The Photo Blog

Jan. 20 2016 11:16 AM

Inside the Fabulous Homes of “Gypsy Queens”

When Sébastien Cuvelier started photographing the grand homes of wealthy Roma people in Romania in 2011, one thing became clear to him right away: In the communities he encountered, women ruled. As a result, they became the focus of his book, Gypsy Queens, which Husson Editions published in 2013.


Jan. 19 2016 10:15 AM

How Many Things Have You Touched Today?

How many things do you touch in one minute? How about an hour? Paula Zuccotti asked people of different ages and backgrounds all over the world to make note of how many objects they touch during a day for her series “Every Thing We Touch.” The photos were turned into a book that was published this past December.

Zuccotti—a designer, and trends forecaster who founded The Overworld, a consultancy agency that specializes on the interaction between culture and technology—was curious to learn more about how our daily interactions come to define ourselves and what she might be able to learn about the things we “need, appreciate, consume, or simply touch.”

“I was amazed at the honest X-rays from our everyday lives that emerged from the photos,” she wrote via email. “As a result, the participants find the exercise very fulfilling in terms of mindfulness. Everyone realized something new about themselves.”

All of the participants in the project were required to record everything they touched on notepads or their phones. Zuccotti admits the project was very ambitions; she’s been working on it for two years now and said finding the subjects, briefing them and ensuring things were done correctly required a lot of communication.

Jan. 18 2016 12:00 AM

Life Never Ran These Striking Images of What It Was Like to Be Black in 1950s America

Gordon Parks hadn’t been to his hometown, Fort Scott, Indiana, in more than 20 years when he returned there in 1950 as a photojournalist on assignment for Life magazine. Growing up as the youngest of 15 children, Parks attended the Plaza School, an all-black grade school in the heavily segregated town. Now, as the first black man hired full-time by the magazine, Parks wanted to find and photograph all 11 of his classmates from grade school as a way of measuring the impact of school segregation. The photo essay he created, which was never published, will be on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the exhibition, “Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott,” beginning Jan. 17. 

Jan. 17 2016 10:07 AM

Exploring Norway’s Stunning Terrain Like an Astronaut 

Ole Marius Joergensen’s free time is pretty much nonexistent since the birth of his daughter. But last summer his girlfriend offered him three days off from his fatherly duties to do something for himself. He wanted to take a road trip but didn’t want to waste precious time so he traveled from his hometown just outside Oslo through the Fjords of western Norway. He brought along a friend—and a spacesuit.

“I told him OK, I’m paying for the trip but you have to be the model so whenever I want to stop the car you have to jump into the suit,” Joergensen said. The idea was to play tourist, not only from a personal perspective but also as a humorous nod to the ways in which travelers like to pose in front of landscapes and landmarks.

It was also a pretty big departure from the organized way Jorgensen typically works. Instead of meticulously planned shoots, Joergensen figured he would simply let intuition guide him. The work he created became the cinematic-looking series “Space Travels Through Norway.”

Before working on the series, Joergensen looked toward the United States, specifically the culture of the 1950s and ’60s for inspiration, but the trip left him marveling at Norway’s landscape.

“Now I’m going to look at Norway and see what’s around me instead of trying to create something American, so this was a liberation from that type of thinking.”

Jan. 15 2016 10:06 AM

Vintage Photographs of Dublin’s Inner City

David Jazay arrived in Dublin in the early 1980s on a German-Irish school exchange program. The inner city fascinated him right away, and he began photographing its working-class residents and its old Georgian buildings for the next decade.

Jan. 14 2016 11:05 AM

Remembering a Time When New York City’s Subways Were Covered in Graffiti 

Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant’s found their niche as graffiti photographers by accident. Cooper was a staff photography for the Daily News in New York when she met a young man creating some graffiti (the artists are often referred to as “writers”). “He showed me how he was designing his name to put on a wall and I understood there was a culture behind it,“ she said. Their classic book Subway Artfirst published in 1984, will be released for the third time this month by Thames & Hudson.

Chalfant, a sculptor, noticed the graffiti on the trains in New York and began photographing them. Since Cooper was interested in capturing the graffiti within the environment of the trains and New York City, and Chalfant was creating images that tightly focused on the art, the duo’s work paired well when seen together.

As photographers, Cooper and Chalfant had a strong bargaining tool that allowed them to quickly gain the trust of the writers: photographs. Many of the artists and writers used images to record their art. Cooper said for the most part they were using cheap cameras and because they weren’t trained photographers, the images weren’t very good.

Jan. 13 2016 10:04 AM

How the Beauty of Transparent Is Captured in Still Photography 

A pivotal and profound scene in the Amazon series Transparent occurs in the second episode of the first season, appropriately titled “The Letting Go,” when Maura, played by Jeffrey Tambor, comes out, accidentally at first, as trans to her eldest daughter Sarah. Although there is a third character in the room, it’s a tight scene, focusing on the two actors while they are seated on a bed.  

Beth Dubber was about six feet from the actors while the scene played out with an aching back and trembling knees, hoping to get the image and not collapse before the scene was cut.

It wasn’t easy.

“I prefer to be a fly on the wall but in this scene everyone was conscious of everyone else,” Dubber said. “I was crouched in a corner with the camera operator and focus puller right next to me, as well as a boom operator capturing sound; luckily he was 6-foot-5 and I’m 5-foot-3 so I could fit under his armpit. It’s 100 degrees in there and we’re all scrunched together, a pile of sweaty people with equipment. … My thighs and calves were burning as I was in a mid-squat position, my back hurt but I thought I have to get this shot; this is the shot.”

Jan. 12 2016 1:18 PM

The Limitless Inventiveness of Walker Evans

Walker Evans may be best known for his 1935 and 1936 Farm Security Administration documentary photos, but he had a long career that explored a range of styles and techniques. Walker Evans: Depth of Field, which Prestel published in November, provides the most comprehensive book-length look yet at the work of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.


Jan. 11 2016 11:36 AM

When Wild Animals Become Pets

Areca Roe’s love of animals often influenced her photography. Early on, she created images in a zoo but felt the human-animal relationship there was too one-sided and forced. That work lead into a series about pets and then further narrowed to work about pets that were a bit more out of the ordinary.

She wanted to create photographs that highlighted the contradiction between the wildness of the pets—including turtles, snakes, lizards, and pigs—and the domestic environments in which they lived with their owners. She calls the series “Housebroken,” and has been working on it on and off for three years.

“It just looks so strange to plop a lizard onto a couch, or a parrot in a car,” she wrote. “What do they make of this environment?”

Roe found all of her subjects around Minnesota and Wisconsin, within a few hours of her home, and contacted most of them through social media. She also found reptile owners through the Minnesota Herpetological Society, a group of avid lizard and amphibian lovers.

Jan. 10 2016 10:55 AM

Honoring Scottish History at Quirky Local Festivals

Each summer, 11 towns in Scotland’s Scottish Borders region honor local history in homespun and idiosyncratic Common Riding festivals, celebratory occasions devoted to pageantry, singing, and unique traditions centered around equestrian events.