The Photo Blog

Aug. 26 2016 12:36 PM

A Photographer’s Quest to Document Every Resident of a Historic Hollywood Apartment Building

Driving around Los Angeles, Pamela Littky often looks with curiosity at the apartment buildings she passes. What do they look like inside? Who lives in them? And what is it like to live there?

She’d been wondering about the Villa Bonita, a distinctive complex in Hollywood, for at least a decade. So she decided to satisfy her curiosity and document the building and all of its residents. Her photographs, made over the course of a year, are collected in The Villa Bonita, which Kehrer Verlag will publish in September.

“I wanted to show a glimpse behind closed doors, and present the residents in a super personal and intimate way,” Littky said via email.

Aug. 25 2016 10:09 AM

A Lawyer Finds a “Whole New World” in the Magic of Street Photography

Len Speier’s middle name is Mitchell, but the 88-year-old photographer said that throughout his life, those initials were often translated as “Lucky Man Speier.” As a young man, Speier went to City College in New York, and he was drafted in the Army just as World War II was ending, serving at Fort Knox and in Japan. He eventually ended up attending law school at New York University.

While working for the law film after graduation, a couple of lucky accidents would reshape Speier’s life and career. As a boy, Speier had been intrigued by the “magic” of photography: He shot with a small Bakelite camera, and his uncle had given him a basic film developing kit. One of the senior partners at the firm lived in Westchester, New York, and had a high-end darkroom that needed to be cleaned up and organized. He proposed to Speier a deal: If Speier would clean it up, he could use it for free. Over the next year, after work and dinner with his own family, Speier would drive to Westchester and work in the darkroom until around 2 a.m. before returning to his own home and back to his day job.

Aug. 24 2016 10:07 AM

These Early 1990s Photos Document Family Life in the Newly Independent Ukraine

On this day 25 years ago, Ukraine became an independent state.

Adam Hinton was a 26-year-old recent graduate of England’s Trent Polytechnic (now Nottingham Trent University) at the time, and he wanted to see what life in a new nation was like, particularly in industrial areas whose working class had been romanticized during Soviet rule. He’d never been to the country before and he knew he’d have trouble communicating there, but he’d studied Soviet politics in school and was eager to witness history.

Aug. 23 2016 10:36 AM

These Photos of Hurling, Camogie, and Other “Gaelic Games” Showcase Ireland’s Beauty and Community

Ireland is a diverse country, but everywhere you go, you can find people playing Gaelic football, hurling, camogie, Gaelic handball, and rounders—sports known collectively as the Gaelic games.

Like many Irish people, Paul Carroll grew up playing in one of the many amateur clubs organized for people of all ages by the Gaelic Athletic Association and related organizations. But he didn’t think of photographing them until 2009, when he came across Hans van der Meer’s book European Fields of European amateur soccer matches. Over the next seven years, he traveled more than 31,000 miles back and forth across Ireland, photographing hurling, camogie, and Gaelic football games in all of the country’s 32 counties. The result is Gaelic Fields, a book that he’s currently raising funds on Kickstarter to publish.

“I thought if I was going to capture the national games, I couldn’t leave anyone out,” Carroll said. “I tried to get as many different aspects as possible about Irish life and community and identity into these pictures.”

Aug. 21 2016 1:33 PM

The Beauty and History of Hickory Nut Gap Farm in North Carolina 

The first time Ken Abbott visited Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina, was with his daughter on a preschool class trip. Abbott had recently moved to North Carolina from Colorado so his wife could complete her residency in family medicine. He had worked as a photographer back in Colorado for 15 years, but because his wife was working upward of 90 hours a week, he spent a lot of time with his daughter, which didn’t leave him much time to seek out photography projects. But something changed during that visit.

“I saw it as an opportunity to photograph a beautiful place,” he said. “And not just wandering around to look for pictures I really didn’t have time to do.”

At first, Abbott was attracted to the history of the home and figured he would spend time working on a project that predated the family who purchased the home in 1916. Prior to then, the home had been an inn along the Drover’s Trail, a place where drivers could stop along the route to sleep and eat and store their livestock before trying to sell it in the local markets. It was an interesting story but a complicated one and, as it turned out, not as compelling as the more recent history.

“The more I photographed, the more I realized there was a whole unique story through the contemporary family and life of the farm,” he said.

Aug. 19 2016 10:07 AM

The Historic Midcentury Modernist Motels of the New Jersey Coast

Staying overnight at one of the more than 150 motels in the Wildwoods can feel like traveling back in time.

The Wildwoods comprise three towns—Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and North Wildwood— along a 5-mile barrier island on the southern New Jersey coastline. They started drawing tourists looking for summer sun and surf in the late 19th century, but things really picked up in the 1950s with the completion of the Garden State Parkway. That’s when middle-class motorists began arriving in droves, and motels started popping up by the hundreds over the next 20 years. Inspired by European high modernist design, they sported bright colors, angular features and distinctive, sometimes kitschy ornamentation. While about half of them have since given way to towering condominiums, those that remain are still family-owned and -operated, and little has changed about the way they look since they were constructed.

Aug. 18 2016 10:42 AM

A Photographer’s Tribute to the Canadian Religious Colony He Left Behind

For most of Kelly Hofer’s life, he knew he didn’t fit in.

At the Hutterite colony in rural Manitoba, Canada, where he grew up with around 100 other people, young men were expected to observe religious customs, contribute to the community’s collective farms, and learn the skills necessary to join its firetruck-manufacturing trade. They weren’t supposed to be artists. And they certainly weren’t supposed to be gay.

But early on, Hofer knew he was both of those things, which made life tough. He didn’t leave the Green Acres colony—one of many in Western Canada, the United States, and beyond that follow the religious and cultural tenets established in 16th-century Europe by Jacob Hutter—until he was 19. But while he lived there, one thing saved him: photography. From the age of 11 onward, Hofer found purpose photographing his friends and relatives and posting the images to sites like Flickr, mostly for the enjoyment of other Hutterites. His passion, however, was not encouraged at home.

“Photography wasn’t regarded as important, and I could never invest in myself that way. I couldn’t buy the gear, couldn’t get educated. It was really difficult. Traveling to places I wanted to shoot was impossible. Hutterites don’t travel if it’s not to another colony or for work,” he said.

Four years since he started a new independent life in Calgary, Hofer is now raising money on Kickstarter to fund the publication of a book, Hutterite, that collects his best photos taken over the course of his adolescence.

Aug. 17 2016 10:15 AM

A Photographer Turns to His Camera to Cope With a Loved One’s Suicide

While he was living in London, photographer André Penteado received a call from his family in Brazil with news that his father had died. About a half-hour later he received a second call saying the cause of death was suicide. Penteado immediately flew home for the funeral and began documenting his experience with his camera. Over time he expanded the project by photographing himself wearing his father’s clothing, as well as documenting some more mundane items, including all of the coat hangers his father owned. That work became part of his series “Dad’s Suicide.”

Although Penteado believes in therapy, he said seeing a psychologist wasn’t working for him, so he sought out a support group back in London for people who were grieving the loss of someone due to suicide. Simply by going around the room and listening to the names of those who lost someone and the names of the people who committed suicide touched Penteado.

“Suddenly I felt listening to these people [gave me] a sense of belonging,” he said. “Suicide puts the family in a very strange place. There is a lot of guilt that comes, a lot of anger, and a lot of loneliness because there is still a taboo around it, so people don’t talk about it.”

Moved by the group, Penteado asked if they would join him in creating a new body of work that spoke to some of the feelings that were present about losing a loved one. That work became a three-part photography series and a video titled “I Am Not Alone.” He recently published the work as a book.

Aug. 16 2016 10:12 AM

Meals From Your Favorite Works of Fiction Come to Life in These Magical Photos

They may be fictional, but characters in books still have to eat. In Charles Roux’s ongoing series “Fictitious Feasts,” their meals aren’t just abstractions but realistic, sumptuous tableaus that can evoke an entire invented world in one imaginatively rendered dining table.

Aug. 15 2016 10:05 AM

Rolling Stone’s First Staff Photographer Reflects on Woodstock on Its 47th Anniversary

Forty-seven years after the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, it’s arguable whether there has since been anything like it. Baron Wolman, Rolling Stone’s first staff photographer, photographed the inaugural festival, which actually took place an hour’s drive from Woodstock, New York, in Bethel, New York, beginning Aug. 15, 1969. No one knew what to expect, he said, except the music lineup “was dynamite.”

“Like a bee is attracted to a flower, the people couldn’t resist,” he wrote via email. “For me, the moment I encountered that enormous stage and a crowd of untold thousands, I was literally blown away. I had never, ever experienced anything like it. Nobody had.”

During the festival, Wolman shot about 30 rolls of black-and-white film, a number of images that might today be equaled in a few hours by someone with an iPhone. Wolman didn’t shoot in color because Rolling Stone didn’t print in color at that time. In addition,  Wolman and Jim Marshall were working on the book Festival! A Book of American Music Celebrations that took them around the country documenting a variety of music festivals. Wolman’s images also became part of the book Woodstock, and the work is currently being shown in London at Proud Camden Exhibition and in Los Angeles at Mr. MusicHead Gallery, which also features Wolman’s music portraits.

Wolman approached shooting Woodstock as a documentary project, since he had already photographed most of the bands by that time. “The people and their experience at this unique festival became my focus,” he wrote.