The Photo Blog

Sept. 19 2016 10:17 AM

The Staggering Beauty and Fragility of North America’s East Coast

David Freese hadn’t considered an East Coast version of his book West Coast: Bering to Baja, a dramatic aerial look at the West Coast of North America. That changed in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy struck and Freese visited New York and New Jersey. Once he saw the devastation, he decided to begin a project that showcased how the rising waters were affecting cities, islands, national parks, and national wildlife refugees through aerial photography on North America’s eastern shore. The work, published as a book titled East Coast: Arctic to Tropic, will be released in November.

If you’re going to tackle another ambitious and expensive project, the best place to save on both time and money is on Google Earth, “without a doubt my greatest travel aid,” Freese wrote via email. He was able to scout locations and charter companies that would help him get to remote locations in Greenland and Canada, including the Torngat Mountains on the northern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Freese said his goal was to find photographs that would “add or relate to the story of climate, weather, geology, and human impact” and about the “profound interconnections within nature and the effects of civilization.”

He spent time over cities including New York, Boston, Washington, and Miami, as well as a lot of “nooks and crannies” in between. As he journeyed down to the Florida Keys, what he saw from the air was shocking.

Sept. 16 2016 10:55 AM

The Birds, Bones, and Other Beautiful Specimens in Museum and National Park Collections

Leah Sobsey started working on what would ultimately become her book, Collections, which Daylight published in July, when a tufted titmouse crashed into her kitchen window nearly a decade ago.

“I went outside to see what was going on, and unfortunately the bird didn’t make it. My instinct was to photograph it,” she said.

Sept. 15 2016 12:30 PM

An Italian and a Native American’s Quest to Give Voice to American Indians

When Italian Carlotta Cardana was in high school, she spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Nebraska. While there, she met Danielle SeeWalker, an enrolled member of theStanding Rock Sioux Tribe. The two became fast friends and kept in touch when Cardana left the U.S. Fifteen years later, during a meeting in London, they began to talk about the American Indian culture and how it was often misrepresented or ignored in the media. They set out to create a project that gave voice to an often-silenced population through Cardana’s images and SeeWalker’s words in the ongoing work “The Red Road Project.”

They began by photographing and interviewing SeeWalker’s relatives, since they found it difficult to meet strangers willing to participate. Many people weren’t certain what to make about the project. “[The Native community] have suspicions toward everyone who works in the media and everyone who is not Native,” Cardana said. “They weren’t really trusting us.”

The more people they included in the project, the more word began to spread on social media, adding some weight to their project and slowly convincing other people that their intentions were positive. Still, another obstacle they faced was to convince people about the importance of visibility.

“They’re very humble and they believe in humility and can’t handle putting themselves in that light,” Cardana said. “We said, ‘You’re doing important things and people need to know so other Natives can be inspired.’ They want the best for their community, and they see our project as an opportunity to tell their side of the story.”

Sept. 14 2016 11:12 AM

Capturing the Uncertainty and Vulnerability of Adolescence

Laura Pannack’s work with young people is a glimpse into the often tempestuous and bewildering emotions felt during adolescence. She wonders if the intensity of adolescence is tempered by the relationships young people seek during that confusing period of time.

Sept. 13 2016 12:34 PM

Photographing the Bold and the Beautiful in the Bronx

Kevin Amato makes photos for fashion campaigns, album covers, documentary series, editorial clients, and himself. But as they’re presented in his new book out from Phaidon this month, The Importants, without any way of distinguishing one type from another, it’s clear they’re all part of a singular aesthetic pursuit.

“There’s no difference between commercial and personal. I approach everything the same,” he said. “It’s all just a means of exploration and to make sense of things and to share it with other people and just expose them to it, and just fuck with people’s comfort zone and open them to the world as I think it is now.”

Sept. 12 2016 2:44 PM

What It Looks Like to Be Behind Bars in Four Different Countries

After photographing civil servants in eight countries across five continents for his book, Bureaucratics, Jan Banning thought looking at criminal justice systems around the world seemed like a logical next step. In his new book, Law & Order: The World of Criminal Justice, which will be released in the United States this fall, the Dutch photographer brings readers up close to prisons, police, and courts in Colombia, France, Uganda, and the United States.

“I’m interested in these aspects of society that are vital but not necessarily considered to be picturesque,” he said. “Basically, it’s an attempt to visually cope with the question of how we handle crime. I think it always makes tremendous sense to compare different societies as I’ve done with Bureaucratics because, of course, in comparison, the character of a specific society comes out.”


Sept. 9 2016 1:26 PM

How the World Trade Center’s Presence (and Absence) Changed New York’s Backdrop

In 1977, Brian Rose came to New York to study at Cooper Union. Like many other musicians and artists at the time, he spent most of his time downtown; he had very little interest in the twin towers, seemingly part of an entirely different city.

“The twin towers were essentially high-end urban renewal, an attempt to bring money and prestige to the fading financial district,” he wrote via email. “They were not in themselves something I was interested in, but they functioned as a backdrop for the visual urban drama that did fascinate me.”

That fascination propelled Rose to document a lot of lower New York during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although they were often an afterthought for Rose and many other New Yorkers, the towers were a centering presence, used to get a sense of one’s bearings when exiting the subway stations.

“They were minimalist art, like Donald Judd boxes, cool and aloof from the passions of the street below,” Rose wrote. “So, when I photographed Lower Manhattan, the twin towers were always there, and the framing of my pictures naturally locked onto them even if they were far in the distance.”

Eventually, Rose moved to Amsterdam, although he made frequent trips back to New York for work. It was from Amsterdam where he watched the events of Sept. 11 on CNN; he was on one of the first planes out of Europe a few days later headed for New York.

Although he isn’t a photojournalist, Rose did document his experiences during the aftermath of the tragedy. “I stayed back, observing, as is my usual modus operandi,” he said. “Later, I looked for a way to purposefully re-engage with the city that clearly meant so much to me.”

Sept. 8 2016 12:18 PM

All of These People Are at Least 100 Years Old

While working on his book If I Live to Be 100, published by Rizzoli, Paul Mobley listened to a lot of advice from the subjects he photographed and interviewed. “Some would say the key to long life: Don’t go to the doctor,” he said.

A lot of them recommended getting a dog. Many suggested drinking, which ranged from having a daily beer to a “standing breakfast date every morning with Mr. Jack Daniels.” Many people worked outside for a lot of their lives, kept physically fit, and didn’t take much medicine.

Mobley said he enjoyed spending time around a demographic that is often celebrated for reaching that milestone (there are more than 70,000 centenarians in the United States) yet is often ignored. “People at that age have so much to say,” he said. “If people would take the time to ask them or listen to them … they’re so full of life and want to share it with other people.”

The idea for If I Live to Be 100 took root while Mobley was working on a book about American farmers, when he noticed parents or grandparents of his subjects hanging around their houses. “I would ask, ‘Is that your dad? How old is he?’ ” Mobley recalled. “And they would say, ‘Oh, he’s 103.’ ”

Over the next couple of years, Mobley, along with his wife and dog, traveled around the Lower 48 by Airstream RV meeting with and photographing his subjects. (He also traveled to Alaska and Hawaii.)

Sept. 7 2016 12:52 PM

Why Has This Egyptian Photojournalist Been Imprisoned for More Than 1,000 Days?

When supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi clashed with Egyptian security forces on Aug. 14, 2013 in Cairo’s Raba'a Al-Adawiya Square, freelance photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, better known as “Shawkan,” like any other working journalist in the city, was there to cover it.

The clashes turned violent, and hundreds were killed. Shawkan, meanwhile, was detained with journalists from France and the United States. While they were eventually released, Shawkan was not. He was charged, along with hundreds of protesters, with weapons possession, illegal assembly, murder, and attempted murder—all of which he has denied.

Still, for more than 1,000 days since his arrest, Shawkan has been held in Cairo’s Tora Prison, where his health has deteriorated. For the first two years of his imprisonment, he was not granted a trial. Now, finally, he’s included in a mass trial that involves more than 700 other defendants. While, on paper, that’s an improvement, says Yasmin El-Rifae, the Middle East and North Africa research associate for the Committee to Protect Journalists, it’s “not anything that one can describe as being just.”

Sept. 6 2016 1:09 PM

These Fun and Fantastical “Dress Tents” Explore Female Identity and Politics

The idea to make a dress tent came to Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao in a sudden burst of inspiration.

“Robin and I just kind of came up with this idea of what it would be like to have a woman be completely self-sufficient, where she can carry her home on her back and travel anywhere in the world—kind of like a snail in a way,” said Pao, associate director of the graduate photography program at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.