The Photo Blog

April 4 2016 11:38 AM

Graceful Dogs and the Humans Who Dance With Them

Bego Antón was looking to start a project about the contradictory relationship humans have with animals—keeping some as pets, while eating others—when she first heard of Musical Canine Freestyle. She came across a video on YouTube of Carolyn Scott and her dog Rookie dancing to a song from the movie Greece.

Canine Musical Freestyle, according to their website, began in the late 1980s in British Columbia. It’s a choreographed, costumed, musical number between a dog and its human handler. It isn’t a world where the competition is cut throat but rather it’s a showcase that “truly demonstrates the joys and fun of bonding with your pet.”

Antón contacted some of the women involved in the sport (although there are men involved, Antón focused primarily on women) who were open to meeting with her and having their portraits taken. She traveled around to a number of states and was often invited to stay in the homes of the handlers.

Antón said at first she was drawn to the somewhat campy look of the dancers and their pageant-esque costumes (for that reason, she decided to work in the United States rather than begin in another part of the world). She didn’t want to make the portraits in a sterile looking arena and felt shooting in the participants’ homes would be a much better way of getting to know her subjects. She met with the dancers and their dogs, interviewed them (she also made a video documentary that is currently in its final stages), watched their routine and then photographed the numbers she was most attracted to.

April 3 2016 10:06 AM

The Disappearing Post Offices of the Rural South

When she needs a break from photography or from teaching art at Lincoln Memorial University, Rachel Boillot hangs out with an older crowd.

“I spend Saturday nights with 95-year-old women,” she said.

Part of that has to do with another job Boillot has: she’s the assistant producer at a record label that represents old-time folk musicians. It’s also a photography project, “Silent Ballad,” about traditional musicians from the Tennessee Cumberland Mountains. She finds it refreshing to be a part of such an interesting circle of people.

“They have great stories to tell,” she said. “I’m learning so much and being shaped by tough people who grew up during the depression in Appalachia and they’ve let me into their homes and shared their most intimate stories with me. It has been a powerful experience.”

It’s fair to say Boillot is interested in traditions, regardless of their genre, and she has an affinity for history even as she watches it become outdated. During her four years of undergraduate study at Tufts University’s Museum School, Boillot said she spent countless hours training to be a darkroom printer; as she was working on her senior thesis, the printer was discontinued. When she headed to Duke University in 2012 to begin her MFA, Boillot, a film shooter, read an article about a number of post offices that were closing.

“I was kind of shocked,” she said. “I never thought about it growing up; they’re ubiquitous in our landscape and I never thought about them not existing.”

April 1 2016 9:50 AM

Will This Guy Be the First Artist in Outer Space? 

Some time soon, Michael Najjar will go boldly where no artist has gone before. 

Since three patrons purchased a Pioneer Astronaut ticket for him aboard Virgin Galactic’s tourist ship, SpaceShipTwo—which has not yet made its first launch—Najjar has been preparing to become the first artist to hang out in outer space. He’s hurtled through the stratosphere in a Russian MiG-29 jet at nearly twice the speed of sound, simulated weightlessness underwater, and experienced extreme levels of acceleration in a centrifuge at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. His training has inspired a series, “outer space,” which will be on display at New York’s Benrubi Gallery from March 31 to May 14.

March 31 2016 11:21 AM

Heartwarming and Heart-Wrenching Photos About What It’s Like to Have a Miscarriage

Dianne Yudelson and her husband’s dream of starting a family seemed like it would become a reality when they heard their baby’s heartbeat during a week 12 ultrasound. Gifts were received and baby names discussed. Then, at the four-month checkup, there was no longer a heartbeat; Yudelson was devastated.

“In the following weeks our lives stood still,” she wrote via email. “We were stunned.”

Over the next few years Yudelson lost 10 more babies.

“Hope springs eternal and each pregnancy encompassed triumphs and tribulations that ended in heartbreak and grief,” she wrote. She kept mementos from each loss including the sonograms and pregnancy tests. A decade later, she created a series, “Lost,” which she describes as both “heartwarming and heart wrenching.”

“I have read the assertion that meaningful art occurs when you share yourself and create from the depths of your soul,” Yudelson writes. “So I share.”

Lost” began after Yudelson helped a friend through a painful loss; she then reflected on her own pain.

March 30 2016 10:31 AM

What’s It Like to Surf in New York City?

If you can surf in New York, Andreea Waters says, you can surf almost anywhere. 

“Strong rip tides, spiky waves, and fast take off make the beach breaks unforgiving. Summers are crazy, with only a few beaches open for surfing, and everyone learning to surf,” Waters said via email.

Waters has seen that firsthand while photographing at several beaches in the New York City region. In her book, Surf NYC, which Schiffer Publishing released in February, she shares visions of a vibrant culture just out of sight for most city residents. 

March 29 2016 12:47 PM

Keeping Track of All the Cameras Surveilling Us on a Daily Basis

Sheri Lynn Behr, herself camera-shy, noticed that whenever she would point her camera at a stranger in New York City’s Chinatown, he or she would usually turn away. Instead, Behr stood behind store windows waiting for people to look at her before snapping a shot of them. Although some continued to turn away from her, others would pose and smile. That work became part of a series, “NoSafeDistance.”

As she continued to work on the project, Behr realized that along with her subjects, she was also the subject of unwanted attention, mainly from surveillance cameras that were pointed at her from seemingly everywhere. She began pointing her camera away from people and instead toward the ubiquitous cameras for work that became the series “NoMatterWhere.”

In the summer of 2012, Behr was watching the show White Collar when she noticed a surveillance camera in a scene that was shot in the Whitney Museum. A couple of weeks earlier, Behr had photographed the same camera in the same location. She decided to document not only the cameras she saw in real-life but also those that were seen on television including shows and movies like The Simpsons, The Lego Movie, and 30 Rock; she feels the ways in which the shows cut to the cameras as if they were a character in the show is an attempt to normalize the idea of surveillance. Those images, along with images from her previous two series form a new triptych-based body of work she calls “BeSeeingYou.”

March 28 2016 11:10 AM

A Young Lee Friedlander Captured a Civil Rights Milestone

In 1957, Lee Friedlander was just 22 and mostly earning a living making photos for Atlantic album covers. He hadn’t yet published his first monograph, nor had he fully developed the approach to image-making that would make him famous. 

But he was ambitious and, moreover, curious, which is what drew him to the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a massive demonstration in Washington, D.C., on the third anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education designed to protest the slow enforcement of the decision in the South. In New York City, Friedlander asked organizer Bayard Rustin for a press pass to cover the event. On May 17, he spent the day photographing some of the 25,000 people, among them leading figures in the civil rights movement, who gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

March 25 2016 10:32 AM

When European Tourists and Syrian Refugees Meet

These days, Lesbos is a tale of two islands. 

For European tourists, the Greek outpost in the Aegean Sea is a summertime escape, a place for leisure and relaxation. For the Syrian refugees who make it there alive, after a treacherous voyage by boat from Turkey, it’s a safe haven and a portal to a new life in the European Union. Mostly, the two groups keep to themselves.

But in Marieke van der Velden and Philip Brink’s short documentary, The Island of All Together, for a brief moment, they cross paths. This August, the Amsterdam-based couple spent 10 days on the island, and filmed 12 one-on-one conversations they arranged between recently arrived refugees and vacationing Europeans. Afterward, van der Velden photographed the pairs. The goal, she said, was to inspire a greater sense of empathy in participants and viewers alike.

March 24 2016 10:02 AM

You May Not Be Able to Remove Your Phone From Your Hands, but This Photographer Has

We have all seen groups of friends or family members in seemingly intimate settings only to realize the only engagement happening is between each individual and his or her personal electronic device.

During an artist residency, Eric Pickersgill noticed an entire family seated together in a café in Troy, New York; all of them were on personal devices. The scene resonated with him when he returned home and had a similar experience with his wife. An idea was hatched: For most of 2014 into early 2015, Pickersgill re-created similar scenarios, of people socializing, driving cars, working or relaxing, he would then photograph with his view camera. As a twist, he asked his subjects to maintain a posture as if they were holding on to a personal device. 

“The impulse was to look at human bodies next to one another and what was that posture and that language, of isolation, while physically touching someone else,” he said. “I was making observations about my life. I’m a photographer who has to make work because that’s how I identify and that was the thing that was in front of me the most; I couldn’t get away from it and the project came about from those life experiences.”

In early 2015, apart from showing the work around at a few small shows and festivals, Pickersgill put the work away. And then a friend, who worked for Business Insider, told Pickersgill that his producer was interested in running the work, titled “Removed,” on Tech Insider. Three days later, he was interviewed on CNN. He still sees hundreds of visitors to his website each day; before the work went viral he was lucky to see 100 a month. “Removed” will be shown at Rick Wester Fine Art in New York from March 24 through May 21.

Although the work began as a study of the relationship between bodies and technology, Pickersgill said it taps into the current zeitgeist, not only our addiction to these devices, but also about the conversation about the effects they have on us both physically and psychologically. Strangers who have seen the work have told Pickersgill that they were moved by the photographs because they were close to people who had been involved in car accidents related to texting and driving.

March 23 2016 10:29 AM

Antigua’s Colorful Holy Week Shot in Black and White

When Stan Raucher decided to study Spanish in Antigua, Guatemala, it coincided with Holy Week, or Semana Santa. It turned out to be a bonus for the photojournalist who knew there would be celebration but had no idea what awaited him. The streets of the city that was founded in the early 16th century and is aUNESCO World Heritage site, were lined with colorful carpets and sawdust and were packed with daily street processions of costumed people transporting enormous statues of Jesus Christ on floats; the air was thick with the scent of incense.

Raucher said he considered himself to be a novice photojournalist at the time and wasn’t prepared for the sensory overload and potential for image making; he decided to return in 2015 with a better handle on both Spanish and photography.

“I had a better idea of what to expect and I researched the events before I arrived,” he wrote via email. “I was delighted with the difference that preparation made.”

Raucher described the seven days of Holy Week as “intense.” Processions typically last more than half of a day; the centerpiece of each one is a large float with a statue of Christ that can weigh several thousand pounds and is carried by close to 100 people. On some days, different churches participate in multiple processions that add to the carefully planned chaos. Both men and women carry the floats over carpets that are artistically made from flowers and sawdust that are protected and admired until they are destroyed by the processions. “The photographic opportunities are only limited by one’s stamina,” Raucher wrote.