Monday, February 06, 2012 3:19 PM
A few soup recipes that aren’t typically found on a seafood restaurant’s menu: tomato soup, turtle soup, bird’s nest soup, translucent soup. Maybe those restaurants should start including them, though, because photographer Mandy Barker was able to collect all the ingredients on her last trip to the beach. It’s fantastic what thrives in the sea.
Of course, I’m not talking about actual bird’s nest soup. Barker is making her “soup” from the riches of plastic that bob in ocean’s trash gyres. (“‘Gyre’ is a fancy word for a current in a bowl of soup,” seaborne garbage expert Curtis Ebbesmeyer told Harper’s Magazine’s Donovan Hohn. “You stir your soup, it goes around a few seconds.”)
“SOUP: Bird’s Nest,” the opening image of this post, contains a delicious mix of “discarded fishing line that has formed nest-like balls due to tidal and oceanic movement” and “other debris collected in its path.”
Barker’s tangles of fishing line look like a school of tropical jellyfish caught in a midnight migration. (Or an outfit worn by Björk, for that matter.) The colouring and fragility of the figures make for a beautiful image—until you imagine the world’s living jellyfish replaced by Barker’s artificial ones. As Barker explains in her mission statement:
The series aims to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction and an awareness of the disturbing statistics of dispersed plastics . . . which results, ultimately, in the death of sea creatures.
“SOUP: Ruinous Remembrance”
Ingredients; plastic flowers, leaves, stems and fishing line
Additives; bones, skulls, feathers and fish.
Ingredients; red plastic debris.
Ingredients; plastic turtles that have circled and existed in The North Pacific gyre for 16 years.
Additives; ducks, beavers and frogs.
Ingredients; translucent plastic debris.
Ingredients; plastic oceanic debris affected by the chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube.
Additives; teeth from animals.
(Plastic’s proliferation is practically a department [read: permanent source of anxiety] at Utne Reader. See our previous writing on it here, here, and here. Also, Donovan Hohn’s book Moby-Dick—based on the aforementioned Harper’s Article—is a fascinating read that tackles the problem of plastic from every conceivable angle.)
Images courtesy of Mandy Barker.
Friday, November 18, 2011 4:02 PM
What would you do to improve on the Mona Lisa? Our friends at Booooooom!, the Vancouver-based art blog, are asking photographers to flex their creative muscles by remaking classic works of art. A sampling of the amazing results from the Remake project—modernizing paintings by Rembrandt, Ingres, van Gogh, Lichtenstein, and others—follows.
Above: Grande Odalisque remake, by Craig White
Above: Grande Odalisque, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Above: Ohhh…Alright… remake, by Emily Kiel
Above: Ohhh…Alright…, by Roy Lichtenstein
Above: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp remake, by Bruna Pelissari
Above: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, by Rembrandt
Above: Self Portrait 1889 remake, by Seth Johnson
Above: Self Portrait 1889, by Vincent van Gogh
Above: Gabrielle d’Estrées et une de ses soeurs remake, by Emile Barret
Above: Gabrielle d’Estrées et une de ses soeurs, by unkown artist
Check out the Remake project website for more iconic works, redefined.
Images courtesy of Booooooom!
Tuesday, November 01, 2011 2:35 PM
What would a month of meditation do for you? In the portrait series “Before and After,” Peter Seidler photographs participants on their first and last days of dathun, a 30-day group meditation retreat. He tells the Shambhala Times:
I set up the “Before and After” project to explore the observable effects on practitioners after long periods of intense meditation practice. The question is: what are the observable changes after a period of intense practice?
Each participant in the project was asked to simply sit for a portrait on first day of dathun.... I photographed them against a consistent background. Prior to the photograph, I asked each person to consider what they were looking for in the practice period ahead. This was on day number one. Then, at the end of the program, after approximately thirty days of retreat, I asked each participant in the project to sit in front of the same background and asked each to consider what the experience of mediation retreat had been for them.... It’s clear from the results that the person in every one of the portraits has undergone an important transformative experience. I leave it to the viewer to draw their own conclusion.
Some people who view Seidler’s images perceive increased contentment and happiness in the meditators’ eyes; others struggle to discern a change. What do you see?
Source: Shambhala Times
Images courtesy of Peter Seidler (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:36 PM
New York fashion photographer David Jay is seeking to update the face of breast cancer awareness from frothy pink to strikingly honest pictures of the women scarred by mastectomy surgery. His message: “Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon.”
The Daily Muse intern Erin Greenawald had a chance to interview Jay and ask him how cancer survivors and patients have benefitted from his photography. Jay’s response reflects both the devastation of disease and the power of art:
I get emails from women of all ages, all over the world, who have breast cancer. They frequently say things like, “I haven’t felt like a woman since my surgery,” “I haven’t gotten undressed in front of my husband yet,” “I don’t let my children see me naked,” but that seeing these images has changed their perception of who they are—changed their life. They see the women in the images and think, “Well, if you look beautiful after this, then perhaps I am still beautiful, too.”
The SCAR Project images are brutal and stunning and beautiful. And they present a truer glimpse, as Greenawald says, of “the physical pain, the emotional agony” of cancer and as well as “the beauty, grace, and triumph of the woman who is enduring it.” It’s a glimpse of reality.
Source: The Daily Muse
Images by David Jay, courtesy of David Jay Photography.
Monday, October 17, 2011 12:12 PM
This post originally appeared at
It’s hard not to be inspired when you meet Shannon Galpin. At first look she’s your average smart, athletic woman, living in Colorado. Dig a little deeper and you’ll learn she’s a single mom. Spend a few more minutes talking and she’ll tell you the story of how she left her career, sold her house and launched a nonprofit, committing her life to advancing education and opportunity for women and girls.
Galpin focuses her efforts on the war-torn country of Afghanistan, and with her organization, Mountain2Mountain, has already touched the lives of hundreds of men, women and children.
As the founder of Mountain2Mountain, I’ve been lucky to travel often throughout Afghanistan, working with Afghans as they strive to rebuild their country. My passion is working with Afghan women and girls as they fight to prove their value and worth in this male dominated culture. Afghanistan is consistently ranked as the worst place to be a woman and yet women and girls are key to the future of the country.
As a woman, and specifically, as a foreign woman, I’ve had unique insights into this country thanks to the concept of the Third Gender. A concept that treats foreign women as honorary males, and allows them to interact as equals with men, while still being a woman and therefore have full access to the women. In essence, acting as their proxy when they do not have a voice.
As a mountain biker I’ve felt the weight of women’s oppression knowing that in Afghanistan, women can’t ride bikes, but have embraced the Third Gender concept to the hilt by experiencing this country on two wheels. Via my motorcycle and my mountain bike I have ridden in several areas of Afghanistan, in the hopes that I could change stereotypes back home about the beauty and future tourism of Afghanistan, while challenging the stereotypes in Afghanistan of women on bikes.
Galpin recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan, and documented her time in an exclusive photo essay for EcoSalon
Learning to fish in Panjshir River by net.
Chaihanna in Kabul—fresh kebabs street-side.
Flying with the Afghan National Army to Khost Province. A quick stopover includes time for prayer.
All images by Shannon Galpin of Mountain2Mountain. Image at top is of a Buzkashi match in Panjshir Valley—horses and riders race through adjoining fields and roadways.
Monday, September 19, 2011 3:29 PM
Meet Meng Hai Lin. She’s a 29-year-old mobile phone engineer from Beijing, China. She has learned some English and is skeptical of marriage. Meng’s voice is but a small murmur from an unprecedented global generation—one witnessing a dramatic restructuring of traditional relationships between countries, cultures, and people. Advances in communications technologies have made it easier for her voice to be heard—and drowned out. Photographer Adrian Fisk wants to show the world what Meng and the rest of her generation want to get off of their collective chest. Thus, iSpeak was born.
So far, Fisk has taken iSpeak to India and China, traveling widely around each country. He describes his impetus and methodology (specifically for iSpeak China) on his website:
For the last few centuries the West has dominated economics, politics, and culture. But now there is a shift toward the East, in particular China, a country of 1.4 billion people of which we know little about.
It is the young Chinese who will inherit this new found global influence, but who are they and what do they think about life?
I traveled on a 12,500 km journey through China to find an answer to this question. I looked for young Chinese from 16-30 years, gave them a piece of paper, and simply told them they could write whatever they wanted to on the piece of paper. I then photographed them holding the paper.
Fisk’s portraits are occasionally funny and occasionally heartbreaking, but genuinely candid. The messages communicate the hopes, dreams, quibbles, and fears of the crowd that shares our planet’s close quarters. “Understanding is the basis for tolerance towards each other,” said Fisk in an e-mail to Utne Reader, “and this can only come from communication.”
Fisk is currently trying to acquire financial support for iSpeak Global, which would broaden the project’s horizons to 25 more countries.
Abhishek Pandey, 17 years old, Hindu, Calcutta, college student. “Young people are bringing down the ethical culture of India.”
Chow Liang, 17 years old, Gansu province, cosmetology student on his way to see his father who works in another province. “In adult eyes I am a bad person in society, but in fact I am a very obedient person.”
Priyanka Jhanjhariya, 16 years old, Hindu, Haryana, schoolgirl. “I want to be an airforce pilot. Everyone should have high dreams and work hard to fulfill them.”
Saksham Bhatia, 16 years old, Hindu, New Dehli, senior school. “Wake up! Indians are coming!!”
Heng She Dong, 16 years old, Qinghai province, junior high school student. “I want to save people’s lives.”
Hari Chandra Behera, 21 years old, Hindu, Orissa, farmer. “I want our village to have electricity.”
Yang Long Long, 30 years old, Gansu province, farmer, illiterate. “When I go to the big city I feel like I don’t know anything.”
Bharati, 23 years old, Muslim, Bombay, prostitute, has one child and pregnant with another, illiterate. “Like you, we need the same things in life.”
Sarah Yip, 22 years old, Hong Kong, receptionist at an investment bank. “Do whatever you want in life because you might DIE tomorrow.”
Karsang Yarphel, 29 years old, Buddhist, Himachel Pradesh, waiter, Tibetan refugee. “I want to go home but . . .
Vibhuti Singh, 22 years old, Hindu, New Dehli, studying converging journalism with honors. “I want to date somebody and not be frowned upon.”
Wong Jing Yi, 30 years old, Hong Kong, works in a sex shop. “I don’t want children.”
Chan Jie Fang, 28 years old, supervisor in bag making company in Guangdong province, but learning English in Guangxi province. “I’d like to see any supernatural thing, such as alien, UFO, mysterious thing.”
K Mallappa, 27 years old, Hindu, Karnataka, migrant manual laborer. “Without an education, I am doing the work of a manual laborer, but I am happy. Though I would be more happy if I was a bird or an animal.”
Akhilesh Kumar, 20 years old, Hindu, Bihar, unemployed. “Because I am unemployed I roam around with other boys, so people call me a vagrant. This makes me sad.”
Avril Liu, 22 years old, Guangxi province, post-grad student. “We are the lost generation. I’m confused about the world.”
Images courtesy of Adrian Fisk.
Thursday, August 18, 2011 5:00 PM
For the last couple of years there’s been something of a backlash movement against technology. Whether it’s a renewed back-to-the-land spirit, a rise in popularity of local farmers’ markets, people leaving (or vowing to leave) Facebook and Twitter in protest, or manifestos to “unplug” for at least a day, people are looking for ways to get away from their computer screens, both large and small, and get back into the real world. Books like Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford or Made by Hand by Make magazine editor Mark Frauenfelder have served as mouthpieces for a public searching for, as Frauenfelder’s subtitle says, meaning in a throwaway world.
In this vein comes a series of photographs by Todd McLellan entitled Disassembly. Featured in the summer issue of Geist (as well as on the cover), McLellan’s photos are of “discarded technology of the type often found on street curbs and at garage sales.” McLellan told Geist that each photo should “look like if you magically swiped your hands across the image [the pieces] would all fit into place.”
It’s an interesting series in this day and age when we’re told to replace our tech tools every few years, if not sooner.
Images courtesy of Todd McLellan.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:49 PM
“Sleep is a reward for some, a punishment for others. For all, it is a sanction.”—French modernist poet Isidore Ducasse Comte De Lautréamont.
What shapes a child’s mind, personality, and future? Genetics? Environment? Education? A new clue may lie where the child lays their head to rest.
“When Fabrica [Benetton’s creative laboratory] asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom,” writes photographer James Mollison, “how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was.”
Mollison is a Kenyan-born English photographer whose portraiture often focuses on people from the global South. His latest project, a children’s book called Where Children Sleep (published by Chris Boot), takes portraits of youngsters from all over the world and from different walks of life and juxtaposes them with a picture of their bedroom—or, in some cases, what approximates as one.
When presented in combo, Mollison’s diptychs show more than a child’s health and sleeping arrangements. The juxtapositions expose systemic differences among cultures, economies, classes, and lifestyles. At the same time, the photographs remind us of the universality of humanity. Writes Mollison:
My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children’s material and cultural circumstances—the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other—while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals—just as children.
Kaya, 4, Tokyo, Japan
Joey, 11, Kentucky, USA
Alex, 9, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jaime, 9, New York, USA
Lamine, 12, Bounkiling village, Senegal
Images courtesy of James Mollison.
Thursday, July 21, 2011 1:26 PM
You’ve heard the old phrase “You are what you eat.” A new photography venture called The Last Meals Project amends the adage into “You were what you ate.” Photographer Jonathon Kambouris juxtaposes death row mug shots with a description of the inmate’s last meal, and then superimposes photos of the food on top. The effect is quieting and humbling, bringing the viewer closer to the humanity behind the menace.
Kambouris first became fascinated with death row inmates and last meals after reading a newspaper clipping about the final day of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. “The story spoke of the build up to the execution and described his final moments and last meal,” he told Twenty-Four HoursZine. “When I read that Timothy McVeigh chose two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream as his last meal, it immediately sent a shiver down my spine and left a lasting effect on me.”
“The last meal is the last choice one can make before being put to death, Kambouris explains. “Because of the extreme importance of this ritual, this choice of a last meal is unarguably honest and true.”
(Utne recently covered the moral politics of the death penalty. In one article, Sister Helen Prejean talks about America’s bloody obsession with retribution. In another, a Texas-based writer chronicles a death row inmate’s final twelve days.)
Source: Twenty-Four Hours Zine
Images courtesy of The Last Meals Project and Jonathon Kambouris.
Friday, June 24, 2011 2:11 PM
While the most famous images to come out of the Great Depression, such as Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photographs, seem to have been focused on the people upon whom the Depression came crashing down, the prominent images of our tough times seem to focus on the buildings hardest hit. Whereas those Depression-era images force us to see the human struggle, some have argued that the images of today, ubiquitously known as “ruin porn,” allow the viewer to disconnect the human consequences from these dilapidated and abandoned buildings. They are, after all, places that people once lived, places where commerce once thrived, and in many cases, the people are still living just outside the lens.
Utne’s been covering this trend since at least as far back as 2009, usually focusing our attention on the fascinating journey of Detroit over the last few years. Of course, Detroit is not the only city where buildings have been neglected, where places have been abandoned. And the U.S. is not the only country to have its map spotted with such places. The blog fuckyeahghosttowns takes the reader all around the world, from an abandoned motel near Los Angeles to an earthquake ravaged town in Sicily. As with the latter, not all of these images are of places left destitute as a result of the most recent economic downturn. Many, though, do have in common the fact that they were left to wither because of some change on the face of the economy over the last century. Towns built up to cater to one burgeoning development, left to die when our fancies change course. Many of the images are accompanied by the back story that led to the unique place in time when the photo was snapped.
Though there are no people in these images, I for one cannot help but see human faces all over them. After all, it’s clear that these places were made for us. How can you not wonder where all the people who once lived, slept, played, worked, and ate at each of these places have gone?
Related: “Turning Suffering into a Still Life,” “Fallen City with a Heart of Gold,” and “The Problem with Documentary Photography of Urban Decay”
Image by ctsnow, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 12:41 PM
Sex advice columnist Dan Savage has become one of the country’s foremost ethicists. Just don’t ask Sen. Rick Santorum what he thinks of this.
We couldn’t have summed this up any better than Good: “Liberal Brains Bigger in Areas of Complexity; Conservative Brains Bigger in Areas of Fear.”
What makes us care? E.O. Wilson’s thinking on the subject has gotten the eminent biologist in hot water again.
Bolivia is poised to pass shockingly eco-friendly legislation: The Law of Mother Earth. According to Good, the law “makes humans equal to all other living things and establishes 11 new rights for nature, including the right to life, the right to pure water and clean air, and the right to not have cellular structure genetically modified.”
Guess which former South African president and champion of democracy is on Twitter now? Could it be Nelson Mandela? Well, almost.
Have you bought that new 3D TV yet? Well, in a couple decades I’m sure they’ll be chuckling at the commercials for those the same way you’ll chuckle at this commercial from such a simple time.
Isa Leshko, featured by Photo District News, is obsessed by subjects that age naturally. Very naturally.
You’ve heard of Tang. What about space tea?
In this French Tropicana ad, the power of oranges is harnessed to light up a neon billboard.
American suburbs are rapidly turning into slums. Is your metro area at risk?
What it’s like to be inside an empire heading down faster and blinder than anyone expected or is prepared to deal with.
Rock stars need love, too—from their kitties.
If you like homemade soup and want your garden’s soil tested, stop for lunch at Philadelphia’s public-art-project-cum-bistro Soil Kitchen.
One more reason to fear the sea: Jellyfish that are 50 meters long.
Friday, October 01, 2010 11:34 AM
News coverage on the influx of immigrants from Mexico seems perpetually concerned with the border crossers who succeed in bypassing that invisible line. But what about those who fail? Working for Mother Jones, photographer Matt Nager visited a small town in Arizona to compile a beautiful but haunting photo essay on the process of identifying the hundreds of nameless, desiccated bodies that turn up in desert border zones every year.
Source: Mother Jones
Wednesday, September 01, 2010 2:19 PM
Fans of Urban Dictionary rejoice; bloggers Karin Zuppiger and Elisabeth Belliveau have graced the Internet with more random, amusing pseudo-definitions. The source of their inspiration? CAPTCHAs, those irritating boxes of swirling, muddled, often non-words that you're required to decipher and replicate in order to acquire passage to certain places on the Internet.
Christened "Ungcot" (or "Uncaught," as in, "to go uncaptured by CAPTCHA or other word verification box tests that are designed to determine that you're a human and not a computer"), the blog features various CAPTCHAs, a definition of said CAPTCHA, and frequently a photo illustrating the imaginary definition in question. For example:
Cycyc: Your ability to predict the destiny of this bike based on the formation of rust on its frame, the unreliability of its brakes, the muteness of its bell as well the tracks left by its tires in combination with the auditory assault it performs on pedestrians as you muscle it down the street while repeating sheepishly (in your head), "just one more year of law school, one more year of law school, one more year of law school..."
Personal favorites include: supedipt, founds totato, and preesses.
Images courtesy of http://ungcot.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 11:00 AM
Like most dictators—or so I assume—African autocrats like fancy things, such as private jets. How opulent are these aircraft? Flavorwire has some photographic evidence: Those are pretty luxurious airplanes.
(Thanks, The Rumpus.)
Image by Ricardo (Kadinho) Villela, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 11:49 AM
Andrew Zuckerman’s coffee table book Bird is an incredible collection of bird photographs, capturing them in various poses, but most stunningly in mid-flight. His website features a sampling of the work.
Source: Andrew Zuckerman
Image by law_keven. Licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010 9:40 AM
In a fantastic photo essay in Wisconsin People & Places, Photographer Carl Corey documents Wisconsin’s taverns and bars, many of which, Corey tells us, have recently closed. Corey’s goal with the project is “to document for tomorrow the Wisconsin tavern as it is today.” He sees the increasing amount of closures of these places as a side effect of our becoming “more physically isolated through the accelerated use of mobile phones, PDAs, e-mail and online social media networks.”
For Corey, the local tavern is more than just a watering hole; it’s a communal space where people gather to talk about the news of the day, but more importantly it’s a place where people connect with other people in their community. “These mostly family-owned bars,” Corey writes, “are also unique micro-communities, providing a sense of belonging to their patrons. Many of these bars are the only public gathering place in the rural communities they serve.” Corey’s full collection of tavern photos are available on his website.
Source: Wisconsin People & Places (Complete photo essay only available in print edition)
Images by Carl Corey
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 3:10 PM
Depending on your perspective, Hostess Twinkies are either a) a tasty treat or b) a disgusting abomination wrapped in plastic. But have you ever wondered what makes these spongy snacks so yummy/horrific? Photographer Dwight Eschliman decided to find out. For his 37 or So Ingredients project, he individually photographed each component. Raised by a "health nut," Eschliman says he never saw a Twinkie until he left home for college. Now a father, he thinks a lot about what makes up the foods that we eat. Check out more of his work at his website.
Images courtesy of Dwight Eschliman
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:58 PM
Photographer Joshua Langlais spends his days asking random people: “Would you be interested in being today’s stranger?” His project, I ♥ Strangers, documents his daily encounters with people he’s never met. He snaps a photo and gives details on the stranger’s name, age, location, and how the interaction went. Initially the project was just slated for a year, but Langlais enjoyed it so much, he’s kept it up ever since September 2008. He remembers his first rejection, his first willing participant, and has made countless friends along the way. Amy Sly at Slice interviewed the Langlais about the process and the revelations he’s had since starting it. Here are some excerpts:
What are people’s most common response to your asking to photograph them?
If they want to be part of it they usually ask how long it will take. Or where I want to take the picture. Or what I am going to do with the photos. It is rare that a person I photograph engages in a real conversation with me. It is usually later, after they have seen the website, looked at their photos, and read the accompanying story, that they realize I am not the disgusting Internet marauder that they assumed I was.
Finding and photographing a new person each and every day must be challenging and there must be days you’d rather stay at home; when those days strike, what keeps you going?
Those days have become more difficult since I did not stop at the one year anniversary. Doing this for one year was my goal. I met that goal, but I couldn’t stop. I am afraid to stop….I have the “golden ticket” that allows me to go up to anyone on the street any time I feel inspired and ask them to talk to me. I can’t help but think that the day I stop will be the day I was supposed to meet a patron, or a cool Brooklyn magazine art director or the guy that cries as he shares his story with me.
What do you hope people take away from seeing this series of portraits?
This is the million dollar question. I think that people and our relationships with each other are the only thing that matters….I’d like to think that if everyone in the world slowed down and didn’t work themselves to the bone (for riches or survival) and spent some of that time building relationships, then we would start seeing the elimination of many problems. I’d like people to see these portraits and take with them the desire to learn more about the strangers around them.
Source: Slice(interview not available online)
Monday, April 26, 2010 3:38 PM
Okay, not really. These are typesetters in the Government Printing Office, circa 1910. But I like to think that guy on the right is Andrew Sullivan, preparing something on the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. The guy next to him is Juan Cole, also hard at work. The person standing on the left? Why that's my favorite art blogger Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City (with a really short haircut) waiting for Sullivan to get off her damn machine.
All of this is really just my way of pointing you to a really great website that I never have the occasion to blog about, though I look at every photograph they post. It's called The Shorpy Historic Photo Archive, and I think you'll love it.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 5:03 PM
I spent tax day with anti-tax protesters at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. It was my first attempt at covering an event like that, so I arranged to meet up with my friend Lanny Linehan, a more experienced documentary photographer (see Linehan’s work at his Flickr page).
On my way to meet Lanny, I wandered through the vending area. I was drawn to a table with a sign that read “Sign up here to win a framed American flag signed by Michele Bachmann.” I asked if I could take a photo of the sign. One of the two guys at the table asked me which “side” I was on. I said I was on my side. He challenged me again, suspicious of my stance. I said something about nothing being black and white and he showed me the gun tucked into his pants. “Why don’t you take a picture of this?” he asked. “Sure, I’d love to,” I said, “why don’t you sit by the sign.” That wasn’t the answer he expected. “You better do it, you offered,” said his friend, laughing. So he posed for me—my first photo of the day.
Next I found a vendor selling “organic freeze-dried food” meal packs that last three years—you know, just in case. Their “sample girls” were more than happy to pose for a photo. There were free samples, but no thanks. When I found Lanny, he recommended I try to “blend in.” He had attended the same anti-tax rally last year and said it was a very hostile environment.
The speeches from the podium were predictable: Palin-esque dogma about the intentions of the founding fathers, the harm done by taxes, and government robbing us of our freedoms. At one point, two performers tried to stir some energy in the crowd, shouting: “Nancy Pelosi, we’re coming for you… (cheers)… to put you in jail!” Images of Ronald Reagan and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags were the dominant visual motifs.
From time to time, a speaker would poll the audience by asking direct questions like “Clap your hands if you voted Republican last election,” which was clearly the correct answer. Mention of a liberal or Democrat guaranteed boos. Mentions of Ron Paul were met with a smattering of applause. At these moments I acted busy and kept moving. On several occasions, speakers said things like “I’m pretty sure there are some liberals here!”
Surprisingly, the energy peaked when a speaker spoke out against racism. The speaker’s insistence that there was no room for intolerance in the Tea Party brought hearty (and, I believe, sincere) cheers from people in the crowd.
But mostly, the crowd just stood around enjoying the lovely spring weather—sometimes listening to the speakers, sometimes talking amongst themselves, and on more than a few occasions, glaring at photographers.
I can’t count the number of people who I caught photographing and taking video footage of me. Lanny said the same happened to him. What do they do with that footage? Mutual suspicion, I suppose. Only a few people allowed me to take their photo when I asked. Most people clearly did not want to be photographed and some even turned their signs away from my lens.
This is a group that feels it’s been unfairly portrayed in the media, and I can’t say they are wrong. They attract “fringy” people and that’s who gets photographed. Photographers are drawn to people like this because they’re interesting. My photos are no different. Of course, this is true of all protesters, no matter their political persuasion.
Related: Slideshow: Tax Day Tea Party Rally in St. Paul
All photos by Stephanie Glaros
Monday, April 19, 2010 5:14 PM
As the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland continues to remind people all over the world of nature’s immense power, I’ve been finding more great photographs that document this literally earth-shaking event. These vivid shots from the Icelandic countryside were taken by Julia Staples, a staff photographer for The Reyjavik Grapevine. See more at the Grapevine or on the photographer’s website.
The hooded person pictured above is standing in the ash-laden air. These horses are being herded away from the ash cloud:
Spectacular natural lighting, with a touch of doom:
These ice chunks, rocks, and mud were left behind by the jökulhlaup (“glacier run”) caused by the volcano:
The Reykjavik Grapevine calls this a “super-scientific volcano measuring doodad”:
Source: The Reykjavik Grapevine
Images by Julia Staples, courtesy of the photographer.
Friday, April 16, 2010 4:22 PM
Thursday, April 15, 2010 4:16 PM
I’m a volcano geek, and I have vacationed in Iceland in part because of its powerful geothermal-seismic juju. So I’ve been surfing photo galleries of the great Eyjafjallajökull blasts and marveling like a schoolkid at the magma waterfalls, red-hot-rock fireworks, and towering plumes of ash.
The Yahoo editors’ picks on Flickr are some of the best photos I’ve seen from this natural spectacle.
But I have to say that my favorite is this shot of a farm under the towering ash cloud, which I came across on the blog The Iceland Weather Report. (It originally appeared in the Icelandic publication Vísir.) The photograph was taken by a farmer, Ólafur Eggertsson, who soon had to flee as his pastures flooded because of rapid melting; he believes his 200 cows are safe in a cowshed.
Of course, in Iceland there’s always another blast coming. Iceland Review reports that while Eyjafjallajökull has evacuated farmers concerned, it’s a neighboring volcano, Katla, that really strikes fear into their stoic Nordic hearts.
“I am not afraid of this eruption but I fear Katla,” says one. “It might not happen immediately but it will happen. Then we will be talking about much more power.”
Sources: Flickr, The Iceland Weather Report, Visir, Iceland Review
Image by Hello, I am Bruce, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, March 26, 2010 12:06 PM
The landscape photographs of New York artist Kim Keever project a grandiose, almost bombastic natural drama: majestic snowcapped mountains, towering trees, and spectacular waterfalls, with landforms and flora shrouded in glistening mist or bathed in sunset hues. But Keever doesn’t travel any further than his studio to make his art: His sweeping scenes are constructed inside 200-gallon fish tanks filled with water.
Compare West 91r, above, to the studio setup of the same scene below.
Earth Island Journal, which presents a sampling of Keever’s work in its spring issue, makes a compelling environmental case for Keever’s open artifice, casting his art of illusion as an heir to the epic landscape paintings of yesteryear:
A simulacrum rarely has the force of the original. But it may also be the perfect statement for an Avatar age in which the most invigorating “nature” experience many people have occurs in the luminescent forest of a multiplex fantasy world. Through a restoration of wonder, Keever makes us hunger for breathtaking vistas.
Source: Earth Island Journal
Images courtesy of Kinz + Tillou Fine Art. Top: West 91r, 2008. Bottom: Artist’s studio, 2008.
Monday, March 22, 2010 3:25 PM
In “The Shrine Down the Hall,” a photo essay for the New York Times Magazine, Ashley Gilbertson takes us inside the bedrooms of young Americans killed in the Iraq War. According to the Brookings Institution, almost 4,400 U.S. soldiers have died since 2003. Some 9,400 Iraqi military and police have perished, as well as 108,000 Iraqi civilians. Gilbertson is the author of Whisky Tango Foxtrot and “The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce,” an essay from Virginia Quarterly Review that we had the good fortune to reprint in our March-April 2009 issue.
Sources: New York Times Magazine, Brookings Institution (pdf), Virginia Quarterly Review
Friday, March 19, 2010 1:07 PM
When you open up your refrigerator, do you ever pause and ask yourself if the image you see reflects your eating habits and goals? Would you feel any differently if it was on display for complete strangers to see and scrutinize it?
Photographer Mark Menjivar explores the interiors of refrigerators across the country for his thought-provoking project “You Are What You Eat,” which offers a very personal look at people’s eating habits. Menjivar explains his unique subject choice: “A refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. One person likened the question, ‘May I photograph the interior of your fridge?’ to asking someone to pose nude for the camera. Each fridge is photographed ‘as is.’ Nothing added, nothing taken away.”
His images are identified only by a few key details such as occupation, location, household size and one fact that gives some insight into the image. The result begs the viewer analyze each item and its relationship to the owner’s lifestyle. And in turn, it provokes some degree of introspection as well, which is exactly what Menjivar hopes the project will do—make people think. The series has been showcased at universities as part of conversations about food issues.
This slideshow offers only a few images from the project; you can find more images of other refrigerators, in Menjivar’s portfolio.
All images courtesy of Mark Menjivar.
Friday, March 19, 2010 12:01 PM
Model-maker and photographer Michael Paul Smith creates scale replicas of nostalgic scenes from 1940s and 1950s middle America. He makes meticulous sets for his replica automobiles using “Gator board, styrene plastic, Sintra (a light flexible plastic that can be carved, and painted), plus numerous found objects,” and then photographs them. In another interesting series, he replicates vintage family photos quite convincingly.
Photos courtesy of Michael Paul Smith.
Friday, March 19, 2010 9:32 AM
For eight months, photographer Greg du Toit battled horrific tsetse flies, various parasites, and the sweltering heat of southern Kenya while trying to photograph an elusive wild lion. On his website, du Toit retells the harrowing tale, including how he made the decision to submerge himself in a small patch of water to both protect himself from the wildlife and to get the best angle to photograph them.
Greg du Toit
Image courtesy of Greg du Toit.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 11:56 AM
If that photo of a snow leopard looks just too perfect to be natural, it probably isn’t, Ted Williams writes in Audubon magazine. Many wildlife photographs, he reports, are now taken at game farms where captive animals are basically hired out as models; that’s even what the industry calls them.
Williams visits one such operation, the Triple D in Montana, which has wolves, cougars, and snow leopards among its talent. While he praises Triple D’s owners for treating its animals well, the muckraking author of Audubon’s “Incite” column nonetheless questions the underlying premise of their enterprise:
Images of Triple D’s snow leopards are proliferating like Internet pop-ups. In 2008 one even received first place in the “nature” category of National Geographic’s International Photography Contest. Animals like snow leopards are in desperate trouble, but why should people believe this when they see sleek, healthy snow leopards every time they walk into a bookstore or open a “wildlife” calendar?
Not all game farms are as ethical as Triple D. Williams notes that life is “hard and brief” for many captive animals, and some of the operations illegally traffic in endangered wildlife. Moreover, plenty of farm operators are happy to conceal the conceit that photographs of their animals are being passed off as amazing shots from the wild.
For publications that feature wildlife photography, the phenomenon means wrestling with ethical issues—or not. Williams cites hunting and fishing magazines, a.k.a. “the vast hook-and-bullet press,” as eager and shameless traffickers in nature fakery:
Battery acid is splashed on captive fish to make them leap frantically. I talked to one genuine wildlife photographer who has quit submitting deer photos to hook-and-bullet publications because he can’t compete with all the photographers who rent or own penned deer bred for freakishly large antlers. One such mutation, appearing on the covers of countless hunting rags, had four owners, the last of which bought him for $150,000. For years the ancient beast was kept on life support with medications and surgeries.
Many other publications that cover wildlife and wish to keep their natural cred—among them Audubon, Sierra, Natural History, Smithsonian, Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife, and a more careful National Geographic—either don’t use captive shots or clearly identify them when they do. To Williams’ credit, he acknowledges that even Audubon has a checkered past, quoting former editor Les Line: “The earliest issues of Audubon [circa 1903] tried to pass of photographs of stuffed birds as live ones. That’s minor compared to what’s been happening since.”
The print edition of the March-April Audubon shows a photo of a captive Arctic fox that almost fooled Audubon’s now-wary photo editors, who considered publishing it last year. Among the giveaways in this “anatomy of a fake”: The creature is much heavier than a wild fox and has that “just-shampooed look.”
Image by MacJewell, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 5:15 PM
Through her camera lens, Nadya Kwandibens sees Native people in urban settings as an opportunity to both empower and showcase indigenous lifestyles and cultures. In This Magazine, Lisa Charleyboy profiled the First Nations photographer, who transformed her own feelings of isolation and an "impluse to heal through art" by connecting with other indigenous people in the city and photographing them. Charleyboy says Kwandibens “asks her subjects, ‘Who are you as a Native person within the city?’ The resulting photos are witty, meticulous, poignant.”
Kwandibens has also formed a vibrant online community called Concrete Indians, where First Nations artists across the United States and Canada can connect with each other and post photographs. According to Kwandibens, the name originates “from a nickname the older folks back in the '60s used to call young Native people moving/living/working in the cities.”
She tells This, “By sharing and being so giving with the Concrete Indians series, people really started to connect and find something they can relate to in the images. They are able to see these beautiful brown faces all over North America. We are all so connected.” You can view photos of Kwandibens’ work through her gallery, Red Works Studio.
Source: This Magazine
Image by Brooke Anderson, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 4:36 PM
The architecture magazine Dwell always strives for aesthetic heights with its often dour and stark photographs of beautiful, expensive homes. The blog Unhappy Hipsters pokes some good-natured fun at Dwell’s photos by writing pithy captions that turn each photograph into a story with just a few words. According to the blog’s tagline, “It’s lonely in the modern world.” It’s also pretty funny.
Source: Unhappy Hipsters
Thursday, January 14, 2010 12:48 PM
Photographer Jeff Antebi recently spent time in Haiti, shooting urban scenes in Port-au-Prince. Late last night he shared his thoughts as he reflected on the enormity of the earthquake’s devastation, and we in turn are sharing those thoughts—and some of his photos—with you. —The Editors
Haiti is on my mind and I am very sad tonight.
I was in Port-au-Prince twice in 2009.
When I arrived the first time, and walked around the streets, the people stared at me cold. It was, at first glance, an unwelcoming place.
My dear friend Jean-Marc de Matteis, who I hope is alive and well tonight, smirked a bit and said, “The thing with Haitian people is that they’ve been through a lot. It’s a hard life here and people wear it on their faces. But that’s not the true nature of Haitian people. Watch what happens if you make eye contact and simply say ‘bonjour’ to someone.”
I did. 100 percent of the time I got a smile. Sometimes a quick flash of a smile and back to a glare, but the glare became an easier glare. Sometimes they’d smile a massive smile and say “bonjour” back. I can’t stress enough the amazing feeling of getting a smile 100 times out of 100 attempts. The country, in its entirety, was a welcoming place.
I don’t exaggerate when I tell you I said “bonjour” to almost everyone I made eye contact with. I went out of my way to make eye contact. Compulsively so. And Port-au-Prince is a crowded place. That’s a lot of people to say “hello” to. My friend and interpreter Alain Charles, who tonight I cannot find and it’s taking me enormous restraint to not cry, took notice and would often laugh whenever I said “bonjour” with an almost exaggerated smile. To him, it seemed like I was kind of insane. Like I would if he tried it in Los Angeles or New York City. But I loved doing it.
Even then, before the earthquake, Port-au-Prince was an unbelievable mess. Practically no infrastructure worth talking about. In many (most?) parts of the city, there was no electricity. So as night began to fall, whole swaths of the capital became deserted for a lack of light and security. Bonfires the only way to move about without getting lost. Traveling as moths to flames.
One night, after a marketplace turned from lively to utterly apocalyptic, I decided to walk very far into the depths of the darkest, dangerous part of town rather than flee. Deeper than Alain was comfortable going, and he had lived in the city all his life. But I kept saying to him, “One more bonfire, that one in the distance, then we’ll head back.”
In retrospect, it was an almost suicidal mission. It’s hard to believe I made it in as far as I did and was able to return to a safer quarter. But it’s important to say that what kept me from being fearful was my continuing to make eye contact. No one wanted to say hello and I didn’t speak either. And even though I was conspicuous, carrying two cameras out in the open, no one bothered me. I would look at them, they would look at me. Over the course of the evening, this happened maybe a hundred times. They were ghosts to me, and I was an apparition to them. I passed through a nightmarish, spectral landscape alive and they allowed me to, unharmed.
I spent a lot of time in Cite Soleil, considered by most to be the worst slum in the Western Hemisphere. The Wikipedia entry for Cite Soleil states, “Armed gangs roam the streets. Murder, rape, kidnapping, looting, and shootings are common as every few blocks is controlled by one of more than 30 armed factions.”
The conditions in Cite Soleil are unimaginable, almost like a village built on top of a huge garbage heap. But one of the most striking features of this spot is the number of children. It was impossible to move without being surrounded by kids. Most didn’t have shoes, sharing the ground with pigs, waste, and excrement. But they were sort of a happy bunch, considering it all. Holding up half-melted robot toys or playing cards. Smiling and playing around with laughter and curiosity.
On the other hand, they were starving. Some looked at me and ran a finger across their throats. Hard to express the feeling you get when a child indicates he is going to die. Keep that image in your head. Which is why I can barely contain my sadness. These little ones had almost nothing going for them but for a sense of humor. Barely a chance for literacy, let alone any kind of education. An astoundingly high probability of falling ill and dying from bad water, and little chance of finding a job when they got older. More likely HIV/AIDS or human trafficking.
I can’t watch the news on television or listen to the radio. I can’t look at websites. I’ve been there, and now I picture it in my head after a 7-point earthquake.
Nothing going for them and now the earthquake. I am praying for the best for them. They deserve it.
See Jeff Antebi’s photos from Haiti on Flickr or on his website. Antebi urges people to donate to Oxfam or Doctors Without Borders. “It will make a huge impact,” he says. “Haiti is only a little more than an hour from Miami. It’s very easy to get help there.”
Images by Jeff Antebi, courtesy of the photographer.
Monday, January 11, 2010 2:56 PM
When photographer Alec Soth closed down his blog in 2007, he didn’t dwell on the details. “I’m hitting the road and hanging up the blog,” he wrote. “Send me a letter—I’m sick of e-mail.” In a flash, the only photography blog I ever truly loved was finished. Alec didn’t just telegraph his passions when he posted; he made them infectious. Oh, and he was hilarious.
Enough of the eulogizing. He’s back. In December, Soth launched the delightful group blog Little Brown Mushrooms (an appendage of his new publishing adventure), and it’s an entirely different beast. Reading it feels a little bit like being late to a treasure hunt and scrambling to catch up without the benefit of the first clues. And that’s not a bad thing. Like I said: delightful.
Looking for an easy entry point? Try any of the videos Soth has posted. Hell, start with this gem:
Source: Little Brown Mushrooms
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 9:38 AM
The new issue of Technology Review features a most excellent hack: step-by-step instructions for an inexpensive contraption that allows you to photograph Earth from the upper reaches of the atmosphere. It’s not space, but it’s as close as any photographer will get for $150!
MIT students Oliver Yeh and Justin Lee snagged some 4,000 photos when they launched their first near-space camera in September; since then, they’ve posted a guide with detailed directions—and vital tips, like remembering to contact the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before the camera’s takeoff—to help you build, launch, and land your own traveling camera.
If you’ve already got a point-and-shoot, you’re one-sixth of the way there—you’ll just need a weather balloon, something to serve as a parachute, styrofoam cooler, prepaid cell phone, and some hardcore cold weather–resistant batteries.
Technology Review has its own helpful photographic guide to the components of the device, and a cool short video in which Yeh walks through the construction and launch process.
Source: Technology Review
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 2:32 PM
The photojournalist who blogs under the moniker Afghan Hound at the documentary photography website Foto8 has posted a photo he took of Oz, a soldier serving in Afghanistan who was killed on his last day of deployment. The photographer talks a little bit about Oz and a lot about life as a war photographer. It's a long post and an important read. But really, his opening paragraph says it all:
Another Op-Ed in The New York Times, another well balanced political essay in Foreign Affairs, another eulogy to a departed soldier, another boring politician, another retired military commander, another demand for more troops, another demand we pull out now, another request for more helicopters, another comparison to the Soviet invasion, another Vietnam, another rant, another point of view... I just see dead people.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 11:46 AM
Photographer Robert Gumpert has been documenting the criminal justice system for decades. His new project is a website called Take a Picture, Tell a Story, where he matches photos from the inside with recordings of his subjects talking about whatever is on their mind. It's a riveting experiment in documentary photography. "While working on a short project documenting the closing of San Francisco County Jail 3, then the state’s oldest county jail, a simple idea and phrase kept nagging at me," writes Gumpert. "The phrase, 'I take your photo, you tell me a story' sums up the idea. It was 2006 and San Francisco Sheriff Hennessy said yes. Now this ongoing project has a name and a place to be seen and heard."
(Thanks, Prison Photography
Thursday, November 12, 2009 5:29 PM
Ah, cookbook season. Publishers tend to release a lot of cookbooks right-before-the-holidays, and wouldn’t you know: We’ve been seeing a lot of fine food volumes pass through the Utne Reader library lately. Here are a few highlights:
Multi-cookbook authors Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero continue their dessert domination with Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, which Da Capo will publish on November 15. Their previous effort, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is a standby in my kitchen; the straightforward recipes deliver delights that shame dairy-laden alternatives. Vegan Cookies contains a lot of promising recipes—including one for graham crackers, yum. Moskowitz also published Vegan Brunch this past June.
Also in the category of sequel cookbooks: Jennifer McCann’s Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, a charming cookbook that Da Capo published in September. McCann’s previous, Vegan Lunch Box, is a collection of simple-to-make, fun-to-eat foods inspired by packing school lunches for her son.
Anyone interested in eating seasonally might want to check out Clean Food by Terry Walters. Walters is a certified holistic health counselor, and Clean Food, published by Sterling this September, is based on the concept that people are “better off eating closer to the source and relying on Mother Nature for seasonal produce to keep us in balance.”
Also seasonally organized: Louisa Shafia’s Lucid Food, easily the prettiest cookbook in the bunch. Shafia, a chef and educator, runs an ecofriendly food consultancy and catering company that shares her cookbook’s name. Lucid Food, published by Ten Speed later this month and packed with gorgeous photographs, continues in the publisher’s tradition of coffee-table worthy cookbooks (a la Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking on the Celestial Arts imprint).
Finally, from chef Daniel Orr and Indiana University Press, FARMfood is an ambitious volume of inventive recipes, like tuna steak au poivres and cabbage putanesca. Orr left behind the globe-trotting phase of his career to open FARMbloomington in Indiana, his home state, and FARMfood is a cheerful blend of haute- and down-to-earth cuisine.
Sources: Da Capo, Sterling, Ten Speed, Indiana University Press
Tuesday, November 10, 2009 10:52 AM
Photographer and artist Stan Gaz had a boyhood obsession with meteorite craters. He calls them “footprints of the stars.” His photographs of these impact sites are collected in an enormous and stunning new book, Sites of Impact, which I reviewed in our November-December issue. In the book, Gaz describes a visit to a crater in Arizona:
When I got there, I could not believe that it was real. Formed by an enormous meteorite that was traveling so fast that when it hit the earth it created an explosion equivalent to twenty atom bombs and displaced eleven million tons of dirt, the space was massive. It had an emotional effect on me that was overwhelming. Standing on the edge of this crater was like standing inside a cathedral. I picked up some sand in my hand, and for the first time I could feel the shape of the earth. I knew right away I wanted to photograph it.
When Gaz started talking about photographing impact sites from the air, a friend suggested a remote-controlled camera mounted on a helicopter. But Gaz wanted his camera in his hands.
After taking pictures from the ground, I decided to rent a helicopter and take more pictures from the air. This marked my first time flying at high altitude with the doors off the plane. Hovering above the crater at 3,000 feet, with only a Volkswagen seat belt across my waist, I can honestly say I felt uneasy. As the pilot tipped the machine onto its side, he assured me that gravity and velocity would keep me from falling out ... I felt like a tripod with wings.
Image courtesy of Stan Gaz.
Friday, September 25, 2009 12:55 PM
The state mental hospitals of the 19th and early 20th centuries—originally known as “lunatic asylums”—often operated within massive, majestic buildings, most of which are now abandoned or operating at a fraction of their former capacity. Christopher Payne spent several years meticulously photographing 70 of these architectural marvels, and his haunting images are collected in the beautiful new book Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals, just out on MIT Press.
“For more than half the nation’s history,” Payne writes, “vast mental hospitals were prominent architectural features on the American landscape. Practically every state could claim to have at least one.”
The location of the hospitals, in the countryside, away from the city, afforded ample privacy and an abundance of land for farming and gardening, which were integral to the patients’ daily regimen of exercise. . . . The grounds provided relief from the indoor sights and sounds of the asylum and also served as a dramatic setting for the buildings, enhancing their grandeur. As visitors to the asylums never penetrated beyond the public lobbies of the administration buildings, it was these spaces and the landscapes that acted as the chief agents of propaganda to exert a positive influence on public perception.
Neurologist-writer Oliver Sacks, who worked for 25 years at Bronx State Hospital (now Bronx Psychiatric Center), pens the book’s introduction, a lively tour through the history of these asylums’ philosophies, inner workings, and patient populations as they shifted over the years.
Source: Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Images copyright © Christopher Payne.
Friday, September 25, 2009 10:57 AM
A typical fighting season in southern Afghanistan begins in spring and continues through fall. This photo essay by photojournalist Louie Palu in the summer issue of Geist documents last year’s fighting season. It finds the region’s Pashtun people, who know little of life without seasonal warfare, living day to day on the fringes of battle.
As the 2009 fighting season began this past May, Palu returned to Afghanistan to capture what could be the worst season the Pashtun have seen. He writes:
The longer I stay in Afghanistan and the more I see, the fewer answers I have about what is going on there and what the future holds. Back in Toronto I can’t even talk to anyone in a bar, because conversations with people who think they understand Afghanistan just end as heated arguments on the sidewalk.
Image by Louie Palu.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 10:47 AM
An arresting photo essay about the city of Janesville, Wisconsin, published in Mother Jones, serves as a stark illustration of the troubling numbers released in the new national poverty reports. For nearly four generations, the town was home to one of the oldest General Motors factories in the country. The plant abruptly halted its assembly line in December 2008.
The somber photos, taken by Danny Wilcox Frazier, capture Janesville’s remaining residents living like ghosts amid the ruins of a once-booming company town, where a defunct strip club has become a venue for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and empty hotels don’t bother leaving the light on for anyone.
Source: Mother Jones
Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:57 AM
I must admit, I am a big fan of the popular genre of documentary photography known as “Urban Decay.” Images of abandoned buildings or city blocks gone to seed can make for some strange and beautiful photos. And if urban decay photography has a capital city, it’s Detroit.
Vice magazine is critical of photographers and journalists who visit Detroit and come away with the same old stories and post-apocolyptic Detroit photographs in this cheeky article by Thomas Morton. He talks to Detroit photographer James Griffioen, who says he frequently fields phone calls “from outside journalists looking for someone to sherpa them to the city’s best shitholes”:
You get worn down trying to show them all the different sides of the city, then watching them go back and write the same story as everyone else. The photographers are the worst. Basically the only thing they’re interested in shooting is ruin porn.
Not every story coming out of Detroit is bad news, check out Bloggers Versus Blight from our Nov.-Dec. 2008 issue, a story about the feisty newspaper Detroit News.
Image by John in Mich, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 2:43 PM
Young men waist-deep in liming baths, or dragging hides from chromium baths with their bare hands, or covered in carcinogenic dust. This is how leather is made. At least in the Indian state of Jajmau, where illegal tanneries work with the agents of international retail empires to keep the world's markets and malls stocked with leather goods. Photographer Alex Masi has done an incredible job of documenting the abhorrent working conditions in the tanneries, and he is damning in his critique: "The misconduct of the Indian capitalist elite, a complicit government, and unethical foreign companies ought to be exposed to international consumers with the goal of redressing the violations through persuasive economic and political pressures." Masi's slideshow is as good a place as any to begin this process.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009 9:53 AM
Running from Gas
,” a Pakistani lawyer runs from tear gas, Pakistan. © Emilio Morenatti.
Pictures of the Year International (POYi), among the oldest photojournalism competitions in the world, opens its 2009 exhibit this weekend at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. If you don’t live on the West Coast, though, don’t let that stop you: POYi allows website users to browse the award-winning photojournalism in its online winner’s gallery.
There’s something to delight everyone there, all of it beautiful. Many images have a humanitarian bent, such as Jakob Carlsen’s “Untouchables of Asia,” the winner of the World Understanding award, but there’s no limit the scope of the competition. There is spectacular sports photojournalism, the best of the 2008 presidential campaign, riveting portraiture, and the list goes on.
This is POYi’s 66th year. It is a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, which previously served as host to the exhibitions.
Monday, July 06, 2009 4:29 PM
It’s not that it hasn’t been said before, it’s that it bears repeating: It’s not about the photograph. In an essay that bears that title, written for Matrix, Ian Orti laments the intrusion of Flickr culture into the live music experience, and indeed, into life on the whole:
For some reason these days it’s not enough to get onstage and rock out with your favourite band; instead this experience has to be documented at the expense of the experience itself. Strike a pose. Of course there was the stretched arm snap of his face in the foreground while the band played on in the background. And then came the snaps with his girlfriends who stopped their dancing to pose for that perfectly candid shot, followed by the painful few seconds of waiting for the photo to load on the viewfinder so he could show them and then maybe pose for another one just in case that one perfectly candid shot wasn’t candid enough.
Image by Byflickr, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 9:37 AM
Sometimes words and numbers just don’t do the trick. While most of us know about North Korea’s long-standing conflict with South Korea, and its strict policy of isolation, these realities are far more arresting through the lens of Tomas van Houtryve’s covert camera. In his photo essay “The Land of No Smiles,” which appears in Foreign Policy, Houtryve exposes the people and landscapes of North Korea during “stark glimmers of everyday life.” Deserted streets and smudged human faces in the dark of a subway train are interspersed with a few of Houtryve’s verbal observations on his trip through the capital city. So forget reading for a minute and just try glancing through Houtryve’s photos without understanding more than you bargained for about this country so far from our own.
Source: Foreign Policy
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:05 AM
Have you ever wanted a bird’s eye view of an ax murder? How about a bear mauling? Or a giant octopus attack? In his series Pleasantville , Jonah Samson creates and photographs tiny moments of either pleasure or pain to hilarious and disturbing effect. His work is currently on view at G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, and will be shown at Chernoff Fine Art in Vancouver this fall.
Images courtesy Jonah Samson and G. Gibson Gallery.
(Thanks, HOW ).
Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:22 PM
The year 2009 looked very different when seen from the 1950s. Nuclear powered cars roamed the streets and people feasted on meal pills for dinner. Matt Novak sifts through these past visions of the future and compiles them on his blog Paleo-Future.
For the latest episode of the UtneCast, senior editor Jeff Severns Guntzel and assistant web editor Bennett Gordon sit down with Novak to talk about what these paleo-futuristic visions mean to our culture, and what the future might look like. Other topics covered in the episode include the greatest hits of corporate jargon and a guide to war photography.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 3:02 PM
In a digital world where photography has become accessible to so many, it takes a special talent to present an oft-photographed subject in an entirely fresh way. Photographer Nick Brandt’s photographs of African wildlife stop you in your tracks with their sheer beauty and surprising emotional impact. They bridge wildlife photography, portraiture and fine art. The simple choice that he made to photograph his subjects in black and white strips the colorful African landscape down to its bare elements, allowing the animals’ essence to shine through. More of Nick’s work can be seen at his website , and at the Los Angeles gallery that represents him. Abrams Books will publish “A Shadow Falls,” a new book of photographs, in September 2009.
Images courtesy of Nick Brandt
(Thanks, FFFFOUND! ).
Thursday, March 05, 2009 9:32 AM
How would you feel about your child if he or she was conceived when you were raped? 15 years after the Rwandan genocide, there are an estimated 20,000 children in the country born as a result of Hutu militiamen raping Tutsi women. Photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik was so moved by their stories while in Rwanda on assignment that he returned to the country to document them in words and through a remarkable series of portraits. Intended Consequences is an exhibition of the images at the Aperture Foundation gallery, which will be accompanied by a book . Torgovnik also co-founded the non-profit Foundation Rwanda, which seeks to improve the lives of these children by providing funding for their secondary school education, linking their mothers to existing psychological and medical support services, and raising awareness about the consequences of genocide and gender-based sexual violence through photography and new media.
(Thanks, Conscientious ).
Monday, March 02, 2009 11:46 AM
It is cliché to say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but this is what photojournalism seeks to accomplish. Truly great photojournalism does this in a way that is as artful as it is informative. Case in point is this amazing series of photos of pool hustlers from photographer Christopher LaMarca. They are proof of the power of images to communicate on a level that is, to me, more visceral than words. While you are there, check out some of his other work .
(Thanks, Coudal Partners ).
Tuesday, February 03, 2009 1:55 PM
Undercover photographer JR, who I blogged about last summer, has completed another amazing project, this time in Kibera, Kenya. He installed his distinctive black and white portraits on the rooftops of one of the largest slums in Africa, depicting women who live there. The images protect the structures from water damage, and are large enough to be viewed by Google Earth. He also installed the top portions of the portraits on the sides of the train that passes twice daily through the area, which momentarily align with the bottom portions installed on the hillside to complete the image.
(Thanks Wooster Collective.)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9:18 AM
I am forever in awe of William T. Vollmann's ability to drill to the dark centers of humanity and emerge clear-thinking despite the "slimy, filthy grief" he experiences there. He's done it again in the latest issue of Book Forum, where he manages to articulate the most fundamental horror of the holocaust while writing his way through a sharp essay on the ethics of photography. I could feed you an excerpt here but I'm going to resist the temptation. You ought to read and wrestle with the entire piece. Snack if you must, but don't say I encouraged you in that wrongheaded endeavor.
Thursday, January 22, 2009 1:41 PM
For an interesting slice of life, check out Simon Hoegsberg's latest project, “We're All Gonna Die—100 meters of existence,” a photo that is 100 meters long and includes 178 people. The Copenhagen-based photographer shot photos from the same spot in Berlin over the course of 20 days, and stitched them together to create an image that is funny, sad, touching and mundane all at once. You can see more of his work here.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 10:43 AM
If you weren't completely satisfied by watching former president George W. Bush leave Washington D.C. in a helicopter yesterday, check out this retrospective of Bush images by award-winning photojournalist Christopher Morris. You may recognize the first image in the slideshow, “The Three Amigos,” which appeared on the cover of our July-August 2007 issue. The images will also be exhibited through February 16th at 28 Jay Street in Brooklyn.
(Photo courtesy Christopher Morris /VII)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009 10:20 AM
In the art world, graffiti is sexy, the subject of fawning attention from galleries, museums, and collectors. Tagging, though, largely resists the limelight. Photographer Martha Cooper’s book Tag Town, released last year, celebrates its stubbornly unglamorous aesthetic and documents the rise of tagging in 1970s New York. The art website Fecal Face recently sat down with Cooper to discuss the collection.
Sadly, the interview doesn’t break much new ground. The questions conflate Cooper’s interest in tagging with her interest in graffiti more generally, so we never get to hear what makes it a worthy photographic subject. It’s disappointing, because there are intriguing hints of insight. At one point, asked if she’d ever tried tagging, Cooper observed she’d never mastered it—she “found out how hard it was to repeatedly write with style.” Her respect is apparent in her photos, and I wish Cooper had been given a chance to elaborate.
It’s still worth a look, if only to hear Cooper talk about her experiences documenting a piece of budding hip-hop culture and to get a look at some of the Tag Town pictures.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009 4:10 PM
In a clever example of life imitating art, one Flickr group gathers images in which people photographically re-create "The Far Side" cartoons. The results are often accurate, detailed, and humorous.
Image courtesy of Kevin Steinhardt, licensed under Creative Commons.
Thursday, December 04, 2008 1:29 PM
When photographer Jill Greenberg’s editors at the Atlantic asked her to photograph John McCain for the magazine's October issue, she swallowed her distaste and delivered the benevolent-looking images they sought. But she couldn’t cast her disgust aside, so she snapped a second set of photos that better captured her own feelings for McCain. Compared to the warm, well-lit portraits that ended up in the magazine, her alternative shots make McCain look...well...kind of evil. Greenberg posted the photos to her website, and remained unapologetic when her editors freaked out.
Were her actions ethical? A recent episode of On the Media chats with Greenberg and other photographers about the often murky question of integrity in photojournalism. Greenberg suggests that in some situations, the most ethical way to portray her subjects may not always be the most flattering. Photographer Platon, who captured Ann Coulter on the cover of Time looking, in interviewer Bob Garfield’s estimation, "like a blond praying mantis," agrees. For him, a photographer’s duty isn’t to represent subjects as they’d prefer, but to interpret them, to “pull people out of their reality and into our reality.” Greenberg further justifies unflattering photos (perhaps less convincingly) with the contention that editors sometimes demand them, even asking photographers to deliberately mislead their subjects.
You can take a look at the photos in question, along with some other great (and potentially questionable) shots in a slideshow accompanying the episode transcript.
Thursday, November 06, 2008 9:56 AM
New York-based photographer Tim Barber curates a stunning collection of art books at TV Books, a bold new on-demand publishing project that hints toward a sturdier future for print publishing—and art, for that matter. Barber, a New York-based photographer, designs the books, advertises them on the site, and prints copies via the self-publishing site Lulu as orders come in. About a week later, voila! The book shows up at your door. And art consumers know exactly what they’re getting: For each book on the site, there’s a super-short video in which someone’s hands (often Barber’s) flip through the monograph page by page.
Barber’s ingenious project eliminates the huge costs typically involved in print publishing: printing presses, distribution, storage space for finished copies, ink and paper (which are especially pricey for high-end art books). He’s just giving artsy types exactly what they want, when they want it.
It’s as easy to lose hours of your day poking around the TV Books site, which currently exhibits 18 books, as it is to lose them at Tinyvices, the online art gallery Barber has run since 2005. The TV Books project is a natural extension of Tinyvices, he says: “I wanted to take that project and make something tangible, and I’ve always loved making books.” He’s also working with the nonprofit arts foundation Aperture, which will publish a series of monographs from Tinyvices photographers.
Monday, October 27, 2008 2:38 PM
Feeling discouraged by the nasty partisan attacks of the presidential campaign? Overwhelmed and exhausted by politics in general? An antidote awaits in the form of Callie Shell’s photo essays.
Shell’s stunning series of photographs for Time magazine, following Barack Obama on the campaign trail from October 2006 to the present, have been circulating in the mainstream media for a while now. But they are worth all that attention—in fact, they deserve several thorough viewings, for like a good book upon a second reading, they reveal new narratives and imagery with each look.
Despite Obama’s ubiquitous mediagenic charisma, not many photos or videos have succeeded in portraying him as an actual human being. (This is probably due in part to the messianic aura bestowed upon him by acolytes and detractors alike.) By gaining unprecedented access to the candidate over two long years, Shell captured Obama when no one else did—in the interstitial moments between photo ops. This is how she grants us rare glimpses of the candidate napping, eating an ice cream cone, or regrouping with his family just like any other father.
We get a glimpse of Obama’s frugality—not a quality often associated with politicians, especially former lawyers—in the worn soles of his shoes as he puts his feet up on a table. We get a shot of him at an Illinois rest stop in the early days of his campaign—striking for its juxtaposition of an extraordinary figure against a banal tableau. There are also new takes on the assured, tenacious candidate we know: his playful competitiveness as he hangs from a pull-up bar in a gymnasium, or the satisfied smile on his face just before taking the stage in Denver to accept his party’s nomination.
Even more poignant, however, are Shell’s images of the people who gather at Obama’s rallies. These are reaction shots in the purest sense: In one shot, tears streak the faces of two teenage girls in a South Carolina crowd. In another, a pair of young African-American boys wait in line to meet Obama. (Their grandmother told Shell, “Our young men have waited a long time to have someone to look up to, to make them believe Dr. King’s words can be true for them.”)
The campaign’s early days are marked by shots of Iowans mingling with Obama in diners and barns, while its final phases produce images of the man standing before staggering seas of people in Berlin and Denver.
Digital Journalist collects the images in chronological order, from the Illinois rest stop to the end of the DNC. The arrangement provides an uplifting, dignified chronicle of an election season that has too often been anything but.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 4:37 PM
What has happened to great rock concert photography? Is it part of a bygone era, or has the music industry forgone photographers due to control issues? A mix of both, says Mark Paytress in Creative Review’s article "Three Songs and Yer Out! The Dying Art of Gig Photography" (reprinted from a recent issue of M magazine). The "three songs" refers to an industry-wide guideline that photographers are allowed access to the artists only for the first three songs of a performance. The practice started as a courtesy to performers to keep distracting flash bulbs to a minimum. But then it worked its way around the scene and became the rule at most venues. Artists and their management blame the venues for enforcing the rule, while the venues insist they're just doing what they're told by the management.
Blame game aside, it's difficult to capture great images when you know you're racing against the clock. Paytress points out that some of the greatest photos of rock 'n' roll came from the latter part of the set. For example, Pennie Smith snapped Paul Simonon of the Clash smashing his bass at a show in an image that would later be used as the cover for their classic album London Calling.
The three-song rule is a symptom rather than the illness. For the past decade or so, musicians have increasingly gone from being entertainers to being corporations. Case in point: Both Madonna and Jay-Z left their longtime labels to sign with concert promoter Live Nation. The PR departments of these corporations try to control images of their clients all costs, shunning the raw candid shot for staged, vetted images. Add the limited opportunities to the ever-shrinking medium of music imagery (the evolution from LP to CD and CD to digital thumbnail image), and you can see why Paytress and many photogs call concert photography a dying art.
All that's really left for rock photography are studio shoots, where the photographer and the artists can explore their creativity, albeit without the delicious spontaneity of a live show. But with the music industry continuing on a downward spiral, who knows how far budgets for those shoots will stretch.
Although the outlook is bleak, there are still great photos out there. You can find some of them at: Rock Archive (
), Redferns Music Picture Library (
), Rex Features (
), Photographic Youth Music Culture Archive (
), and Steve Gullick (
Image courtesy of flashbacks.com, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:50 PM
Abandoned houses, churches, and stores can give strange and eerie looks into the past. They also provide opportunities for some great photography. The blog collective Web Urbanist has compiled links to flicker groups for photos of the world’s discarded places.
For a creepy look into a place of broken dreams, the creators of the website illicitohio photographed Mike Tyson’s abandoned mansion. In the pictures, zebra print carpets, over-grown landscaping, and shuttered windows tell a story of former opulence gone awry.
, licensed under
Thursday, August 21, 2008 11:48 AM
In his book The Roma Journeys, photographer Joakim Eskildsen documents the lives of the Roma people, an oppressed and misunderstood minority often known as gypsies. The September-October issue of Utne Reader features Eskildsen’s lush color photographs and explores the lives and history of the Roma people.
For the latest episode of the UtneCast, Eskildsen sat down with senior editor Keith Goetzman to talk about the stereotypes that surround the Roma, how he immersed himself in their culture, and what he admires about them.
You can listen to the interview below, or to subscribe to the UtneCast for free through iTunes, click here.
Joakim Eskildsen on The Roma Journeys: Play Now
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Copyright Joakim Eskildsen.
The Roma Journeys by Joakim Eskildsen published by Steidl
Friday, August 08, 2008 1:11 PM
Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky produced color images decades before color film, but his photos of the Russian Empire didn't go on public display until the 21st century. It's no surprise, since shortly after Prokudin-Gorsky's cross-empire photo survey (between 1905 and 1915), the October Revolution erupted, the photographer's supporter Tsar Nicholas II was executed, and Prokudin-Gorsky fled to France. But the years spent documenting the empire must have been heady, traveling in a darkroom-outfitted railroad car, producing images of miners, prisoners, tea harvesters, and yurt-dwellers. “Using color-filtered glass plates to capture a red, a blue, and a green channel of each image, the chemist-turned-photographer was able to project dazzling pictures onto Russia’s walls long before the advent of Lumicolor and Kodachrome film in the 1930s,” writes Russia! (article not available online), a U.S.-based Russian culture magazine that reprinted several of Prokudin-Gorsky’s images in its summer 2008 issue. The images were quietly bought up by the U.S. Library of Congress after World War II and got little attention until they served as records for church restoration in the post-Soviet 1990s, reports Russia!. The images are available for the first time to U.S. audiences at The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota, through October 1.
Monday, July 28, 2008 12:21 PM
One of my favorite outdoor artists, undercover photographer JR, has posted images from his new project in Cartagena, Spain. JR, best known for his earlier projects Face2Face and Women Are Heroes, “transforms his pictures into posters and makes open space photo galleries out of our streets.” He also posted a video documenting the Cartagena project here.
(Thanks, Wooster Collective.)
UPDATE (8/21/08): JR has posted cool new images from Rio de Janeiro.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008 5:18 PM
The phone sex world thrives on anonymity, on the ability of strangers to confess their innermost desires to a person both real and of their own creation. Phillip Toledano’s Phonesex project, featured in Mother Jones, lifts the veil on this interior world with a series of elegant, respectful portraits paired with text written by the subjects themselves.
The phone sex operators’ stories are quirky, amusing, insightful, and disturbing, but all of them reveal the complex personalities that are obscured by ads of airbrushed beauties entreating us to dash off into the bedroom and pick up the phone. They also reveal a great deal about their customers on the other end of the line and about the repressive cultural mores that make this industry so successful.
Toledano’s book is due out in September from Twin Palms. You can find more portraits on the project’s website, along with the full subjects’ complete writings.
Image courtesy of Phillip Toledano.
Monday, June 30, 2008 11:35 AM
A custom-welded, 10-passenger, beast of a bicycle (complete with a purple velvet banana seat for the driver) was just one of the highlights on this past Saturday’s FRAME x FRAME gallery opening-barbecue-bike ride, which—as if it weren’t enough to squish all those activities together—also kicked off the Minneapolis leg of the Bicycle Film Festival (BFF).
The ride meandered leisurely through the city, making use of Minneapolis’ top-rate trail system. At the Minnesota Center for Photography, riders paused to have their portraits shot in the parking lot—posing with bikes, of course. Word is the photos will run as a slideshow during parts of the Minneapolis BFF, which takes place July 9-12. (The festival tours to more than a dozen other U.S. and international locations, so stay tuned for our online coverage of the Minneapolis event.)
The ultimate destination was the One on One bicycle studio, where the opening reception for the FRAME x FRAME photography exhibit was already underway. The show features work by six local photographers: Mark Butcher, Mark Emery, Jason Lemkuil, Kelly MacWilliams, Heidi Prenevost, and Kelly Riordan, and will run through July 13.
As I wandered through the gallery—noshing on hyper-local grub provided by Common Roots Café—I couldn’t help but feel, well, cozy. Bikers sometimes get a reputation for being insular, unfriendly, a clique on two wheels. Not here. The photos on display at One on One wrap the room in welcoming colors. From giddy shots of the Stuporbowl to portraits of riders in a back-alley derby, FRAME x FRAME makes biking look like what it’s supposed to be. Fun.
Image courtesy of Kelly Riordan.
Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:53 PM
Inspired by the elaborate competitions between color-coded teams at summer camps, Color Wars is a diverting repository of ingenious games and artistic challenges created by web developers Ze Frank and Erik Kastner. “It’s just like summer camp,” the site’s banner reads, “but not really.”
Either way, Color Wars appeals to the playful, creative preadolescent we hope isn’t buried too far inside all of us. Among other curiosities, there’s an audio library documenting a nerd rap battle, the results of a 600-person bingo game played “live inside of Twitter,” and a reverse-caption contest where contributors stage photos to accompany a predetermined caption.
The site closed the first round of games in May, but its wild success (nearly three million page views) all but ensures another round soon. My personal favorite category is Young Me Now Me, where contributors recreate childhood photos of themselves:
Even though the competition is over, this is such a good rainy-day activity that I might still do a Young Me Now Me of my own the next time I’m bored and want to indulge my inner summer camper.
, licensed by
Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:06 PM
I am an insatiable food porn consumer. My Google Reader is full of food blogs, and I scroll happily through food photos and recipes at work, at home, before and after grocery shopping. But nothing kills the mood faster for me as a vegetarian viewer than a big hunk-o’-flesh on the page. Chances are, if you don’t share in the “fleischgeist” of Meatpaper, you won’t salivate at the sight of meaty food photography, either. That rules out otherwise tasty sites like La Tartine Gourmande, Smitten Kitchen, or Food Porn Daily. Veggies seeking flesh-free fare might enjoy Simply Breakfast, Vegan Yum Yum, and What the Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway?, along with Flickr albums of vegan food porn—sites that let you ogle the vegan cupcakes, then bake them, too.
(Thanks, Pinch My Salt.)
Image by Elaine Vigneault, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, June 20, 2008 10:37 AM
If you are a fan of vintage photography, dive into Square America, an intriguing web gallery of “vintage snapshots & vernacular photography” curated by Nicholas Osborn. He divides his treasure trove into categories that reveal how photographer's favorite subjects haven't changed much over time. My favorites: On the Limits of Memory, The Book of Sleep, and Guns, Guns, Guns.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 12:37 PM
Spanish photographer Fèlix Curto's latest exhibit, “Heart of Gold: Visits to the Mennonite communities in America,” on display at La Fábrica Galería in Madrid, is the result of a number of visits to traditional Mennonite communities. The website We Make Money Not Art showcases the photographer's work, some of which could reinforce the popular perception of Mennonites as luddites who live apart from modern society. Comments on the site point out that the people represented are a small subset of a larger Mennonite population that has otherwise integrated itself into mainstream, modern life. Still, Curto’s photographs display a beautiful, almost surreal austerity: Mr. Soul (seen left), for example, depicts a farmer whose weathered face emanates strength and rectitude against a wide-open sky.
Image by Fèlix Curto, courtesy of La Fábrica Galería.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008 2:12 PM
Digital technology has advanced to the point where anyone can doctor a photograph. Sometimes it takes a technical expert to tell the difference between a real photo and a fake one. One such expert, Hany Farid writes for the Scientific American about some of the best examples of photo doctoring in the digital age. He also gives some telltale signs of fake photographs, suggesting that sleuths focus on the eyes, the light sources, and the pixels.
Some Photoshop doctoring jobs don’t need an expert to be exposed as a fake. The blog Photoshop Disasters has become a time-wasting favorite on the internet, chronicling some of the worst photo doctoring in the media, including errant limbs, one-legged models, and other human oddities. There are even a few egregious errors from fairly reputable sources. My favorite (seen left) is from Sports Illustrated, where someone seems to have cut off a man’s head. The question is: How did they miss that?
Monday, June 02, 2008 5:28 PM
For anyone who ever has picked up an unfamiliar photograph and pondered its meaning, LA-based arts magazine X-Tra runs a captivating column. “1 Image 1 Minute,” curated (so to speak) by visual/performance artist Micol Hebron, always features two images, each one complemented with a one-minute narrative from an artist or writer describing the significance therein.
Sometimes the narratives are straight-forwardly analytical; in the Summer 2008 issue, for example, writer Chas Bowie responds to photographer Bill Thomas’ disturbing self-portrait Rats and Syringes. Other narratives are more personal, poignant peeks into the lives of others. In the Spring 2008 issue, writer Paul Minden describes deciphering a photograph taken of his father in Romania in 1939 (article not available online):
“What’s interesting about this picture,” my father asked. This was clearly a quiz, and I was failing. At 86 he was sharp as a tack, found these old photos much more compelling than his stomach cancer, and had no intention of leaving this world till I understood why this literally pedestrian photo struck him as monumental.
As it turns out, the photograph was taken just hours before Hitler attacked Poland. “Five teens with time for a campy snapshot,” Minden reflects, “with no clue how drastically life was about to change…. This was the calm before the storm troopers.”
Image by freeparking, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, April 18, 2008 2:07 PM
With the current vinyl and plush toy phenomenon in full force, someone had to step up and be the movement’s official photographer. Enter Brian McCarty. His photos of toys breathe an incredible amount of life into seemingly inanimate objects, presenting them in an almost cinematic and usually hilarious manner. See his work here, or go behind the scenes and see his latest images here.
Monday, October 15, 2007 5:33 PM
Good news for your weary eyes: A handful of hip indie mags are currently featuring photo-driven issues, which means more eye candy to gaze at and fewer words to pay attention to.
Slick urban arts mag Re:Up shows off its first-ever photography edition this month (issue #14), with thoughtfully presented images by Corey Arnold, Anthony Goicolea, Jean-Paul Goude (whose iconic portrait of Grace Jones dominates the cover), and other professional and amateur photographers.
Fellow Brooklynite Wax Poetics, a lively magazine devoted to hip-hop, jazz, funk, and soul music, just rolled out its first photo issue as well (October/November). True to the magazine's mission, its snappy photo essays are borne out of the music world, mostly (but not exclusively) from hip-hop scenes past and present.
British design magazine Creative Review publishes a king-sized photography annual every October. This year's works are showcased in a roomy 75-page advertising-free zone, with photographs that run the gamut from artsy to gutsy to out-there. I really dig my Creative Review's cover, which features one of Matthew Georgeson's mesmerizing cityscape photos (from his "Metropolis" series). Scope out the other cover possibilities—one of which is Nadav Kander’s nearly life-sized head shot of David Lynch—at an artsy newsstand near you. —Danielle Maestretti
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