Tag Archives: American Dream

Medium Festival: Amanda Dahlgren

Featuring photographers seen at the Medium Photography Festival in San Diego….

It was a pleasure to meet Amanda Dahlgren at the Medium Festival and discover that she is a photographic educator, designer, technician, and craftsman, but above all, she is a photographic artist who has always been fascinated with aesthetics and artistic expression. She brought two projects to the Medium Festival, both looking at how the the housing boom and recent recession have affected areas in Southern California .  I was struck by her series, Pre-Abandonded,  exploring the idea of aesthetics and almost-built homes that will never see completion.

In addition to teaching and creating her fine art projects, Amanda consults for the VASA Project, an online media center focused on photography, digital video, criticism, visual studies, and new media.  She received an MFA in fine art photography from the Academy of Art University in 2011.

Photography has a rich tradition of capturing the abandoned home, often showing the physical marks of the deterioration of the inhabitants’ lives. In this series I am exploring the beginning of this lifecycle by capturing new residential construction in master-planned communities. Where others see the hope and possibilities of a new home, I see “pre-abandoned spaces:” the American dream promised by the model homes unfulfilled by financial missteps, broken relationships, or simply the realities of the hardships of life. 

Public Assembly: The Photographs of Mike Sinclair

For this week’s issue, we combed countless archives in search of the perfect photograph to accompany a history of the American Dream, the subject of the cover story by Jon Meacham. In the end, we turned to photographer Mike Sinclair, who’s been rigorously documenting America’s heartland near his home in Kansas City, Mo. When asked about his photos, he modestly says, “I never really set out to photograph the American Dream or western culture. These are not projects. The edits come out of thinking about themes. I like going through my work and then figuring it out.”

For more than 30 years, Sinclair has documented places where people gather, like state fairs, sporting events and parks. “I grew up in the heyday of LIFE and photojournalism. I realized early on that I was better at visual things,” he tells TIME.

Sinclair decided to pursue journalism at the University of Missouri, but after one year, he realized that it wasn’t a great fit. “I came under the spell of Winogrand and Friedlander and found them more interesting as a budding photojournalist. I eventually went to Southern Illinois University, where they had an undergraduate program in fine art photography. Once I got there, I was in heaven—it combined my interest in the fine arts and photography.”

“I just like everything about taking photos and going to these events. It’s a great counterpoint to photographing modern architecture,” says Sinclair, who does the job professionally to make a living between his documentary projects. All of his images reflect the rigor of an architectural photographer with the straightforward style of masters like Walker Evans, Joel Sternfeld and Stephen Shore.

“I switched to architecture because I thought after 30 or 40 years I’d have some kind of record of this time and what happened,” he explains.

Sinclair’s understated and introverted approach to documenting an event feels easygoing, placing viewers in the shoes of a local rather than an outsider. He photographs on trips he plans and usually goes with his family. “I kind of plant the camera in front of people and spend time with them,” he says. In all his images, he almost feels invisible.

Sinclair has no real plans for his work except to keep making it. In the beginning, he says, “I first shared the work to the owner of the Dolphin Gallery in Kansas City and was encouraged by him to show it [elsewhere]. Eventually, through them, my work found its way into collections around the country.” These collections include The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, also in Kansas City.

Sinclair disagrees when people label him as a certain type of photographer. “I don’t think of myself as a Midwestern photographer. I think the same sort of things happen everywhere I’ve been.” His image of the Fourth of July (featured above) speaks to his claim—it feels like it could represent almost anywhere in America.

“Part of what I’m interested in is this idea of public space and the preciousness of it. It’s something that we all need,” he says.

Mike Sinclair is a photographer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His current exhibition ‘Public Assembly’ is on view at Jen Bekman Projects in New York City until June 24. 

Behind the Cover: Capturing the American Dream

To define the American Dream in words is simple enough: “the perennial conviction that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded with a more comfortable present and a stronger future for their children,” writes Jon Meacham in this week’s cover story. To capture the American Dream in one image is a trickier task.

“There were so many ways to show the American Dream, from imagery of people coming over to America by boat and seeing the Statue of Liberty to the dot com era and everything in between,” says Jeff Minton, who photographed this week’s cover. “Ultimately, we went with a more simple approach—showing the perfect lawn, and letting the viewer imagine the broader implications that the picture might represent.”

That perfect lawn was actually a sod farm located about an hour outside of Los Angeles. After hoisting his camera onto a crane, Minton controlled the digital capture from a tent 40 ft. below, where he set up different vignettes with models and props within the frame of his lens. “This kind of image would have been easy to composite together with stock images,” he says. “But it seemed like such a romantic idea—much like the American Dream—to actually photograph different scenes by camera.”

Jeff Minton is a Los Angeles based photographer. See more of his work here.

MORE: Read this week’s cover story on the American Dream

Carl Corey

We are a country of entrepreneurs, self-starters, and determined individuals that make up the core of our American dream.  Long before the Fortune 500’s, there were mom and pop day-to-day desires to carve out a living, and a life on one’s own terms.  Carl Corey takes a look at those self-starters who have created family businesses in Wisconsin and have managed to stay afloat for 50 years or more.

Carl is a photographer’s photographer. From the array and quality of his work (be sure to explore his other projects), to his amazing printing and his insightful workshops, he casts a long shadow of excellence.  In his words:

I’ve been a photographer for all of my adult life. The kind of photography I do is called fine art documentary photography, which means that even though I carefully consider how I make a picture they are accurate depictions of real people and real places. I strive for honesty. This work has led me to be interviewed on numerous radio and television programs, including The National News Hour on PBS, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  My pictures are making it into museums and corporate as well as private collections.  I am profoundly grateful for this recognition; it’s really encouraged me to work harder.

For Love and

~ the Established Family Business

Becoming intrigued with the familial
lineage involved in many of the Tavern League
I decided to start to investigate the well established family
business in Wisconsin. My criteria were simple: The enterprise
be located in Wisconsin and currently owned and operated by the
family for a minimum of fifty years. 

There is much that can be said pertaining to the history of such an enterprise. There is also the contemporary entrepreneurial commitment to the continued success of the business, most especially with the current economic climate and ever expanding competitive global marketplace.

Nancy Baron

For the last several years, I have had the great pleasure of seeing Nancy Baron’s photographs featured in the Palm Springs Photo Festival’s slide show, and last week attended the opening of her exhibition,The Good Life, Palm Springs, currently on display at the 825 Gallery/LAAA in Los Angeles.  Nancy offers an insider’s perspective of the high and the low life of desert living, and combines brilliant color with small nuances that make us want to start mixing the cocktails and getting our feet wet.  
Born in Chicago, now living in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, Nancy has a background in documentary film making, and her work has been exhibited across the U.S, and published around the world.
The Good Life, Palm Springs
I like to discover and document, without judgement, the exotic
subculture next door, aiming to capture and celebrate the majesty in worlds that
could easily be overlooked, seen as mundane, otherwise misunderstood.
 Backyard Morning

In the time that Palm Springs has been my second home, I’ve found it to be exactly and nothing like what I expected it to be.  Having ridden the waves of economic and cultural trends, the town offers a wide variety of lifestyle choices, not all of which are apparent to the occasional tourist.  The idea of Palm Springs evokes a well-defined image internationally.  These varied definitions are all accurate and, yet, this oasis of layered Americana is often misunderstood.

Golf Course Plane

It’s easy to dismiss the town as a frivolous playground for whomever one imagines its visitors or residents to be.  The truth is, Palm Springs is a brilliant example of the American Dream; springing from nothing out of the desert sand, continually reinventing itself with hope, determination, and the belief that everyone is entitled to The Good Life.

 Bob’s Red Car

Red Sweater

Shaggy Pillows

The Vanity

The Girls

Pink Shoes
 Frank Sinatra’s Stereo
Lee’s Gone, Liberace’s Palm Springs Estate
 Howling Wolf

The Kaufman Papers

Golf Course Palms

Peter’s Hat

Below The Line: Portraits of American Poverty

Correction appended Nov. 18, 2011: A previous version of a caption in this slideshow incorrectly stated that a house had toxic drywall. TIME regrets the error.

In 2010, more Americans lived below the poverty line than at any time since 1959, when the U.S. Census Bureau began collecting this data. Last January, TIME commissioned photographer Joakim Eskildsen to capture the growing crisis, which now affects nearly 46.2 million Americans. Traveling to New York, California, Louisiana, South Dakota and Georgia over seven months, Eskildsen’s photographs of the many types of people who face poverty appear in the new issue of TIME. Eskildsen, who last visited America in 1986, says the poverty crisis was a side of the country he’d rarely seen in the media in Berlin, where he is based. “For Europeans living outside of America, it’s a mythical place because we’re breastfed with all those images of Coca-Cola and American culture,” Eskildsen says. “It was very heartbreaking to see all kinds of people facing poverty because many of these people were not only economically poor, but living in unhealthy conditions overall.”

Eskildsen was also surprised by how pervasive poverty is in America. “Once you start digging, you realize people in poverty are everywhere, and you can really go through your life without seeing them before you yourself are standing in the food stamp line,” he says. “So many people spoke about the disappointment of the American Dream—this, they said, was the American Reality.” In the accompanying magazine story, Barbara Kiviat argues that “there is no single archetype of America’s poor,” and that “understanding what poverty is in reality—and not in myth—is crucial” to efforts to erase the situation. Perhaps equally as crucial is the effort to put a face to the statistic, which Eskildsen has done here in haunting detail.

Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer based in Berlin. He is best known for his book The Roma Journeys (Steidl, 2007). More of his work can be seen here

The project was done in collaboration with Natasha Del Toro, reporter for TIME.

Feifei Sun is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @Feifei_Sun or on Facebook.

Photographer #241: Guillaume Zuili

Guillaume Zuili, 1965, France, works and lives in Los Angeles, USA. He became a member of VU Agency in 1992 and has been shooting images for the French Press, since 2002 as a correspondent in California. Since 1996 he has photographed cities using double exposures. Berlin, Paris Moscow, Lisbon and Prague are the cities he portrayed revealing the complexity and layers of these urban settings. At the same time he focuses on recording the myth of “The Golden State”. In his series Foreclosure Alley Zuili documented the gated communities that were created within a five year period and was the American Dream to many but has become a nightmare due to an astounding number of foreclosures. The “For Sale” signs have become the new landscape. The following images come from the series Exposed Cities: MoscowForeclosure Alley and California Oil.

Website: www.zuiliphoto.com & www.agencevu.com

Larry Sultan: Katherine Avenue

This Christmas 1000 Words is offering its readers discounted copies of Katherine Avenue from the late great Larry Sultan, courtesy of our partner Steidl. To order your copy please contact tim(at)1000wordsmag(dot)com.

Please see below for more details:

Larry Sultan
Katherine Avenue


All images © Larry Sultan

This book brings together three of Larry Sultan’s best known series: Pictures from Home, The Valley and Homeland. Made principally in the San Fernando Valley, where the artist grew up, in these works Larry Sultan explored the domestic landscape of his childhood and adolescence by photographing and re-presenting photographs of his parents, their home, and their experience of the American Dream. Wandering further behind this Californian fabric, he photographed in suburban homes serving as sets in the pornographic industry. His work culminated in a series of tableau of Latino day labourers undertaking prosaic tasks on the peripheries of these suburban sites – the kind of places where, growing up, he would find his own sense of space and freedom.

This publication accompanies an exhibition at the kestnergesellschaft, Hannover and features an essay by curator Martin Germann. It is co-published with Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, and kestnergesellschaft, Hannover.

Special price for 1000 Words readers £35.00

132 pages, 80 colour plates
27.4 cm x 26.9 cm
Hardcover with a dust jacket
Steidl & Partners
ISBN: 978-3-86930-135-8
Publication date: June 2010