One of the more satisfying aspects of working on the PDN's 30 issue each year is the opportunity to get to know the people behind the portfolios of images that stood out to PDN editors from among the more than 300 we received from photographers all over the world last October. What we invariably learn in this process is that these are a collection of strong personalities.
And while these photographers differ as widely as their backgrounds, histories and photographs, there is a shared personality trait that stood out this year: self-belief.
Bharat Choudhary notes how it can be difficult to create "fresh and unique" photographs in an image-rich culture. His solution: "To realize who I am and unabashedly let my individuality dictate my work." Ty Cole focused on personal projects in order to get assignments that appealed to him creatively. Sim Chi Yin and Tatiana Plotnikova—among others—changed careers to pursue their passions for photography. Geordie Wood concentrated on making images that felt "honest" to him even though it might limit his opportunities. Nicole Tung and Katie Orlinsky cut their teeth in war zones. Jessica Eaton accepted the fact that she might "bartend until I'm 40" in order to build her career as an artist. And Olivia Bee had the gumption to shoot advertising work as a teenager.
Whether their confidence was built over time or ingrained, or nurtured in them by family members, mentors or friends, each of these photographers has at some point looked inward in order to create work that means something to them, which they can then put out into the world. In the process they've inspired a host of top clients—and us—to recognize their work and the force of the personality behind it.