2013's Most Striking Fine Art Photography

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Choosing just a handful of fine-art images to celebrate at year-end wasn't easy -- I'm always in love with each feature I publish at aCurator. I am fortunate to show quite a variety of images by both emerging and established photographers in a format they and the viewers -- which include a good mix of photographers, art directors, photo editors and gallerists -- all really appreciate. As you'll see ahead, some of my favorites are ones that straddle fine art and documentary.

This story appears the special Year in Photos issue of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Dec. 27 in the iTunes App store.

Life in Blue
At the beginning of the year, the gallery where I was working, ClampArt in New York, exhibited a series by Evzen Sobek. Sobek is a photographer and teacher in the Czech Republic. Each summer, Sobek goes to the banks of the Nové Mlýny reservoirs in South Moravia to record life by the water. The vacationers are ex-caravanners who have embraced a more stationary summer life, parking up and staying for a while to enjoy calm waters, cheap beer and easy carp fishing. The photographs are beautifully consistent, showing uninhibited locals enjoying simple summer pastimes under crisp blue skies and in safe blue waters. I chose this in particular for its uncanny feeling, yet humorous appeal.
Stinking Holes
Although caravanners certainly visit Yosemite National Park in California, they don’t want to get as close to the water as those in South Moravia. Dave Reichert wrote to me from home in New Mexico to tell me a story about a nature trip he took with family to the Park. He made these photographs in an attempt to create beautiful images that mitigate the horrendous stench of the bacteria-laden, acidic waters. I think he does a really good job with this mysterious, otherworldly photograph. You can almost hear the bubbles crackling and imagine the whiff.
River Gambia
A lot of crowdfunding goes on these days, and we all have to be selective with the projects we want to support —this photograph is one of the results of a really good one! I’ve been watching the photographer/producer-writer team of Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio for some time now. In 2009, they made a circumnavigation of The Gambia, on foot, taking portraits of village chiefs and elders, in a project named “Silafando” (“a gift to you on behalf of my journey”). In 2012, they successfully campaigned to return, raising enough money and sponsorships to trace the River Gambia by foot and canoe from its source in Guinea, through Senegal, and to the Atlantic Ocean coast of The Gambia. Blogging along the way, the Florios kept their audience thoroughly engaged. This is one of the standout images to me, a straight-up crowd-pleaser.
Michael Massaia is a true artisan, mixing his own chemicals, building his own cameras, making long, night-time exposures and producing incredible hand-made prints. He had been photographing Jersey Shore amusement parks for several years, and after Hurricane Sandy he returned to record some of the aftermath. This melancholy yet lyrical photograph is of the Casino Pier’s Star Jet roller coaster after it was propelled into the ocean at Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
A Man Feeding Swans in the Snow
There are just so many photography competitions these days it’s difficult to navigate, to decide where and whether an artist should spend their marketing budget to win the hearts of a bunch of judges who are casting their eyes over sometimes literally thousands of images. The International Fine Art Photography Award has sensible prizes — cash, exhibitions, very good exposure — and is one I enjoy and am proud to be involved with. Marcin Ryczek‘s winning image of a man feeding swans in the snow is a knock-out. Such great composition, such broad appeal!

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