The Photo Blog

Oct. 17 2014 11:16 AM

The Decadence and Environmental Destruction of American Expansionism in Nevada

Before 2008, Lake Las Vegas, a collection 21 Mediterranean-themed communities built around a man-made lake, and Ascaya, a “mountain-mansion project” created by a Hong Kong billionaire, were part of the force making Nevada the fastest-growing state in the country. And then, almost as quickly as it grew, Nevada real estate collapsed. Construction halted at Ascaya, leaving “dozens of cake-layered pads carved into the mountain without a single house.” At Lake Las Vegas, two golf courses and a luxury hotel shuttered, and owners sold their homes at massive losses. In his new book, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain, out next month from Radius Books, Michael Light documents the ruin of the sprawling Nevada residential developments.


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Oct. 16 2014 11:30 AM

Dressing Up in Drag With the Help of Fine-Art Portraits

Nigel Grimmer’s photographs often involve some kind of social interaction. Using his friends and family as subjects, Grimmer takes them on road trips, leads them into forestsdresses them up like road kill, and puts them in a corner wearing a dunce cap. 

But for his current, ongoing series, “Art Drag Album,” Grimmer decided to put himself into the picture—sort of. To create the drag characters that are part art, part human, Grimmer uses (mostly) paintings of exotic women by J.H. Lynch andVladimir Tretchikoff as heads and himself for the bodies. He then has friends snap the images.

Oct. 15 2014 12:51 PM

Can These Selfies Change the Way We Think About the Death Penalty? 

During the summer of 2013, documentary photographer Marc Asnin came across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, which lists the final words of the 517 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. Seeing the extensive list presented in such a matter-of-fact way set in motion an idea for a book, Final Words, that includes the last statements and mug shots of the prisoners who have been executed in Texas during that period of time (the book will be updated to reflect the current number of the executed). Asnin’s goal is to get the book into the school curriculum in all 32 states that still use the death penalty with the hopes that it will open up a new conversation told from a first-person perspective rather than simply from a list of statistics.

Final Words is a way to create a conversation about the dehumanization of the death penalty,” Asnin said. “Even if the [students] decide they’re still for the death penalty after reading it, there is a process where they can understand these are still humans and what they can learn from those final words … I think we will be better off as a society.”

Oct. 14 2014 11:00 AM

Iranian Fathers and the Diverse Daughters They’ve Raised

While living in Malaysia, Nafise Motlaq found the way people talked about her home country, Iran, disturbing. They seemed to lack a realistic vision of the country because they relied mostly on stereotypes and hearsay. Inspired by this frustration and a trip home to visit her father, Motlaq, a senior lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia, decided to try and explore the father-daughter relationship in Iran using photography. 

Oct. 13 2014 1:04 PM

Midcentury San Francisco as Seen by Its Most Famous Photographer

At 90, Fred Lyon is a legendary San Franciscan photographer. He is now known for capturing the ethereal feel of the city and its people, but in the 1940s and ’50s, Lyon was scrabbling to gain a footing in the magazine industry. Luckily, it was a good time to do so: San Francisco was entering a new golden age, consumed by a post–World War II hunger for creative expression. His new book, San Francisco: Portrait of a City 1940-1960out last month from Princeton Architectural Press, is a portrait of the city bursting with life, from its streets to its stores to its grandest palaces of art and culture.

Oct. 12 2014 9:29 AM

Seeing the World From Your Pet’s Point of View

Since its invention, humans have had a corner on the photography market. Now they’ve got some competition. In his new book, PetCam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends, available now from Princeton Architectural Press, Chris Keeney highlights the absurdity and unexpected artistry of photos taken by animals from around the world.

Oct. 10 2014 11:00 AM

How Do You Get to Death Valley? You Have Two Options. 

They’re around 150 miles from one another and their combined populations don’t quite reach 2,000, but Baker, California and Beatty, Nevada each boast as being the gateway to Death Valley.

During a drive to a photo shoot from her home in Los Angeles to Las Vegas in 2009, Pamela Littky discovered Baker. A few months later she stumbled upon Beatty. She would spend the next four years documenting the two tight knit communities for a series that became a book, Vacancy, published last month by Kehrer.

Littky is known predominately for her celebrity portraiture that covers just about everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Beck, but Vacancyallowed her the chance to sink her teeth into a project that piqued her interest in a different direction.

Oct. 9 2014 11:30 AM

Can You Really Know All Your Facebook Friends? This Photographer Tried to Find Out.

A couple of months ago, a portrait of my friends and their daughter appeared on my  Facebook timeline. Their friend had arranged to take the portrait for a project documenting all of her 626 Facebook friends. A few weeks later, another one of my friends’ portraits appeared in my feed from the same series. Feeling I was missing out on something right under my nose, I began to investigate and was quickly embarrassed to realize the widely covered project, Are You Really My Friend, had never crossed my path. I immediately contacted the photographer Tanja Hollander and spoke to her right after she had finished taking her 400th portrait to talk about the evolution of the series.

Hollander began the project in 2011 when she realized that she was communicating and sharing information with people around the world, some of whom she still spoke with on the phone, others who she either barely knew or some she didn’t know at all. It brought up the question “Am I really friends with all of these people?”

Oct. 8 2014 11:41 AM

For a New Generation of Queer Youth, the Closet Is No Longer Mandatory

Growing up in Colorado in the 1980s, being out of the closet was, for M. Sharkey, “just not a possibility.” “I couldn’t even imagine not being in the closet. I couldn’t imagine being open about my sexuality,” he said. Times have changed, and as LGBTQ Americans have won greater freedoms and protections under the law, a new generation of kids has increasingly begun to experience something novel: A childhood in which sexuality and gender identity is more freely expressed and discussed.

Oct. 7 2014 11:30 AM

The Surprising Calm of Israel’s Many Bomb Shelters

In Israel, where war is a constant threat, bomb shelters are a fairly everyday part of the landscape. Like New York’s subway stations, they blend naturally into their environments while maintaining individual personalities. And, as Brooklyn-based Daniel Terna found out, they’re generally left unlocked, ready for use or for the occasional photographer to explore.