncanny.

Various by Sackitey Tesa Mate-Kodjo

Sackitey Tesa Mate-Kodjo is a self-taught photographer and stylist based in Accra, Ghana who has been using Instagram since 2018 as the main outlet for his work. During 2022, he featured in the PhotoVogue Festival at BASE Milano, released his first set of NFTs, and was published in M Le magazine du Monde. Mate-Kodjo’s work is testament to the potential within the everyday and the value of collaboration with one’s chosen creative community. Found objects are transformed into one-off garments, then photographed in an unpretentious style in various locations and temporary studios close to home.

Current Series (Untitled) by Kaitlin Maxwell

Kaitlin Maxwell’s ongoing Untitled Series first began in 2015, consisting of portraits of her grandmother, mother and herself photographed in various locations in America – the majority in her home state of Florida. Maxwell graduated from the MFA at Yale School of Art in 2019 and uses photography to “dissect her life through her images to try and understand who she is and where she originates [from].” Continuing this project in 2022, Maxwell follows in the tradition of photographic projects that commit to studying a subject over many years – an approach that seems to rebel against our instant image culture.

Various by Renell Medrano

American photographer Renell Medrano continues to be one of the most compelling image makers of the year. Three projects from 2022 stand out; Serena and Venus Williams for Harper’s Bazaar, album artwork for Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, and portraits of her father for Gucci, all linked by a common thread of family, domestic space and lived experience. Despite capturing some of the most photographed people in the world, Medrano collaborates with her sitters to develop refreshingly unfamiliar visual interpretations of them and their work.

American Mirror by Philip Montgomery 

Philip Montgomery’s distinctive black-and-white photographic style has become synonymous with the documentation of contemporary America. Commissions for The New York Times Magazine during the peak of the Covid pandemic presented an unapologetically stark insight into the impact on hospitals and funeral homes. American Mirror, published by Aperture, provides a comprehensive account of his photographic work that “chronicles the fractured state of America.” With books of this nature, sometimes the subject can begin to feel a little distant, but the way in which Montgomery photographs racial tensions, protest, and widespread illness continues to maintain relevance.

The Well by Nigel Shafran

The Well, published by Loose Joints, is the first survey book of Nigel Shafran’s photographic work for fashion publications and brands that he has been making since 1982. Rather than a chronological ‘best of’, the book is a reflection on one aspect of the British photographer’s extensive body of work. As Shafran says in the introduction, “it’s a book about the ideas that always end up somewhere in my work.” The publication also gives space for conversation with others who have played an important role in this work, such as curator and writer Charlotte Cotton, art director Phil Bicker and stylist Melanie Ward; this added insight further emphasises how influential the network associated with Shafran’s photography is on other fashion imagemakers today.

Read AnOther’s feature on the book here.