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From "In the Vale of Cashmere," published by powerHouse Books, image © Thomas Roma

Thomas Roma's portraits and landscapes were made across four years in the gay cruising ground of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. These intimate photographs of men and the woods in which they cruise are surprisingly frank, given the fact that most of us (straight) people have no idea what goes on in certain areas of our local parks, and would imagine more furtive behaviour than posing. 

Roma's new book, "In the Vale of Cashmere" is out now from powerHouse Books. In the foreword, speaking in regard to the need during much of our history for gay men to meet in secret, G. Winston James ponders "...the question of whether it is necessary, possible, and valuable to have privacy in public."

"This book is not a review of architectural history and park design, but rather a photographic examination of this particular urban landscape and its function vis-à-vis gay (sub)culture and social and sexual desire. That is to say, this is not so much a book about a place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, as it is about the Black, Latino, and other gay and bisexual men who frequent it at odd hours as a place."

An exhibition is showing now at Steven Kasher in New York, through December 19th, 2015.

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All images from "In the Vale of Cashmere," published by powerHouse Books, image © Thomas Roma

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Studio 54 © Bill Bernstein / Reel Art Press

Bill Bernstein is well known for his work with musicians, celebrities, and much more, and not least of all as Paul McCartney's personal photographer of many years. 

Disco: The Bill Bernstein Photographs is out now from Reel Art Press. Bill was on assignment shooting an awards dinner at New York's notorious nightclub, Studio 54. As the dinner ended, the clubbers arrived. Short on film, Bill bought ten rolls off a fellow photographer and stayed for the night. Thus began a project shooting New York's then-vibrant and ever-notorious nightclub scene.


From the book's foreword, by Horse Meat Disco's James Hillard: "These shots capture the very essence of what going out was, is, and should be, all about. They showed the true democracy of the dance floor where anyone could be a star, as long as they had the right attitude and flair ... The pictures in this book are a document of an incredibly exciting and creative time, not only in music, but also in social, political and fashion history too.

"During this time of gay liberation, women's rights and racial equality, the dance floor transcended sex, age and status. As the Disco Bats glided across the ceiling at Barnum's, Wall Street suits partied beneath with transgender party people. Manhattan was the epicentre of disco, and Bill Bernstein captured it all."

Personally I am sorry I wasn't born a decade earlier to experience the disco scene but I have been happy to enjoy its legacy, House music.

The release will coincide with an exhibition at Serena Morton Gallery in Ladbroke Grove, West London, from 3 December 2015 - 24 January 2016. 

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Bruce Morton and I met two years ago, at the PhotoNOLA portfolio reviews, and we really connected on a personal level, mainly because he is a really smashing person, with a solid love of and interesting eye for his artistry. Bruce has been keeping me posted, as well he ought. His book Forgottonia showed the marvelous folk living in an isolated community in Illinois, and at last count was in its third printing. 

Bruce recently sent me a copy of his newest book venture, a rather gorgeous, scrap-bookish, but delightfully made limited edition piece that intersperses images that feature material, with material! I absolutely love my copy.

There are only 50 copies being made and most of them are sold, and at $20 each I can see why. Something different, something really tactile. Just great! Preview the book and buy your own unique version via his website.

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Bubbie looking at scarves, from Mommie: Three Generations of Women, published by powerHouse Books, image © Arlene Gottfried

""Mommie: Three Generations of Women" is a remarkable photographic portrait of three generations of women in the family of photographer Arlene Gottfried and an intimate story of aging and the inevitable passage of time. Pictured within, we are introduced to Gottfried's 100-year-old immigrant grandmother, fragile mother, and reluctant sister over the breathtaking course of 35 years."

I am thrilled to see another book from the archives of the one-and-only Arlene Gottfried. Arlene is one of my all-time favourite people, and well deserves the recognition her fabulous historic records of New York are receiving. Off the streets and into her own home, Arlene's "Mommie" shows what it was like "living as many mid-century Jewish New York families did, the Gottfrieds were not wealthy and lacked any trappings of luxury. Close examination of their world on Avenue A in Manhattan's Lower East Side reveals a dimly lit small apartment, cartons of budget saltines and groceries, chipped paint, damaged floor tiles, guarded loose change, and well worn clothes - details natural to the lives of many families of immigrants in New York."

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Mommie and Karen

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Karen and cherry blossoms

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Mommie kissing Bubbie

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Bubbie
All images © Arlene Gottfried 


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This is just one aspect of Sheri Lynn Behr's ongoing coverage of surveillance, "Be Seeing You." She began observing the daily intrusions several years ago and has only had more material to work with since. In the city we are recorded incessantly; some of the cameras blend sneakily into their surroundings, others feel stuck right in your face like the lens of Bruce Gilden. But Sheri also finds cameras in fields, seemingly surveilling sheep. 

"We know that cameras are everywhere. We try to avoid people pointing smartphones and other hand-held cameras at us as we walk down the street, but are we conscious of all the cameras lurking above us? We know we're being watched, even in the most benign locations, yet as we become more accustomed to the presence of surveillance cameras, we stop paying attention.

"For NoMatterWhere, I photograph streets, buildings and walls, pointing my camera at the cameras that are watching me, some more noticeable than others. While I certainly believe that Big Brother can be useful in some cases, I also think we need to be more aware of the scope of surveillance in our daily lives-and how it impacts our privacy. I make these photographs to raise questions that come from the claustrophobic sense of being constantly observed, no matter where we find ourselves." Sheri Lynn Behr


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Pierre Trudeau, 1968 by Yousuf Karsh

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968, to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980, to June 30, 1984. Karsh photographed him during both his tenures. His son, Justin Trudeau, was just elected PM this week. 

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Pierre Trudeau, 1982 by Yousuf Karsh

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© Michael Massaia, 2015 

"The pull of the ocean surrenders to the pull of the sky."

The start of a new series, these inverted seascapes are hot out of Michael Massaia's magic darkroom. Massaia spent a lot of time by and in the ocean in his youth. Now he finds himself taking a different view of the elements he reveres.

He shoots black and white film, develops in pyro, and is hand printing 20 x 24 and 50 x 70 inch gold tone gelatin silver prints. Mmmmm.



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British photographer Mark Griffiths photographed eight children from Belarus taking a month-long recuperative trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales, U.K., thanks to Life Line children's charity in Chernobyl.  

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown was the biggest nuclear catastrophe in world history. Now apparently "85 per cent of Belarusian children are deemed to be Chernobyl victims: they carry "genetic markers" that could affect their health at any time and can be passed on to the next generation. A vicious cycle that unfortunately could continue for hundreds if not thousands of years." 

Mark told me "Clean air and uncontaminated land can reduce radiation levels in their immune system by up to 68 per cent which helps fight illnesses and diseases and can add years to their lives."

Since they started in 1992, Life Line has brought 46,000 children over to stay with host families. 

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All images © Mark Griffiths

More from Life Line:
"Before this tragic event, Belarus was known as the breadbasket of Russia, with a stable economy. Now the people live with radiation all around them. They drink contaminated water and wash with it. There is very little to eat in Belarus and what there is, has a high chance of being contaminated. The compromised food chain means that they now have to import a high proportion of their foodstuffs. The most disadvantaged have no option but to eat crops grown in the contaminated earth - a vicious cycle.

The Chernobyl Children's Life Line looks after children who are ill, organising respite breaks to Great Britain to give them a chance to live in a "clean" environment and eat uncontaminated foods for a month. During their stay all of the children receive medical attention such as dental care and having their eyes tested."

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Ronald Reagan, 1980 by Yousuf Karsh

I'm surprised I haven't posted Ronald Reagan before. Jimmy Carter prompted me to do so. Here are a couple of Ronnie from 1980, photographed in colour as well as b/w. Which do you prefer?

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Ronald Reagan looking high-brow, by Yousuf Karsh

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Jimmy Carter, 1981 by Yousuf Karsh

Just one of the several black and white portraits of Jimmy Carter that Karsh made in 1981. Karsh photographed a whole twelve US presidents, coming out of retirement for the 12th: Bill Clinton

Today is Carter's 91st birthday. Check out this piece on WNYC's The Takeaway, 'What Life Would Be Like if Jimmy Carter Won a Second Term.' "The Supreme Court might be a lot more liberal. Environmental protections might be stronger." He lost, of course, to Ronald Reagan

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