The Photo Blog

Sept. 27 2015 9:56 AM

What Life Is Like as a Twentysomething Nun

In 2008, Toni Greaves went to the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, to document what life was like there. But she quickly discovered something much more unique than her assignment. Roughly three weeks earlier, Sister Lauren, then 21, had entered the monastery after hearing God propose to her on YouTube, leaving behind a boyfriend whom she’d planned on marrying.

“It became clear she was the arc of the story,” Greaves said. “It helps to be able to weave something around one person and the fact she has an amazing wonderful energy and she had only been there for a weeks; from the beginning the flow was clearly about her.”

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Sept. 25 2015 12:37 PM

Fake Family Portraits From the Art World 

Throughout college, Chandler Holmes took a lot of photos of his family. When he applied to graduate school, one of his interviewers suggested that he continue this trend by flying back and forth to visit them, an expensive proposition for a student already coping with tuition and other living expenses. “I’d hate for you to have get a surrogate family,” the interviewer said when Holmes balked at the idea. The idea of using a different family seemed a bit far-fetched but it stuck with him, and a few months into school he began to explore ways to create a project about family that didn’t revolve around his own.  

Sept. 24 2015 12:56 PM

This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow

During the dark days of Jim Crow, Florida, which had a higher number of lynchings per capita than any other state, was one of the most dangerous places in America for black people. But it was also home to Paradise Park, one of the rare successful recreational facilities in the South exclusively for black Americans, which opened along the edge of the Silver River in 1949.

Sept. 23 2015 9:03 AM

How Photographers Have Helped Shape the Way We Think About the Nuclear Age

Since the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, photographers have been there to capture images of nuclear blasts. And whether they have been scientists working for governments, photojournalists on assignment, or artists responding on their own terms, their images have helped shape the way people have perceived the Atomic Age. The exhibition, “Camera Atomica,” which is on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario until Nov. 15, explores that impact through more than 200 images from 1945 to 2012.

Nuclear power has always been a divisive issue, and images have been fueling debates from the very beginning. In 1946, the government used nuclear bomb tests like Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll to help influence public opinion. According to John O’Brian, who curated the exhibit, 750 cameras were present at the event, which was designed to “dispel reports about the dangers of radiation.” Berlyn Brixner, who was the head photographer at the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, Trinity, in July 1945, and Harold Edgerton took photographs for the U.S. military. Ultimately, the visuals they provided were intended to help build better bombs.

Sept. 22 2015 9:53 AM

Timeless Photos That Capture the Spectacular in Everyday Life

As the daughter of a white, Jewish mother and a father of both Native American and African decent, Melodie McDaniel questioned where she fit in throughout a childhood that was a mix of faith, culture, and race.

“I was raised in a very unconventional way,” she wrote via email. “We loved each other but everyone was allowed and encouraged to do their own thing. There was never a traditional, cyclical meeting place such as Sunday dinner. All these faces created a question in me I wanted to study: What does fitting in mean, and is it important? If so, how do I fit in with all my disparate elements and experiences? I began to investigate this with my lens, in different subcultures around the world and in my own home.”

For more than 20 years, Melodie McDaniel has followed these instincts by traveling and photographing people and places that elicit a strong reaction in her. Some of those photos are on display through Nov. 9 at Spot Gallery in Los Angeles, as part of the exhibition “American Spectator.”

The title seems apropos for both the photographer and the viewer. Many of the images have a timeless quality to them, mostly shot in black-and-white and with fashions and other visual clues that rarely betray when or where they were taken.

Sept. 21 2015 11:35 AM

The Men of El Salvador’s Most Notorious Gang

Adam Hinton was working on a long-term project in El Salvador in 2013 when he heard that the leadership of the country’s two rival gangs—Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street (Barrio 18)—had declared a truce. Hinton wanted to meet with MS-13, the larger and better known of the two, to look beyond the news and discover why men are drawn to gang life. He got his opportunity when he was given access to Penal de Ciudad Barrios, a prison that exclusively hosted MS-13 members. His photos are collected in the book, MS-13, which Paul Belford Ltd. published in September.

Sept. 20 2015 10:04 AM

Zen and the Art of Bonsai Maintenance 

Stephen Voss was a student at the George Washington University when he first encountered bonsai trees nearly 20 years ago at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington, D.C. “Initially, I was just amazed that a living thing could exist in this state—so small and sculpted, and for so many years,” Voss said via email.

Sept. 18 2015 10:47 AM

Why Are We So Afraid to Look Our Age?

To hear Pam Connolly talk about getting her hair colored, it’s no wonder she has decided to slowly go grey.  

“As you start to go grey there’s a lot of pressure not to be grey,” she said. “You feel you look older than you need to and so what happens is you have to go to the salon every four or five weeks and you’re in a chair and they put stuff in your hair that’s strange looking and not attractive and then they leave you to let it set.”

Sept. 17 2015 9:13 AM

These Photos Will Make You Want to Adopt a Dog

Traer Scott’s book Shelter Dogs, a heartbreaking collection of portraits of dogs living in shelters, was a runaway success when it came out in 2006. In addition to the portraits, at the end of the book Scott wrote about what happened to the dog, specifying if they’d been rescued or euthanized. Now, nearly a decade later, Scott has completed a more in-depth work: Finding Home: Shelter Dogs & Their Storiespublished this month by Princeton Architectural Press.

Sept. 16 2015 11:44 AM

Honest Portraits of the People Living in What’s Left of America’s First Industrial City

When Tema Stauffer first drove through Paterson, New Jersey, in 2009, the city resonated with her immediately. She had just returned from Binghamton, New York and wanted to continue shooting portraits that she said explored “the experiences of Americans during a time of profound social and economic struggle.”

Stauffer describes Paterson as a “striking and soulful mix of beauty and hardship” noting its historical significance as the first planned industrial city in America. It’s a city that had a booming silk manufacturing industry and today has preserved much of its original architecture. In the late 20th century and early 21st century, the economic downturn resulted in high unemployment rates and an increase in homelessness.