Sunday Salon index

Bruce Gilden -- July 30, 2017

Bruce Gilden offends me. His photographs offend me. His approach to photography offends me. Even his success as a photographer offends me. I like that about Bruce Gilden. I’m actually glad he’s out there offending me. I think it’s important for the craft and art of photography that photographers like Gilden exist. I’ll come back […]

Wim Wenders -- August 15, 2015

He’s best known as a filmmaker, of course. Wings of Desire, The State of Things, and Paris, Texas. Wim Wenders has made more than forty films – mainly feature films and documentaries. He’s won international cinema awards by the truckload. Wenders is also a skilled photographer with an idiosyncratic approach and a distinctive point of […]

Mishka Henner (part 2) -- July 28, 2013

In my morning news-reader today was an article headlined Probing Question: Are Smartphones Changing Photography? The lede is: Although cell phone cameras are a recent innovation, they continue nearly 150 years of tradition that photography should be broadly accessible and an extension of our own experience. I suspect Mishka Henner would agree with that lede […]

Mishka Henner (part 1) -- July 21, 2013

We all know how to do photography. You take a camera in hand, you find a thing you want to photograph, you point the camera at that thing, you release the shutter. The photographer has a reason for taking that photograph; the photographer decides what is photographed and how it’s photographed. The resulting image is […]

Eva Besnyö -- March 10, 2013

There was a generation of Hungarian photographers – all born around the beginning of the 20th century – who left Hungary at a young age and scattered their talent all over western Europe. Among them were André Kertész, Gyula Halász (better known as Brassaï), László Moholy-Nagy, André Friedmann (better known as Robert Capa), Martin Munkácsi, […]

Lu Guang -- December 30, 2012

There’s not a great deal known about Chinese photographer Lu Guang in the West. A few facts gleaned from a couple of interviews, a sketchy bio saying where and when he went to school, a couple of passing references to groups who’ve hired him, a list of photography prizes he’s won – that’s about it. […]

Jason Eskenazi -- October 28, 2012

I’ve been coming across the name Jason Eskenazi for two or three years now. It’s an easily remembered name. I’ve seen it pop up on the periphery of a conversation about street photography, I’ve heard it mentioned with respect by photographers I trust, I’ve seen the name come up in a few photo blogs and […]

Lillian Bassman -- September 9, 2012

It’s Fashion Week in New York City. Twice a year in the major fashion capitals of the world (New York, Paris, London and Milan) designers preview the release of their new designs. Trends are set (or fail), reputations are made (or lost), and millions of dollars are spent. In the autumn, designs for the coming […]

Richard Kalvar -- July 15, 2012

“What’s always interested me in photography is the way you can play with reality. Photography is based on reality, it looks like reality, but it’s not reality.” The interviews I’ve read with Richard Kalvar suggest he’s not a particularly articulate man. He struggles, it seems, to put his thoughts into words. That’s a shame because […]

Bill Brandt -- June 10, 2012

He’s generally described as the greatest—or one of the greatest—of all British photographers. That’s a lot of weight for a person to carry around. There’s always an inherent risk in writing about ‘the greatest’ in any field, including photography. Critics, admirers, other photographers—all sorts of people often have an emotional investment in ‘the greatest.’ It […]

Isa Lashko -- May 6, 2012

I first heard about Isa Leshko a couple years ago, not long after she published Thrills and Chills, her first book of photography. All I knew of the photographer and the project was that she used a Holga to photograph amusement parks and carnival rides. My first response was to shudder. A toy camera? At an […]

Joel Sternfeld -- April 1, 2012

If you want to understand the photography of Joel Sternfeld, you have to first understand this: his work has always been about color. I don’t mean ‘color’ in an abstract, purely compositional sort of way; I mean ‘color’ as informed by science and theory. If that sounds painfully dull and devoid of passion, just look […]

Jack London -- April 3, 2011

He’s best known as the author of The Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf, novels which made him rich. He’s somewhat less well known as a journalist and social activist—though in his time he worked as a war correspondent for newspapers and magazines, and was well-known as a powerful advocate for unions and […]

John Gutmann -- February 27, 2011

Facts in isolation are never enough. John Gutmann was born in Breslau, Germany in 1905. That, in itself, means nothing. Add to that simple fact that Gutmann was the only son of a prosperous Jewish family, and it begins to mean something. Consider that 5% of the population of Breslau was Jewish and that it […]

Andrew Moore -- February 6, 2011

I’m not going to be entirely fair to photographer Andrew Moore. Moore is a well-respected fine arts photographer whose work centers around the intersection of history and culture as manifested through architecture. He’s spent most of the last decade and a half creating brilliant images in such varied locations as Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, Bosnia and […]

Evžen Sobek -- January 2, 2011

We tend to list and classify photographers according to vaguely cultural categories. Irish photographers, gay photographers, African-American photographers, women photographers, Buddhist photographers. The underlying idea is that these categories all have a distinctive sensibility—an ability or capacity to view the world and express that view in a way that’s different from those who don’t fall […]

Christian Houge -- December 12, 2010

There’s a small chain of islands located north of the Arctic Circle—about midway between Norway and the North Pole—known collectively as Svalbard (“the cold edge”). The islands are pretty much equidistant between Norway, Russia and Greenland—right at the juncture of the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean. About 60% […]

André Kertész -- November 14, 2010

“Whatever we have done,” Henri Cartier-Bresson once said (referring to himself, Robert Capa, and Brassaï), “Kertész did first.” That wasn’t entirely accurate, but it demonstrates the respect André Kertész elicited from his fellow photographers. Despite such statements, though, Kertész never felt his work was fully appreciated. He had a career that spanned seventy years, he […]

Sebastian Schutyser -- October 17, 2010

I wonder, sometimes, if there is something about a childhood spent away from ‘home’ that instills in one a desire to travel. Sebastian Schutyser, for example, was born in the city of Bruges in 1968—but he spent his childhood in Zaïre (what was once called the Belgian Congo and is now the Democratic Republic of […]

Andrew Miksys -- September 19, 2010

When he was eleven years old Andrew Miksys went with his parents to a bingo parlor, where a special session for children was being held. He won US$300. “Overnight, bingo entered my life as this magical game that brought me treasure and the envy of all my friends,” he says. Bingo was, in effect, the […]

Thomas Misik -- August 16, 2010

Some people dismiss architectural photography by asking the question Who is responsible for the beauty of the photograph—the photographer or the architect? It’s a legitimate question. The architect, after all, designed the structure in such a way that it was intriguing to the eye. If not for the architect, there’d be nothing to photograph—so surely […]

Robin Schwartz -- July 26, 2010

“An artist photographing her child can invite ridicule.” That’s what photographer Robin Schwartz says in her artist’s statement. And ain’t it the truth. The operative term in that sentence, I think, is “her.” An artist photographing her child. That’s the Flickr cliché, isn’t it—the ubiquitous mom with camera? It’s a trope we’ve all heard—a woman […]

Stephen Shore -- June 13, 2010

When looking at Stephen Shore’s photographs for the first time, I suspect the reaction of most people (and I include myself in that group) would be some variation of WTF? For a lot of folks, that’s also the second and third reaction, and for many it’s their final view. Really, WTF? It’s a perfectly understandable […]

Leigh Ledare -- May 24, 2010

I confess—I don’t quite know what to make of Leigh Ledare and his work. His most recent project—a series of black and white photographs of a Russian motorcycle gang, the Night Wolves—is pretty straightforward; it falls neatly into the category of social documentary photography. Prior to that, Ledare did a series of photos that grew […]

Philippe Halsman -- May 2, 2010

He may have murdered his father. That statement seems an odd way to start a discussion about one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of his era. Certainly, it’s an issue that rarely gets mentioned in any of the articles written about Philippe Halsman. There’s a very good reason for that: it rarely gets mentioned […]

Michal Chelbin -- April 15, 2010

Some people are confused by her name. Let’s clear that up quickly. Michal Chelbin is a woman. She was born in the Israeli city of Haifa in 1974, became interested photography at age 15 and attended a high school for the arts. After high school she served two years in the military—a mandatory service for […]

Roman Vishniac -- March 21, 2010

I’m often amazed at how large some lives are. The life of Roman Vishniac was large enough for three or four people. Yet, outside a fairly small circle of scientists, historians, and scholars specializing in Jewish history, the name of Roman Vishniac is largely unknown. He was born in 1897 in the dacha of his […]

Homer Page -- March 7, 2010

How does one measure a successful life? Is the proper metric a rewarding career? A loving relationship? Contentment with the choices one has made? More joy than regrets? What if you lived a long, fulfilling life doing important and interesting work, a life replete with friendship and love, a life lived on your own terms—what […]

Giacomo Brunelli -- February 21, 2010

He calls it ‘animal focused street photography.’ To me, that seems the perfect designation. What Giacomo Brunelli does isn’t really wildlife photography, though many of the animals he photographs are undeniably feral. It’s certainly not pet photography, although some of the creatures he photographs are undoubtedly somebody’s animal companion. And it’s not street photography in […]

Berenice Abbott -- January 31, 2010

Berenice Abbott was one of the very few people whose work significantly influenced the course of contemporary photography. That in itself makes her worthy of study. But she did more than that. She influenced the course of photography twice. She did it first by insuring the legacy of one of the world’s great documentary photographers; […]

Simon Norfolk -- January 24, 2010

In 1919, Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan led a coalition of tribes in revolt against the British, who’d ruled his nation since 1839. After the British agreed to withdraw their forces, Amanullah ordered the construction of a Victory Arch in Kabul Province to commemorate Afghanistan’s newly-won independence. The arch was designed the Greek style—a style which […]

Asako Narahashi -- December 22, 2009

We are the music-makers, We are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams— A few years ago I saw the photograph below. I don’t recall now where I saw it, and there was no attribution given. I had no idea who took it or under what circumstances. I assumed […]

Cindy Sherman -- December 6, 2009

Cindy Sherman’s photography comprises an aesthetic of questions. What’s going on here? What is she saying—or trying to say? What does all this mean? And then, of course, there’s the question that underlies all the other questions: just who the hell IS Cindy Sherman?   Untitled Film Still #22, 1978  She is, surprisingly, a 56 […]

Mike Brodie -- November 15, 2009

The American Dream – get a good education, find a steady job that pays well, get married, buy a house in a nice neighborhood, raise a family, live happily ever after. Of course, there’s never been just the one American Dream; there are dozens of American Dreams. There’s the American Movie Star Dream—go to Hollywood, […]

This is going to be a slightly unusual Sunday Salon. The notion of doing a thorough salon on Henri Cartier-Bresson is too daunting. There’s simply far too much to cover—too much photography, too much of a life. To do even minimal justice to his life and work would require at least two—possibly three—normal salons. Instead, […]

Miwa Yanagi -- October 16, 2009

We rarely acknowledge the role luck plays in an artist’s career. We’re all aware of it, of course, but we generally like to pretend it all comes down to talent (or, for those artists whose work we dislike, a venal agent and a lot of hype). But the fact is, a large dollop of good […]

Diane Arbus -- October 1, 2009

Here are some simple facts. Diane Nemerov was born in 1923 to a wealthy family in New York City. Her father was the vice president and fashion director of Russeks—one of New York’s most popular furrier shops which later became a department store specializing in women’s clothing. Her grandfather was Russek himself. As a child […]

Ara Güler -- September 20, 2009

Great cities radiate life—and life, of course, is always changing, always in flux, always moving forward. Yet great cities are also grounded very firmly in history, in the lives of people long gone. Great cities append the promises of the future to the guarantees of the past. That’s one of the reasons great cities attract […]

Irving Penn -- August 22, 2009

Sometimes it all comes down to a teacher. For Irving Penn—and a myriad other well known photographers—that teacher was Alexey Brodovitch. To understand Penn, it’s necessary to understand something about Brodovitch, who was the head of the Advertising Design Department at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. Brodovitch was a devotee of the Bauhaus approach, […]

William Eggleston -- August 1, 2009

William Joseph Eggleston turned 70 on July 27, 2009—less than a week ago. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1939. Shortly thereafter his father left to serve as a gunnery officer on a destroyer attached to the Pacific fleet in World War II. Baby William and his mother went to live with her parents, […]

Tina Barney -- July 18, 2009

Tina Barney has been lurking around the edge of my consciousness for a couple of years. I was aware of her work in the vaguest sort of way; I knew she was a woman from the privileged classes who shot large format portraits of other people from the privileged classes. As a product of the […]

Robert Frank (II) -- July 6, 2009

Robert Frank is, and always will be, best known for The Americans, a work that’s shaped modern photography. But despite its startling originality, that book didn’t just spring up out of nowhere; it was molded by the circumstances of Frank’s life—by his childhood, by the culture in which he was raised, by his professional training, […]

Robert Frank (I) -- June 27, 2009

There are photographers whose work is so influential in scope, in style, and in approach that to attempt to write anything about them is intimidating in the extreme. For me, Robert Frank is one of those photographers. His work not only changed the way modern photography is approached, it changed the way modern photography is […]

Eikoh Hosoe -- June 15, 2009

As a child growing up in the Japanese countryside during the early years of what would become the Second World War, Toshihiro Hosoe heard the tales of the yōkai—the strange beings and supernatural creatures who haunt Japanese folklore. What child wouldn’t be enthralled—and, perhaps, a bit frightened—by stories about yuki-onna, the snow woman or the […]

Richard Billingham -- May 31, 2009

He wanted to be a painter. How many times have I written that about a photographer? Richard Billingham wanted to be a painter—an unlikely future for a poor boy growing up in a grimy council flat in an anonymous tower complex in a bleak neighborhood of the deeply polluted town of Cradley Heath in the […]

Guillaume Zuili -- May 17, 2009

Unlike Paris or New York City or Prague, the city of Los Angeles has long had a reputation among photographers for being notoriously difficult to photograph. That seems to stem from the fact that LA exists as much in myth as in reality. It lacks a single identity. LA is the city of Raymond Chandler […]

Edgar Martins -- May 3, 2009

Portuguese photographer Edgar Martins takes photographs of anonymous places that hold no particular meaning to the viewer. Airport runways, vacant beaches, highway road barriers—locations and sites with which we’re all familiar, but which are largely barren of any personal connection. He then emphasizes the absence of emotional content by photographing those locations in ways that […]

Tony Ray-Jones -- April 19, 2009

He was born in 1941 in Wells, Somerset in the Southwest of England, where he was given the unfortunate name of Holroyd Anthony Ray-Jones. His father, an engraver whose work was collected by the British Museum, died when he was only eight months old, after which his mother moved the family to London. At some […]

František Drtikol -- April 5, 2009

There is a forlorn and tragic rhythm to the life of Czech photographer František Drtikol. Born in 1883 in a mining town in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he rose to become a prominent artist and famed portraiture photographer. He was an influential figure in an era known for its creative vigor. He created […]

Juliana Beasley -- March 22, 2009

Let me start with a confession. When I first came across Juliana Beasley’s work, I wasn’t very impressed. The photographs I first encountered were from her first book, Lapdancer, which is usually described as a gritty photographic journey into the underbelly of strip clubs. My response was always the same: please, spare me another gritty […]

Miru Kim -- March 8, 2009

It’s got to be one of the most common visual tropes used by photography students in art schools: the attractive, thin, young woman posing nude in a rundown, dilapidated setting. An abandoned house, a derelict factory, a decaying former institutional structure such as a mental institution or a prison—it’s all been done. In fact, it’s […]

Juergen Teller -- February 24, 2009

We’ve just finished Fashion Week in New York City—the event at which designers and fashion houses introduce their latest collections. It seems appropriate, then, to look at the life and work of one of the most influential modern fashion photographers—Juergen Teller. His story is, in many ways, unremarkable. It may be that what distinguished Teller […]

Henryk Ross -- February 10, 2009

Henryk Ross was born in Warsaw in 1910. Up to a point, he lived a relatively normal life. He went to school, graduated, took a job, got married. He was lucky in many ways; he worked at a job he enjoyed (a sports and general news photographer) in a city he loved. Under normal circumstances, […]

Hiroh Kikai -- January 25, 2009

In writing these salons I’ve noticed a commonality between many of the photographers featured. Time after time there seems to be a moment, an incident, a coincidental episode that sparks some sort of transformational shift in the person. Something happens that causes the person to decide to become a photographer, to take photography seriously as […]

Nan Goldin -- January 12, 2009

Nan Goldin once referred to photography as “the diary I let people read.” That sounds somewhat self-consciously artsy, the sort of thing you’d read in the Artist Statement of somebody in their first year of an undergraduate photography program. In Goldin’s case, however, it’s absolutely accurate. This is a woman who has never drawn any […]

Lewis Baltz -- January 4, 2009

The aesthetic of landscape photography in the U.S. was shaped primarily in the West. This is the landscape of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston; it’s a landscape of open expanses, a primitive and pristine landscape, untamed and unspoiled. The land they photographed was unpopulated; there may be houses in these photographs, but no people. It […]

Beth Dow -- December 28, 2008

People who live in northern climates have a different relationship with the landscape. The reality of four very distinct seasons gives the natural world five very different faces: one for each of the four seasons and a fifth for those quiet, interstitial periods that take place between both fall and winter and winter and spring. […]

Adolfo Farsari -- December 21, 2008

Some lives are so out of the ordinary that they seem to verge on fiction. Adolfo Farsari lived such a life. He was born in the town of Vicenza in 1841, which was then part of the Austrian Empire. In 1859, when he was 22 years old, Vicenza was annexed into the kingdom that would […]

Roy DeCarava -- December 8, 2008

“Even though it jars some of my sensibilities and reminds me of things that I would rather not be reminded of, it is still a good picture.”; Roy DeCarava is speaking about his photograph of two men dancing in an uptown New York club. “In fact, it is good just because of those things and […]

Muzi Quawson -- November 30, 2008

America, says British photographer Muzi Quawson, “is like a fictitious place.” By America, of course, she means the United States of America. But that just demonstrates the impact of U.S. popular culture—for good or for ill—on the rest of the globe. It has clearly been profound. There are cowboy bars in Tokyo, there serious blues […]

Don McCullin -- November 16, 2008

Harold Evans, editor of UK’s The Sunday Times, recounts an incident that took place during a routine firefight in some nondescript zone of conflict in some obscure corner of the globe. People were screaming, gunfire was rattling, everybody was running and ducking for cover…and Don McCullin stopped long enough to take an exposure reading. Afterwards […]

Guy Bourdin -- November 9, 2008

Sex, death, and exquisite shoes. That’s the legacy of fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. And the shoes–they’re a distant third, almost an afterthought. He was born in Paris in 1928. His mother was Belgian, his father Spanish; both were very young. While he was still an infant, Bourdin’s parents abandoned him. He was sent to live […]

Jan Saudek -- November 6, 2008

Jan Saudek and his twin brother Karel were born in 1935 in the city of Prague in what was then called the Republic of Czechoslovakia. Four years later, Adolf Hitler’s army entered the city. Along with nearly 150,000 other Jews, most of Saudek’s family were sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where many of them […]

Helen Levitt -- October 27, 2008

Helen Levitt has a reputation among art historians and critics. She’s been called "a photographer’s photographer," "one of the great living poets of urban life," and "New York’s visual poet laureate." She’s also been called, sadly but accurately, "the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time." Levitt certainly deserves to be better known. […]

Edward Curtis -- October 19, 2008

Some lives seem more fiction than reality. Edward Sheriff Curtis lived that sort of life. He was born in Wisconsin in 1868, the son of a minister. The family moved to Minnesota in the mid-1870s and Curtis’ father gave up the ministry and set up shop as a retail grocer. It’s unclear what sparked the […]

Yoshiyuki Kohei -- October 15, 2008

His real name is unknown. Kohei Yoshiyuki is a pseudonym for an ordinary commercial photographer who, for a brief period in the 1970s, documented a strange subterranean aspect of Tokyo culture. After a short interlude of notoriety, Yoshiyuki quietly disappeared from the art scene. It all came about by accident. Yoshiyuki and a companion were […]

Rineke Dijkstra -- October 6, 2008

It’s a strange thing to do, when you think about it – using a large format camera to shoot relatively formal portraits of casual strangers in nondescript settings. Yet that’s what Rineke Dijkstra has done for the last decade and a half. And she does it so very well it’s made her an internationally-known portraitist. […]

Masahisa Fukase -- September 21, 2008

Masahisa Fukase is part of that strange generation of Japanese artists born before the war and who came to maturity after their nation was defeated and devastated. They are, in a distinctly Japanese way, a lost generation. Fukase was born on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, in 1934 and, it seems, always knew he would be […]

Sarah Moon -- September 17, 2008

Sarah Moon is usually referred to as an "impressionist" photographer. Her work is noted for a sort of softness, a vagueness that’s suggestive of the impressionist painters. Moon comes by this style naturally—she is extremely near-sighted. "It was only when I started photography that I became aware of it," Moon told an interviewer. "People would […]

Marc Riboud -- September 7, 2008

Is he a street photographer? Yes. Is he a documentary photographer? Yes. A photojournalist? A travel photographer? A portraitist? A fine arts photographer? Yes, yes, yes and most certainly yes. French photographer Marc Riboud isn’t easily categorized, because he’s never specialized in any particular area of photography. There are some recurring themes and stylistic idiosyncrasies […]

Sarah Hobbs -- August 18, 2008

We all have them. Irrational beliefs, odd compulsions, unwelcome and intrusive thoughts, strange anxieties, illogical fears. Even the most emotionally healthy of us experience these things. They are ubiquitous and pervade almost every aspect of our lives. As improbably as it sounds, Sarah Hobbs photographs them. It could be said she photographs them obsessively. She […]

William Gedney -- August 10, 2008

During his career William Gedney only had one exhibit of his photography. He only had a single photograph published in a magazine in the U.S. He never worked on assignment. In fact, outside of a few other photographers, a handful of gallery curators, and a small number of grant managers at art councils, Gedney was […]

Todd Hido -- August 3, 2008

Todd Hido (pronounced Hie-doe) has a successful commercial career…but we won’t be paying any attention to that. He’s been hired by the N.Y. Times to photograph a well-known acting coach who is also a Scientologist…but you won’t see those shots here. Wired magazine has used him to photograph amateur anti-terror hunter Shannon Rossmiller and to […]

Debbie Fleming Caffery -- July 27, 2008

Debbie Fleming Caffery was born in 1948 in New Iberia, Louisiana on Bayou Teche. She is a product of the intersection of multiple cultures; a woman with an Irish name born in an American town founded by Spanish immigrants in a territory dominated by French settlers who were evicted from Canada and who relied on […]

Elliot Erwitt -- July 20, 2008

He has led a peripatetic life, which seems almost traditional for a Magnum photographer. Elio Romano Erwitz was born in Paris eighty years ago this week, the only child of Russian émigrés who’d fled the 1917 Revolution a decade earlier. After his birth, the family moved to Milan, where he lived for the next ten […]

Cecil Beaton -- July 13, 2008

Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton was born in Hampstead, London, on January 14, 1904. His father was a very prosperous timber merchant, his mother was the daughter of a blacksmith. Like so many children of that era born into nouveau riche families, Beaton found it hard to reconcile himself with the reality that he came […]

Richard Prince -- July 6, 2008

Richard Prince was the first photographer whose work sold for more than a million dollars. It happened in 2005 in New York City at Christie’s auction house. The photo was one of a very limited series of images which all shared the same title: Untitled (Cowboy). The subject of that record-breaking photograph brings to mind […]

Sylvia Plachy -- June 29, 2008

I love Sylvia Plachy. I first became aware of her in the mid-1980s through the Village Voice, the free weekly ‘alternative’ newspaper distributed in New York City. The contents page of the Voice included a single black and white photograph, usually presented without any context…no caption, no connection to the contents listed, no relationship to […]

Don Hong-Oai -- June 22, 2008

Don Hong-Oai was born in 1929 in the city of Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province of China. He is often described as a Chinese artist, but not because of where he was born. He left China at the age of seven, after the sudden death of his parents. As the youngest of 24 siblings and […]

Lori Grinker -- June 15, 2008

Lori Grinker was born in Freeport, New York in 1957. She attended the prestigious Parsons School of Design, located in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Grinker intended to be an illustrator. However, she registered for a course in documentary photography taught by fine arts photographer George Tice. As part of that course she was required […]

Eugène Atget -- June 8, 2008

By most objective standards, Eugène Atget would be judged a failure during his lifetime. He tried a number of professions and earnestly worked away at them, but at best he only managed to find a way to sustain himself and his longtime companion, Valentine Delafosse. Atget’s real success wouldn’t come until four decades after his […]

Irina Ionesco -- June 1, 2008

She was born in 1935…perhaps in Romania, perhaps in Paris; there is some uncertainty. Her parents are said to have been in the circus…perhaps as performers, perhaps in some other capacity; there is some uncertainty. She either spend her childhood years in Constanta, Romania or traveling; again, there is some uncertainty. She was apparently a […]

Jacob Riis -- May 25, 2008

There is a long history of social documentary photography in the U.S. Before there was Milt Rogovin, before John Vachon, even before Lewis Hine, there was Jacob Riis. Riis was born in Ribe, Denmark in 1849, the third of fifteen children. Although his father had been a teacher and the editor of the Ribe newspaper, […]

O. Winston Link -- May 12, 2008

You’ve probably, at some point in your life seen one of the photographs on this page. They’ve become an facet of Americana, wistful representations of a bygone era in which steam locomotives transported goods and people across the huge expanse of the North American continent. The train photographs of O. Winston Link have taken their […]

Robert Polidori -- May 5, 2008

Traditional architectural photography is documentary. It’s intended to be aesthetically pleasing, of course, but the primary concern is to accurately depict the appearance of a structure. Most architectural photographers come to their craft through their love of architecture. Robert Polidori is different; he’s different in his approach and different in his motivation. He’s different in […]

Saul Leiter -- April 27, 2008

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1923; his father was a rabbi, a Talmudic scholar of some repute. It was only natural that Saul Leiter would follow in his father’s footsteps. He found himself enrolled at the Cleveland Theological College. But he didn’t want to be a rabbi; he wanted to be a painter. […]

Francesca Woodman -- April 20, 2008

Francesca Woodman was born in April of 1958 in Denver, Colorado. Her parents were artists; her mother Betty was an accomplished ceramicist and art teacher, her father George, a painter and photographer. The family owned a summer house near Florence, Italy and the Woodmans spent their summers there. Francesca attended both public schools and the […]

Phil Borges -- April 13, 2008

Phil Borges was your basic yuppie. A successful orthodontist, socially conscious, politically liberal, he traveled widely to remote areas of the world for pleasure and toted along an expensive camera to record his travels. Like a lot of enthusiastic hobbyists, Borges started taking some photography classes at his local community college. He didn’t have a […]

Anders Petersen -- April 6, 2008

I recall the first time I saw a photograph by Anders Petersen. It was an image of a bare-chested young man who appears to be blissfully drunk or stoned in the embrace of an older woman who is laughing uproariously. I had no idea the photo had been taken by “one of the most important […]

Patrick Demarchelier -- March 31, 2008

How well-known is Patrick Demarchelier in the fashion world? The 2006 movie The Devil Wears Prada is about a newly-hired assistant to the editor of the most important fashion magazine in the galaxy. On her first day on the job she is asked “Did Demarchelier confirm?” While the assistant blinks in ignorance, a more senior […]

David Seymour (CHIM) -- March 24, 2008

He was born to an affluent family in Warsaw in 1911 and given the name Dawid Szymin. His father, Benjamin, was a publisher of books in Hebrew and Yiddish. The family fled Warsaw after the city was bombed during the First World War. The next few years were spent in Minsk, Belarus and Odessa (Poland, […]

Matt Mahurin -- March 16, 2008

Matt Mahurin is hardly a household name, but you’re probably familiar with some of his work. You may not be aware of it, but you’ve almost certainly seen it. Mahurin created one of the most controversial images of the 1990s and sparked a debate that is still ongoing. Born in L.A. in 1959, he seemed […]

Laura Letinsky -- March 9, 2008

Laura Letinsky became a photographer partly because the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg wouldn’t let her take a class in painting until she’d completed a prerequisite course in art fundamentals. There was no prerequisite for the photography class. Letinsky began by emulating Diane Arbus. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say she began by […]

Harry Callahan -- March 2, 2008

For the first twenty-nine years of his life, he was pretty unremarkable. He was born in Detroit in 1912, took a degree in engineering from Michigan State, got a steady job in the Motor Parts division of Chrysler Corporation, met a good woman and got married. It was an ordinary life. Then, in 1938, he […]

Olaf Otto Becker -- February 24, 2008

I’m not an aficionado of landscape photography. I suppose that’s not entirely true. I like to look at landscape photography. I find it visually appealing, but for me the appeal rarely expands beyond the eye. Part of that, I suspect, is because modern visual media have made us familiar with every part of the world. […]

Lewis Morley -- February 17, 2008

If the 1960s could be said to have a birthplace, it would have to be London. Probably Carnaby Street. Or maybe the opening of the boutiques on King’s Road. But definitely London. Everything changed. Music, fashion, theater, literature, politics. Entire world views shifted radically. And right in the middle of it all was Lewis Morley, […]

Rev. Charles Dodgson -- February 10, 2008

He was born in a parsonage in Cheshire in 1832 to a very conventional Anglican family. Like his father, after whom he was named, Charles Dodgson would eventually take holy orders in the Anglican Church. It was just one of many career paths Dodgson would follow in the odd course of his life. A proper […]

Chris Anthony -- February 3, 2008

Some photographers want to document reality. Some want to create images that exist only in their minds. Chris Anthony, it seems, wants to invent new realities. He wants to craft internally consistent environments and populate them with characters who seem perfectly adapted to those environments. The realities Anthony creates may not be altogether welcoming or […]

John Vachon -- January 26, 2008

In 1935, during the Great Depression, the U.S. government tried an experiment. It created the Resettlement Administration, which was intended to relocate poor urban and rural families into planned communities, called ‘green towns.’ The program also hired a few photographers to document the resettlement and the living conditions of the poor. A year later the […]

Gerda Taro -- January 13, 2008

She was born Gerta Pohorylle on 1 August, 1910 to a proper upper middle class Jewish family in Stuttgart, Germany. For most of her life, she lived a proper upper middle class life: a good education in Leipzig and at a Swiss boarding school, elegant balls, earnest discussions about art and politics with intelligent and […]

There are few things more innocent than a snow globe. These small, self-contained, cheerful worlds, in which scenery is enfolded within the purity of snow, first became popular in France in the 1800s. One result of the Industrial Revolution was that members of the merchant classes suddenly found themselves with both money and leisure time. […]

Milton Rogovin -- December 30, 2007

Milton Rogovin never intended to be a photographer, let alone one of the most renowned social documentary photographers in the U.S. He was an immigrant’s son who felt privileged to go to college and lucky to obtain a degree that would allow him to enter the professional classes rather than the merchant or worker classes. […]

John Humble -- December 23, 2007

Los Angeles. Tradition names it the City of Angels. Orson Welles called it “that bright, guilty place.” In modern pop culture it’s known as La La Land. In an earlier era, L.A. was said to be where intellectuals went to ruin themselves. In its long history (it was founded by the Spanish in 1781), the […]

Alexey Titarenko -- December 16, 2007

Alexey Titarenko was born in 1962 in the coastal city of Leningrad in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Photography occupied a strange position in the Soviet Union. Marxist theory holds that capitalist societies are arranged so that the world of art and art appreciation largely excludes the working classes. The socialist State, therefore, deliberately […]

Evelyn Hofer -- December 9, 2007

Over the last year and a half, in the course of preparing these salon discussions, I’ve done quite a bit of research on a lot of photographers. Not surprisingly, a lot of the same names kept turning up when those photographers discussed their influences. They’re usually well-known names, names most of us would recognize. But […]

Roger Ballen -- December 2, 2007

There’s a branch of social psychology that concentrates on the study of various modes of conflict. One of those modes is called the ‘approach-avoidance’ conflict. It occurs when you’re simultaneously drawn to and repelled by a thing. For example, a person might be drawn to have a few glasses of wine at a party because […]

Hellen van Meene -- November 25, 2007

In the middle of the 17th century the Dutch Republic gained its independence from Spain. The Dutch quickly became a major seafaring and economic power, the first thoroughly capitalist country in the world, and one of the most innovative centers of culture. A new European social phenomenon emerged: the middle-class elite. It was no longer […]

William Wegman -- November 18, 2007

Imagine taking a fairly common idea and doing it so well that nobody ever expects…or allows…you to have another. Everybody who has both a camera and a dog has eventually turned the former on the latter. How could they not? Dogs are inherently photographable. But when conceptual artist William Wegman first turned his camera on […]

Arthur Tress -- November 11, 2007

Arthur Tress was born in 1940 and grew up in a strange time in the United States…the period between the Second World War and what was called the ‘police action’ in Vietnam. Post-war America took a determined grip on ‘normalcy’ and refused to let go. It was a difficult time for people who didn’t easily […]

Gregory Crewdson -- November 4, 2007

I was prepared to like Gregory Crewdson before I ever saw his work. Why? Because I read an article in which he described his photographs as “images without narratives.” I’ve always been of the opinion that a single photograph cannot tell a story; it can only suggest one. Crewdson holds a similar point of view. […]

Judy Dater -- October 28, 2007

When I was about fifteen years old I saw a photograph in a magazine that left me gob-smacked. A prim-looking old woman in a long black dress, a twin-lens reflex camera around her neck, standing in the woods. Peeking coyly around a tree, an exotic-looking nude woman. The old woman appears a tad startled and […]

Brassaï -- October 21, 2007

He was born Gyula Halász in the ancient Transylvanian town of Brassó. In 1902, when he was three years old, his family moved to Paris for a year (his father, a professor of literature, had a one year lectureship at the Sorbonne). He couldn’t have actually remembered much about the city, but Paris became a […]

Richard Barnes -- October 14, 2007

Architectural photography can be elegant, it can be an exercise in grace and fluidity, it can be dramatic…but it’s rarely considered to be exciting. It’s very precise and deliberate, as much craft as art. The purpose of architectural photography is to convey to a viewer the pure experience of being in and around a built […]

Les Krims -- October 7, 2007

The reaction to Les Krims’ photography has generally fallen into two categories: outrage or laughter. Or both. That’s no accident. His deeply conceptual images are intentionally crafted to spark those reactions. His work has been described as provocative, misogynistic, revolutionary, racist, absurdist, and satirical. It’s certainly some of those; it might be all of those. […]

Daido Moriyama -- September 30, 2007

In 1945, detective novelist Raymond Chandler wrote an essay about the “new detective story.” The stories were new because they introduced a new type of protagonist: the hard-boiled detective. In part, Chandler wrote: “…down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid…. He must be […]

We’re doing something a tad different this week. Last week we took a look at Alessandra Sanguinetti’s series On the Sixth Day ; this week we’re going to look at the same photographer, but a different series. Sanguinetti photographed The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams during the same […]

Alessandra Sanguinetti spent a period of nine years getting to know the Argentine farm families that are featured in her two best known photographic series. She became familiar with the ebb and flow of farm life; she came to understand and appreciate the matter-of-fact relationship between the farmers and the animals they raised. Sanguinetti’s chronicle […]

Vee Speers -- September 9, 2007

Traditional portraiture is about the subject of the photograph…sometimes it’s intended to be an accurate portrayal of the subject, sometimes a celebratory portrayal, sometimes a portrayal that’s revelatory. Australian photographer Vee Speers doesn’t take traditional portraits. It’s very clear that she’s intensely aware of the subject of the photograph, but her primary interest isn’t in […]

Anne Brigman -- September 2, 2007

Anne Brigman was to photography what Isadora Duncan was to dance. She was a free spirit long before the phrase “free spirit” became a cliché. She was born in Hawaii, moved to California at age 16, married a sea captain at 25, and built a photographic career by photographing herself and her friends in the […]

Miroslav Tichý -- August 26, 2007

Miroslav Tichý was a 22 years old when the Soviet Union annexed Czechoslovakia in 1948. Tichý, student of drawing and painting at the Academy of Art in Prague was very vocal in his opposition to the new regime. He was eventually detained and spent the next eight years in various jails, detention centers and psychiatric institutions. […]

Richard Misrach -- August 19, 2007

It sounds as if Richard Misrach always had a camera in his hand. At the age of twelve his parents put him in charge of photographing the family vacations…but he was never serious about it. Then in high school he took a photography course and did well…but he wasn’t really serious about it. In college […]

Ralph Meatyard -- August 12, 2007

Given the oddity of his most famous photographs, there’s a strange poetry in the fact that Ralph Meatyard was born in a town called Normal, Illinois. Given the critical and artistic acclaim of his work, there’s irony in the fact that Meatyard was a weekend photographer who earned his living as an optician. Given the […]

Ryan McGinley -- August 5, 2007

Every few years the world of art photography discovers a new golden child. From 2000 to 2005 the golden child was Ryan McGinley. He was young, he was gay, he was a skateboard thasher, and he had moderately attractive friends who got high and were willing to pose nude. All that gave him street cred, […]

Uta Barth -- July 29, 2007

We are accustomed to seeing…and shooting…photographs OF something. Some person, some object, some thing. In fact, for most of us the subject of the photograph is the reason for the photograph. We shoot photographs OF a tree, OF a friend, OF a kitten or sunset or flower. Not so for Uta Barth. Barth’s photography isn’t […]

Ron Galella -- July 22, 2007

In the late 1950s when director Federico Fellini was writing the screenplay for his classic movie La Dolce Vita he needed a name for a character…a news photographer. He chose the name Paparazzo. Where did he get that name? One etymologist says Fellini claimed it was the nickname of a childhood friend and that paparazzo […]

Abelardo Morell -- July 15, 2007

There is unexpected subtlety in Abelardo Morell’s Camera Obscura series. The very first impression is disorienting. The eye seeks something familiar to which the mind can anchor itself. It takes a moment to realize that what we’re looking at is the exterior world projected upside down on an interior setting. Morell sometimes exaggerates that initial […]

Ursula Sokolowska -- July 8, 2007

“Perhaps it’s good for one to suffer,” said Aldous Huxley. He asked “Can an artist do anything if he’s happy? Would he ever want to do anything? What is art, after all, but a protest against the horrible inclemency of life?” I can’t entirely agree with Huxley, but it cannot be denied that a lot […]

Robin Rhode -- July 1, 2007

Robin Rhode is a smart-ass. One of those young street-punk kids who wants to take on the Art World and kick it in the cojones. And sometimes he really does it…sometimes he lays one right in the goolies (and I’ll give an example later). Most often, though, he makes art at the same time he […]

Shomei Tomatsu -- June 17, 2007

Sometimes the accident of birth shapes the course of one’s life. It’s true for Shomei Tomatsu. He was born and raised in the industrial city of Nagoya, Japan in 1930. The fact that Nagoya was an industrial center became important 15 years later when U.S. B-29 bombers began to firebomb the cities of Japan. Forty […]

Bunny Yeager -- June 3, 2007

Who can say where it all began? Perhaps with the Gibson Girl, often called the ‘ideal’ woman of the 1900s. Or maybe it was Paul Chabas’ famous 1912 painting September Morn, which was used on calendars and window displays and to advertise everything from cigars to candy. Or maybe it can be traced even farther […]

Olivia Parker -- May 20, 2007

Still life art has an ancient artistic tradition. Still life paintings have been found on the walls of Egyptian tombs; still life frescoes were uncovered on the walls of Roman villas in Herculaneum and Pompeii. Although the popularity of the still life has waxed and waned over the centuries, it has never become moribund. Because […]

Spencer Tunick -- May 13, 2007

A week ago, on 6 May 2007, approximately eighteen thousand men and women of various ages showed up in the Zócalo, Mexico City’s principal square, just before dawn. At a signal, they took off all their clothes. Another signal, they all saluted. Another signal, they all curled up in a fetal position. On a nearby […]

Lee Miller -- May 6, 2007

She was born in the spring of 1907 in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her parents named her Elizabeth Miller, though she went through life using her nickname ‘Lee.’ Her career…in fact, her entire life…can only be described as remarkable. And it all began by accident. When Lee Miller was 19 years old and visiting New York […]

Peter Henry Emerson -- April 29, 2007

Peter Henry Emerson was a child of privilege. He was born in Cuba in 1856; his mother was a member of British society, his father a wealthy American. His cousin was the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. His youth was divided between Cuba and New England. In 1869, when war broke out between Spain and Cuba, […]

Wolfgang Tillmans -- April 22, 2007

Over the last year I’d come across the name Wolfgang Tillmans a number of times. “One of the most important and distinctive artists to emerge in the 1990s.” “Fashion and magazine photographer.” “Installation artist.” “A documenter of youth.” “Among the most celebrated of contemporary photographers.” “Turner Prize Winner.” “Gay photographer.” “Snapshot portraitist.” “Architectural photographer.” "Punk […]

Cara Barer -- April 16, 2007

I’m not easily shocked and I’m rarely given to righteous indignation. Sculpt the naked form of Jesus out of milk chocolate and hang it in a department store window…I won’t blink an eye. Use cadavers and body parts as props for macabre photographs…I may not enjoy it, but I’m not outraged. Take pictures of circus […]

Anna Gaskell -- April 8, 2007

Imagine Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland filmed through the lens of Alfred Hitchcock. Imagine the story of Cinderella as interpreted by Edgar Allan Poe. If you can imagine that, then perhaps you’ll have some insight into Anna Gaskell’s photography. Gaskell’s work is a fairly personal exploration of the narratives surrounding the literary adventures adolescent girls. These […]

Denis Darzacq -- April 1, 2007

In October of 2005 in a suburb of Paris a group of teenagers of North African Muslim descent were returning from a soccer match when they saw police officers setting up a roadblock to conduct ID checks. Wanting to avoid being questioned (which could take up to four hours while the ID papers were double-checked) […]

Jon Naiman -- March 25, 2007

This is not the Salon I’d intended for today. My intention was to examine the work of one of the old masters…but I’m going to put that off for a week. Why? Because as I was doing the research for that Salon I accidentally came across a photograph by a modern photographer, Jon Naiman, whose […]

Ken Rosenthal -- March 18, 2007

Embrace the Blur. That could be Tuscon photographer Ken Rosenthal’s motto. Where most of us generally try to reduce blurring, Rosenthal relies on it. His blur, however, is an expressive blur. It’s a blur that serves a purpose. Several purposes. Rosenthal earned a BA in still photography at the University of Southern California and a […]

Lili Almog -- March 11, 2007

I have to admit, I was first attracted to Lili Almog by her name. It’s just immense fun to say out loud. People who are much more aware of the photographic art world, though, have been drawn in by her images of women in their private spaces. Almog has created three major studies concentrating on […]

Bill Henson -- March 4, 2007

For the last quarter of a century photographer Bill Henson has been taking strangely, dystopian photographs of urban industrial landscapes and dark, melancholy semi-candid portraits of alienated, disaffected adolescents and teens. His work has a distinctly cinematic quality. While Henson is fairly well-known in his native Australia and through much of Europe, his work has […]

James Nachtwey -- February 25, 2007

He has been called “the hottest war photographer on the contemporary scene.” He has been accused of “war porn.” He has been the subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary film. He has won the the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award, the World Press Photo award (twice), the Leica Award (twice), the International Center of Photography Infinity Award […]

Franco Fontana -- February 18, 2007

Composition, down at the bone, is about geometry. Lines, shapes, angles, forms. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the landscape work of Italian photographer Franco Fontana. Fontana, born in 1933, didn’t take up photography until 1961 when he was 28 years old. Seven years later, he had his first show. Although he is most […]

Hendrik Kerstens -- February 11, 2007

In the 17th century Dutch painters began to create informal paintings that focused on the features and/or expressions of anonymous people. These were called tronies. Although a tronie showed a person’s face, it wasn’t considered to be a portrait. A portrait, in that era, was a commissioned painting that displayed an often idealized likeness of […]

George Ciardi -- February 4, 2007

He was a factory worker for a couple of decades. Now he works as a courier, driving up and down the Duwamish Waterway, an industrial estuary in Seattle, delivering packages to the sorts of factories where he used to work. And he takes photographs…weird, unearthly photographs…mostly at night, photographs that reveal aspects of the urban […]

Joel-Peter Witkin -- January 28, 2007

The work of Joel-Peter Witkin can only be described as photography of the grotesque. Everything about his work is grotesque: the subject matter, the models, the printing process, the final image. It’s a perfect storm of grotesquery. Witkin began to gain a strange sort of prominence in the photographic art world in the mid-1970s with […]

Esther Bubley -- January 21, 2007

Esther Bubley isn’t a familiar name to most photographers. Nonetheless, she was a quietly revolutionary figure. She wasn’t a revolutionary so much by choice; rather Bubley was a product of her time, and her time was one of radical change for women. She was born in 1921 and became interested in photography while in high […]

Eliot Porter -- January 15, 2007

If you’ve ever taken a nature photograph…budding trees in spring, fallen leaves in the autumn, a bird nesting, a lichen-covered stone…you owe a debt to Eliot Porter. Virtually all modern nature photography is an imitation of (and occasionally an improvement on) the style created and developed by Porter. The photographs you see in this discussion […]

Richard Renaldi -- January 7, 2007

Los Angeles-based photographer Richard Renaldi is one of those prolific photographers so many Utatans would like to be. He travels widely, he photographs the things that interest him and the resulting prints sell for thousands of dollars in art galleries. Renaldi tends to work on photographic series. My impression is that he is often involved […]

Tseng Kwong Chi -- December 31, 2006

In 1979 Joseph Tseng was an unemployed 29 year old artist living with his sister in New York City. On a visit to the city, his parents invited Tseng and his sister to dinner at an upscale tourist-oriented restaurant. The restaurant had a ‘suit and tie’ policy for men; Tseng, unfortunately, only owned one suit […]

Nick Brandt -- December 24, 2006

In December of 2000, Nick Brandt was in East Africa directing a music video for Michael Jackson. When the shooting for the video was complete, Brandt took some time off and visited some of the wildlife preserves. He took along a medium format camera and began to photograph the animals he saw from the car. […]

Luis González Palma -- December 17, 2006

Luis González Palma is best known for his strange, quiet portraits of the Mayan and mestizo women in his native Guatemala. There is a contradictory quality to many of these portraits. The subjects are women who belong to cultures that have been marginalized, yet the photographs have a distinctly European…almost a Victorian…appearance. Even when dressed […]

Jock Sturges -- December 10, 2006

The name of Jock Sturges will always be interlinked with accusations of child pornography. It’s impossible to discuss his photographic career without making mention of the 1990 FBI raid on his studio and the resulting criminal charge of child pornography, or without the 1998 child pornography indictments in Alabama and Tennessee against Barnes & Noble […]

Fazal Sheikh -- December 3, 2006

Fazal Ilahi Sheikh came by his interest in displaced people naturally. You could say it was the family business. He was born in New York City in 1965. His father, though, was born in Nairobi, Kenya and his grandfather was born in a part of Northern India that is now known as Pakistan. After obtaining […]

David S. Allee -- November 26, 2006

“I believe in the future transmutation of those two seemingly contradictory states, dream and reality, into a sort of absolute reality, of surreality, so to speak.” Andre Breton, Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924. The tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where […]

Zhou Hai -- November 19, 2006

I know almost nothing about Zhou Hai, this week’s Sunday Salon photographer. I know he was born in1970 in the city of Guilin, which is located in the Guangxi region of China…a region known for its natural beauty. I know he attended Guangxi University and graduated in 1992 with a degree in Radio Engineering. And […]

Jeff Wall -- November 12, 2006

Jeff Wall is best known for his large scale directorial photographs. Large scale directorial photographs…what the hell does that mean? It means Jeff Wall uses an 8×10 view camera to take staged pictures of events that could be real and then displays those pictures at sizes that are really really BIG. I’ll come back to […]

David Levinthal -- October 29, 2006

Toys are, by definition, objects of play. In the hands of photographer David Levinthal, however, these objects of play play with our objectivity. He turns the innocence of toys upside down, using tiny figurines to create lurid scenes, some of which are vaguely menacing, some of which are painfully touching, some of which are horrific, […]

Larry Burrows -- October 22, 2006

Larry Burrows arrived in Vietnam in 1962 at the age of thirty-six. He’d been a professional photographer for Life magazeine for almost a decade. He’d covered some violent places at violent times (tribal conflict in the Congo, sporadic hostility in the Middle East) and in 1962 Vietnam looked like just another local, low-intensity conflict. Burrows […]

Eric Fredine -- October 15, 2006

I am not a particular fan of landscape photography. It doesn’t move me. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve spent a great deal of time in natural places of staggering beauty and I appreciate the allure of the landscape. But for the most part, landscape art doesn’t seem to hold my eye for more than a […]

Lewis Hine -- October 1, 2006

Some photographers have an agenda. They see photography less as a form of expression and more as a tool for bringing public awareness to their cause. Their photography is not intended to please, but to inform…not meant to form an aesthetic, but to form an opinion. One such photographer was Lewis Wickes Hine. Born in […]

Pentti Sammallahti -- September 24, 2006

The photograph above was my introduction to Pentti Sammallahti. I was altogether charmed by it. In some ways, it’s not at all representative of Sammallahti’s work; it’s clearly manipulated in post processing and it features an amphibian. In other ways, however, it’s a classic example of his photography. It shows the stark landscape of Northern […]

Bruce Davidson -- September 17, 2006

There are a few fortunate people who know early on what they want to do for the rest of their lives…and actually find a way to do it. One of those felicitous folks is Bruce Davidson. Born in Chicago in 1933, Davidson first picked up a camera at age ten. By 16, he’d won the […]

Joan Fontcuberta -- September 10, 2006

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the relationship between reality and photography. There’s been discussion about what constitutes a "photograph." These aren’t new discussions, of course (although given flickr’s NIPSA rules, they are increasingly personal and pertinent). This seems an appropriate time to discuss the work of Spanish photographer Joan Fontcuberta. Fontcuberta has […]

Bill Sullivan -- September 8, 2006

He calls it “situational photography” and describes it as “as a combination of street photography and portrait photography.” In essence, it involves the photographer visibly loitering in a specific, clearly identifiable location, taking candid surreptitious photographs of ordinary people engaged in an ordinary situation. Getting on an elevator, for example, or passing through a subway […]

Yousuf Karsh -- September 3, 2006

Yousuf Karsh was a master portrait photographer. One of the old school of portraitists who created classically styled portraits that lionized the subject. His portraits were deliberately dramatic, rich in light and shadow, respectful of the subject, carefully crafted to reveal the subject’s authority and power. We don’t see much of that any more. It’s […]

Julie Blackmon -- August 27, 2006

Domestic Vacations—the very title of photographer Julie Blackmon’s most recent series offers us a whimsical contradiction. The photographs in the series are equally whimsical and equally contradictory. In a way, these images are classic interior photographs; still, composed, quiet. In a way, these images are classic child portraits. And in a way, these images are […]

Hiroshi Watanabe -- August 20, 2006

As he wandered around the San Lázaro Psychiatric Hospital taking photographs, Hiroshi Watanabe was followed by a woman patient. She nattered on about a toothache and he apparently didn’t pay much attention to her. When he was leaving, she asked him “Do you see the angels? Have you seen the angels?” And then she said […]

William Christenberry -- August 13, 2006

William Christenberry, born in Alabama in 1936, is an artist who works in several different media…sculpture, painting, photography. Like so many Southern artists of his generation, Christenberry left the South as soon as he could. He moved to New York City and began painting large abstract-expressionist canvasses. But like so many Southerners, he eventually found […]

Judith Joy Ross -- August 6, 2006

Judith Joy Ross is a fine arts portrait photographer. Throughout her career, she has focused her 8×10 view camera on both common people in common places (a swimming hole in rural PA, visitors to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC, troops getting ready to ship off to war) and on the policy-makers whose decisions […]

Sarah Pickering -- July 30, 2006

The course of British photographer Sarah Pickering’s career seems to have been driven as much by serendipity as by design. Her early work (which included such topics as idealized glamor, women’s body image, and eating disorders) appears to have little in common with her more recent work…studies of police/military training grounds and explosions. Yet there […]

Edward Burtynsky -- July 23, 2006

Edward Burtynsky has been called the Ansel Adams of the ruined landscape. He creates large, stunningly beautiful images of nature…but not the organic nature celebrated by Adams. Burtynsky describes the essential theme of his photography as "nature transformed through industry." Using a large format camera, he photographs the detritus of industrial civilization. The abandoned quarries, […]

Alec Soth -- July 16, 2006

There is a romantic tradition in American popular culture of the itinerant adventurer. A man alone, traveling around the country, meeting people, becoming involved in their lives for a short time, then wandering off again. They travel by horse (Have Gun, Will Travel), by car (Route 66), by motorcycle (Easy Rider), on foot (Kung Fu). […]

August Sander -- July 9, 2006

At some point around 1910 portrait photographer August Sander began to undertake an incredibly bold project—a project of almost unimaginable scale. He’d decided to create a portrait series that would document the entire scope of contemporary German society. The portraits weren’t to be portraits of individuals, but rather portraits of societal archetypes. He wasn’t interested […]

There is something mythic and heroic about the photographs of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. You can imagine discovering them stored away in some musty archive hidden among the overgrown brambles of the decaying ruin of an ancient city. The images appear to tell the story of an anonymous, black-suited civil servant who was given the […]

Jan von Holleben -- June 25, 2006

Playful. We don’t hear that word often enough in connection to photography. But it’s summertime (at least in the northern hemisphere) and that means it’s time to relax and play. German photographer Jan von Holleben’s most recent series "Dreams of Flying" is unabashedly playful. After a period of apprenticeship in his native Germany, von Holleben […]

Walter Iooss -- June 11, 2006

Because the World Cup…the premier sports event in the world…is now underway, I thought it would be worthwhile to examine the work of Walter Iooss, who is probably the premier sports photographer in the world. Normally we only examine one photograph (and in the future we’ll continue to focus on one photograph), but this Sunday […]

Katy Grannan -- June 4, 2006

p> This is what I know about portrait photographer Katy Grannan: she was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1969. In 1991 she received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, two years later she took an M.A. from Harvard University, and in 1999 she earned an M.F.A. in photography from Yale University. She now lives […]

Josef Sudek -- May 28, 2006

He eventually became known as the Poet of Prague, a rather grand title for the son of a house painter. Josef Sudek was born in 1896 in the town of Kolin in what was then called Bohemia, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His father died when he was two, leaving his mother with two small […]