Archive for April, 2010

A Photographer’s Trail to Appalachia

Coal is still king in much of Appalachia, yet the heritage and history of the people who enabled the United States to become an economic superpower in the Industrial age are slipping away.
Ken and Melanie Light traveled hundreds of miles through rugged, isolated terrain recording the stories of a range of people whose lives were shaped by coal: retired miners, men and women who have been jobless their entire lives, a contemporary coal baron, a justice of the State Supreme Court of West Virginia, a writer who bravely ran for governor on a third party ticket, and people who returned to the hills when their lives failed elsewhere.
What emerges is a complex portrait of people locked into an intricate web of geography, history, and unfettered profiteering. In Light’s poignant images and in their own distinctive voices the residents of Coal Hollow–a fictional composite of the communities the Lights surveyed–reveal how the intersection of mountain culture and the greed of the coal companies produced the most powerful economy in the world yet brought crushing poverty to a region of once-proud people.

Link to Article and Slideshow on NYTimes Lens Blog


Perched atop very tall poles or stanchions, these corporate beacons emit their message by looming over us in their glowing, plastic perfection. Elimination of the support structure in the photographs allows the signs to literally float above the earth.  In some cases the ground is purposefully left out of the image to further emphasize the disconnect between the corporate symbols and terra firma.

LINK to blog post on Photographers shooting billboards in various ways

The Problem With Conventions

David Campbell has written this typically smart post on the photography of famine generally and famine in Africa more particularly.   David is concerned with the conventions of documentary photography and photojournalism that inform depictions of large-scale human suffering in forms such as famine, epidemic, war, and other sorts of mayhem. He is especially concerned that such depictions dominate the ways that African countries appear in the Western media. David has put his finger on two distinct problems:

(1) How can one depict famine and so on in ways that do not assume stereotypical form (familiar images of starving babies, lines outside of distribution centers, the crush of people with outstretched hands as aid workers distribute provisions, etc.)?

(2) How can one depict the diversity of social and political experience in African countries in ways that, while not ignoring the difficulties that people face across the continent, nonetheless do not perpetuate what some refer to as ‘Afro-pessimism’. (I’ve posted on this matter here a number of times.)?

LINK to Full Article on (Notes on) Politics, Theory & Photography Blog

A Timely Global Mosaic, Created by All of Us

Where will you be on Sunday, May 2, at 11 am?

Wherever you are, we hope you’ll have a camera — or a camera phone — in hand. And we hope you’ll be taking a picture to send to Lens that will capture this singular instant in whatever way you think would add to a marvelous global mosaic; a Web-built image of one moment in time across the world.  We extend the invitation to everyone, everywhere. Amateurs. Students. Pros. People who’ve been photographing for a lifetime or who just started yesterday.  What matters more than technique is the thought behind the picture, because you’ll only be sending us one. So please do think beforehand about where you will want to be and what you will want to focus on. Here are the general topics:

Nature and the Environment
Arts and Entertainment
Money and the Economy
Social Issues

After you take your photo, please send it as soon as possible to (the link should be active at 11 am.). On the Web form, you’ll be asked to categorize your photo by location and subject (the topic list shown above) and to include caption information. We don’t expect everyone to hit 11 am exactly, but we do ask that you try to stay within a few minutes of that targeted time.

LINK to NY Times Photo Blog

Follow up article

A Photographer Whose Beat Was the World

Rarely has the phrase “man of the world” been more aptly applied than to the protean photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, the subject of a handsome and large — though surely not anywhere near large enough — retrospective opening at the Museum of Modern Art on Sunday.

For much of his long career as a photojournalist, which began in the 1930s and officially ended three decades before his death in 2004, Cartier-Bresson was compulsively on the move. By plane, train, bus, car, bicycle, rickshaw, horse and on foot, he covered the better part of five continents in a tangled, crisscrossing itinerary of arcs and dashes.

Continue Reading Art Review on NY Times

“Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change”

“Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change,” a show that opens Saturday at the Corcoran — it’s one of the gallery’s most significant events in years — is full of fabulous art that’s a pleasure to see. The very best of this work, the celebrated action shots of animals and people that Muybridge took in the 1880s, also raises an intriguing question: Who should take credit for it? Do we praise Muybridge, the pioneering photographer who took the pictures? Or should credit go to Marcel Duchamp and his peers, who, in paintings like “Nude Descending a Staircase,” ran with the artistic potential in such photos? We might even want to declare that the true maker of this art is Corcoran curator Philip Brookman, who organized this survey, the world’s first comprehensive study of Muybridge: By hanging Muybridge’s pictures on the museum wall, Brookman is the one who gets us looking at them with aesthetic eyes. Or could it be that it’s us, doing that looking, who really make these photos into art — that their beauty is only in the eyes of us beholders?

LINK to full Review

LINK to Corcoran Gallery of Art Website Exhibition Information