“Photography is sold as a vehicle for truth,” writes photographer Daniella Zalcman, in the lead essay for Huck’s sixth annual Documentary Photography Special.
“It is meant to be a mirror, an indisputable depiction of whatever the camera captures. But the reality is that there’s a galaxy of decisions that any photographer can make in the creation of an image – consciously or otherwise – that reflect more on the photographer and their experiences than what surrounds them.
“Roughly 85 per cent of working photojournalists today are men. That means that a disproportionate amount of the news imagery we consume, whether it’s of war or sports or politics or fashion, is framed and filtered through the masculine experience.
“There are many reasons why this is dangerous. Photographs don’t just tell us stories, they tell us how to see. So when representations of womanhood, the female body or femininity are largely constructed by men, it’s not just that they define us, they teach us how to see ourselves.
“What, then, happens when society’s mirrors are overwhelmingly wielded by one demographic? How do you subvert generations of misogyny and sexism that have been quietly embedded into our visual DNA? And what does it mean to reclaim ownership of our own image?”
These issues are something we feel strongly about. And so to help address this imbalance, our new issue celebrates exciting voices of change within photography – from emerging talent to established pioneers – who have broken new ground or disrupted the status quo in their own way.
Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas has spent five decades questioning the practice of photography in groundbreaking ways. But whether it’s documenting the lives of showgirls or an unfolding revolution, her open-ended approach gives the images a life of their own.
After learning all she could in the cut-throat world of photojournalism, Abbie Trayler-Smith realised it was time to focus on something that really mattered to her: fighting the taboo around obesity through stories of authentic experience.
Hannah Reyes Morales
Against the backdrop of Manila’s drug war, where fear and violence have become normalised, Hannah Reyes Morales has been seeking out moments of tenderness amid the adversity. And in learning how everyday life carries on undaunted, she’s come to better understand the place that’s shaped her.
In the heart of Arizona, Kendrick Brinson found a passion project she just can’t keep away from: a pioneering retirement community where no one believes in ‘acting your age’. By absorbing their lust for life – be it cheerleaders or synchronised swimmers – she’s learned not to fear growing old.
Mikiko Hara doesn’t need a viewfinder. Instead the Japanese street photographer shoots from the chest, allowing the camera to capture happy accidents that come as a surprise… even to her.
Having grown up bored by what middle England had to offer, Jane Hilton has spent her career seeking out the most fascinating people she can find. It’s a quest that’s led her to the American West, where the lives of outsiders – from working girls to bull riders – are never quite what they seem.
After spending the night with strangers across Russia, the US and Egypt, Bieke Depoorter has been asking constant questions of herself – navigating what it means to be a photographer with the most intimate access imaginable.
Calla Kessler has come of age with a firm belief in photography’s power to connect people. But as a recent graduate uprooted from small-town Nebraska to Washington DC, she’s learned that sometimes pursuing truth means standing up and speaking out.
In a landscape lacking in diversity, filmmaker and photographer Nadira Amrani is kickstarting her own movement: one that rejects outdated tropes of representation and pushes for more opportunities among people of colour.
Raised by nomads, Jessica Lehrman inherited a restless search for magic. These days she applies that spirit of wanderlust in a different way – documenting underground movements led by activists and rappers alike – but the underlying ethos is just the same.
After blossoming as a late-starting photographer, a search for authenticity led Annie Tritt to the lives of transgender and non-binary youth. But what she discovered would change her own life forever.
From the US to Latin America, Natalie Keyssar’s reportage uncovers the impact of social and political structures on everyday lives – capturing the violence of inequality and the mess of history in the making.
Sydelle Willow Smith
Growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, Sydelle Willow Smith often grappled with the country’s difficult past. But when it comes to examining the present, she’s found her relationship with home poses more questions than answers.
Lois Bielefeld has spent years documenting people’s domestic rituals, gathering intimate insight into a diverse range of lives while learning to better navigate her own journey.
Ada Bligaard Søby
Seventeen years after a painful breakup, Ada Bligaard Søby decided to make a book on life and love with her ex-boyfriend, pooling their family archives to plot a visual timeline of their lives. It turned out to be the wildest ride of her career.
Plus much more!