The Photo Blog

June 13 2016 10:56 AM

A Photographer’s “Sneaky” Street Shots Capture Four Decades of New York City Life

For nearly five decades, Harvey Stein has been photographing around New York. He sees his work, specifically in the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Harlem, and Midtown Manhattan, as ongoing projects, although he has now published a book on each neighborhood. An edit from all three books will be on view at Leica Gallery in San Francisco through July 22.

In many ways, Stein is a throwback photographer. While he does studio work, he is mostly known for his street photography that is shot on film using two short lenses; he still spends a lot of his time printing his work in a black-and-white darkroom. He calls his process for making the majority of his street photography work “collaborative confrontation.”

“I confront them with a camera, and I talk to them and give them a chance to say yes or no, and I get them to collaborate with me to make a portrait,” he said. He said this is how he approached all of the images found in his collection of photographs in Harlem Street Portraits and many in Coney Island: 40 Years.

Stein describes himself as a somewhat shy person and said over the years he has met a lot of people during this collaborative process.

“The camera gives me a reason to approach somebody,” he said. “I met my ex-wife in Central Park while photographing; it didn’t work, but it was fun while it lasted. I’ve made friends, but sometimes it’s hard [to ask for a photograph]. I pass up shots and get mad at myself thinking they’re not going to want it or I’m too shy.”

June 12 2016 10:16 AM

Meet the Women Who Work as Professional Disney Princesses 

Professional Disney princesses are experts at bringing magic and fun to any occasion. Off the clock, they’re real people just trying to make a living. 


Vanessa Golembewski’s March feature for Refinery 29 takes a look at five such women— Omaris Contreras, Sapphire Nova, Eiphany Elease, Brittney Lee Hamilton and Lisa Scrivanich—in the New York City area. Brian Shumway made the accompanying photos over five days between January and February. 

June 10 2016 10:16 AM

Moving Photos That Capture the Joy and Pain of Returning From War

By the time he was hired as a New Yorker staff photographer in 2008, Platon, who goes by his first name only, had already photographed more than a hundred of the world’s most powerful leaders for editorial assignments. So when he started talking with photo editor Elisabeth Biondi about his first photo essay for the magazine, they decided it would spotlight another kind of leadership—that of military service members.

June 9 2016 11:32 AM

Capturing the Beauty of Colombia With a Polaroid Camera

When Colombia makes international headlines, the news—drug trafficking, violence, crime—often isn’t great. But since his first visit to the country more than a decade ago, Matthew O’Brien has seen it through a different lens. His book, No Dar Papaya: Fotografías de Colombia 2003-2013, which will be released in the United States for the first time on July 20, is a refreshingly positive portrait of a nation and its people.

June 8 2016 10:36 AM

Senior Citizens and the Cats and Dogs They Love

When David Williams was a child, his mother rescued pugs. Being around animals influenced Williams, and as a photographer, he has developed a number of series that examine the relationships between animals and humans.

June 7 2016 10:05 AM

These Aerial Photos of Toxic Waste Show the Environmental Costs of Modern Life

How do you make busy and hardworking consumers see the environmental consequences of their consumption? 


Often, J. Henry Fair finds, the best way is to show it to them obliquely, but in a way that inspires curiosity. From a bird’s-eye view, the toxic waste created by the industries behind our modern world is colorful, interesting, and abstract. When people see Fair’s photos of the murky, swirling mess, they can’t tell what it is, but they want to find out. In Fair’s forthcoming book from Papadakis, Industrial Scars, which he recently funded on Kickstarter, these photos of waste—as well as images of the giant machines that produce it—will appear alongside expert explanations of the processes depicted.

June 6 2016 11:54 AM

These Americans Will Make You Think Twice About What Muslims Look Like

In post–Sept. 11 America, some have—wrongfully—imagined a line between American-ness and Islam. Claire Beckett’s portraits of American converts to the faith complicate that notion by shining a humanizing light on those who’ve experienced both sides of the supposed divide. 


“I intend for my photographs to open up questions for the viewer, to allow someone seeing this work to think through the issues on their own. It could be that the work allows a viewer access to think about the Muslim community in a way that they had not been able to previously. But it’s also possible that the work can give viewers insight into their own thoughts, to the assumptions and prejudices that they carry inside,” she said via email.

June 5 2016 10:54 AM

Is a Zoo Really Just a “Panda Industrial Complex”?

After a gorilla was recently shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo when a 4-year-old boy fell into its enclosure, a lot of the discourse stemmed from the idea of zoos and whether they should exist.

The photographer Arko Datto has been studying zoo animals around the world via live online video for his series CaptivecamIt’s the third part of a trilogy Datto began four years ago that examines the ways in which the internet is used as a “global Panopticon.” He began the work with Cybersexa look at virtual prostitution, and continued it with Crossingsa look at Arabia Peninsula from the air and the influence of human rights abuses there.

Datto feels the death of Harambe offers “a good moment to bring the focus back on whether zoos are actually necessary in today’s world and question what purpose they are serving as regards conservation and education of the general public,” he says.

In Captivecam, Datto has spent more than a year and “endless hours” documenting the animals in their enclosures, as well as their interactions with human beings. He feels the live cams are reminiscent of government surveillance techniques used on human beings.

June 3 2016 10:02 AM

Sharks Finally Get the Glamour Shots They Deserve

Michael Muller had spent decades photographing the world’s most recognizable celebrities when, in 2007, his wife booked them a trip to Mexico’s Guadalupe Island, and he finally got the chance to photograph his dream subject: sharks.


“The first time I locked eyes with that first great white, I was hooked,” Muller said. 


Muller was determined to keep photographing sharks after that, but he knew he wouldn’t be content capturing them the way wildlife photographers typically did—that is, with mostly natural light or perhaps with one or two strobes mounted on the camera housing. He wanted to photograph sharks the way he photographed celebrities. Since it would be impossible to bring the giant fish to a studio, he decided he would have to bring a studio to the ocean. 


On his next shark photography expedition, a 2009 campaign for the luxury watch brand IWC Schaffhausen shot at the Galápagos Islands over the course of a week, he brought custom-made 1,200-watt underwater studio strobe lights—the strongest lights of their kind ever built—and connected them to batteries aboard the 40-foot boat by cables up to 140 feet long. The crew of 15 traveled more than 1,200 miles, and Muller dove four times a day among hundreds of sharks with his team of assistants. 


Since then, on more than 30 self-funded expeditions around the world, Muller has proven himself a uniquely driven and visionary photographer of some of the ocean’s most fascinating inhabitants and an outspoken advocate for their protection. His book, Michael Muller: Sharks, Face-to-Face with the Ocean's Endangered Predator, which Taschen published in March, is at once a love letter and a call to action.

June 2 2016 12:11 PM

Whatever Happened to the “Just Married” Car?

If you’ve attended or planned a wedding recently, there’s one detail you might have missed: the “Just Married” car. Although writing on the car or tying tin cans to its rear bumper used to be as commonplace as the wedding cake, these days you don’t see too much of it.

Robert E. Jackson is a serious collector of American snapshot photography and has amassed more than 12,000 images in his collection, including eccentric family holiday cards. Jackson’s collection also includes snapshots of cars decorated for weddings.

Jackson said he was drawn to the photos he often finds on eBay because of the ritual they represent. He saw the decorations as a type of folk art and decided to dig deeper to see what else was out there.

“What I found was that the words applied to the car were more creative than I initially imagined,” he wrote. “ ‘Just Married’ isn’t always the standard message on wedding cars. And as one moved into the 1960s and ’70s, the text became more sexual in nature. In an earlier time, the wedding car often emphasized that from this marriage, kids would be produced to enrich the community and create a family. There is more humor in later reiterations of the ‘Just Married’ signage on the car. In the 1930s through ’50s it was often just enough to write ‘Just Married.’ ”