With Wednesday marking World Photography Day 2020, CNN Style is looking back at some of the most striking photo series published over the past 12 months.
Whether showcasing new work or delving into their archives, these five photographers demonstrate the diversity and vibrancy of the medium, bringing together images from Mexico, Nigeria, England and beyond.
Justine Kurland imagines a girls’ utopia
Throughout the series, ideas of freedom and belonging prevail as girls form their own communities off the grid. Credit: © Justine Kurland
Justine Kurland’s “Girl Pictures” imagines runaway girls roaming the American landscape in a sylvan utopia where girls make their own rules. Taken between 1997 and 2002, but released as a book this year, the images offer a nostalgic glimpse of a bygone era and an exploration of timeless themes such as defiance, self-actualization and female sexuality.
“I had this desire to make this girl world, this feminist utopic solidarity between (young) girls and teenagers,” Kurland said. “But between women, really.”
Steve McCurrry explores the relationship between humans and animals
Many of the photos in “Steve McCurry. Animals” include human subjects, but those that don’t hint at the presence of humans, or at least what they’ve left behind. Credit: © 2019 Steve McCurry, Long Island City, NY
“Animals are in constant motion, have a mind of their own and rarely pay any attention to directions from a photographer,” McCurry said. “Understanding animal behavior is essential to making good animal photographs, just as understanding human behavior can help with taking someone’s portrait.
Oye Diran embraces vintage Nigerian style
From Diran’s “A Ti De” series. The photographer has honed a minimalist yet warm aesthetic, citing renowned West African photographers J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta as influences. Credit: Oye Diran
For his latest project, Oye Diran looked to images from Nigeria in the 1960s to 1980s — including old family photos — for inspiration. The resulting series “A Ti De” (We Have Arrived) recreates the era’s aesthetic through the elegant clothing his parents used to wear, including his mother’s classic Nigerian “iro” and “buba” (a wrapped skirt and tailored top).
“I was struck by how appealing and rich these outfits looked and was reminded of how well my parents and their friends were attired when I was young,” Diran said. “The relevance of iro and buba doesn’t dissipate over time, so I came up with this story to shed light on the beauty of my heritage to the world.”
Orlando Gili goes in search of ‘Englishness’
Every year, a village in Gloucestershire hosts an annual cheese-rolling competition, in which participants chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hill. Credit: Orlando Gili
A cheese-rolling competition (pictured above) and an annual “bottle-kicking” are among two of the odder pastimes captured by Orlando Gili, who set about documenting how the English have fun. Inspired by the divisions caused by Brexit, his series “Trivial Pursuits” captures a humane portrait of a nation navigating its history and place in today’s world.
“We are really more similar than we like to think,” he said. “And going to all these different types of events, and seeing different sections of society having fun, you see essentially the same things being played out.
Tania Franco Klein asks if we can ever disconnect
Klein shot “Proceed to the route” across California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Credit: Tania Franco Klein
Tania Franco Klein’s ongoing series “Proceed to the Route” combines dystopian unease with the warmth of nostalgia. At first glance, one might not think that the Mexican photographer is examining our modern digital age, but she wields ambiguity to examine our relationship with — and reliance on — digital technology.
“You cannot fully escape and fully disconnect from everything,” she said. “But how can you (find) balance?”