“Fall in love. Every day. With everything. With life. If you can fall in love, you can be a photographer. I think that is absolutely essential.”–Ruth Bernhard 

The Parisienne photographer, Lara Kiosses’s, series Romantic Collection isn’t breaking any new ground, or charting any new territory. Using multiple exposures is nothing new, and using female models and flowers has a long, established history. Nevertheless, the results Kiosses achieves using these common elements are impressive. The richness and the romance shine through. The images are exactly what they’re supposed to be: beautiful, meditative, and romantic.

Kiosses, like many working photographers, has a diverse portfolio. She’s talented, and I can sense through her work, passionate about what she does. Her work reminds me how many wonderful photographers–many of whom I’ll never discover–are out there falling in love.–Lane Nevares


“Can the ubiquitous language of commodity culture and advertising be employed to speak to, and about, more than merchandise and celebrity?  If so, to what end?”Hank Willis Thomas

About an hour northwest of New York City, a small museum, The Aldrich Contemporary, is exhibiting from now until late September, the work of an artist who will make you think. Hank Willis Thomas’s series, “Strange Fruit,” isn’t pulling any punches. The title of a famous Billie Holiday song written to protest southern lynchings and racist violence, “Strange Fruit,” in the 21st Century, has even greater connotations.  

Thomas’s images confront and provoke. They’re beautiful and they’re troublesome.  Their impact, however, will be mitigated by what the viewer brings to the experience.  For the values and ideas we all bear, frame our interpretations. I find these images potent and dark. They’re reminders of the complexities surrounding economics, history, race and class in our visual culture.  But what others see, I can’t say.  And like Hank Willis Thomas, I also ask, “If so, to what end?”  –Lane Nevares


“I was stunned and amazed, my childhood memories, slowly swirled past like the wind through the trees…”–Chrissie Hynde

The photographer Todd Hido‘s latest show, "Excerpts from Silver Meadows,“ opens tomorrow at Bruce Silverstein Gallery. The show coincides with his latest monograph of the same name published by the estimable publisher, Nazraeli Press.

Todd Hido grew up in Kent, Ohio, and as a Midwesterner brings a particular sensibility to his interpretation of suburban American culture. Excerpts from Silver Meadows, named after his old neighborhood, is a collection of memories and loose narratives that let us glimpse into the artist’s own psyche. In this video, Hido tells the tale, especially why creating a book is important to his work, and why he believes, as Lewis Baltz once remarked, that Photography uniquely occupies a profound space between Literature and Film.

Hido shoots analogue. He adores light and embraces its possibilities to convey mood and emotion–though dark and uncomfortable they may be. While his portrait work is even more impactful than his landscapes, Hido’s work transcends the ordinary, because let’s face it: in our world of image saturation, how many artists make work that is instantly recognizable as their own?  Way to go, Ohio. –Lane Nevares


“If I have anything to say, it may be found in my images.” –Josef Koudelka

This weekend the Art Institute of Chicago opens a significant exhibition, Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful. The Czech-born, French nationalized photographer isn’t the settling down type. Since vacating his country in 1970 for greater political freedom in England, where he joined the photo agency Magnum, Koudelka has led a life, at the age of 76, of wander and wonder.

This new show will exhibit the complete surviving 22 photographs of the début presentation of his famed 1967 Gypsies, along with original photobooks and ephemera. While the exhibition, sadly, will not be coming to NYC, it later travels to the J. Paul Getty Museum (LA) and the Fundación MAPFRE (ES). 

What makes Koudelka’s work exceptional? It’s his intangible ability to suffuse images with the poignancy of loss, emptiness, and a feeling that above it all, life is a fascinating mystery in all its pathos and beauty. I often find myself coming back to his work again and again. It’s poetry for the eyes.–Lane Nevares


“A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it’s already there. And if you look with a little bit more intention, you see it.” Vik Muniz 

San Francisco-based artist Caren Alpert cares about the food we eat. A commercial food photographer by trade, Alpert’s series “terra cibus” aspires to “transform our food obsession into a newfound closeness with what nourishes us.” Using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Alpert is able to take incredibly sharp and detailed images of common food items revealing colors and details that express the wonder of nature.

The idea is simple and the execution is exquisite. I find these super-duper-macro images not only captivate, but they transform banal subjects into something quite extraordinary. The colors, textures, and form remind us that beauty, not always obvious, is already there.–Lane Nevares 


“What appears in the pictures was the subject’s decision, not mine. I took what they presented–delicate moments–unadorned and unglamorous, yet tender and exquisite. –Ray Metzker 

Belgium isn’t a land of sunshine and smiles, but there is a no-nonsense, hardworking attitude that I’ve always respected. It’s this commonsensical approach to life that I see in the work of Belgian photographer, Jacques Sonck, who is currently on exhibit at L. Parker Stephenson Photographs here in NYC. Sonck, who trained as a photographer, did the practical thing in life: he got a job shooting images at the Culture Department of the Province of Antwerp. For 35 years he photographed their exhibition catalogs and earned a living, while doing his own personal work on the side. 

Looking at his images, we can conjure the influences of Arbus and Penn, but Sonck’s images are not derivative. He is straightforward and unapologetic about what he’s doing. He’s a skilled photographer who has no personal interest, at all, in the lives of his sitters. Indeed, he often doesn’t even know their names. What he’s after is the transcendence found in any great portrait. That is, the notion that through the alchemy of photographer and subject, the photograph, itself, elevates their brief experience into something greater that we can engage and project ourselves onto. They are looking at us, we are looking at them, and we are all looking at each other. –Lane Nevares


“Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.”–George Soros

Since 1998 the Open Society Foundations’ commitment to documentary photography and its role in revealing wider global issues has been made manifest through its Moving Walls exhibition. The 21st installment opened last week in New York, and will continue later this year on to Washington, DC and London.

The five photographers represented in Moving Walls 21–Shannon Jensen, Mark Leong, Nikos Pilos, João Pina, and Diana Markosian–are a diverse lot, but their work shares a commonality of compassion and concern for people and their plights. Whether it’s Sudanese refugees, Hong Kongers under Chinese rule, the legacy of Operation Condor, the collapse of Greek industry, or the lives of young women in Chechnya, the commitment to sharing these stories is impressive.

These images of shoes from Shannon Jensen’s series Long Walk, while ostensibly simple, tell a difficult story of survival, migration, and human resilience. In this case, the captioning and stories behind the shoes are as poignant as the images themselves. Jensen’s photographs, as well as the others featured in Moving Walls 21, remind us to never forget that our capacity for understanding, no matter how imperfect, should never prevent us from caring. –Lane Nevares


“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.”–Joseph Campbell

Currently on view at Luhring Augustine in Bushwick is only one work: a performance piece of endurance art, A Lot of Sorrow, 2014, (Video, Edition of 10 and 2 artist’s proofs. Duration: 6 hours, 9 minutes, 35 seconds) by the artists Ragnar Kjartansson and band The National

I know little of Ragnar Kjartansson and less of The National. My intent was only to see this piece for myself. I was dubious about watching musicians performing a three and half minute song for over six hours. But sitting there alone in the installation, I became a believer. Once you settle into the repetitive flow, the music, the lyrics, and the atmosphere all become a resonant visual and aural experience. I stayed half an hour, deeply absorbed, and left the gallery feeling as if I had been away somewhere for a long time. Why? I don’t know rationally, but therein lies the beauty and the mystery, and the experience of being alive. –Lane Nevares


“Why is Form beautiful? Because, I think, it helps us confront our worst fear: the suspicion that life may be chaos and that therefore our suffering is without meaning.”–Robert Adams

Robert Adams, who is widely recognized and who has published more than forty monographs, is one our great, American photographers. His vision of the American West has forever shaped how artists (and indeed many of us) look at these vast spaces. His contemplative, quiet images from the past fifty years have become a new Americana. We can keep returning to his work and still find ourselves asking questions and seeking answers. 

Currently on view in Paris at the historic, Jeu de Paume, Adams’ classic series, “The Place We Live”, will be exhibited until 18 May. (PBS has also released a new video interviewing Adams.) Seeing his handmade prints, with their gracious attention to light and form, is an opportunity not to be missed, and perhaps, a chance to come in from the chaos.–Lane Nevares


“The question is not what you look at, but what you see."— Henry David Thoreau

When I was a kid, someone once told me that,”the difference between something and nothing is everything.” Of course, they were just teasing an eight-year old boy with a zen-like statement, but since then I’ve often considered the philosophical impact of that assertion. Somewhere between what we see and what we don’t see—lie the possibilities.

The Munich-based photographer, Robert Voit, series “New Trees” plays with these possibilities and asks us to consider what’s real, unreal, and an everyday part of our lives. Voit, who studied at the prestigious Arts Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany, knows all about the “Becher School” of photography. His photographs, however, play with typologies rather than being boxed-in as such. Voit is merely asking us to look closely, pay attention, and smile along the way. Our world has changed and these “new trees” reflect the landscape of our 21st Century planet.

Voit’s exhibition, “New Trees” and “The Alphabet of New Plants,” opens tomorrow at Clamp Art here in NYC. His monograph, “New Trees,” is now available from Steidl. I look forward to attending the show and seeing the possibilites.—Lane Nevares


“The exercise of democracy begins as exercise, as walking around, becoming familiar with the streets, comfortable with strangers, able to imagine your own body as powerful and expressive rather than a pawn.”–Rebecca Solnit

The photographer Richard Renaldi isn’t afraid to talk to people. For nearly seven years he has been approaching strangers throughout the United States and asking them to pose, along with another complete stranger, for his large format 8 x 10 camera. This ongoing series, “Touching Strangers,” is now a new monograph from Aperture, with an exhibit opening tomorrow night. 

In these images, body language reveals everything. We look at these folks looking at us and understand that we’re all sharing a moment. Once the shutter’s released, the magic is frozen. Yes, we know it will never happen again, these individuals will probably never again meet each other, but what remains is the touch. And most importantly, the idea that we are, despite the negative aspects of our culture to dictate otherwise, humanly connected. –Lane Nevares


“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”—Franz Kafka

Mark Cohen, born in 1943, is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. To a 21st Century audience, he’s perhaps not as well known, but for over 40 years he’s been documenting his local community and building a foundation from which many photographers (consciously or not) have tread upon. As early as 1973, John Szarkowski recognized his talent and showed his work for the first time at MoMA. Now, in 2014, the Danziger Gallery in New York is representing his work and giving him a new solo show that opened last week.

Cohen’s flair for using strong off-camera flash, a wide angle lens, and avoiding the viewfinder (while shooting with the camera away from his body) bring an immediacy to his images. Like Bruce Gilden, who’s no stranger to the close, flash-in-your-face approach, Cohen’s surrealistic style is reflective of his personality. This video shows him in action, moving, shooting, talking and constantly on alert for the next frame.

Now in his 70’s, Mark Cohen has kept his ability to see beauty and to remain young. Any photographer who creates work this good (not to mention his superb color work), merits all the attention he receives. The show is up until June 20th and a must-see. Never grow old. —Lane Nevares


“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”–Bruce Lee 

I came across the work of Michael Mapes quite by accident via the BBC. Seeing it for the first time online, however, I was struck with intense curiosity. How were these portraits constructed, and how much work went into creating them? On the off-chance, I sent Michael an email. We later spoke on the phone and arranged to meet in person to chat and to view his work.

Referencing Dutch Master portraiture, Michael Mapes,“specimens” deconstruct and painstakingly re-construct how our eyes interpret. It takes a particular artistic vision to manifest work that takes you somewhere new. Vials of hair, resin, sequins, thread, photos, jewelry and more–all (at the end of a pin) go into making these “dimensional collages.” The result is a portraiture unlike anything I’ve seen before. 

For now, Michael Mapes may be relatively unknown, but if his work continues to follow, and not be bound by, the principles of good art–authenticity, resonance, and a yearning for beauty– his work will not remain so. This guy is onto something. –Lane Nevares 


“My goal is to make images that are familiar and dreamlike, evocative of an almost unreachable memory.”–Vanessa Marsh 

In photography, as in all forms of art, one must travel their own path. Seeing the work of Vanessa Marsh for the first time, I immediately sensed that this young, Oakland-based artist was following a particular vision. It’s refreshing to see images that ask us to slow down, look and ponder what we see.

Her work, which combines a variety of techniques including drawing, sculpture and photography, is layered and resonant with the subconscious. These landscapes, with their familiar elements and generic titles, maintain a silhouette quality to them, asking us to project our own thoughts and experiences onto what we see, and in effect, transforming them into our stories. 

Marsh discusses her process in this interview, revealing how the series came about and the specific techniques used in creating it. While her work lacks the confrontation and psychological prowess of a Kara Walker, Marsh is, nevertheless, graciously inviting us to enter her world to dream the dream. –Lane Nevares 

“Atmosphere and lighting are very important to me. When I photograph en contre-jour, what I am trying to do is capture the soul or aura of the subject rather than the subject itself… I guess that is the reason why people say that my lighting is unique.”  Rinko Kawauchi

Good photographs, like all great art, resonate with the viewer long after seeing the actual work.  Recently, I happened upon the work of Rinko Kawauchi and found myself drawn into her world of color and light. The images have never left me. Beguilingly simple, Kawauchi’s photographs tell stories, ask questions, and reflect broader themes.  And when pulled together into a wonderfully edited book or a slideshow these images take on a greater power.  Take note: Rinko Kawauchi is one of Japan’s finest working photographers, and, I suspect, one we’ll continue hearing more about.  Lane Nevares


When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”–Stanley Kubrick

On Fifth Avenue between 103rd-104th Streets, lies a museum that, in this culturally effusive city of ours, is often overshadowed by its bigger, branded neighbors. The Museum of the City of New York is a museum for us, for New Yorkers, and for anyone with a keen interest in our city’s history and cultural odyssey. 

The late, great Stanley Kubrick, Bronx born and bred, was a wonderful teen photographer long before his days as a ground-breaking filmmaker. At the age of 17, he landed a photographer’s job with the prominent Look magazine, where he would go on to complete more than 300 assignments with 129 of them (some 15,000+ photos) now held in the collection of the MCNY

Kubrick, a demanding perfectionist who was always somewhat controversial in his day, was once a young man with a camera discovering the city; building the foundation for his later creative genius. Kubrick’s story of Mickey the “Shoe Shine Boy” is now 68 years old, but one can still glean Kubrick’s early explorations of storytelling and directing, and the sense that even in his late teens, he always did things his own way. –Lane Nevares


“I am constantly amazed at man’s inhumanity to man.”–Primo Levi

The events of the late 1970’s in Cambodia are but another heartbreaking chapter in our shared global history. Many of you born later may not remember or know anything about the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror then. Artists like Binh Danh, who has spent a great deal of timing considering this history, help us to remember because, out of respect for life, we should not forget. 

These portraits of portraits, printed on leaves using a special technique Danh invented, have deep psychological and aesthetic undercurrents. They are beautiful, poignant and dignified. The work is subtle, potent and tied to nature. The individuals looking at us–numbered, documented and long gone–attest to the ephemeral nature of life and the cruelty of injustice. As we know, subsequent events in Rwanda, Bosnia- Herzegovina as well as the current crisis in Congo keep us, regrettably, constantly amazed. –Lane Nevares 


“Photographs open doors to the past, but they also allow a look into the future.” Sally Mann  

Artists can find inspiration anywhere, but it was a severe horse-riding accident six years ago that catalyzed Sally Mann to create her latest series, “Upon Reflection,” opening tomorrow night at Edwynn Houk Gallery.

Banged-up and physically incapacitated from the accident, Mann did what any artist impelled to create does: she looked within. Unable to carry around her large format camera, Mann took self-portraits whose reflections go deeper than the surface of her skin.

Choosing to use a mid-19th Century historical printing process, ambrotype, (with her own modern modifications) Mann’s handmade prints are a metaphor for her own recovery. These images are blurred, scratched, pitted, grainy, over/under exposed–all providing an organic reflection of an important artist who has never shied away from revealing the depths of her own psyche.  –Lane Nevares 


 "Strong women, precious jewels, all their humanness is evident in their accessibility. We are able to enter into the spirit of these women and rejoice in their strength and courage.” –Maya Angelou 

Growing up, you never know what will affect the rest of your life. For French photographer, Patrick Willocq, who spent seven years as a child and teenager in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the land would–twenty-seven years later–draw him home, allowing him to reconnect with the people, the land, and parts of himself that had lain dormant for too long.

Willocq’s collaboration with Ekondas Pygmies led to this striking series honoring first-time mothers who undergo a sophisticated rite-of-passage to become Walés. He writes: 

“When a young mother becomes a Walé, she takes on a nickname that differentiates herself from rivals. Every day the young woman engages in an elaborate beautification ritual to draw attention to herself. She spreads a red preparation, a mixture of powder of ngola wood with palm oil, over her own body. The sophisticated hairstyles, made of a mud like paste, a mixture of ashes from bopokoloko leaves and palm oil, are yet another way for Walés to flaunt their uniqueness.”

While we all understand that notions of beauty and representation tend to be fluid concepts, what fascinates me is to see them revealed anew. Only a photographer who respects his craft and his subjects can achieve these collaborations. This is fine work. Allow these portraits to take you into the spirit. –Lane Nevares