The Photo Blog

Oct. 8 2015 9:24 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen Who Lunch

Although it seems implausible now, there was a time when people took a lunch break. In the late 1970s, while working at Columbia College in Chicago, Charles Traub would bring along his Rolleiflex SL66 camera to photograph passersby during his break. He later did it again while working in New York’s Light Gallery. After a few years and more than 400 shots, Traub had enough work to exhibit the photographs in Chicago and a few other cities.

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Oct. 7 2015 11:33 AM

What It’s Like to Be Raised by LGBTQ Parents

When Gabriela Herman was in high school, her mother came out as gay. Herman’s mother and father separated and eventually her mom married her longtime partner.   

“It was very traumatic for me,” Herman said. “I didn’t speak to my mom for a year. Having this major thing happen in life and not being able to discuss it … we tried going to family therapy a couple of times which was disastrous; I wish we had pushed harder to keep going.”

Five years ago, Herman decided to create a series about kids who had either grown up with gay parents or whose parents had come out as gay while they were still children. Herman’s sister introduced her to Danielle Silber in San Francisco, an organizer for the non-profit group COLAGE, the only national organization with a focus on supporting people with LGBTQ parents. When Herman attended a meeting, she was surprised by how deeply she related to the people in attendance.  

“I was shocked not only because they all had gay parents but because they were talking about it out loud so everyone could hear about it and I thought, I definitely need to do this project,” she said. 

Oct. 6 2015 9:49 AM

Coming of Age in a Seaside Irish Town

The photographs in Doug DuBois’ book, My Last Day at Seventeen, which Aperture published in September, depict the youthful residents of the Russell Heights neighborhood in Cobh, a small seaside town in County Cork, Ireland. But they’re seen through a very specific lens—no adults appear to exist in their world, and the youths seem to playfully roam in an endless summer—in service of DuBois’ constructed coming-of-age narrative.

Oct. 5 2015 10:11 AM

A Bird’s-Eye View of America’s Spiritual Heartland 

For those who don’t live there, the vast, dry and sparsely populated places west of the 100th meridian are often considered part of American “flyover country”—a landscape one might cursorily view from an airplane headed elsewhere but never visit. Andrew Moore, however, was motivated to take a closer look when he took a fateful photo at a cattle branding in Keene, North Dakota, in 2005. 

Oct. 4 2015 10:40 AM

The Agony and Serenity of Getting a Tattoo  

Getting a tattoo can be a pretty grisly experience, but there’s also beauty in the delicate, often meditative encounter between a tattoo artist and customer. Anne Burlock Lawver highlights both the agony and the serenity of tattooing in her series, “Indelible,” which comprises more than a year’s worth of photographs from a single Washington Heights tattoo parlor, Gunmental Tattoos, which has since closed.

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.”


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.