Sara Lewkowicz is a native New Yorker pursuing a master’s degree in visual communication from Ohio University in Athens and received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has won several grants and awards, including the 2013…
Pete Brook is a freelance writer and curator. Pete likes images in general, but prison images specifically — he thinks they may have instructional value. Pete is confused why caring about prisons is seen as radical. Being concerned about millions of men, women and children who are locked up for…
He unlocked his shop just after 8 a.m., clicked on the neon “Open” sign in the window facing Fourth Street.
To his right, just outside the door, the barber pole was still spinning.
In 46 years, he had never turned it off.
"Cold out there this morning," he said to his partner on Wednesday. "Don’t know that we’ll get many today."
The shop was small. Three chairs lined the northern wall, but his was separate. They all had cushioned footrests — with ashtrays carved into the right arm. The black seats sagged with the weight of four generations.
As soon as he picked up his coffee, the phone rang. He has had the same number since 1968. “Pyramid Barber Shop,” he said. “No, you don’t need an appointment. Just walk on in any time.”
Then he shook his head. “No,” he said. “We won’t be here tomorrow. Today’s our last day.”
Read the rest of Lane DeGregory’s story here and watch my video about the end of an era.
I’m following my buddy Roger May’s lead and rather than picking what I think are the 10 best photo books of 2013 (I’m leaving that to the experts: here, here, here & here), I’m choosing the 10 (+1) books that easily became my favorite acquisitions of the year. Actually, as luck would have it, most were published this year, but at least one is an old classic and one is a few years old — however, both were new additions to my photo book library this year, so both are new to me.
A lot of this work has gotten decent play on the Internet and been well received in photo circles, but it’s different when you get to hold the work in your hands, pore over it, come back to it again-and-again, and love it in new-and-different, tangible ways. Some of that admiration comes from seeing how a book is put together: bound, sequenced, packaged. Some is simply from the inevitable: being given quality time with quality work, getting to linger, and revisit. The one thing they all have in common: inspiration.
Bruce Davidson’s “East 100th Street.” This was such an amazing birthday present. Perhaps his seminal work tackling race, poverty & community. And one of the biggest projects I draw on for my own work. I’ve been a fan of Davidson’s for years, and having been familiar with many of the photos in this book, I still managed to find new ones that became fast favorites. Ones that I can, and have, looked at for hours.
Carolyn Drake’s “Two Rivers.” I love everything about this. The images are gorgeous and painterly, equal parts moment and mood driven. The construction of a borderless concept, with pictures bleeding across pages and into each other playing off the lack of boundaries of the rivers is brilliant.
Donald Weber’s “Interrogations.” The images took me some place new, showed me something I hadn’t seen before and stopped me cold the first time I saw it. It manages to be both stark and intimate. Raw and tender. Haunting and compelling.
Aaron Huey’s “Mitakuye Oyasin.” A lot of work has been done on the Pine Ridge Reservation. None with this level of commitment and passion. I feel like Huey’s skill as a photographer was equally matched by his dedication to his subjects and their story. It was a stunning spread when it ran in National Geographic magazine, and it’s even more so an an entire body of work worthy of its own book.
"The Sochi Project’s "An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus.” I’ve been a fan of Rob Hornstra’s work since “101 Billionaires” and followed along with the web-based version of The Sochi Project since it launched. Having the foresight to be on the ground early, when the 2014 Winter Olympics were first announced, no one has covered the Caucasus region quite like this. Equal billing goes to Arnold van Bruggen’s writing, which when paired with an incredible body of images adds depth and layers to an onion which could take a lifetime to peel back.
Lieko Shiga’s “Rasen Kaigen.” By far the trippiest, most mind-bending photobook I got this year. Shiga was given the role of village photographer upon entering this Japanese city. She embedded herself and was on hand with the tsunami hit. She’s an artist and a documentarian and the result is phantasmagoric and surreal. It’s compelling and haunting. It’s such a unique departure from photojournalism that I can’t help but be intrigued. Any one of these pictures by itself could be a beautiful mistake, but together, they’re a collection of ghostly images that say something about a place during a very specific time. And it makes you feel something — I’m just not exactly sure what — because of how jarring it is.
Todd Hido’s “Excerpts from Silver Meadows.” I heard Danny Wilcox Frazier talk about his love for this book over whiskey one night and I immediately ordered it. I love this trend of blending fiction and non-fiction. Of piecing together your own reality based on a story. Of what it all says, including the use of different cameras of staged vs found situations of making something much bigger than the sum of its parts. Feels like movie stills, in a big, beautiful, really good way.
Rian Dundon’s “Changsha.” This book is a journey, a diary of an adventure in China. The beauty of it though is in the rawness of simply reacting to photos and experiences with no hidden agenda or motive. This book is what it is, you see what he saw and feel what he felt. It’s street photography turned raw and personal. It’s an exploration into another world and I loved feeling as though I was exploring it there with the photographer.
Dan Winters’ “Road to Seeing.” Epic. 665 pages of epic. Equal parts history of photography and history of Winters becoming the bad ass that he is. If there was going to be one gift to give to all future photo interns, this is it. It’s an entire college photo program on these pages.
Last but certainly not least, two incredible purchases from two incredibly talented friends. Kendrick Brinson’s “Sun City: Life After Life" and Preston Gannaway’s "Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea" both earned a spot on my Best of 2013 list. It was awesome to watch personal projects, years in the making take on new life in a new format. Both of these little beauties epitomize the power of seeing, but remind ever so gently about the power of intimacy and connection. Moments trump all in both of these books. But so does the dedication and pursuit of moments worth sharing.
"Best of" is so subjective. My best moments usually involve some sort of a unique experience. The awesome power of a store doing some good in the world. Getting to meet some amazing people. Fun to sit back and reflect on all the things seen, places gone, connections made and stories told this year.
In 2013, I got to: hunt for pythons in the Everglades with a man on a mission for redemption, discover a real Fountain of Youth in my own backyard and make portraits of reenactors at the original one in St. Augustine, watch a woman dedicated to helping homeless kids find a way to do their laundry, document a Quidditch tournament and earn a whole new appreciation for one of the toughest sports I’ve ever seen played, cheer for a young woman who’s battled cancer since she was a kid as she walked across the stage at her high school graduation, witness an amazing transformation as Miss Teen America found her true self in the woods, meet a mom whose 12-year-old killed her 2-year-old, be in awe of the incredible 99-year-old Mister Newton who finds meaning in the working life (still!), spend time getting to know a pastor and some sex offenders in the middle of the sugar cane fields, witness 15-year-old Davion Only take to the pulpit and plead for a forever family, hear stories of secrets and shame as told by some incredibly brave men — all survivors of military sexual trauma, and watch an inredible woman’s life-changing revelation as she let go and let dog.
And one of the things I’m most proud of is finding some incredible human interest stories in my backyard for a column that writer John Woodrow Cox and I have called Dispatches From Next Door. We practice what our editor calls “essentialism” and found that roughly 500 words and one photo have surprisingly allowed us to do and say a lot. Meet Diamond Jim — a man who’s looking for love in Sun City Center, a haitian hospital janitor and a young cancer patient with an unlikely bond, a rape survivor learning to trust again with the help of horses, and Hollywood Kim, who, cast off, finds peace from her crazy life on the quiet calm of a boat and allowed John to work the words “purple battery-operated dildo” into a story.
A country music singer and his little dog.