When we partnered with D&AD for their Next Photographer Award, we set off to discover the next generation of talented photographers. What we found was beyond impressive.

Last week, the judges narrowed down the entries to a shortlist of 18  from across the globe. Getty Images Senior Vice President of Creative Content Andy Saunders, a member of the judging panel, said he was overwhelmed by the participants’ ambition.

“I was massively impressed by the scale of what many entrants were trying to achieve, both technically and philosophically,” he said. “The subject matter ranged from serious documentary to studio still life, to imagery so inventive we will have to make up new label for it.”

 

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Laura Thompson, Senseless

While the entrants all had unique styles and covered a range of topics, Saunders was particularly—and pleasantly— surprised that so many photographers chose to focus on major social issues that are prominent in today’s society.

For example, Brooklyn-based photographer Michael Nigro documented the outrage and tension of the Black Lives Matter protests in his series “Escape From Freedom.” Then there was Beijing-based Yuyang Liu’s series “At Home With Mental Illness,” which explored the daily lives of China’s mentally ill. And London-based Melissa Arras, who captured the struggles of life inside a refugee camp in Calais, France in her series “El Dorado.”

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Michael Nigro, Escape From Freedom

 “These are difficult topics to tackle with skill, but there were many examples of great work in these areas,” Saunders said. “It’s very clear that these photographers are dedicated to their craft and to creating depth in their imagery, which helps them stand out in a world where photography is becoming ubiquitous.”

Throughout the judging process Saunders was both fascinated and inspired by the creativity of the images that were submitted.

“Judging this competition reminded me that fresh ideas are the best ideas,” Saunders said. “Even though the execution might not have been perfect—that will come with time and experience—the endeavor of the photography was incredibly impressive.”

The final winner of the D&AD Next Photographer Awards will be announced on at May 19th at the D&AD Festival ceremony in London.

 

Explore more of the groundbreaking work from the up and coming photographers who made the D&AD Next Photographer Award Shortlist