American Photography
This survey of international contemporary photography spotlights the 14 recipients of CENTER’s Project Grants and Choice Awards, which is in its 20th year. Salvatore Calafato—Courtesy of Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe
Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition | The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles | June 20 – Sept. 13, 2015 Christopher Williams—Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York/London
Going against the notion of “the decisive moment” in street photography, found beauty in fine art photography, and the lack of art in commercial work, this exhibition takes a look at several prominent artists—including Robert Mapplethorpe, Thomas Demand, Catherine Opie, and Jeff Wall—who have chosen to make works of art with precision, carefully crafting and perfecting their compositions. Barbara Probst—Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn; Courtesy of the artist and Murray Guy, New York

Eschewing the idea that constructed images have to be commercial, this exhibit speaks volumes to the photographers who have proven that intent within a photograph is just as important to the art form as the found.

The Curve: A Global View of New Photography | Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico | June 12 – Sept. 13, 2015 Danila Tkachenko—Courtesy of Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe
This survey of international contemporary photography spotlights the 14 recipients of CENTER’s Project Grants and Choice Awards, which is in its 20th year. Salvatore Calafato—Courtesy of Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe

In large part, the exhibit centers on projects by two photographers—Inés Dümig (Germany) and Justin Kimball (United States)—who are making work documenting the life of a Somali refugee residing in Munich, and the collapse of the coal, steel, paper, and farming communities of the eastern seaboard of the U.S., respectively. This exhibit coincides with two major events in New Mexico: Review Santa Fe and PhotoSummer.

Take One: Contemporary Photographs | Philadelphia Museum of Art | April 25 – Aug. 9, 2015 Cindy Sherman—Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Culled from a wide range of photographers and visual artists, this is the first in a series of two exhibitions exploring innovation in photography and its relationship to media, visual art, and the social realm over the last forty years. Lucas Foglia—Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Including photographers such as Hiroshi Sugimoto, Robert Adams, Andreas Gursky, and An-My Lê to artists like Anselm Kiefer who uses photography in several of his thickly layered paintings, the exhibition looks to contemporary usage of the medium to explore the way artists interpret the evolving world.

In Light of the Past: Twenty-five Years of Photography at the National Gallery of Art | National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. | May 3 – July 26, 2015 Roy DeCarava—Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation through Robert and Joyce Menschel
Eager to brush up on photo history? Robert Adams—Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon and Patrons’ Permanent Fund

There may be no better place to do so this summer than the National Gallery of Art, where the museum is housing a comprehensive exhibition of photographs from its collection which got its legs with a 1990 initiative to expand upon its photographic holdings. While the collection began with a foundation of some 1,650 Alfred Steiglitz photographs, it grew to acquire some of the most preeminent masters of the medium, including Irving Penn, Robert Adams, Harry Callahan, and Ilse Bing, among others. Here, displayed in chronological order, is an exhibition paying homage to photographic icons who paved the way for photography to be revered as a fine art form. On view concurrently is “The Memory of Time,” an exhibition honoring contemporary photographers in the collection.

My Dakota: Photographs by Rebecca Norris Webb | The Cleveland Museum of Art | May 17 – Aug. 16, 2015 Rebecca Norris Webb—Courtesy of the Artist
In attempting to evoke the wonder, curiosity, and magic moments that unfold in life, taking shape as form, dynamic color planes, and a surreal perspective on space, Rebecca Norris Webb returned to her home state of South Dakota to produce a body of work. Rebecca Norris Webb—Courtesy of the Artist

The resulting series is at once imaginative and nostalgic: for home, for the changing American West, for the human impact on the land, for her brother who passed away unexpectedly one year into the project. The astounding photographs appear somber and thoughtful in tone; an unexpected eulogy to the passing of time and the cycle of life.

Emerging | Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles | June 6 – Sept. 20, 2015 Corey Arnold
Curated by the editors of Photo District News, this exhibit brings together 90 emerging photographers from 30 different countries who have been featured as part of the “PDN’s 30” photographers to watch between 2008 and 2015. Julia Galdo

Exploring the gamut of the photographic form—from the personal to the objective to the experimental—this exhibit is a sweeping view of varying genres of contemporary photography, presented as a visual smorgasbord from several artists who have gone on to receive photographic acclaim: including Lauren Dukoff, Olivia Bee, Corey Arnold, and Pari Dukovic.

Jean-Luc Mylayne: Mutual Regard | The Art Institute of Chicago (through Aug. 23, 2015), The Arts Club of Chicago (through Aug. 13, 2015), and Millennium Park (through Dec. 31, 2015 Jean-Luc Mylayne—Courtesy of the artist; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Sprüth Magers
In a dual exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago and The Arts Club of Chicago, French-born photographer Jean-Luc Mylayne seeks to draw the disparate worlds of manmade interiors into the outdoor spaces where birds—which he has studied and meticulously photographed as they enter the frame of his camera in the precise manner he envisions—are frozen in time. Jean-Luc Mylayne—Courtesy of the artist; Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels; and Sprüth Magers

In this realm, the artist is seeking to represent the humble nature in which we coexist with the ether, and with the animals that inhabit the air. The two exhibits are accompanied by a “chapel”-like pavilion in Millennium Park in which the artist’s photos of birds are mounted to the ceiling.

Z: Robyn Renee Hasty | Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY | June 11 – July 12, 2015 Robyn Renee Hasty—Courtesy of Pioneerworks, Brooklyn, NY
Redefining gender as the imagined “Z” chromosomal space that deflects the X and Y gender binary, this exhibition focuses on the important topical issues surrounding contemporary gender identification. Robyn Renee Hasty—Courtesy of Pioneerworks, Brooklyn, NY

Contrasting classic portraits of those who identify as transgender, cisgender, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming with the vintage processes of 19th Century wet-plate collodion tintype and ambrotype, photographer Robyn Renee Hasty is attempting to fluidly connect the concept of gender neutrality across platforms and through time.

Captured 2015: Summer Group Exhibition | Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR | June 5 – Aug. 1, 2015 Debi Cornwall
Focusing in on the work of eight artists who are observing the ways in which people interact with their environments, this summer group exhibition retreats from surface-level issues to dive deeper into the human psyche. Gary Beeber

Studying how people identify with the material makeup of their surroundings, including series about items discarded in the “spring cleaning” process (Katie Harwood); the items and images shaping one person’s gender transition (Gary Beeber); and the way people in a library interact with tangible materials in the digital age (Christopher Rauschenberg)—this exhibit attempts to examine anthropological notions of place in a new way.

Sarah Charlesworth | The New Museum, New York, NY | June 24 to Sept. 20, 2015 Sarah Charlesworth—Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago
This posthumous survey of the 35-year career of Sarah Charlesworth takes a look at the contributions the conceptual photographer made to New York’s Pictures Generation, which also includes artists such as Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Laurie Simmons. Sarah Charlesworth—Courtesy of the Estate of Sarah Charlesworth and Maccarone Gallery, New York

With a critical eye to the ways in which images are used within mass media and the photographic medium is viewed in the cultural landscape as a whole, the artist employed early methods of appropriation, and in one series, “Stills” shows the way the potential of human life literally hangs in the balance in a collection of press images of people falling from buildings.

The summer season is often punctuated by dizzying energy, heat waves, wanderlust, and the draw to water. In the art world, it’s all about the summer group shows that unveil emerging artists and further propel the industry’s rising stars; it can also be a time for a few standout one-person shows and historic surveys honoring the craft. Here, we’ve rounded up ten of our picks for summer photo exhibits that are sure to quench the thirst for enticing visual stimuli.

[See also: The 10 Best New Photography Books of Summer 2015]