By far my favorite photographer of the past six months or so is the lavishly talented Vanessa Winship, a British photographer who has worked mostly in the Balkans, mainly Bulgaria and Turkey. I've bought both her books, Sweet Nothings and Schwarzes Meer (Black Sea). The latter especially, available only from Amazon Germany, is just wonderful. (Enter "Schwarzes Meer" or "Vanessa Winship" in the search field.) The reproduction quality is very good, and the book is a treasure, a much better way than the web to see the work. You can get a pretty good idea of her work and her concerns from her website, however. I find myself returning to it again and again, although I feel an almost visceral desire to see her original prints at exhibition sizes. The website never seems to work quite right for me, so some patience might be required.
Winship seems to be a spiritual descendant of Koudelka. She's one of those rare photographers whose work obliterates the bulwarks between documentary honesty and exquisite personal art ("between chronicle and fiction," as she says). A big hat tip to Stan Banos, who first clued me in to this photographer and her superb work.
Featured Comment by Guy Batey: "An exhibition of prints from Sweet Nothings is on at Host Gallery in London at the moment. Even better than the book."
Featured Comment by Mike C.: "I know how annoying (and how beside the point) these "if you like X I'm sure you'll love Y" comments are, but I'm going to do it anyway...ff you like Vanessa Winship I think you'll love Marketa Luskacova, whose book published by Torst is still available, beautifully produced, and full of astounding work in that rich Koudelka vein. I've been on a mission to make her work more well known ever since I got a copy of Pilgrims, another astounding book (some of the images in there are better than Koudelka).
"But now I'll go and have another look at Vanessa's work, which I agree is very good."
Featured Comment by Judith Wallerius: "Her pictures are wonderful. I was lucky enough to hear and see her speak at the Lumix Festival in Hannover, Germany last year. For her presentation she showed her pictures while reading personal texts about how she grew up, and it was incredibly poetic. You can see the whole lecture at the festival's website (short introduction in German, 40 min. video).
"The festival went over a couple of days and many of the photographers who were invited to speak also stayed to listen, and watch. At some point I approached her to tell her how wonderful I thought her work and presentation was. This is not something I'd usually do, partly because I'd wonder what it could possibly mean to someone as accomplished as Vanessa Winship when some random audience-member comes to tell her how great her photos are. But as I was really touched by her work I seized a quiet minute to tell her so, and I was lucky. The quiet gentleness so tangible in the photographs is there just as much when you meet her in person. She very gracefully accepted my compliments and we talked for a while, and I was happy to see that she is not someone impressed by her own success but instead reflective about her work, sometimes even unsure, trying to reach people with her photographs and searching to inspire others with what she does. She certainly inspired me, and telling from the stunned silence at the end of her presentation, everyone else in the audience, too.
"I remembered that encounter when I read the post in January about how it's not always a good idea to meet your heroes because they might be jerks. Definitely not true here. Of course I can't claim to know Vanessa Winship from one short meeting (and don't know what she's like in everyday life) but from all I can say the work rings very true of the artist that created it."