Posts by: Alison Zavos

The Moving Story of a Street Photographer’s Chance Encounter With a Subject Almost 29 Years Later

Bushwick After The Ashes

Jump Rope (Vanessa Matir, The Little Girl in the Blue Shorts) June 1983 © Meryl Meisler 1983

Meryl Meisler: In June of 1983, I photographed what appeared to be an extended family and neighbors hanging out in front of a small brick apartment house on Palmetto Street in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. It was a building I walked past nearly every day on my way to and from school. The light ochre bricks of the façade are graffiti covered with brown and black spray paint of names like Jose, Rafael and other tags. A woman sits with her carriage and toddlers on the stoop. An older woman looks towards younger women with their carriages and toddlers. A woman sitting on a garbage can looks towards the direction of the camera. A white haired man wearing T-shirt peers out of the ground floor window, stares directly at the camera lens. There’s a little girl in the foreground joyfully on her tippy toes tossing one end of a jump rope, the jumper and other person turning the rope are out of view. A young dark hair pony tailed girl, wearing a blue halter tope and shorts, has her back to the camera, she’s looking toward the grandmotherly figure. More people in the adjacent building peer towards the camera. It looks like a happy scene.

Leon Borensztein On Why Photographing the Yakuza was the Biggest Risk of His Career


© Leon Borensztein

Leon Borensztein: In 1996 The New York Times Magazine send me to Japan to document the Generation X, the underworld of Japan. I was worried a little, as I was dealing with the real underworld without any protection. On my third day I have a real Yakuza, three gangsters coming to my fancy hotel room; they refused to meet at any place but on my territory. Two of them had missing pinkies, a bad omen. After taking a few exposures I asked them to take their shirts off, which they did promptly. After a while, I asked them to take all their clothes off so I could photograph all their tattoos. All of them went to the bathroom, took showers and returned naked. I had two young and attractive Japanese girls with me, students from the best university, speaking perfect English and working with the world press. To my surprise all went smooth, they did all of what I asked. I never felt any real danger. On the ninth day, I was supposed to photograph members of motorcycle gang, young fellows who later grew up to be the real gangsters.

They wanted to meet at midnight at undisclosed locations, since their names were known to the local police. We meet them some place, and we were told to follow them, about 20 on 10 bikes. They were driving very fast out of Tokyo, and I started to worry. After an hour of driving, we arrived to some place that was totally dark, some Shinto temple with an adjunct graveyard. It didn’t look good. I powered my generator, set my studio lights, but then a few of them took their hara-kiri sabers and started to throw them in the air and in some maddening dance started to move closer and closer to me when yelling angrily in Japanese. There was no escape. The leader, his face full of fury was just centimeters from my face and his dagger was performing some frenzied dance between us. As the cold blade was moving fast in front of my eyes the modeling lights were reflecting in ominous way.

I was sure that this would be the end of me. After scaring me, they turned to be pussycats, did everything that I asked them, and more.

A few weeks after returning from this assignment, when the award piece was published I received a fax from one of the girls that the real Yakuza were going to kill all of us because their faces are showing and the caption under the image said that after the session they went to “claim” money that somebody owed their boss. I explained to the girl that they stood in front of my camera voluntarily, but somebody told them that there would be a big black bar over their eyes. I am alive, but I never heard from my young translators.

‘What Camera Do You Use?’ And Other Questions Photographers HATE Being Asked

USA. New York City. 1989. Feast of San Gennero, Little Italy.

© Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden: Aren’t you getting in lots of fights when you photograph?

Andi Schreiber: I photograph events and parties and I’m often asked about the type of equipment I’m carrying. It’s always men who will say something like, “Hey, that’s a great camera – – I’ll bet it takes great pictures!” I wonder if they’re just flirting or they’re actually being serious. I always smile and politely tell them what matters is who’s behind the camera but that it’s also helpful to have reliable and responsive equipment.

We Asked 16 Photographers: Are you Optimistic for the Future of Photography?


© Benjamin Lowy

Benjamin Lowy: Of course I am. The future is innovation, and photography will change and adapt, but it will continue to be a viable artistic form. Whether one can make money from it is another question all together.

J.M. Giordano: We will always have still photography and it will always be important. This came to me while watching a doc on photography during the Vietnam War. There’s a 16mm film showing the execution of a Vietcong sympathizer by a cop. It happens very fast and the film was all but forgotten. Luckily, still photographer Eddie Adams was there to capture one of the most famous war photos of all time. No one remembers the film but EVERYONE remembers the still photograph. In reality, I’m more concerned with the future of GOOD photography. The more we accept mediocrity and fear criticism, the more we’re no longer able to judge what’s good and what’s bad. Everything isn’t awesome.”

Ron Haviv: I am very optimistic about the future of photography. While the monetization of our new world hasn’t reached the level we want, the audience level has. Never before has there been more interest in photography than now. Whilst almost everyone considers themselves a photographer of some sort, those same people are appreciating great photography in a new way. We at VII photo and other places have moved from content suppliers to actual publishers through social media and other venues. It is very exciting to be able to reach an audience the same size as a magazine.

20 Inspiring Photos of Life ‘Off the Grid’

William Woodward

© William Woodward /

© Christopher Rubey, 2015 -

© Christopher Rubey /

For our newest group show, “Off The Grid,” we partnered with ImageBrief and put out a call for images that depict what living life “off the grid” means to photographers. The following collection, was curated by Chris Buda, Manager of Art Buying at BBDO and Isabelle Raphael, Head of Visual Content at ImageBrief and features 20 photos that encapsulate the ethos of the “off the grid” lifestyle. More images from the collection can be found on ImageBrief’s site.

Congratulations to the photographers featured here. Each will receive free Explorer Plus accounts from ImageBrief, which allow them to sell images in the ImageBrief Marketplace, get hired on assignment, and get contacted by ImageBrief’s network of thousands of buyers.

Didn’t make it in time to submit to Off The Grid? Don’t worry, ImageBrief has dozens of new briefs every day and it’s free to sign up and submit.

London Photographer Jenny Lewis on the Most Important Photo She’s Ever Taken


Joti and Kiran © Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis: One of the most important in the One Day Young series was one of Joti and Kiran. Whilst I was shooting this portrait of Joti, whom I had never met before, with her 4 hour old baby, she told me how she had lost a baby the year before, and with each contraction she had to suppress the waves of grief and fear that were swelling up attempting to drown her. The raw honesty of the conversation cemented this feeling of responsibility I felt, to tell this story of the triumphant mother, the story of strength and empowerment. I learnt a lot about compassion for strangers that day and humanity. We have kept in touch, and it’s wonderful that this moment of taking the picture and talking about her lost son Joseph was a turning point, and somehow Joti and Kiran being in the book keeps Joesph’s memory alive and their picture becomes about both boys. The picture means a lot to me, and I still get goosebumps every time I look at it.

New York-Based Photojournalist Yana Paskova on Her Most Important Photo Projects


A patient slams a Bulgarian coin on his forehead and says, “Money controls everything. Money is why I am here. Money is why I will never get out. We have no voice here; only money speaks,” in the psychiatry ward of a county hospital in Bulgaria on August 10, 2006. © Yana Paskova

We asked photojournalist Yana Paskova to describe the most important photo she’s ever taken. This was her response.

Yana Paskova: I think “ever” rarely exists, especially in the field of photojournalism, and the arts in general – and importance is quite relative. Is the photo important because it taught you something? Did it mean much to you or to its observers? Did it exert a great influence over your career? Or is it simply beautiful and meaningful? The picture a photographer considers singularly most significant at any point in his/her career will hopefully accumulate some competition within 5 years. I believe a more relevant way to evaluate impact is to look at photo projects. For me, the stories I shot on mental health in my homeland, Bulgaria, and then on American politics on the presidential campaign trail at the start of my career in the mid- to late-2000s were quite influential to my vision then – the former taught me how to access people’s lives effectively but respectfully, and the latter, how to use visual metaphors in illustrating complicated issues, and how to seek out beauty in the mundane. Of greatest import recently have been my projects in Bulgaria, once more, and also Cuba, on the intersection of democracy and communism – important because of how personal this issue is to me, having grown up in a communist country, and also because of the challenge (that I enjoy and welcome) of finding a unique voice in my stories when photographing a place of much news coverage (Cuba as one example, with more to come).

Photographer Jonathan May on the Most Important Photo He’s Ever Taken


© Jonathan May

Jonathan May: The photograph I took of Stanford, the young boy in Kenya with a rare disease, Xeroderma pigmentosum, an autosomal recessive genetic disorder in which the ability to repair damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light is deficient, is the most important image I’ve taken. I was able to win the Head On portrait prize in Sydney with the image I took, and give him the money to help with ongoing hospital costs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a fairy tale ending though, and the disease can’t be cured, only managed, so it is an ongoing battle for young Stanford. I am still in touch with his mother and am continuing to help him on his journey.

Call for Submissions: Photos Depicting Life ‘Off the Grid’


Photo: © Whitney Justesen /

More than a buzzword or flash-in-the-pan cultural phenomenon, “off the grid” has become a way of life. We want to see photos that encompass what it means to you. It could be farm-to-table lifestyle—the families that churn their own butter and harvest wild honey. It could be more literal—solar panels in action or geometric grid patterns. Have ariel shots of cabins on far-off locals or landscapes that scream ”no one has ever stepped foot here before”? We’d love to see them.

The collection will be curated by Chris Buda, Manager of Art Buying, BBDO and Isabelle Raphael, Head of Visual Content, ImageBrief.

Our sponsor ImageBrief will be giving away ten yearly Explorer Plus accounts to the top ten images/photographers and ten three-month Explorer Plus accounts for an additional ten photographers selected. All winning photographers will run on Feature Shoot.

ImageBrief is a platform that directly connects photographers to clients by allowing advertising agencies, photo editors, and leading publications to post briefs that describe the kind of imagery they’re seeking at any given moment. Photographers can then upload their pre-existing work to apply for the brief, and the selected photographer will earn the job. ImageBrief also allows top image buyers to commission work on site based on photographers’ profiles. By putting your work directly in front of those who are looking to buy, ImageBrief makes it easier than ever to monetize your photography. Read more about ImageBrief here and here.

Submissions will be accepted through ImageBrief. A free account is required to submit and it takes just a minute to sign up. Copyright remains with the photographer.

Deadline for submissions is September 28, 2015.

This group show is sponsored by ImageBrief.

London Photojournalist Peter Dench on the Most Important Photo He’s Ever Taken


© Peter Dench

Peter Dench: The most important photograph I’ve taken is always the next one. However in retrospect, it’s probably a photograph of a drink-driving accident captured on a night patrol with the Bristol medical rapid response team as part of a wider reportage looking at England’s relationship with alcohol. I’m known for my more humorous photographs and believe humor can be an important tool in delivering a serious message. However, sometimes photography shouldn’t be funny, clever or humorous. At times, it just has to document what is. It was a photograph of mixed feelings: I didn’t want to have wasted my time and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt but I did want to produce a photograph that highlighted the perils of drunk-driving. It was an uncomfortable and necessary experience in my photographic development.