Tag Archives: Coasts

Flooded, Uprooted, Burned: The Tracks of Sandy on the Shore

After TIME commissioned me, along with four other photographers, to capture Hurricane Sandy using Instagram, I and many of my colleagues felt a deep personal need to go back and document the aftermath. I’ve covered disasters in other parts of our country, but this is my hometown, and Sandy was a storm of historical significance. I’ve often found that there is great power in telling difficult stories in a beautiful way. Interest in any given story wanes so quickly, yet it’s only through taking the time to go deeper that we get to a place of real understanding. I had to return to this story, and I wanted try to comprehend the scale of this storm. The only way for me to capture Sandy’s destructive fury was from above.

Stephen Wilkes for TIME

Storm surges over power the coastal areas and flood the streets during low tide in Milford, CT.

On the Sunday after Sandy made landfall, I decided to rent a helicopter and fly over some of the most devastated areas, including the New Jersey shore, Breezy Point and Far Rockaway. It was a beautiful day to fly, but unfortunately that beauty quickly eroded into shock as we began to get close to the coasts. It was everything I’d heard about, but it was difficult to believe what I was actually seeing. Once we got above the shoreline, I really started to understand the scale of the destruction. The expanse of land it ruined, the totality of the devastation — it was like a giant mallet had swung in circles around the area. It was mind numbing.

When I got home that night, the images still in my mind made it impossible to sleep. Through various points of this storm, it felt like we were all living through a science fiction movie. Seeing these devastated towns from above showed the cold reality of this storm’s severity.

From above, I realized how close particular neighborhoods were to bays or oceans. Sometimes, it was a matter of two blocks, and it’s a proximity not immediately apparent when you’re on the ground. In Breezy Point, for example, I knew that more than 80 homes had burned down in a fire, but nothing could have prepared me for what I actually saw. The blackened and charred blocks of homes viewed as a giant physical scar across the landscape. Seeing how much land was affected and yet how many homes were saved, made me think of the firefighters and how hard they must have worked just to contain this fire.

In flying over Staten Island, I was really struck by the marina, and how the boats were physically lifted from the pier and tossed together. It looked like a child’s game—huge, 40-ft. boats being thrown around like toys. We then flew over Oakwood, where I saw a house that had been lifted and dragged through a field of cattails; its path clearly visible days later, having left a trail of destruction through the cattails.

Sandy was a warning shot. I’ve had a unique view of what’s happened on a physical level. But the emotional toll has yet to be measured. It’s my hope that these images serve as a wakeup call — whether that call is about global warming, infrastructure, or just the recognition that the world is changing, it’s a reminder that we need to take special care of our fragile world.

Stephen Wilkes is a fine-art and commercial photographer based in New York. Wilkes was awarded the Photo District News Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2012.

Wilkes’ work will be part of Art for Sandy, a fundraising initiative to support Sandy relief that’s being hosted by 20×200 and TIME.

Medium Festival: Catherin Colaw

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

I have to admit, I’m not always a fan of the nude, but when the nudes are self-portraits, and the photographer is working alone in a variety of exposed environments that create an incredible venerability for her safety and sanity, it’s hard not to appreciate the results. Catherin Colaw considers her self-portraiture an exploration of women and their bodies and an individual performance done in the environment–and I think she has successfully achieved the conversation between body and place.

Catherin received her BFA from Arizona State University. Her work has been exhibited in galleries on both coasts and the desert in between. She has lived and worked in Arizona, New York City,
and now San Diego.


Original Sin

These images are an exploration of sexuality and nakedness, vulnerability and separateness. A women’s identity is sacred and yet it is often stripped down and defined by her bare body. In this series, nudity is no longer about sexuality, but about vulnerability. Each image is a self-portrait and a meditative practice. They are performances that require a challenging stillness and trust. The dismemberment of the nude women’s body becomes a simultaneously beautiful and oppressive dialogue between the landscape and the female form.

Mark Peterman

Sometimes we need to describe our lives through thoughts and feelings. Often times they are intangible, slightly out of reach, and it requires a series of investigative photographs to bring those descriptions into focus. Photographer Mark Peterman has done just that with his series, Interacting with My Past. I was intrigued by his idea of returning not only to the place called home, but to the memories that shape the place, and by the idea that where we are born does not always define who we are.

After growing up in Michigan and Missouri, Mark attended the Kansas City Art Institute and continues to explore narratives with photographs and multimedia. His desire to be creative on a daily basis fuels his curiosity about the human experience and he documents things in sketchbooks as a way of remembering his life. His site reflects a curious mind, dipping into a variety of mediums. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona and is an editoral, portrait, and fine art photographer; in addition he creates multi-media and motion projects about memory and family histories.

Interacting with My Past: I am fascinated by memory. I find it to be simultaneously perfect and imperfect. You remember what you choose to remember and how you view your past is relative to what memories you keep.

This project is an exploration of my memory and how I remember my past. I have gone back to photograph the places and people who had an effect on me growing up in the midwestern United States. Having spent my formative years in Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas, I share a common bond with many other people who grew up between the coasts.

My memories of youth are mostly of an idyllic place in a midwestern setting. The landscapes that composed this land shaped my existence, whether it was the Great Lakes that touch Michigan or the endless wheat fields of Kansas.

While growing up in the Midwest, I also remember struggling with a restlessness. I had a constant desire to get out and pursue “something else.” I felt suffocated by these same midwestern landscapes and an attitude that this was “good enough.” As I got older I realized that many of the people around me felt the same way. Over time I felt I had to leave the Midwest to outgrow those feelings, but it lingers in my mind and has left an indelible mark on my character.

Going back today, I find that many of those same people I grew up with continue to struggle with this restlessness on a daily basis. I have found that when you go back to explore your past, the perfect, idyllic memories fade into a new imperfect reality. Time overtakes memory, as the places and people have evolved with growth and change. These images are part perfect memory, imperfect reality, and portraits of an ongoing restlessness. This is my experience Interacting with My Past.

Doug Ness

You never know what is going to happen once your work is on someone’s visual radar. Last October, I met photographer Doug Ness when he took a workshop with me at the Filter Photo Festival. He later went on to share his portfolio with a variety of industry insiders, one of them being Martha Schneider, of Schneider Gallery, during the portfolio reviews.

As Doug recently told me, “Martha, a Chicago gallerist for the last 30 years, was one of the wonderful people who reviewed my work. As a result of that meeting, Martha asked that I display some of my images at a space where she’s responsible for the art, the InterContinental O’Hare Hotel. Happily agreeing, there are currently nine of my images on display there now, and continuing through the next several months, all at the Bistro Museo. All of the prints are 30″x45″ and mounted on plexi. If you’re in Chicago, or even have a long layover at O’Hare, please stop by the hotel and have a look. Art tours are available by contacting the concierge.”

Great news for Doug, who spent 15 years as an Institutional Bond Salesman in New York City and Chicago before discovering his passion for photography in 2008. Since then, he has studied in Chicago, London, Greece, and Montana, where he graduated from the Rocky Mountain School of Photography Career Training Program in 2009. Doug has exhibited on both coasts, and of course, in Chicago.

Walls of Veniceis a series of images from Venice, Italy that are inspired by both Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. As I lost myself in the streets and alleys of that wonderfully unique and timeless city, I found myself more drawn to photographing what was on the walls than the more typical and iconic sights of the city. Each image is a study in composition and my vision of finding the art in the common, everyday scenes that are so often passed by without our noticing them. I find it exhilarating, this adventure, this searching, this quest for discovering the beauty in the ordinary. Ultimately, the pictures are about texture, line, and form, about re-examining the elements of design in images.