20 of the most popular photography projects of 2021

© Tomesha Faxio

© Tomesha Faxio

As part of The Review, our series looking back at the last 12 months, here's a look at our 20 most visited photography articles. And there's been plenty this year for photography artists to get their teeth into.

It's been a year of activism and social change, with marginalised groups beginning to find a voice, and the world's youth marched for more action on the climate, such as the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London. It was also the year America witnessed an uprising in the Capitol and marked the 20th anniversary of September 11th. And of course, it was the second year of the pandemic, with continuing lockdowns and restrictions imposed across the world, plus the arrival of vaccines and new treatments shining some light down the end of that particular tunnel.

Many of these themes and movements have informed and influenced photographers, while others ploughed their own furrow and continued to push their practices forward creatively. As ever, we brought the most interesting on Creative Boom, and here are the best of the best.

1. Photographs of flowers submerged underwater look like classic oil paintings

Known for her serene underwater portraits of women, artist and photographer Barbara Cole has recently explored a different approach by capturing submerged flowers instead. Appearances feature dreamlike images of anthropomorphised flora that could be mistaken for Masters' oil paintings, given their delicate and blurred beauty.

© Barbara Cole

© Barbara Cole

2. Boys of Volta: Photographs of fisher boys in the world's largest human-made lake

In his award-winning series, Boys of Volta, Brooklyn-based photographer Jeremy Snell hones in on the people and environment surrounding the world's largest human-made lake. It follows the story of the fisher boys Jeremy encountered during his travels to Lake Volta in Ghana.

© Jeremy Snell

© Jeremy Snell

3. Pastel-coloured, dreamy travel photographs by Teresa Freitas to brighten your day

Portuguese photographer Teresa Freitas loves to give her images of the world a slight cinematic twist. In this interview, she explains how she uses soft-coloured pastels to transport us to a subtle change of reality.

© Teresa Freitas

© Teresa Freitas

4. Lauren Tepfer's photographs capture what it's like to grow up in American suburbia

Lauren Tepfer is a 21-year-old photographer and director living and working in New York City. Having grown up in southern New Jersey, she's adept at capturing the essence of teenagers living in suburbia. "Growing up with a creative mind in the boundaries of a town populated by less than 7,000, I've learned to create my own magic," she tells Creative Boom.

© Lauren Tepfer

© Lauren Tepfer

5. Tomesha Faxio's photographs celebrate the beauty of black hair in its most natural state

Wash Day, a series by photographer and mixed-media artist Tomesha Faxio, celebrates the beauty of black hair in its most natural state while also providing a glimpse into black culture. It's a thoughtful and ultimately inspiring celebration of pride and authenticity.

© Tomesha Faxio

© Tomesha Faxio

6. Holding the Baby: Photographer Polly Braden offers a glimpse into the lives of single-parent families on the poverty line

Today, around 1.8 million single parents exist in the UK, making up nearly a quarter of all British families. Photographer Polly Braden's year-long participatory project highlights the day-to-day reality of seven of these one-parent families.

© Polly Braden

© Polly Braden

7. Primary-coloured photographs of 'quirky' London by Josh Edgoose

Every day on London's streets, countless small but meaningful interactions take place – but usually go unnoticed. Someone who does notice is British photographer Josh Edgoose, and in his photobook Brilliant Parade, we see a fascinating visual document of the capital that spans five years.

© Josh Edgoose

© Josh Edgoose

8. Exploring representation and otherness through portraiture with Ryan Prince

London-based documentary photographer Ryan Prince explores themes around blackness through his personal work. In his portraiture series 'Can You Sit With Me', he questions the aggressive and sexualised tropes often associated with black people and show the soft and human side instead.

© Ryan Prince

© Ryan Prince

9. Youth Rising: Rarely-seen photographs of young people in the UK captured over four decades

Young people often lack a voice, but photography can provide them with one. An exhibition entitled Youth Rising in the UK 1981-2021 brought together the work of nine photographers documenting young people across 40 years. And these images showcase just how much each generation is unique in a way that's so visually captivating.

Alice from the series ‘Of Quiet Birds’ ( © Sadie Catt

Alice from the series ‘Of Quiet Birds’ ( © Sadie Catt

10. Aerial photographs of 1960s communal dining areas in Singapore's social housing

On the empty, void decks of Singapore's public apartment blocks lie various old stools and tables available for local residents to enjoy. Jonathan Tan's photo series 'Lepak Downstairs' offers us a bird's eye view of the furniture arrangements, bringing us interesting shapes and colours throughout.

© Jonathan Tan

© Jonathan Tan

11. Photographs that document a Chinese family living in New York City for the last 18 years

Hidden histories have emerged everywhere in 2021, and here's another great example. For nearly two decades, photographer Thomas Holton documented the life of a Chinese family living in New York. The Lams of Ludlow Street has emerged as one of the important series about the 21st-century Chinese American experience to date.

© Thomas Holton

© Thomas Holton

12. Photographs of classic cars that have reached the 'end of the road' in a cleaner London

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone enacted in London during 2021 has meant the death knell for many classic cars. London-based photographer Ray Knox felt compelled to document them before they finally disappear from the capital, and the resulting photos are strangely beautiful.

© Ray Knox

© Ray Knox

13. Photographer Adrian Fisk on documenting the frontline of Britain's environmental protests of the late '90s

One popular lament amongst today's young environmental activists is that the older generation has failed them by "doing nothing" about climate change until now. But it's important not to tar everyone with the same brush. In this eye-opening photo series, Adrian Fisk looks back at the early British environmental protests of the late 1990s. The photographer was right there in the thick of the action and tells a fascinating story.

© Adrian Fisk

© Adrian Fisk

14. Photographer Inzajeano Latif's street portraits of the real people of Tottenham

Gentrification is happening all over London, and Tottenham is not immune. Photographer Inzajeano Latif calls the area home and, in his autobiographical series 'This is Tottenham', tells his story via the people who live there.

© Inzajeano Latif

© Inzajeano Latif

15. Photographs by Lucas Foglia of the first summer in New York after the September 11 attacks

Back in 2002, one year after the 9/11 attacks in New York, photographer Lucas Foglia spent the summer there, photographing the city's residents. "The city was recovering from an event that shook its sense of security," he recalls. "Yet, most people said yes and looked straight into my camera lens. I am grateful they chose to trust me."

© Lucas Foglia

© Lucas Foglia

16. 'There is no one to listen and provide a platform': Justin Keene discusses the importance of representation and ethics in photography

The documentary photographer's ongoing project 'It Must Be Built From The Ashes' focuses on educational inequalities and youth in Mitchells Plane, a township located on the outskirts of Cape Town built in the 1970s as a relocation area during apartheid. In our interview, we chat with Justin to learn more about his journey to date and the importance of honest storytelling.

© Justin Keene

© Justin Keene

17. Seductive photographs of LA's liquor stores celebrate the city's poetic beauty

When you visit Los Angeles for the first time, one thing that immediately stands out is the fact there are liquor stores on every corner. It's this theme that Ben Hassett highlights to fascinating effect in his long-standing photographic series, 'Beer, Soda, Lotto'.

© Ben Hassett

© Ben Hassett

18. London in Lockdown: 24 photographers share stories of love, loss and resilience

In 2020, the UK capital's streets were emptied as the pandemic arrived. Some of the photographers who remained share their stories in the book London in Lockdown, with an introduction written by Jilke Golbach, curator of photographs at the Museum of London. Here we chat to Jilke about the publication and why photography is an apt tool for telling these stories.

© Jilke Golbach

© Jilke Golbach

19. Take a trip to Tokyo through the illusory lens of photographer Rumi Ando

Japanese photographer Rumi Ando has an eye for the spectacular. In her series Tokyo Nude, she creates pastel-tinted photography inspired by the dreamy compositions found in Yamato-e paintings.

© Rumi Ando

© Rumi Ando

20. I AM NOT INVisible: powerful exhibition explores the state of homelessness in America

Thilde Jensen's first UK exhibition, I AM NOT INVisible, examines the issue of homelessness. As the Danish photographer tells Creative Boom, the arresting images in the show can trace their route back to a 2014 encounter with two homeless men from Syracuse, New York.

© Thilde Jensen

© Thilde Jensen