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Hannah Olivia Nelson, 31
Oakland

Education 
Dartmouth College and California College of the Arts

Favorite camera
My great love is an old Hasselblad 500 CM, but I’m having a pretty hot affair with my new K.B. Canham DLC 4x5.

Best shoot
Photographing my grandfather before he passed away. It was a really intimate process and one of the few times I’ve felt that I could use my camera to see, not speak. 

Dream shoot 
I’d like to travel more with my mother, and photograph the many hairpieces she brings to each place we visit.

Dream client
The National Parks Service—fly me to Denali and strap my gear to a dog sled.

Favorite photographer
At the moment, Daisuke Yokota. 

Upcoming projects
I’m working on making a small edition of handmade books using some of the images you see here, with accompanying text.


Jessica Richmond, 21
New York

Education 
Parsons the New School for Design

First camera
I began photographing obsessively with disposable cameras. I brought one to school every day throughout elementary school and middle school.

Favorite camera
Pentax 645

Best shoot 
I’m most comfortable in the studio, but surprisingly my favorite shoot is one that I shot on a beach. I worked collaboratively with a really great designer and creative director from Parsons. All of our ideas totally aligned and we got some really surreal, beautiful images.

Dream shoot
Photographing a clothing brand at an exotic location somewhere far away, like Iceland or New Zealand, deep in nature, where I can just create with no pressure and with a ton of assistants to help everything go smoothly. Actually, just shooting with an assistant would be nice.

Favorite photographer
It’s difficult for me to choose between Viviane Sassen and Guy Bourdin. 


Kenneth Lavey, 22
New York

Education
School of Visual Arts

First camera
My dad’s old Canon AE-1 35mm, which I used along with my mother’s slightly less old Nikon FM2.

First exhibition
The very first time I put my work up on a wall was in a café while I was in high school. I made these horrendous still lifes where everything except the subject was black and white.

Format
Only digital now, but if a project called for it, I would be happy to get back into
shooting negatives. 

Dream shoot
Something similar to what I have been working with lately—a form that’s obscure and utilitarian, but bodily and sensual. Make it big, though, like Richard Serra big, and have it covered in petroleum jelly. It would float above a seamless marble platform, bathed in neutral, pristinely soft light. 

What’s next
A project called “What is This, and Where Does it Go?” I’m also attending a residency at the Royal College of Art in London in the graduate photography program.


Matin Zad, 28
NEW YORK

Education
School of Visual Arts

First camera
Nikon F90X

First exhibition
Bottega Veneta’s “New Exposure” competition in 2013 at the Openhouse Gallery in New York City.

Favorite camera
Hasselblad H5D

Dream shoot
To direct a short film funded by Rei Kawakubo.

Dream client
Comme des Garçons

Favorite photographer
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison

Current project
My first book, #Fashion Vol. 1, a series of iPhone photos taken in New York, came out in September. It’s a love letter to my first few years in the city. 


Jiaxi Yang, 26
NEW YORK

Education
New York University and the School of the International Center of Photography

First exhibition
The graduation exhibition, “Tipping Point,” at the International Center of Photography this past June.  

Favorite camera
Phase One camera and Chamonix 4x5 view camera

Format 
Digital medium format and large-format film

Favorite photographer
Thomas Demand, Barbara Kasten, and Kenji Aoki, to name a few. 

Current project
I’m working on a project that starts at an abandoned beach that used to be a landfill for New York City garbage. I use the remnants of the garbage found to tell a story that sits between the past and the uncertain future.


Zhe Zhu, 22
NEW YORK

 

Education
School of Visual Arts

First camera
Pentax 35mm SLR, but I soon upgraded to a Pentax 67.

First exhibition
A group show at a neighborhood church inthe East Village. I pinned two photos on the wall and that was it.

Format
Medium format digital back, and I occasionally shoot film. 

Dream shoot
I hope to work with Kathy Ryan [director of photography at The New York Times Magazine]. 

Favorite photographer
I really liked Todd Hido’s work when I was in school.

What’s next
Jiaxi [Yang, a fellow Avant Guardian winner] and I are showing our work at Photo Shanghai soon.

 


Paul Jung, 30
NEW YORK

Education
Istituto Europeo di Design and School of Visual Arts

First exhibition
Group exhibition at the State Gallery of my high school

Favorite camera
iPhone 3G

Worst shoot
Family portraits

Dream client
N.A.S.A.

Favorite photographer
Eadweard Muybridge


Lilian Day Thorpe, 23
Brooklyn

 

Education
Pratt Institute

First camera
Nikon FM2

Favorite camera
Hasselblad 501CM medium format SLR

Best shoot
I snapped a portrait of a sheep on a misty morning in Laugarvatn, Iceland, with my Nikon D5000, and that was the start of my project “Night Lamb.” 

Disaster shoot 
I went on a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to New York, and I was adamant about only shooting film. I brought one camera, which ended up breaking. I was left to document the rest of the journey—the iconic Route 66, abandoned motels, New Mexican diners, Texan cowboys, and Memphis country singers—with disposable cameras. 

Dream shoot
The Faroe Islands. I can’t look at its landscape without imagining all the digital montages I want to make. 

Upcoming project
I grew up in the small coastal town of Brooksville, Maine. According to U.S. census data, Brooksville’s population in 2001 was 911 and hasn’t changed much since. My project is to make a photographic record of every family in Brooksville, and eventually turn it into a book. 


Zhi Wei Hiu, 22
New York

Education
Parsons the New School for Design

First camera
My first camera was gifted to me by my uncle, who was an art director at Ogilvy in the ’80s. That camera has been to more places in the world than I have. 

Format
I enjoy shooting in the 645 format. The negative is sized perfectly for scanning as diptychs or triptychs, a format that’s ideal for forming cinematic narratives.

Worst shoot
Accident is the lifeblood of photography. When you look at it that way, I don’t think there can ever be a bad shoot. 

Favorite photographer
As most photographers would say, there are too many.

Upcoming projects
Living between New York and Singapore has brought new light to my upbringing in a creative environment—my uncle is an artist, my father a hairstylist. I’m looking at vernacular photographs from their younger days and reinterpreting them in my context.


Tianxing Wang, 27
Chengdu, China

Education 
California College of the Arts

First camera
Canon 500D T1i

Favorite camera:
iPhone

Format
Large format for the serious pictures.

Dream shoot
I don’t have a dream; I shoot dreams.

Favorite photographer:
If I had to pick one, Wolfgang Tillmans.

Upcoming project
I’m currently working on a series called “Couch Project.” I’m couch-surfing around the world and taking photos of myself on people’s sofas to tell a story about myself as a global traveler.