Tradition & Identity


Juan Brenner: A New Era

In the Guatemalan Highlands, a new generation is coming of age, adopting the culture of global youth for an aesthetic that blends tradition and contemporary trends. After a turbulent time away, Brenner returned to his homeland looking for personal peace and, with his latest project, documents a turning point in the country’s troubled history

2 September 2022
Investigations of identity and community are at the heart of the stories we tell at British Journal of Photography.

For many of us, traditions – the rituals and customs passed down by our ancestors from generation to generation – form the basis of our personal narratives. We create a linear connection between our past, present and future through tradition and storytelling. Through the lenses of global photographers, we learn how customs are upheld and changed and whether they are still relevant today.

Tradition, as a subject, has been addressed in photography projects for decades. Some of the most recognised series, such as Larry Towell’s The Mennonites, document the unique customs of communities where tradition lies at the heart of their everyday existence.

British documentary photographer Alys Tomlinson too, has spent her career capturing tradition through faith and spirituality. Wendy Red Star’s oeuvre is concerned with keeping her community's archive alive, lest it be forgotten or cloistered in museums, divorced from those to whom it belongs. In this Collection you will find projects and long-form interviews with artists sharing personal stories on their traditions and those they have learned from others. There are also pieces that scrutinise the customs of photography and whether they should be challenged, subverted and reconsidered. We ask, which traditions to preserve and which to forget?