2017: The Year in Review

Looking back on 2017, the editors at Don’t Take Pictures are honored to have published so many wonderful photographers in issue #8 and issue #9 of our printed magazine, as well as in our numerous articles and columns online. We published one new photographer every day on our homepage, sold out of all of our printed issues, welcomed Nelson Holland as our new designer, and launched our tote bags. Our editors have recapped the most popular articles from this past year, and we look forward to what 2018 had in store.

Most Popular Online Exhibition: Cyanotypes: Beyond the Blue

©  Dennis Roussel

© Dennis Roussel

Don’t Take Pictures publishes online quarterly exhibitions. Cyanotypes: Beyond the Blue was our most popular exhibition of 2017 and was published online from May 24 to August 22.

“Sir John Herschel invented the cyanotype process in 1842 by treating paper with an iron-salt solution. As one of the earliest photographic processes, cyanotypes are known for their signature Prussian blue color. The paper is developed by sunlight, making the cyanotype process a favorite among amateur photographers through the turn of the last century. This process is now in revival and contemporary photographers are embracing the blue hues, as well as experimenting with toning techniques for a moody, otherworldly aesthetic. For this exhibition, Don’t Take Pictures presents contemporary cyanotypes that go beyond the blue.”

View the exhibition.

Most Popular Rule Breaker: D'Angelo Lovell Williams

© D'Angelo Lovell Williams

© D'Angelo Lovell Williams

In our monthly Rule Breakers column, industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with one photographer who breaks it, in an effort to show that great work is always the exception to the rule. This year's most popular Rule Breaker was D'Angelo Lovell Williams, authored by Kris Graves.

There are millions of photographers in the world and I won't act like I've seen everyone's take on nudes in photography but what I see in photobooks, galleries, museums and on social media here in the US does not excite or bring anything new to the contemporary art conversation. When is the last time you've thought of a nude photograph as innovative?

I never want to see another picture of a human being with no clothing. I spoke too soon.

D'Angelo Lovell Williams is an artist from Jackson, Mississippi currently working on his MFA at Syracuse University in New York. Williams incorporated self-portrait nudes flawlessly into his practice and is able to produce photographs that are anything but comfortable. His portraits bring a much-needed edge to the genre.” — Kris Graves

Read the full article.

Most Popular Photo of the Day: Natalia Wiernik

© Natalia Wiernik

© Natalia Wiernik

4 from the series Protagonists by Natalia Wiernik was our most popular photo of the day in 2017.

View the photo of the day archive.

Most Popular Some Assembly Required: Santi Pladellorens

© Santi Pladellorens

© Santi Pladellorens

Some Assembly Required is a monthly series that focuses on those who take the making the photographs a step of two further, creating their own photographic tools. 2017’s most popular article featured Santi Pladellorens’ pinhole camera made from a Polaroid Colorpack 100.

Pladellorens created Blink Colorpack, a pinhole camera made from a Polaroid Colorpack 100 for which he replaced the optical system with the Blink shutter and made the connecting pieces with 3D printing technology.”

Read the full article.

Top 5 Most Popular Features


Gibson Family Shipwreck Photographs: A Treacherous Tradition
The Isles of Scilly, off the coast of the English county of Cornwall are some of the most treacherous waters in the Atlantic. For hundreds of years, the ships wrecked on their shores were lost to the sea and to history. Until John Gibson, a seaman-turned-photographer brought his camera to the rocky cliffs and photographed each shipwreck, rescue attempts, and more, and transmitted the news throughout the country. Photographing the wrecks became a family tradition that would last more than 100 years and produced some of the most captivating photographs of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Read the full article.


The Loch Ness Monster Turns 83: The Story of the Surgeon's Photograph
On April 21, 1934, the Daily Mail published what is arguably the most famous picture of the Loch Ness monster. Known as the “Surgeon’s Photograph,” the photograph was reportedly made by a doctor named Robert Kenneth Wilson. The photograph depicts the trademark long neck of “Nessie” emerging from rippling water. For decades, believers and critics debated the authenticity of the photograph with myriad theories about its subject.
Read the full article.


Camera Obscura World
What is a camera obscura and where can you find one today? Before digital cameras captured our surroundings in ones and zeros, before film trapped light onto emulsion, and long before William Henry Fox Talbot fixed a shadow, the camera obscura allowed people to see their environment in a new way. It’s construction is simple—a darkened box, tent, or room with a small opening on one side. Standing inside of a camera obscura, one can see the outside world projected through the aperture and onto a surface. The scene is reproduced with perfect color, perspective, and clarity, but is inverted and reversed.
Read the full article.


Witchcraft and the Appalachian Occult in Greg Banks' Photography
Appalachia has a history of witchcraft. Deep in the hollows of places like eastern Kentucky, locals once practiced a range of ceremonies and rituals whose roots are hard to uncover and even harder to understand. Photographer Greg Banks wants us to understand them. — Roger Thompson
Read the full article.


Posing for Penn
"As I took my own turn in front of the curtain, I wondered how many Instagramers took mental notes on Penn’s photographs and put them to use in their accidental homages?...Not unlike bringing art students to the museum to sketch, the presence and accessibility of the backdrop might cause some to pay closer attention to the work in the show." — Kat Kiernan

Read the full article.

In Motion: Darren Samuelson's Great Big Camera

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San Francisco-based photographer Darren Samuelson had been making pictures with an 8 x 10 camera for years, but found the process of enlarging those negatives impractical in his small apartment. Interested in making bigger prints with a large format camera, he constructed a camera to shoot x-ray film, producing 14 x 36 inch negatives for contact prints. The camera took six months to build and when the bellows are fully extended it is six feet long. In this film by Matthew Sultan, Darren takes the camera to Land’s End in San Francisco and we see the many steps involved in making a giant photograph.

Read the full article.

Bookmarks: TIS Books


Bookmarks is a monthly series of interviews with independent photobook publishers. 2017’s most popular interview was with two of the founders of TIS Books, Tim Carpenter and Nelson Chan.

“I encourage people to go beyond the PDF stage and make dummies of their book project. You can start on cheap paper and use binder clips - just to understand how the book feels and moves in your hands. Editing and sequencing are really different—and I think better—when working with a physical object. It forces you to think about dimensions of the book and the images, and the thickness, and where text might work if you're using it. And once you make a nice maquette that shows your vision for the project, it's much easier to approach publishers.” — Tim Carptener

Read the full article.

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