The Photo Blog

Aug. 4 2015 11:59 AM

Photos of the Pool Hall That Inspired The Hustler, and the Characters Who Haunted It

Helaine Garren was studying photography at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970 when her professor, Hugh Edwards, assigned her class to turn in a series of photographs. Garren’s thoughts quickly turned to Bensinger’s, a pool hall in her neighborhood that attracted serious players.

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Aug. 3 2015 11:52 AM

The Industrious and Diverse Women of the Experimental Music Scene

Maggie Shannon’s idea to photograph the women of experimental music stemmed from the frustrations of a friend, a female experimental musician who was growing more and more frustrated with the disparity in coverage between men and women. Shannon decided to bring attention to the often overlooked group through her series “Noise Girls.”

Although the title implies the women are “noise” musicians, a genre of music often defined by the lack of traditional instruments, Shannon said many of them describe themselves as sound musicians or even performance artists.

“A lot of it is DIY,” Shannon said about the women. “They make their own equipment, record it themselves, produce it, book their own shows and tour.”

Aug. 2 2015 11:00 AM

What Life Was Like in Taylor Camp, Hawaii’s Legendary Hippie Haven 

This post contains nudity.

What separates Taylor CampJohn Wehrheim’s photographs of the alternative community started by Elizabeth Taylor’s brother in 1969—from a typical yearbook are the interviews. Conducted 30 years after the camp was burned down in 1977 and the government condemned it to make a state park, the interviews with members are informative—explaining how people ended up at Taylor Camp—and indicative of the time—delving into how the political climate on the mainland affected their small community. They give a voice to a “hippie culture” that is often stigmatized while providing a glimpse into the seemingly mythological history of Taylor Camp.

In 1969 Howard Taylor owned seven acres on Kauai’s North Shore and invited a group of young men, women, and children who had recently been arrested for vagrancy—the 13 original colonists so to speak—to set up camp there.

July 31 2015 10:27 AM

The Kids of Burning Man

Children may be a couple of feet shorter than most burners at Burning Man, but, in Zipporah Lomax’s view, their behavior in Black Rock Desert isn’t too different from that of their adult counterparts. Like their parents, they like to climb things, ride bicycles, wear colorful costumes, watch awesome performances, and meet interesting people—essentially, the freedom to pretty much whatever they want to do.

July 30 2015 11:01 AM

Sometimes the Best Photos Are the Ones That Don’t Make It Into Print

During the almost two decades that Nathan Benn was a staff photographer at National Geographic, he estimates he shot around 1,000 rolls of 35mm film a year. Yet, he probably saw just about 10 percent of these photos.  

Benn would ship his film to Washington, D.C. where National Geographic would have Kodak process it. Picture editors would sort through them, pick the ones worth a second look, place those in a workbox, and go over them with Benn when he was back in the office.

“My professional and diligent colleagues with good work habits would go through both the workbook and the outtakes,” Benn recalled. “To look at them and study and learn from them and to find images that may have been missed by the editor. I was not in that club.”

July 29 2015 11:45 AM

How People in New York City Stay Cool in the Summer 

Although it’s not always legal, for many, during a New York City summer there’s no purer joy than dancing in the street with the spray from an open fire hydrant.

Ruben Natal-San Miguel photographed this iconic symbol in his Harlem neighborhood in 2003. The simple pleasure of the hydrants stuck with him, and he has been photographing them, along with almost every other aspect of street life, ever since.

“Fire hydrant culture is one of the most endearing and beautiful ones remaining from the rich street life of New York City,” he said. “There is so much innocence, joy, fun, carelessness, and humanity in them.” 

San Miguel was part of a wave of gentrification when he moved to Harlem in 2003, but the neighborhood spoke to him and he felt an immediate kinship toward his fellow residents whom he embraced. But he fears that sense of community is being rapidly diminished as luxury buildings push away long-standing traditions found all over New York.

July 28 2015 11:41 AM

It Used to Be Impossible to Find Black Dolls in Stores, So People Made Them at Home

Before the 20th century, manufactured black dolls were virtually non-existent. In the 1930s, they were still tough to find in major cities. For decades, if black American parents wanted their children to have black dolls, the only way was to make them. Today, these dolls are treasured examples of American folk art.


Deborah Neff has been buying these dolls from flea markets, auctions, high-end antique shows, and dealers for decades. Her collection is the best in the world. The book, Black Dolls, which was co-published in April by Radius Books and the Mingei International Museum, features Ellen McDermott’s photographs of more than 100 dolls from the collection.

July 27 2015 12:20 PM

Is the 1 Percent That Different From the Rest of Us? 

Last year, Harvard Business School asked 55,000 people what they thought CEOs were earning compared to blue-collar workers. The median American guessed 30-to-1, a far cry from the actual estimate of 354-to-1.

Myles Little, an associate photo editor at Time, sees a lot of photography related to wealth inequality. A couple of years ago, after a conversation with the curator Daniel Brena in Mexico, Little began working on curating an exhibition that sought to highlight, through contemporary documentary photography, a glimpse into “the ecosystem of privilege, from work to education to leisure.”

July 26 2015 12:27 PM

One of NASCAR’s Most Storied Speedways Is Now a Decaying Wreck

For nearly 50 years, the North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina was a landmark destination for racing fans. In 1947, it became the first NASCAR-sanctioned track, and, over the years the 0.625-miles of asphalt saw amazing victories from the sport’s legends, including Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty. In 1996, however, the speedway closed, and, besides a brief re-opening in 2010, it has since been left to decay.

July 24 2015 10:58 AM

This Is Where Your Coffee Comes From

A cup of coffee prepared quickly and consumed on the go may seem like one of life’s simplest pleasures. But the journey from bean to barista is not an easy one; it involves hundreds of people and thousands of miles. Over the past three decades, Steve McCurry met some of the small coffee farmers around the world who help make it happen and photographed them for his book, From These Hands, which Phaidon Press published in May.