The Photo Blog

Feb. 1 2016 2:24 PM

The People Who Call New York’s Affordable Housing Developments Home

New York City may have some of the most expensive real estate in the country, but the city has also been a pioneer in affordable housing policy. Over the course of 2½ weeks between the fall of 2014 and summer 2015, David Schalliol, an assistant professor of sociology at St. Olaf College, was commissioned to visit all five boroughs and photograph nearly four dozen affordable housing developments for Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City, which Princeton University Press published in November. At baby showers, sewing classes, and bingo sessions, he captured a side of affordable subsidized housing that many New Yorkers rarely see: One that is functional, positive, and social.

Jan. 31 2016 11:01 AM

Seeing New York City in the ’70s and ’80s Through the Eyes of Blondie’s Legendary Guitarist 

There is a nostalgic love affair with the photographs of New York in the 1960s and ‘70s, specifically the art, music and nightlife scene that thrived there during that time.

Chris Stein, a Brooklyn native and one of the co-founders and guitarists of Blondie, studied fine arts, including photography, at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in the late 1960s and ‘70s. SVA was a “hipster breeding ground” back then and it proved to be an influential place for him. While there he noticed a flier for the band the New York Dolls, decided to check them out and – to cut to the chase - became involved with the New York underground music scene, eventually meeting Debbie Harry with whom he formed the band Blondie. He also always carried around his camera.

In 2014, on the 40th anniversary of the founding of Blondie, Rizzoli published a collection of the images Stein took during the 1970s and ‘80s, the bulk of which are of Harry whom he also dated, titled, Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie and the Advent of Punk.

Jan. 29 2016 10:20 AM

The Last of Mongolia’s Eagle Hunters

The vast, barren landscape surrounding the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia is unforgiving. In the winter, temperatures dip to negative 40 degrees. Only the toughest survive. This is where the world’s 60 or so remaining burkitshi—Kazakh men who hunt on horseback with golden eagles—carry on a centuries-old tradition. 

Jan. 28 2016 10:00 AM

These Brothers Barely Left Their Apartment for 14 Years. This Is the World They Created Inside.

For 14 years, the six Angulo brothers almost never left their Lower East Side apartment, where an authoritarian father kept them hidden along with their mother and sister. They learned about the outside world largely by watching movies, which they imaginatively recreated with their own homemade sets, props, and costumes.  

Jan. 27 2016 10:19 AM

From Clothing to Cars: Living Like It’s 1950 With America’s Rockabillies 

As a child growing up in Chicago, Jennifer Greenburg loved looking through her grandmother’s collection of vintage jewelry, so much that she began a lifelong passion for collecting vintage clothing and furniture. It also helped to shape a project Greenburg would work on for 10 years on the rockabilly culture; it was published as a book, The Rockabillies, by the Center for American Places in 2010.

Rockabillies adhere, both culturally and aesthetically, to a 1950s version of America. They aren’t necessarily looking to turn back the clock on everything from that period, but instead they borrow elements such as clothing, hairstyles or furniture they incorporate into their daily lives.

Greenburg approached the work in a similar manner, by taking pieces of something and putting her own spin on it. She said her work is interpretive, not documentarian, although she made sure her knowledge of the people and culture she set out to photograph was profound.

“I never wanted to be a tourist,” she said about the work. “I don’t like tourist photography if you will. I don’t think you should go into a situation you don’t fully understand and haven’t done extensive research on and take photos because no matter what people assume – and anyone who knows anything about photography knows the camera doesn’t project anything factual – it’s always an interpretation of what’s in front of the lens at the hands of the person operating the camera.”

That’s not to say that the subjects in the photographs weren’t and aren’t real to Greenburg. As a child she had seen rockabillies and to a point idolized them, imagining what it would be like to be a part of their culture. As she began to meet people, first at flea markets where she purchased vintage items, her young thoughts of their positivity were confirmed. When Greenburg began the project, before the Internet was what it is today, she relied on word of mouth to meet more subjects, many of whom also offered her a place to stay while she worked on their portraits; she felt accepted into a big family.

Jan. 26 2016 10:30 AM

Why Are These Subway Cars Sinking Into the Ocean? 

The next stop is … the Atlantic Ocean? Indeed, for more than 2,500 New York City out-of-service subway cars, the bottom of the ocean is the final destination after they were enlisted for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s artificial reef program. Today, the sunken cars have been populated by marine invertebrates, which bring in crustaceans and fish, and ultimately, fishermen.


Jan. 25 2016 10:15 AM

An Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth Taylor as Seen Through Her Home

Catherine Opie never got to meet Elizabeth Taylor. The actress passed away three months into Opie’s six-month portrait project of Taylor’s Bel-Air home, located at 700 Nimes Road, what Opie ultimately named the book of the work, published by Prestel.

Opie and Taylor shared accountant put Opie in touch with Taylor’s longtime executive assistant, Tim Mendelson. She wanted to document the Hollywood legend’s home in the same vein as William Eggleston had done at Graceland.

Imagining is one thing, walking into Taylor’s home for the first time was something else.

“It is overwhelming,” she said. “You’re super nervous because you’re in Elizabeth Taylor’s home and you don’t want to piss anyone off; you want to represent her in a way that feels like an extension of the ability to think about portraiture other than an iconic image of Elizabeth Taylor the movie star.”

The goal of the work was to create a portrait of Taylor through her home and all of the objects found within it. There were closets of clothing, shelves filled with shoes and accessories, an incredible jewelry collection, and of course, the house itself, that Opie described as “elegant but simple: a California Ranch-style house with pale blue and lush lavender carpets and a shimmering turquoise swimming pool.”

Jan. 24 2016 10:15 AM

God Instructed Him in a Dream to Make Guitars and Give Them Away to Kids, So He Did

When Ed Stilley, 85, started making stringed instruments more than three decades ago, he had no idea what he was doing. He’d had no instruction and barely any materials with which to construct them besides some scrap wood from the sawmill where he worked. 

Jan. 22 2016 10:00 AM

How Does a Uniform Affect the Way We See People?

Although Vivian Keulards has studied many different genres of photography, it’s portraiture she feels is her true calling.

“I discovered it’s people I really like,” she said. “When you have your camera you have the best excuse to walk into somebody’s life and to see how they live and what their stories are…that’s what portraiture is for me.”

Keulards is from The Netherlands and became friends with her neighbors who, when they first met, had a 10 year-old daughter named Kat. Over the years Keulards watched Kat grow up; she even came to visit Keulards and her own family when they lived for a few years in the United States. During that trip, Kat, now a young woman, had also joined the navy.

“When I saw her in her uniform, she was a totally different person to me,” Keulards said. Seeing her sparked an idea to begin a series that showed two sides of women in the navy: one in their uniforms at the barracks where they lived and another in their casual attire, photographed in their own homes. She calls the series “Behind Her Uniform”.

Jan. 21 2016 3:15 AM

“Why Do You Own a Gun?”

At first glance, the people in Kyle Cassidy’s portraits couldn’t look more dissimilar from one another. They’re different ages, races, and genders, and they come from all across the United States. But they all have one thing in common: guns.