The landscape of photography has changed so much since 2003. Most of us now have a camera in our pockets. It’s reported that over 1,000 pictures are uploaded to Instagram per second. In this digital world, the question of “what makes a great photograph” is more complex than ever. At Aesthetica, we seek out artworks that look at the world from new angles, break boundaries and reinvent traditions. This article will introduce you to our favourite images from across the past two decades.
Andrea Torres Balaguer, quince (2017)
Humans have made portraits for millennia. Shown here is a contemporary image by Andrea Torres Balaguer, who combines analogue and digital, past and present. The subject sits as if posing for a large-scale oil painting, drenched in regal tones of red, green, black and gold. Balaguer layers faces with coarse brushstrokes, cutting across the composition to create a sense of anonymity.
Brooke DiDonato, Long Way Down (2016)
During the 2010s, photographer Brooke DiDonato sparked an online renaissance in “the uncanny.” The concept is most often associated with Sigmund Freud, who, in 1919, defined it as a descriptor for something familiar, yet alien. For over 100 years, such images have generated fascination, from surrealist art to experimental cinema. DiDonato became known on social media for her pastel-tinged suburban world: a place that is slightly off-kilter. Windows, garage doors and pavements are locations for the bizarre. Cosy homes and gardens bristle with danger, humour and intrigue, encouraging us to look again.
Fares Micue, Burning Energy (2019)
Fares Micue’s work is on the cover of Issue 112. The artist balances, poised, as a flock of paper birds rush past. This image was chosen for its relevance to our 20th anniversary, symbolising the power of ideas and what it means to be brave. Micue is a self-taught Spanish photographer who creates conceptual portraits that are dreamlike, uplifting, and – at times – surreal, with facial features obscured entirely by blooming flowers and folded paper cranes. “Every element in my compositions has a purpose,” Micue remarks. “I want my images to provide a sense of hope.” They are crisp, imaginative and perfectly composed.
Ellie Davies, Stars 8 (2014 – 2015)
In 2022, the world got to see the first images from James Webb Space Telescope: the largest and most complex observatory ever launched into space. Its mesmerising shots – including the deepest infrared view of the universe ever taken – encourage us to think about our place in the cosmos. Ellie Davies’ Stars 8 has a similar effect. The artist expertly collages real pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope over dark, shadowy forest scenes. Woodlands are, already, innately magical, but Davies adds another layer to their mystique – blending sci- ence and fine art to remind humanity of our fleeting existence.
Yannis Davy Guibinga, Ivy Guerrier-Cadet and Atlas Hapy for Nikon Z50. From Of Colour (2016)
Yannis Davy Guibinga’s bold portraits are part of an expansive and necessary conversation about the representation of Africa and its diaspora. These portraits depict “a new generation of Af- ricans” – using photography as a tool to face up to globalisation and western imperialism. To do so, the artist uses colour and contrast expertly. In this shot, found on our August / September 2020 cover, aqua complements luminous yellow, and soft shadows play with texture in the background. This incisive eye for composition has led to Guibinga being celebrated worldwide and collaborating with Apple, Squarespace and Adobe.