We’d like to share the work and some thoughts from 20 creators who have been inspiring us this year with their work. They’re a diverse bunch—content creators, photographers, cinematographers and videographers, portraitists and fine-art conceptual artists. Their work covers everything from headshots and portraits, families and weddings, to landscapes, street photography, astrophotography, documentary, photojournalism to time-lapse, video and live streaming. You'll find these creators encompass a wide variety of experience from newbies to those with well-established businesses. They're a mix of self-taught through traditionally educated artists.
Stunning, whimsical, beautiful, amazing, striking, introspective, thought provoking all describe this collection of images. They’ll make you smile, laugh, think and reflect.
All 20 of these creators are talented, so we’ve decided to showcase them alphabetically.
Check out their work below and follow them on Instagram/YouTube and their other social media channels.
Anya is a self-described fine-art conceptual portrait photographer with a surrealistic and whimsical feel. She uses photography like any artistic tool to create her art. Anya explains: “It doesn't matter what type of process helped you achieve the result, it's the result that matters. Is my work something beyond photography? Maybe. Photography is so much different now than it was 100 years ago. It transformed and evolved into something more complex.”
When asked what the future holds for her, Anya says, “We live in a very fascinating time and I honestly don't know what the future holds for us. But I hope to have the ability to create and work more on the projects I believe in.”
Darrell is a headshot and portrait photographer who is heavily influenced by editorial style. He endeavors to capture the beauty he believes everyone has. “It sounds cliché,” he says, “but I truly mean that. It's my job to make people look their best in an image. Whenever anyone steps in front of my camera I want them to see their best self and be proud of who they see.”
One of the more meaningful projects Darrell has been working on is Help-Portrait sessions he’s done the last three years for women's shelters in Dallas. “Seeing the reaction of the mothers and children when they see their holiday photos is priceless,” he explains.
He’s been mentoring photographers and is excited to continue doing so. He says he’s put his own twist on creating a program that helps new photographers sharpen their skills. ”I definitely see myself shooting more [in the future] and finishing my tutorial video for beginners.”
Anna is a documentary photographer/photojournalist who aims to elicit compassion through her work.
Her photographic philosophy: “[I aim to] bring our shared humanity to the fore. I view and experience this work as an act of empathy. Going inside my subject's lives—and entering their physical and emotional worlds—has transformed and refined my ability to see.”
The biggest accomplishment in her career thus far, she says, is her long-term project Finding Freedom in the Water. She touts it as her most important work to date. “Bearing witness to and photographing the transition from fear to peace—an act of emancipation—has exceeded my expectations.”
Looking ahead, Anna says, “I like to think that my best work is yet to come. Thanks to COVID-19 and our time quarantining, I have been generating ideas with a fresh eye and an open heart. Thankful for this time and the opportunity that it has provided to listen, reflect, and reimagine a new way forward.”
Nicolas is a fine-art photographer whose work is surreal and conceptual. What you may not realize is that Nicolas does sculpture, costume and set design—building pretty much everything put before his lens. He is also the model for the characters in his images. Nicolas says: “Not only do these actions create an interesting photograph—they also train your brain to work within different mediums. By honing multiple skills to aid your photography work, it opens a world of independence where you can create on your own time.” Nicolas strives to create his imagery entirely in-camera. “In my opinion, there needs to be a level of realism within the world of surrealism.”
He feels his work can be translated into commercial work such as book covers, album artwork, and art direction for music videos. What does the future hold for Nicolas? “I am looking forward to working on more behind the scenes documentaries of my creations, creating a virtual reality program to spread awareness of sleep paralysis, and continuing to exhibit my works around the world. It is my mission to inspire others to use photography and self-portraiture as an uplifting therapy.” He also wants to create a workshop program to teach other creators how to create images like his; and he’s planning more interactive treasure hunts along the coast of Long Island, where my artworks and creations can be found in buried treasure chests.” We think that’s way cool.
DeShaun is a self-taught photographer whose work encompasses live music and street photography. He explains: "I love being able to extract still moments that encapsulate a feeling of calm or wonder." He, like many creators, hopes the feelings he felt when taking the images translate to the viewer.
DeShaun is aiming for the future to hold an advancement of his music imagery—to be featured in print or used by the artists as album art. He's also working on a long-term project on abstract imagery.
Joshua is a wedding photographer whose work is a mixture of storytelling and editorial. His decade plus career has afforded him the opportunity to shoot many things that influence the work he does now. Joshua’s philosophy when it comes to photography is to be introspective, to be mindful and to care. He explains, “Everything that I've photographed while putting care into making the photography has yielded good results for myself or my subjects."
Joshua says his biggest accomplishment is that he can make others happy with what he does for them. “No awards or recognition could ever overshadow making people feel good about themselves or capturing their personal moments.” He hopes to keep evolving as a creative. “We don't know what the future holds but I hope that I'm able to use my camera as a tool to inspire myself and others,” he adds.
Taylor is a landscape photographer and outdoor commercial videographer who says the natural world has been his biggest source of inspiration. “I love creating photos and videos that allow viewers to visualize themselves in a specific moment in time.” He hopes his work will inspire others to gain a similar appreciation for the incredible natural places around the world.
“Over the past few years, the majority of my work has transitioned more and more towards video,” Taylor says. “I’ve always been inspired by nature documentaries such as BBC Earth and Our Planet, and can see myself contributing my timelapse and video work to similar programs in the near future,” he adds.
Damian describes his still image work as true to life. Not the first choice of career, Damian walked away from a successful career to pursue his passion for photography. As he says, "When you truly love what you do sacrifice is just a part of the journey."
He says of his work, "I want the person that’s viewing the picture to feel the image, I hope they feel what that person has been through in their life, whether it is a joyous occasion like a wedding or a birth of a child to the dramatic black and whites that show the essence of still living." Cliché or not, Damian feels that everyone is beautiful and he feels he's lucky to be able to capture the moments he does photographically.
Damian says he's got a lot of learning to do, as far as technical skills when it comes to photography and it's important to him to continue perfecting his craft. He also hopes to be able to travel around the world to take photographs that capture the "essence of people" in front of his lens.
Lavina is a landscape and portrait photographer with an interest in creating time-lapse videos. She says that when she shares her work: “I want people to feel the moment, experience the journey of making that picture.” She shares lots of behind the scenes details along with her travels so her social media audience can join her on her journey. “For portraiture, I love expressing through my edits. I want my audience to understand the thought process behind shooting, editing and the color choices I make,” she says.
Lavina sees herself transitioning into making videos in the future. She says, “It is amazing to see how even short videos are so engaging to the audience and are an excellent storytelling tool. I am excited to explore video making.”
Nicole is an editorial photographer who loves telling stories through photographs. Being a photographer lets her express herself through the artwork she creates, eliciting emotional responses from her images. She explains: ”I believe that there is no right or wrong when it comes to taking a photograph. It is about the way you feel when you took the photograph and the message and emotions you want your audience to learn and feel. I want my photographs to evoke certain emotions in people and allow my audience to feel something when they see my work.”
“When I visualize my future in photography, my goal is to travel more and photograph diverse experiences that represent and honor different backgrounds and cultures around the world,” Nicole says. “I am also very interested in continuing to create social media content for businesses and hope to utilize this passion globally.”
Patrick’s images have an editorial style to them. His goal: to tell a story within each image. He says, “I’m really inspired by documentaries, so I try to capture that feel in my images.”
Patrick says, “There’s a story in everything. The people we walk past, the buildings we see, the roads we travel. Everything has a story and that can be told with the way we use light, angles and our subjects.”
Being able to pick up a camera and shoot full time—he says—amazes him each and every day. “I believe the future for me is about working on really guided projects to show others the realities of the world we live in. Moving into more editorial, documentary style work is my passion. I want to take my street photography background into new areas,” he tells us.
Mike’s work is a mix of landscape, natural disaster and aerial photography. “I strive to capture scenes that are authentic and inspire others to experience nature as well. I want whoever is viewing my work to feel as if they are right there in the scene with me, but also be encouraged to experience that moment in person as well,” Mike explains. And Mike says he makes it a point to allow nature to create the image in front of his camera, not in the digital darkroom.
Mike says: “Honestly, there have been times in the past few years where trying to stay creative and motivated have been tough, but pushing through those trials has really begun to pay off.” He says he’s more motivated than ever to get into the field and create new, inspiring content. “Not only do I want to expand on my personal projects, but I’m eager to continue teaching those who have a passion and curiosity for the art of photography,” he adds.
Seth is a self-proclaimed jack of all trades when it comes to describing his work. Creative commercial photographer, Grime style with clean techniques, content creator, live streamer and videographer. Seth notes that photography and production is a lot of non-stop problem solving. “The greatest accomplishment is gaining the ability to feel you can handle anything.”
Seth explains that coming from a film background shooting chromes [slide film], you don’t have infinite chances. “It’s about getting it as much in camera as possible unless it’s a specific commercial reason for post editing,” he explains, adding, “Starting my career in BMX/Skateboarding you couldn’t edit an image to give a false impression of what was happening and same goes for my career in the SFX makeup industry.”
Ask Seth what the future holds for him and he’ll tell you he doesn’t know, “and that’s the best part.” He goes on: “If you told that punk kid on a BMX bike he’d be off the street and in a studio, trading in garage-sale no-name flashes for studio strobes, shooting commercial makeup he would [have] laughed. If you told that guy trying to figure out how to shoot alien creatures and gory zombies that he’d be running live streams and hosting videos or shooting in front of crowds he would have thought you were crazy… Yet here I am.”
Kitty is a creative—a filmmaker and photographer who looks for balance in the content she produces and will experiment with bright and airy aesthetics, and contrast that with dark and moody aesthetics. Her videos may be a new concept she’s immersing herself in or a marketing video about a favorite new tech product.
“Whether you're new or you've been doing this for 10+ years, trying new things has always been my general philosophy. There's no need to feel stuck inside a certain art form that tries to appeal to popular demand,” she says, explaining you take pieces of everything and make it your own, constantly evolve and create something new.
She says her biggest accomplishment is when she makes others proud of her work. “When people tell me that they've been inspired by the content that I create is a really great feeling.” Kitty, who loves trying new things, is looking to expand beyond just the imaging industry, branching out into lifestyle, fashion, automotive work, architecture, and Kpop. “These are things that I can continue to be challenged by and learn from,” she adds.
MaRia is a portrait photographer who enjoys capturing her subject's unique personas. She explains, "While photographing people and focusing on their eyes, I can almost immediately “see” their personality."
She strives to use her creativity to give her subjects the chance to "see and appreciate their own beauty in a different light." She explains, "A great picture can change a person’s outlook."
MaRia hopes the future will allow her to mix her passions for photography and travel.
Alex is an editorial, commercial and conceptual creator depending upon the job at hand. That includes being a cinematographer along with photography and design. Along with work for brands, Alex creates a lot of imagery within his own community, The Bronx.
“I believe that one should be able to show the world what they feel is interesting or beautiful. To shed a light on topics that are overlooked,” Alex says. “I feel that freezing an image in time and being able to feel a memory over and over again is a super power.”
Ask him what the future holds for him, and Alex will tell you: “I believe the future has dope projects set for me, within the boundaries of pushing my creativity to its limits.”
Malike describes his work as creative portraiture. He says: “Photography is a language, and just like any other language, the more you practice it the more you learn how to speak in it, and everyone has their own way of speaking.”
Malike says his biggest accomplishment to date was getting the cover of The New York Times Magazine in July, with his coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests in New York City. Malike's imagery of the protests were also published in Time Magazine. He adds that working with the Met Museum in 2018 was a dream come true.
What does the future hold for Malike? He says, “I want to be good at what I do, and with that comes everything else. I definitely see my work evolving more.” Malike wants to add directing films and gallery exhibitions to his creative repertoire.
Gilmar describes her work as creative portraiture with a side of joy. Her goal is to preserve moments, tell stories and bring imagination to life in the most fun and colorful way! She says: “I love bringing adults back in contact with their inner child and creating magical worlds with kids.” Gilmar adds, “Simplicity is definitely not my style, I’m attracted to more complex things. Taking a photograph is just a step in the kind of images I create, I love building sets and post-processing is a big part of my work where I like to step out of reality and where my creativity comes out to play.”
Gilmar says photography has been very cathartic to her. “Art has the power to change our mood and makes us forget about the negative aspects of the world. We’ve experienced that a lot during this pandemic. Life is built of little moments, and if we can fill lots of those moments with joy, then we’re building a happy life. If one of those happy moments is made from one of the images I create, then I am contributing to the kind of world I want my kids to live in.”
Brandon’s photography is centered around his love for external light sources and how they interact with his subjects. He explains: “I’ve always wanted my photos to come across other worldly but in a comforting way. Almost like they’ve come straight out of a storybook.” Soft tones and a shallow depth of field has become a signature look for his photos.
Brandon says he’s recently reverted to reflecting more on the pieces he’s crafting. “It’s easy to get caught up in creating out of habit instead of intention. I’ve noticed that with taking time for myself comes more authentic inspiration.”
In 2017 his first book Luminescence came out. He says being able to view an entire scope of his work in one cohesive piece “felt truly surreal.” In August 2020, his second book, Ultraviolet, will be released which showcases new work as well as “before and after” shots, which he hopes will give his audience insight into his creative process.
“With photography being such a diverse craft, it leaves a ton of room for experimentation,” For someone who never expected to pursue photography full time, Brandon says he hopes to gain experience in as many different aspects of this amazing artform as he can. “What lies ahead is unknown. As long as I’m able to keep connecting with new people, build relationships and create the art I’m happy creating—I’ll be satisfied,” he adds.
Lisa’s journey in photography started out in Air Force photojournalism, then transitioned primarily to portraiture and branding, and now she’s exploring fine-art photographic expression. Her tag line is her photographic philosophy: Capturing the YOU that you wish you were but didn’t know you already ARE!
Lisa says her biggest accomplishments since her career as an Air Force Combat Photojournalist has been participating in her first photography exhibition "Soul Captures" was held during the Atlanta Celebrates Photography annual event. She explains, “I didn’t get to see my work printed and displayed very often in my military career. So when I walked into our studio/gallery for the first time, I immediately started tearing up seeing my images displayed so beautifully. I am in a new phase of my photographic journey and it’s like a whole new world for me!” This new phase of her photographic journey includes a decision she made while self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am launching my new fine art line of photography—Amplified Whispers Fine Art—specializing in fine art photography for home décor/wall art, gallery exhibitions and permanent installations,” Lisa says.