Tag Archives: United States

A Year of Photographers in the Picture

A little shy of a year agowith the world’s attention focused on a change of power in North Koreaa photo of Kim Jung Il’s funeral, released by KCNA (North Korean Central News Agency), sparked controversy. The image had been manipulatedless for overt political ends, more for visual harmony. Blog Submission . The photo’s offending elements, photoshopped from the image, were not political adversaries or top secret information, but a group of photographers who had disturbed the aesthetic order of the highly orchestrated and meticulously planned occasion.


Dec. 28, 2011. A limousine carrying a portrait of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il leads his funeral procession in Pyongyang.

In an age where seemingly every occasion is documented through photography from every conceivable anglean estimated 380 billion photographs will be taken this year aloneit’s not only North Korean bureaucrats who are wrestling to keep hoards of other photographers out of their pictures.

Photographers frequently appear in news photographs made by others. Banks of cameras greet celebrities and public figures at every event; cell phones held high by admirers become a tribute in lights, but a distraction to the viewer. Amateurs and professionals, alike, appear in backgrounds and in foregrounds of images made at both orchestrated events and in more candid moments. squido lense . The once-invisible professional photographer’s process has been laid bare.

On occasion, photographers even purposefully make their fellow photographers the subject of their pictures. The most difficult picture to take, it seems, is one without the presence of another photographer either explicitly or implicitly in the frame.

Everyone wants to record their own version of realityironically, it turns out, because by distracting oneself with a camera, it’s easy to miss the true experience of a moment. At a recent Jack White concert, the guitarist requested that audience members stop trying to take their own photos. “The bigger idea,” his label noted in a statement, “is for people to experience the event with their own eyes and not watch an entire show through a tiny screen in their hand. We have every show photographed professionally and the pictures are available from Jack White’s website shortly after to download for free.”

The abundance of camera phones and inexpensive digital cameras has changed the photographic landscape in countless and still-incompletely understood ways, and it’s not just the North Korean government trying to find ways around the hoards of photographers making their way into everyone else’s shots. Here, TIME looks back on the past year to highlight an increasingly common phenomenon: the photographer in the picture.

George Holroyd, Untitled

George Holroyd, Untitled

George Holroyd

Milan, Italy, 2012
Website – GeorgeHolroyd.com

George Holroyd was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. When he was a child, George's family relocated often, transporting him to a variety of cities and towns throughout the eastern half of the United States. From an early age, he developed a sense of being a visitor to these new places, rather than a resident. That feeling of transience stayed with him and he has traveled extensively throughout his adult life, including to Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He now lives in Paris with his wife, Sarah. His current project, And I, presents a diaristic set of images, made in collaboration with the artist's most faithful companion, a progressive neurological disorder known as Essential Tremor.

The Last Road North: Ben Huff’s Alaska

When you run out of West, head North. The hunger to see the edges of America drew photographer Ben Huff to the Dalton highway, a storied stretch of road along the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Over the course of five years, Huff fueled up his truck at home in Fairbanks and drove north to photograph the path to the most remote reaches of the U.S. – and confront the clash between breathtaking wilderness and industrial ambition. “Everything that I was struggling with or trying to find was encapsulated in this one 500 mile stretch of road,” Huff said.

The Dalton Highway was first known as simply The Haul Road, a groove worn into the tundra by fleets of tankers on their way up and back from the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field. It was eventually named the Dalton Highway after an oil engineer in the 1980s, and about a decade later, it was opened to public traffic.

Huff became enchanted with the road on a day trip to the Arctic Circle with his wife when they first moved to Fairbanks. Though an impressive gateway to the earth’s frozen north, the Circle is only one-quarter of the way up to the end of the road. The question remained, “What else is up there?”

The answer is both “not much” and “everything,” depending on how you look at it. When pushing past latitudes where sunrise and sunset defy the conventions of time, with no cell phone service or basic amenities for hundreds of miles, reference points for regular life skitter away. “Nothing can kind of prepare you for seeing sunsets on the North Slope,” Huff said. “The alpenglow and the space and the quiet. The quiet is just unnerving.”

Huff encountered not only the truckers (now simultaneously mythologized and de-mystified by shows like Ice Road Truckers) but a fascinating parade of drivers and dreamers who were on a similar quest. “Everyone’s tired, everyone’s seeing this heartbreakingly beautiful landscape. No one’s showered, everyone’s eating out of a cooler or freeze-dried stuff. We’re just dirty and on the same path,” he said. “There was a point where the portraits started to feel a little bit like self portraits, in a way.”

Huff’s photographs took shape not by a need to encapsulate the enormity of his surroundings, but by the curious experience of seeing it through a windshield. The frames are narrow, and the landscapes, however ecstatic, are almost always defined by a slice of road. “I struggled with the space for so long and finally I kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was trying to do the impossible,” he said. “I  was never going to really ever going to communicate the space that is up there.”

After five years of driving through all seasons and all states of mind, Huff said he left the project with more questions than answers. “It would be easy to go on the road and make a sort of political stance against oil, against the pipeline, against a road through that environment,” he said. “But I was fortunate to spend five years running that road. I put countless gallons of gas in my car to do it. I saw things I’m incredibly grateful for.”

In a place where Wal-Marts and McDonald’s are now as ubiquitous as sourdoughs and homesteaders once were, the highway embodies the confounding nature of the 49th State. “Even though it’s a beautiful landscape, and it’s beautiful light, and it’s Alaska, and it’s the arctic,” Huff said. “You’re still standing in the middle of a road.”

Ben Huff is an Alaska-based photographer. His work will be exhibited in February at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, his current home. The photographs are also collected in a new book, The Last Road North.

Valerie Lapinski is a video producer at TIME.

‘Americans’: Christopher Morris Captures a Nation Divided

My latest book, Americans, is the second in a series about America, even though I had no idea it would become a series when my first book, My America, was released in April 2006. That book examined Republican nationalism in the country during George W. Bush’s two terms as president. But in Americans, I’ve taken real pains to make sure there’s no political photography. There aren’t any portraits of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, and no pictures of rally signs. Instead, I sought to make an anthropological study of America—not for this week, or for this past election cycle—but a body of work that future generations could look back on to get a sense of the country’s mood.

What I found, in the eight-year period during which these photographs were made, is an America severely divided. With two long-running wars and an economy slow to recover, there is a real sense that the country is in a depressed state. Traveling across America in several road trips, I found that the mood among citizens wasn’t upbeat or lively; people are really polarized in their political positions, yet everyone is concerned about the economy and what that means for the welfare of their families.

The book contains only a handful of formal portraits. The rest is reportage—pictures taken when people were alone, pensive in thought. I looked for these moments to convey this feeling of loss and depression that I felt across the nation.

Americans recently headed to the polls to elect their next president, and on Election Day eve, there wasn’t a clear frontrunner. In fact, many polls showed voters divided near evenly between Obama and Romney—a poignant indicator that despite the winner, Americans may very well continue to be divided.

Christopher Morris is a contract photographer for TIME and represented by VII

Americans, published by Steidl, will be available in early December.

Matthew Schenning, Homeless Campsite

Matthew Schenning, Homeless Campsite

Matthew Schenning

Homeless Campsite,
Porto, Portugal, 2010
From the Beyond This Point series
Website – Schenning.com

Matthew Schenning is a Brooklyn based photographer originally from Baltimore, MD where he spent his youth playing in the abandoned spaces under highway overpasses. After studying sculpture at the University of Maryland he turned his focus toward photography as a means to understand his relationship to his surroundings. Making most his work while travelling, he photographs the landscape with a large format camera favoring the slow and deliberate way of working. He has been included in many exhibitions both in the United States and Europe. His work was featured in the first edition of The Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography published by the Humble Arts Foundation and most recently in the exhibition catalogue for If This Is It published by Waal-boght Press.

Mustafah Abdulaziz, USA v. Japan, Times Square

Mustafah Abdulaziz, USA v. Japan, Times Square

Mustafah Abdulaziz

USA v. Japan, Times Square,
New York City, 2011
From the Memory Loss series
Website – MustafahAbdulaziz.com

Mustafah Abdulaziz (b. 1986) is an American documentary photographer. Over the last three years he has taken road trips across the United States to work on a series of pictures called Memory Loss. By using road trips as the vehicle to leaf through chance encounters, he attempts to craft a short story solely from the pages he relates to. His work invites the viewer to land on his page and address a commonality in how we live and what we think is important. He has been a member of the international photography collective MJR since 2008. In 2010 he worked as the first contract photographer for The Wall Street Journal. In 2012 he was named one of PDN’s 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. He is currently developing two other projects from where he is based in Berlin, Germany.

The Alexia Foundation

As a woman, mother, and photographer, I am so grateful to the incredible Alexia Foundation for their $25,000 grant to acknowledge the abuse of women in the United States.  This is the first year that the organization has offered this specific grant and any photographer may apply.  However, this award is for an individual photographer; collaborative applications are not accepted.
In every country in the world, women are being abused, trafficked, bartered, sold, burned by fire and acid and killed, sometimes by their own families, for “honor” or anger.

The Alexia Foundation, recognizing that most of the time abuse of women in the United States is hidden, rationalized, ignored, and sometimes worst of all, quietly accepted by the women being abused, has created a grant to provide resources for a photojournalist to produce a project that illuminates any form of abuse of women in the United States but with global significance.

The Alexia Foundation’s main purpose is to encourage and help photojournalists create stories that drive change. While our traditional grant guidelines put no limits on the subject matter for grant proposals, a few proposals about women’s rights in the last few years have been so powerful that they have compelled the Foundation to create a grant specifically on the issue of women’s abuse. Because this issue is so shocking and deplorable – but continues partly because it is so often unseen or ignored – the Foundation will provide a $25,000 grant so a project can be produced that will illuminate the horrors of what is happening, often invisibly in our own communities.

We invite proposals from any photojournalist anywhere in the world, to be submitted by August 15, 2012. For more information, go here.

PUNJAB, INDIA – NOVEMBER 2, 2009: A group of women sits idly in their  room inside a protection home in Rothak (Haryana). Many of the residents were rescued after been trafficked to be sold as wives or to work as prostitutes in Haryana and Delhi; they seem almost paralyzed by the trauma of their experiences. Limited to 10 images, this image is not in the original edit, but the power of the faces of the women is not diminished. Walter Astrada/Alexia Foundation

The Mane Subject: A Book of Beards

When Justin James Muir moved to West Chester, Pa. a little over two years ago, he found himself in a hairy situation—the beards per capita ratio seemed unusually high. The phenomenon puzzled Muir, so as he settled into life in his new home, the art director did what came naturally: he began photographing the beards of his new friends. And then he photographed the bearded friends of these friends. And then the friends of their friends found their way in front of Muir’s lens too. Pretty soon, he had enough portraits to publish a book.

A Book of Beards, published earlier this month, features 125 pages of whiskered men, photographed by Muir at beard competitions, dive bars and off-the-beaten-path hideaways across the East Coast.

“I would literally look for beards everywhere I went. I would meet someone on the street and try to set up a time to shoot them or have them come to me,” Muir told TIME. He even had cards that he would give to the the well-bearded men he would encounter.

“There was no real criteria,” he explained. “It just had to be a big beard and look cool. You don’t see people like this every day—a lot of them are kinda tucked away in nooks that most people will never go to.”

Publishing A Book of Beards himself, Muir decided that all proceeds from the first press run would help Mike Cummings, a bearded friend suffering from testicular cancer without health insurance. Mike, featured on the cover of the book, also contributed a short written vignette in the book, one of 18 pieces sprinkled throughout the portraits. Muir plans to donate the funds from subsequent press runs to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

For more information about A Book of Beards or to purchase a copy, visit BookofBeards.com.