Diversity and dynamism are vital traits which London as a city reflects onto its art scene. As a result, London’s emerging photographers come from a multitude of backgrounds, are all at different stages in their careers and pursue a variety of artistic drives. They do, however, have two things in common – their complete proficiency in the photographic medium and their unrelenting creative energy. Here is our pick for the top ten contemporary photographers to watch.
Nicol Vizioli has a tangible depth in her artistic style. The Italian-born photographer studied cinema in Rome and followed that with an MA in fashion photography at London College of Fashion, graduating with first class honours in 2011. She has since been based in London and has showcased her work in several national and international exhibitions, including Somerset House for the London World Photography Festival, the Zabludowicz Collection, The XV Biennale de la Mediterranée and Milan, amongst others. Vizioli is strongly influenced by her upbringing in Rome, which she describes as being ‘constantly surrounded by immense, ancient beauty, the austerity and the decadence, and everything seems to be stuck in time but still hits your eyes with the same magnitude’. Similarly, her photography is an entrancing amalgamation of mythology, portraiture, tenebrism, cinematic intensity, and realism. Vizioli is guest lecturer at her two alma maters, LCF and IED.
Paulina Otylie Surys
Born in Poland and currently based in London, Paulina Otylie Surys demonstrates a distinctly unique and bewitching style with her organic and multi-layered photos. She has recently ventured into provocative fashion photography in London after a classical background in fine art from the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocklaw, Poland. Surys works with a variety of mediums to create her signature pieces – preferring to use analogue cameras, she then paints her images by hand using a variety of inks, toners, chemicals and dyes before repeating the photography process. The results can be described as otherworldly, bizarre, ghostly, emotional and even disturbing – but one thing they all have in common is how captivating they are. Her intriguing style – a cross between photography and classical painting – has led her to be featured in numerous magazines, including LOVE and Vogue Italy.
London-based editorial and commercial photographer Matthew Lloyd has an unconventional back story. Having started a management course at Leeds University, he was captivated by his extracurricular work in photojournalism for a student paper. Leaving Leeds to study press and photojournalism at Sheffield College, he has since gone on to win three Young Photographer of the Year awards between 2009 and 2011 and is now regularly commissioned for both celebrity and business features. From candid portraits of Dame Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tony Blair and Léa Seydoux, to editorials for The Times, LA Times, Bloomberg, Time, and Le Monde, Lloyd is one of the most sought-after photographers in London.
Lara Morrell has made a name for herself both at home and abroad since her graduation from Central Saint Martins in 2011. The London-born photographer completed her BA in Italy at the IED and returned to London for an MA in fine art photography. Morrell uses a diverse range of materials in her photos, from the industrial to the organic, in order to explore what she has described as the ‘cyclical nature of the cosmos’ and the ‘internal clock of the universe’, revealing conflicts between the man-made and the natural. Morrell has exhibited both in London and abroad, was shortlisted for the Catlin Art Prize, and has been featured in publications such as the British Journal of Photography and the Italian Internazionale magazine.
Currently a rising star in fashion photography, London-based Swiss photographer Amanda Camenisch has frequently been named as one of London’s foremost ‘Up and Coming’ photographers. Camenisch describes being drawn to photography at a young age when she began to see the ‘limits of paper and pencil as a visual medium’. She states that her main inspirations are stories she invents out of spontaneous and sharp snapshots from daily life, coupled with music and film. From the art direction to the final stages of editing, Camenisch is involved in her photography at every stage, which is perhaps why she has been so successful in her editorials. Although she prefers analogue photography, she works with digital media for magazines, and boasts a portfolio with publications such as Dazed and Confused, Tank, Vision, and Open Lab.
London-born Oliver Charles is the youngest photographer on this list at only 19 years of age – but his achievements so far are remarkable and he is the archetype of a young photographer of the digital age. Currently studying digital photography at Ravensbourne College in London, Charles was very recently named among others for Flickr’s ’20 Under 20’ Award – considering the website is an image-hosting worldwide magnate, this is no small feat. His style is predominantly self-portraiture and presents a remarkably harmonious contrast between natural and fantastical elements, which he manipulates digitally. The results are what can only be described as visions into the ‘surreal and often dark stages of human emotion’, which tell ‘whimsical stories’ according to Charles. With an exhibition in New York under his belt and a sizeable list of clients, one can only predict how far this young photographer will go.
Having studied Sociology at both a BA level in Paris and an MA level in London, London-based Swedish independent photographer Maja Daniels has a uniquely multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural approach to her craft. She only recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2013, yet her academic background in journalism, photography and sociology has given her compositions a strong focus on what she calls ‘human realities in a western, contemporary environment’, converging specifically on issues of the body and self-identity relations. Daniels has already been commissioned by such publications as New York Magazine, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Intelligent Life, Monocle Magazine, FT Magazine, Der Spiegel, and Le Monde. Her photos are clean, sharp, vivid, and poignant, and they demonstrate her innate ability to present complex sociological issues with one absorbing snapshot.
With a portfolio as strong as that of Thomas Lohr, it is not surprising to discover that the Bavaria-born fashion photographer has made such a rapid impact on the fashion world in the brief space of four years. Having studied photo design in Berlin and worked in New York between 2005 and 2010, Lohr became an instant sensation in the fashion industry after moving to London in 2010. His clean and modern style, his penchant for minimalist and emotionally withdrawn depictions that inexplicably draw one close, and the almost architectural precision in his technique are the factors which have given him such a unique style. Having photographed such names as Jennifer Lawrence, Christopher Kane, Dries Van Noten, and Christian Lacroix, Lohr is a contributor to several magazines such as i-D, Vogue Germany, The Room, Fanstastic Man and has done shoots for recent Dior and Cos collections.
Norwegian Marianne Bjørnmyr has been recognised frequently for her distinctive style and as one of the most promising young photographers of our generation. With a BA in photography and social anthropology from Roehampton University and an MA in photography from London College of Communication, she has lived, studied and worked in London since 2007. Bjørnmyr’s work focuses on the viewer’s perception of the photograph’s relation to reality, exploring phenomena such as myth and the intricacies of photographic presentation and reception. Her work tells a story as much as it captures a moment; the hazy, dreamy tones of her photography, combined with her intriguing compositions, result in sometimes perplexing and always thought-provoking glimpses of existence where the line between fantasy and reality is permanently blurred.
Sam A Harris
With a style than can be defined as minimalist – clean, sharp, high contrast, focused, and poignant – and a penchant for digital media platforms, Sam A Harris is the definition of the new digital age photographer. His participation in the aptly named 11.59 exhibition in the Margaret Street Gallery, which was assembled in a remarkably short time and solely through social media, demonstrates the agility and technological proficiency that is required for all photographers in the 21st century. Despite his young age, London-based Harris’ photography has been featured in countless print and online features, as well as exhibitions both in the UK and abroad.