Walking Winter

Here in Minnesota, where we usually spend the post-holidays buried in snow and bundling up against sub-zero temperatures, we experienced a lovely extended autumn that now seems to have skipped us ahead a few calendar months. The last week has felt like a perfect stretch of late March. We’ve been breaking high temperature marks all over the state. I’ve been nostalgic enough, in fact, that I’ve spent several nights hunting through photo books for some of my favorite winter images. Here are some that made the cut.

Vivian Maier, March 18, 1955, New York, NY.

Pentti Sammallahti, Solovki, White Sea, Russia, 1992.

Elin Høyland

Bruce Davidson, American Elms – The Mall in Central Park, 1994.

Emmet Gowin, View of Rennie Booher’s house. Danville, Virginia, 1973.

Nobuyoshi Araki, from (Sentimental Journey and Winter Journey, 1991)

I am excited to see the images Martin Parr makes in MN.

What are your favorite winter photographs? And is there any one photographer –or even several– that you particularly associate with the season?


I have a renewed appreciation for kindness and generosity thanks to all of the people who helped Brad Zellar pay off his medical bills. I dont have an exact amount to announce but I can say that what we raised helped tremendously. Last night Brad posted Hold Out Hope: An Old Pep Talk. Hold Out Hope: An Old Pep Talk is a beautiful story that brings a smile to my face. I hope it does the same for you.

Bunny Photos

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about bunnies. One obvious reason is Easter, the other is the project I’m working on. For these reasons I wanted to share a few bunny photos. The first photo is from my project titled GOMA. This is a photo of GOMA the bunny. The photo was taken in Japan on Chigasaki beach about a year ago.

This next photo is also from Japan. It’s Jacob Aue Sobol’s photo of pouncing bunnies from his book I, Tokyo.

One of my favorite bunny photos ever was taken by Rinko Kawauchi

I showed this photo in my blog post last year about bunny books.

Departing from Japan and traveling to Brighton, England, is The Brighton Bunny Boy Zine. This is a great project by Alec, Carmen, and Gus Soth. Check out a review of the book here.

The last thing I want to share is a great little story written by the author of the Conductors of the Moving World, Brad Zellar. Read the story here.

The Veterans Book Project

Monica Haller, a friend of the LBM crew, is having a fundraiser for her amazing Veterans Book Project. Here is a description of the project from here website:

“The Veterans Book Project is a library of books authored collaboratively by artist Monica Haller and dozens of people who have been affected by, and have archives of, the current American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In their printed format, the books provide a place or “container” that slows down and materializes the great quantity of ephemeral image files that live on veterans’ hard drives and in their heads.”

Give to The Veterans Book Project


Watch Alec’s interview with Monica Haller


Check out the books



When Alice opened the little door to wonderland everything changed, and I completely understand that feeling. For the last month I have made a huge career change. On October 27th I gave birth to a baby boy. Since that day I’ve been floating and periodically sinking while the days melt together. It is very similar to the first month of a relationship, falling in love, getting to know the other person, their likes and dislikes. The only difference is that I know that I love him and always will.

Just to reassure everyone I still love books. I am working on a new book, more info coming soon. Also, I recently received a present from my father, a handmade 12’ wide by 8’ tall bookcase. So when I’m not changing diapers, nursing, or rocking my baby to sleep, I am organizing my book collection. I am happy that I now have a lot of space for new additions.

Carrie Buddy signing off

not Natasha, by Dana Popa

During this years Santa Fe Review I had the pleasure of meeting Dana Popa. I was so impressed by her work I decided to find out a little more about her project not Natasha.

You are a storyteller, tell me about how you decide to frame your stories?

I first learn about the subject I am to photograph. I also look into the ways the same subject was shown before, I prefer defying the stereotypes, when possible. I believe that with social documentary photography, at the end of the day, no matter how one envisions a narrative flow of the story and preconceives a story, one has to make the best of what the immediate reality offers. And for me this is a constructive challenge.

Why did you originally decide to photograph the topic of sex trafficking?

I found out what sex trafficking really means, this is what triggered my work. At the time there was not much visual coverage of the illegal trade…

So I decided to get a closer look at sex trafficking and record what it means for these women to survive sexual slavery. I chose to look inside their souls – which for me at the time seemed very difficult to do, but that is what I was most interested in. And after having heard their stories, I wanted to look at their traces: at what women who had disappeared for years and who are believed to be trafficked and sexually enslaved leave behind. This became an essential angle and part of the narrative.

After being involved in this project, I am realizing that its beginnings might have also been triggered by my interest and knowledge of the woman’s position in societies like the one I was born in.

What was your childhood like? Can you relate to these women through your personal experience and upbringing?

In the case of not Natasha, I should admit that all my childhood I was used to see sad faces of the women who might have experienced domestic violence. As well, poverty was not something new or exotic for me, not that I was poor myself, I am coming from a middle class family, but one can see poverty at all pace and at different levels across my native country.

You said in an interview with Photofuison that Moldova is Land in limbo, that it is the main supplier for sex trade, and poorest country in Europe. Do these things make the trafficking worse?

Of course! Poverty is the real reason for people’s vulnerability. There will be exploiters to take advantage of their vulnerability and despair to live a better life. In this case, jobs abroad were offered to women and women would take the risk. A job abroad, in a world of dreams, is the only possibility for one to escape poverty. It is easier for traffickers to go to poor villages and target jobless people living in terrible conditions.

Willing and forced? Your work is forced prostitution! Why did you decide to focus on forced prostitution?

Oh, it is great that we can draw a clear distinction between forced prostitution and willing prostitution. Well, I wanted to make the distinction even starting with the title of the project. ‘Natasha’, as Dalia explained to me, is a nickname for sex workers with eastern European looks, and the women who had been tricked into a world of dreams and then lured into different destination countries and forced into sexual slavery ‘hate the name of ‘Natasha’! Because we are not Natasha’s, do you understand?”  Dalia told me. These women did not opt to become sex workers, they were locked in all sorts of locations, from flats and houses to brothels, threatened, beaten up and raped, put on drugs and alcohol and forced into it.  When I researched my subject, it was shown that women from Moldova had been sent to as many as 42 destinations.

What was the hardest aspect of this project for you?

Getting access was the hardest aspect. I worked a lot to establish all sorts of connections with NGOs fighting sex trafficking in different countries. I received less than half of the help I needed to make the story. The rest I had to do myself, which was difficult and took time.

Access to these women seemed to be a huge challenge. How did you explain why you were doing this project to the women in order to gain access?

Access was the most frustrating part all along the years I did this work. It took a long time and if I wanted to photograph a new angle of the story, getting access would still take long, even though my work on sex trafficking was known by then; I can’t explain why. I initially got access through 2 local NGOs in Moldova; the social workers allowed me to visit the women who survived trafficking and were now living back in their homes, or wherever they returned to.  It was important that I stayed faithful to my concept, I wanted to see how the women who had gone through the most horrific experience kept on living, and living with a deep pain, forever traumatized. It was not hard to explain why I was interested in them. The most pleasant part of the learning process was when I spent time at one of the shelters that offered them psychological assistance and accommodation for a month or so.

You worked with a physiologist at the shelter, did working with this person help you understand what these women have gone through?

As soon as I had a short conversation with the psychologist at the shelter, I understood that she would be the right person to introduce me to the trauma these women were still going through. This way I could learn and understand about the women that had escaped sex trafficking without me asking certain personal questions that could create unwanted moments between me and the person that I was photographing.

Why did you want to photograph these women after they returned home?

I wanted to look at the deep marks that sexual slavery leaves on a human being. I wanted to show what one couldn’t see: the interior hidden trauma; that was the challenge for me. I also wanted to look at the reason why women would take the chance, leave their children, families behind and flee their country; also if they integrate back, if the society puts a stigma on them. I was also aware that this angle would give me time to meet more women and to dig deep into this subject and to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

Empty spaces represent missing women? Can you tell me more about this?

I had the opportunity to continue the work through a commission from Autograph ABP that later published the book. I followed my story line looking at the spaces where the women who are sex slaves once belonged. Their presence was strong there, and one could still feel it through the families who were longing for them, through objects left behind, through their rooms kept intact, exactly as they where when they went missing or little pictures transformed into little altars. Later on, I looked at the places where such women are held captive and forced into prostitution. This was my way of representing missing women: through empty spaces that once were filled with their natural presence and empty spaces where they are forced to exist.

Captions, tell me about these words in the back of the book.

Words are of paramount importance for the story. I have been told that I took beautiful pictures of sex trafficked women. Well, words come to tell the horrific story these women went through. And the words are their words. At times I would be amazed at what women who survived sex trafficking would tell me. Words like ‘why do you have to dig up my life again?’ or ‘my husband sold me’ or ‘(…) only the thought of my daughter back home kept me alive” are not to forget, their honesty and maybe need to shout struck me; I thought I had to give these girls, whom I was photographing, their own voice. The story is told better like that. So I thought of leaving the pictures to flow throughout the book, to bleed the pages in silence, like some moments of my meetings with them were. Leaving the pictures to the interpretation of the reader was a good way of telling the story. And then read the words at the end. Mark Sealy the director of Autograph knew the stories behind the work and decided that my journey in making the work was part of the story, therefore by adding my notes at the back of the book, the reader would get closer to the experience and the subject of this project. And it would also have the structure of a journey, which is what the women had experienced from the moment they fell into the hands of traffickers.

I began by asking about your story telling. I would like to end by asking you if you were more interested in the story or getting the story out into the world once you finished?

To be honest I give more importance to taking the story out in the world once it is finished. That plays again an important part in the photographic process.

Check out not Natasha here

Buy not Natasha here, here or here

Read unedited interview here

What are you working on today?

My new work focuses on post communism everyday youth and their lives against the fleeting memories of a bygone past that still permeates the selves and the landscapes. I am opening a reflection on the notion of identity in a place that soaks itself in the nothing-works status-excuse, 20 years on after its liberation, Romania.

Check out new work here

Rabbit Books

When I was young my mother collected antiques. She specialized in antique rabbit items. She had rabbit chocolate molds, rabbit furniture for children, stuffed rabbit toys, but my favorite was a little book named: Four Little Bunnies.

While I was in Japan I met a rabbit named Goma. I am now obsessed with rabbits and photographers who make books and photographs about rabbits.

This is a beautiful rabbit photo by Rinko Kawauchi

And this is the new In Almost Every Picture 8. Its the story of Oolong a Japanese rabbit.

Does anyone know of any other good photography books about rabbits?

Instax Interview: Maya de Forest

During one of my lunchtime book search sessions I found the book, I love here now, by Maya de Forest. I decided to ask her a few questions.

Carrie Elizabeth Thompson: What sparked this project about your mother?

Maya de Forest: I was visiting Winnipeg about once a year and was becoming more aware of my mom’s physical aging year to year. At the same time she was becoming really active in the things that interested her like cooking and painting. At one point she was taking three flamenco dance classes a week, things of that nature. She was just so passionate about everything and it made me see her in this new light, like who is this person? These things all really prompted me to start taking photos of her. I then got an opportunity to move back home for a month in the middle of winter and decided to make a book project about her.

CET: Do you think of this as a project about your mother? Or is she a surrogate for aging women?

Maya: It could definitely act as a surrogate for aging women but I think it’s primarily about my mother’s own immigrant story and how that’s informed her identity as an aging person.

CET: There are a lot of images taken at night, is there something that happens to your mother at night that made you decide to use many night images?

Maya: It was more a process of what I thought was working sequentially and fit the overall tone of the book. Of course I was taking a lot of night shots at the time…there is something about snow at night that’s so beautifully quiet and kind of sad. I think the winter landscapes end up acting as kind of an existential backdrop to the whole thing. I suppose I was expressing my own feelings about her mortality as well as the hardships that I know she’s faced growing up in Japan during the war and making a life in a new country.

CET: How did you decide to add your mother’s writing?

Maya: I wanted to give the book some breathing room between sequenced photos initially. I like sequencing images in small groups and building those into a whole. The writing was originally very simple and secondary to break these sequences up, but I later realized that it could act as a

tool to really fill in the gaps of what the photos were not able to express. I ended up interviewing my mom at length and taking relevant text from there.

CET: Can you explain the title?  When did your mother say this and what did you ask her to prompt this answer?

Maya: The title comes from her answer to my interview question  “How do you feel about living in Winnipeg?”  Her English has never been great but in the last 5 years her spoken English has deteriorated to the point where I now really struggle to understand her. She reads and

communicates with friends almost exclusively now  in Japanese outside of talking with her immediate family, so, she’s very much immersed back into her culture. I used “I love here now” as the title because I think it both expresses and embodies her acceptance of these two worlds that

she lives in.

CET: Do you feel this project is complete, or will we see more images in the future?

Maya: The project to me is done, since its really documenting a very specific point in time in her life which doesn’t exist for her anymore. She just survived a major stroke last spring and it feels like she’s aged about 10 years overnight. I’ve been really taken aback by how rapidly people can age in their seventies, similar to how quickly people mature in their teen years. It’s fascinating, but its also hard to watch.  I do still take photos though of my mother because she’s become such a great model. Maybe there’s a future project in there somewhere…

You can see more images here

Buy book here


With much reaction to the iPad this week here is an interesting BOOK to add to your collection.

“Introducing a new case based on an old idea. BOOK is a hand made hard cover book jacket on the outside, with a sleeve tailored to the iPad on the inside. Protect your digital device safely and then shelve it, carry it, put it in a book-bag, or leave it on the coffee table. BOOK is made with the highest grade of sustainable, durable, and natural materials to insulate your iPad in an enduring style”

Check out the BOOK here