The Photo Blog

Oct. 9 2014 11:30 AM

Can You Really Know All Your Facebook Friends? This Photographer Tried to Find Out.

A couple of months ago, a portrait of my friends and their daughter appeared on my  Facebook timeline. Their friend had arranged to take the portrait for a project documenting all of her 626 Facebook friends. A few weeks later, another one of my friends’ portraits appeared in my feed from the same series. Feeling I was missing out on something right under my nose, I began to investigate and was quickly embarrassed to realize the widely covered project, Are You Really My Friend, had never crossed my path. I immediately contacted the photographer Tanja Hollander and spoke to her right after she had finished taking her 400th portrait to talk about the evolution of the series.

Hollander began the project in 2011 when she realized that she was communicating and sharing information with people around the world, some of whom she still spoke with on the phone, others who she either barely knew or some she didn’t know at all. It brought up the question “Am I really friends with all of these people?”

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Oct. 8 2014 11:41 AM

For a New Generation of Queer Youth, the Closet Is No Longer Mandatory

Growing up in Colorado in the 1980s, being out of the closet was, for M. Sharkey, “just not a possibility.” “I couldn’t even imagine not being in the closet. I couldn’t imagine being open about my sexuality,” he said. Times have changed, and as LGBTQ Americans have won greater freedoms and protections under the law, a new generation of kids has increasingly begun to experience something novel: A childhood in which sexuality and gender identity is more freely expressed and discussed.

Oct. 7 2014 11:30 AM

The Surprising Calm of Israel’s Many Bomb Shelters

In Israel, where war is a constant threat, bomb shelters are a fairly everyday part of the landscape. Like New York’s subway stations, they blend naturally into their environments while maintaining individual personalities. And, as Brooklyn-based Daniel Terna found out, they’re generally left unlocked, ready for use or for the occasional photographer to explore.

Oct. 6 2014 2:19 PM

Does Being Born to Older Parents Cause You to Think About Aging Differently?  

Lydia Goldblatt’s father was 60 when she was born. Her mother was 37. As a child, Goldblatt’s relationship with them wasn’t rooted in these facts, but, as an early teen, their advanced age caused her to think more closely about aging and the passing of time. 

Although a lot of her previous work dealt with transitional themes, for a long time she had hoped to begin a project focused on her relationship with her parents. The London-based photographer spent roughly three years working on “Still Here,” which explores the fleetingness of time through images of her aging parents. It was also published in 2013 as a monograph by Hatje Cantz

Oct. 5 2014 11:00 AM

The Bright Lights and Digital Daze of Tokyo

One of Matthew Pillsbury’s chief photographic interests is the way in which technology influences the way we experience reality. “The growing use of technology in our lives has simultaneously allowed for instantaneous global communication, but it also can isolate us by favoring virtual contact as opposed to real-world interaction,” he said via email.

Oct. 3 2014 11:52 AM

This Powerful Laser Looks Cooler Than Science Fiction 

When Robert Shults tells people about the Petawatt Laser, a machine that at one time produced the most powerful laser pulse in the world, the response he hears most often is, “It sounds like something out of science fiction.” In Shults’ new book,The Superlative Light, out this month from Daylight Books, it also looks like science fiction.

And that’s no accident: Shults likes making photos that explore the “intersection of accurate document and open-ended narrative.” After visiting the Texas Petawatt Laser facility in Austin, Texas, in 2009, he was immediately awed: The science conducted there, he said via email, was “indistinguishable from magic.”


Oct. 2 2014 1:09 PM

Are You Enjoying a Picnic on a Dumpsite?

Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow were familiar with the public parks, little league fields, playgrounds, and other green spaces found in Pittsburgh.

What they didn’t know was that many of those spaces either bordered or were part of more than 300 documented illegal dumpsites. The two photographers, who met in 2001 and had been looking for a project to work on together, teamed up with volunteer cleanup agencies to understand survey data (both statistical and GPS) about the dumpsites that includes the type of terrain, difficulty of removal and cleanup, the percentage of scattered trash, and distance to the nearest residential area. One of their greatest resources was Allegheny CleanWays, a local non-profit that aids and organizes community cleanups.

Holtz and Zadikow were not only surprised about the number of dumpsites but also the extent of the dumping.

Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM

The Many Faces of Texas

The first time Michael O’Brien set foot on Texas soil, in 1982, for a Life magazine assignment, it felt like home. In the decades since, he’s been to every part of the state and met a wide variety of people, including celebrities, politicians, and everyday citizens.

Sept. 30 2014 12:10 PM

Violence, Love, and Hope: Growing Up in the Bronx in the 1980s

When Stephen Shames took his first photos of the Bronx in 1977—while on assignment to produce a photo essay for Look—the area, one of the poorest in the United States, was a “terrifying” and “often dangerous” place. Heroin soon became easily available in the borough, followed by crack. And yet, Shames said, the Bronx felt like home.

Sept. 29 2014 1:12 PM

Are These Models Twins? A Photographic Exploration of Doppelgangers.

Olivier Ramonteu’s series “Alter Ego” is a collection of eerie, somewhat disorienting images that explore the idea of doppelgangers.

Looking at the images, it’s probably not too surprising that the Lyon-based French photographer finds inspiration from a psychologically darker point of view, including the films of Tim Burton, the writing of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and, especially in the case of “Alter Ego,” the painting Les Enfants Dedreux by Theodore Gericault.