2018: The Year in Review

Looking back on 2018, the editors at Don’t Take Pictures are honored to have worked with so many wonderful photographers in issue #10 and issue #11 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, and celebrated five great years of publishing photography. Our editors have recapped the most popular articles from this past year, and we look forward to what 2019 had in store.


© Tara Wray

© Tara Wray

Don’t Take Pictures publishes online quarterly exhibitions. Wintertime was our most popular exhibition of 2018 and was published online from February 21 to May 22.

“While the winter weather keeps most people indoors, many photographers venture out into the cold to create some of the most wonderfully atmospheric photographs of the year. From sensational winter storms to a quiet coat of new-fallen snow, and the inevitable thaw just before spring, for this online exhibition, Don’t Take Pictures presents photographs of the wintertime.”

View the exhibition.


© Jeff Mermelstein

© Jeff Mermelstein

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.

“I never want to see another street photograph. Especially one of New York. Yes, street photography captures an ever-changing spectacle, with new fashion trends and hairdos. But human behavior and emotion, which are at the core of street images, remain stubbornly consistent. After decades of looking at people traversing the streets of New York in person and in photographs, what is there left to surprise me? Apparently, plenty when New York’s streets and their denizens are seen through the lens of Jeff Mermelstein. His images caught my eye, my heart, and my funnybone when I came across them on Instagram.

Many of Mermelstein’s images are more portraits, albeit it involuntary ones, than street photographs. His subjects demonstrate an emotional intensity that reverberates within his tight framing of them, ramping up the energy and power of the encounter. He respects and features the pedestrians’ individuality. He also has a great sense of humor and manages to capture people doing the quirkiest things. Or, he composes the oddest groupings of fragments of flesh, clothing, object, and background. The resulting image at first seems alien, illegible, and impossible, then dissolves into a physical reality that yes, we’ve even seen ourselves, but never from this viewpoint or with this wry wit. Mermelstein brings to his images a unique sensibility and vision that makes even a familiar world like the streets of New York new again.” — Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography, Cleveland Museum of Art

Read the full article.


© Igor Malijevský

© Igor Malijevský

Workshop, Pliskov, 1999 by Igor Malijevský was our most popular photo of the day in 2018.

View the photo of the day archive.



Some Assembly Required is a monthly series that focuses on those who take the making of photographs a step or two further, creating their own photographic tools. 2018’s most popular article featured David Mingay’s pinhole camera made from a clever IKEA planter hack.

“IKEA “hacks” are all the rage these days, but back in 2006, one photographer turned the beloved Scandinavian company’s product into a beautiful pinhole camera. The Bjuron plant pot holder, a simple wooden box with a galvanized tray inside, made for the perfect pinhole camera body… The camera produces large, beautiful negatives that are anything but a hack job.” — Kat Kiernan

Read the full article.


Vivian Maier: A Photographer’s Life and Afterlife
John Foster

In this thoughtful and carefully researched book on Maier’s life, Pamela Bannos delivers one of the best photo-related books of 2017. The author takes the “mansplaining” of Vivian Maier away from two men who wanted to define her life for self-interests, and gives it back to us democratically and free of bias.

Read the full article.


A Literate Camera: Walker Evans and Poetry
Andrew Seguin

Torn posters, pliers, commercial signage, cornices, the view from a commuter train—[Walker] Evans transcended these things. He owed his skill at it, in part at least, to poetry. It was a debt he readily acknowledged…Baudelaire’s poetry infused Evans’s prose, but it also helped determine his approach to the camera. For Baudelaire was the poet of the Paris streets; he embodied the flâneur who walked the city taking it all in: traffic, booksellers, beggars, rag pickers, drunks, smokestacks, chimneys, steeples. His poems level these subjects with traditional ones such as Greek classicism and myth. It was that democratic eye that appealed to Evans.

Read the full article.


Bird’s Eye View: Pigeon Photographers at the Turn of the Century
Kat Kiernan

Before there were drones, before airplanes and helicopters, early aerial photographers flew in hot air balloons to document the world from a bird’s eye view. At the turn of the last century, one man took the phrase literarlly, strapping cameras to homing pigeons and gaining international notoriety.

Read the full article


Barriers to Entry: The Changing Landscape of Photobook Publishing
Kat Kiernan

This new democratization of photobook publishing means that, for better or worse, photographers themselves are in charge of their book’s creation and fate.

Read the full article.


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: The Story of the Bird Girl
Kat Kiernan

Jack Leigh's photograph of the famed Bird Girl, whose statue has become forever associated with the John Berendt bestseller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has a rich story of its own.

Read the full article.



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“Joel Peter-Witkin is a photography legend known for his complex macabre tableaus. His vision and style are unique, but he is not alone—he has a twin. The documentary Witkin & Witkin focuses on the strained relationship between identical twins who grew up to be celebrated artists—Joel as a photographer, and Jerome as a painter. Despite having similar professions and identical genes, the Witkin twins have spent the majority of their lives estranged.” — Kat Kiernan

Read the full article.



Bookmarks is a monthly series of interviews with independent photobook publishers. 2018’s most popular interview is with the publisher of Overlapse Press, Tiffany Jones.

“Generally, it’s an uphill challenge to have an audience discover a photobook since most aren’t given a place in mainstream, physical bookshops. Again, this is where relationships are so important in spreading the word. I feel publishers, booksellers, writers and photographers all need to support one another and champion what we do to the world. We are lucky to have some organised groups and individuals who make it their mission to promote photobooks. We just need to keep the interest growing through working together.” — Tiffany Jones

Read the full article.

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