An exhibition of PDN editors’ 2018 selection of 30 emerging photographers who represent a variety of styles and genres and have demonstrated a distinctive vision, creativity, and versatility.
Featuring: Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi, Sarah Blesener, Ted Cavanaugh, Matthew Cicanese, Cody Cobb, Gabriella Demczuk, Kyle Dorosz, Emile Ducke, Kholood Eid, Alina Fedorenko, Johanna-Maria Fritz, Julia Gartland, Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Matthew Genitempo, Laurel Golio, Brian Guido, R. J. Kern, Joyce Kim, Daria Kobayashi Ritch, Álvaro Laiz, Eva O’Leary, Brad Ogbonna, Paola + Murray, Jordi Pizarro, Hannah Reyes Morales, Maggie Shannon, Danna Singer, Daniele Volpe, Cole Wilson, An Rong Xu
Editors of PDN
Reading through the stories of these 30 photographers, I was reminded of something writer Ta-Nehisi Coates said in an interview with The Atlantic in 2013. In talking about the challenging process of turning a good idea into a finished work, he said: “I strongly believe that writing is an act of courage. It’s almost an act of physical courage.” Making something—a story, a body of work—can be grueling, requiring repetition and refinement, and the will to work with intensity. The idea applies to any creative pursuit and we see evidence of this “physical courage” in the stories of these photographers.
Laurel Golio, for instance, committed herself to working on a new personal project every month for a year, which helped her improve as a photographer. Ted Cavanaugh talks about the importance of relentlessly pursuing a body of work, “oftentimes without any recognition,” at the beginning of your career. Alina Fedorenko says that “always” creating new work to show potential clients is crucial, while Brian Guido describes persevering through periods of low confidence. “When in doubt, keep shooting,” he says. Danna Singer echoes this when she advocates using rejection as a motivator, not a deterrent.
There’s also courage evident in Daniele Volpe’s decision to leave his engineering job to pursue human rights and social justice work in Latin America, or in Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi’s choice to invest her savings and move to the Congo to make work. Then, too, there’s the other work of running a business. Cole Wilson talks about learning as an assistant to Michael Friberg—the work of “finances, emails, managing clients and fighting for what you deserve.”
There are a lot of other insights here about building a photography career. Joyce Kim and Daria Kobayashi Ritch talk about being selective (when you can) about the jobs you take so you aren’t stretched too thin by projects that won’t further your career in the long term. Kyle Dorosz and Brad Ogbonna emphasize the value of building a network of clients and peers. “It’s a small world, be nice to people,” says Dorosz. Photojournalists Jordi Pizarro and Johanna-Maria Fritz address the importance of respecting your subjects by investing time with them, or protecting them if they’re vulnerable.
When we’re looking at two-dimensional images, we can sometimes lose sight of the physical work that went into their making. As you read these profiles, I hope you’ll think a bit about the effort—and intention—that underpin the images. As Sarah Blesener notes, being a professional photographer is not about “waiting for the right time or the right opportunities,” it’s about “taking risks and whenever possible, taking the less-traveled route.”
Every year since 1999, the editors of PDN have selected 30 emerging photographers who represent a variety of styles and genres and have demonstrated a distinctive vision, creativity, and versatility. This year, the editors reviewed the work of close to 300 photographers from around the world. To be considered, the photographers must have been shooting on their own professionally for five years or less. Most were nominated by photo editors, art directors, curators, educators and fellow photographers around the world, and some were invited by editors based on work seen in promotions, portfolio reviews or photo contests. Profiles on each of the 2018 PDN’s 30 photographers are featured in PDN’s April 2018 issue. Thanks to the support of the PDN’s 30 sponsors, PDN will also host six panel discussions on career strategies for emerging photographers at photo schools, workshops and festivals around the U.S. throughout the year.