Posts by: Alison Zavos

We Asked 14 Photographers: What is the Most Precarious Situation You’ve Found Yourself in While Photographing?


The wall after the fight © Brett Gundlock

Brett Gundlock: When I was younger, I shot a project on Neo-Nazi Skinheads- the entire time was a precarious situation. But the one event that stands out was one winter night in Calgary, Canada. I was with a new group who were known for being pretty violent (and generally psychotic). Two of the skinheads got into an (drunken) argument, and I started to shoot.

The bigger of the two (Tyler) told me to stop shooting and that this wasn’t a side he wanted to show of their life. But the smaller one (Rob) defended me and my role there as a journalist. I had been shooting different groups in Canada for three years at that point, so I had a track record with them, and they understood what I was doing.

The argument escalated pretty quickly. Rob put on brass knuckles, Tyler ran upstairs and grabbed a samurai sword. It was one of those cheesey swords that you buy at a truck stop and leave on the top of your fridge. But it turns out they are pretty sharp.

So Tyler hit Rob with the sword (blood everywhere) and Rob hit Tyler with the brass knuckles. Tyler went down, one punch KO. I had never seen someone get knocked out with a single punch. I thought he was dead for a second. But this was my opportunity to start shooting. Tyler was knocked out for a minute, until Rob woke him up with a steel toe kick to the head. Pretty crazy five minutes for sure, but I shot quickly and quietly and then decided to exit before someone actually did die in that basement.

They called me the next morning, I guess they made up and they invited me back that night to have some more beers. Both Tyler and Rob are sitting in jail on murder charges for randomly beating a disabled man to death.

Brooke Frederick: Most recently would have to be an impromptu tour of a slaughter house in the middle of Louisiana. I pulled over to check out the place and the owner himself came out and offered to give me a tour and let me photograph it. I was wearing flip flops and a summer dress… Needless to say I could not turn down his offer.

Giles Clarke: I was on patrol with police in El Salvador one Saturday night a couple of years back. My wife once phoned me while there was gunfire going off in a rough suburb of San Salvador. I had a heavy anti-gang police officer on top of me and my nose was pressed to the dirt and, for some still inexplicable reason, I decided to take her call. I told her I was at a fairground and everything was fine.

The other time was arriving at Stephen Spielberg’s office to photograph him on the Universal Lot in Hollywood and realized I had left the rolls of film at home. More embarrassing than precarious!

Jeffrey Stockbridge: Photographing while hiking over a Gillespie Pass in New Zealand during a rainstorm was pretty precarious. More interesting and relevant, however, is when I embarked on Kensington Blues (2008-2014). During the course of the project, I was spending a lot of time walking up and down Kensington Avenue in North Philly. The Ave is infamously known for drug abuse, prostitution and violent crime. The first couple weeks of photographing were some of the most challenging times I’ve ever faced as a photographer. At first, I was too scared to get out of the car. Every woman on every corner was making eyes at me- they thought I was looking for a date. I worked up the courage to ditch the car and just walk around. In order to make portraits with my 4×5, I had to get people to trust me, which means that I had to trust them first. This wasn’t easy, but through sharing stories and showing prints, I was able to find common ground between myself and the people who were hard-up on the Ave. Communication and respect were key.

As my relationships within the community grew so did the project. A year or so later, I found myself feeling at home on the Avenue, and then one day I saw a young woman get shot in the back of the head right in front of me. Although I had immersed myself in my subject and felt entirely comfortable in the neighborhood, I knew that such things happened. Still, this was a stark reminder of the violence that plagues economically depressed inner-city neighborhoods throughout the US. A violence that we consistently hear about but don’t often witness first hand.

The Best Links of the Week (March 7-13)

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

  • ‘This Arresting Ad Wants You To End Discrimination Against Homosexuals’ []
  • Pieter Hugo on ‘South African identity, colonial legacy and the impact of Instagram on Art’ [Cool Hunting]
  • YES! to these Brooklyn Club kids [NOWNESS]
  • Village gravediggers shot by Romanian photographer Remus Tiplea [Oitzarisme]
  • ‘See the Artworks Billionaire William Louis-Dreyfus Is Gifting to Harlem Kids’ [artnet News]
  • Winners of the ‘1st Annual NYC Drone Film Festival’ [Indiewire]
  • “I often hear photojournalists talk about making a difference, but once the story is published, they’re paid a paltry editorial fee, maybe win an award, then they move on” [Medium]
  • Photographer Takes Drone Into the Largest Cave in the World [PetaPixel]

Martin Schoeller Discusses the Portrait that Launched His Career and Gives Advice to Emerging Photographers

It probably would have been safer to launch our first Feature Shoot video with a photographer a little less high profile than Martin Schoeller, but thankfully, it worked out great. I caught up with Martin during a busy time in which he had two exhibitions featuring his commercial portraits (yes, you read that right) up in NYC at Hasted Kraeutler Gallery and CWC gallery in Berlin. The shows coincided with his new photo book Portraits, published by teNues.

I peppered Martin with questions for over an hour or so, which we’ve boiled down to a mere 6 informative and inspiring minutes in which the photographer speaks about the portrait that launched his career, celebrity photo shoots, and advice for emerging photographers.

This video is generously sponsored by Squarespace, the innovative website publishing platform perfect for photographers. Squarespace makes it simple to create professional websites that are 100% customizable, making web design accessible to everyone. Complete with award-winning designs, hosting, domains, commerce, and 24/7 support, Squarespace offers photographers more ways to market themselves and grow their business.

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We Asked 13 Photographers: ‘Has there ever been a time when you felt guilty for taking a photograph?’


Dr Jorge Chiu tries in vain to save a life of a multiple shooting victim in a hospital in Guatemala City, Guatemala. January 2014′ © Giles Clarke / Getty Images Reportage

Giles Clarke: When I was taking the image above, I had the victims daughter screaming just behind me watching her father die…that was tough and I felt a little guilty at the time but that’s not something I can think about too often..

Brett Gundlock: Covering some of the violence here in Mexico, yes. Funerals are always very difficult for me. I have lost some close family recently, so I can get a little soft at times. I am never really 100% welcome at these events, so I do generally really feel pretty guilty about hovering over someone going through a pretty shitty time. But I remind myself that my reasons for being there are honest. I am sure the people I am shooting would appreciate my intentions if I had the chance to explain myself.

Irina Popova: Yes. Basically, I feel guilty most of the time – not only for taking photographs, but for being alive, eating, sleeping, looking, etc. That’s why I try to become better and establish better communication about what I’m doing and why. I feel secretly guilty for photographing my mom washing my granny in a miserable bathroom of a hospital, when my granny was practically disabled. I was making a film about her, with an interview as a main part, where she was telling how beautiful she was and how all the men were after her and how she suffered all her life for loving the wrong one… I never finished the film and never used the images in the bathroom, and am not sure I will.

Noah Rabinowitz: I’ve never felt guilt in making an image, only its distribution. Context is paramount to image-based communication. The more age, experience and perspective I accumulate, the more thought I put into the implications about every image I put out into the world.

The Best Links of the Week (February 28 – March 6)


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

  • “Vince Vaughn and Co-stars Pose for Idiotic Stock Photos You Can Have for Free” [Adweek]
  • Stirring Photos from “The Big Apple to the Big House, and Back” [Medium]
  • World Press Photo takes back first-prize award after realizing submission was partially falsified [World Press Photo]
  • “Mankind fell and was doomed to Pittsburgh”: Revisiting the photos of W. Eugene Smith [Belt Magazine]
  • JR teams up with ‘Save Ellis Island’ [Juxtapoz]
  • ‘China’s immense marketplace of colorful crap’ [Boing Boing]
  • A new worldwide database of fixers [dvafoto]
  • ‘Canadian Photogs Now Officially Own the Copyright to All of Their Photos’ [PetaPixel]
  • “Jennifer Lawrence, Steven Spielberg & Warner Bros Land Lynsey Addario’s Memoir ‘It’s What I Do’” [Deadline]

25 Photographers Share The Worst Job They Had Before Becoming a Professional


(Photo: Shutterstock)

We asked 25 photographers: ‘What’s the worst job you had before becoming a professional photographer?’

Brooke Frederick: A “Fan Photographer” at Lakers and Kings sporting events in LA. You basically had to chase people down and convince them to let you take their photo and then buy it. People would run away from me, completely ignore me, or yell at me to leave them alone. It was not fun.

Carli Davidson: I had a lot of pretty craptacular jobs before I became a photographer. I think jiffy lube grease monkey and truck stop porn shop cashier tie for the worst. I always came home with great stories thought!

Eirik Johnson: I worked as a landscaper and garbage collector for a housing development while in college. Pardon the pun, but that stank.

Elinor Carucci: I was a professional belly dancer for 15 years while developing a career as a fine art photographer (also published a book about my life as a professional belly dancer – Diary of a dancer – SteidlMack 2005), but i loved it! The worst job i had was babysitting a (the poor thing) colicky baby…

The Best Links of the Week (February 21-27)


© Rus Anson

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

  • PDN’s 30 announced [PDN]
  • “Patent bully” sues small photo websites [Ars Technica]
  • ‘What happened to crime photography?’ [Slate]
  • Lynsey Addario on The Daily Show [dvafoto]
  • The Museum of the City of New York releases thousands of images by a 17-year-old Stanley Kubrick [dvafoto]
  • World Press Photo winner Giovanni Troilo accused of submitting dishonest, staged images of Charleroi, Belgium [TIME]
  • “Saying, ‘Here we are having fun, now everybody look and smile!’ can be a disruption of the experience.” []

The Best Links of the Week (February 14-20)


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

  • ModCloth substitutes models with employees of all shapes and sizes [Digiday]
  • ‘Your Dick Pics Are About to be All Over the Internet’ [WIRED]
  • “How narcissistic do you have to be to warrant buying a selfie toaster?” [Incredible Things]
  • ‘Can you match these Westminster Dog Show dogs with their owners?’ []
  • Un-retouched photos of Cindy Crawford leaked, Internet responds perfectly [Metro News]
  • Crying North West placated by toy-weilding photographer at New York Fashion Week [Us Weekly]
  • Plus-sized Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lawrence, and Mila Kunis [Lost at E Minor]
  • BBC, Associated Press, the Pulitzer Center and more take steps to protect freelancers [dvafoto]

Announcing the Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Award Winners: Jiehao Su, Sebastian Collett and Ayumi Tanaka


Clockwise from left: Jiehao Su, Ayumi Tanaka, Sebastian Collett

We are excited to announce the three winners of the inaugural Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards!  We reviewed over 2,000 submissions from all over the world in the categories of portraits, fine art and documentary. Our esteemed jury choose Jiehao Su‘s Borderland to receive the Grand Prize; Sebastian Collett was selected for his Vanishing Point series, and Ayumi Tanaka was chosen for her series Wish You Were Here.

The Best Links of the Week (February 7-13)

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

  • David LaChappelle directs this riveting ballet to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” [Vimeo]
  • “I don’t think people who put exhibitions online are curators, I think they’re editors, and they should be honest enough to say that.” [Curating Photography]
  • Photographer Jay Maisel sells NYC apartment for $55,000,000 [NY Daily News]
  • ‘World Press Photo winners announced’ [Telegraph]
  • ‘This Is What Breakfast Looks Like in 22 Countries Around the World’ [Buzzfeed]
  • “Let’s say you’re a photographer who doesn’t produce gigantic colour pictures of barren scenes or who doesn’t produce studio still lives that might or might not be awkwardly Photoshopped for reasons that only their makers and a handful of curators appreciate. Then what?” [Conscientious Photography Magazine]