The Photo Blog

Aug. 17 2014 10:44 AM

How One Photographer Overcame His Fear of Death by Photographing It

This photo series is about death and contains images of people before and after they’ve died. 

As a child growing up in Munich toward the end of World War II, Walter Schels was greatly affected by death, having witnessed the casualties of air raids.  

“I was afraid of death and coffins my whole life and I avoided seeing any dead bodies, even those of my parents,” he wrote via email.

Later, when he became a photographer, he worked on a series about birth but was constantly reminded “at the end of this birth will always be death.” He also said that the experience evoked a deep interest in people’s faces, which later influenced his passion for portraiture.

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Aug. 15 2014 11:33 AM

The Changing Faces of New York City, as Seen Through One Tribeca Building

In 1984, when Susan Rosenberg Jones moved into a one-bedroom New York City apartment in Tribeca, her rent was roughly $700 a month.

Usually, that line is great at cocktail parties, with a mention of either having been fortunate to find a great deal or a melancholic reminder that things have vastly changed. In this case, it’s a bit of both.

Rosenberg Jones is currently living in a two-bedroom apartment in the same building, part of three high-rise towers called Independence Plaza North. Built in the 1970s and intended for luxury rentals, the complex was ushered into the Mitchell-Lama program since few people were willing to live in Tribeca at the time. Mitchell-Lama was created to provide affordable housing for middle-income residents (bytoday’s guidelines the annual adjusted income limit for a household of two in a non-federally assisted and federally-assisted cooperative development is $85,937.50). As a result, many were artists, writers, teachers, and other working class New Yorkers.

Aug. 14 2014 12:03 PM

This Woman Took a Self-Portrait Every Year in Just Her Birthday Suit

This post contains nudity.

A couple of decades ago, Lucy Hilmer found herself at J.C. Penney buying 60 pairs of lollipop underpants.

She wanted to make certain she wouldn’t run out of them.

In 1974, Hilmer, then 29 and wearing the somewhat gaudy undergarment, took the first of what would become a life-long series of self-portraits titled “Birthday Suits.” She has since added one more image to the series every April 22, her birthday, each time wearing only the underpants, shoes, and socks.

Aug. 13 2014 12:43 PM

The Last Strongholds Against Big Box Stores Are Disappearing

In Vladimir Antaki’s view, small businesses in cities are not just places of commerce. He calls them “urban temples,” and the way he sees it, they’re the last strongholds against an increasingly impersonal world of big box stores and corporate franchises. Its proprietors are the “Guardians” of our “souvenirs and traditions.”

Aug. 12 2014 11:00 AM

Surreal Photos That Capture What World War I Looked Like in Color 

We tend to remember World War I, whose 100th anniversary will be commemorated this month, in black-and-white. But there were a handful of photographers working during the war in color, using an early technology called autochrome first introduced in 1907 by the Lumière brothers. Though their hues are not as true to life as color film, the autochrome photos in Getty Images’ Hulton Archive provide a compelling and novel look at the war and those who fought it.

Aug. 11 2014 12:53 PM

Can These Dignified Portraits Save Abused Greyhounds in Spain?

Once hunting season is finished in Spain, many Iberian greyhounds are abandoned or killed (often hanged) if the dogs have either underperformed or are too expensive to keep until the following hunting season.

A few years ago, Mathias de Lattre learned from his gallerist Alain Biscotti about the dogs and subsequent fight to rescue them. Deeply moved by the story, de Lattre spent nearly two years creating portraits of some of the rescued and adopted Galgos and Podencos breeds of greyhounds. This past spring, de Lattre’s work was exhibited in a gallery in Paris; he also created a book, ¡Salvados! published by HPRG editions.

Aug. 10 2014 11:00 AM

A Stroll Through Ireland’s Eerie Ghost Estates

From the mid-1990s through 2006, home prices in the Republic of Ireland increased steadily, fueled by a period of economic prosperity known as the Celtic Tiger. In 2008, the property bubble burst, and investors who’d built housing developments in remote rural areas found themselves unable to sell their properties or, in many cases, even finish their construction.

Aug. 8 2014 12:16 PM

Devastatingly Beautiful Photos of Japanese Tsunami Victims in the Ruins of Their Homes

The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 caused catastrophic destruction throughout the country. People were hit especially hard in Otsuchi, a fishing town on the Sanriku Coast where a series of waves as high as 60 feet tall destroyed about 60 percent of the city. Alejandro Chaskielberg was in Tokyo for an exhibition of his work in 2012 when his curator, who had family in Otsuchi, told him about the devastation.

Chaskielberg made his first visit to Otsuchi 1½ years after the tsunami. When he arrived, he found a great plain of land where the city had been before. Red flags dotted the grasslands, marking where victims had been discovered. Large mountains of debris were scattered throughout the area.

Aug. 7 2014 2:53 PM

Bugs Can Be Surprisingly Beautiful When Seen Up Close

Ever since David M. Phillips took an entomology course at the Boston Museum of Science as a teenager, he’s been hooked on bugs. As a graduate student, he developed a love of microscopes during a course on cell biology. More than two decades ago, when he began working at the Population Council as a scientist studying HIV and AIDS, his interests intersected. Phillips would come into the lab early before work or on the weekends to use the in-house electron microscope to photograph insects. His photographs are now collected in the book, Art and Architecture of Insects.

Electron microscopes aren’t available to many hobby photographers. They can take up a good part of a small room and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Using one is a little like flying a spaceship. There are all these buttons knobs and gages,” Phillips said.

Aug. 6 2014 12:05 PM

New York City Snapshots From Chinatown in the ’80s

Over 30 years ago, Bud Glick set out to photograph the New York Chinese community as part of the New York Chinatown History Project (NYCHP), now the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. The work, along with oral histories collected of the Chinese community was meant to record a part of New York culture that was rapidly changing within a city that was itself rapidly changing. 

Glick worked on the project for a little over three years, from 1981-1984, with a primary focus on the bachelor society, so called because of the disproportionate number of men living in the United States without their wives and/or children.

This culture can trace its roots back to The Chinese Exclusion Act that was enacted in 1882 and excluded all immigration of Chinese laborers into the United States. The bachelor society existed until the act was lifted in 1943; in 1965, the Immigration and Naturalization Act abolished the quota of Chinese allowed into the United States, greatly increasing the population and beginning the end of the bachelor society.