The Photo Blog

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.

March 22 2016 12:49 PM

The Wonderfully Wacky Things You Can Buy at a Church Supply Trade Show

Louis De Belle grew up in the Catholic Church, and he’s always been fascinated by the theatrical accessories—the precious clothing, the service items, the countless devotional objects—that lend the institution some of its power. 

Curious to explore the business behind the ecclesiastical supplies, De Belle attended the 16th edition of the Koine exhibition, a trade show in Vicenza, Italy. This past year, it drew 13,000 visitors, including priests, nuns, and other church devotees from more than 65 countries. His images are collected in a self-published book, Besides Faith.

March 21 2016 10:56 AM

Two Decades of Portraits of the People Living in Los Angeles’ Imperial Courts Housing Project

Dana Lixenberg came to Los Angeles in 1992 on assignment for a Dutch magazine to cover the city’s rebuilding after the riots that followed the Rodney King verdict. She returned with a curiosity to learn more about gang culture and what life was like in housing projects.

Her book, Imperial Courtspublished in 2015 by Roma, is a study of the individuals who live in the Imperial Courts project. As she photographed her subjects and their families over a 22-year period, it evolved into a kind of yearbook.

While working on the initial assignment, Lixenberg had met members of the Black Carpenters Association (a collective of contractors and activists) who had in turn introduced her to Tony Bogard, then a leader of the Imperial Courts PJ Watts Crips, “the unofficial godfather of the community.” Bogard was reluctant to be photographed, but he eventually introduced Lixenberg to the Imperial Courts project and to many of the residents who lived there.

March 20 2016 11:04 AM

The Crazy Secretive World of Tax Havens

It’s hard enough for outsiders to know what’s even going on in tax havens, those notoriously secretive places where taxes are levied at absurdly low rates. Photographing what they look like is almost impossible—but Paolo Woods and Gabriele Galimberti have done it in The Heavens, which Dewi Lewis published in September.

March 18 2016 10:14 AM

NASA’s Crumbling Launch Sites Are Like America’s Greek Ruins  

In Roland Miller’s eyes, NASA’s abandoned launch pads are the modern American equivalent of Greek ruins, Mayan temples, and Egyptian pyramids. But unlike those ancient wonders, many of these monuments to the Space Age won’t be around for long. That’s why he photographed them. 

Miller’s book, Abandoned in Place, published by the University of New Mexico Press, collects photos from more than two decades of documentation. Many of the structures he photographed have since been demolished, making the series a one-of-a-kind visual record of the history of space exploration.