The Photo Blog

Sept. 23 2016 10:04 AM

The Unmistakable Style of Inge Morath, One of Magnum’s First Female Photographers

Inge Morath may have frequently photographed well-dressed people and many figures of the fashion world, but to call her a fashion photographer would be a mistake, according to John P. Jacob, the McEvoy Family curator for photography at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Rather than “the seasonal changes of attire,” the motif running through Morath’s best work was, he notes, “the endurance of the human creative spirit in conditions of transformation and duress.”

“Whether photographing festivals or artists’ studios, on films sets, the street, or the fashion runway, what distinguishes Morath’s photography is an unerring eye for life’s brilliant theatricality,” Jacob wrote in the afterword for a new collection of the photographer’s work published by Abrams, Inge Morath: On Style.

Sept. 22 2016 10:08 AM

How People Interact With Water Around the World

Mustafah Abdulaziz has spent the past five years traveling to nine countries around the world to photograph the way humans interact with water. Though many of his images document people and places affected by water scarcity and pollution, he doesn’t consider his project, “Water,” reportage or activism.

“The work I am creating is closer to a human study. The single idea I wish to call attention to already resides within the viewer: Their capacity for a profound connection to their planet. … Should a viewer come away from my work with a desire to create change, that is positive, but that is not my goal,” Abdulaziz said via email.

Sept. 21 2016 1:32 PM

These Photographs Make You Take Notice of New York Architecture

Throughout his childhood, Marc Yankus had a stepfather who often told him to go outside and play in traffic. Yankus instead took to the streets of New York, where his appreciation for architecture grew. His exploration also led him to the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a place where he said he “spent a lot of time pretending I was going back in time.”

As a fine art photographer, Yankus has created work that speaks to that background; his most recent photographs will be on view at Clamp Art in New York, opening Oct. 13, as part of his series “The Secret Lives of Buildings.”

The title is a nod to a feature published in the Paris Review in 2014 about Yankus’ previous show, one that he feels describes his work very well.

“Buildings are kind of like trees,” he said. “They’re silent. They’re tall. They’re all around you and they witness things. If they had a consciousness they would have seen all these different lives; people die, new people move in, there are all these changes to historical buildings.”

Yankus feels one of the biggest shifts between his new work and what he has produced previously is a departure from the rough texture he employed as backgrounds. He said this new work has a more realistic feel to it and that he has included more detail and more of an environment by zooming out more. Many of the photographs don’t include people since Yankus wanted to lend a quietness to the work.

Sept. 20 2016 12:05 PM

Brooklyn in 1958, as Truman Capote Saw It

David Attie was still a student in his first ever photography course at the New School when he got his big break.

His instructor was Alexey Brodovitch, the famed art director of Harper’s Bazaar, and he’d taken a liking to Attie’s unique photo montages, which Attie created one night in a panic from film he’d accidentally overexposed. Brodovitch asked him to recreate the process to illustrate Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was to be published for the first time in the magazine.

Attie worked for months to make the images, but the novella didn’t end up running in Harper’s under a directive from Hearst, the magazine’s publisher. Capote resold the novella to Esquire, but when it appeared in the magazine, only one of Attie’s images ran alongside it.

Soon after, when Holiday magazine asked Capote to write an essay, “Brooklyn Heights: A Personal Memoir,” about living in the borough, Attie was again enlisted to provide the accompanying artwork. In March 1958, the young photographer, himself a Brooklyn native, and the young writer spent a day roaming Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo together. Capote posed for Attie and introduced him to some of the people and places he loved. Their work ran in the February 1959 issue of Holiday.

Sept. 19 2016 10:17 AM

The Staggering Beauty and Fragility of North America’s East Coast

David Freese hadn’t considered an East Coast version of his book West Coast: Bering to Baja, a dramatic aerial look at the West Coast of North America. That changed in 2012 when Superstorm Sandy struck and Freese visited New York and New Jersey. Once he saw the devastation, he decided to begin a project that showcased how the rising waters were affecting cities, islands, national parks, and national wildlife refugees through aerial photography on North America’s eastern shore. The work, published as a book titled East Coast: Arctic to Tropic, will be released in November.

If you’re going to tackle another ambitious and expensive project, the best place to save on both time and money is on Google Earth, “without a doubt my greatest travel aid,” Freese wrote via email. He was able to scout locations and charter companies that would help him get to remote locations in Greenland and Canada, including the Torngat Mountains on the northern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Freese said his goal was to find photographs that would “add or relate to the story of climate, weather, geology, and human impact” and about the “profound interconnections within nature and the effects of civilization.”

He spent time over cities including New York, Boston, Washington, and Miami, as well as a lot of “nooks and crannies” in between. As he journeyed down to the Florida Keys, what he saw from the air was shocking.

Sept. 16 2016 10:55 AM

The Birds, Bones, and Other Beautiful Specimens in Museum and National Park Collections

Leah Sobsey started working on what would ultimately become her book, Collections, which Daylight published in July, when a tufted titmouse crashed into her kitchen window nearly a decade ago.

“I went outside to see what was going on, and unfortunately the bird didn’t make it. My instinct was to photograph it,” she said.

Sept. 15 2016 12:30 PM

An Italian and a Native American’s Quest to Give Voice to American Indians

When Italian Carlotta Cardana was in high school, she spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Nebraska. While there, she met Danielle SeeWalker, an enrolled member of theStanding Rock Sioux Tribe. The two became fast friends and kept in touch when Cardana left the U.S. Fifteen years later, during a meeting in London, they began to talk about the American Indian culture and how it was often misrepresented or ignored in the media. They set out to create a project that gave voice to an often-silenced population through Cardana’s images and SeeWalker’s words in the ongoing work “The Red Road Project.”

They began by photographing and interviewing SeeWalker’s relatives, since they found it difficult to meet strangers willing to participate. Many people weren’t certain what to make about the project. “[The Native community] have suspicions toward everyone who works in the media and everyone who is not Native,” Cardana said. “They weren’t really trusting us.”

The more people they included in the project, the more word began to spread on social media, adding some weight to their project and slowly convincing other people that their intentions were positive. Still, another obstacle they faced was to convince people about the importance of visibility.

“They’re very humble and they believe in humility and can’t handle putting themselves in that light,” Cardana said. “We said, ‘You’re doing important things and people need to know so other Natives can be inspired.’ They want the best for their community, and they see our project as an opportunity to tell their side of the story.”

Sept. 14 2016 11:12 AM

Capturing the Uncertainty and Vulnerability of Adolescence

Laura Pannack’s work with young people is a glimpse into the often tempestuous and bewildering emotions felt during adolescence. She wonders if the intensity of adolescence is tempered by the relationships young people seek during that confusing period of time.

Sept. 13 2016 12:34 PM

Photographing the Bold and the Beautiful in the Bronx

Kevin Amato makes photos for fashion campaigns, album covers, documentary series, editorial clients, and himself. But as they’re presented in his new book out from Phaidon this month, The Importants, without any way of distinguishing one type from another, it’s clear they’re all part of a singular aesthetic pursuit.

“There’s no difference between commercial and personal. I approach everything the same,” he said. “It’s all just a means of exploration and to make sense of things and to share it with other people and just expose them to it, and just fuck with people’s comfort zone and open them to the world as I think it is now.”

Sept. 12 2016 2:44 PM

What It Looks Like to Be Behind Bars in Four Different Countries

After photographing civil servants in eight countries across five continents for his book, Bureaucratics, Jan Banning thought looking at criminal justice systems around the world seemed like a logical next step. In his new book, Law & Order: The World of Criminal Justice, which will be released in the United States this fall, the Dutch photographer brings readers up close to prisons, police, and courts in Colombia, France, Uganda, and the United States.

“I’m interested in these aspects of society that are vital but not necessarily considered to be picturesque,” he said. “Basically, it’s an attempt to visually cope with the question of how we handle crime. I think it always makes tremendous sense to compare different societies as I’ve done with Bureaucratics because, of course, in comparison, the character of a specific society comes out.”