Inspirational Photographers
Edward Steichen

Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879-March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator, born in Luxembourg. His family moved to the United States in 1881 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1900.

Having established himself as a fine-art painter, in the beginning of the 20th century, Steichen assumed the pictorialist approach in photography and proved himself a master of it. In 1905, Steichen helped create the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, with Alfred Stieglitz. After World War I, during which he commanded the photographic division of the Expeditionary Forces, he reverted to straight photography, gradually moving into fashion photography.

In World War II he served as Director of the Naval Photographic Institute. After the war, Steichen served until 1962 as the Director of Photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man in 1955, a vast exhibition consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries. Steichen’s brother-in-law, Carl Sandburg, wrote the introduction for the exhibition catalog (ISBN 0810961695). As had been Steichen’s wish, the exhibition was donated to the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. It is now permanently housed in the Luxembourg village Clervaux.

In February 2006, a copy of Steichen’s early pictorialist photograph, The Pond-Moonlight (1904), reached the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction, U.S. $2.9 million.

The photograph was taken in Mamaroneck, New York, in Westchester County, and features a wooded area and pond, with moonlight appearing between the trees and reflecting on the pond. Part of the reason for its value and rarity is that it is a very early example of colour photography, produced using the autochrome process. Contributing to its high price is that there are only three known copies in existence; there are two in museum collections in addition to the print sold at auction in 2006.

Self-Portrait, Milwaukee

 The pond - Moonlight, 1904

While the print appears to be a color photograph, the first true color photographic process, the autochrome process, was not available until 1907. Steichen created the impression of color by manually applying layers of light-sensitive gumsto the paper. Only three known versions of the Pond-Moonlight are still in existence and, as a result of the hand-layering of the gums, each is unique. In addition to the auctioned print, the other two versions are held in museum collections. The extraordinary sale price of the print is, in part, attributable to its one-of-a-kind character and to its rarity

The Flatiron


Heavy Roses

Gloria Swanson

Greta Garbo

The Maypole

Norma Shearer (1935)

Kendall Lee (1925)

Marlene Dietrich (1934)

His work is considered some of the first modern fashion photographs. He poses his models in very classy and elegant poses. No matter what they’re doing with the props or objects, they maintain their sophistication with their statuesque poses. He creates women that anyone looking at the photo would want to be.I love the photo of Kendel Lee (1925). She make the insignificant object in her hand seem very important with her graceful pose. Also the photo of Gloria Swanson, with the veil over her face, is unique and has an avante garde feel. He always finds a way to use his props, such as the lace, to enhance the elegant refinement of his subjects.

Edward Weston

From an accomplished commercial photographer of Pictorialist persuasion, Edward Weston developed into the quintessential American artist/photographer of his time. Born in Illinois in 1886, he opened a portrait studio in California in 1911, finding time also to exhibit at Pictorialist salons. After his definitive break with Pictorialism, seen in the 1922 Armco images, Weston embarked on the fife of an impecunious but free artist, singlemindedly devoted to creative endeavor. Convinced at this time that “the photographer … can depart from the literal recording to whatever extent he chooses” as long as the methods remain “photographic,”” he controlled form and tone through choice of motif, exposure time, and the use of the ground-glass focusing screen of the large-format camera. This way of working, which he called pre-visualization, was a factor in Weston’s exclusion of temporal and transient effects of light, atmosphere, and movement in order to concentrate on revealing the object ‘in its “deepest moment of perception.”

Following a four-year period in Mexico, during which he opened a portrait studio with Tina Modotti and became part of the revitalized Mexican artistic movement of the period, Weston returned to a simple existence in Carmel, California. In 1927, he began to photograph single objects -both organic forms and artifacts-removed from their ordinary contexts. In addition to the well-knownnautilus shells and green peppers, he arranged and illuminated a series of household implements whose shapes seemed intrinsically beautiful, and photographed them close-up with great precision in order to reveal “an essence of what lies before the … lens,” thus creating an “image more real and comprehensible than the actual object.” The nude was especially significant in Weston’s work, representing, as it also did for Stieglitz, more than a convenient artistic theme. The cool and elegant forms of the more than one hundred nude studies Weston produced between 1918 and 1945 not only represent his search for formal perfection but also reflect the erotic and sexual enigmas with which he struggled for much of his fife.



Artichoke Halved

Pepper No. 30


Nude, 1934

Pepper, 1929

Edward Weston’s Pepper No. 30 has always been a favorite of mine. It’s one of the most simple, yet complex photo’s around. He’s shown the pepper in such a plain background with enough lighting to accentuate the highlights that it morphs the pepper into something sensuous and abstracted. It does the same kind of thing with his natural studies such as the artichoke and shells. His nudes are also simple and abstracted. My favorite are when he only shows a portion of the body and uses the delicate curvilinear lines of the body to create a unique composition. In all his work, he’s able to use the natural lines found in objects and people and create an image that is more important and emotional than the object itself. 

Jim Goldberg

Raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Jim started out at Hofstra University studying theology and ended up with a Bachelor of Arts in photography at Western Washington University. In 1979, he received a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from San Francisco Art Institute.

Jim is a Professor of Art at the California College of Arts and Crafts and a member of Magnum Photos. He has been exhibiting for over 30 years and his innovative use of image and text make him a landmark photographer of our times. He began to explore experimental storytelling and the potentials of combining image and text with “Rich and Poor”, (1977-1985), where he juxtaposed the residents of welfare hotel rooms with the upper class and their elegantly furnished home interiors to investigate the nature of American myths about class, power, and happiness. In “Raised by Wolves” (1985-1995), he worked closely with and documented runaway teenagers in San Francisco and Los Angeles to create a book and exhibition that combined original photographs, text, home movie stills, snapshots, drawings, diary entries as well as single and multi-channel video, sculpture, found objects, light boxes and other 3-D elements. He is currently working on two books on migration in Europe to be published in 2009 and 2010 by Steidl. His fine art is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York and the Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco.

He has received numerous awards and grants including Guggenheim Fellowship, three National Endowment for the Arts awards, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Award (2007), a Eureka Fellowship, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation Fellowship, and both the Hasselblad and ArtCouncil Awards.

SAN FRANCISCO — “I keep thinking where we went wrong. We have no one to talk to now, however, I will not allow this loneliness to destroy me—I STILL HAVE MY DREAMS. I would like an elegant home, a loving husband and the wealth I am used to,” 1982.

SAN FRANCISCO — “My name is Judy and I am 11 years old. I like the picture. My mom looks like she angry. I don’t like the way I look because I look pregnat. My favorite thing is to play with boys,” 1979.

SAN FRANCISCO — “I like to be attractive and distant. I love the games, intrigue and mystery of being a woman. Honesty can be boring. True femininity is a great deal of power,” 1981.
© Jim Goldberg

SAN FRANCISCO — “This is the most terrible picture ever taken. I look swollen .. my heart wasn’t happy. I wasn’t lucky to be born in the U.S.A. In Guatemala I was my own boss, I was middle class, I was a nurse. At the beginning I was sad to be a housekeeper, now I am used to it. When your illness has no cure why worry?,” 1981.

SAN FRANCISCO — “My life is personal, but I will tell you one thing I’m too fat,” 1977.
© Jim Goldberg

SAN FRANCISCO—”This picture says that we are a very emotional & tight family, like the three Musketteers.” … “Poverty sucks but it brings us closer together,” 1979.
© Jim Goldberg

I find Jim Goldberg interesting because every one of his pictures seem like the subject has stopped time in order to speak to you and give you an insight into their life. It’s like their life is paused and when you look into their eyes you suddenly know all the thoughts going on in their head. Even the images without the words to really tell you what is going on in their heads are very static, capturing a moment in which the subject wants you to know more about their life and why the event is meaningful to them.

This week has been filled with art.

The Gulf Print Storm was this week. That was a lot of art for one week in itself, but I decided to add a trip to Houston filled with so much more art. I can’t even guesstimate how many studio’s I went inside. So instead, I’ll only explain the most memorable things.

Thursday November 18 -Gulf Print Storm at the Dishman

The Gulf Print Storm had an art opening at the Dishman displaying a variety of prints. My favorites had to be the large woodcut prints, specifically the Bacchus. I don’t know why, possibly because every time anyone in history renders a drunk man, you just nod your head at the truth it reveals. The large dude with a beer hat and the goofy expressions on the faces of the girls in the background just made me laugh. And I like art that can make me laugh. The modern day Adam and Eve taken from Durer’s Adam and Eve also fits into the same category as the Bacchus. It recreates a scene that has been done over and over again in art. They’re always a little different, but always something in which you can relate.

Friday November 19 - Steam Roller Madness

The next event for the Print Storm was a fun way to make extremely large prints. They used a steam roller to put pressure on the 4’x8’ woodblocks that were carved by different schools.  And then they auctioned them off. For free. I really wanted one, but I missed the drawing… maybe I did win.. that would be awesome. But I took time while I was there to admire the intricate designs carved on the woodblocks. They were really well done, and I loved how they could interchange the body parts. They could pick which head, chest, hips, or legs they wanted to create all kinds of odd characters. It was a great idea and concept, and fun to go out and watch them make it.

Friday November 19 - Kiss My Prints!

More prints, yet again. None of the prints here really stood out to me here. There were definitely some odd things going on though. I was very lucky and walked in just in time for to see the performance art group, Non Grata, perform. It was nothing short of bizarre. There was a girl in a short white dancer-type dress, running in circles, squirting lighter fluid on the floor to create a circle of fire. Then there were two men wearing brains covering their entire heads, with bent pipes in their hands. A guy in a loin cloth would stick fire-crackers in the pipes and they would shoot them, like a gun. Nothing would fly out though, it just gave that effect. Then there was a guy with feather on his head and shoulders with a mega phone that repeated something along the lines of “Desire for Fire”? Possibly? I had a really hard time understanding. They would also light these small figurines on fire amongst all of the other nonsense. There was another man with large styrofoam blocks with letters off to the side also. At first he was just shuffling them around creating a rhythmic noise, but then he stacked them up and pulled out a chainsaw. He proceeded to saw them down and destroy them. It ended up creating a styrofoam blizzard that covered the audience. 

What I took from this experience:

Non Grata means and unwelcome person, or fully unacceptable, and people are so incredibly weird.

November 20 - ViaColori Street Painting Festival

My mom had this on our refrigerator for a while so I used it as an excuse to take a Houston trip. It was a fundraiser to benefit the Center for Hearing and Speech, so people could donate money to their favorite art done on the road. It was maybe 8 or so blocks of street filled with local artists decorating their portion of the road. They all had their square outlined and an image of their drawing that they were creating. It was interesting to see their progression throughout the day. Some would start top to bottom while others would begin with their main subject. I was really impressed at how well done all of the pictures were. I half expected it to be a lot of people trying to do something cool, but most of the people seemed like experienced artists. It was an entertaining to watch and I took a lot of great pictures. 

November 20 - Art Crawl

Another stop during my Houston trip was the Houston Art Crawl. Its basically and event where artist open up their studios and let people experience where they work or show their art. The mission was to help the public understand contemporary art a little more. I went inside maybe 10 or 11 studios. I didn’t like all of the art, but I definitely enjoyed looking at it. The first place we went into was Mother Dog Studios. They had a lot of art of (go figure) dogs. A lot of cats too. There was also a room filled with really erotic nudes. My favorite art was actually this furniture set (A recliner, chair, and a lamp actually) that was covered in cigarette butts. It looks like a fabric, or a bamboo covering or something, and I just know someone probably died of lung cancer while making the set. 

One loft I went in made me wonder how much time people actually waste. They made a huge deal about “Kelsey’s Bottles,” with flyers posted around on how she got started and how she was only 15 and such an awesome person already. All she did was take old beer bottles, wine bottles, or any glass bottle, and paint them rather crudely. Here’s a picture. I don’t know. I guess I just don’t see the point. Thats like an art project you give to a fourth grade class to take home to their mom. But people will buy anything I guess, especially if its shiny. They also had signs saying no pictures of the bottles allowed and they had a really nice loft going on, so I guess I was a little judgmental to begin with. 

We also got to experience some of the worst music I’ve ever heard in my life. 

These art events have really opened my eyes to what I considered good or bad art, and also how subjective it really all is. I looked at many pieces and thought, “I could do that, easy, why should theirs be special?” In Renaissance times there were probably millions of artists, like today, only they were overshadowed by Leonardo and Michelangelo. Sometimes I think every artist should be as great as them or do nothing at all, but it doesn’t really matter if its good or not or if they’re “The best artist around.” As long as the artist enjoys making it. And if their goal is to sell, all they need is 1 person to like it enough to buy it, and that makes it special enough. At least they have the drive to do something even if it is just bottles or pictures of cats. But I bet people that draw cats make the most money. There are so many crazy cat people.

Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Ralph Eugene Meatyard was born in Normal, Illinois on May 15, 1925. He served in the Navy, studied pre-dentistry at Williams College (1943-44) and philosophy at Illinois Wesleyan University (1950). He began his career as an optician in 1949. The optical firm where he worked, Tinder-Krauss-Tinder, also sold photographic equipment and supplies. There Meatyard purchased his first camera in 1950 in order to photograph his newborn son. Once established in his own practice, Eyeglasses of Kentucky, he hung the walls of the reception area with rotating exhibitions of his own pictures and those of other photographers, including Emmet Gowin. Meatyard exhibited selections from Georgetown Street, a collaborative effort with Van Deren Coke, along with other early work at Roy DeCarava’s A Photographer’s Place in 1957-8, and had his first solo show in 1959 at Tulane University. Throughout his career as photographer, he continued working as an optometrist at Eyeglasses of Kentucky, and was known to his friends as a devoted family man who somehow eked out time to photograph on weekends. Meatyard’s interest in Eastern thinking was sparked at a workshop in Indiana where Minor White recommended a list of books crucial to a photographer’s education which included two volumes on Zen. . He died of cancer in Lexington, Kentucky on May 7, 1972.

 At a time when photographs tended to document the world unadorned, the expressive quality of Meatyard’s pictures was generally out of favor with the artistic community of the 1950s. It was basically not until the 1970s that his work came to any notable prominence. By the late 1970s, his photographs seemed consigned to appear mainly in exhibitions of “southern” art. In the last decade, however, thanks in part to European critics, Meatyard’s work has reemerged, and the depth of its genius and its contributions to photography have begun to be understood and appreciated. In a sense Meatyard suffered a fate common to artists who are very much of but also very far ahead of their time. Everything about his life and his art ran counter to the usual and expected patterns. He was an optician, happily married, a father of three, president of the Parent-Teacher Association, and coach of a boy’s baseball team. He lived inLexington, Kentucky, far from the urban centers most associated with serious art. His images had nothing to do with the gritty “street photography” of the east coast or the romantic view camera realism of the west coast. His best known images were populated with dolls and masks, with family, friends and neighbors pictured in abandoned buildings or in ordinary suburban backyards.

Untitled (Boy in Old Man’s Mask with Doll)
c. 1960

Romance (N.) From Ambrose Bierce #3 from Portfolio 3, negative 1964/1974

Lucybelle Crater & her 15 yr old son’s friend Lucybelle Crater, 1970-1972

Untitled (Christopher, twice)

Untitled (Christopher with clothesline and rubber chicken)

LBC and her P.O. brother LBC
(from “The Family Album of Lucybelle Crater”)
c. 1970

Here-in-after, here-in-before, 1963. 

The mask in his photos plays with deliberate vagueness and mystery, the same way a Zen riddle is constructed to promote contemplation. For me, it takes away all emotion from the photos, creating a dead, blank stare. The static postures of the people along with the gritty scenery also adds a kind of depressing look. I have no idea what Ralph wanted people to feel when they looked at his photos, but the deliberate anonymity of his photos allows the viewer derive any meaning they want from it.

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Heironomous Bosch, 1505
It basically means we’re all going to Hell. 
You should really look at it up close to see all of the insane details.. This link should allows you too zoom in really close.

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Heironomous Bosch, 1505

It basically means we’re all going to Hell. 

You should really look at it up close to see all of the insane details.. This link should allows you too zoom in really close.

Hans Bellmer


Bellmer was born in the city of Kattowitz, in then-German Empire (now Katowice, Poland). Up until 1926, he’d been working as a draftsman for his own advertising company. He initiated his doll project to oppose the fascism of the Nazi Party by declaring that he would make no work that would support the new German state. Represented by mutated forms and unconventional poses, his dolls were directed specifically at the cult of the perfect body then prominent in Germany. Bellmer was influenced in his choice of art form by reading the published letters of Oskar Kokoschka (Der Fetisch, 1925).

Bellmer’s doll project is also said to have been catalysed by a series of events in his personal life, including meeting a beautiful teenage cousin in 1932 (and perhaps other unattainable beauties), attending a performance of Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann (in which a man falls tragically in love with an automaton), and receiving a box of his old toys. After these events, he began to actually construct his first dolls. In his works, Bellmer explicitly sexualized the doll as a young girl. The dolls incorporated the principle of “ball joint” , which was inspired by a pair of sixteenth-century articulated wooden dolls in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum.

Bellmer’s 1934 anonymous book, The Doll (Die Puppe), produced and published privately in Germany, contains 10 black-and-white photographs of Bellmer’s first doll arranged in a series of “tableaux vivants” (living pictures). The book was not credited to him, as he worked in isolation, and his photographs remained almost unknown in Germany. Yet Bellmer’s work was eventually declared ”degenerate” by the Nazi Party, and he was forced to flee Germany to France in 1938. Bellmer’s work was welcomed in the Parisian art culture of the time, especially the Surrealists under André Breton, because of the references to female beauty and the sexualization of the youthful form. His photographs were published in the Surrealist journal Minotaure, 5 December 1934 under the title “Poupée, variations sur le montage d’une mineure articulée” (The Doll, Variations on the Assemblage of an Articulated Minor).[5]He visited Paris in 1935 and made contacts there, such as Paul Éluard, but returned to Berlin because his wife Margarete was dying oftuberculosis.

He aided the French Resistance during the war by making fake passports. He was imprisoned in the Camp des Milles prison at Aix-en-Provence, a brickworks camp for German nationals, from September 1939 until the end of the Phoney War in May 1940.

After the war, Bellmer lived the rest of his life in Paris. Bellmer gave up doll-making and spent the following decades creating erotic drawings, etchings, sexually explicit photographs, paintings, and prints of pubescent girls. In 1954, he met Unica Zürn, who became his companion (until her suicide in 1970).  He continued making work into the 1960s

The Indomitable Deleuze 1971

La Poupée, 1934, Vintage gelatin silver print, 3 1/2 x 2 1/8 inches

The Doll, 1935, Vintage gelatin silver print, 9 3/8 x 9 3/4 inches


The Doll, 1938

I find these photos extremely disturbing. He actually initiated his doll project with a specific political purpose: to oppose the fascism of the Nazis in the 1930s. After the rise to power of the Nazi Party in 1933, Bellmer declared that he would make no work that would support the German state. The unconventional or “degenerate” poses of his dolls were directed specifically at the cult of the perfect body then prominent in Germany.

His works seems so erotic and deeply perverted thats its hard to look at them. One critic compared his work to Heironomous Bosch, whose work I actually enjoy. I think its kind of strange that I would like his but detest Bellmer’s since they are almost related. It may be because Bellmer’s photography seems more real than the fantasy of a painting. 

Overall, there are many in depth essays and critiques about the reasons for his work. I find some of them hard to understand. Maybe because I’m a girl, and girls aren’t as visual as males when it comes to sexual perversion. A good psychoanalysis of Bellmer may explain things too. War does crazy things to people.

Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach (born in Los Angeles, California in 1949) is an American photographer known for his photographs of human intervention in landscapes. His works are represented in more than fifty major museum collections around the world.

Richard Misrach is one of the most influential and prolific artists of his generation. In the 1970’s, he helped pioneer the renaissance of color photography and large-scale presentation that are widespread practice today. Best known for his ongoing epic series, Desert Cantos, a multi-faceted approach to the study of place and man’s complex relationship to it, he has worked in the landscape for over 40 years. Other notable bodies of work include his documentation of the industrial corridor along the Mississippi River known as Cancer Alley, the sumptuous study of weather, time, color and light in his serial photographs of the Golden Gate, and On the Beach, an aerial perspective of human interaction and isolation. Recent projects mark departures from his work to date. In one series, he has experimented with new advances in digital capture and printing, foregrounding the negative as an end in itself and digitally creating images with astonishing detail and color spectrum. More recently, he built a powerful narrative out of images of graffiti produced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, made with a 4-megapixel pocket camera.

Untitled 1132-04 [Flippers], 2004
chromogenic print

On the Beach

Swimmers, Pyramid Lake Indiana Reservation, Nevada, 1987-93

White Man Contemplating Pyramids, Egypt, 1989-1991

When I first saw his work, I thought it looked incredibly peaceful and serene. But then when I really looked at it, I realized that the extreme serenity was starting to verge on uneasiness. When he captures a large landscape with tiny people isolated in it, it creates a feeling of insignificance of humans in the big picture.

When I actually read about the work, I found out that that’s exactly how he wanted it to feel.

"After the national trauma of 9/11, everything looked different to me, including how I saw people at leisure. Even the simplest and most innocent of human gestures suggested a vulnerability and fragility that I had not noticed before." Richard Misrach

Sebastiao Salgado

Sebastião Salgado was born on February 8th, 1944 in Aimorés, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He lives in Paris. Having studied economics, Salgado began his career as a professional photographer in 1973 in Paris, working with the photo agencies Sygma, Gamma, and Magnum Photos until 1994, when he and Lélia Wanick Salgado formed Amazonas images, an agency created exclusively for his work

He has travelled in over 100 countries for his photographic projects. Most of these, besides appearing in numerous press publications, have also been presented in books such as Other Americas (1986),Sahel: l’homme en détresse (1986), Sahel: el fin del camino (1988), Workers (1993), Terra (1997), Migrations and Portraits (2000), and Africa (2007). Touring exhibitions of this work have been, and continue to be, presented throughout the world.

In 2004, Sebastião Salgado began a project namedGenesis, aiming at the presentation of the unblemished faces of nature and humanity. It consists of a series of photographs of landscapes and wildlife, as well as of human communities that continue to live in accordance with their ancestral traditions and cultures. This body of work is conceived as a potential path to humanity’s rediscovery of itself in nature. 

Together, Lélia and Sebastião have worked since the 1990’s on the restoration of a small part of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. In 1998 they succeeded in turning this land into a nature reserve and created the Instituto Terra. The Instituto is dedicated to a mission of reforestation, conservation and environmental education.

The Whales, Patagonia, Argentina, 2004

He’s not well known because of his whale photos, but I find them to be breath-taking… They really express the  beauty of nature.

The Mentawai, Indonesia, 2008

Namibia, 2005

Galapagos / Ecuador, 2004

This picture is amazing! An iguana foot maybe? It’s just so interesting how human the arm looks except for the scales and silvery quality of the photo. By making the lizard’s arm look like a human, you can relate to it more. This photographic project (Genesis) is about understanding the necessity of protecting all of the nature and people of these ancient cultures. This image looks almost like a delicate baby’s arm that needs the protection.

Young Sudanese flee toward Kenya to avoid being forced to fight in the civil war. Sudan . 1993

This photo has a very ominous feeling. They’re half in complete darkness, half in light, and you don’t know whether they’re going to be found or not.

Former peasants living in crowded apartments. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam . 1995

Church Gate Station. Bombay, India . 1995

The choice to have a longer exposure to blur the people really enhanced the crowded and fast-paced environment of the Station.

Portraits / Kamaz camp for displaced Afghans. Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan . 1996

Overall, his photos are wonderful at depicting the beauty of nature that remains in the world and the human communities that still live according to their ancient traditions. He makes use of bold highlights in his photography that give his photos a powerful and majestic feel. He’s also very aware of how to make an amazing composition, even if he’s documenting animals in nature that are unable to take direction from a photographer.

More pictures under the essays link here. Its actually an entire agency dedicated to his work.

Clarence John Laughlin

Clarence John Laughlin (1905 - 2 January 1985) was a United States photographer best known for his surrealist photographs of the U.S. South.

Laughlin was born in to a middle class family in Lake Charles, Louisiana. His rocky childhood, southern heritage, and interest in literature influenced his work greatly. After losing everything in a failed rice-growing venture in 1910, his family was forced to relocate to New Orleans where Laughlin’s father found work in a factory. Laughlin was an introverted child with few friends and a close relationship with his father, who cultivated and encouraged his lifelong love of literature and whose death in 1918 devastated his son.

Although he dropped out of high school in 1920, after having barely completed his freshman year, Laughlin was an educated and highly literate man. His large vocabulary and love of language are evident in the elaborate captions he later wrote to accompany his photographs. He initially aspired to be a writer and wrote many poems and stories in the style of French symbolism, most of which remained unpublished.

Laughlin discovered photography when he was 25 and taught himself how to use a simple 2½ by 2¼ view camera. He began working as a freelance architectural photographer and was subsequently employed by agencies as varied as Vogue Magazine and the US government. Disliking the constraints of government work, Laughlin eventually left Vogue after a conflict with then-editor Edward Steichen. Thereafter, he worked almost exclusively on personal projects utilizing a wide range of photographic styles and techniques, from simple geometric abstractions of architectural features to elaborately-staged allegories utilizing models, costumes, and props.

Many historians credit Laughlin as being the first true surrealist photographer in the United States. His images are often nostalgic, reflecting the influence of Eugene Atgetand other photographers who tried to capture vanishing urban landscapes. Laughlin’s best known book, “Ghosts Along the Mississippi”, was first published in 1948.

He died on January 2, 1985, leaving behind a massive collection of books and images. Thanks to the 17,000 negatives that he preserved, his work continues to be shown around the United States and Europe. Laughlin’s library, comprising over 30,000 volumes, was purchased by Louisiana State University in 1986.

He is buried in Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery in grave 18223.

The magnificent Spiral (No. 5), 1948, gelatin silver print, 13.5 x 11 in.

The Lamia Returns, 

1941 | Gelatin silver print | 13.5 x 10.5 in

The Enigma
1941 | Gelatin silver print | 13.5 x 10.5 in

The Enigma is one of his most well known works. 

The Repulsive Bed 1941 | Gelatin silver print | 10.25 x 13 in.

The Imprisoned Landscape 1954

The Torso in “G” Place
1945 | Gelatin silver print | 13.5 x 10.5 in.

The Strange Sisters, 1962 (vintage silver-gelatin print)

The high contrast of this photo and soft edges of the figures makes the figures come alive. They’re not real people, but they still seem almost animated. Either that or freshly molded clay.

Passage to Never Land

I love how his picture take on a dream-like quality. Many of his work seems like they’re fantastical or just supposed to be a mystery, but they all have philosophical idea that Laughlin express by writing pages of explanation. His first true love was literature, so its understandable that he isn’t a photographer that lets his pictures speak for themselves. He uses his photography as a way to abstract concrete objects in our world to express his underlying ideas. Many times Laughlin felt that his photographs were incomplete if he failed to give them an appropriate title and caption; the captions sometimes ran to several type-written pages.

Inspirational words of wisdom:

"You don’t go out and accidentally find something that’s going to make a good picture, but [instead, you find it] in yourself, knowing already what you want to do…at least subconsciously if not consciously; you find a thing in so-called nature or so-called reality which corresponds to this preconceived, this pre-sensitized, concept, which is hidden somewhere in your imagination or your subconscious…You go out and find what you are already prepared to see."

More work can be seen here and here

Chris Rainier

Chris Rainier is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. His life’s mission is to put on film both the remaining natural wilderness and indigenous cultures around the globe and to use images to create social change.

Appropriately enough, Rainier comes from a multicultural background. His father hailed from South Africa but later immigrated to Canada, where Chris was born. At the age of 2, his family moved to Australia and, some years later, to Africa and Europe before settling in the United States.

When Rainier was about 8 years old, his dad bought him a Kodak Instamatic. Rainier formed an instant attachment to the camera and photography. Since the age of 14, he has always had a home darkroom. It wasn’t long before he began to consider ways to combine his growing loves of travel and photography. One of his first solutions – his dream job, actually – was to work for the National Geographic Society, which to him had always embodied the essence of travel photography.

Rainier attended Brooks School of Photography in Santa Barbara, Calif., earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in photojournalism. In the late 1970s, while still at Brooks, he took a workshop from the legendary Ansel Adams in Yosemite, Calif. He made a strong connection with the master photographer and became Adams’ assistant in 1980, after graduating. Under Adams, Rainier learned that photographs can be beautiful and still change the world.

After his tenure with Adams, Rainier dived into the world of travel photography and photojournalism and almost immediately began chasing his dream of working for National Geographic.

Beginning in 1984 and continuing through 1989, Rainier made several trips to Ladakh and Tibet in the plateaus north of the Himalayas, even spending several months living in a Buddhist monastery and photographing the monks in their daily life. Subsequent trips included India, New Guinea and Thailand. In each place he photographed the people in relation to the land, but over time his emphasis shifted from the landscape to the people themselves.

In 2000, Rainier was hired by the National Geographic Society to help advocate a better awareness of culture and “to address the issues of dealing with culture in an outdated model – an old world ideology,” he says. “I think there’s an important place for photographers and photojournalists from the West to go out and tell us about the world, but to exclude the voices of that world doesn’t really work anymore.

Chris Rainier is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. His life’s mission is to put on film both the remaining natural wilderness and indigenous cultures around the globe and to use images to create social change.

Free Wind

Nuns Exiting Shrine

Young Moroccan woman with henna design on her hands

Bedouin Woman Pays Tribute to Pyramids

Samoan man with tattoos

Swiss Tattoo artist

Long-necked woman and child, Karen Paduang tribe

Young boy with arrow

Modern Primitive Man in River Bed, East LA

I love the way he is able to document the lives and spirit of the tribes and cultures while still creating extremely artistic photographs. The Young Boy with an Arrow is one of my favorites. The boy is so poised and graceful, carefully balancing on the edge of the mountain while aiming his bow. He’s almost just a silhouette against the magnificent landscape. The photo exudes a spirit of grace and power that wouldn’t be the same if it was only the boy, or only the mountains.

The composition and layout of every one of his photos are amazing. The focus is always on the people in the photo,  but the setting they’re in always enhances and gives a more powerful meaning to the portrait. For example, the portrait title “Free Wind,” is of a tattoo artist. He’s intensely staring into the camera, and obviously the focus of the photography. The powerful mountains in the background really help draw your eyes to the intensity of his stare

Overall, I find him very inspirational. I’m so shy, I can’t even ask a friend to model for me. He, however, isn’t afraid to go out into foreign places of the world to take pictures, and make them into beautiful works of art.

More of his photos can be seen here!

Imogen Cunningham

Imogen Cunningham was born on April 12, 1883, in Portland, Oregon. She began taking photographs in 1901 while she was a student at the University of Washington.

Her career began with a part time job in the Seattle studio of Edward S. Curtis. There she learned to make platinum prints in both quantity and quality. Her earliest prints were in the tradition of Romantic Pictorialism, a style of photography that imitated academic painting of the turn of the century. 

She won a scholarship for foreign study and attended photographic courses at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden Germany, in 1909. While abroad she visited Alvin Langdon Coburn in London and upon her return to America in 1910, Alfred Stieglitz. From both she gained great inspiration.

After studying photographic chemistry in Dresden, she opened a portrait gallery in Seattle, Washington, and soon established a national reputation. A portfolio of these pictures was published in Wilson’s Photographic Magazine in March, 1914. 

After her marriage, she moved to San Francisco. There she became a friend of Edward Weston; through his recommendation, 10 of her plant photographs were included in the “Film und Foto” exhibition (1929), sponsored by theDeutsche Werkbund, an association of German designers and architects. All of these prints are now part of the George Eastman House Collection.

In 1932 Cunningham joined the association of West Coast photographers which had been founded by Ansel Adams and Willard Van Dyke in 1934 under the name of Group f/64. They met to talk about photography and to show their prints to each other and to the public. In the fall of 1932, Ansel Adams and Willard Van Dyke proposed that they become better organized to implement the spread of their ideas, and Van Dyke suggested the name “f/64,” it was chosen because the members of the group were dedicated to the honest, sharply defined image, and the lens opening. Adams felt that the membership should be limited to “those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by a simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods.” Like other members of the group, she rejected the soft-focused photography then popular in favour of sharply focused prints.

After the breakup of Group f/64, Cunningham ran a portrait gallery and taught at the San Francisco Art Institute. A retrospective monograph, Imogen! Imogen Cunningham Photographs, 1910-1973, appeared in 1974, and her final photographs were published in After Ninety in 1977. She died on June 24th, 1976 in San Francisco.


Self Portrait, 1932 Self Portrait 1974

Two Callas, 1925, Platinum Print

This was considered one of her most striking photos. The intimate curves of the flower are shown in striking detail creating a very sensual image. These calla lillis along with her Magnolias are what helped define her as one of America’s great photographers.

Magnolia Blossom, 1925, Silver Gelatin Print

Tuberose, 1920s

Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather 3, 1922, Gelatin Silver Print

This one is interesting composition wise, but it seems too posed for me. 

Triangles, 1928

Nude, 1923

After her botanical photography, she began to explore the human body for her photographs. She did many nudes and portraits. Some of her nudes are unique, such as Triangles, 1928, because they distort the human form and creates interesting shadows and angles. It almost looks like it could be something else other than a body. But other ones, such as Portia Hume 2, are almost just a picture of a naked torso. I don’t find anything compelling other than the fact that I can appreciate a well photographed photo. But I don’t really like the odd shadow across the body either.

Ansel Adams, 1975

Phoenix Recumbent, 1968

My Father at 90, 1936

She also did a lot of portraiture for friends and many famous people. Most of her portraits are simple and seem to give the viewer an intimate one-on-one look of the person being photographed.

Overall, I really enjoy her botanical works. I love the fact that you can find other images within the delicate curves. They also remind me of the abstracted work of Georgia O’Keefe, whom I enjoy.

Her guiding philosophy:

"One must be able to gain an understanding at short notice and close range of the beauties of character, intellect, and spirit so as to be able to draw out the best qualities and make them show in the outer aspect of the sitter. To do this one must not have a too pronounced notion of what constitutes beauty in the external and, above all, must not worship it. To worship beauty for its own sake is narrow, and one surely cannot derive from it that esthetic pleasure which comes from finding beauty in the commonest things."

Tina Barney

American photographer. Tina Barney was born into a wealthy, upper class New York family. Her grandfather introduced her to photography when she was a young girl, and Barney began collecting photographs at the age of 26. It was not until the mid-1970’s that Barney personally started working with photography. Initially, as a bored housewife living a life of leisure, Barney focused on candid snapshots of her well-to-do family and relatives set amongst an array of lavishly decorated backdrops, including classy New York apartments and plush New England vacation homes. With a 35mm camera she was able to reveal both the familial relationships and sheer extravagance of material wealth she was accustomed to. During the 1980’s, Barney became one of the first photographers to work in the “directional style” when she forfeited the spontaneous freedom of the 35mm for a more detail-oriented, large-format camera. The direction she uses in her photography ranges from posing her subjects amidst their elaborately ornate living environment to requesting that her subjects repeat a certain unplanned gesture. Barney’s photography, with its mundane subject matter and stiffly posed subjects, recalls works of 19th century portraiture in which every detail included alludes to the social status of the individual being portrayed. This notion becomes clear in works such as Jill & Polly in the Bathroom (1987) and The Daughters (2002), in which the background possesses the same intricacy and significance as the subjects themselves. In her later work, Barney favors personality over context, successfully establishing a more intimate connection between viewer and subject by bringing her camera closer into their lives. For example, in Marina and Peter (1997), father and daughter are shown sharing a private moment, but at the same time acknowledge the presence of the photographer. Here Barney revives the individualism and spontaneity of a snapshot by allowing her sitters to choose their own poses instead of giving direction. For almost thirty years, Tina Barney has realistically showcased the human condition through the eyes of the social elite, and has been described as a Diane Arbus of the rich. Barney currently lives and works in Rhode Island.

Jill and Polly in the Bathroom, 1987

the daughters, 2002

Marina and Peter, 1997

The Two Students, from The Europeans, 2001, Chromogenic print, 48 x 60”

The Young Lady, from The Europeans, 2001, Chromogenic print, 48 x 60”

Dido, 2001, C-print, 23” x 29”

The Boys, 1990 48 x 60 inches

The Matador, 2003

My Thoughts

Overall, I really love the variations of color, textures, and patterns that are in her photos. They seem so elaborate and busy but still give off a regal quality. The Matador has such an interesting background that really contrasts with the ornate outfit. It’s almost like it’s so wrong and polar opposite that it works perfectly and really makes is outfit stand out.

The poses that most of her models are in mesh well with the setting. They’re standing there, almost awkward, yet calm and somewhat aloof. Reminds me of a term I learned in art history, frigid hauteur, which basically means cold and aloof elegance.

According to Barney, “when people say that there is a distance, a stiffness in my photographs, that the people look like they do not connect, my answer is, that this is the best that we can do. This inability to show physical affection is in our heritage.” (The Art Institute of Chicago)

Wynn Bullock

April 18, 1902 – November 16, 1975

Growing up, Wynn Bullock dedicated his time to singing and sports. After high school, he moved to New York to pursue a career in music. During the mid-20s, he furthered his musical career by traveling to Europe to study voice and giving concerts with the Music Box Review Road Company. While in Paris, he became fascinated with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. When he discovered the work of Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, he uncovered a new love for photography. 

During the Great Depression, he stopped his travels and settled in West Virginia. He also stopped singing professionally, took some pre-law courses, and continued taking photos as a hobby. He then moved to LA and continued studying law at the same school his mother had studied law at. He was dissatisfied and left to study photography at a nearby art school.

He loved to explore alternative processes such as solarization and bas relief. He also worked on developing a new way to control the line effect of solarization for which he was awarded two patents.

A major turning point was when he met Edward Weston in 1948. He was amazed by his work and began to explore his style of photography. He worked on developing his own unique visions and establishing connections with nature in his work.

During the early 60s, Wynn departed from black and white imagery and produced a major body of work that he referred to as “Color Light Abstractions”. For him, these photographs represented an in-depth exploration of light, manifesting his belief that light is a great force at the heart of all being, “perhaps,” as he said, “the most profound truth in the universe.” 

Although he was tremendously excited about this work, it proved to be ahead of its time in terms of available resources to reproduce it, and it remained largely unknown for almost 50 years. In 2008 the family estate started making high-resolution scans of his original 35mm Kodachrome slides, producing archivally stable prints, and exhibiting and publishing the imagery.

Due to the limitations in color in the 1960s, he returned to black and white prints. He tried to evoke the essence of things in his photography with creative images that reflected his philosophical nature. He used several alternative processes such as long exposure, multiple images, and upside-down and negative printing. The different techniques were used as new ways to relate and know the world.

In the early 1970s, his life was cut short due to incurable cancer and he died in 1975.

Girl on Beach, 1968

Tree Trunk, 1972

Stark Tree, 1956, intage gelatin silver print, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches

Solarized Nude, 10.25 x 13.25 in., 1940s print

Half an Apple

The apple and the piece of driftwood are very similar to the work of Edward Weston, who Bullock was very influenced by after they became friends.

Driftwood Tree Trunk, 1951

Child in the Forest, 1956, 

Gelatin Silver Print

Bullock’s photos seem very mystical. When he uses different techniques, such as the solarization that is very noticeable in the driftwood tree trunk and the solarized nude, it gives his photos an other-worldly quality. He likes to use the textures found in nature to create visually appealing patterns that aren’t readily recognized until you take a closer look. The way Bullock is able to manipulate light for his photos enhances the patterns, textures, and contrast. His photographs are timeless and reflect his philosophical mind, and love of nature.

Robert Heinecken

I was drawn to the work of Robert Heinecken when I first saw it, mainly because of its abstract look that didn’t look like photography at all. I wanted to know how it was done, and that is why he is my second entry.

Robert Heinecken was born in Denver, Colorado on October 29, 1931. He began his education at Riverside Junior College in Riverside, California, was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corp from 1953-1957, and went on to study art at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1964 he founded the graduate program for photography at UCLA, and retired from the institution in 1991. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of The Friends of Photography and a chairman of the Society for Photographic Education. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artists Grant, and Polaroid Corporation grants to use 20×24 and 40×80 cameras. Since 1964, Heinecken has had over sixty one-person shows internationally. His work is in the collections of such institutions as the George Eastman House and Mills College Art Gallery. He died on May 18, 2006.



Untitled #4, from Recto Verso, 1988
Courtesy the estate of Robert Heinecken




Untitled #3, “A Taste of Spring”, from Recto/Verso, 1988

Are You Rea #1, from the series Are You Rea, 1966. 11 × 8½ inches. Gelatin silver print.



Recto/Verso #10, 1988, cibachrome print, h: 14 x w: 11 in


From the series Are You Rea, 1967, Gelatin-silver contact print from magazine, 16 x 14 inches


 Figure Horizon, 1971; Collection SFMOMA

For his process, Heinecken decided  that enough photographs existed in the real world already, and therefore he didn’t need to take more. Instead he used what was already taken and manipulated them in extraordinary ways. His art became and attempt to clarify, reveal, and sometimes confound the subliminal social, political, and artistic codes they contain.

His portfolio, “Are You Rea,” was made from hundreds of commercially published magazines. Robert place magazine pages on a light table and found that the images on both sides visually merged in unexpected ways. He would expose them directly onto an offset printing plate, created a negative black and white image that looked like an X-ray.

In the series Recto/Verso, he manipulates advertising imagery. It creates a social satire that highlights female sexuality and media messages. In order to create these, he uses contact printing where a magazin page is place on light senstive paper and then exposed. Both images on either side of the paper are them merged into the same photograph. He plays with mixed messages to confront s with images of vanity and consumption that reveal the superficiality of media culture when you see that legs are intertwined with asparagus as seen in, Untitled #3, “A Taste of Spring”, from Recto/Verso, 1988.

Robert Heinecken signature work incorporates public images and his own darkroom activity which changes the interpretation of the original image. He was dubbed a “photographist” only to put a name to his unique process and techniques used to create his art. I find it inspiring when people such as Heinecken step out of the box and do something wonderful while not using traditional art techniques.