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.

Never-Before-Published Ryan McGinley Photos

© Ryan McGinley

When Ryan McGinley was a kid, one of his favorite books was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “I love Mark Twain and I love that adventurous spirit of getting into trouble,” he recently told Kathy Ryan. It’s a perfect line from a photographer famous for his wandering feet, group road trips, and out-of-the-way locations.

In collaboration with WeTransfer, the New York Times Magazine Photography Director combed through the archives of the legendary American photographer to curate a digital gallery of fifteen previously unpublished images. The photographs and their conversation were just released on WeTransfer.

A Quintessential Road Trip In Search of ‘America’

The United States is built on myth, dating back to the earliest days of the republic, when Thomas Jefferson wrote, “All men are created equal,” without any self-awareness. A slaveholder claiming equality — what kind of world could spawn such profoundly pathological cognitive dissonance?

It is “self-evident” as Jefferson would say: one that considered itself “enlightened” enough to use reason and logic to uphold irrational beliefs; to craft holidays like “Thanksgiving” that celebrated the wholesale slaughter of Native Americans and whitewash history; to name cities, towns, and counties after Christopher Columbus, the architect of the Transatlantic Slave Trade — to do all these things and play innocent.

The myth of “America” has appealed for hundreds of years. “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore” wrote poet Emma Lazarus, whose words were placed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me.”

Submit Your Photos to The Print Swap Holiday Exhibition!

Santa © Mark Coote (@markcoote). Photographer Mark Coote has previously participated in The Print Swap.

The Print Swap, Feature Shoot’s worldwide photo-sharing project, is coming to Williamsburg, Brooklyn for the holidays! Our third-ever Print Swap exhibition will take place at ROOT Studios on the evening of December 7th, 2017. All images submitted to The Print Swap between now and November 28th, 2017 will be eligible for the show and holiday party. There will be giveaways, plenty of wine, and some fun surprises for all.

As always, photographers of all backgrounds are welcome to submit images via Instagram using the hashtag #theprintswap. We also accept submissions emailed to [email protected] Images included in The Print Swap are printed professionally and mailed to participating artists all over the world. Prints are sent out randomly, so it’s always a fun surprise to see who gets whose print. So far, we’d had participating photographers from all over the United States, Asia, Australia, and Europe. It’s free to submit, but selected photographers pay a fee of $40 per image to be included, which covers printing and shipping.

Gabriela Landazuri, Photo Editor at The Huffington Post, will be curating the holiday exhibition and selecting approximately 40 images from The Print Swap to display at ROOT. Only newly submitted pictures will be considered for the show, but photographers who have participated in the swap are more than welcome to submit again. Everyone who submits to The Print Swap and is selected to participate will be invited to the show.

While The Print Swap is ongoing and there is no deadline to submit images, the deadline for work to be considered for this exhibition is November 28th, 2017. Learn more at and follow along at @theprintswap on Instagram for updates. And be sure to check out the current Print Swap exhibition at Black Eye Gallery in Sydney, Australia.

Unforgettable Photos from One of the World’s Last Matrilineal Societies

Pema Lamu (73) from the village Zhashi. Faces and hands of most Mosuo women are marked by the daily working hours in the fields. There is a clear division of labor between men and women. Women are responsible for household duties and farmwork and men for heavy labor and funerals. Usually, it is the Dabu who is working the hardest.

Du Zhi Ma holds a photograph in her hand, a portrait of her, which was taken about 35 years ago. In the photo, she carries one of her three children in her arms.

In order to get to China’s Lugu Lake, where the Mosuo people live, German photographer Karolin Klüppel traveled by road. That road, she says, has only been around for one or two decades. Before then, the area was relatively remote, sheltered from curious outsiders. Today, there’s not only a road but also an airport. Tourists arrive by plane a few times a week. Life is changing for the Mosuo, especially the women.

These Photos Challenge Representations of South America

Imagery has historically been the thing that has shaped our views of the world, and especially of the regions we could only imagine but would never get to. Famous photographs, postcards and illustrations of places influenced the way the rest of the world was thinking about and interacting with them. While certain places like Africa and the Middle East were depicted as underdeveloped and dangerous, others like South America were exoticized and almost fantasized about. In any case, these places, commonly located outside of what would be considered the “Western world”, were stereotyped and diminished to reductive caricatures and depictions.

Elsa Leydier is a photographer using her work to question the representation of South American territories, such as the Amazon forest, in media. It’s with vibrant and vivid colours that Elsa tells what she defines as “alternative and lesser known stories”. The careful deconstruction and reconstruction of existing images of these places, overlapped with images she took herself, is part of a process done by the fine art photographer to remind viewers that the way we see these images are visual representations created by a third party and therefore, not an accurate and real representation of the place itself. The result: ethereal, surrealist-looking and almost phantasmagoric images. Follow Leydier on Instagram for more. 

Grief, Loss, and Hope in the Streets of New York City

Daeja Fallas’s grandfather, Jack Peters, taught her how to spell her name. He taught her how to ride a bike, ice skate, build a fire, and plant a garden. In summer, he and her grandmother took her on adventures in their mobile home, showing her the most beautiful and wild places in the United States. Peters also gave Fallas her very first camera, a gift that would follow her and help shape her adult life as a photographer.

The Overlooked Value of Motherhood Revealed in Photos

Hidden Mother: Eileen

Hidden Mother: Jenn

“I come from a long line of matriarchs and feminists,” New Mexico photographer Megan Jacobs tells me. “Both my grandmother and my mother were fearless in their times.” Now a parent herself, the artist drew inspiration from old images from the Victorian era to create Hidden Mothers.

Bittersweet Photos by a Man Grieving His Partner’s Death

Minnesota photographer Andrew A. Amundsen moved to his attic loft apartment abruptly after the death of his girlfriend and muse, a woman named Laurie with whom he had shared twelve years. Having lost their mother to cancer, Laurie’s two daughters, who had been part of Amundsen’s world since they were three and six years old, went to live with their father. “I was instantly alone,” the artist remembers.

From Boy to Man: Samuel Fosso’s Journey Through Self-Portraits


Samuel Fosso 70s series, by Samuel Fosso, c. 1976/1977

Samuel Fosso 70s series, by Samuel Fosso, c. 1976/1977

Samuel Fosso 70s series, by Samuel Fosso, c. 1976/1977

At the tender age of 13, Samuel Fosso set up Studio Photo Nationale, and began his career as a photographer. The year was 1975, and Fosso was working in the city of Bangui, located just inside the border of Central African Republic.

“With Studio National, you will be beautiful, stylish, dainty and easy to recognize,” Fosso promised. Here he works taking passport, portrait, and wedding photographs for the community—but it was his self-portraits that brought the artist global acclaim.

“I started taking self-portraits simply to use up spare film; people wanted their photographs the next day, even if the roll wasn’t finished, and I didn’t like waste. The idea was to send some pictures to my mother in Nigeria, to show her I was all right.,” Fosso told The Guardian in 2011. “Then I saw the possibilities. I started trying different costumes, poses, backdrops. It began as a way of seeing myself grow up, and slowly it became a personal history – as well as art, I suppose.”

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