The Photo Blog

Oct. 24 2014 11:00 AM

Getting Intimate With San Francisco’s Drag Scene Pioneers  

Aunt Charlie’s Lounge is a small, windowless establishment in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, an area once known for its nightlife and LGBTQ attractions. Today, the crime rate is 35 times higher than anywhere else in the city, and Aunt Charlie’s is the neighborhood’s only remaining gay bar. Still, its evening-length drag show continues, and, without a stage, the drag queens perform among the audience, making for an intimate show.

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Oct. 23 2014 11:08 AM

Seeing the Familiar in Black and White

Already known for her color work documenting her friends and familyTina Barney decided to mix things up and look at the familiar subject with a completely different eye: black-and-white film. That series, “Silver Summers,” a nod to the gelatin silver fiber prints that display the work, will be on view at Janet Borden in New York City through Dec. 30.

Barney compared shooting in black and white to learning a new language, saying she had to retrain her brain about how to work with what she feels is a more nostalgic medium.

Oct. 22 2014 11:04 AM

Do All U.S. Presidents Look the Same? What About Japan’s Prime Ministers?

The aesthetics of official portraits of world leaders are no accident. As Alejandro Almaraz demonstrates in his series, “Portraits of Power,” they’re precisely constructed compositions, created with the intention of reinforcing the authority of their subjects. 

Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM

Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America

Sage Sohier’s series, “At Home With Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980s America,” was, in many ways, ahead of its time. Today, apart from a few dated fashion choices, the photos of gay couples in domestic settings don’t seem that shocking. But when Sohier began shooting the series in 1986, AIDS and sexual promiscuity seemed to be the only headlines about gay people.

“My ambition was to make pictures that challenged and moved people and that were interesting both visually and psychologically,” Sohier wrote via email about the project. “In the 1980s, many same-sex relationships were still discreet, or a bit hidden. It was a time when many gay men were dying of AIDS, which made a particularly poignant backdrop for the project.”

Oct. 20 2014 1:18 PM

When Museum Visitors Become Part of the Art

One day while visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Andrés Wertheim noticed a disparity between the crowds gathered to look at Rembrandt’s Nightwatch, and the lack of people noticing just about anything else.

“It felt to me as if the characters in those artworks looked as if they were feeling, down, ignored,” he wrote via email.

Wertheim began creating double exposure images of both the crowds and artwork to create what he says are images that are sometimes humorous and sometimes ironic and always a bit surreal for a series titled “The Museum’s Ghosts.”

Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM

Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers

During her early teenage years, Isadora Kosofsky wanted to use photography to explore the connection she felt to some of her friends who were part of the juvenile justice system. In order to delve deeper into the psychology behind those relationships, she tried to gain access to a number of juvenile detention centers but was rejected due to her status as a minor. Once she turned 18, however, she was granted admission to a few places and at a detention facility in New Mexico, she noticed a young man getting his mug shot taken—Vinny was incarcerated for stabbing a man who was assaulting his mother.

“I felt an immediate connection to him that’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t a photographer,” she said about seeing Vinny for the first time. “It’s just this mysterious connection that you know as a photographer that you have to explore. You either sense a reflection of yourself in that person or you feel a pull and there’s a story that needs to be pursued.”


Oct. 17 2014 11:16 AM

The Decadence and Environmental Destruction of American Expansionism in Nevada

Before 2008, Lake Las Vegas, a collection 21 Mediterranean-themed communities built around a man-made lake, and Ascaya, a “mountain-mansion project” created by a Hong Kong billionaire, were part of the force making Nevada the fastest-growing state in the country. And then, almost as quickly as it grew, Nevada real estate collapsed. Construction halted at Ascaya, leaving “dozens of cake-layered pads carved into the mountain without a single house.” At Lake Las Vegas, two golf courses and a luxury hotel shuttered, and owners sold their homes at massive losses. In his new book, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain, out next month from Radius Books, Michael Light documents the ruin of the sprawling Nevada residential developments.


Oct. 16 2014 11:30 AM

Dressing Up in Drag With the Help of Fine-Art Portraits

Nigel Grimmer’s photographs often involve some kind of social interaction. Using his friends and family as subjects, Grimmer takes them on road trips, leads them into forestsdresses them up like road kill, and puts them in a corner wearing a dunce cap. 

But for his current, ongoing series, “Art Drag Album,” Grimmer decided to put himself into the picture—sort of. To create the drag characters that are part art, part human, Grimmer uses (mostly) paintings of exotic women by J.H. Lynch andVladimir Tretchikoff as heads and himself for the bodies. He then has friends snap the images.

Oct. 15 2014 12:51 PM

Can These Selfies Change the Way We Think About the Death Penalty? 

During the summer of 2013, documentary photographer Marc Asnin came across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, which lists the final words of the 517 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. Seeing the extensive list presented in such a matter-of-fact way set in motion an idea for a book, Final Words, that includes the last statements and mug shots of the prisoners who have been executed in Texas during that period of time (the book will be updated to reflect the current number of the executed). Asnin’s goal is to get the book into the school curriculum in all 32 states that still use the death penalty with the hopes that it will open up a new conversation told from a first-person perspective rather than simply from a list of statistics.

Final Words is a way to create a conversation about the dehumanization of the death penalty,” Asnin said. “Even if the [students] decide they’re still for the death penalty after reading it, there is a process where they can understand these are still humans and what they can learn from those final words … I think we will be better off as a society.”

Oct. 14 2014 11:00 AM

Iranian Fathers and the Diverse Daughters They’ve Raised

While living in Malaysia, Nafise Motlaq found the way people talked about her home country, Iran, disturbing. They seemed to lack a realistic vision of the country because they relied mostly on stereotypes and hearsay. Inspired by this frustration and a trip home to visit her father, Motlaq, a senior lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia, decided to try and explore the father-daughter relationship in Iran using photography.