Powerful Photos From America’s 1960s and ’70s
Ken Light knew he would become a photojournalist on April 28, 1970. While studying at Ohio University, Light traveled to Ohio State University where he photographed the student riots that took place a week before the tragic events at Kent State University.
“Those pictures were published all over the world and it was kind of like, wow, this is really, really powerful,” Light said. “It was at that point I realized I loved doing photography and loved the idea of having a powerful voice and being able to observe the world I was interacting in a seeing things that needed to be changed; things that people were ignoring.”
Light spent the next four years traveling around the country documenting one of the most turbulent periods in American history. He followed Richard Nixon, war protests, POWs coming home, as well as some quiet, profound moments of daily American life. He recently self-published an edit of the work in the book What’s Going On? 1969–1974.
Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery for These Americans and Europeans
Naomi Harris remembers the thrill of visiting Europe when she was in her 20s and returning home with something special that wasn’t available in North America. Today, you don’t need a plane ticket to track down those unique items; you simply need access to the Internet.
“We are able to go online and learn about one another and there aren’t as many differences,” Harris said. “It’s harder to be unique and harder to have your own culture be unique and stand out because we are all using those things that make a Frenchman a Frenchman or a Dutchman a Dutchman; everyone wants to be the same. Or maybe it’s more: everybody is the same whether they want to be or not.”
These Portraits Prove Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs
Nancy LeVine spent nearly a decade documenting her dogs Maxie and LuLu, which taught her valuable lessons about art and life. As the pups showed signs of aging, around 2004, LeVine found inspiration in the way they managed their changing bodies.
“They [aged] so exquisitely and naturally as part of their disposition; it was something I just wanted to spend more time with and observe,” she said.
For the next 12 years, she did just that. As she traveled across America, she contacted animal sanctuaries, rescue groups, veterinarians, and friends in order to find elderly dogs to photograph. Her book, Senior Dogs Across America, which is published by Schiffer Publishing, presents 86 of her best portraits.
Guess Which Environmental Scourge Is the Star of These Gorgeous Images
Has a plastic bag ever been as profoundly captured as the one that dances in the wind during American Beauty? Vilde Rolfsen was also inspired by plastic bags, although instead of filming them, she decided to photograph them for a series titled “Plastic Bag Landscapes.”
As a child, Rolfsen said she was an abstract painter but was also always interested in documenting things. She got her first camera when she was 15, and when she moved to Paris a few years later, she said she began recording everyday life around her.
Rolfsen wanted to work with an everyday object, and she stumbled on to the plastic bag in a serendipitous way: While adjusting her camera, the inside of a plastic bag was over the lens. She was inspired by what she saw and set out to find bags to photograph. Because she didn’t want to contribute to landfill waste, she found all of the bags in the street, at school, or in the house where she lives with roommates; she would then take them back to her studio to photograph them.
Glamour Shots of the World’s Sacred Cows
In many parts of the world, cows are seen not merely as sources of meat, milk, and skin, but as special animals worthy of respect and admiration.
South African photographer Daniel Naudé’s book, Sightings of the Sacred, which Prestel published in May, shows why, with images of magnificent species in Uganda, Madagascar, and India that are integral to the cultural and religious traditions of the people who look after them.
Hunters and Their “Trophies” at the Spots Where They Killed Them
In French, the word naturalization is sometimes used to describe taxidermy, a contradiction French photographer Pierre Abensur found amusing.
“Naturalized animals in nature was a paradox, just as killing them and trying to give them the appearance of being alive, what I considered as a form of paradoxical love,” he wrote via email.
As a way of highlighting the paradox, Abensur began the series Subjective Trophies that is a collection of 40 portraits (Abensur shot 70) of hunters with their “trophies”—parts or entire bodies of the animals they killed—taken in the exact spots where the hunters killed the animals. He said they represent a kind of pilgrimage, a metaphorical reconstitution.
“When I decided to work on the theme of trophies, I wanted to keep out of these portraits of nabobs in trophy rooms I had seen so many times in the ’80s,” he wrote. “I realized the importance of the location when I asked about hunting stories that concern a particular trophy—they all started by ‘I was there.’ ”
When New York’s Mom-and-Pop Businesses Disappear, so Does a Neighborhood’s Character
In the mid-1990s, James and Karla Murray started registering a disturbing trend as they photographed street culture in neighborhoods across New York City.
“Despite the short time frame between visits, we noticed that some blocks looked drastically different. Many neighborhood stores that we had noticed had closed, or we would come across ‘old’ stores, still in business, but somehow different. They were either refaced, remodeled, or original signage had been substituted with new, bright, and shiny plastic awnings. The whole look and feel of the neighborhood had changed, and much of its individuality and charm had gone,” the husband-and-wife duo, who photograph and interview as a united entity, said via email.
They soon made it their mission to document the vanishing mom-and-pop stores through images and interviews with their owners. Skyrocketing rents and rapidly changing neighborhood demographics, however, meant time to do so was limited. More than two-thirds of the stores featured in their 2008 book, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York have, and approximately 20 percent of those included in their new book, Store Front II: A History Preserved, which was published by Gingko Press in November, have closed.
This Is What Queer Relationships Might Have Looked Like in the Early 20th Century
When Kris Sanford came out as gay in the early 1990s, she didn’t have any friends or family members who were also gay.
“That left me feeling like the other for a long time,” she wrote via email. While growing up, she said she had crushes on friends and created imaginary relationships.
Partly because Sanford was searching for some type of history that spoke to and included her, she began a series “Through the Lens of Desire” that creates implied narratives through found snapshots from the 1920’s-‘50s.
“I’m specifically looking for some kind of affection and intimacy,” she wrote about the images she selects. “Either through touch or expression. The images I create…are more about sensuality and attraction than about sexuality.”
Sanford works with the found images by intentionally cropping off a chunk of the top and as a nod to early Kodak snapshots creates a circular frame; she said it’s both a way of removing the identities of the people to turn them into fictional characters and an invitation for viewers to take a closer look at what they’re seeing.
“I’m not suggesting that the actual people were gay or lesbian, because in all likelihood they were not,” she wrote. “They become stand-ins as I create an imagined queer history.”
An early inspiration for the work came from a box of snapshots Sanford inherited from her grandmother that included images of parties she hosted where people would dress up. One photograph in particular (Folding Chairs), of two women dressed as flappers and dancing together, struck Sanford.
Candid Moments With the Ramones, Taken by Their Manager
Danny Fields has been many things: author; journalist; publicist; and, most notably, manager for a number of famous punk rock musicians, including the Ramones, the Bay City Rollers, and Iggy Pop.
It’s the Ramones through which Fields is most often linked. Fields first saw the band at CBGB, and 15 minutes after they ended their 15-minute set, he asked if he could manage them. Soon after, he brokered a deal for them with Sire Records. While the Ramones were recording their debut album, Fields photographed the band during downtime.
But Fields insists he’s not a photographer, at least one who made his living by taking photos. He even begins the introduction for his new book, My Ramones, published by First Third Books, by writing that “I’d never felt like a ‘professional’ photographer until 2003.”
But throughout all of his careers, Fields has been taking photographs. He said part of the reason was out of convenience, as he did while writing for the magazine 16; other times, he said, it was out of boredom, especially when he was working with the Ramones.
When the Bowery Was New York’s Skid Row
Today, the Bowery is an increasingly posh area characterized by luxury condominiums, upscale grocery chains, and high-income residents. This month, it’s getting a new museum, the International Center of Photography, which is marking the occasion with an exhibition of photos from the 1940s and ’50s, a time when the Bowery was a place known for its fleabag hotels and flocks of alcoholics and drifters.
These photos come courtesy of Weegee, the New York City freelance news photographer best recognized for his garish but irresistible images of crime and calamity. The ICP has more than 20,000 photographs by the photographer (who was born Usher Felling), and more than 300 were taken of the Bowery’s streets, people, and businesses. While a few among them depict classic Weegee subjects such as fires and accidents, the photos on the whole constitute a celebratory representation of the neighborhood, ICP curator Christopher George said.