We celebrate the photographers who fought for the time to tell stories that matter, pushing against the mainstream media's hunger for instant gratification.

We celebrate the photographers who fought for the time to tell stories that matter, pushing against the mainstream media's hunger for instant gratification.

Once again, professional photojournalists had to fight for their right to exist in 2016.

Photography budgets continue to be cut, while global news organisations like The New York Times, National Geographic and TIME are increasingly focussed on telling stories on the small screen and choosing to cover major world events like the Olympics for Snapchat and Instagram.

But for journalists who know that snapping a few illustrations on your iPhone, getting in, finding an angle and getting out, is insufficient to explain the issues that confront us, times are getting harder.

Huck 57: The Documentary Photo Special IV focusses long-term photography projects but throughout the year – and every year – we’ve highlighted the photographers who go against the grain, who go in search of truth, journey miles and continents to connect and take the time to discover human stories – that evolve over weeks, months and years.

Here is some of the year’s best work from photographers we love and respect, who have dedicated themselves to the search for those all important never-ending truths.

This is what Africa’s fashion renaissance looks like…

Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson

Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson

After forging a career documenting a cycle of hard news, photographer Per-Anders Pettersson fell in love with Africa’s flourishing fashion industry, rekindling his affection for positive stories that go unseen.

“Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I want to focus on more positive stories in Africa. I have been amazed, overwhelmed and uplifted by the creativity of the African fashion scene,” Per-Anders says. Read more.

Alex Webb’s street scenes capture life at its most poetic

Mexico, 1996. Photo by Alex Webb

Mexico, 1996. Photo by Alex Webb / Magnum Photos

Magnum photographer Alex Webb has absorbed the world, catching cinematic moments that make time stand still. Now he’s ready to focus that intuition on the everyday scenes that he calls home.

“Searing light and intense colour seemed somehow embedded in the cultures that I had begun working in, so utterly different than the grey-brown reticence of my New England background,” Webb says. Read more. 

This photographer took a road trip in search of adventure… and his identity

Photo by Christopher Bethell

Photo by Christopher Bethell

Growing up in England, Christopher Bethell invented a life for a grandfather he’d never met. But after a transformative road-trip across the US, he uncovered another reality.

“I plotted the truth, the reality of the life that he [my American my grandfather] led, but at the same time I also lived out my fantasy. I travelled the roads that, in my mind, he’d journeyed down,” Chris says. Read more.

Cristina de Middel: The photographer of the Post-Truth age

Photo by Cristina de Middel

Photo by Cristina de Middel

Photographer Cristina de Middel willingly plays with fact, fiction and storytelling. But her games with reality are all about helping her audience find grains of truth in a world of lies.

“I’m always mixing fact and fiction. I like to think of my work as going to the gym for the brain. It can help get you ready to read the newspapers. We all need to be more critical and need to question everything. Everything,” Cristina says. Read more.

On the frontlines with the Kurdish female fighters beating back ISIS

Suzdar, twenty-one, joined YPJ four years ago. “When the revolution happened in Rojava, I knew that I wanted to have a role in it.” © Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos

Suzdar, twenty-one, joined YPJ four years ago. “When the revolution happened in Rojava, I knew that I wanted to have a role in it.” © Newsha Tavakolian / Magnum Photos

As a coalition of forces fight to retake the last major stronghold of the so-called Islamic State in eastern Syria, fighting alongside Iraqi government forces are a Kurdish feminist army. But what’s driving young Kurdish women to take up arms, knowing they may never return? Magnum photographer Newsha Tavakolian went to find out for Huck’s Defiance Issue.

“When I am at the frontline, the thought of all the cruelty and injustice against women enrages me so much that I become extra powerful in combat,” says Torin Khairegi, eighteen. Read more.

Blurring fantasy and reality in America’s poorest region

Photo by Stacy Kranitz

Photo by Stacy Kranitz

Across Appalachia, photographer Stacy Kranitz is embedding herself into the frame, turning strangers into lovers, subjects into friends, and exploding the myth that photography is objective.

“I use photography to examine and reflect on a legacy of representations of poverty. But I may not be the photographer you want me to be,” Stacy says. “I am not filled with a noble desire to show the world a certain type of injustice in hopes of remedying it. I’m not interested in a narrative of good versus evil.” Read more.

When falling in love can put your life in danger

Buje, Nigeria: arrested, tortured and ostracised for being gay. Photo by Robin Hammond

Buje, Nigeria: arrested, tortured and ostracised for being gay. Photo by Robin Hammond

By documenting LGBTI discrimination, Robin Hammond found himself turning from photographer to activist. Now, through a worldwide campaign, he’s using visual storytelling to expose oppression.

“Homophobia and transphobia comes in many forms but if there’s anything universal among its victims, it’s that they’ve been denied the ability to advocate for their own rights,” Robin says. Read more.

The American dream is finished: Bruce Gilden in Detroit

© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos

After documenting Detroit’s foreclosure crisis in 2009, street photographer Bruce Gilden was drawn back to the Motor City by its apocalyptic beauty and the tenacity of its people.

“It’s OK to live your dream, as long as you have enough talent to live your dream. People who fool themselves and think they’re good artists and they’re not, then they’re suckers. But the people who are good… you can go into a Blues club in Detroit and hear people that are pretty good and they struggle to make a living but they’ve still got that soul, they’re still singing and they got something that money can’t buy,” Bruce says. Read more.

The photographer tracing the roots of Brexit Britain

Photo by CJ Clarke

Photo by CJ Clarke

Over the course of a decade, CJ Clarke has been exploring what it means to be white, middle-class and English by documenting life in the remarkably unremarkable town of Basildon.

“I circled its streets, my journeys mapping the contours of my own past, reacquainting myself with that which was forgotten, absorbing all that was unspoken and unseen,” CJ says. Read more.

Why this photographer risks her life to document war and crisis around the world

Photo by Lynsey Addario

Photo by Lynsey Addario

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario has witnessed death and been kidnapped more than once, but has never found a reason to put her camera down. Now Steven Spielberg is making a film about her life.

“Everyone has their own reasons for covering war. There are people who do this job because they like to live on the edge or because they’re running away from something. My reasons are more politically or sociologically driven,” Lynsey says. Read more.

The art of timeless music photography

A fan attempts to skate over the crowd during a set by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Photo by Sacha Lecca.

A fan attempts to skate over the crowd during a set by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Photo by Sacha Lecca.

An obsessive drive to document concerts has given Sacha Lecca unique insight into what makes live music special: chaos, intimacy and a creative force that will never be silenced.

“To really understand the reason people make music is to see artists show up with all the gear on their back, set everything up themselves and just kill it,” Sacha says. Read more.

Exploring the world with just a camera, a skateboard and a curious mind

Photo by Daniel Zvereff

Photo by Daniel Zvereff

Thirty-year-old Daniel Zvereff has spent most of his life travelling the planet alone – without direction, let alone a safety net – using photography to get closer to the unknown.

“To be clear: I don’t regret anything. It’s all a learning experience. But rather than investing in the concept, I think I got lost in it,” Daniel says. Read more.

The stylish self-portraits of Namibia’s last nomadic people

Photo by Kyle Weeks

Photo by Kyle Weeks

When photographer Kyle Weeks offered his camera to Namibia’s indigenous OvaHimba people, it subverted a long-standing power dynamic to reveal a hidden sense of identity.

“It’s amazing how photography has been used in Africa, from its history as a tool of oppression during colonialism to how it’s now being used as a tool of empowerment,” Kyle says. Read more.

The cycle of life and death in the Romanian countryside

If humans being can, we'll have to fly. Photo by Laura Pannack

If humans being can, we’ll have to fly. Photo by Laura Pannack

Using a Romanian folk tale to guide her, photographer Laura Pannack set off into the countryside to investigate questions on time and mortality.

“The tale really resonated with me because at the time I didn’t think I was making the most of my life,” Laura says, “I was having worries about wasting it. Living in London, you get to the end of each day and think, ‘what have I done?’” Read more.

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