I spent a long time wading into Sonja Thomsen's work. Although each of Sonia's series warrants its own feature, I decided to chose from across Oil, Water and Re:Current. I encourage viewers to visit Sonja's own site where the layout and information add to the appreciation of her work.

Thomsen has been widely exhibited across the US since graduating from San Francisco Art Institute in 2004. Currently, images from "Oil" can be seen as part of the exhibition Earth Now: American Landscape Photographers and the Environment at the New Mexico Museum of Art, now through August 28, 2011.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

"The winter of 2006 diverse circumstances came together, in which oil seemed to be the unifying factor. Trying to navigate my relationship to this war, my family, and my consumption of noxious petroleum I began photographing oil. I remain captive of this elusive and complicated substance that affects our economy and politics."

"Re:Current considers time and its cyclical nature through an installation including projection, thirty-seven still images, and motion sensitive light boxes. Conceptually the installation points to time's ephemeral constancy and considers how the stillness of a photograph can represent and distort this seeming contradiction."

"Churn is a series of 7 photographs of Lake Michigan in winter. Watching the quiet surging under the surface of water is a visceral experience. I am drawn to the aggressive movement hovering under the surface and the contrasting soft palette of the water." / "Swept is a series of 12 photographs of a white river. Each image is taken seconds apart capturing the water's response as the wind so sporadically dances across it. Each moment is its own and through the sequence one can see the invisible." / "Surface is a series of 17 images. The series explores the potential of waiter and the seductiveness of looking. Small puddles of water become glass, dense fog, toxic haze, bodily fluid, and primordial soup in my viewfinder. The unfathomable potential of water to sustain life is a phenomenon that preoccupies me."

Re:Current, Abyss 2008 © Sonja Thomsen


Maria de la Iglesia was born in Madrid and currently lives in London. She took a Bachelor Honors Degree in Photography in Dublin Institute of Technology and a Master in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at London College of Communication. There are several very interesting projects on her website but I was most taken by 'Pueblo'.

In Maria's words "'Pueblo' is a portrait of a Spanish village in 2010. The pictures create an intimate, sometimes absurd representation of a remote village in a period of economical crisis. Elderly people are the protagonists facing the decline of the population. The land shapes the village and its characters, suspending them in an age from long ago.  This is a place where animals roam the streets and death is ever present, a place that refuses to accept modernity, preferring to stay close to the ghosts of tradition... 'Pueblo' is not only a personal journey into the absurd, but it has also become an exploration of the human condition. It is a visual and psychological observation that looks with irony and dark humour at the individuals themselves in a context of contrasts."

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Main street, 2010  © Maria de la Iglesia


Contemplating landscapes is oft the practice of San Francisco-based photographer David Gardner. Follow him as he discovers fascinating and varied examples of humans, over centuries, making a point, whatever that point may be, in this series 'Marking Our Place in the World'.

"As humans we must communicate - it is what we do best. We seem hardwired from birth to do this via a complicated system using signs and symbols. But removed from our normal settings and tools, how do we compensate? What does it look like when we turn our communication skills loose on the landscape around us; why are we compelled to 'leave our mark' upon landscape, whether or not others understand its meaning or semiology?

In my photographic investigation of these ideas, the marks themselves are more relevant to me than the particular landscape they inhabit. I am interested in how our interventions impact the landscape, both natural and urban, in ways that are permanent as well as changed by time and nature. I explore themes of history, language and communication, while observing the dynamic of personal and group expression as it plays out on the landscape. We imagine mythical figures in the stars; we see the Virgin Mary in the knots of a tree; we are both compelled to make marks as well as to decipher their meanings. By looking at how we have marked the landscape through time, we can gain insight into our personal and collective history. To decline such a study is to leave to others the control of the world of meanings in which we inhabit." - David Gardner.

View the magazine full screen photo feature.


Chinese poem carved into the barrack wall at the immigration station/detention center at Angel Island:

Detained in this wooden house for several tens of days,
It is all because of the Mexican exclusion law which implicates me,
It's a pity heroes have no way of exercising their prowess.
I can only await the word so that I can snap Zu's whip.
From now on, I am departing far from this building.

All of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me.
Don't say that everything within is Western styled.
Even if it is built of jade, it has turned into a cage.

Images © David Gardner


In November 2010 David Goldman took a trip to Addis Ababa with Salaam Garage, an organization that partners with international NGOs and local non-profits to "create and share independent media projects that raise awareness and cause positive change in their online and offline social communities." Immersing himself in the challenge of portraying hope, he returned with this positive story - a tale of renewed life for two young women who had been needlessly suffering for years. Thanks to some missionaries, the women were both taken to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital for treatment.

"This is a story of love and faith. Love because I fell for these two young women, watching them support each other; and because there are two villages full of family and friends that gave these women the courage to take a journey to the unknown in hopes of being healed. Faith, they simply must have, or they would have given up a long time ago.

The women are both from a remote area in Ethiopia known as the Bali Mountains; both lost their babies and suffered from the same affliction: an obstetric fistula. Both women were left incontinent for more than four years, and their social value had dropped with their inability to function as normal, contributing woman of the tribe. Like the thousands of women that arrive at the gates to the hospital each year they are not turned away regardless of whether they can afford to pay, and of course they cannot, they cannot even pay for a bus ride to Addis Ababa."

David decided to take them home himself.

Click through for more information on the Hamlin Hospital and how to donate.

View the full screen magazine photo feature

Getting home © David Goldman


"Here you have my heart" he said, and he took me away.

Brandan Gomez is a photographer based in Santiago de Compostela; his transcendent photographs are rooted in the spirituality of his location which is a medieval pilgrimage route dating back to the 9th century. He is interested in "religions, the sacred, superstitions, and how that can be translated into images."

"It all began in a very small coast village in the North of Portugal called Costa Nova. This place has such a special light because it has the Atlantic Ocean on the west and a water channel on the east, this land is like a needle that penetrates the sea, there is always some mist floating in the air, water acts like a mirror, light reflects in every object and somehow blinds you enough to see what has never happened."

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The sacred © Brandan Gomez


Klaus Pichler introduced aCurator to his work and I decided to publish from his ongoing project 'Middle Class Utopia'.

"This series focuses on Austrian allotment gardens in and around Vienna called 'Schrebergärten'. These tiny gardens were invented in the late 19th century, mainly to provide space for the working class people to grow their own vegetables and fruits. Over time, the use of these gardens changed and now they are mainly used for recreational purposes. 26,000 of these gardens exist in Vienna, not only located in the boundaries of the city. It's a special kind of people who live there - mostly older people, but also younger families who combine the advantage of urban life with the escapism of the garden colonies. Due to the strict rules of these colonies, concerning both the look of the gardens as well as the behaviour of the occupants, a special mood surrounds the gardens. The artificial idyll of the garden gets foiled by feelings of paranoia, fear and sometimes loneliness that surround the people who live there.

Nature is declared friend and foe at the same time. On the one hand, the occupants enjoy the beauty and peace of nature - on the other hand, the natural growth of the plants is seen as enemy and needs to be fought with scissors, lawnmowers and hedge-trimmers. This dichotomy leads to a slightly grotesque appearance of the gardens, looking like outdoor living rooms.
'Middle Class Utopia' is a portrait of the strange world of the garden colonies and their inhabitants - daily and nightly, throughout a whole year." - Klaus Pichler

View the full screen magazine photo feature

Visit Klaus' website to view his other projects, not least of all 'Skeletons in the Closet', a project in Austria's Natural History Museum

© Klaus Pichler


'The Dealership Wreck' continues Kirk Crippen's work on The Great Recession that began with his 2009 series 'Foreclosure, USA', photographed around Stockton, California.

"In the first quarter of 2009, one in every twenty-seven housing units in the area received a foreclosure notice, against a national rate of about one in one hundred and fifty-nine. Foreclosure, USA explores Stockton's foreclosed homes and the abruptly suspended housing developments in its hardest hit neighborhoods."

Kirk says in some areas "the pride of ownership soured", a sad statement for the capitalism-centric USA.

"I never noticed the monolithic deserted auto dealerships alongside the freeway until recently, when I began to notice empty dealerships everywhere I traveled. I researched the phenomenon and discovered that since 2009, over 2,300 auto dealerships in America shut down. The closings, which happened largely as a result of the US governmentʼs auto industry bailout and restructuring, put 70 million square feet of commercial real estate on the market. Thousands of industry workers lost their jobs. During recent visits to auto malls in California, Oregon, and Texas, I explored many of these abandoned structures. I've witnessed a foundation being poured for a brand new auto dealership directly across the street from two closed dealerships. I've observed that some of the buildings are scheduled for demolition; some are being repurposed; and a few are reopening as new dealerships. At a time when GM is emerging from a structured bankruptcy and things are looking up for auto manufactures, I hope this series captures a glimpse of the fragile and changing infrastructure of this iconic American industry."

View the full screen magazine photography feature.

Kirk will be part of a new exhibition at the Modernbook Gallery in San Francisco, CA. opening March 3rd 2011.

Foreclosure, USA: 3 Car Garage, 2009 © Kirk Crippens


Harold Ross' series 'Night' is other-worldly, uncanny, ethereal, and rooted in his childhood fear of the bogeyman.

Harold is a practitioner of light painting: a specialized technique which requires working in a completely dark environment, opening the camera for an extended period of time, and 'painting' the light onto the subject. This reveals greater shape, texture and color, and is very much sculpting with light. What you see in his work cannot exist in nature nor in one moment in time. Instead, it's the result of a 'merging' or 'gathering' of light.

"When I was young, I often went camping in the mountains of southern New Mexico. One of the strongest memories from those trips is being absolutely terrified of whatever was beyond the light of our campfire. It didn't help that my older brother, Norman, and his friends told me horrific stories! During those sleepless nights, I was convinced that some murderous renegade or rabid coyote was just waiting to pounce on me.

I'm sure this has something to do with why I started this project. In some ways, I think that I'm dealing with the childhood fear of being out in nature in the dark. As it turns out, the first image I shot in this series (Quaker Cemetery Wall) was photographed in a place you would have never found me as a kid! I'm not afraid anymore, at least not when I have a helper with me...

One of my motivations in making these pictures is curiosity. I'm curious about just what will be revealed by the very descriptive lighting techniques that I employ. I don't really start shooting projects at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle.

The details that are present in these images can't be seen normally, as the lighting is built up over time. Normally, when using artificial light, especially light painting, one tries to be consistent with direction of light in order to make the lighting appear as natural as possible. In this landscape work, I'm not overly concerned with this, and, in fact, I'm interested in the interplay between the reality of the scene and the purposeful artificiality of the lighting." - Harold Ross, February 2011.

Two images from the series were selected for the 10th Annual International Photography Competition at Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD, on view through March 5th, 2011.

View the magazine full screen photography feature.

Get info about Harold's Light Painting Workshops in PA.


Brian David Stevens is an excellent photojournalist, based in London, who's been in touch with his various consistently great series over the last few months. I ran his portraits of WWII veterans 'They That Are Left' in the blog last year, and was fascinated by this new project on the British artist Billy Childish.

Stevens spent the day with Childish (aka William Charlie Hamper, Bill Hamper, Bill Hamper-Childish, Guy Hamper, Jack Ketch, Gus Claudius, Danger Bill Henderson) at Childish's home in Kent. I not only love Brian's photographs but am excited to have been introduced to the intense world of Mr. Childish. Be warned: if you go there, you may not return.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Listen to some noise.

Billy Childish © Brian David Stevens

01_Mikael_Kennedy.jpgMikael Kennedy told me he spent the first dozen or so years of his life convinced he was going to die, and that when he didn't, he began seeing the world differently, wanting to experience everything he could. These photographs are a sampling from the results of Mikael's recent years of domestic and international "wandering around" with his Polaroid camera: couch surfing; sleeping on beaches, in vans; nomadic. Ambivalent at first about a feature, unsure about the format, the photographs have grown on me. I've found myself daydreaming, enjoying a vicarious moment.

Mikael has a new limited edition book available for pre-order, 7 in his series 'Passport To Trespass'. More info here ; heads-up - all volumes sold out, with volume 6 going in four weeks. Hunt them Out' is a limited edition booklet printed in conjunction with the release of these 20 Polaroids for sale through a special online exhibition of the prints available only through Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art Gallery in NYC. Read the back story on Mikael's wanderings.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Melaena, Cayos Cochinos, Honduras 2009 © Mikael Kennedy

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