1854’s career accelerator for unsigned talent is back! Apply to 1854 Fast Track Vol. 2 to get in front of global brand directors, advertising agencies and industry figures at LE BOOK Europe this September.
1854 Fast Track seeks out the industry’s brightest unsigned talent to promote them in the commercial sphere. From visualising invisible illnesses to capturing vanishing landscapes, we unpack the practices of three more of this year’s winners.
There is an invisible storyline in Liz Marie Sanders’ Be Here to Love Me, a series that depicts her father in the final stages of his life. It’s dementia, the silent killer. As Sanders’ father became increasingly ill with the brain functioning syndrome, the Arkansas-based photographer decided to document his last moments on camera. “I was at a loss for how to hold onto him as he was slipping away,” she says. “I wanted to capture him so that parts of him would remain with me.”
Sanders was recently named a winner of 1854’s inaugural Fast Track initiative, launched earlier this year as an open-call for fresh, unsigned artists. A total of 18 photographers, deemed to represent some of the industry’s brightest emerging talent, were selected to have their work championed amongst talent representatives, advertising agencies and brands at LE BOOK Connections Europe in a bid to help accelerate their careers.
Be Here to Love Me embodies the rawness of documentary with the lyricism of poetry. Comprising a mixture of archival images alongside ones Sanders took of her father in his current home, the series looks both forward and back at the same time. “[My father] made scrapbooks of my every achievement, no matter how small,” she says. “It feels fitting to have created another kind of scrapbook to bookend the final stages of his long and beautiful life.”
Though Be Here to Love Me was the first time Sanders photographed her family in such an intimate way, the same themes of love and family make up the majority of her portfolio. Her images of healthcare workers for The Nation and Magnum Foundation, for example, provide stoic portraits of the nurses and other practitioners who tended to her father.
Like Sanders, London-based photographer and fellow Fast Track winner Hannah Norton endeavours to capture issues that elude visualisation. Her project Twenty Seconds to Safety is a series of black-and-white images made up of two elements: tightly cropped images of her sister Katie with her mother, and portraits of Katie annotated with coloured stickers. The stickers symbolise the type and intensity of Katie’s anxiety – which stems from her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – and the invisible emotional impact the illness has on her life.
Norton has shot commercial work for clients including the Financial Times, BBC and Channel 4. Prior to Twenty Seconds to Safety, she spent her time working on environmental portraits in colour film; Cowboys in Kent, for example, is a recent series she shot on a ranch in Hildenborough. But she eventually felt compelled to turn her lens closer to home. “The images I produced for Twenty Seconds To Safety are a big departure in style for me,” she says. “I used to resist working with family members, but I now appreciate how special and powerful it can be.”
To accurately capture the emotional toll OCD has on her sister, Norton took a distinctly collaborative approach to shooting. “[Katie] gave so much of herself to this project,” she says. “It was not easy for her. Bearing witness to that made me want to do everything I could to make a body of work that was a testament to her courage.”
Joining Sanders and Norton amongst this year’s hotly-tipped FastTrack winners, Zurich-based documentary photographer Frederik van den Bergalso employs the medium to grapple with the ‘unseen’. As a longtime lover of natural landscapes and an avid outdoor sportsperson, van den Berg holds a strong affinity for Alpine environments. It’s here that he investigates the fraught relationship between humans and our planet; in particular, landscapes that are ‘disappearing’ due to climate change.
“I’ve always had a huge appreciation for the way the landscapes around us continually stretch, grow, shrink, breathe and eventually decay,” says van den Berg, who began his career photographing for the German hiking publication Bergwelten, before graduating to assignments for the likes of Airbnb, SCIENCE Magazine and the Financial Times.
His latest project, Climate Tourism,looks at the ways in which dwindling glaciers have become an experiential attraction for modern travellers. “The evidence that these colossal masses are moving is stark,” he explains, “but too slow for us to appreciate in any given moment. Natural landscapes are dynamic, moving entities, but they change at a slower pace to the manic one we spend our lives running around at.” Van der Berg’s work goes some way to helping us understand the impact we have on our surroundings at this exact moment.
Alice Finney is an arts and culture Editor and Writer, based in Berlin. A graduate of the Central School of Ballet and Sussex University, she specialises in writing about dance, design and popular culture. She has written for titles including SLEEK Magazine, INDIE Magazine, Mixmag, gal-dem, HuffPost UK, and Dezeen.