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Stories Made of Solitude: a Walk in the Woods in the American South

“How surely are the dead beyond death. Death is what the living carry with them. A state of dread, like some uncanny foretaste of a bitter memory. But the dead do not remember and nothingness is not a curse. Far from it.”
-exert from Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree

In Cormac McCarthy’s semi-autobiographical novel Suttree, the protagonist of the same name escapes into the woods for weeks at a time and lives on the margins of an outcast community there—in these breaks from reality he also experiences visions.

Until recently Virginian photographer Morgan Ashcom was living in New York city, a far cry from the rural setting where he was brought up in the American South. Around the same time he left the farm where he grew up, his family entered a period of turmoil. He found himself travelling back on forth between his family home and New York on a regular basis. 

A Photographer’s Strange and Beautiful Ode to His Daughter

Amsterdam photographer Caspar Claasen, like all parents, dreads the day his child will have to live without him. Four years ago, when his daughter Lora was four years old, the fear took over, causing acute bouts of panic. Intrusive thoughts and anxiety-inducing images flooded his brain. He worried about car accidents and ill-fated falls. Throughout this period, Claasen also photographed Lora, watched her grow up, and raised her one day at a time.

Claasen is now raising funds for his new book, Even Firemen, an ode to his daughter and the demons she unknowingly helped him to overcome. Composed of photographs of a solitary Lora exploring ordinary places turned surreal by her father’s gaze, the book marks the close of a painful but vital chapter in the photographer’s life. He describes the scenes in its pages as “the moments between moments.”

A Fresh Look at Gordon Parks’ Photo Essay “Harlem Gang Leader”

Gordon Parks: Red Jackson, Harlem, New York, 1948; gelatin silver print; 19 1/2 x 15
3/4 in.

Gordon Parks: Untitled, Harlem, New York, 1948; gelatin silver print with applied
pigment; 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.

1948 was a watershed year in the career of American photographer Gordon Parks. An established fashion photographer who had been working on assignment for LIFE magazine, Parks was also an accomplished author, publishing his second book, Camera Portraits, a collection of his work accompanied by professional observations about posing, lighting, and printing. At the same, time, Parks longed for something deeper and more essential to his soul.

“Photographing fashion was rewarding but for me somewhat rarefied,” he revealed in his memoir, Half Past Autumn. “Documentary urgings were still gnawing at me, still waiting for fulfillment.”

He met with his editors to make his very first pitch: the story of Leonard “Red” Jackson, the 17-year-old leader of the Midtowners, a Harlem gang that had been caught up in the turf warfare that had been plaguing the neighborhood throughout the decade. He showed them 21 pictured edited from a body of hundreds photographs made over a period of four weeks made shadowing Red as he went about his business. The work tells the story of survival in its most poignant form, caught in the space where poverty, oppression, and violence foment and froth.

Eerie, Dreamlike Moments Made on Light-Sensitive Paper

Vanessa Marsh still remembers the night at sleep-away camp when she learned the truth about the night sky: once starlight reached the earth, it had already traveled trillions of miles. For this reason, a counselor told her, the twinkles she saw at night were already old— sometimes even hundreds or thousands of years old. The star itself could have died before she was born.

Daily Life of a Luk Thep Doll in Thailand

Petch is Thailand’s first known Luk Thep doll – a plastic doll manufactured in the way any doll might be. The only difference being that the doll has a living soul, believed to change people’s lives; in Mama Ning’s case, it was the spirit of her son. One of the earliest mentions of the Luk Thep dolls can be found in a 2015 article on Coconuts.co – an online magazine that publishes a fascinating array of stories from South-east Asia. In an interview with Mananya ‘Mama Ning’ Boonmee, the writer introduces us to the very first Luk Thep doll, created in west Bangkok.

Squarespace Has an Amazing New Analytics App for Your Website (Sponsored)

In the digital age, it’s easier than ever for photographers to connect with their followers and clients. A good website shares your vision with the world; a great website goes a step further by offering real-time feedback from your audience. That’s where Squarespace‘s brand new Analytics App comes in.

Squarespace now allows users to access detailed data straight from their mobile devices. The analytics are simple and easy to understand, while also providing a thorough overview of how people use your website. Learn what you can be doing better by monitoring the size of your audience and seeing your most-viewed projects. Interested in where people are learning about your site? Squarespace tells you if other websites are linking and referring people back to you. Discover how efficient your marketing has been in the past and how you can upgrade for the future. Now, you can also customize date ranges for a more in-depth glimpse at your traffic and activity during specific time frames.

If you have an online store set up with Squarespace Commerce, an invaluable platform for photographers selling prints, you’ll be able to access everything from sales information on your best-selling products to abandoned cart statistics, which can help you understand the way costumers think and target your approach.

The mobile Analytics App provides almost all of the detailed data you can find on a desktop, giving you the freedom to move around and interact with your followers when you’re on the go. The mobile dashboard is beautiful, clean, and most importantly, fun and easy to navigate. The app was just released a few days ago, and Squarespace users are thrilled. “Your recent change to analytics makes it almost addictive to see how [my work] is paying off,” one person wrote.

Make your own beautiful website today with Squarespace, and use the code FEATURESHOOT to get 10% off your first purchase.

Squarespace is a Feature Shoot sponsor.

The Man Who Made History by Photographing India in Color

Raghubir Singh, Ganapati immersion, Chowpatty, Bombay, 1989
Chromogenic print
Photograph copyright © 2017 Succession Raghubir Singh,
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

Raghubir Singh, Holi revellers, Bombay, 1990
Chromogenic print
Photograph copyright © 2017 Succession Raghubir Singh,
Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Raghubir Singh (1942-1999) secured his position as one of the early serious photographers to work in color. At the time, Kodachrome slide film was not generally accepted by his contemporaries in Europe and the United States, but Singh felt it was necessary to his life and purpose as a photographer of India. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be available in his home country until trade restrictions were lifted in the early 1990s. In the meantime, Singh relied on magazines overseas, including National Geographic, to provide him with the precious film he had nicknamed “King Kodachrome.”

Bonnie & Clyde: The Very First Exhibition of Historical Photographs

Anonymous, Bonnie & Clyde, Kissing & Embracing, 1933.

Anonymous, Clyde Barrow’s Criminal Record, 1934.

There is nothing more American than the anti-hero, the fearless, go-for-self radical who rejects all social norms, subverting the system in order to win by breaking the rules. They occupy a space that defies the paradigm of villainy, inspiring a legion of fans and followers to cheer them on to what is very often an unfortunate fate. Though they may be amoral, immoral, and unethical, they tap into the urges of the unchecked id. Let’s call it vicarious living at its most primal state – that which few would do themselves but would gladly enjoy via proxy.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow embodied this to the fullest extent, adding the added touch of romance to the primordial death wish. During the “Public Enemy Era” of the 1930s, when the nation was reduced to tatters and desperate living, criminals became the new superstar, proudly flouting their ill-gotten. While high profile gangsters like John Dillinger and Al Capone kept the public mesmerized with high profile affairs, a couple of regular folks named Bonnie & Clyde quickly became household names.

They were barely out of their teen years when they met in 1930 in East Dallas. Clyde, already an ex-convict, was re-imprisoned for auto theft. Bonnie got on her game and smuggled a gun into prison so that Clyde could escape and be reunited with the one he loved. After being caught and sent back to jail, he was finally released in 1932 – and that’s where our story begins. 

A New Photo Book for People Who Love Cats

Midcentury Kitty on the Red Chair, 2015 © Sue Abramson

On the cover of PhotoCat., Schilt Publishing’s new ode to feline-kind, you’ll find a portrait of Sacha de Boer’s longtime companion– a picture simply called “Julius, tuned out, January 2008.” Julius casts his eyes down, inhabiting his own little black and white world. He might be falling asleep, or maybe he’s thinking about something important. In any case, he’s vulnerable in a way that cats rarely are.

These Veterans Are Using Photography to Cope with Trauma

The Visions of Warriors movie poster

At the Menlo Park Division of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California, veterans learn photography as a way of coping with trauma. Mark Pinto watches birds out in nature and renders them in blue with his old-fashioned cyanotypes. Ari Sonnenberg takes self-portraits in black and white. Homerina “Marina” Bond photographs blooming flowers–symbols of her recovery. “[There are] tiny little embers of hope buried within the artwork,” Priscilla “Peni” Bethel says. “Every class I attend helps me towards the day those embers will burst into flames.”

The Veteran Photo Recovery Project was founded by Susan Quaglietti, a nurse practitioner at the VA Menlo Park, and she runs the program with help from a team of experts: Jeff Stadler, an art therapist, Ryan Gardner, a clinical social worker, and Kristen McDonald, a clinical psychologist. Together, they work with veterans living with mental disorders. In addition to more traditional, evidence-based treatments, each veteran who chooses to participate creates a portfolio of six images as part of their recovery.

After reading about their work, the Los Angeles-based film producer Ming Lai searched for ways to get in touch with the minds behind The Veteran Photo Recovery Project. In the end, he sent what he calls “an old-fashioned letter,” addressed to the VA Menlo Park, with Quaglietti’s name on it. “Miraculously, she received my letter at this massive campus, and she graciously said yes,” Lai remembers. Three and a half years later, on Veteran’s Day, the people who brought The Veteran Photo Recovery Project to life will share their stories in Visions of Warriors by Humanist Films.

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