The Photo Blog

Dec. 8 2014 10:44 AM

Documenting Life in Countries You Probably Never Knew Existed

What does it mean when a nation declares sovereignty, draws lines in the sand, and sets up a government but lacks the world’s recognition? That’s what Narayn Mahon investigated in his series, “Lands in Limbo,” which went on display at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin on Dec. 6. 

Between 2006 and 2010, Mahon visited Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Somaliland, looking for a sense of “identity and isolation” in places full of patriotism, yet excluded from the international community.

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Dec. 7 2014 10:34 AM

The Everyday Lives of Nuns

It’s one thing to decide to create a photographic series about an enclosed contemplative monastery; it’s another to make it happen. Determined to create a series about a world that seems almost otherworldly, Ibolya Feher went the modern route and did a Google search to find the monastery closest to her home in Southwest England. That turned out to be the Sisters of the Carmelite order, who live in Sclerder Abbey, about a three-hour train ride away. The Carmelite order is one of the oldest contemplative orders in which the sisters live and work primarily in silence and rarely allow outsider visitors.  

The sisters, however, are slowly opening up to the outside world and agreed to meet and interview Feher to determine whether she would be allowed to visit and take photographs of their comings and goings. Mostly, the sisters wanted to make sure Feher didn’t have bad intentions and that she wouldn’t be creating work that tried to present them in a bad light.

Dec. 5 2014 11:29 AM

These Are Some of the Coolest Libraries in the World

Libraries are at once solitary and social, often serving as cornerstones of communities. Throughout history, their design has developed alongside the democratization of knowledge. A new book, Reflections: Libraries, which was published by Roads in November, traces this evolution through buildings that, whether modern and inviting or ancient and exclusive, are marvelous to see.

The first library in the book is the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. It then traverses the globe, from the minimalist, modern libraries of Asia and Scandinavia to the lavish classical libraries of the United States and Western Europe, including the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre at Humboldt University in Berlin, with its five stories of cherry-wood terraces.

Dec. 4 2014 10:18 AM

Riding Along With the Hells Angels of Norway

The Hells Angels may have loomed large in 1960s American culture, but they’re alive and well in Norway.

There’s more than one stereotype shattered in Marcel Leliënhof’s book, Helvetes Engler—Hells Angels MC Norway: Besides being Norwegian and existing in the 21st century, the motorcycle gangs Leliënhof photographed for five years had none of the law-breaking, violent tendencies of the group described in Hunter S. Thompson’s 1966 book Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga.

“The first Norwegian chapter of the Hells Angels started in 1992 and was probably as wild as their U.S. brothers then. But the club as it is now is not what I expected after reading Thompson,” Leliënhof said via email. “It is a tight-knit brotherhood of guys who have known each other for a long time and who have sacrificed much to become who they are.”

Dec. 3 2014 10:30 AM

Babe Lincoln, Amelia Armheart, Ruth Hater Ginsburg : Ladies Who Arm Wrestle 

When Katrina Arnold photographed a ladies arm wrestling brawl in New Orleans a few years ago, she was instantly hooked. The raucous events, which are hosted by New Orleans Ladies Arm Wrestling, combine the performative, athletic elements of a WWE match with the communal, boozy aspects of a trivia night. It’s one of more than 25 chapters across the world under the umbrella of the Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers

“They're such colorful events. You never know what's going to happen,” Arnold said. “I got addicted. I ended up joining the collective and taking pictures of my friends.”

Dec. 2 2014 10:17 AM

All These Stores Sold Winning Lottery Tickets

Shortly after the economic crisis in 2008, Edie Bresler began noticing lottery tickets littering her neighborhood just outside Boston. She followed them back to the source and found that most of them had been sold at local mom-and-pop shops.

“It was like discovering an underground cult,” Bresler said. “The more time I spent in small stores talking to the people who were buying the tickets, the more I started realizing I knew nothing about it.”

She decided to photograph the culture behind the lottery and realized her initial discovery of small businesses was one of the more intriguing components. For her series, “We Sold a Winner,” she focuses on the shop owners who sold the winning tickets.

Dec. 1 2014 10:02 AM

Incredibly Detailed Photos of a Rare Collection of Brains

During previous editorial assignments at the University of Texas, Adam Voorhes had come across everything from a set of antique vacuum tubes to a collection of wood letterpress type to a bunch of robots. But no one had thought to show him the storage closet full of brains in the Animal Resources Center until 2011.

Nov. 30 2014 10:00 AM

What Performance Artists Look Like at the End of a Show

As an active member of the performance art community, Berlin-based Patrick Morarescu has met amazing artists from all over the world. But it wasn’t until 2010, while attending the Universe Performance Festival in Estonia, that it occurred to him to consider taking photos of these people he knew and admired. 

Rather than photograph the performances, Morarescu focuses his lens on the artists right after they finish their shows, while they “still have the energy of creativity.” 

“That feeling is what I want to capture in the portraits. It feels like you can still catch some traces of what happened in the performance some minutes before,” he said via email. 

Nov. 28 2014 10:00 AM

The 1 in 6 People Around the World Who Continue to Survive on $1 or Less a Day

Although the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty was one of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals put forth in 2000, 1 in 6 people around the world continue to survive on $1 or less a day.

Earlier this year, The Forgotten International, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that works to alleviate international poverty, published Living on a Dollar a Day with the help of Quantuck Lane Press. The book, with text by founder and president of The Forgotten International Thomas A. Nazario and photos by Pulitzer Prize–winner Renée C. Byer, brings a face to those who live in impoverished conditions.

Byer took a leave of absence from her job as a senior photojournalist for the Sacramento Bee and traveled to 10 countries through four continents over the course of two years. Although she had a lot of experience working as a photojournalist, this project presented new challenges. 

Nov. 26 2014 10:09 AM

These People Love Waiting in Line to Be Part of Live Studio Audiences

During her years living in Los Angeles, Stephanie Diani was intrigued whenever she passed the long lines of people waiting to get into television show tapings. She wanted to create a series that spoke to the diehard aspect of being serial studio audience members.  

“It just seemed so Hollywood and sad and funny and I always wanted to shoot them and I could never figure out how to do it,” she said.