The Photo Blog

July 16 2015 10:11 AM

Capturing the Beauty of the Bronx: One of the Last Vestiges of Old New York

After working in banking for 27 years, just before the economic collapse in 2008, Ira Wagner decided to try something new. He started taking classes at the International Center of Photography in New York and was encouraged by one of his professors to go for an MFA, which he finished in 2013

For two years he worked on what would become his thesis project, a study of the Bronx borough of New York City, which he documented with an 8-by-10 view camera. Wagner’s mother’s family is from the Bronx and he grew up in Yonkers, just north of the Bronx, until he was 15. Working on the series gave him the chance to revisit a bit of his past as well as to get an idea of what was happening to the area.

“For many people, and this is by no means universal, the idea of the Bronx is kind of frozen in the 1970s and ’80s,” Wagner said. “A dangerous, burned down, hopeless place. I found it’s not like that at all … it’s basically a place where people are trying to make their lives better and raise a family and have what everyone else wants.”

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July 15 2015 11:22 AM

You Can’t, and Shouldn’t, Ignore These Faces  

There are 49 portraits in Bruce Gilden’s new book, Face, published this month by Dewi Lewis, and it’s a safe bet you’ll probably remember all of them.

That’s partly due to Gilden’s raw approach to street photography, a stark, in-your-face style; and partly due to his subjects, a mix of “characters” as he calls them, who are often overlooked in society.

“The basis of this project is to show people who are left behind,” Gilden said. “A lot of these people are invisible and people don’t want to look at them and if you don’t look at them how can you help them? When you pay attention to those who are usually ignored, it makes their day. That’s not why I do it. I’m not claiming to be a humanitarian; I’m a photographer. I always photograph what’s interesting to me and it has always been people who are underdogs because I see myself as an underdog.”

July 14 2015 10:52 AM

Putting These Epic Sports Photos in Perspective

Paolo Pellizzari doesn’t make images like other sports photographers.


Rather than strive to get as close as possible to the action and freeze athletes in the middle of a spectacular moment, he tries to capture a fuller scene that gives viewers a better sense of what it feels like to be at an event. He calls his photos “human landscapes.”

July 13 2015 10:36 AM

Some of the Worst Moments of the 1900s Happened in These Spots

Tomoko Yoneda’s photography may be the perfect illustration of the classic William Faulkner line, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”


Among the photos from the past 14 years in her exhibit, “Beyond Memory,” which is on display at London’s Grimaldi Gavin until July 25, are those that show the sites of some of the 20th century’s worst moments: The cliffs where Japanese soldiers jumped to their deaths during World War II, for instance, and the French forest where hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their lives. 

July 12 2015 10:37 AM

SOMA in the ’80s: Photographing a Changing San Francisco 

Janet Delaney grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood in 1978, finding herself at the heart of an area populated with artists living in empty warehouses. A few blocks from her apartment was a massive construction site where the Moscone Center was being built. The construction, which necessitated the demolition of many buildings, caused many poor and elderly residents to be displaced. It turned out to be a catalyst in Delaney’s work—her photos of south of Market from that time are a visual history of a city in transition.

“I felt drawn toward trying to understand how people are affected by their built environment, not just the formal elements of the lines and shapes but who lives there and what happens when people change, and they were being radically changed by the construction of the Moscone Center,” she said.

Delaney was also influenced by the shift in photography from natural landscapes toward those that were of an industrial, man-made starkness. The images also represent a nostalgic look back at what seems a completely different lifetime.

Delaney, however, is hardly the nostalgic type and doesn’t see change as necessarily a bad thing, especially as it relates to the ways in which SOMA is viewed today: as ground zero for the debate about new technology moving in and radically altering San Francisco.

July 10 2015 11:02 AM

These Altered Images Show Photojournalism at Its Worst

Mistakes, misrepresentations, and downright deceptions in photojournalism are as old as the practice itself. And according to photojournalist Michael Kamber, founder of the Bronx Documentary Center and curator of its exhibit, “Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography,” these problems are only getting worse.

July 9 2015 12:04 PM

Photographing a Mennonite Community That Forbids Electricity 

How do you photograph a community of people who shun photography?

In 2010 and 2011, Jordi Ruiz Cirera faced that challenge when he spent time with Mennonite colonies in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Connecting with his subjects proved to be a slow proces, but the trust he gained formed the groundwork for a series of photographs that make up his 2014 book Los Menonos.

Ruiz Cirera heard about the Mennonites of Bolivia and Paraguay while travelling around South America with a friend. Although many Mennonites embrace modern technology, the communities that Ruiz Cirera visited were much stricter, forbidding electricity and alcohol. Intrigued, the Spanish photographer decided to move to Bolivia to try to document their lives, spending a few months living with different families.

“Something that really shocked me was the lack of pastimes or games, places to have a communal social life,” he wrote via email. “There are no social centers besides the church and the shop, no cafes or restaurants, football pitches, squares or gardens. Life essentially resumes to work and to look after the family.”

July 8 2015 11:12 AM

The Struggles and Heroic Strength of Women Who’ve Been Attacked With Acid

The number of women around the world who have been victims of acid and fire attacks is hard to determine since many cases go unreported. Many times the result of gender-based violence, the effects of the attacks are devastating. The women are often blinded, maimed, disfigured, and left to survive with the physical damage and overwhelming psychological scars.

Four years ago, Ann-Christine Woehrl wanted to give voice to women who had been victims of those attacks and other forms of violence; to shed light on their struggles, their hope, and what Woehrl called “their heroic strength.” The work, a mix of portraits and documentary imagery, includes women from six countries: Bangladesh, Uganda, Cambodia, Pakistan, Nepal, and India.

July 7 2015 10:02 AM

Only Floridians Could Come Up With a Sport Like Swamp Buggy Racing 

Like many quirky, homegrown traditions, swamp buggy racing started out small. In the early 1940s, about a dozen hunters in Naples, Florida, who used the strange, jeep-like vehicles to navigate the boggy Everglades, started racing them simply for the fun of it. But in just a few years, the race turned into an annual event, and, by 1949, an official organization formed to run it. Today, there are three swamp buggy racing events every year, each attracting thousands of spectators from all over the country to the racetrack, affectionately known as the Mile O’ Mud, in the Florida Sports Park. 

July 6 2015 10:59 AM

These Dark, Mysterious Photos of London Will Keep You up at Night 

“I'm not interested in images that pacify. I’m interested in images that shake you up,” said Jason Langer.

Langer’s photos of London, which he took over a few weeks in 2008 while he was mounting an exhibition there, certainly fall in that latter category. Dark, romantic, and perplexing, they present the city as a labyrinth of mysteries and mirages, where things aren’t always as they appear. Some of these are included in his new book, Twenty Years, which Radius Books will publish this month.