We have to learn to read, but looking, for most of us, just happens. So how do we know how to “read” what we see? The history of photography is a matrix of codes and systems devised for drawing out meanings from pictures. It’s hard to think of a discipline without this application: medicine, criminology, advertising, history, art history.
I don’t know the people in this photograph by Betsy Karel, which hangs in the living room of my Manhattan apartment, but I know them. They could be any of the groups of retired men that go for a daily walk: before the sun starts loaded for bear in the morning, or after it has admitted defeat and is sliding down the Bombay sky.
In Istanbul's photography scene, the anxious aftermath of a violent year
“A photograph can be incredibly intimidating for cops,” TuṴba Tekerek, a Turkish journalist, told me recently. “They can use it to crush you.” The last twelve months have seen Turkey navigate an accumulation of violent incidents and growing surveillance; with them, the environment for photographers has changed for the worse. In this country, which occasionally tops the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists’s annual list of the world’s leading jailers of journalists, taking pictures is an increasingly political and dangerous act.
A List of Favorite Anythings by Moyra Davey and Jason Simon
Through her celebrated works in photography, video, and writing, Moyra Davey melds literary references—from Mary Wollstonecraft to Jean Genet— with personal histories. Her “mailer” project, made up of letters in the form of photographs, was exhibited at the 2012 Whitney Biennial.
“In this contentious moment in history, the stories we tell are a social responsibility,” novelist Sandra Cisneros writes in these pages, reflecting on Kathya Maria Landeros’s images of Latino communities in the American West. From agricultural workers to those toiling on the factory floor, from regional cities weathering years of postindustrial decline to refugee populations assimilating into the heartland, the projects in this issue are bound by an urge to explore the social and political landscape of the United States.
<p>Kellie Jones: Let’s start with your book, The Notion of Family (2014). Did the popularity of The Notion of Family surprise you, especially given the subject matter? Members of your family have been supportive and willing subjects. Sometimes in such exposes we might feel victimhood.</p>
<p>"I’ve never been able to make a successful picture of Manhattan,” photographer Gregory Halpern says. "It feels like every inch of that island has been claimed.” By contrast, Buffalo, New York, where Halpern has photographed often since 2003, has less than half its peak population.</p>
<p>In the coldest part of 2014, the photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti went to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, for the first time. Using the local paper as her guide, Sanguinetti documented the rituals of small-town life in formal, black-and-white images.</p>
<p>Sometimes you need the eyes of an outsider to see your world afresh. The sustained focus of the newcomer; the quizzical glances of the passerby; the curiosity-filled wanderings of the traveler—they refresh our ideas of ourselves and help us rediscover the familiar.</p>
<p>British photographer Mark Neville typically undertakes long-term projects by living in unfamiliar communities and collaborating with local residents to portray people’s bonds to place and to one another, a method of working he describes as intensely personal.</p>
From the factory floor to the corner office, how do photographs describe the work we do?
In 1899, Frances Benjamin Johnston was commissioned to photograph the working life of the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, which had been founded in Hampton, Virginia, after the American Civil War to offer vocational education and practical training to freed slaves and Native Americans.
An accomplished photographer— and former Standard Oil engineer—becomes an advocate for the working class
In the summer of 1979, as long lines queued up outside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for the highly anticipated arrival of Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960, a John Szarkowski-curated exhibition, one man walked in the opposite direction.
<p>California’s vaunted highways and bridges make it possible to drive through the state’s vast Central Valley without seeing, or feeling, much of anything. Beneath that infrastructure, nature and humanity are frequently neglected, left to go wild and to improvise.</p>
<p>Their names are Nicanor, Nato, Adrián, Lupita, Victor, Arturo, Antonia, Cristian. Even without the captions, I can tell the photographer knows who they are. They’re not anonymous props in a wild landscape, not statistics, not "others” to be afraid of.</p>
<p>For Christmas in 2012, Anthony Lepore’s father gave him a section of a bikini factory in eastern Los Angeles—rows eleven to fifteen, to be exact. A few months earlier Lepore had inquired whether his dad might have any surplus space that he and his partner, the artist Michael Henry Hayden, could use for a studio.</p>
How did a former teachers' union president, Peace Corps volunteer, and Vietnam War resister disrupt the documentary tradition?
<p>When photographer and social activist Fred Lonidier was selected for the 2014 Whitney Biennial, it came as a surprise to some. The last time the seventy-two-year-old professor had shown at the Whitney was his debut in 1977, nearly forty years earlier.</p>
<p>In 1973, a year that marked the beginnings of a national recession and the signing of a peace treaty to end the Vietnam War, Allan Sekula’s first major work took as its subject an aerospace engineer who had been laid off from Lockheed, then the single largest defense contractor in the United States.</p>
<p>Connecticut was long the center of the North American armaments industry, home to Remington Arms in Bridgeport, Colt’s Patent Firearms in Hartford, and Winchester Repeating Arms (manufacturer of the "gun that won the West”) in New Haven.</p>
Worker Badges from G. & G. Precision Works, ca. 1940
“I spent many days of my childhood in my father’s and grandfather’s offices at G. & G. typing nonsense on an old IBM Selectric while a hundred massive machines rumbled and roared in the adjoining shop,” Ginny Levy recalled last year when her family’s company, G. & G. Precision Works, Inc., shuttered.