The Photo Blog

July 28 2016 10:17 AM

This Photographer Made It His Mission to Capture the “Forgotten” Lives of the Working Class

“The rich have their own photographers,” said the late Milton Rogovin, who devoted his entire career as a documentarian to highlighting the other half—the poor and working classes—with the respect they deserved. He will soon be celebrated at the San Jose Museum of Art in the exhibition “Life and Labor: The Photographs of Milton Rogovin” from Aug. 18 until March 19.

July 27 2016 10:09 AM

Rarely Seen Color Images of America Emerging From the Great Depression

The Great Depression is perhaps best remembered through the photographs that came out of the Farm Security Administration. A vast majority of the images in the agency’s archive are black and white, cementing an often bleak vision of rural America that reflected the stark economics of the time. But a small portion, taken as the Depression was ending, are in color, and though they aren’t as well-known as their black-and-white counterparts, they constitute a distinct and striking record of the country while it was emerging from a decadelong trauma. A selection are collected in Peter Walther’s new book, New Deal Photography: USA 1935-1943, which Taschen published in July.

July 26 2016 11:14 AM

Prize-Winning Rabbits and Their Quirky Owners

How does a woman from St. Petersburg, Russia, end up in Portland, Oregon, photographing the American Rabbit Breeders Association convention? For Katya Rezvaya, it began when she watched Rabbit Fever, a documentary about ARBA’s 2005 national convention. The film was striking to Rezvaya, who said such a thing doesn’t really exist in Russia.

“I was laughing at first, and then I started thinking I should go there and take some portraits,” she said.

Rezvaya began reaching out to organizers but said correspondence was slow, so she decided to book her ticket to travel to attend the 2015 convention in Portland. Once there, things weren’t much easier. She found a place to stay that was far away from the convention, and she had to get up at 4:30 a.m. and walk along the highway in order to reach the convention center. During the days, she scouted out some of the rabbits and owners—a daunting task considering roughly 20,000 rabbits were on site.

July 25 2016 10:18 AM

A European Photographer Steps Into American Greek Life

The first thing that hit Philip Holt when he visited his son’s fraternity, Delta Upsilon, at Clarkson University in 2006 was the mess. Then it was the smell.

“I think most fraternities have a basement where they have their parties, but it was like a brewery down there. It just smelled so bad, and the floors were all sticky,” he said.

Holt grew up in Milan and lived in London and Paris before moving to Chappaqua, New York, in the 1990s with his wife and two young sons. He’d never been to a frat house before, and his only idea of what one would be like came from the 1978 film Animal House. His oldest son, Seif, a freshman at the time, knew that his father liked investigating the quirkier side of human behavior, so he’d invited him to the fraternity’s Potsdam, New York, house to make photographs.

July 24 2016 10:03 AM

The Unbelievably Cute Baby Animals Raised at Animal Rehab Centers

About five years ago, Traer Scott went to a wedding, the first time she had been out since giving birth to her daughter. Toward the end of the night, a friend’s daughter showed Scott a baby squirrel that had probably fallen out of a nest. Scott took the squirrel home with her but was quickly overwhelmed: Her newborn daughter needed to be fed once every three hours and the squirrel once every two hours. Panicked, she started looking up wildlife rehabilitators and found a woman nearby who would take care of the orphaned squirrel.

“I was amazed by this woman who was caring for a colony of squirrels, and she was taking in another baby, and this wild creature was going to survive because this one woman devotes her life to rehabilitating these animals,” Scott said. “That was very inspiring to me, very moving.”

Although Scott had thought about working on a project about exotic baby animals, the logistics and travel involved proved to be too complicated and too expensive. Finding the squirrel inspired a new direction for the series, one that focused on indigenous American wildlife. For three years Scott worked with rehabilitation centers on both coasts of the United States plus local zoos to create the book Wild Babies: Photographs of Baby Animals From Giraffes to Hummingbirds, published next month by Chronicle Books.

“I wanted to focus on [indigenous species],” she said. “I was hoping that by showing them at a young and frankly cute age, it might inspire people to have a little more compassion and patience for them as they find them going through their garbage as adults.”

“People see baby possums and they say, ‘They’re so cute, but the adults freak me out,’ so I’m hoping people learn a little about them; they’re all fascinating animals,” she added.

July 22 2016 10:35 AM

This Tibetan Mountain Is Sacred to Adherents of Four Different Religions

Why is Tibet’s roughly 22,000-foot Mount Kailash sacred? Depends who you ask.

Jains believe it’s where a saint achieved enlightenment. Bonpos believe it’s where their founder descended to Earth. Hindus believe it is where the god Shiva lives. Both Buddhists and Hindus believe it’s the spiritual center of the universe.

July 21 2016 11:36 AM

Gorgeous Photos That Show How Primates Express Emotions

During a work trip to Berlin, Pawel Bogumil decided to visit the German capital’s zoo. It was there he noticed Ivo, a curious male gorilla who seemed to have little interest in the female gorillas with whom he shares a home. Instead, Ivo appeared more interested in the human visitors, especially blonds. Bogumil was struck by Ivo’s reactions.

“What was unexpected was I saw emotion of happiness or triumph,” Bogumil said. “I wasn’t expecting to see emotions.”

It inspired him to work on a three-year project that focused on primates, mostly gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees that were housed in zoos around Europe (Bogumil’s travels were predicated on his work trips).

“From my perspective I can say they have distinct personalities just like people,” he added.

The black-and-white photographs are all taken from behind glass. Through production work, Bogumil creates black or white backgrounds to create a consistent look that removes the zoo environments. He said he isn’t trying to dupe anyone by removing clues about where the images are being photographed, but the point of the work is about the emotions of the animals, not the zoos. He calls the work “InHuman,” which he said plays with the relationship between the primates and human beings.

July 20 2016 10:52 AM

The Magic of Old Italy Comes Alive in These Fantastical Photos of Small Shops

Francesco Pergolesi lived in the charming, ancient city of Spoleto, Italy, until he was 18, when he started college two hours away, in Rome. Initially, he came back to Spoleto nearly every weekend, but after he graduated, he began traveling for work, and his visits became less frequent. As the decades passed, and he occasionally returned to the streets of his youth, the landscape he once knew gradually grew foreign.

“One of the most important changes I noticed was that the small shops that I knew from my childhood started closing. The commercial area moved from the center to follow the opening of the new big shopping centers in the suburbs. This new reality started to make me feel immediately sad,” Pergolesi said via email.

In 2012, he was traveling in Italy’s Marche region when he came across a bookstore in the small town of Macerata that reminded him of the small businesses he missed in Spoleto.

“I was attracted by the smell of the yellow papers, the light through the abat-jour, the surreal atmosphere. It was like I was inside a [René] Magritte painting,” he said.

He became friends with the owner, and a year later, he made a photo of the man in his shop from the street. The image was the first of many in his series, “Heroes,” which was recently on display at Chicago’s Catherine Edelman Gallery. Since then, he’s roamed Spoleto, Rome, and other cities and towns in Italy looking for scenes that spark memories of his childhood and speak to a time when people were more intimately connected to their work and to one another.

July 19 2016 11:04 AM

Creem Magazine’s Office Life Was As Entertaining As the Musicians It Covered

In 1969, Barry Kramer and Tony Reay founded the music magazine Creem. Its irreverent tone quickly gained a dedicated readership, and during its peek, Creem’s circulation was second only to Rolling Stone for a music magazine. After two decades, the magazine closed in 1989, with  a brief second life in the 1990s.

A new documentary from director Scott Crawford, a music magazine editor, and J.J. Kramer, son of Barry Kramer, looks to “explore the sometimes larger than life personalities of the magazine’s staff and their relationships to the artists they covered,” according to a Kickstarter campaign launched to help fund the film.

Crawford said that as a kid, he published a punk rock fanzine inspired by Creem. “When I got older and was fortunate enough to make a living at running my own music magazine,Creem served as a template for me,” he wrote via email. “It’s an attitude and a sensibility that I’ve carried with me since first discovering Lester Bangs (an early editor of Creem) as an awkward kid. It’s a story that’s long overdue.”

The documentary, according to J.J. Kramer, will tell the story of “a group of self-described misfits [who] came together in Detroit and created what is arguably the most vital music magazine during that era.”

July 18 2016 12:51 PM

What It Means to Be Young, Black, and Male in the U.S.

As George Zimmerman stood trial for the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013, 26-year-old Joshua Rashaad McFadden couldn’t help but reflect on what it meant to be black and male in America.

In the years since, as he observed the culpability and character of black boys and young men gunned down by police endlessly dissected in the media, his thoughts zeroed in on questions of identity and image: How do black men in America see themselves? And how are they seen by others?

Last year, he started looking outward for answers through interviews and photo shoots with fellow young black men. The results are collected in a book, Come to Selfhood, which is available for preorder now from Ceiba Foto.