Photography

Haunting Photos of Nuclear Test Sites in Secret Soviet Cities

In their heyday, Semipalatinsk-16 and Moscow-10 weren’t represented on a map. There were no street signs to lead you there. And if you wanted to live there, the KGB had to approve your relocation with the proper security clearances. These were secret Soviet cities that became missile test sites. Today they are known as Kurchatov (in Kazakhstan) and Priozersk (in Russia).

Aritst Nadav Kander was fascinated by these closed cities, which he captured on camera. “Hundreds of atomic bombs were detonated in the so-called ‘Plygon’ near Kurchatov until the program ended in 1989. The bombs were exploded in a remote but still populated area, and convert studies were made of the effects of the radiation on the unsuspecting inhabitants,” reads the photographer’s statement. “[Kander] was then drawn to the bleak Aral Sea where there had been a military presence in the area, which had been responsible for launching the missiles used in the development of the defense systems in Moscow 10.”

Kander’s photos are available in the book Dust, which will be released on October 31. If you happen to be in London, you can catch an exhibit of Kander’s work at Flowers Gallery through October 11th. … Read More

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Revealing Photos of Burlesque Performers In and Out of Costume

Speak to enough burlesque dancers, and you’ll learn that many of them began performing in hopes of finding not a full-time career but a creative outlet — a way to inject a dose of glamor into their daily lives. Sean Scheidt, a photographer who works out of Baltimore, New York, and LA, captures the fascinating and sometimes incongruous relationships between performers’ onstage personae and civilian identities in his series Burlesque, which pairs in-costume photos with shots of the same ladies (and the occasional dude) in their street clothes. … Read More

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‘Underwater Puppies’ Are the Cutest Thing You’ll See Today

Photographer Seth Casteel has found himself a delightful, bestselling niche with his underwater animals series — even if it’s just dogs for now. His new book, Underwater Puppies (a sequel, naturally, to Underwater Dogs), is the cutest thing, with joyful photos of goofy, tiny puppies enjoying swimming for the first time, and Casteel capturing it all on film. It’s adorable, and we’ve got a sample below. … Read More

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Exuberantly Colorful Photos of Flamboyant Moroccan “Rock Stars”

If these photos by London-based, Moroccan-born photographer and stylist Hassan Hajjaj are anything to go on, there’s a party happening in Marrakesh, and it seems like an awful shame that we’re not invited. They’re part of an exhibition called My Rock Stars, and there’s certainly an effortless cool about his subjects that’d put most Western rockers to… Read More

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Intimate Photos of Thailand’s Transgender Sex Workers

Soopakorn Srisakul’s photo series Mistress reveals the everyday lives of Thailand’s transgender sex workers, particularly those employed in the red-light district of Nana in Bangkok. “Because of their unusual appearance and lifestyle, so far removed from the norm of most everyday happening, even if one were to start off with a neutral perspective regarding their life, one really cannot help having some kind of presumption,” the artist writes on his Bēhance portfolio page. “That is, unless one becomes an integrated part of their life, intimately and investedly.”

Srisakul’s camera observes the daily routines of several cabaret dancers and sex workers, including his girlfriend who is a transgender call girl.

Thailand’s definition of gender is more fluid than in the West, and sex workers are “tolerated” more so, too. But the community still faces discrimination and legal issues. A female-identified person is not allowed to change their sex on birth certificates or passports, and would be sent to a male prison if incarcerated.

See more from the Mistress series, below. Please note that some of the images are NSFW. … Read More

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The Pop Culture-Inspired Branding Behind Heroin Addiction

We’ve been following Graham MacIndoe’s work since we shared his poignant Missing Persons series. The Scotland-born artist’s latest work All In, recently featured on Wired, caught our attention. Fascinated with the typography and design of glassine heroin baggies he collected during a period of addiction, MacIndoe’s photos reveal the branding and marketing side of dope.

“The addict becomes the ultimate consumer of the ultimate product—following a trail of quirky street names carefully chosen to be instantly recognizable to those in the know,” he writes on his website. “But there is nothing hidden about the references to good times (So Amazing, True Romance, First Class), juxtaposed with reminders of the gamble (9 Lives, Black Jack) and the reality of addiction (Flat Liner, Undertaker).”

Naturally, the pop culture references struck a cord with us. Names like New Jack City, Twilight, True Romance, and Sin City instantly transport us to the visual landscape of the films they refer to. The appeal of a brand named after cat food still eludes us (it even looks like the 9Lives logo), but sadly we can imagine why someone might feel fancy buying “First Class,” featuring a jet hovering above it.

See more of MacIndoe’s photos in our gallery. … Read More

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Gorgeously Geometric Aerial Photos of Colorful Umbrellas on an Italian Beach

In the second week of September, we’re all waving goodbye to the beach — so we might as well do it from thousands of feet in the air. Bernhard Lang, a Munich-based photographer who specializes in stunning aerial work, does just that in a series of lovely shots taken high above Italy’s Adriatic coastline. Aside from the natural beauty of these beaches, there’s great aesthetic pleasure to be taken in the colorful rows of umbrellas, arranged on the sand with a sort of idiosyncratic, geometric precision. Click through to enjoy some highlights from the series, which we spotted via Faith is Torment, and visit Lang’s Behance page for more of his work. … Read More

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Nostalgic Photos of America’s Rapidly Vanishing Drive-In Theater Culture

A symbol of more innocent times, the drive-in theater hit peak popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They accounted for about 25 percent of movie screens in the United States. As of 2013, that number has dwindled to a pitiful 1.5 percent (under 400 drive-ins) due to the rise of home video and digital media. Photographer Stefanie Klavens, whose work we first admired on Beautiful/Decay, has a great affection for the drive-in theater and documents the few that remain across the country. “From the ornate city palace to the intimate small-town movie house my photographic journey has taken me all over the country,” she writes on her website. “I strive to record this rapidly vanishing era in American popular culture. Through this series I explore the history of architecture and design, the evolution of our social history and habits, and the importance of preserving a record of the past.” Step into the past with Klavens’ Vanishing Drive-Ins series, below. … Read More

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Dramatic Photos of New York City’s East Village Locations in 1984 and Today

New York City has undergone some dramatic changes over the past several decades. Landmarks like Kim’s Video & Music are shuttering their doors, and rents are skyrocketing more each year. One neighborhood that has seen a major shift is the East Village. In 1984, photographer Daniel Root, who we learned of on Kottke, documented the area—the way most people think of it, as it appears in the movies. Today, he has made it his mission to revisit the locations in his images to document their current state. The EV NY project reveals some fascinating and dramatic transformations. Gentrification has scrubbed the East Village’s former graffiti-covered walls. See what you make of New York City’s East Village 30 years ago versus today in our gallery. … Read More

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Gorgeous Portraits of Nocturnal Animals

There are times when, as a writer, you really want to delve into the realm of Serious Criticism, taking a critical view of works of art in their sociopolitical context and examining their role in both their own fields of artistic endeavor and against a wider backdrop of cultural trends and movements. There are also times when you just want to go, OMG SUCH CUTE ANIMALS ARGGHHHH~~~~~. These gorgeous photos of nocturnal animals, from Rhode Island photographer Traer Scott’s book Creatures of the Night, fall firmly into the latter category. That’s not in any way to understate their artistic worth — they’re beautifully composed and well shot — but dear god, how cute is that little baby fox thing on the book cover?! Hat tip to Featureshoot, where we first spotted these — and also, do check out Traer’s website, where there’s a wealth of beautiful animal photography. … Read More

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