It feels as if our relationship with the idea of home is changing.
Across the world, nationalism finds itself dancing freely with far-right politics, while political divisions have chopped families right down the middle, transforming previously tight-knit units into warring factions.
At the same time, conflict and a climate emergency have seen millions of people displaced, forcing them to flee their place of birth and seek refuge elsewhere. Once they arrive, elsewhere isn’t always so welcoming.
In that sense, home is both a physical and imagined space: a state and place of belonging. How we find our way there is the great challenge of life; how we capture it is even harder.
For documentary photographers, the challenge is clear. How do you record something so fluid and subjective – so personal – in a way that resonates on a universal scale?
The answers, of course, vary – depending on who you ask. But one thing remains clear. Home, in all of its wildly different guises, has never been a richer subject to explore. In the seventh edition of our Documentary Photography Special, we celebrate some of the storytellers doing just that.
Sohrab Hura blends fact and fiction to explore contemporary Indian society, never giving away whether an image is real, staged, or a little bit of both. For him, this kind of provocation is the only way to depict the anxiety he currently feels in his home country: a precarious state, sizzling with tension.
Michael Jang views the world through a mischievous lens. Be it irreverent family photos, covert celebrity shots or candid portraits of US weather broadcasters, his work amplifies the humour in the everyday. Now, after going unseen for decades, it’s finally gaining the plaudits it deserves – and the 68-year-old is loving every second.
After falling victim to a violent assault, BMX rider Sandy Carson left his native Scotland for the US. It was there, travelling the breadth of the country, that he found a home in photography – capturing American life with an outsider’s eye.
Alexia Webster travels the world, setting up public studios where anyone can pose for a portrait. For the South African photographer, it’s about redressing the power balance between artist and subject – all while sharing the simple joy that comes with having your photo taken.
Mark Neville believes that photography can be more than just pictures on a page. Over the course of his career, he’s shone a light on unspoken issues – making work that actively serves the communities he captures.
A rising star of South African photography lifts the lid on the storyteller who inspired him most.
The Spanish photographer pays tribute to one of her country’s all-time greats.
Motherhood, of all the stories we possess, is perhaps the most well-known: a narrative that in some way shapes us all. But for photographer Ying Ang, no corner of culture – no books, films, photos or art – captured the implosion that transformed her world. It demanded a new way of seeing.
Terra Fondriest documents life in the Ozarks with an unmatched intimacy – a challenge in a region awash with stereotypes. But the mother, firefighter and horse ranch worker is no outsider. She’s simply capturing what she knows.
Gideon Mendel made his name as one of South Africa’s leading ‘struggle photographers’, unflinchingly documenting the most brutal years of apartheid. Now, over 25 years later, a chance encounter with some old damaged prints has led him to revisit the forgotten parts of his archive – helping him unpack some of the trauma he witnessed in those formative years.
Caribbean American photographer Miranda Barnes went from sharing images on her Tumblr page to feature assignments for The New York Times in the space of a few short years. Whether she’s documenting the black American experience or using her work as a vessel for social justice, she’s driven by a desire to shake things up in contemporary photography.
American photographer Cengiz Yar has seen a few things in his time – from the rebels’ battle to oust Assad in Syria, to the human fallout of conflict in Iraq. But it was away from the frontlines that he truly came to value a universal right: having a patch to call one’s own.
Diana Markosian left her childhood home in the former Soviet Union for a new life in California. But it was a journey she never chose to take. To understand her mother’s choices, she had to press rewind and reconstruct the first chapter of a story that would inspire her most ambitious project yet: a film, book and exhibition – built from the memories in her head.
For Motoyuki Daifu, inspiration is never far away. In fact, he doesn’t even need to leave the house. For over a decade, the Japanese photographer has been capturing the charm and hilarity of life within his family home, seeking out quiet moments of magic among the mundane.