The Photo Blog

Oct. 2 2015 9:46 AM

When Cleveland Was a Hotbed of Rock ’n’ Roll: 40 Years of Photos

When Janet Macoska was 12 she worked at Cleveland’s top 40 radio station, WKYC answering fan mail. One day, Sonny and Cher came into the station and Macoska took a photograph of them. She submitted it to the magazine Teen Scene, which ran it in an “encounters with stars” section, paying her a couple of dollars.  

“It was huge!” Macoska said. “It’s like OK, I got published. This is good! And it set the template for what was going to happen.”


Video Advertisement

Oct. 1 2015 10:09 AM

The Terrible Things People Say to Interracial Couples

For the past couple of decades, most of Donna Pinckley’s photographs have focused on children and the quirky objects that have personal significance for them. A few years ago, though, the University of Central Arkansas photography teacher noticed a post on Facebook of a girl she had photographed who was in an interracial relationship. The girl’s mother mentioned that her daughter and her boyfriend had been the target of many cruel, racist comments. It brought back memories of another similar conversation Pinckley had many years earlier with a different mother.  

“What struck me was the resilience of both couples in the face of derision, their refusal to let others define them,” Pinckley wrote on her artist statement.

Sept. 30 2015 10:57 AM

What It’s Like to Be a Tobacco Farmer: Photos From Around the World  

In the late 1990s, as Sarah Hazlegrove’s family stopped growing tobacco for the first time in 200 years, her immediate reaction was to start photographing the Virginia family farm she knew and loved. Though Forkland Farm’s history with tobacco had special resonance for her, she knew its departure from the cash crop wasn’t a unique phenomenon and that many family tobacco operations around the world were slipping away as commercial enterprises increasingly dominated.

Sept. 29 2015 9:00 AM

Worker-Owned Coffee Houses Provide a Window Into Everyday Indian Life

The first time Stuart Freedman visited Delhi, in the mid 1990s, it was a bit of a shock. The London-based photographer had been to South Asia and the Middle East before, but nothing could have prepared him for the cacophony and bustle of India’s capital city. So when he found himself on the wide and relaxed terrace of the Indian Coffee House at the Baba Kharak Singh Marg, it felt like a refuge. 

Sept. 28 2015 9:00 AM

Vintage Photos of Nigeria’s Stylish Rising Elite

Solomon Osagie Alonge was a one-of-a-kind photographer. For 50 years, as the official photographer of the royal court of Benin, Nigeria, he got closer than any other photographer to Oba Akenzua II, the traditional ruler of the Edo people, and his successor, Oba Erediauwa. He also had unique access to the elite of Nigerian society when he opened Ideal Photo Studio in 1942 and became the most sought out portrait photographer in the city. His photographs in the exhibition, “Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria,” which is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art through Jan. 10, present an unprecedented social history of the city as Nigeria achieved independence.

Sept. 27 2015 9:56 AM

What Life Is Like as a Twentysomething Nun

In 2008, Toni Greaves went to the Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey, to document what life was like there. But she quickly discovered something much more unique than her assignment. Roughly three weeks earlier, Sister Lauren, then 21, had entered the monastery after hearing God propose to her on YouTube, leaving behind a boyfriend whom she’d planned on marrying.

“It became clear she was the arc of the story,” Greaves said. “It helps to be able to weave something around one person and the fact she has an amazing wonderful energy and she had only been there for a weeks; from the beginning the flow was clearly about her.”

Sept. 25 2015 12:37 PM

Fake Family Portraits From the Art World 

Throughout college, Chandler Holmes took a lot of photos of his family. When he applied to graduate school, one of his interviewers suggested that he continue this trend by flying back and forth to visit them, an expensive proposition for a student already coping with tuition and other living expenses. “I’d hate for you to have get a surrogate family,” the interviewer said when Holmes balked at the idea. The idea of using a different family seemed a bit far-fetched but it stuck with him, and a few months into school he began to explore ways to create a project about family that didn’t revolve around his own.  

Sept. 24 2015 12:56 PM

This Florida Park Was an Oasis for Black Americans During Jim Crow

During the dark days of Jim Crow, Florida, which had a higher number of lynchings per capita than any other state, was one of the most dangerous places in America for black people. But it was also home to Paradise Park, one of the rare successful recreational facilities in the South exclusively for black Americans, which opened along the edge of the Silver River in 1949.

Sept. 23 2015 9:03 AM

How Photographers Have Helped Shape the Way We Think About the Nuclear Age

Since the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, photographers have been there to capture images of nuclear blasts. And whether they have been scientists working for governments, photojournalists on assignment, or artists responding on their own terms, their images have helped shape the way people have perceived the Atomic Age. The exhibition, “Camera Atomica,” which is on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario until Nov. 15, explores that impact through more than 200 images from 1945 to 2012.

Nuclear power has always been a divisive issue, and images have been fueling debates from the very beginning. In 1946, the government used nuclear bomb tests like Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll to help influence public opinion. According to John O’Brian, who curated the exhibit, 750 cameras were present at the event, which was designed to “dispel reports about the dangers of radiation.” Berlyn Brixner, who was the head photographer at the first detonation of a nuclear weapon, Trinity, in July 1945, and Harold Edgerton took photographs for the U.S. military. Ultimately, the visuals they provided were intended to help build better bombs.

Sept. 22 2015 9:53 AM

Timeless Photos That Capture the Spectacular in Everyday Life

As the daughter of a white, Jewish mother and a father of both Native American and African decent, Melodie McDaniel questioned where she fit in throughout a childhood that was a mix of faith, culture, and race.

“I was raised in a very unconventional way,” she wrote via email. “We loved each other but everyone was allowed and encouraged to do their own thing. There was never a traditional, cyclical meeting place such as Sunday dinner. All these faces created a question in me I wanted to study: What does fitting in mean, and is it important? If so, how do I fit in with all my disparate elements and experiences? I began to investigate this with my lens, in different subcultures around the world and in my own home.”

For more than 20 years, Melodie McDaniel has followed these instincts by traveling and photographing people and places that elicit a strong reaction in her. Some of those photos are on display through Nov. 9 at Spot Gallery in Los Angeles, as part of the exhibition “American Spectator.”

The title seems apropos for both the photographer and the viewer. Many of the images have a timeless quality to them, mostly shot in black-and-white and with fashions and other visual clues that rarely betray when or where they were taken.