The Photo Blog

April 7 2016 10:18 AM

This Is What Hunger Looks Like in New York City

Why does hunger, a widespread and growing problem in New York City, often go unnoticed? The answer, Brooklyn-based photojournalist Joey O’Loughlin says, is because it doesn’t look the way people expect. 

“Our Depression-era images are outdated. Just because somebody is having a hard time doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care about how she presents herself or her family to the world,” O’Loughlin said via email.

Since 2012, when Food Bank for New York City first commissioned her to photograph some of the food pantries it operates, O’Loughlin has been working to set the record straight by making a contemporary and humanizing portrait of hungry New Yorkers and the places they rely upon to survive. In the past three years, she’s visited 40 pantries in all five boroughs, including large, computerized, supermarket-style pantries run by sophisticated charities and tiny church basements distributing prepackaged bags of food staples.

April 6 2016 11:24 AM

A Pittsburgh Photographer Captured Four Decades of Black Artists’ Lives Backstage

When Lena Horne performed at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh in 1944, Charles “Teenie” Harris was backstage to take her portrait. Horne, surrounded by bouquets of flowers, appears relaxed, almost as if the photograph were taken in her own home.

Although Harris and Horne had a connection through their parents, the ease that Harris made his subjects feel wasn’t unique to Horne or any of the famous people he photographed.  

“He had the ability to connect with people because he was so involved with the community,” said Lulu Lippincott, curator of fine arts for Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art. Throughout his prolific career, Harris worked for a number of publications and ran his own photography studio, but the majority of his work was seen in the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s oldest black newspapers, where he worked for more than four decades.

In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art purchased the Harris archive of 80,000 negatives and has since asked guest curators to edit specific shows related to their areas of expertise. The most recent partnership with the August Wilson Center, “Teenie Harris Photographs: Great Performances Offstage,” was curated by Bill Nunn, a Pittsburgh native who wanted to create a collection that spoke to the depth of culture and performance that Harris captured. (It has since closed, but 25 of its images are on view at Carnegie Museum of Art.)

April 5 2016 10:19 AM

Life Along New York City’s Waterfront

Living on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, Susannah Ray’s daily life is defined by water.

During Hurricane Sandy, that fact was cause for devastation, a theme she explored in her multimedia project with Jen Poyant, What are the Wild Waves Saying: Storm Stories from the Rockaways. But in 2013, as the area rebuilt, she started seeing the water differently—as a bastion of peace and relaxation in a demanding city. 

April 4 2016 11:38 AM

Graceful Dogs and the Humans Who Dance With Them

Bego Antón was looking to start a project about the contradictory relationship humans have with animals—keeping some as pets, while eating others—when she first heard of Musical Canine Freestyle. She came across a video on YouTube of Carolyn Scott and her dog Rookie dancing to a song from the movie Greece.

Canine Musical Freestyle, according to their website, began in the late 1980s in British Columbia. It’s a choreographed, costumed, musical number between a dog and its human handler. It isn’t a world where the competition is cut throat but rather it’s a showcase that “truly demonstrates the joys and fun of bonding with your pet.”

Antón contacted some of the women involved in the sport (although there are men involved, Antón focused primarily on women) who were open to meeting with her and having their portraits taken. She traveled around to a number of states and was often invited to stay in the homes of the handlers.

Antón said at first she was drawn to the somewhat campy look of the dancers and their pageant-esque costumes (for that reason, she decided to work in the United States rather than begin in another part of the world). She didn’t want to make the portraits in a sterile looking arena and felt shooting in the participants’ homes would be a much better way of getting to know her subjects. She met with the dancers and their dogs, interviewed them (she also made a video documentary that is currently in its final stages), watched their routine and then photographed the numbers she was most attracted to.

April 3 2016 10:06 AM

The Disappearing Post Offices of the Rural South

When she needs a break from photography or from teaching art at Lincoln Memorial University, Rachel Boillot hangs out with an older crowd.

“I spend Saturday nights with 95-year-old women,” she said.

Part of that has to do with another job Boillot has: she’s the assistant producer at a record label that represents old-time folk musicians. It’s also a photography project, “Silent Ballad,” about traditional musicians from the Tennessee Cumberland Mountains. She finds it refreshing to be a part of such an interesting circle of people.

“They have great stories to tell,” she said. “I’m learning so much and being shaped by tough people who grew up during the depression in Appalachia and they’ve let me into their homes and shared their most intimate stories with me. It has been a powerful experience.”

It’s fair to say Boillot is interested in traditions, regardless of their genre, and she has an affinity for history even as she watches it become outdated. During her four years of undergraduate study at Tufts University’s Museum School, Boillot said she spent countless hours training to be a darkroom printer; as she was working on her senior thesis, the printer was discontinued. When she headed to Duke University in 2012 to begin her MFA, Boillot, a film shooter, read an article about a number of post offices that were closing.

“I was kind of shocked,” she said. “I never thought about it growing up; they’re ubiquitous in our landscape and I never thought about them not existing.”

April 1 2016 9:50 AM

Will This Guy Be the First Artist in Outer Space? 

Some time soon, Michael Najjar will go boldly where no artist has gone before. 

Since three patrons purchased a Pioneer Astronaut ticket for him aboard Virgin Galactic’s tourist ship, SpaceShipTwo—which has not yet made its first launch—Najjar has been preparing to become the first artist to hang out in outer space. He’s hurtled through the stratosphere in a Russian MiG-29 jet at nearly twice the speed of sound, simulated weightlessness underwater, and experienced extreme levels of acceleration in a centrifuge at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. His training has inspired a series, “outer space,” which will be on display at New York’s Benrubi Gallery from March 31 to May 14.

March 31 2016 11:21 AM

Heartwarming and Heart-Wrenching Photos About What It’s Like to Have a Miscarriage

Dianne Yudelson and her husband’s dream of starting a family seemed like it would become a reality when they heard their baby’s heartbeat during a week 12 ultrasound. Gifts were received and baby names discussed. Then, at the four-month checkup, there was no longer a heartbeat; Yudelson was devastated.

“In the following weeks our lives stood still,” she wrote via email. “We were stunned.”

Over the next few years Yudelson lost 10 more babies.

“Hope springs eternal and each pregnancy encompassed triumphs and tribulations that ended in heartbreak and grief,” she wrote. She kept mementos from each loss including the sonograms and pregnancy tests. A decade later, she created a series, “Lost,” which she describes as both “heartwarming and heart wrenching.”

“I have read the assertion that meaningful art occurs when you share yourself and create from the depths of your soul,” Yudelson writes. “So I share.”

Lost” began after Yudelson helped a friend through a painful loss; she then reflected on her own pain.

March 30 2016 10:31 AM

What’s It Like to Surf in New York City?

If you can surf in New York, Andreea Waters says, you can surf almost anywhere. 

“Strong rip tides, spiky waves, and fast take off make the beach breaks unforgiving. Summers are crazy, with only a few beaches open for surfing, and everyone learning to surf,” Waters said via email.

Waters has seen that firsthand while photographing at several beaches in the New York City region. In her book, Surf NYC, which Schiffer Publishing released in February, she shares visions of a vibrant culture just out of sight for most city residents. 

March 29 2016 12:47 PM

Keeping Track of All the Cameras Surveilling Us on a Daily Basis

Sheri Lynn Behr, herself camera-shy, noticed that whenever she would point her camera at a stranger in New York City’s Chinatown, he or she would usually turn away. Instead, Behr stood behind store windows waiting for people to look at her before snapping a shot of them. Although some continued to turn away from her, others would pose and smile. That work became part of a series, “NoSafeDistance.”

As she continued to work on the project, Behr realized that along with her subjects, she was also the subject of unwanted attention, mainly from surveillance cameras that were pointed at her from seemingly everywhere. She began pointing her camera away from people and instead toward the ubiquitous cameras for work that became the series “NoMatterWhere.”

In the summer of 2012, Behr was watching the show White Collar when she noticed a surveillance camera in a scene that was shot in the Whitney Museum. A couple of weeks earlier, Behr had photographed the same camera in the same location. She decided to document not only the cameras she saw in real-life but also those that were seen on television including shows and movies like The Simpsons, The Lego Movie, and 30 Rock; she feels the ways in which the shows cut to the cameras as if they were a character in the show is an attempt to normalize the idea of surveillance. Those images, along with images from her previous two series form a new triptych-based body of work she calls “BeSeeingYou.”

March 28 2016 11:10 AM

A Young Lee Friedlander Captured a Civil Rights Milestone

In 1957, Lee Friedlander was just 22 and mostly earning a living making photos for Atlantic album covers. He hadn’t yet published his first monograph, nor had he fully developed the approach to image-making that would make him famous. 

But he was ambitious and, moreover, curious, which is what drew him to the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a massive demonstration in Washington, D.C., on the third anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education designed to protest the slow enforcement of the decision in the South. In New York City, Friedlander asked organizer Bayard Rustin for a press pass to cover the event. On May 17, he spent the day photographing some of the 25,000 people, among them leading figures in the civil rights movement, who gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial.