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© Winnie Au
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10 Up-And-Coming Contemporary Photographers From The US

Picture of Alexia Wulff
Updated: 17 November 2016
Forget friends’ holiday snaps on Instagram: these emerging American photographers are the need-to-know names for contemporary photography. Culture Trip spotlights the dynamic and creative work of these up-and-coming stars.

River Jordan

River Jordan, a Los Angeles-based photographer, grew up in a home surrounded by art. His parents were avid photographers, and Jordan followed suit – not out of force, but because he was drawn to the idea of connecting with people through the lens and sharing their stories. Inspired by a three-year trip on a boat at the age of 12, he shoots everything from athletes to thrill-seekers, capturing that vibrant energy that resides within.

‘The sailing trip in itself was life-changing and really shaped how I wanted to experience the world. After that trip, I knew I wanted my life to be an adventure.’

© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan
© River Jordan

Frances F. Denny

Not many photographers address female selfhood and identity. Frances F. Denny does just that. Graduating with a BA from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, Denny went on to get her Masters in Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design before settling in her current home in Brooklyn, New York. Acclaimed for her work in editorial and commercial photography, Denny has worked with clients such as The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Elle, and Marie Claire. Her first book, Let Virtue Be Your Guide, was published in spring 2016. Her work is represented by ClampArt in New York City.

Hope in the guest bedroom | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Hope in the guest bedroom | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Attic | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Attic | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
My mothers hands | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
My mothers hands | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Aunt n before her portrait | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Aunt n before her portrait | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Edith at home | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt
Edith at home | © Frances F. Denny/Courtesy of ClampArt

Amy Lombard

Hailing from Philadelphia, Amy Lombard moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. Graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Lombard set out to pursue her career in an industry that stole her heart at just 15 years of age. Based in Brooklyn, Lombard works primarily in documentary-style photography, exploring the faces that make up contemporary American culture. Her vibrantly eye-catching work has drawn big names such as VICE, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and TIME, amongst other high-profile clients. She has recently released a book titled Connected, where she details the stories behind Internet meetups in the US.

© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard
© Amy Lombard

Cait Oppermann

Cait Oppermann’s work is deeply rooted in bold colors, shapes, and gestures – a technique she uses to create bizarrely enticing photographs. After graduating from the Pratt Institute in 2012 with a BFA in Photography, this New York-based artist has appeared in various publications – The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Billboard – and has worked with clients such as Nike, Instagram, and VSCO. Her most recent project, Set Piece, documented the US women’s soccer team and appeared in the 2016 VICE Photo Issue. For more images, check out her Instagram.

Nike x VSCO shot | © Cait Oppermann
Nike x VSCO shot | © Cait Oppermann
New Jersey infrastructure shot | © Cait Oppermann for M Le Monde | Georgette Mosbacher shot for FT Weekend | © Cait Oppermann
New Jersey infrastructure shot | © Cait Oppermann for M Le Monde | Georgette Mosbacher shot for FT Weekend | © Cait Oppermann
Fader, Joanne the scammer | © Cait Oppermann
Fader, Joanne the scammer | © Cait Oppermann
© Cait Oppermann
© Cait Oppermann
Us Open | © Cait Oppermann | Photographs of professional Women's Soccer in the United States | © Cait Oppermann
Us Open | © Cait Oppermann | Photographs of professional Women's Soccer in the United States | © Cait Oppermann

Winnie Au

Growing up in Rockford, Illinois, Winnie Au has always been inspired by experiences of the everyday life and the world we live in – whether that means food, fashion, people, or animals. Her interest in photography blossomed while studying advertising and communication at Boston University. After a professor had suggested she pursue a career in photography, Au got an internship with photographer Joshua Dalsimer and never looked back. She has worked with publications and clients such as Amazon, Bon Appétit, Coca-Cola, Google, Food Network Magazine, and Cooking Light, and has released a uniquely creative photo book, Canine Chronicles, accompanied by fictional stories.

‘I meet a lot of talented people and artists who work in different media (other than photography), and I really love seeing how people work, what makes them excited, and what comes out of them. So I’m hugely inspired when I get to do something like an artist studio tour and get to see someone’s brain exploded out into reality. Those experiences make me want to be a better photographer and keep producing new work that I’m excited about.’

© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au
© Winnie Au

Damon Casarez

The work by Los Angeles native Damon Casarez captures the simplicity of everyday life. From images of the suburban neighborhoods in which he grew up to staged, documentary-style photographs recreated from his own memories and experiences, Casarez doesn’t opt for special effects: he lets the subject speak for itself. In a series commissioned by The New York Times, called Boomerang Kids, Casarez traveled to eight states around the US capturing images of young adults who live at home, documenting the challenges of entering the job market post-university and the burden of student loans.

Monica | © Damon Casarez
Monica | © Damon Casarez
Family Dinner | © Damon Casarez
Family Dinner | © Damon Casarez
© Damon Casarez
© Damon Casarez
Sheep | © Damon Casarez
Sheep | © Damon Casarez
Happy Hollow Rd | © Damon Casarez
Happy Hollow Rd | © Damon Casarez

David Urbanke

David Urbanke didn’t always dream of being a professional photographer. While attending high school in his hometown of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, Urbanke photographed his friends for fun, sharing the images online. Post-high school, he decided to pursue a career in the field of art that he had grown to love so much. As a fan of people watching, Urbanke quickly discovered his passion for photographing faces; today, his work captures the essence of the human personality, revealing the power of a simply expressed emotion through his images. He has worked with clients including Nike, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Esquire, The New York Times, Maxim, and InStyle, and is currently based in New York.

© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke
© David Urbanke

Cody Pickens

Cody Pickens, a commercial photographer from Missouri, finds himself inspired by the workings of Golden Age painters, metropolitan cities, architecture, and Alfred Hitchcock films. His images resonate a rich understanding of subject placement, using vibrant color palettes and in-action shots to tell a story. A year after graduating high school, Pickens left for California where he studied design and painting at a local community college. Following his first photography course, Pickens began taking photos of his own; four years of schooling and eight years of assisting later, he embarked on his calling. He has worked with clients such as TIME, Wall Street Journal, WIRED, Apple, ESPN Magazine, and New York Magazine, and currently, he resides in San Francisco.

© Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens
Zero Restriction | © Cody Pickens
Zero Restriction | © Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens
© Cody Pickens

Whitney Hubbs

In a recent exhibition by Los Angeles-born Whitney Hubbs, titled Body Doubles, she portrays the raw beauty of the female body in a series of photographs, crossing cultural bounds and testing the limits of modern social norms. Her work is captivating while drawing on unusual subject placement to create thought-provoking images. Her work can also be found in the permanent collections at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Getty Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The California Museum of Photography, and New York University.

© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs
© Whitney Hubbs

Eva O’Leary

Eva O’Leary‘s photographs demand nothing but attention. Growing up in the US and Ireland, O’Leary has experienced her own struggles with identity. Her work, with its vibrant colors and somewhat ominous undertone, challenges the status quo of mainstream media. Based in Brooklyn, New York, O’Leary graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA before getting her MFA at Yale University in 2016. She has worked with VICE, Huffington Post, WIRED, and The Fader, and has been featured in dozens of group exhibitions. O’Leary currently works between New York and Pennsylvania.

© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
© Eva O'Leary
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© Eva O’Leary
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© Eva O’Leary