BJP Editor Diane Smyth introduces Ones to Watch 2024

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Monochrome documentary, bright staged shots, edgy collage, images found in porn – this year’s 15 Ones to Watch have vastly different approaches. What they have in common is a singularity of vision and practice. Many come from multicultural backgrounds, and some have endured intensely difficult periods of war and forced migration. These experiences have only sharpened their distinctive styles, something we consider when selecting emerging photographers for our annual talent issue, now in its 13th edition.

Take Saad Eltinay, who lived through mass protests and a change of regime in Sudan; for him this revolution was as much in mind and spirit as it was in governance: “It wasn’t just a political revolution, it was personal and existential. It was about how you relate to the world, about power and what can be said, and that includes arguing for aesthetic freedom.”

© Saad Eltinay
© Saad Eltinay

“Their work suggests fresh perspectives, from a generation growing up surrounded by photographs and more networked than ever before”

Like Eltinay, many of these Ones to Watch are questioning the medium, whether decolonising picturing people (Imane Djamil) or applying sheer resourcefulness to image-making (Vuyo Mabheka). As such their work suggests fresh perspectives, from a generation growing up surrounded by photographs and more networked than ever before.

“We suppress thinking about the future out of fear of what awaits us; absurd videos and memes are a response to the chaos surrounding us,” comments Ones to Watch nominee Michał Maliński. “The longer you stay somewhere, the closer it seems. Fiction can at some points become the truest reality. By photographing and reconstructing scenes observed on the internet, I create a kind of ‘post near documentary’ because it concerns a new, contemporary reality.” 

© Michał Maliński

British Journal of Photography’s Ones to Watch issue (7918) is available to purchase from the BJP shop and selected newsstands and retailers

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is the editor of BJP, returning for a second stint on staff in 2023 - after 15 years on the team until 2019. As a freelancer, she has written for The Guardian, FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, Aperture, FOAM, Aesthetica and Apollo. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy