Less than 20 years ago, you could always tell the advertising images from the editorial ones. Ads were at least aspirational, if not totally dreamlike. Sometimes they were in lurid color. Editorial was gritty realism and always black and white.
Now it is nearly always color for news, with only upmarket advertising being likely to opt for a full-page black-and-white image. Authenticity is a key watchword in much advertising photography, while our finest photojournalism is often remarkable for its symbolic power and surrealistic eye for the strangeness of life.
This turnaround, this creative and journalistic convergence, is one of the themes explored and celebrated by the imagery of New Photographers 2007. Launched at this year’s Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, this exhibition of 35 emerging talents brings together new stars from the world of photography. It suggests they could have a significant impact on commercial imagery, yet draws many images from the arenas of editorial and art.
“Advertising is at its most vibrant when it pulls in new influences and talents,” says Lewis Blackwell, curator of the exhibition. “Our selectors worldwide all recognized that in suggesting artists who are often well outside the mainstream of advertising. You can’t fail to be excited by the talent emerging from Chinese art photography, or note that the eye for the most impactful editorial image is a good starting point for credible advertising photography.”
The show follows the success of its predecessor, New Photographers 2006, which has traveled the world and been the subject of numerous articles and talks. “It was great to see how some of our selection went on to pull in international campaigns or otherwise get another level of recognition,” adds Blackwell. “This year’s show has perhaps even more diversity – it is quite dark, literally as well as in meaning – and it pushes the edge of ‘what is photography’ right against illustration. That’s a direct reflection of the broader trends that are out there. So plenty of realism there.”