The Photo Blog

Aug. 21 2016 1:33 PM

The Beauty and History of Hickory Nut Gap Farm in North Carolina 

The first time Ken Abbott visited Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina, was with his daughter on a preschool class trip. Abbott had recently moved to North Carolina from Colorado so his wife could complete her residency in family medicine. He had worked as a photographer back in Colorado for 15 years, but because his wife was working upward of 90 hours a week, he spent a lot of time with his daughter, which didn’t leave him much time to seek out photography projects. But something changed during that visit.

“I saw it as an opportunity to photograph a beautiful place,” he said. “And not just wandering around to look for pictures I really didn’t have time to do.”

At first, Abbott was attracted to the history of the home and figured he would spend time working on a project that predated the family who purchased the home in 1916. Prior to then, the home had been an inn along the Drover’s Trail, a place where drivers could stop along the route to sleep and eat and store their livestock before trying to sell it in the local markets. It was an interesting story but a complicated one and, as it turned out, not as compelling as the more recent history.

“The more I photographed, the more I realized there was a whole unique story through the contemporary family and life of the farm,” he said.

Aug. 19 2016 10:07 AM

The Historic Midcentury Modernist Motels of the New Jersey Coast

Staying overnight at one of the more than 150 motels in the Wildwoods can feel like traveling back in time.

The Wildwoods comprise three towns—Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and North Wildwood— along a 5-mile barrier island on the southern New Jersey coastline. They started drawing tourists looking for summer sun and surf in the late 19th century, but things really picked up in the 1950s with the completion of the Garden State Parkway. That’s when middle-class motorists began arriving in droves, and motels started popping up by the hundreds over the next 20 years. Inspired by European high modernist design, they sported bright colors, angular features and distinctive, sometimes kitschy ornamentation. While about half of them have since given way to towering condominiums, those that remain are still family-owned and -operated, and little has changed about the way they look since they were constructed.

Aug. 18 2016 10:42 AM

A Photographer’s Tribute to the Canadian Religious Colony He Left Behind

For most of Kelly Hofer’s life, he knew he didn’t fit in.

At the Hutterite colony in rural Manitoba, Canada, where he grew up with around 100 other people, young men were expected to observe religious customs, contribute to the community’s collective farms, and learn the skills necessary to join its firetruck-manufacturing trade. They weren’t supposed to be artists. And they certainly weren’t supposed to be gay.

But early on, Hofer knew he was both of those things, which made life tough. He didn’t leave the Green Acres colony—one of many in Western Canada, the United States, and beyond that follow the religious and cultural tenets established in 16th-century Europe by Jacob Hutter—until he was 19. But while he lived there, one thing saved him: photography. From the age of 11 onward, Hofer found purpose photographing his friends and relatives and posting the images to sites like Flickr, mostly for the enjoyment of other Hutterites. His passion, however, was not encouraged at home.

“Photography wasn’t regarded as important, and I could never invest in myself that way. I couldn’t buy the gear, couldn’t get educated. It was really difficult. Traveling to places I wanted to shoot was impossible. Hutterites don’t travel if it’s not to another colony or for work,” he said.

Four years since he started a new independent life in Calgary, Hofer is now raising money on Kickstarter to fund the publication of a book, Hutterite, that collects his best photos taken over the course of his adolescence.

Aug. 17 2016 10:15 AM

A Photographer Turns to His Camera to Cope With a Loved One’s Suicide

While he was living in London, photographer André Penteado received a call from his family in Brazil with news that his father had died. About a half-hour later he received a second call saying the cause of death was suicide. Penteado immediately flew home for the funeral and began documenting his experience with his camera. Over time he expanded the project by photographing himself wearing his father’s clothing, as well as documenting some more mundane items, including all of the coat hangers his father owned. That work became part of his series “Dad’s Suicide.”

Although Penteado believes in therapy, he said seeing a psychologist wasn’t working for him, so he sought out a support group back in London for people who were grieving the loss of someone due to suicide. Simply by going around the room and listening to the names of those who lost someone and the names of the people who committed suicide touched Penteado.

“Suddenly I felt listening to these people [gave me] a sense of belonging,” he said. “Suicide puts the family in a very strange place. There is a lot of guilt that comes, a lot of anger, and a lot of loneliness because there is still a taboo around it, so people don’t talk about it.”

Moved by the group, Penteado asked if they would join him in creating a new body of work that spoke to some of the feelings that were present about losing a loved one. That work became a three-part photography series and a video titled “I Am Not Alone.” He recently published the work as a book.

Aug. 16 2016 10:12 AM

Meals From Your Favorite Works of Fiction Come to Life in These Magical Photos

They may be fictional, but characters in books still have to eat. In Charles Roux’s ongoing series “Fictitious Feasts,” their meals aren’t just abstractions but realistic, sumptuous tableaus that can evoke an entire invented world in one imaginatively rendered dining table.

Aug. 15 2016 10:05 AM

Rolling Stone’s First Staff Photographer Reflects on Woodstock on Its 47th Anniversary

Forty-seven years after the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, it’s arguable whether there has since been anything like it. Baron Wolman, Rolling Stone’s first staff photographer, photographed the inaugural festival, which actually took place an hour’s drive from Woodstock, New York, in Bethel, New York, beginning Aug. 15, 1969. No one knew what to expect, he said, except the music lineup “was dynamite.”

“Like a bee is attracted to a flower, the people couldn’t resist,” he wrote via email. “For me, the moment I encountered that enormous stage and a crowd of untold thousands, I was literally blown away. I had never, ever experienced anything like it. Nobody had.”

During the festival, Wolman shot about 30 rolls of black-and-white film, a number of images that might today be equaled in a few hours by someone with an iPhone. Wolman didn’t shoot in color because Rolling Stone didn’t print in color at that time. In addition,  Wolman and Jim Marshall were working on the book Festival! A Book of American Music Celebrations that took them around the country documenting a variety of music festivals. Wolman’s images also became part of the book Woodstock, and the work is currently being shown in London at Proud Camden Exhibition and in Los Angeles at Mr. MusicHead Gallery, which also features Wolman’s music portraits.

Wolman approached shooting Woodstock as a documentary project, since he had already photographed most of the bands by that time. “The people and their experience at this unique festival became my focus,” he wrote.

Aug. 14 2016 10:11 AM

This Is What Life Looks Like for Pakistanis With and Without Clean Water Access

As temperatures skyrocket this summer, heat-related illness isn’t the only threat to public health. Water scarcity is also a major concern. Rainfall gets scant when the mercury runs high, and according to the Washington Post, ascending sea levels in the Middle East are making groundwater too salty to use for drinking or agriculture.

For those living in the Indus River Delta in southeastern Pakistan’s Thatta region, these issues are a daily reality. Water is hard to come by, and many have to spend hours traveling every day to get it from canals connected to Keenjhar Lake. Since the region is near the coast, it’s particularly susceptible to saline intrusion and flooding. In 2010, when devastating floods tore through the country, the Indus Delta was one of the worst affected areas.

For two weeks this February, New York–based photographer Malin Fezehai, on a commission from the H&M Foundation and WaterAid, visited the region to document how water scarcity and climate change affect the lives of the area’s poor and marginalized families. Her photos are featured in the exhibition “Noori Tales: Stories From the Indus Delta,” which is on display at Kungsträdgarden in Stockholm from Monday until Sept. 4.

Aug. 12 2016 11:34 AM

A Pittsburgh Photographer Wants These Images to Change Your View of His Hometown

Jake Reinhart and his wife, Julie, live in a house in Pittsburgh that her grandfather built. It’s in the same neighborhood their parents grew up in. Both of them have family buried in the cemetery down the street.

That history resonated with Reinhart. “I started thinking of this sense of deep roots that go on for generations and just trying to make sense of it, this sense of belonging,” he said.

He decided to explore photographically his own sense of home and, on a wider scale, how the people and landscape of Pittsburgh have evolved over the years. The images he made are part of the series “Homespun.”

Reinhart’s influences range from some of Pittsburgh’s most famous photographers, including Walker Evans, Eugene Smith, and LaToya Ruby Frazier, and he thought of them and their experiences as he began to explore their shared hometown.

“I was already familiar with the fact that this is a topic that has been out there and discussed and presented a number of times, so I wanted to think about the history of Pittsburgh, not just the history in terms of the steel mill, but for generations of people who have lived here and what this region represented,” he said.

He also considered the influence of the French and Indian War, the ways in which the three rivers have segregated the landscape and the city’s various communities, how as industries—from timber to fur to steel and coal—have gone from boom to bust, and what kept people living there.

Aug. 11 2016 11:12 AM

Your Summer Grilling Meats Could Have Come From These Colossal Animal Feedlots

While Mishka Henner was searching for satellite images of oil fields in the United States for a project, he came across a lot of small black-and-white microbial-looking dots. The dots turned out to be cattle on feedlots—essentially large-scale animal feeding operations that raise livestock quickly and cheaply for slaughter and consumption.

Because he didn’t know about feedlots or how they worked, Henner scanned through thousands of images and downloaded state registers for feedlots; he read government studies and research reports and became fascinated by what he learned. From the images he downloaded, he edited his search down to seven feedlot sites that are part of his series “Feedlots.”

Henner said he wanted to create images that highlighted how the meat industry works, as well as our culture’s approach to eating animals. “[T]his is so central to our attitude to food and to profit and to mass production and mass consumption; it was almost an ideal image that manages somehow to be mysterious and at the same time to have the entire logic there in one single frame,” Henner said.

Even with the satellite technology, Henner said he wasn’t able to include the largest feedlots in his edit—including them in their entirety would have created images that would have been 5 or 6 meters tall. Still, he feels the subjects he included in the series are able to convey a lot of what is happening on the ground.

“We live in a world where the scale of these industries are so vast,” he said. “We can’t see them, and we have no way to visualize them and as long as we can’t, then we struggle to conceptualize them and to get our heads around it to understand the scale and the consequences.”

Aug. 10 2016 10:42 AM

Take a Look Inside Bangkok’s Last Phone Booths

In Bangkok, as in many parts of the world where cellphones now dominate, phone booths are a dying breed. While thousands have already been removed, many thousands still stand, and they play an evolving—and fascinating—role in the urban landscape. On a visit to Bangkok in 2012, Frank Hallam Day walked by a booth one night and, as he observed headlights from a passing car brighten its glass walls, he was inspired to photograph it. He then started photographing booths all over the city and has continued to do so on annual trips to the city ever since.