Stack Awards 2019: Best Use of Photography

by Kitty Drake in October 2019
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Sifting through the shortlist for Best Use of Photography is a visual treat. The images in these magazines are not secondary to the text — usually they’re even more important. The judges for this category are Steve Fine, picture and sports editor at Flipboard, and Clare Grafik, head of exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. Scroll down for more on them, and to see the 15 titles shortlisted in this category.

Accatone | Brussels

Accatone is an architecture magazine with unusually lush photography. Highlights in this issue include artist movie stills and wonderfully detailed little building models.

Aint-Bad | Savannah, GA

Aint-Bad No.14 showcases 150 artists. Almost entirely text-less, the progression between images is striking: abstract limbs bleed into street scenes, and then into portraits of people sleeping on planes.


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American Chordata | Jersey City, NJ

No picture in this magazine has been commissioned specifically to illustrate the text it sits next to. Instead, the art director Bobby spends his time mining the internet, while editor Alison Lewis separately gathers fiction and poetry, and then they put the words and images together in the run-up to deadline. This creates jarring contrasts: think snakes slithering near eyeballs, and albino ferrets.


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Beside | Montreal

Text and photo credits are given deliberately equal typographic weight at the top of each feature in Beside, which is a statement of its particular editorial intent: to tell stories where photographs are as important as the words.


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Cartography | Milan

Cartography is divided into dream travel itineraries (China 21 days; Argentina 17 days; Jordan 8 days), with huge, full-bleed photographs to flesh out the fantasy. Particularly ravishing are the photos of Iguazú Falls, waterfalls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.


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Closing Ceremony | Shanghai

The theme for Closing Ceremony is “Americano”, self-described as a “not-too-serious” take on the American spirit. Highlights include photos of lost tourists at the bottom of Trump tower. There’s also an extra zine slipped inside every copy of this issue. Called ‘Amazine’, all props pictured have been bought from Amazon, and then returned after the shoot, at no cost to the photographers or magazine-makers. It’s an elaborate tease.



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Make Running | Amsterdam

“A pace-setting magazine for those who run”, each issue looks at one extreme race around the world. The first is The Speed Project, a very intense event held in the Californian desert.


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Migrant Journal | London

The sixth and final issue of Migrant Journal features photographs of Romanian show homes and travelling Zulu folk artists. All photographs are specially processed in dark black, metallic green and neon purple to achieve distinctive depth and texture.


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Minimal Zine | Barcelona

On the cover of Minimal Zine, a pair of scissors dangles dangerously close to a woman’s crotch. A celebration of minimalism, images inside do a lot with just a little: a white, eerily blind sculpture; blood on concrete; and a patty of raw mince darkened with soy sauce.


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Nataal | London

Nataal’s stated aim is to celebrate the spirit of Africa, while acknowledging how “impossibly vast as a term ‘Africa’ even is”. Coffee table book-sized and fabulously glossy, one excellent photography feature is a tongue in cheek tribute to Moroccan “souk style”.


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Primary Paper | Berlin

Primary Paper reflects contemporary trends in photography. The theme for this issue, Primary’s second, is age — a response by the editors to the fact that the industry is beginning to root itself closer to reality.



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Record Culture | Madrid

Record Culture visits vinyl lovers in their homes, so this is a nosy muso’s dream. Record’s photographers usually work in the fashion industry, and they have a knack for capturing delicious little details of a person’s home — this issue features a small ceramic onion that is crying.


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Source | Belfast

The relaunch issue of this photographic review is themed “Privacy: picturing our inner selves”. Highlights include Turner-prize winner Gillian Wearing dressing up as Georgia O’Keeffe.


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Unseen | Amsterdam

A biannual magazine of work by emerging, (unseen) photographers, Issue 7 includes work on Brexit and a selection of responses to the West’s colonial legacies. There is also a series by Rie Yamada, re-staging the family photographs of strangers, with herself as the star.


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Victory | New York, NY

A sports magazine made in Brooklyn, Victory is huge, with lavish, full-page photography. Images of the DIVA’s of the Compton dance team, practicing a routine to Cardi B’s “Drip”, are imperious and beautiful.


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Winners will be announced on November 14 at the Stack Awards ceremony at Somerset House. Tickets are available now.

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