The Photo Blog

July 22 2015 11:24 AM

The Neurotic, Sexy, and Gross World of Food-Eating Competitions

In one photograph, neon orange hands dig into a vat of greasy looking chicken wings. In another, chunks of chili cascade out of overflowing mouths. A third features blueberry stains covering a woman’s face.

They’re all part of Nina Berman’s ongoing project “Eat to Win,” a look at some of the food-eating contests that take place around the United States.

Berman began working on the series when Noor, the photo collective of which she is a member, decided to focus on food for their annual group project. “At first I resisted participating in this project,” she said. “I didn’t want to just shoot garbage cans of wasted food; I wanted to come in with something strong.”

Video Advertisement

July 21 2015 11:13 AM

Magnum Photographers Show How Covering Civil War Has Changed

Since the beginning of the Magnum Photos cooperative agency, its elite photographers have been covering conflicts, including civil wars, around the world. But in the decades since its founding in 1947, the nature of warfare has changed, as has the nature of photojournalism. The exhibition, “Failing Leviathan: Magnum Photographers and Civil War,” which is on display at the National Civil War Centre in the U.K. until Nov. 5, shows those dual evolutions through the work of 11 photographers in 11 conflicts.

July 20 2015 10:49 AM

Meet the Scientists Who Helped Make Those Groundbreaking Pluto Photos Possible

When Kyle Cassidy got a call Friday afternoon from his longtime collaborator Kate McKinnon to see if he wanted to photograph the scientists behind NASA’s New Horizons space probe, he didn’t think twice before he agreed. He threw a bunch of equipment in a suitcase, got in his car, and drove from Philadelphia to Laurel, Maryland. By the evening, he’d set up a small studio in the lobby of mission control at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

McKinnon is married to William B. McKinnon, one of the mission scientists, and so she already knew all the people who worked on the craft, whose flyby past Pluto last week captivated people around the world. As more than 40 of the scientists came in and out of briefings that night and the next day, she wrangled them for Cassidy to photograph for a minute or two. Some of the scientists came in to the lab during their first day off in months just for the photograph. Others were still on the same hectic work schedule they’d been operating under for years.

“New Horizons is bringing back incredible amounts of information. No one thought Pluto would be as interesting as it’s turned out to be,” Cassidy said. “They were elated and overjoyed that there was all this stuff coming back, very relieved and excited. This was something they'd been waiting for 10 years—some for 14 years—to see.”

July 19 2015 9:12 AM

The People You Meet While Traveling Cross Country on a Greyhound Bus

Ian Willms has always had a bit of wanderlust. His desire to see the world has informed his photography, whether he is taking a literal journey retracing Mennonite ancestors around Europe, or an emotional one with his ailing father.

It’s unsurprising then that the Canadian photographer is also a fan of Jack Kerouac and the Beat poets. Inspired by the writings and philosophy of the Beats, as well as the bus travel found in the songs of the Delta blues musicians, Willms decided to work on cross-country project. In 2013, coincidentally on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Greyhound, Willms and a friend traveled from New York to Los Angles, taking pictures and recording audio along the route.

Willms writes a bit about his Greyhound experiences on what would become the series “The Hound”: “A man told me about the parasites that the government puts in your brain to control you. Someone snorted coke off a toilet seat while I took a piss in the next stall. … A man told me he was headed to Phoenix because no one there would know him. … Someone had a grenade in their luggage so the bomb squad shut down the bus station in Atlanta.”

July 17 2015 12:44 PM

This Crumbling Amusement Park Used to Be One of the Best in the U.K.

Built in 1920, the Dreamland amusement park in Margate, Kent, became world famous for its Scenic Railway, an innovative wooden rollercoaster that required a brakeman on board to operate. In 1921, nearly 1 million people rode the Railway, and, for the next 60 or so years, Dreamland was one of the most popular parks in the UK. By the 1980s, however, tourists stopped coming in the same numbers and by 2003 it was closed.


Among the millions who enjoyed Dreamland, even during its slow march toward closure, was Rob Ball. In his book, Dreamlands, which Dewi Lewis Publishing published in June, he revisits the park and explores its history through archival images, tintypes, and photographs of objects he found there. 

July 16 2015 10:11 AM

Capturing the Beauty of the Bronx: One of the Last Vestiges of Old New York

After working in banking for 27 years, just before the economic collapse in 2008, Ira Wagner decided to try something new. He started taking classes at the International Center of Photography in New York and was encouraged by one of his professors to go for an MFA, which he finished in 2013

For two years he worked on what would become his thesis project, a study of the Bronx borough of New York City, which he documented with an 8-by-10 view camera. Wagner’s mother’s family is from the Bronx and he grew up in Yonkers, just north of the Bronx, until he was 15. Working on the series gave him the chance to revisit a bit of his past as well as to get an idea of what was happening to the area.

“For many people, and this is by no means universal, the idea of the Bronx is kind of frozen in the 1970s and ’80s,” Wagner said. “A dangerous, burned down, hopeless place. I found it’s not like that at all … it’s basically a place where people are trying to make their lives better and raise a family and have what everyone else wants.”

July 15 2015 11:22 AM

You Can’t, and Shouldn’t, Ignore These Faces  

There are 49 portraits in Bruce Gilden’s new book, Face, published this month by Dewi Lewis, and it’s a safe bet you’ll probably remember all of them.

That’s partly due to Gilden’s raw approach to street photography, a stark, in-your-face style; and partly due to his subjects, a mix of “characters” as he calls them, who are often overlooked in society.

“The basis of this project is to show people who are left behind,” Gilden said. “A lot of these people are invisible and people don’t want to look at them and if you don’t look at them how can you help them? When you pay attention to those who are usually ignored, it makes their day. That’s not why I do it. I’m not claiming to be a humanitarian; I’m a photographer. I always photograph what’s interesting to me and it has always been people who are underdogs because I see myself as an underdog.”

July 14 2015 10:52 AM

Putting These Epic Sports Photos in Perspective

Paolo Pellizzari doesn’t make images like other sports photographers.


Rather than strive to get as close as possible to the action and freeze athletes in the middle of a spectacular moment, he tries to capture a fuller scene that gives viewers a better sense of what it feels like to be at an event. He calls his photos “human landscapes.”

July 13 2015 10:36 AM

Some of the Worst Moments of the 1900s Happened in These Spots

Tomoko Yoneda’s photography may be the perfect illustration of the classic William Faulkner line, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”


Among the photos from the past 14 years in her exhibit, “Beyond Memory,” which is on display at London’s Grimaldi Gavin until July 25, are those that show the sites of some of the 20th century’s worst moments: The cliffs where Japanese soldiers jumped to their deaths during World War II, for instance, and the French forest where hundreds of thousands of soldiers lost their lives. 

July 12 2015 10:37 AM

SOMA in the ’80s: Photographing a Changing San Francisco 

Janet Delaney grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood in 1978, finding herself at the heart of an area populated with artists living in empty warehouses. A few blocks from her apartment was a massive construction site where the Moscone Center was being built. The construction, which necessitated the demolition of many buildings, caused many poor and elderly residents to be displaced. It turned out to be a catalyst in Delaney’s work—her photos of south of Market from that time are a visual history of a city in transition.

“I felt drawn toward trying to understand how people are affected by their built environment, not just the formal elements of the lines and shapes but who lives there and what happens when people change, and they were being radically changed by the construction of the Moscone Center,” she said.

Delaney was also influenced by the shift in photography from natural landscapes toward those that were of an industrial, man-made starkness. The images also represent a nostalgic look back at what seems a completely different lifetime.

Delaney, however, is hardly the nostalgic type and doesn’t see change as necessarily a bad thing, especially as it relates to the ways in which SOMA is viewed today: as ground zero for the debate about new technology moving in and radically altering San Francisco.