Tag Archives: Single Camera

Vacationland: Rural Maine Chronicled in the Photography of Steven Rubin

Twenty-five years old with a single camera body and lens in hand, Steven Rubin hitched a ride in 1982 to rural Somerset County in northwestern Maine and embarked on a project that would continue for more than 30 years.

Now a selection of the images Rubin captured during his decades-long project in this little-visited region of the U.S. will soon get a rare showing in Los Angeles. “Vacationland” goes up at the drkrm gallery from April 28 through May 26.

A graduate from Reed College with a degree in sociology, Rubin had originally come out to the East Coast from Oregon to enroll at the then Maine Photographic Workshops (now the Maine Media Workshops) in Rockport. After documenting the effects of the early 1980s recession on families nearby, he wanted to see how the economic downturn was being handled by locals far from the highways, historic lighthouses and second homes of the Maine coast. On a tip from a friend, Rubin headed inland and settled upon an abandoned shack as his home base and a schedule of hitching four to eight hours between the countryside to take pictures and Rockport to develop them.

Taking prints back to his subjects as a thank-you for their time and trust, Rubin was eventually let into the lives of local families—as well as some of their homes to crash on floors and couches—as he continued his work throughout Central Maine.

What he has witnessed is a part of the country largely unbuffeted by the usual economic ups and downs seen elsewhere. For many in the area times are always tough. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, per capita income has been increasing in Somerset County but has ranked at or near the bottom among Maine’s 16 counties throughout the many years of Rubin’s project. Residents get by through resourcefully cobbling together seasonal and part-time jobs, hunting, fix-it know-how and the support of their communities.

“When I met some of these families, I was completely in awe of them in many ways,” said Rubin, now an assistant professor of art in the Photography Program at Penn State University. “I think as an outsider and someone who didn’t have the background that they did, I was really quite taken by how they survived, by their strength, by their resourcefulness.”

Rubin sought to avoid the stereotypes of people broken by their struggles or heroically pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Influenced not only by legendary photographer Dorothea Lange but also anthropologist Clifford Geertz, Rubin aimed at creating a body of work that functioned as a “thick description,” a finely detailed document for understanding the context of human actions. Achieving that goal required time.

Since 1982, Rubin has returned to this project 10 times to capture daily rhythms and rituals and how the people he’d come to know changed, grew up, forged intense family bonds and frequently returned home despite finding good jobs elsewhere.

“I think so many of us—who move around different parts of the country, different parts of the world—we spend a lot of our lives looking for that sense of community. And these people have it,” Rubin said.

He’s planning to return again this summer to Maine, this time possibly shooting digitally rather than on his trusty Kodak Tri-X.

Steven Rubin’s photography has appeared in magazines including National Geographic, The New York Times, Stern and TIME. The series is on display at drkrm in Los Angeles, April 28 – May 26.

Election 2012: Faces of the Latino Vote by Marco Grob

Nosotros vamos a decidir. That’s the presidential election refrain coming from many American Latinos, a group of voters Michael Scherer explores in TIME’s cover story next week. Nearly 9% of all voters in 2012 will be Latino, up 26% from four years ago, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. That figure will only continue to climb—per the Pew Hispanic Center, one in four children born in the U.S. is Latino, and every month, at least 50,000 Latino citizens turn 18.

TIME contract photographer Marco Grob spent a recent February weekend chronicling Latino voters in Phoenix, Ariz. His portfolio for the magazine is not just comprehensive—it is insightful and deep. The Swiss photographer, who is now based in New York City, previously photographed TIME’s Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience, a multimedia project revealing testimonies of the national tragedy, as well memorable portraits of Lady Gaga and Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for 2010′s TIME 100 issue.

True to form, Grob captured the essence of each Arizona face with a single camera click. He photographed deacons, dancers and Dreamers; nutrition undergrads, car aficionados and immigration activists; Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans. “There were many unique challenges involved in this shoot,” says Grob, who photographed over 150 people on “three days on four different locations including a university, a local restaurant, an outdoor market and a Catholic church. The terms ‘Latino’ and ‘Latina’ have a vast identity of their own,” he continues, “so for the duration of this project we strove to break some of those stereotypes.”

If one sentiment unites these citizens, it is that they believe that their vote matters. TIME asked each person Grob photographed if he or she would vote in the upcoming election. Over and over again, the answer was a resounding yes. Many described voting as the ultimate civic duty. Others drew their determination from SB1070, a controversial immigration bill promoted by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in 2010, and cited friends and family who cannot vote as their reason for political participation. Overall, they proclaimed that Latinos, more than ever, need to make their voice heard.

Marco Grob is a contract photographer for TIME. You can see his project Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience here.

Elizabeth Dias is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. Follow her on Twitter @elizabethjdias.

Read more: “Why Latino Voters will Swing The 2012 Presidential Election