Tag Archives: Auto Dealerships

Kirk Crippens

It is rare to gain access to a world behind bars, but photographer Kirk Crippens achieved that task in 2008, and since then, he has been granted one hour with the prisoners on an annual basis.  That access has resulted in the project, Hidden Population, a series of portraits on San Quentin inmates.
Kirk is one of the most prolific photographers making work today, and one of the most generous.  Much of his work explores The Great Recession, with projects that look at foreclosure, job loss, and the collapse of auto dealerships. Kirk had an early start with photography, inspired by
his grandfather who kept a darkroom in his closet. In college, he
ventured into photojournalism, interning at prestigious newspapers around the
US. Based in San Francisco since 2000 he focused his efforts on personal
projects. He has exhibited widely in solo and group shows,  he was  named Top 50 Photographer in Photolucida’s Critical Mass in 2010 and 2011, nominated for the 2011–2013 Eureka Fellowship Program, nominated for Photolucida’s book prize, and exhibited in the
International Photography Festival in Lishui, China. He is currently the artist
in residence at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco and 2013 he will be the Artist in Residence at Newspace
Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.
Images from Hidden Population

I was in the midst of a long process of photographing portraits inside San Quentin in May 2011 when the Supreme Court declared the overcrowding in California’s prison system unconstitutional and ordered the population lowered by 133,000 to achieve 137.5% capacity. My project began in 2008, when I petitioned the prison to allow me inside with my cameras. A year and a half later I was granted limited access and began a series of brief one-hour visits with the men. I was allowed inside once a year between 2009-12.

When I first arrived at San Quentin with my cameras, the prisoners were seated facing one another in a circle of metal chairs arranged for a gardening class. Fluorescent lights reflected off the tile floor onto their faces. The warden was present and guards were scattered throughout the room. I was given 45 minutes. Rushed and constricted, I struggled to find resonance. A man with a hand-sewn cap caught my attention, and I isolated him in my viewfinder. As I took in the scene, it occurred to me that I could capture individual qualities of the men from behind while they were participating in the class. By approaching it this way, I could also reference the hidden aspect of the lives they lead, locked up inside the prison.

When invited back in January 2012, I decided to try a different approach that included bringing a tripod and directly asking the men to pose for me. I set up my tripod in front of a cinder block wall in the San Quentin cafeteria and began asking the men if I could take their portrait. Most seemed honored; a few declined. It wasn’t how the guards or warden expected me to work, and I could feel the tension. The guards whispered and huddled together in the corner. Less than an hour later they asked me to leave and ushered me out. Although the series I’m submitting feels complete, I continue to be interested in prison culture and the political issues affecting it. I hope to visit again.

Tom Paiva

Los Angeles photographer, Tom Paiva, often finds himself working in another reality, creating his photographs long after our heads have hit the pillow. Tom received his BFA from the San Francisco Academy of Art, and for the last 15 years has worked as a freelance photographer specializing in large format photography of industrial and maritime settings, as well as architecture and interiors. Tom is passionate about night photography and is a co-founder of The Nocturnes, an organization dedicated to night photography, and has recently started a blog that celebrates twilight and night photography. What I love about Tom’s work is that his night images elevate industrial structures to epic proportions, the same structures that seen during the day don’t get a second glance.

Tom has a new project, Closed Auto Dealerships, that shot at twilight bring a strange beauty to a sad subject.

Closed Auto Dealerships: Over the past year I have been working on this project of the closed auto dealerships in Los Angeles. Well over 3500 dealerships have closed nationwide, laying off an estimated 200,000 people. This presence is felt in these acres of empty asphalt and boarded up buildings.

This impact was an obvious indicator of the ailing economy and inspired me to take the project on and both document and try and capture that feeling of loss. It is particularly powerful when shot at night. While I was scouting and shooting this project, I thought about the people who worked there and the thriving businesses they once were.

Early on, I decided to shoot this project in 8×10, which gave me the discipline to really study the subject and be very deliberate about composition and lighting.