The Photo Blog

Aug. 17 2015 1:55 PM

The Myth of Cuba May Appeal to Tourists, but It Ignores the Country’s Complexity

As the U.S. and Cuba re-establish relations, the Caribbean island is poised for a dramatic change. This, in part, is the inspiration behind “¡Cuba, Cuba!,” an ICP exhibit at the Southampton Arts Center in New York of more than 100 photographs, historic artifacts, political posters, and publications spanning the past 65 years of Cuban history.

The exhibit, curated by Cuban art historian Iliana Cepero and ICP curator Pauline Vermare, features a unique collection of works by more than 20 Cuban photographers, including Alberto Korda, (who shot the now-iconic image of Che Guevara), Raúl Corrales, Marucha (María Eugenia Haya), and legendary American photographers like Burt Glinn and Elliott Erwitt.

“The images are like a map of Cuba, a cartography of feelings, ideas, mentalities,” Cepero said. “That is the intellectual and emotional complexity of Cuba.”

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Aug. 16 2015 11:24 AM

These Untitled Photos of the Republic of Congo Leave Viewers to Find Their Own Interpretations

Compared to its larger Central African neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo has not been widely documented. Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin provide plenty of visual records in their book, Congo, which Aperture published in May, but they don’t seek to illuminate much, at least in terms of names, places, and historical context. Their photographs, a mix of captivating city scenes and tropical landscapes, are uncaptioned and untitled. An interview with Majoli over email yielded little more in the way of concrete information. Their goal, he said, was to leave viewers with only “what is necessary” to draw their own conclusions —namely, images—and nothing more.

Aug. 14 2015 12:36 PM

An Immigrant’s Struggle to Raise Her Son in Middle-Class America

Last year, while working on a story about child care, Alice Proujansky and the writer Alissa Quart met Blanca Conde, a nanny from Paraguay, who was living in Queens and working in Manhattan.

Conde’s story was, on the surface, typical of many immigrants: She worked long hours and was the financial caregiver for her family who remained in Paraguay, including her son, Guido, from whom she had been living apart for a decade.

Although they were happy to have met Conde, Proujansky said the story felt dark since Conde often spoke about being reunited with Guido. “It sounded like a fantasy,” Proujansky said. A few years earlier, Guido had tried to live with his mother but returned to Paraguay soon thereafter since the demands of Conde’s job made it too difficult for her to take care of her own child.


Aug. 13 2015 10:17 AM

The Rapid-Fire Photography Needed to Capture the Headbangers of Europe 

A few years ago, Jacob Ehrbahn, a staff photographer at the Danish national newspaper Politiken, found himself captivated by a heavy metal festival called Copenhell. The three-day self-assignment began a project that would eventually become a book,Headbangerswhich will be published in the United States by PowerHouse next month.

Ehrbahn thinks of Politiken as a very “picture friendly” publication, or heaven for photographers. His typical stories fall under a hard news umbrella, but there was something exciting for him about his first visit to the metal festival. “When I came there, I immediately fell in love with the headbangers and I tried to figure out how to photograph them,” he said.

A close-up look with an on-camera flash seemed to be the way to go since it not only stopped the rapidly moving hair of the concert goers, but it also allowed for the sky to be visible, creating a uniform blue background on the photographs.

Aug. 12 2015 1:14 PM

These Photos Aren’t Trying to Tell You Anything—That’s What Makes Them So Great

It all started when Muir Vidler was in college and photographing the club scene for a gay magazine in London. He noticed an older man—at least by nightclub standards—named Adrian Delgoffe who was dressed in a leather harness.

“I thought, that guy is the same age as my dad and my dad is at home sleeping on the couch in front of the television,” Vidler said. Delgoffe agreed to have his portrait taken and inspired Vidler to find more people who weren’t “acting their age.” The work eventually became a series “Rebels Without a Pause,” which includes rockers, fetishists, and other entertainers who were having fun on their own terms.

From there, Vidler, whether through assignment or his own personal projects, began documenting unconventional stories around the world including the Israeli death metal scene or a circumcision party for two boys in the Maldives.

Aug. 11 2015 10:56 AM

Rare Photographs of Jazz Icons From the Archives of Metronome Magazine

Founded in 1881, Metronome magazine became indispensable during the swing era, when it switched its focus to jazz. For decades, it was the best publication for reviews, features, and show listings of the era’s foremost music genre. The magazine struggled to adapt as tastes changed and in 1961 it closed. Getty Images eventually acquired its vast photo archives, but for decades, nobody had explored them until Pierre Vudrag, founder of the vintage photography and poster site, Limited Runs, decided to take a look. His selections from the archives are now featured in a traveling exhibition, “The Metronome Jazz Photo Collection,” which will be on display in New York and Chicago this fall.

Aug. 10 2015 10:17 AM

The Creative and Colorful Desks of Children’s Book Illustrators

Like many parents, Jake Green often found that his favorite books to read to his kids were those that had been read to him as a child. But two years ago, while reading a biography of the of the English author and illustrator John Burningham, who described working in a defining era for children’s books in the 1960s and ’70s, he started thinking about today’s crop of children’s illustrators. Who are the emerging stars of today’s literature, he wondered, and what does their work look like? With the help of editor and art director James Cartwright, Green started finding answers. The result is their book, The Bookmaker’s Studio, which they are currently raising money on Kickstarter to publish.

Aug. 9 2015 9:46 AM

What Makes a Person Decide to Dress Up Like Minnie Mouse? 

Anyone who has spent time around Hollywood Boulevard has seen tourists posing for pictures alongside recognizable pop-culture characters like Spider-Man, Jack Sparrow, and Chewbacca. During a recent stay in Los Angeles, Ken Hermann was inspired to find out more about the people in the costumes and created the series “Behind the Mask.”

The work is in line with some of Hermann’s other portraiture work of conspicuous people, including “Flower Man,” which focused on the men who sell flowers in Kolkata. Many of the ideas come to him during trips away from his home in Copenhagen, where he says he doesn’t pay attention to what is often right under his nose.

“It’s difficult to do things in Copenhagen because I see the same things everyday,” he said. “When I go abroad, I can think about things and why people are doing them.”

Aug. 7 2015 11:17 AM

Photographing What Unites the Borders That Divide Us

Flo Razowsky was working with grassroots communities in the Palestinian territories in 2002 when she saw construction begin on what is now the nearly 500-mile-long Israeli West Bank barrier. “My first thoughts were of complicity: As a Jew, this wall was being built in my name; as a U.S. citizen, this wall was being built with my tax dollars,” she said via email. “My first thoughts were of wondering how prolific such situations were—firstly, nation-state barriers that were being built to keep people out and increasingly, the more research I did, barriers that were being crossed at risk of death in order to maintain survival.”

Aug. 6 2015 11:46 AM

You Can Tell a Lot About a “Pig Ear” From Her Bonnet

If you were a woman living in Brittany during the 19th and 20th centuries, you might have been known as “Pig Ear.” You also probably called the women in the neighboring villages “Sardine Head” or “Sugarloaf.” Brittany, located in the northwest corner of France, was once home to a large number of lace headdresses or “coiffes” worn daily by women, and the inspiration for the unique nicknames.

Charles Freger, fresh off his “Wilder Mann” series that focused on pagan costumes found across Europe, began working on the series about the headdresses for a book, Portraits in Lace, which will be published in the United States on Sept. 8 by Thames and Hudson. The subjects of “Wilder Mann” were, as the title suggests, all men. While on an assignment in Brittany, he decided to focus on women. From 2011 to 2014, Freger worked with more than 50 groups of women in the area creating painterly portraits that highlight the details of the unique attire.