The Photo Blog

Nov. 30 2015 10:02 AM

Air Travel at LAX in the 1980s Was a Nightmare

John Brian King was 18 when he first started making photos at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It was 1980, and only a year earlier he’d purchased his first photography book by Weegee, who is famous for his flash-heavy, black-and-white photos of urban life. The influence is clear in King’s series, “LAX,” which appears, along with another series, “LA,” in LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980–84, published by Spurl this month.  

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Nov. 29 2015 9:37 AM

Bringing the Background Into Focus in These Stunning Photos of Birds 

When Cheryl Medow first traveled to Africa 20 years ago, she felt privileged to be able to photograph animals in the wild, especially birds.

“They are our present day dinosaurs and that intrigued me,” she wrote via email. “I am continually amused and amazed by their character, antics, size and mating colors and, as an artist, I am drawn to the S-curve in the necks of the water birds, Hogarth’s ‘line of beauty.’ ”

The more fascinated Medow became with the birds and the more she photographed them, the further away she stayed from them with her camera. She began with a 70-200 mm lens and eventually moved up to a massive 600mm lens (sometimes with a 2x extender) she uses to capture the birds for a series of composite images that are part of her ongoing series “Envisioning Habitat.”


Nov. 26 2015 11:00 AM

Portraits of the 21st-Century Family 

Crowe finds the families she shoots primarily through word of mouth. She prefers to allow the series to guide her, rather than placing any type of parameter on who she decides to photograph.

“The project keeps evolving on it’s own and will continue to be what it’s going to be,” she said. “I don’t really force anything. I’ll be walking down a street and think, ‘I need to do a bodybuilder family!’ ”


Nov. 25 2015 11:00 AM

What Life Was Like in the Chelsea Hotel in the 1990s and 2000s

By the time Linda Troeller moved into the Chelsea Hotel in 1994, it was already well-known for its legendary list of former residents. Jack Kerouac, Sam Shepard, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Sid Vicious were all part of the bohemian culture that predated Troeller’s arrival, but the energy they helped create, one that encouraged community and artistic expression was still palpable.

“Virgil Thompson wrote the opera Lord Byron in his apartment; down the hall, singer Janis Joplin inscribed on her hotel room wall ‘I’m the best fuck in the world,’ ” Troeller writes in her new book Living in The Chelsea Hotel published by Schiffer“As an artist, I too wanted to live there in that atmosphere.”

Nov. 24 2015 10:07 AM

What Steve McCurry and Paul Theroux Saw When They Traveled Through the American South

Throughout his storied photojournalism career, Steve McCurry has traveled extensively on most of the world’s continents, but besides the occasional trips to visit his grandparents in South Carolina as a boy, he hadn’t seen much of the American South. That changed two years ago when the writer Paul Theroux told him he was writing a book on the region and invited him to come along.


Nov. 23 2015 10:53 AM

Finding Abstraction in Kids’ Paint Splatters

For years, people—outcasts, prostitutes, alien abductees, and criminals—were Steven Hirsch’s principle source of inspiration. But these days, he sees abstraction pretty much everywhere, and it’s all he wants to photograph.

Nov. 22 2015 9:11 AM

Celebrating the Diversity of Dominican Identity

Who is Dominican? What do Dominicans look like? 

Those questions have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives since the Dominican government started threatening to deport undocumented migrant workers—the majority of them Haitian—and their Dominican-born children who fail to provide proof of citizenship. Dark-skinned people have been the subject of special scrutiny as immigration officials sweep migrant-heavy neighborhoods checking for identification.

Nov. 20 2015 12:57 PM

The History of the Trans Community as Told by Its Aging Members

Friday is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day that honors those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. For many people who identify as trans, coming out is a rite of passage filled with a mix of fear to euphoria, though the history of this community has not always been fully visible.  

Jess T. Dugan came up with the idea for the project “To Survive on This Shore,” a collection of portraits of the aging transgender community, when she met her partner Vanessa Fabbre, an assistant professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, in 2012. Fabbre received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago; her dissertation, Gender Transitions in Later Life explored issues of gender, identity, and aging.

That work resonated with Dugan, and the couple decided to team up, with Dugan making the portraits and Fabbre conducting interviews and documenting their subjects’ stories (although on occasion Dugan also does the interviews as well).

Nov. 19 2015 12:45 PM

What Happens to Nuns After They Retire?

Laura Husar Garcia has always been fascinated with nuns. While working in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she snapped a photo of them mowing lawns. While living in Mexico and Ecuador, she photographed them outside of convents. In 2002, while working as a photo editor for the Chicago Tribune, Husar Garcia spent a year with photographer Iwona Biedermann documenting the daily life of nuns inside three convents in Chicgoland; together they created the series “Beyond the Veil: Nuns at Home” that was funded by the Illinois Humanities Council and exhibited in the Polish Museum of America.

Thirteen years later, Husar Garcia continues to shoot off and on about life inside the convents and doesn’t think her intimate series will ever be completely finished. An edited collection of her work titled Beyond the Veil examines the rarely asked question about what happens to nuns after they retire.  

Nov. 18 2015 2:49 PM

What Photographing Children Was Like Before Everything Was Posted to Facebook

When Ilisa Katz Rissman became a mother 18 years ago, she decided to go beyond her photographic comfort zone of still-life imagery and pointed her camera toward her children.

“They were babies when I started photographing them,” she said about her first two children. “So they couldn’t tell me I was messing up. … I was able to use the camera and try to connect with that sense of being a new mother while trying to figure out what I was doing.”

As her children grew (she had a third child later in life), she began to see the work as a way of connecting with her family and as a reflection of different emotions over time. For her series “Suspended,” Katz Rissman concentrated on adolescence, using photos she took of her own children as well as ones she took of children who were part of her family’s friendship circles.