Alexandre Haefeli

ÉCAL, Switzerland

In The Company of Men, Alexandre Haefeli takes on the tropes of male eroticism to produce stylised portraits that subvert conventional representations of masculinity. ‘My images leave reality to approach  a lost paradise where a phantasmagorical male  figure appears, sometimes more like a presence than  a living form,’ says Haefeli. Pictures are often unfocused or overexposed, creating abstract romantic fantasies where each Adonis-like body ‘offers itself  up to the spectator’s amorous and voyeuristic gaze’.

Paolo Morales

Rhode Island School of Design, USA

Drawing on his own peripatetic lifestyle for inspiration, Paolo Morales’ ongoing series These Days I Feel Like a Snail Without a Shell takes its name from Haruki Murakami’s novel South of the Border, West of the Sun. In poignant documentary-style portraits, he seeks out people who seem to long for a connection, creating  a world where his subjects appear ‘emotionally isolated despite close proximity’. ‘These pictures are about the feelings I project onto the people,’ he says.

Lottie Bea Spencer

London College of Communication, UK

For her final degree project, Lottie Bea Spencer created an ode to all things British in a series of nostalgic snapshots titled Nine O’Clock Horses. Inspired by the ‘whimsical traits, style and traditions’ of UK culture, Spencer’s playful pictures express the visual language of modern youth, from transfer tattoos and sports day memorabilia to portraits of Spencer’s own friends. 

Peter Staniszewski

Griffith College, Ireland

Polish-born graduate Peter Staniszewski doesn’t assign his photography a single aesthetic, instead applying himself to a rigorous process of experimentation. In Monoliths, he creates still-life pictures depicting stark architectural behemoths as a reaction against the digital overload of the 21st century. Staniszewski argues that the overlooked beauty of these constructions provokes viewers to reflect on man’s impact on nature. ‘Brutalist architecture is my primary inspiration,’ he says. ’You can analyse it indefinitely.’

Roos van de Kieft

Royal Academy of Art, Netherlands

Fascinated by the ‘experience of our physical selves and the way human bodies create space’, Roos van de Kieft creates dynamic, evocative photographs. In her graduate project Embody, moving forms bring a new dimension to fashion imagery, encouraging viewers to experience each shot from different angles. Similarly, in the Het Ambtenarenjargon series (pictured here), van de Kieft brings to life common bureaucratic expressions, using her subjects’ body language. ‘In my work, visual elements are calmness and the power of simplicity, combined with a light and playful twist,’ she explains. 

Elsa Leydier

ENSP, France

‘By focusing on how images are used to define identity,’ says Elsa Leydier, ‘I try to reveal the contradictions that appear when it comes to representing someone or somewhere.’ Layering promotional stamps over photo postcards of the country’s indigenous people, her project Esgotados (Épuisés) explores the tension that arose during the preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, when the Brazilian army evacuated indigenous people from the iconic Museu do Índio in order to make way for a tourist complex.

Benoît Jannet

ÉCAL, Switzerland

In A Geological Index Of The Landscape, Benoît Jannet builds on French philosopher Anne Cauquelin’s concept of landscape as ‘an invention that only exists through representation’. Capturing captivating geological fragments and scenes around the world, his images build on the tension between emotion and rationalism. ‘The academic dryness of the title is an irony,’ explains Jannet, ‘reminding us that encyclopedic fantasies are as useless as they are attractive; vain and seductive.’

Ellen Syrjala

London College of Communication, UK

Dalston Blues is Ellen Syrjala’s passion project, an ongoing documentation of Dalston and its surrounding areas. In this visual love letter, Syrjala captures the perennial activity of her neighbourhood, from the early market stalls set at the crack of dawn to the midnight revellers against the colourful backdrop of its streets. Her biggest challenge remains the street portrait, ‘a good picture requires mutual openness,’ she explains, ‘and for whatever reason, a lot of people today are so suspicious.’

Lam Pok Yin Jeff and Chong Ng

London College of Communication, UK

’This project is an attempt to deconstruct and rethink the fundamental elements of photography,’ explains one half of this dynamic duo behind this image. Based in Shanghai and London, Lam Pok Yin Jeff and Chong Ng work with sculptural objects, installations and performances. By taking obsolete technologies and everyday objects they radicalise them within breaking point, altering their nature and ultimately giving them a new purpose. ’It is a very direct response to the prevalence of digital photography,’ he adds, a process which has been rendered too direct and clinical for their immersive process.

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