The Decadence and Environmental Destruction of American Expansionism in Nevada


Before 2008, Lake Las Vegas, a collection 21 Mediterranean-themed communities built around a man-made lake, and Ascaya, a “mountain-mansion project” created by a Hong Kong billionaire, were part of the force making Nevada the fastest-growing state in the country. And then, almost as quickly as it grew, Nevada real estate collapsed. Construction halted at Ascaya, leaving “dozens of cake-layered pads carved into the mountain without a single house.” At Lake Las Vegas, two golf courses and a luxury hotel shuttered, and owners sold their homes at massive losses. In his new book, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain, out next month from Radius Books, Michael Light documents the ruin of the sprawling Nevada residential developments.

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Dressing Up in Drag With the Help of Fine-Art Portraits

Nigel Grimmer’s photographs often involve some kind of social interaction. Using his friends and family as subjects, Grimmer takes them on road trips, leads them into forests, dresses them up like road kill, and puts them in a corner wearing a dunce cap. 

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Can These Selfies Change the Way We Think About the Death Penalty? 


During the summer of 2013, documentary photographer Marc Asnin came across the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, which lists the final words of the 517 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. Seeing the extensive list presented in such a matter-of-fact way set in motion an idea for a book, Final Words, that includes the last statements and mug shots of the prisoners who have been executed in Texas during that period of time (the book will be updated to reflect the current number of the executed). Asnin’s goal is to get the book into the school curriculum in all 32 states that still use the death penalty with the hopes that it will open up a new conversation told from a first-person perspective rather than simply from a list of statistics.

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Iranian Fathers and the Diverse Daughters They’ve Raised


While living in Malaysia, Nafise Motlaq found the way people talked about her home country, Iran, disturbing. They seemed to lack a realistic vision of the country because they relied mostly on stereotypes and hearsay. Inspired by this frustration and a trip home to visit her father, Motlaq, a senior lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia, decided to try and explore the father-daughter relationship in Iran using photography. 

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Midcentury San Francisco as Seen by Its Most Famous Photographer


At 90, Fred Lyon is a legendary San Franciscan photographer. He is now known for capturing the ethereal feel of the city and its people, but in the 1940s and ’50s, Lyon was scrabbling to gain a footing in the magazine industry. Luckily, it was a good time to do so: San Francisco was entering a new golden age, consumed by a post–World War II hunger for creative expression. His new book, San Francisco: Portrait of a City 1940-1960, out last month from Princeton Architectural Press, is a portrait of the city bursting with life, from its streets to its stores to its grandest palaces of art and culture.

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Seeing the World From Your Pet’s Point of View


Since its invention, humans have had a corner on the photography market. Now they’ve got some competition. In his new book, PetCam: The World Through the Lens of Our Four-Legged Friends, available now from Princeton Architectural Press, Chris Keeney highlights the absurdity and unexpected artistry of photos taken by animals from around the world.

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How Do You Get to Death Valley? You Have Two Options. 


They’re around 150 miles from one another and their combined populations don’t quite reach 2,000, but Baker, California and Beatty, Nevada each boast as being the gateway to Death Valley.

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Can You Really Know All Your Facebook Friends? This Photographer Tried to Find Out.


A couple of months ago, a portrait of my friends and their daughter appeared on my  Facebook timeline. Their friend had arranged to take the portrait for a project documenting all of her 626 Facebook friends. A few weeks later, another one of my friends’ portraits appeared in my feed from the same series. Feeling I was missing out on something right under my nose, I began to investigate and was quickly embarrassed to realize the widely covered project, Are You Really My Friend, had never crossed my path. I immediately contacted the photographer Tanja Hollander and spoke to her right after she had finished taking her 400th portrait to talk about the evolution of the series.

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For a New Generation of Queer Youth, the Closet Is No Longer Mandatory


Growing up in Colorado in the 1980s, being out of the closet was, for M. Sharkey, “just not a possibility.” “I couldn’t even imagine not being in the closet. I couldn’t imagine being open about my sexuality,” he said. Times have changed, and as LGBTQ Americans have won greater freedoms and protections under the law, a new generation of kids has increasingly begun to experience something novel: A childhood in which sexuality and gender identity is more freely expressed and discussed.

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The Surprising Calm of Israel’s Many Bomb Shelters


In Israel, where war is a constant threat, bomb shelters are a fairly everyday part of the landscape. Like New York’s subway stations, they blend naturally into their environments while maintaining individual personalities. And, as Brooklyn-based Daniel Terna found out, they’re generally left unlocked, ready for use or for the occasional photographer to explore.

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The Bright Lights and Digital Daze of Tokyo


One of Matthew Pillsbury’s chief photographic interests is the way in which technology influences the way we experience reality. “The growing use of technology in our lives has simultaneously allowed for instantaneous global communication, but it also can isolate us by favoring virtual contact as opposed to real-world interaction,” he said via email.

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This Powerful Laser Looks Cooler Than Science Fiction 


When Robert Shults tells people about the Petawatt Laser, a machine that at one time produced the most powerful laser pulse in the world, the response he hears most often is, “It sounds like something out of science fiction.” In Shults’ new book,The Superlative Light, out this month from Daylight Books, it also looks like science fiction.

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Are You Enjoying a Picnic on a Dumpsite?

Christine Holtz and Lauren S. Zadikow were familiar with the public parks, little league fields, playgrounds, and other green spaces found in Pittsburgh.

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The Many Faces of Texas


The first time Michael O’Brien set foot on Texas soil, in 1982, for a Life magazine assignment, it felt like home. In the decades since, he’s been to every part of the state and met a wide variety of people, including celebrities, politicians, and everyday citizens.

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Violence, Love, and Hope: Growing Up in the Bronx in the 1980s


When Stephen Shames took his first photos of the Bronx in 1977—while on assignment to produce a photo essay for Look—the area, one of the poorest in the United States, was a “terrifying” and “often dangerous” place. Heroin soon became easily available in the borough, followed by crack. And yet, Shames said, the Bronx felt like home.

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Grease, Sweat, and Muscle: The Freedom of American Car Culture


For the better part of three years, the open road was Justine Kurland’s home and inspiration. As she and her son Casper traveled the United States in her van, Kurland photographed lonely highways, wrecked cars, and heroic garage mechanics for her series, “Sincere Auto Care,” which is currently on display at Mitchell-Innes & Nash gallery in New York City. Together, the photos comprise a portrait of an American landscape that will feel familiar to anyone who has spent time behind a wheel.

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Competitive Animals and the People Who Handle Them


The first time Toby Coulson saw an animal show—a competition where breeders show off their best specimens and judges “examine each paw, claw, beak, and ear looking for the animal with the perfect dimensions”—he was struck by the people in white coats who handled the animals.

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One Photographer’s Beautiful and Devastating Response to Climate Change


Almost a decade ago, David Benjamin Sherry began taking trips through the American West. Although he grew up around the Catskill Mountains, once he began photographing the terrain on the other side of the country, he knew he was on to something. He felt drawn to the classic landscapes around Yosemite National Park and Death Valley, as well as the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. 

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Sometimes You Just Need to Print Your Photos the Old-Fashioned Way 


There is something almost old-fashioned about the ways in which Mark Steinmetz works. He’s the kind of photographer who brings around his film camera and prints much of his work in his darkroom. Even his images have a type of quiet quality—they’re easy to get lost in and the titles offer little more than basic information.

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This Is All That’s Left of New York’s Once-Thriving Borscht Belt 


For middle- and working-class Jewish New Yorkers, the Catskill Mountains were a paradise within reach. Beginning in the 1920s, the area, which became known as the Borscht Belt, thrived as hundreds of summer resorts emerged, offering food, leisure, and entertainment catered specifically to that population. 

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The Movies May Have Forgotten About Them, but Black Cowboys Are Thriving


American movies and media may have forgotten the role of black Americans in cowboy culture, but the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo certainly hasn’t. The all-black rodeo was created in 1984 by entertainment producer Lu Vason in order to “uncover the cultural past of the black cowboy.” It’s been traveling the country ever since.

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Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs


Don’t even think about inviting Beatrix Reinhardt to join a club. The New York–based, East German–raised photographer doesn’t want to be a part of anything labeled “members only,” but it hasn’t stopped her from photographing society’s exclusive interior spaces—what she calls an addiction—for more than 10 years.

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Ethereal Views of Earth From Way Up High 

While reading a Japanese guidebook about Bolivia in the mid-’90s, Asako Shimizu noticed a small black-and-white photograph of a salt flat with a seemingly endless horizon. The memory of the image stuck in her mind for 10 years until finally, in 2006, she was able to visit the South American country where, inspired by the image, she created the series “On Her Skin.” 

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The Hidden Beauty of New York City’s Basements


For apartment-seekers in New York, a building’s basement is usually not among the top concerns. But in 2010, when Gesche Würfel and her husband went looking for a new place in upper Manhattan, they proved different from typical renters. “My husband insisted on seeing the basements because he grew up in New York and he knew that you can judge the quality of a building from the look of the basement,” Würfel said. “When we went downstairs, I saw some really amazing spaces.”

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The Crumbling and Abandoned Remains of Italy’s Once-Grand Discotheques 


Through the 1980s and some of the 1990s, giant discotheques on the outskirts of Italian cities were at the center of the nightlife scene. Inspired by an economic boom, partiers frequented spaces designed to celebrate opulence and splendor, built, as Antonio La Grotta described them, “large enough to contain the dreams of success, money and fun of thousands of people.”

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These Serene Duck-Hunting Dens Looks Like Giant Bird Nests

At first glance, there’s not much to a duck blind, a structure that hunters use to camouflage themselves while waiting for birds to fly overhead. They’re humble, often small structures made of simple materials—wood, paint, nails, netting, and bits of brush or grass—and are built with efficiency in mind more than comfort or architectural flair. But, as Wade Bourne wrote in Ducks Unlimited, “There’s a lot more in a duck blind than meets the eye. There’s hard work, ingenuity, and the hopes and dreams of the hunter or hunters who built it.”

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Would You Play Basketball Here? 


Chris Tubbs was wandering around Havana when he came across an abandoned sports stadium and decided to hop over a wall to take a look. Inside, he found everything “overgrown and crumbling,” including a swimming pool, a diving board, and a bare-bones basketball court. “It was clear that their facilities were not up to standard and they had to make do with basic facilities that had fallen into disrepair,” he said via email. “What I came across that day brought back the memories of past glories forgotten. These emotions are similar to those of our childhood memories of play that often remain intact and even exaggerated while the physical locations are lost or simply abandoned to time.”

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