The Photo Blog

Aug. 20 2015 11:07 AM

Sometimes the Best View in the House Is From Backstage 

In 2010, while photographing a theater, Klaus Frahm snapped a color Polaroid of the audience from backstage. On his way home he took a look at the frame and had a surge of inspiration looking at the deep red seats that seemed to pop out of the image. It proved to be a catalyst for a series, “The Fourth Wall: Stages,” which he has been working on for nearly five years.

“I’ve been doing this with other projects because from behind they look interesting,” he said. “You don’t know what it is. So the idea was already sleeping but there was that moment when I saw the Polaroid, I thought, is this something?”

Frahm began traveling around Germany shooting theaters from backstage, slowly gaining more and more access once he was able to show theater managers the photos he had shot. They often allowed him to shoot between breaks or after performances.

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Aug. 19 2015 11:49 AM

What Are We Still Doing in Afghanistan?

After 14 years of combat, thousands of deaths and injuries, and billions of dollars, the war in Afghanistan is technically over, yet thousands of NATO-led troops remain in the country as part of Operation Resolute Support. This past June, Jason Koxvold spent a week photographing the series, “BLACK-WATER,” to find out what our continued presence in the country looks like. 

Aug. 18 2015 11:06 AM

The Photographer Who Brought Color to Magnum 

It’s hard to read anything about Harry Gruyaert without at least one mention of the word color. The Belgian’s somewhat radical embrace of the medium in the 1970s has certainly helped define his career thus far: Black-and-white photos were the last things on viewers minds while walking through Gruyaert’s recently closed show at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris or while turning the pages of a retrospective of his work around the world, Harry Gruyaert.

And while the colors might pull you in, what is happening within the frame of Gruyaert’s photographs stand alone primarily because his intent is to create a narrative within a single image.

“I try to get to what is the strongest,” Gruyaert said about his work. “What tells a story by itself and not as part of a series; more like tableaux, single paintings.”

Aug. 17 2015 1:55 PM

The Myth of Cuba May Appeal to Tourists, but It Ignores the Country’s Complexity

As the U.S. and Cuba re-establish relations, the Caribbean island is poised for a dramatic change. This, in part, is the inspiration behind “¡Cuba, Cuba!,” an ICP exhibit at the Southampton Arts Center in New York of more than 100 photographs, historic artifacts, political posters, and publications spanning the past 65 years of Cuban history.

The exhibit, curated by Cuban art historian Iliana Cepero and ICP curator Pauline Vermare, features a unique collection of works by more than 20 Cuban photographers, including Alberto Korda, (who shot the now-iconic image of Che Guevara), Raúl Corrales, Marucha (María Eugenia Haya), and legendary American photographers like Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt.

“The images are like a map of Cuba, a cartography of feelings, ideas, mentalities,” Cepero said. “That is the intellectual and emotional complexity of Cuba.”

Aug. 16 2015 11:24 AM

These Untitled Photos of the Republic of Congo Leave Viewers to Find Their Own Interpretations

Compared to its larger Central African neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo has not been widely documented. Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin provide plenty of visual records in their book, Congo, which Aperture published in May, but they don’t seek to illuminate much, at least in terms of names, places, and historical context. Their photographs, a mix of captivating city scenes and tropical landscapes, are uncaptioned and untitled. An interview with Majoli over email yielded little more in the way of concrete information. Their goal, he said, was to leave viewers with only “what is necessary” to draw their own conclusions —namely, images—and nothing more.

Aug. 14 2015 12:36 PM

An Immigrant’s Struggle to Raise Her Son in Middle-Class America

Last year, while working on a story about child care, Alice Proujansky and the writer Alissa Quart met Blanca Conde, a nanny from Paraguay, who was living in Queens and working in Manhattan.

Conde’s story was, on the surface, typical of many immigrants: She worked long hours and was the financial caregiver for her family who remained in Paraguay, including her son, Guido, from whom she had been living apart for a decade.

Although they were happy to have met Conde, Proujansky said the story felt dark since Conde often spoke about being reunited with Guido. “It sounded like a fantasy,” Proujansky said. A few years earlier, Guido had tried to live with his mother but returned to Paraguay soon thereafter since the demands of Conde’s job made it too difficult for her to take care of her own child.


Aug. 13 2015 10:17 AM

The Rapid-Fire Photography Needed to Capture the Headbangers of Europe 

A few years ago, Jacob Ehrbahn, a staff photographer at the Danish national newspaper Politiken, found himself captivated by a heavy metal festival called Copenhell. The three-day self-assignment began a project that would eventually become a book,Headbangerswhich will be published in the United States by PowerHouse next month.

Ehrbahn thinks of Politiken as a very “picture friendly” publication, or heaven for photographers. His typical stories fall under a hard news umbrella, but there was something exciting for him about his first visit to the metal festival. “When I came there, I immediately fell in love with the headbangers and I tried to figure out how to photograph them,” he said.

A close-up look with an on-camera flash seemed to be the way to go since it not only stopped the rapidly moving hair of the concert goers, but it also allowed for the sky to be visible, creating a uniform blue background on the photographs.

Aug. 12 2015 1:14 PM

These Photos Aren’t Trying to Tell You Anything—That’s What Makes Them So Great

It all started when Muir Vidler was in college and photographing the club scene for a gay magazine in London. He noticed an older man—at least by nightclub standards—named Adrian Delgoffe who was dressed in a leather harness.

“I thought, that guy is the same age as my dad and my dad is at home sleeping on the couch in front of the television,” Vidler said. Delgoffe agreed to have his portrait taken and inspired Vidler to find more people who weren’t “acting their age.” The work eventually became a series “Rebels Without a Pause,” which includes rockers, fetishists, and other entertainers who were having fun on their own terms.

From there, Vidler, whether through assignment or his own personal projects, began documenting unconventional stories around the world including the Israeli death metal scene or a circumcision party for two boys in the Maldives.

Aug. 11 2015 10:56 AM

Rare Photographs of Jazz Icons From the Archives of Metronome Magazine

Founded in 1881, Metronome magazine became indispensable during the swing era, when it switched its focus to jazz. For decades, it was the best publication for reviews, features, and show listings of the era’s foremost music genre. The magazine struggled to adapt as tastes changed and in 1961 it closed. Getty Images eventually acquired its vast photo archives, but for decades, nobody had explored them until Pierre Vudrag, founder of the vintage photography and poster site, Limited Runs, decided to take a look. His selections from the archives are now featured in a traveling exhibition, “The Metronome Jazz Photo Collection,” which will be on display in New York and Chicago this fall.

Aug. 10 2015 10:17 AM

The Creative and Colorful Desks of Children’s Book Illustrators

Like many parents, Jake Green often found that his favorite books to read to his kids were those that had been read to him as a child. But two years ago, while reading a biography of the of the English author and illustrator John Burningham, who described working in a defining era for children’s books in the 1960s and ’70s, he started thinking about today’s crop of children’s illustrators. Who are the emerging stars of today’s literature, he wondered, and what does their work look like? With the help of editor and art director James Cartwright, Green started finding answers. The result is their book, The Bookmaker’s Studio, which they are currently raising money on Kickstarter to publish.