The Photo Blog

June 9 2015 11:07 AM

From Four-Leaf Clovers to Gray Underwear, the Quirky Things That Bring Us Luck 

When Mark Menjivar was in middle school, he’d always put his left shoe on before his right, and he’d always make a wish at 11:11. A few years ago he was in a bookstore in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when he opened up an old volume called 1000 Facts Worth Knowing and found four four-leaf clovers pressed inside.

“Finding that was so much better than finding money because of the possibilities that exist inside it. I started thinking about luck in my own life,” he said. “Then I started talking to people and the more I talked the crazier, funnier and more interesting stories I heard.”

Video Advertisement

June 8 2015 12:11 PM

Finding Female Spirituality With Poland’s Witches, Druids, and Whisperers 

When Katarzyna Majak grew up as a Catholic in Poland, she wasn’t aware of other forms of spirituality.

“The power of the Catholic Church here has always been immense,” she wrote via email. “It was only later in life when I started traveling, meeting different people that I realized how limited my idea of what spirituality may mean.”

In response to her newfound awareness, Majak began a series of portraits and interviews of modern-day Polish witches, healers, visionaries, and other women who practiced different types of spirituality called “Women of Power.”

June 7 2015 10:00 AM

An Up-Close Look at the World’s Most Beautiful Buildings

You might be unsure of exactly what you’re looking at when you first see the images in Roland Fischer’s series “Facades.” They could be tiles or fabric patterns or perhaps optical illusions. Unless you happen to recognize the patterns highlighted in the photographs, your only clue that you’re looking at the facades of buildings is a straightforward title that lists the building name and city where it stands. Although the location is noteworthy, by pairing down the architecture into a final version that lives in print form at 71-by-49¼ inches, Fischer speaks to the universal aesthetic populating the world’s major series.

Fischer began working on the photographs 15 years ago while he was visiting Shanghai for the first time during the Chinese city’s rapid growth. Last month, Hirmer Publishers released a book that contains 100 of Fischer’s images taken in Shanghai around the world titled Facades.


June 6 2015 9:56 AM

The Images That “Changed Everything” for These Magnum Photographers 

Leading up to the 68th Annual General Meeting of the Magnum Photos cooperative, its 60 active photographers were asked to select “an image that changed everything.” The response to this open ended prompt created a collection of photographs ranging from the explicitly professional, to the earnestly romantic, to the bluntly profane. “What’s unique about Magnum,” wrote Creative Director Gideon Jacobs in an email interview, “is that it is a large group of photographers functioning under one umbrella, and therefore, sometimes you can construct some kind of singular voice that is composed of many voices.”

Formatted as squares, the prints are a deliberate counterpoint to how photography has increasingly shifted from the physical to the digital. “I think that, with the rise of social media and the ubiquity of cameras, we are overwhelmed by a whole lot of visual noise on a daily basis,” wrote Jacobs. “But, contrary to how it may seem/feel, this doesn’t make images less valuable. What it actually does is make good images precious. Why and how? Because great still photographs help us make sense of all that noise by finding resonant frequencies, while bad photographs simply add more volume to the cacophony.”

Represented here are some of these pivotal moments in life both creative and personal; confronting the limitations of your own perspective, savoring the realization that you’ve met the love of your life, or capturing an image that defines your career. As part of the project, starting June 8 and running through June 12, Magnum Photos is offering signed prints of all of the images in the collection.

June 5 2015 10:30 AM

The Best Party in Britain Is This Five-Day Horse Show at Windsor Castle

The Royal Windsor Horse Show is a quintessentially British event—a five-day potpourri of equestrian competitions in four disciplines, military displays, and pageantry at Windsor Castle, the royal residence in the English countryside. Queen Elizabeth II and the rest of the royal family are regular attendees.

For the British artistic duo Anderson & Low, who attribute their photos and even their interview responses to a unified artistic entity, last year’s show was the perfect occasion for a new photo project. The event combined their longstanding interests in both sporting events and costumes, which, in previous projects, have provided windows into human behavior and identity. In their book, The Queen’s Backyard, which Dewi Lewis Publishing will release this month, the pair capture the “charmingly local and traditional” yet “contemporary and international” aspects of the show largely through environmental portraits of participants from around the world.

June 4 2015 10:53 AM

The World as Seen by Magnum’s First Black Photographer 

Whether he’s photographing Hollywood actors or armed militiamen, Eli Reed’s work can be characterized by a distinct sense of humanity and empathy. His book, A Long Walk Home, which was published by University of Texas Press in May, is an expansive testament to this quality through more than 250 black-and-white images from several continents and more than five decades covering a wide spectrum of subjects.

June 3 2015 12:25 PM

Here’s What Happens to Exotic Birds When Their Owners Can’t Take Care of Them 

Parrots and other captive birds are now some of the fastest growing group of displaced animals in the United Sates. These birds, who can live to be 70 or 80 years old in the wild, often need more care than their owners can provide. Oliver Regueiro, who grew up in Venezuela where parrots and macaws are a regular sight, was introduced to the potential perils of exotic birds as pets while watching a documentary on television.  

“I remember seeing them on the side of the road,” he wrote via email. “So for me that was normal—boy was I wrong!” After watching the documentary, Regueiro began researching and learning more about the issues many of the birds face and decided to start small and local, contacting two sanctuaries in Washington State where he lives: Zazu’s House Sanctuary and Mollywood Avian Sanctuary.

“I went to meet with one of them and after seeing the birds and their condition I was sure that’s where I had to start,” he wrote.


June 2 2015 10:02 AM

Being Stuck in Traffic Never Looked So Good 

Of all the things to photograph, people stuck in traffic jams during the middle of the summer doesn’t really sound like a lot of fun. But Chris Dorley-Brown did just that over the course of two summers in the mid-1980s in East London for what was initially an assignment to photograph the privatization of Rolls Royce. What caught his attention were the traffic jams around the financial district, only a couple of weeks before Margaret Thatcher’s third and final landslide victory.

In total, Dorley-Brown said that he shot around eight rolls of film over two summers (with 12 frames per roll) with two cameras: a Rolleiflex twin lens 3.5 and a Mamiya twin c33. It took him about six hours.

“They are both waist level finders so that put me at driver level and helped me be a bit more invisible,” he wrote via email. “People are never sure with those viewfinders whether you are looking at them or not so it gives you some space to work without appearing too obtrusive.”

June 1 2015 10:51 AM

From Underground Paintball Field to Film Storage Area, All These Places Used to Be Mines

Wayne Barrar had long been photographing mines when he started to wonder what became of the mines after they were depleted. As he found while creating his series, “Expanding Subterra,” many are well suited to be transformed into other types of spaces, including offices, libraries, and even paintball fields.

“The major benefits of these sites are their security and their stable surprisingly dry and mild environment. They are cheap forms of industrial architecture,” he said via email.

Barrar started the series, which is ongoing, in the Australian opal mining town of Coober Pedy. The temperatures are so hot there in the summer that people who worked in the mines transformed them into cool and comfortable underground “dugouts.” At least half of the town’s residents now live in them. One even houses an indoor pool. “These are exotic vernacular spaces that make life possible and comfortable in a harsh environment. Domestic in scale but very varied and personalized by their builders,” Barrar said.

May 31 2015 10:00 AM

The Most Well-Designed Gardens in the World

Amazing flora is an important draw for some garden visitors, but for many others, the design of the space is the main attraction. In the book, Reflections: Gardens, which was published by Roads in March, readers get a taste of incredible designs from around the world, both classic and modern. Together, they present a picture of the vastly different and uniquely stunning approaches to these ubiquitous natural places.