The Photo Blog

June 30 2016 10:06 AM

Guess Which Environmental Scourge Is the Star of These Gorgeous Images

Has a plastic bag ever been as profoundly captured as the one that dances in the wind during American Beauty? Vilde Rolfsen was also inspired by plastic bags, although instead of filming them, she decided to photograph them for a series titled “Plastic Bag Landscapes.”

As a child, Rolfsen said she was an abstract painter but was also always interested in documenting things. She got her first camera when she was 15, and when she moved to Paris a few years later, she said she began recording everyday life around her.

Rolfsen wanted to work with an everyday object, and she stumbled on to the plastic bag in a serendipitous way: While adjusting her camera, the inside of a plastic bag was over the lens. She was inspired by what she saw and set out to find bags to photograph. Because she didn’t want to contribute to landfill waste, she found all of the bags in the street, at school, or in the house where she lives with roommates; she would then take them back to her studio to photograph them.

June 29 2016 10:10 AM

Glamour Shots of the World’s Sacred Cows

In many parts of the world, cows are seen not merely as sources of meat, milk, and skin, but as special animals worthy of respect and admiration.


South African photographer Daniel Naudé’s book, Sightings of the Sacred, which Prestel published in May, shows why, with images of magnificent species in Uganda, Madagascar, and India that are integral to the cultural and religious traditions of the people who look after them.

June 28 2016 10:06 AM

Hunters and Their “Trophies” at the Spots Where They Killed Them

In French, the word naturalization is sometimes used to describe taxidermy, a contradiction French photographer Pierre Abensur found amusing.

“Naturalized animals in nature was a paradox, just as killing them and trying to give them the appearance of being alive, what I considered as a form of paradoxical love,” he wrote via email.

As a way of highlighting the paradox, Abensur began the series Subjective Trophies that is a collection of 40 portraits (Abensur shot 70) of hunters with their “trophies”—parts or entire bodies of the animals they killed—taken in the exact spots where the hunters killed the animals. He said they represent a kind of pilgrimage, a metaphorical reconstitution.

“When I decided to work on the theme of trophies, I wanted to keep out of these portraits of nabobs in trophy rooms I had seen so many times in the ’80s,” he wrote. “I realized the importance of the location when I asked about hunting stories that concern a particular trophy—they all started by ‘I was there.’ ”

June 27 2016 12:43 PM

When New York’s Mom-and-Pop Businesses Disappear, so Does a Neighborhood’s Character

In the mid-1990s, James and Karla Murray started registering a disturbing trend as they photographed street culture in neighborhoods across New York City.


“Despite the short time frame between visits, we noticed that some blocks looked drastically different. Many neighborhood stores that we had noticed had closed, or we would come across ‘old’ stores, still in business, but somehow different. They were either refaced, remodeled, or original signage had been substituted with new, bright, and shiny plastic awnings. The whole look and feel of the neighborhood had changed, and much of its individuality and charm had gone,” the husband-and-wife duo, who photograph and interview as a united entity, said via email.


They soon made it their mission to document the vanishing mom-and-pop stores through images and interviews with their owners. Skyrocketing rents and rapidly changing neighborhood demographics, however, meant time to do so was limited. More than two-thirds of the stores featured in their 2008 book, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York have, and approximately 20 percent of those included in their new book, Store Front II: A History Preserved, which was published by Gingko Press in November, have closed.

June 26 2016 10:06 AM

This Is What Queer Relationships Might Have Looked Like in the Early 20th Century

When Kris Sanford came out as gay in the early 1990s, she didn’t have any friends or family members who were also gay.

“That left me feeling like the other for a long time,” she wrote via email. While growing up, she said she had crushes on friends and created imaginary relationships.

Partly because Sanford was searching for some type of history that spoke to and included her, she began a series “Through the Lens of Desire” that creates implied narratives through found snapshots from the 1920’s-‘50s.

“I’m specifically looking for some kind of affection and intimacy,” she wrote about the images she selects. “Either through touch or expression. The images I create…are more about sensuality and attraction than about sexuality.”

Sanford works with the found images by intentionally cropping off a chunk of the top and as a nod to early Kodak snapshots creates a circular frame; she said it’s both a way of removing the identities of the people to turn them into fictional characters and an invitation for viewers to take a closer look at what they’re seeing.

“I’m not suggesting that the actual people were gay or lesbian, because in all likelihood they were not,” she wrote. “They become stand-ins as I create an imagined queer history.”

An early inspiration for the work came from a box of snapshots Sanford inherited from her grandmother that included images of parties she hosted where people would dress up. One photograph in particular (Folding Chairs), of two women dressed as flappers and dancing together, struck Sanford.

June 24 2016 12:34 PM

Candid Moments With the Ramones, Taken by Their Manager

Danny Fields has been many things: author; journalist; publicist; and, most notably, manager for a number of famous punk rock musicians, including the Ramones, the Bay City Rollers, and Iggy Pop.

It’s the Ramones through which Fields is most often linked. Fields first saw the band at CBGB, and 15 minutes after they ended their 15-minute set, he asked if he could manage them. Soon after, he brokered a deal for them with Sire Records. While the Ramones were recording their debut album, Fields photographed the band during downtime.

But Fields insists he’s not a photographer, at least one who made his living by taking photos. He even begins the introduction for his new book, My Ramones, published by First Third Books, by writing that “I’d never felt like a ‘professional’ photographer until 2003.”

But throughout all of his careers, Fields has been taking photographs. He said part of the reason was out of convenience, as he did while writing for the magazine 16; other times, he said, it was out of boredom, especially when he was working with the Ramones.

June 23 2016 11:09 AM

When the Bowery Was New York’s Skid Row

Today, the Bowery is an increasingly posh area characterized by luxury condominiums, upscale grocery chains, and high-income residents. This month, it’s getting a new museum, the International Center of Photography, which is marking the occasion with an exhibition of photos from the 1940s and ’50s, a time when the Bowery was a place known for its fleabag hotels and flocks of alcoholics and drifters.


These photos come courtesy of Weegee, the New York City freelance news photographer best recognized for his garish but irresistible images of crime and calamity. The ICP has more than 20,000 photographs by the photographer (who was born Usher Felling), and more than 300 were taken of the Bowery’s streets, people, and businesses. While a few among them depict classic Weegee subjects such as fires and accidents, the photos on the whole constitute a celebratory representation of the neighborhood, ICP curator Christopher George said.

June 22 2016 12:36 PM

These Photos Show How Women Are Defined by Their Hair

In 2011, during a visit to Paris’ Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Tara Bogart saw the photograph Hair Study by Nadar and was immediately intrigued. The photograph, taken from behind, was of a young woman whose hair was held up by an ornate clip.

After seeing Hair Study, Bogart said she wanted both to return to Paris (she was living in Milwaukee at the time) and to make a contemporary series, also photographed from behind, that explored how young women today express themselves. Five months after seeing the photograph, she began the series that became “A Modern Hair Study.”

Bogart questioned Nadar’s intentions for the photograph that inspired her series. “Was he that formal in his study, and why did he include her neck and back and even her shoulders, although they were covered with fabric?” she wrote via email. “I had so many questions about his intentions, but my curiosity was mostly about her. I looked at the comb and the style of the hair and her neck and the sheer beauty of her being—even though we are refused access to most of her—I couldn’t stop thinking about her.”

Back in Milwaukee, Bogart asked a friend who had been with her in Paris to be her first model. Other women heard about Bogart’s series and asked her to photograph them as well.

“It was after making about four or five that I realized this could be much larger, and I wondered what that would look like,” she wrote. She began putting up fliers and spreading the news through word of mouth. “I was really trying not to hand-pick them but rather a random sampling of what was around me.”

June 21 2016 12:38 PM

The Colorful Creatures of Hong Kong’s Goldfish Market

If you’re looking to buy a goldfish, a harbinger of good luck in Chinese culture, there’s no better place than a cluster of shops known as the Hong Kong Goldfish Market on Tung Choi Street in the Mong Kok area. It’s also a feast for the eyes.


Three years ago, on his way to the Philippines, Janus van den Eijnden and his girlfriend had a two-day stopover in Hong Kong. As they wandered the city, they passed by the market, and van den Eijnden was instantly captivated by the sight of the colorful creatures, which are displayed in plastic bags on cluttered fences for up to three days.


“I just made some holiday snapshots, but when I returned home from my holiday, I couldn’t stop thinking about this market. Often, I thought of the idea of going back and making a documentary series about the market,” he said via email.

June 20 2016 1:20 PM

A Weird Jaunt Through Vienna With a Legendary Magnum Photographer

When curator Verena Kaspar-Eisert and the staff at Viennese museum Kunst Haus Wien decided to host a major retrospective of the idiosyncratic Magnum photographerMartin Parr, they also offered him the opportunity to come to the city and create a new body of work. He couldn’t resist.

“He has made photographic journeys to many places all over the world. I think in Vienna he was looking to find out if the clichés he had heard about the city were true—and they actually are. We do eat schnitzel a lot,” Kaspar-Eisert said via email.

Parr visited the Austrian city twice to make his book, Cakes & Balls, which AnzenbergerEdition published in June. Like Parr’s work generally, the photos showcase a keen curiosity about the world around him and a winking knowledge of human nature.