the absolute best vivian maier photo

vivian maier
Florida, January 9, 1957. Vivian Maier.

tripping through new mexico

kiva theater las vegas 2009

I’ve just discovered the work of Robert Christensen. From his website:



In 52 stunning black-and-white photographs, Belen-based photographer Robert Christensen has documented, in a spare compositional format, home-spun, down-to-earth buildings such as gas stations, garages, barns, bars, and shops, which he calls the we-don’t-need-no-stinking-blueprints school of structural design. The artist states, “I see these images as portraits of unassuming, idiosyncratic individuals, rather than pure historical documentation. While quite a few of these buildings still stand, as a genus they are fading away, along with the individualism and self-reliance that produced them. Some have been replaced by mundane new construction, some have been chicly remodeled at the expense of their original allure, and some have just vanished.”

Over the past four decades Christensen has traveled to all corners of New Mexico and neighboring borderlands looking for interesting buildings along the way. The list of locations of structures captured by the artist inspires the imagination. . . .Towns such as Vado, Dexter, Vaughn, Midway, Acme, La Joya, Cleveland, and Canutillo all evoke places of forgotten legend or the mythical long ago.

The photo at the top is the Kiva Theatre in Las Vegas, New Mexico, which Christensen shot in 2009 but it could have been 1949. Have a look at a few more of his photos in the gallery below — and then go to his website to view more. His work is not only stunning, it’s a gift — intimate little worlds discovered in landscapes that can, in life, feel parched, empty and forgotten. Christensen has made me see and experience those landscapes differently.

What I appreciate most is how these photos have accrued over decades of seeing — it’s a rich visual history that would have remained invisible to and unknown by a larger world if Christensen hadn’t documented it.

chris killip: boo on a horse

Seacoal Camp, Lynemouth, Northumberland, 1987, by Chris Killip.

on winter’s edge

seacoal camp lynemouth 1984
Cookie in the snow, Seacoal Camp, Lynemouth, 1985, by Chris Killip.

david bailey: east end woman, 1960s london

bailey east end woman
From the Guardian’s series ‘my best shot,’ David Bailey tells the story behind this photo, taken around 1961:

The shot’s a statement on the social climate at the time – and at any time really. I was living in the East End in the 60s, which was probably more of a nightmare than living there through the war.

[ … ]

I sort of remember the day. But there were lots of days like it. I’d spend maybe eight hours taking pictures round the East End. I wasn’t just mindlessly clicking away, though. I’d think about things: you have to. I’m not one of those photographers who doesn’t know what he’s doing, so takes hundreds of pictures in the hope there’s one good one. I do one click then move on. By the look of the picture, it was quite sunny – the reflection wouldn’t have been as strong otherwise. I prefer London in the rain, though. I just find it so beautiful.

I started shooting in the East End because it was where I was from. I lived there all through the blitz. When I was about three and a half, the flat next door was flattened, so we had to move from Leytonstone to East Ham. I was six and a half when the war ended and quite used to bombsites by then. I’ve never let myself be limited by my background, though.

saul leiter


merle park in rehearsal

merle park royal ballet
merle park royal ballet
Merle Park in rehearsal and more expressive than I’ve ever seen her in performance — here, she actually looks like she’s enjoying herself. In performance, she always seemed too controlled and much more focused on the precision of her technique than on dancing. Which, for the viewer, was a bit boring. Not to be critical — it’s just nice to see something more, and something a little more lovely and lyrical, in her dancing. Photos by Keith Money.

chris killip: helen and her hoola-hoop

killip helen hoola hoop
Chris Killip: Helen and her hoola-hoop, Seacoal Camp, Lynemouth, Northumberland. This and many other exquisite photos are included in the book Chris Killip: In Flagrante.

larry fink, 1999

8_detour magazine 1999
Shot for Detour magazine in 1999 and featured in this excellent book, Larry Fink on Composition and Improvisation

larry fink: paris, 1998

lacroix show paris 1998Lacroix show, Paris, 1998.

vivienne_westwood_tatiana_sorokko_Paris_1998Vivienne Westwood, Tatiana Sorokko, Paris, 1998.