Posts by: Julia Sabot

Vulnerable Portraits of Korean Plastic Surgery Patients (NSFW)



The latest raw data compiled from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery in 2010, confirms that South Korea is indeed the country with the world’s highest per capita rate of cosmetic plastic surgery. It is a culture where men are judged on their financial balance sheet and women by their beauty. The male-dominated media endlessly reinforces its model of the ideal woman.  As a result of these cultural forces Korea has become a beauty-oriented society where people are judged more for their appearance than their character. The combination of these factors has dramatically increased the burgeoning plastic surgery industry while creating another set of standards for women to adhere to.—Ji Yeo

Brooklyn-based photographer Ji Yeo believes beauty is integral to human nature. Her current works focus on ideas of beauty in contemporary culture, specifically on how women come to define and enforce an ideal of beauty on themselves. Beauty Recovery Room is a recent series of photographs that were taken in Korea directly after women had undergone plastic surgery operations.

Disposable Everyday Objects Transformed Into Abstract Works of Art

Sam Kaplan

Bubble Tea Straws

Sam Kaplan

Plastic Bags

Through repetition of form, NYC-based photographer Sam Kaplan aims to make disposable objects beautiful—and he succeeds. His series Disposables elevates everyday objects to abstract and striking works of art.

‘Life After Death: How Murder Affects A Family’ by Photographer Noelle Swan Gilbert


I see my nephews as often as I can, and I am amazed at their resilience. They are strong, loving boys with deep connections to those around them. But every once in a while I see one of them staring off in deep thought and I wonder what they’re thinking. Or if they’re remembering her.—Noelle Swan Gilbert

Life After Death: How Murder Affects A Family is a documentary series by Los Angeles-based photographer Noelle Swan Gilbert. In 2007, Gilbert’s sister Laura was murdered by her ex-husband in the home they shared with their two young sons, then age two and four. The two boys’ lives instantly changed—their mother gone and their father in police custody. After a stint in foster care, the boys were eventually released to Gilbert’s parents in Seattle after an arduous five week fight with the state of Colorado.

The series is Gilbert’s poignant document of her two nephews living in a world they didn’t anticipate. Of it, she also says, “It started out as a way to deal with my grief. I couldn’t look at my nephews without crying, so I did what I always do, I looked through a camera. I documented. As the years pass, I continue to document our family as the dynamic shifts, unfolds and ushers in revelations, celebrations, sadness and fear.”

Portraits of ‘Chipsters’ at Rock Concerts in China


Eager to find some type of youth culture in China, photographer Noah Sheldon began the series Rock in China just two weeks into his move from Brooklyn to Shanghai two years ago. Fresh off the boat and with eyes wide open, he was still experiencing the city as a traveler when he came across a poster for a rock festival, and was immediately intrigued. Sheldon remains interested in everything about the scene—the small group of people giving free hugs, the couple off in the bushes making out, the huge crowds of hip young kids, known as Chipsters, rocking out to playing bands. He now understands that these festivals are often announced only a week or less before they happen due to an inherent inability to organize large gatherings in a country where information is highly opaque. Large crowds—besides train stations during Chinese New Year—are surprisingly rare.

Wistful Portraits of People Traveling Long Distance on Amtrak Trains


San Francisco-based photographer McNair Evans is literally on the move, working on an ongoing project he calls In Search of Great Men in which he travels by Amtrak, capturing fleeting landscapes out the window and fellow passengers inside. He weaves together images with words, collecting stories from the passengers—tales of their past, hopes for their future, a few of which he shares here. We recently asked him more about the project.

Colorful Portraits from Midwestern County Fairs


Our first trip to a county fair was all it took for us to be drawn in and to know it was something we needed to document. We have also always loved people watching and state fairs and county fairs attract a wide cast of characters. Throw in a camera and you are suddenly given permission to stare.
—Ackerman + Gruber

Minneapolis-based husband and wife photo team Ackerman + Gruber (Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber) have always been intrigued by Americana. After moving to the Midwest three years ago, they were interested in exploring the fair culture that they had heard so much about. During their first year in the Midwest, they spent time driving around the state visiting small county fairs, embracing mini-donuts, pork chops on a stick, 4-H animals, and demolition derbies in all their splendor in an ongoing series entitled Blue Ribbon.

Theme Park in China Features Miniature Replicas of the World’s Historical Monuments


‘Must see sites’ like the Eiffel tower and the Statue of Liberty are interesting in that they have become consumable commodities within themselves. People go to these famous places to take their photos, drink a can of Coke and then get back on their couch for the most part. This place took that idea to the next level, allowing the tourists from around mainland China to get their photo taken in these locations while saving the airfare. Everything was smaller than usual, but at the same time somehow over-exaggerated. All the expected souvenirs were readily available and there were also some dinosaurs added for good measure. It felt like a counterfeit version of the world.—Luke Casey

Shenzhen, China was designated as a special economic zone in the 1980s, transforming from a small fishing village into one of China’s mega-cities. It is located close to Hong Kong where English photographer Luke Casey currently lives. He said that despite being an hour away by train, it feels worlds apart. When Casey first heard about the theme park Window Of The World, which contains reproductions of the some of the most famous sites in the world and placed conveniently close for the majority of Chinese tourists, he knew he had to document it.

Photos Document Historic Fire Lookout Towers in Washington State


In the late 1930s to mid 1940s, the United States scrambled to build as many Fire Lookout towers as possible to protect against a growing number of wildfires. Washington State alone had over 600 in use during this time. Lookout Rangers worked this special summer job, acting as a lifeline for the forest and helping to protect what so many people take for granted. Sadly, in the last few decades many of these historic lookout towers have been abandoned, destroyed or vandalized.—Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson first experienced staying in a Fire Lookout cabin during the summer of 2012 in the Mt. Shasta forest. It was an incredible experience that inspired his attempt in one summer to document as many of the lookouts still standing in his own state of Washington. Fire Lookout was shot entirely with medium format film, and combines his love of portraiture, exploration, landscapes, and northwest history.


Photographer Captures Animals Staring Back at Him


I am constantly editing and organizing photographs from my archive, and a few years ago I started noticing a stack of photographs of animals that seemed to be looking back at me. At some point—probably very late at night while I was half asleep—I had the idea to pull them together into a series called Animals That Saw Me. The title was a perfect way to invert the way we look at photographs and think of animals in our everyday environment. I love the fact that we have absolutely no idea what they are thinking, or what they saw when they noticed me wandering around. I wanted to take a closer look at that fleeting moment of recognition between species in hopes of being able to consider our world from a completely different perspective, if only for a brief moment.—Ed Panar

Animals That Saw Me is a series by Pennsylvania-based photographer Ed Panar that captures unexpected encounters with various animals. Over the course of 17 years, Panar came face to face with these animals while wandering around backstreets and side roads of different towns and cities.

Harrowing Photographs of Migrants Making the Perilous Journey Through the Arizona Desert

Matt NagerForty-three year old Acevedo Guadalupe-Herrera from Ahuacatitlan, Guerrero, Mexico, lays unconscious surrounded by medical officials next to a ranch off Elephant Head Road near Green Valley, Arizona, August 8, 2009. Guadalupe-Herrera was found by a ranch hand and was presumed to be dead, although he recovered with the help of IV fluids and medical attention. He had been walking for five days with little water and no food.

After the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the US made several attempts to stymie and fortify undocumented movement in established crossings zones beginning with the introduction of Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego, and Operation Hold The Line in El Paso, Texas. One intended and reported result of the operation was to funnel undocumented movement into geographically inhospitable areas of the Sonora desert in Arizona in an attempt to deter potential migrants from crossing the border.

As a result of the longer and hotter path through the desert in Arizona, border deaths in this region have increased dramatically. A study by the Bi-national Migration Institute states that from 1990 to 2012, the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner examined the remains of 2,238 migrants. Of these deaths, over 750 cases remain unidentified. While apprehension numbers have fallen in recent years, deaths throughout the region have not seen a similar reduction. According to the conservative death estimates of the Border Patrol statistics there were 177 deaths in the Tucson region in 2011 alone.—Matt Nager

Having traveled a fair amount through Latin America, Denver-based photographer Matt Nager had a great interest in shooting a story on the border. In 2008, he came across an article about advances in DNA testing to help identify bodies found in the desert of Arizona. That sparked his interest, and he spent the next year researching the issue and the striking numbers of migrant deaths occurring in Southern Arizona.

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