Magazine


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Gina LeVay went 800 feet beneath New York City on several occasions, to document the creation of the city's third water tunnel.

Excavation of the 60 mile long City Water Tunnel 3 began in 1970 and will soon be complete. In 2003, Gina LeVay set her mind to photographing the men who are completing this dangerous project.  

The men, known as Sandhogs, are sometimes second and third generation tunnelers. Gina patiently gained their trust over several months before beginning to shoot, and proved her professionalism and gained their confidence. After her initial liaisons with the City, she began to gain access to the site through the workers.

Few New Yorkers even know about this mammoth excavation, or the story of the Sandhogs themselves, yet just as with so many of our large city projects there are tragic consequences - for each mile tunneled, approximately one Sandhog has lost his life in a mining-related accident.



Jim McCluskey, 3rd generation hog of 35 years, 2006 © Gina LeVay


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Birthplace of Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Zab Judah and other established fighters, Brownsville, Brooklyn has been home to boxing since the 30's, when it was the local Jews doing the brawling. 

Throughout her career, Janette Beckman has been in what many of us might find to be challenging situations. She photographed the mods and rockers, the punks, the rappers; riotous gigs, Ice T and Slick Rick with guns, Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. and Wu Tang Clan, to reference a few more unnerving subjects. Here is her account of her night at Girls' Fight Club shooting stills while a camera crew filmed a documentary.

"One cold December night I went to Brownsville, Brooklyn (considered the murder capital of New York) to take some photographs with a film crew who were making a documentary about an underground illegal female fight club. We arrived at the secret location, a dark deserted street under the elevated train track where a hundred or so young men and women from the adjacent housing projects had gathered inside a windowless garage surrounded by barbed wire. Two locals acting as security frisked everybody for weapons. As soon as the last person had entered, the bouncers bolted the metal door shut. No one is allowed to leave until the event is done.

Inside the building is a boxing ring stained with dried blood from previous fights. Standing in the ring, two young women dressed in street clothes and wearing martial arts training gloves were punching the frigid air. The noise inside the garage is unbelievably loud, people shouting, making bets, greeting friends, and when the fight begins the crowd goes crazy.

I'll admit to being intimidated by the scene - being locked into a building in the middle of one of New York's most dangerous 'hoods with a bunch of hard looking characters drinking, smoking weed, giving gang signs; tough looking girls in hoodies checking me out, pit bulls tied up in the corner. I had no choice but to pick up the camera and shoot. 

In the coming weeks I followed the film crew to shoot the girls at home, a kid's birthday party, met families and friends - grandmothers, mothers, fathers, sons - it was the most amazing project I worked on all year." - Janette Beckman

The documentary 'Brooklyn Girls' debuted on the BET channel.

Fight Club © Janette Beckman

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View the feature.

aCurator is proud to support Aperture Foundation.

"Aperture Foundation is a non-profit arts institution dedicated to promoting photography in all its forms, and as part of our ongoing mission to support the work of emerging photographers, Aperture is presenting an exhibition featuring the work of Australian photographer Michael Corridore, winner of the 2008 Aperture Portfolio Prize, at Aperture Foundation. Part of a new initiative, these prints are available for sale, with the proceeds benefiting both the artist and the Aperture Foundation Emerging Artist Fund.

In the words of Aperture book publisher Lesley A. Martin, 'Corridore's project, Angry Black Snake, is an exercise in minimalism. Each image has been pared down to the barest of elements--urgent gestures and hardly traceable figures cloaked in smoke and dust. Yet each image pulses with palpable emotional tension, telegraphed by these starkest of representational sketches and the subtle shifting colors of the clouds that descend upon each scene like a flimsy curtain.

'As Corridore describes it, the project began as part of a larger portrayal of spectators at various events, including auto races, but became increasingly focused on those few moments where the event and the landscape in which it takes place come into direct and violent contact, for all intents and purposes eliding the spectator from the scene almost entirely. Car race or apocalyptic collision, the true nature of these events is never fully disclosed. Behind the scrim of kicked up particulate matter, however, it's evident that there is something afoot. The few discernible figures raise their arms - in victory, or perhaps to call out in distress; eyes are covered or screened for a better view. The work is remarkable for its use of restraint as a strategy to immerse the viewer in an indecipherable yet tangible Sturm und Drang.'

This year's winner, Alexander Gronsky, and the runners up can be viewed here, and Corridore's prints can be purchased here.

An exhibition of the winning series will be organized for 2011. Exclusive limited-edition photographs will be made available by Aperture. The purpose of the Prize is to identify trends in contemporary photography and specific artists who we can help by bringing their work to a wider audience. In choosing the winner, we are looking for work that is fresh and hasn't been widely seen in major publications or exhibition venues. The deadline for the 2010 Aperture Portfolio Prize is Wednesday, July 14, 2010."

From "Angry Black Snake" © Michael Corridore


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"After many months of raising mantises I realized I didn't know a male from a female. I found an obscure pamphlet published in England thirty years ago by a couple whose hobby was raising praying mantises. To determine the boys from the girls you do the obvious: look under their skirts. You lift up the wings and count the segments on their abdomens. Males have eight and females six. After the last molt, you wait three weeks, heat the male up to 80 degrees, and put them together in a big space. They also said that if the female was well fed, she was less likely to eat him. But, it's not just a matter of male as meal. When she bites his head off she gets more sperm, according to one study I read.

The male was very cautious approaching the female. The female, for the most part, ignored him. He did most of the courtship. I thought of insects as having instantaneous sex. I stood there, camera ready, thinking it would be over in a flash. But not so with the praying mantis. They can stay coupled for hours. All my males got away unscathed, except one. After hours of being joined together she reached around, grabbed him by the neck and bit his face off. It took her another couple of hours to eat almost every last bit of him." - Catherine Chalmers

I implore you to not miss reading the absolutely compelling text and entertaining audio interviews with Catherine from This American Life and Studio 360, via her website.


Read the previous entry on Catherine for more about her Food Chain project.

Praying Mantis © Catherine Chalmers


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Chris Weeks is a freelance editorial photographer who shoots for the major domestic and international weeklies and monthlies. He uses his commercial work to support his ongoing street photography around the world. Chris personally prefers location over studio shoots, and his candid images reflect his eye for the more unusual shot - something he brings to all his work, including photographing celebrity events. 

View the feature.

Watch Chris's videos.

Gnarls Barkley © Chris Weeks  

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Though Leland had only a moment to capture them, the photographs suspend these women in time so that we may examine our own thoughts about how they might live their lives, and about how people perceive themselves. As viewers we also have the opportunity to delve into what the photographer sees in ways we otherwise wouldn't be able to had the photographer not captured the image - examine the evidence of the 'work' done on these women, and to see the reflections of the rest of us. 

"When I'm on the street shooting this kind of work I feel what I imagine a hunter must feel like. There is a sense of stalking prey. The first thing I do is a find a street that is bathed in sunlight. I then find myself an inconspicuous spot on the street, often up against a building or a light pole, scoping out the people walking towards me from at least a half a block away. When I see a subject of interest I move out into the swirl of people on the sidewalk and start to track the person walking towards me in continuous auto-focus mode with an 80-200 zoom lens zooming in as the subject approaches and then zooming out as the person becomes very close to me. I can usually lose myself in the crowded street so that the person I'm shooting has no idea of what I'm doing until they are within 6 - 10 feet, and often not even then. Because I'm shooting so tight I'm only able to get off about 3 shots at the most before the person is by me. Not very controlled, but that's what makes it challenging and exciting." - Leland Bobbé



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Unexpected Landscapes of New York City.

"I've always just loved to explore the city, especially the shorelines of New York City and the outer boroughs. The project started in late fall of 2003 out at the Rockaways, when I was wandering around in Riis Park. I came across a collection of sand piles and berms that had been created in order to prevent beach erosion. There was a mysterious and ethereal quality to the landscape--the antithesis of traditional urban New York landscapes. The combination of those elements resonated with me, and I decided to explore unexpected landscapes within the confines of New York City.

Presented here are the shifting sands that take form and then disappear into the surf at Riis Park in Queens; floodwaters at Orchard Beach's parking lot in the Bronx; oil stains and standing water mix on an abandoned runway in Brooklyn; canine and human footprints vanish on a berm on Staten Island's South Beach - images that are testament to the transient and mysterious borders of New York City." - Bruce Katz

The prints have to be seen in person so I'll update this entry when Bruce has a show.


Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn #1 © Bruce Katz

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Stephen Mallon is a commercial and fine art photographer. Lately, he has become interested in "the secret worlds of salvage", photographing the recycling industry; for example, rubber processing plants, methane reclamation, incinerators, and the U.S.S. New York which is crafted from steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site.

In 2006, Steve met Jayne Rockmill at an ASMP NY portfolio review. Jayne liked the industrial landscape photographs that Steve had been making for both commercial and personal work and suggested he publish a book, but Steve felt he wanted a better body of work if he were to do so. He got to thinking about the recycling industry, found a scrap company in New Jersey and got access for a couple of days to scout and shoot.

An art buyer suggested he include people in his industrial landscapes if the work were to have a broader appeal to advertisers, and it was during such a shoot in New Jersey that Steve spotted a large parked barge. Weeks Marine, the company contracted by the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York, became a fan and client. After harvesting their parts, empty subway cars are lifted away to make room for new ones, and Weeks Marine uses ocean-going cranes to take them to other states where they're dumped off-shore to create reefs for the fishing and tourist industries as part of the National Artificial Reef Plan.

These images represent Steve's second solo show at Front Room Gallery. The exhibition entitled "Next Stop - Atlantic" opens September 10th 2010. Limited editions are available at
20x30, 30x45, and 40x60 with 5 prints in each.

View the feature.

Buy the book.

Subway cars © Stephen Mallon

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The majority of Karsh's portraits are in portrait format, but I wanted to find some landscapes to take advantage of the full screen magazine. Here you see Jean-Paul Riopelle, Max Ernst, Ravi Shankar, Helen Keller and Polly Thompson, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Bertrand Russell, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Each is photographed in Karsh's signature style in a recognizable environment, except for Lord Russell, who is beautifully framed in silhouette lighting his pipe with a match.

There is plenty more to enjoy on
Karsh's official website. Don't miss the videos, in particular the recreation of the world famous Churchill "Roaring Lion" photograph.

View the feature.

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1954 © Yousuf Karsh

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Passionate about music from a young age, Michael Putland's career in the music industry began as he thought it was about to end - closing down his studio because he simply couldn't afford it, the last call to come in was an assignment to photograph Mick Jagger. 30 years later he had accumulated a vast archive of most everyone who cut a record or played a gig. He shot for all the music mags we grew up reading in England, and when I moved to New York I realized those rags, and his work, were just as popular there among music fans in the 70s and 80s as they were back home. Michael himself moved to the States in the late 70s and spent a few years having what sounds like a pretty cool but very busy life, before moving back to the UK and opening a sister photo agency to the one which he'd left running back in NY.

Michael and I were business partners in the photo agency, Retna, for several wonderful years, until 2006 when the stock photo industry became something we were less passionate about (more servers, less personal contact). His focus on the agency and desire to encourage and promote younger talent didn't stop him from shooting, and I remember a session with a very young Brad Pitt among the ongoing music subjects. These days Michael still shoots, and spends time scanning the archive and coming up with great ideas like this, his new series of triptychs.

You can watch Michael talk about some of his best known images in a video interview with ZOOZOOM and read more about where his photographs have been used on his Wikipedia page. You are also welcome to contact me about buying a print.

View the feature.

Michael Jackson, 1972 © Michael Putland

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