Ten for eleven


Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 1_EscapeIntoLife

His Eyes (from the series Above us only Sky) – Ahmad Kavousian


It never ceases to amaze me the sheer number of talented photographers inhabiting the internet. Keeping track is a virtual impossibility. So when somebody attracts my attention and admiration, I dive for the bookmark button.

What follows for your approbation or criticism is a list of ten photo-artists who, over 2010, turned – and continue to turn – my head; plus a brief reason why I like their work.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 2_EscapeIntoLifeHashtrood, Tabriz, Iran Ali Shokri

Ali Shokri. Although landscape is not my favourite photo subject go-to, Ali Shakri is a man who could change my mind. His images – primarily of the terrain around his home territory of East Azerbaijan – are simply breathtaking. His work perfectly captures the topography of this stunning area, the dunes and outcrops, the snow and shadow, the grand vistas, in a perfect mixture of abstraction and reality. Pay attention National Geographic!

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011- 3- EscapeIntoLife another mess – Yell Saccani

Yell Saccani.  This lady is on a trip. A wild ride through her own fantasies and terrors, hang-ups and ecstasies. Her weird and wonderful images never fail to stop me in my tracks. Interestingly, the first words on her web site are ‘I’m a nobody from nowhere. I know nothing about photography.’ But then you discover that from posting a few images on Flickr, Yell has gone from strength to strength with exhibitions, magazine and CD gigs and interviews galore. Warning: her stream is strong, introspective stuff.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 4_EscapeIntoLifeFrom the My Sarah series – Federico Erra

Federico Erra. Federico is all about the word exquisite: in his choice of models; in his self-portraits; in his delicate disposition of elements and soft luminance. I first saw his work on Flickr and was immediately captivated. According to Federico, Diane Arbus was and continues to be his greatest influence. I have to work awfully hard to get past the sheer beauty of his work to the bizarre world and subject matter visited by Arbus.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 5_EscapeIntoLife ‘hindeloopen, de ijsdame‘, 2000 – ellen kooi

Ellen Kooi. Playfulness, magic, creative vision, vivacity, consummate craftsmanship –  I simply love this lady’s work. And obviously so do a lot of other people judging by the extensive list of global exhibitions Ellen’s work has been involved in, and the collections in which her work resides.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 6_EscapeIntoLifeSimple people Ahmad Kavousian

Ahmad Khavousian. Whether it’s people, landscape, travel or a revolution, Ahmad’s lens work never fails to blow me away as well as providing masses of inspiration. Ahmad’s career has spanned architecture in his birth country of Iran, to commercial and performance photography, to coverage of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 – which resulted in his arrest. Resident since 1996 with his family in Canada, Ahmad continues to turn out splendid work.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 7_EscapeIntoLifeUntitled Jesse Wright

Jesse Wright. Most days on Twitter I await Jesse’s latest capture of the urban mundane because I just know it’s going to bring a smile to my face. Not always because it’s funny (which it often is) or because it’s a witty juxtaposition, but often because he has simply seen and captured a glimpse of the human condition or a found graphic or a delightful burst of colour. A far cry from his scientific background. Or is it?

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 -8_EscapeIntoLifeDrown – 2010 – Michelle Brea

Michelle Brea. It’s Michelle’s courage in her investigation of herself, her emotions and inner visions that continue to captivate, which is not to say that her outward looking work isn’t equally compelling. Here’s a snippet of what Michelle says of her work “Each of my photos has a sound, a scent, a flavor and a texture, each is part of me small vision of this crazy world in which we live.” Indeed.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 -9_EscapeIntoLifeWelcome to Fabulous Casino Car Wash, Miami – Manuel Guerzoni

Manuel Guerzoni. Much of Manuel’s work, particularly the images I like best, is pure essence of America often with extra added wittiness. No tricks. No heavy effects. Slightly diluted colours. But right on the mark with icons that shout Yew Ess Ay. See the series called Americana.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 10_EscapeIntoLifeCavalls al Balandrau – 2008 – Eudald CJ

Eudald CJ. If I was forced to perpetually look at the work of only one photographer on Flickr, Eudald would be the one, such is the diversity of subject matter, the eye for details, the superb use of hues and textures. As often as not, Eudald works in square format which I find curiously pleasing. He’s also not averse to layering and a touch of manipulation now and again, with dramatic results.

Ten of my favourite contemporary photographers for 2011 - 11_EscapeIntoLifeColours of India – 2010 – Azli Jamil

Azli Jamil. One of the best natural social and people photographers I’ve ever come across. Hard to believe he’s not a professional.  Azil describes his own work and life as “Touching lives through photography”. This he certainly does in all corners of the world and with a sensitivity mixed with sheer joy.

And there you have it: my ten togs for 2011. You’ll be missing something if you don’t have a look. I’ll be checking out their work religiously to regularly rekindle my creative fire.

How about letting me know your fave togs?  Just drop their co-ordinates in the comment box below when you get a chance.

Fred Shively was born in the USA, but has lived and worked most of his life in Europe. His current base is Spain. His background of writing and creative direction in advertising and  corporate communications exposed him to some of the world’s most talented photographers,  designers, musicians and film-makers, all of whom influenced his work. Fred is now primarily  involved in photography and, with his wife Arpi, managing a holiday finca in Andalucia.




  • Cris Piera

    Great selection, thanks for sharing it with us!

  • Amy

    love these – Amy

  • azli jamil

    Thank you for including me.