Olivier Laurent's Best of 2017

Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill’s Everyday Africa, Instagram and book
There’s no need to present the work of the group of photographers behind the Everyday Africa Instagram feed and, now, behind the Everyday Africa photo book. Since its inception, their images have succeeded in presenting a more balanced view of Africa’s culture, people, institutions and mores. The genius of the book was to go beyond the photographs to include a large selection of followers’ comments – from the positive to the negative to the ugly – to recreate what made the feed so successful in the first place: the dialogue that’s necessary to confront our own biases.

From Everyday Africa, edited by Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill and published by Lehrer

Amy Vitale, Charlie Hamilton James and Cengiz Yar on Instagram Stories
These three photographers are the standouts, for me, have consistently made Instagram Stories engaging and informative as they worked for traditional media organizations. Amy with her hilarious reports from China’s Panda breading center, Charlie with his dry humour behind-the-scenes looks during his assignments, and Cengiz’s fascinating insights on the battle against ISIS in Iraq – all three showed how Instagram Stories should be used by photojournalists.
Laurent Van der Stockt’s coverage of the battle for Mosul for Le Monde
From November 2016 to the summer of 2017, Laurent Van der Stockt has covered, for Le Monde, the battle for Mosul, producing one of the best, if not the best, photographic reports on this struggle against ISIS. His commitment, as he said in various interviews, shows why photography is important at a time when “journalism is becoming more and more virtual”, with more people reporting from behind computer screens. Yet, he remains cautious about his own images. “Photography,” he says, “never completely conveys the complexity of a situation like words do.”
China Through Chinese Eyes, group show curated by Ye Ming, Yan Cong and David M Barreda
For two years now, Ye Ming and Yan Cong have worked to raise the profile of Chinese photographers internationally while exposing the work of international photographers to China’s audience. The crux of that work has happened on the microblogging and messaging platform WeChat, proving that there are other ways – more personal ways – to promote photography. This endeavour culminated into the exhibition China Through Chinese Eyes, presented at Photoville this year, which explored social, cultural and economic issues central to the Chinese people.
Stacy Kranitz for The Intercept
After the election of Donald Trump, many photographers questioned their coverage of America, especially in the communities that swayed it for the unconventional Republican candidate. But Stacy Kranitz has been producing, for years now, the kind of work that shines a light on these pockets of America. Her work is incredibly personal and subjective, and that’s what sets her apart. Since November 2016, she’s collaborated with The Intercept to produce a year-long, deep-dive into one family of white, working-class voters living in one of those swing states. Packaged with interviews, opinions and facts, it represents one of the best bodies of work to emerge from Trump’s election.