Posts by: Alison Zavos

Photographer Diana Markosian on the Most Important Photo She’s Ever Taken


Roza Yevloyeva, mother of 20-year-old suicide bomber Magomed Yevloyev, sits on her son’s bed during an interview at her house in the town of Ali-Yurt, southeast of Ingushetia’s biggest city Nazran, February 16, 2011. Speaking softly through tears in her family’s tiny home in the North Caucasus, Yevloyeva apologized for her son’s suicide bomb attack on Russia’s busiest airport. Yevloyev detonated explosives strapped to his body at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport on Jan. 24, killing 36 people. © Diana Markosian

Diana Markosian: I was introduced to photography through photojournalism — so the first phase of my work was spent shooting news events. In January 2011, a terrorist bomber detonated himself at the busiest airport, killing 26 people. I was there along with a dozen or so photographers, a handful of them working for the same agency as me. We circled each other, and by the end of the night, I had sold one image and made none I was proud of. I was disappointed in myself, but still wanted to cover this story. I decided I would meet the family of the terrorist bomber. I traveled to Chechnya, a two hour flight from Moscow, and drove to their home, which was blocked off given the situation. When I arrived in their village in the North Caucasus, I found myself alone. I met the terrorist’s mother, and interviewed her on her dead son’s bed, speaking softly through tears. The image I made, and the experience behind making it, changed the course of my photography. It helped me realize that I can’t be where everyone else is.

We Asked 18 Photographers: Do You Always Get Permission From People That You Photograph?


© Ayesha Malik

Ayesha Malik: It depends on the situation. If I am walking around with a small camera or my iPhone, I do not necessarily ask. I value the lightness of that process. Sometimes I will exchange a glance of acknowledgement if I sense a person would prefer that. In my more recent work exploring/documenting Saudi Arabia, I have chosen to actively ask my subjects to be photographed. I do not want them to be stolen moments. I want them to be given, to be honest, for a person to be seen as they wish to be seen. I started carrying around a laminated note in Arabic stating what my project was about and if I could take a photograph. I have no interest in telling people how to see Saudi Arabia. I believe Saudi Arabia has to be seen on its own terms. I hope that through this process, it will speak for itself, in all its variations. I find it is a country of private people, and I will always choose to respect that over anything else.

Ron Haviv: It is a situation by situation decision regarding permission. In the United States, if you and your subject are in public, there is no legal requirement for permission. If you are on or in someone’s personal property, permission is needed. In many cases, if I point a camera towards someone, and there is no negative reaction, I feel fine in taking the image. If they say no, verbally or otherwise, I respect their choice. If, however, there is a crime, violent act, or people are there for the purpose of being photographed, I will take the image.

Bieke Depoorter: Normally yes. I often feel uncomfortable with taking pictures in the streets, because it somehow feels like stealing… I feel better if I first ask for permission. When I enter in peoples home, it’s more easy, as I explain to them my ideas before they invite me into their home. I understand, though, if street photographers do not ask for permission first… the moment can be easily gone if you asked. It’s all about having respect for your subject. If you have that, not a lot of things can go wrong.

We Asked 19 Photographers: Would You Ever Pay Someone In Order to Take Their Portrait?


© David Pace

David Pace: I would not pay anyone to take their portrait. That would make it an impersonal business transaction. I believe in establishing a relationship with the people I photograph, and I feel strongly that it should be reciprocal. I give a print to every person who enters into that photographic relationship with me. Since I photograph in West Africa, that usually means locating my subjects as much as year later on my next trip. I always find them. This has the added benefit of strengthening our relationship. On my last trip, in January 2015, I distributed more than 900 prints.

Ian Willms: In my heart, paying someone in order to photograph them feels like paying someone for sex. I can’t say I’d never do it, but I haven’t yet.

Cristina de Middel: Yes, I normally pay people to take their portrait since most of my work is sold in galleries now. I believe sharing a part of the potential profit is the right thing to do. I even have projects where paying my models is an important part of the whole idea, like when I pay prostitutes’ clients to take their picture. I become their client just like when they go with prostitutes, and it would not work if they were doing it for free.

Call for submissions: ‘Flora and Fauna’ Group Show at Photoville, Brooklyn


Feature Shoot is asking photographers of all ages, locations and stages in their career to submit up to 5 images around the theme ‘flora and fauna’ for possible inclusion in our annual group photography show at Photoville on September 10-20, 2015 at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Photoville is the largest annual photographic event in New York City, with over 70,000 visitors in 2014. Produced by United Photo Industries, Photoville is “a modular venue built from re-purposed shipping containers” that includes over 60 exhibitions. For the last 3 years, the Feature Shoot team has curated a container alongside esteemed companies and institutions such as Instagram, The New York Times, TIME Magazine, National Geographic, The Pulitzer Center and the Magnum Foundation.

To celebrate over 20K followers on the Feature Shoot Instagram feed, we’ve have decided to do something a little different this year and let our community of followers curate the show. Instead of choosing the participating photographers as we have done the past 3 years, we want to see what our readers are interested in seeing exhibited.

The way it will work is that the Feature Shoot team will select images from the submissions to run on our Instagram feed daily.  Followers of the Feature Shoot Instagram will be able to like each image as per usual. Photos with the most likes on our Instagram (by July 20th) will be exhibited at Photoville.

There are 2 ways to submit:

Via email: Send up to 5 images at 620 px wide to [email protected] with ‘Flora and Fauna’ in the subject line. Please include your Instagram handle (if you have one) and any additional hashtags.

Via Instagram: After posting the images you’d like to submit to your own Instagram, please hashtag #featureshootshow to be considered. If we select your image, we will regram it on our Instagram feed for our followers to see and judge.

Deadline for submissions is July 17, 2015.

It is FREE to submit, however by doing so, you agree to our Terms and Conditions found here.

Any questions, please email us at [email protected]

16 Photographers From Diverse Backgrounds Reveal Why They Take Pictures


Image from Living On A Dollar A Day: The Lives And Faces Of The World’s Poor © Renée C. Byer

Renée C. Byer: I think of myself as a journalist who chooses the art of photography to bring awareness to the world. Art is a powerful means of expression, but combined with journalism it has the ability to bring awareness to issues that can elevate the public’s understanding and compassion. It’s the basic reality of why I do what I do.

Peter Dench: I take pictures generally because I’m nosey. The privilege of being a photographer is you can live on the frontline of somebody else’s life.

Maggie Steber: As the late great Leonard Freed said, when asked this question, “to retain my sanity.” It’s true. Photography helps us make sense of the world;, it organizes it for us; it makes us think about it and about the lives of others; it takes us out of ourselves or thrusts us more deeply into ourselves and ultimately, if one is very fortunate, it gives us a life we never expected to have.

10 NYC-Based Photographers Will Discuss ‘Subcultures’ at The BlowUp #2 Event


© Deidre Schoo

Looking at photographs of subcultures is often as alluring as becoming a part of one. When captured well, a portrait of an exclusive society can enlighten us about its secrets while concealing just enough to keep us intrigued. For the second edition of The BlowUp, a new quarterly event by Feature Shoot, we’re inviting ten NYC-based photographers to disclose the stories behind some of their most gripping images of subcultures. The event will take place on June 26, 2015, from 6:30-9:00 PM, at ROOT, New York City.

The second BlowUp will welcome photographers who have straddled genres of documentary, fine art, entertainment photography and film, with each one recounting a short form (5 to 7 minute) tale behind an image of his or her choice. Selected photographs range from Stefan Ruiz’s evocative portraits of Cholombianos, a devoted group of Mexican teens who enjoy Cumbia music, to Deidre Schoo’s behind-the-scenes vision of Flex dancers, a group of innovative New York street choreographers who perform and compete in a boisterous event called “Battlefest.” In addition to Stefan Ruiz and Deidre Schoo, confirmed speakers include Larry Fink, who will be discussing his experience with the Beat Movement, Chris Arnade, who will share a powerful glimpse into street addiction, and Martha Cooper, who will takes us back in time to the 1980s NYC graffiti scene. Andrew Hetherington will take us aboard a Kid Rock cruise; Brian Finke will introduce us to the hip hop honeys, and Gillian Laub will reveal one of her subculture images. Additional photographers will be announced shortly.

Tickets are available for $20, which will include an open bar from 6:30-7:30. Reserve your ticket here (the last event sold out quickly).

The BlowUp is generously sponsored by our friends at ROOT and Agency Access . Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for updates.

Remembering Iconic Photographer Mary Ellen Mark

Back in 2005, when I thought I wanted to be a photographer, I took a few classes at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in NYC. One was a lighting class taught by one of Mary Ellen Mark’s previous assistants (who had since moved on to do lighting at a museum). To my surprise and delight, Mary Ellen Mark was actually a student in the class. She showed up, took notes, did the assignments and asked questions. She was also very generous with her time (and stories) and she indulged all of our incredibly naïve questions about her her work and career. She even signed my book (see below).

Like the rest of the photography community, I’m very saddened to hear of her death today. I didn’t know her personally, but she has always been one of my favorite photographers. And her kindness and complete lack of pretension is something that has always stuck with me and something that I will always remember when I look at her work. RIP MEM.


We Asked 10 Photographers: Has There Ever Been a Time When You Regretted Not Taking a Photograph?


Spirit Medium at Taung Pyone Spirit Festival near Mandalay, August 2014 © Mariette Pathy Allen

Mariette Pathy Allen: Yes, many times! Sometimes the camera wasn’t ready, sometimes I just wasn’t fast enough, sometimes I was too shy. Just recently I was in Myanmar photographing “Spirit Mediums”-people who were possessed by spirits. I had confusing moments when I didn’t know if I was allowed to shoot or not, and missed some great moments.

Giles Clarke: Many times…too many times to mention. Usually everyday when I get home from a day out, I think about something, or angle or situation that I could have done better. I am in Haiti as I write this and was at a protest yesterday in downtown Port-au-Prince. A few local press and I were following a man being dragged away toward a police pick-up truck where they began beating him. When the beating started, I picked up my camera and the cops began screaming at I stopped shooting and turned around a walked away… I kicked myself after, as I felt that I’d been intimidated successfully, which was annoying to say the least.

The other time was many years ago, the last time I saw my grandfather. I had just been given my camera – an Olympus OM2. I always regret not taking his picture that day…because it was the first day I had a camera…and the last day I saw him.

Brett Gundlock: Yes, daily. I live in Mexico City, so I am seeing photos constantly. I carry a small film point and shoot camera religiously, but I still have to be in a pretty daring mood to jump in front of a stranger like some crazed gonzo tourist. But that being said, I know that if I am not comfortable shooting and I force it, it is not going to work out. When I am shooting my projects, I have a general rule of not taking a photo until I know the person’s name. I think the biggest strength of my photography is the connection between the subject and me, the camera and actual photo is just a formality. So yeah- I don’t really stress about this. If it is meant to be, it will happen again and probably be better.

The Best Photo Links of the Week (April 11-17)

From highbrow to lowbrow (and everything in between), this is what we found of interest in photo-land this week.

  • Rambo the octopus becomes the world’s first aquatic photographer [Colossal]
  • “Baby Jesus” wins San Francisco’s “Hunky Jesus” contest [Lost At E Minor]
  • ‘Analyzing ISIS’ Photography’ [dvafoto]
  • ‘Remembering Lars Tunbjörk’ [TIME]
  • “If a photographer’s only job is to take the photos, then I succeeded. If my job is to create change, I have failed,” says photographer a year after the abduction of missing Nigerian girls [TIME]
  • How artists are reconfiguring the endless array of selfies, food shots, and vacation pics uploaded by the masses []
  • Astonishing photos of China’s “nail houses” [The Atlantic]
  • Sally Mann: “What an artist captures, what a mother knows and what the public sees can be dangerously different things” []
  • ‘EyeEm Raises $18 Million in Quest to Sell Your Smartphone Photos’ [Re/Code]

We Asked 17 Photographers How They Define Success As a Professional Image Maker


© Ricky Rhodes

Ricky Rhodes: I think any photographer who can support themselves from taking pictures is successful.

Chloe Aftel: Making any assignment work. No matter the budget, location, talent, etc. Whatever constraints put upon you, you come out with something awesome. That and being able to pay your bills.

Julia Fullerton-Batten: There are two levels of measurement of success as a professional photographer. The most basic one is that you earn enough to live from your career. The other is that you achieve recognition for your work, be it from agencies, art collectors and the general public.

Matt Black: To be able to show things that otherwise would go unseen. That’s the only reason to do this work, in my book.