The Photography Annual 2009

Our judges’ pick of the year’s photography.

Cabazon Dino
Todd Antony

 

Todd Antony took this witty shot while on the “almost-obligatory photographer’s American road trip”. The photograph was taken at a truck stop in Cabazon, California and formed part of a larger project that looked at the American fondness for super-sizing everything.

“Before heading over to the US, I listed words that I thought helped to broadly describe America and ‘super-sized’ was the one that sprang up,” says Antony. “So with that in mind I trawled the internet and created a route that took in a number of the large fibreglass road­side attractions that seem to frequently punctuate the American landscape, and began to document them on my travels.”

Antony’s dinosaur was one of two that he found in the Cabazon area. And if that wasn’t surreal enough, he discovered that the belly of one of them had recently been turned into a creationist museum promoting intelligent design theory.

 

 

The Mannequin Workers
Dylan Collard

The Mannequin Workers series came about after Dylan Collard was commis-sioned to photograph a mannequin factory in north London by The Guardian.

“As soon as we got there I was intrigued by the factory and fascinated by the macabre feel of the location,” says Collard. “Limbs, heads and torsos were stacked on shelves, packed into boxes and spilled out of crates.

“We found groups of mannequins standing in formation like modern day terracotta armies and incom­plete, dismembered body parts looming out of the shadows of spray rooms. The whole atmosphere was reminiscent of an abattoir; a litter of dehumanised body parts.”

Collard says he was particularly interested in documenting the way the factory workers interacted with the mannequins they were making. “The way they handled these ‘perfect’ naked forms, carried them and worked on them with sanders, spray guns and staplers made these beautiful, sculpted forms seem even more vulnerable.”

 

 

Pig’s Head
James Day

James Day’s striking photograph of a pig’s head was taken for an ad campaign by BBH in London. The brand remains unknown as the ad has not run.

“I wanted the shot to be very graphic and visceral,” explains Day. “My stylist Dawn Kershaw tracked down a butcher who could supply us with the very freshest heads. On the shoot day she brought two or three actual heads and we chose the one that had the most person­ality; I wanted it to really feel like it was looking at you.

“The actual shoot took about half a day and I then took the files down to the brilliant guys at my post-production house, Core Digital, to do a little work with it to enhance the colour and texture. The creatives and I were really pleased with the result and it’s a real shame that it did not run in the end.”

 

 

Come As You Are
Richard Burbridge

More used to shooting celebrities and fashion models for a host of international magazines, photographer Richard Burbridge turned his camera on a range of rather more everyday faces for a campaign for McDonald’s France through agency BETC Euro RSCG.

With the strapline, Come As You Are, each of the large format campaign posters features a group of seemingly different people. In fact, the group pictures are all shots of the same individual but sporting different hairstyles, make-up, outfits, or, as in the portraits Burbridge took of a little girl (shown, left) – freckles. The idea being, of course, that the fast food restaurant welcomes anyone and everyone through its doors.

 

 

Chain Of Hope 2
Julie Fisher

In January this year a medical mission led by heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub set out for the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to set up the first specialist heart hospital in the country. Yacoub’s charity, Chain of Hope, helped to assemble the medical team and also to source, itemise and ship every piece of equipment that was needed.

“As box after box arrived at Addis in the pristine but empty hospital, 30 children and their parents had already set out from dusty outlying villages for the long journey to the capital and the hope of a new chance of life,” explains Julie Fisher, who documented the recent work of the charity that has saved the lives of thousands of children around the world.

“I wanted to raise the profile of the charity, as well as convey some of the spirit of the teams of medical volunteers who come together, bringing with them disciplines from the leading heart hospitals, and create the conditions under which the children can be safely operated on,” says Fisher. “I hoped to show the level of sophistication and the medical excellence that must prevail, but also reveal the parents, the child, the fears and hopes that travel hand in hand in what is often the last chance for a new life.”

Later this year Fisher hopes to return to Ethiopia with the next mission and photograph the children on their journeys to and from the hospital. “I would also like to catch up with many of those I photographed in the past and see what life now holds for them,” she adds.

 

 

Plastic Food
Jason Hindle

Until recently, photographer Jason Hindley was working as one half of photographic partnership Giblin & James. Now focusing on a solo career, Hindley is continuing with the still life work he has built a reputation for, but is also exploring landscape and interiors photography.

These images are from Hindley’s Plastic Food series and, as the name suggests, each image is of a plastic, brightly coloured model of a meal. “I recreated ordinary and somewhat unglamorous settings using the kind of plastic food models that are found in restaurant menu displays all over Japan,” explains Hindley of the project.

“I wanted these models to give the photographs a slight oddness or awkwardness. Perhaps at first the viewer would not realise that the food is, in fact, fake but feel that there was some­thing not quite right with the setting.”

 

 

Earth Movers
Christopher Lane

Fold 7 commissioned Christopher Lane to create this series of photographs to help relaunch the Cat Footwear brand. “We wanted to move Cat away from the old brand to a new future using seemingly surreal ads that would turn consumers’ and retailers’ heads alike, challenging their perception of the brand,” Lane explains.

“We held a series of castings to ascertain the ideal range of dance or other acrobatic disciplines that would enable us to fulfil the brief,” he continues. “After several sessions we settled on a mixture of people trained in dance, or people trained in dance and Capoeira [a combination of martial arts and dance]. The resulting shots were taken over two days in freezing conditions at the South Bank in London, which provided the visual backdrops. The final images we created were all shot in camera with no manipulation of the moves.”

 

 

Personal Logic
Jane Maxwell-Hyslop

“I started to look at railway modelling as part of a wider series about British leftfield DIY,” explains Jane Maxwell-Hyslop of these shots taken at homes, clubs and shows in the UK.

“I made contact with The Model Railway Club in London and went along to a couple of meetings where I met some really lovely guys who chaperoned me along to events over the following months,” she continues.

“Their enthusiasm is quite infectious. Apart from confirmation of the ingenuity and narrative imagination that I’d expected to find, one interesting aspect has been finding, perhaps contrary to stereotype, a strong self-confident sociable community. Rather than being something solitary, a lot of time is spent enjoying conversations fuelled by the small daily victories of invention. There’s about a 40/60 split between attention paid to modelling versus tea, biscuits, beer, chat.”

 

 

The Slaughtermen
Andrew Meredith

The Slaughtermen project came out of a regular feature that Andrew Meredith shoots for OnOffice, a design magazine showcasing unusual workplaces. Meredith visited CH Rowley’s slaughterhouse near Coventry and created a no-holds-barred series of images depicting the slaughter-men at work.

“When I entered the building, the reality of the situation was immediate,” says Meredith. “Blood splattered the walls, there were buckets containing bits of assorted animal, and skinned cow heads hung from huge metal hooks suspended from the ceiling.”

Yet despite this assault on the senses, the apparent macabre nature of the profession was quickly dispelled. “Meeting the men who worked there and hearing their stories only increased my interest in pursuing this project further,” says Meredith. “They weren’t barbaric murderers but dedicated and skilled workers, adept at an undesirable yet essential profession.”

Meredith admits that his unflinching photographs tested the magazine’s usual editorial line but remains  adamant that they perform an objective duty. “There’s no harm in pushing a few boundaries,” he says. “I never wanted to glorify or sensationalise this industry, just merely to document it.”

 

 

Holy Land Experience
Kate Peters

Kate Peters’ series of shots of the Holy Land Experience in Florida came about after she read an article about the possibility of building a similar theme park in the north of England.

“I was fascinated by the idea of it – the concept of religion as theme park seemed opposed to the usual associations of it being something sacred or spiritual,” she says. Peters recalls that the park itself has now become a site for pilgrimage and that during many of the re-enactments that take place there, visitors are frequently moved to tears.

“I wanted to show the unreality of the park, so kept the images free from people unless they were part of the Experience,” she says. “I’ve since discovered that there are several other religious theme parks around the world, including a Buddhist one in Vietnam, which I plan to visit to develop the project further.”

 

 

G20
Jane Stockdale

“My plan for the G20 was just to document what was happening at the different protests planned across the city,” explains Jane Stockdale of the event which she was docu­menting for German newspaper Der Freitag, “but due to police ‘kettling’ these photographs only show what happened outside the Bank of England.” While some of the images reveal the uneasy proximity of protesters and police, others frame groups or individuals in less obviously confronta-tional moments.

“The media hype in the build-up to the G20 was totally over-sensationalised,” says Stockdale. “Headlines such as ‘Summer of Rage’ and ‘Meltdown in the City’ led to high expectations and, in a way, it felt like some of the violence became a self-fulfilling prophesy due to the massive media presence. For me, the G20 was summed up by the Greek guy I photo­graphed wearing a balaclava, who put it into context: ‘What is this, we smash three windows and we go home – is this it? If this was Athens, cars would be on fire by now.’”

 

 

Playground
Jeroen Hofman

Jeroen Hofman shot the series Playground at several training facilities in The Netherlands where members of the fire brigade, police and ministry of defence are trained and prepared for a range of possible emergency scenarios.

“Within the boundaries of these grounds, it’s all just practice or ‘play’,” says Hofman. “Outside of them, however, things are a lot more serious. My aim was to capture these facilities and the various people who are trained there.”

Hofman used a large tripod, a crane and a ladder to take the images, so that he was positioned high enough to get an overview of the terrain. “Training facilities like these have a very basic and functional design,” he continues. “Factories and houses have been recreated to make training conditions as realistic as possible, but unlike a real town they are completely devoid of any personal decor­ations or human touch. This makes for a completely surreal atmosphere like that of a ghost town.”

 

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