Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography
Alexandria, Indiana 1955


It is unfortunate that John Vachon’s name does not immediately come to mind in the discussion of the Farm Security Administrations’s photographers during the 1930’s. Dorothea Lange is perhaps the best known, but others such as Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein and John Vachon seems to fall into a second tier. This is unfortunate. Vachon’s work was unique compared to some of the other FSA photographers, and it is for that reason that his photographs made a strong impression on me. Some of his photographs were taken during a rain storm. His image of diagonally parked cars in “Omaha, Nebraska 1938” shown below inspired me to try and in some way to duplicate his style. I would like to think that “Alexandria, Indiana 1955” would meet Vachon’s approval.


By John Vachon.

By John Vachon.

Turn of the Century


If you say that this photo is far from technically perfect I would have to agree. It feels good to break the rules once in a while. Remember that this is photojournalism not studio photography. A good deal of photojournalism has its roots in conflict photography. War photography. Photos are taken under extreme conditions. In photojournalism the message is what is important not necessarily the technical expertise of the photographer.

Which brings us to this photo we call “Turn of the Century“. After much research we assess that this photo was taken in lower Manhattan c. 1914. Lower west side to be more precise. Somewhere between Houston and West 23 Street and possibly Christopher Street. The hat shops in that area are prolific. Also notice the battle scars on the boy from a recent fight as well as the Adrien Brody lookalike that he is standing with. We do not need perfection in this photo to understand the circumstances and the setting. Sometimes less is actually better as the mind fills in the scene what the eyes cannot see.

The weary, haunting stare of a Depression era shopkeeper.


Who will remember us after we are gone? In part, perhaps folks will remember DPI by the images we have left behind.


“…I wish my life was a non-stop movie show

A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes

Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain

And celluloid heroes never really die…”    –   The Kinks (1972)


Spirit Airplane


Forgive us for using the film title, but it just seemed appropriate. The lead photo is a Spirit airplane one of several produced based on the Spirit of St. Louis, “Spirit Airplane“; New York State c.1929. How far airlines have come. Below are two photos; “Mexican Railroad Station“, Mexico c.1935 and “The 1929 Reo“; U. S. (1935). A fine automobile to drive during the Great Depression. The Mexican Railroad Station could never be confused with rush hour on the L.I.R.R.


Mexican Railroad Station



A 1929 Reo parked with its driver.

A 1929 Reo parked with its driver.

The Milk Delivery Truck


An image worthy of those taken by the Farm Security Administration photographers during the Great Depression. We think that this is one of those special images. There is a lot to digest in this photo. The milk cans in the truck, the visible gas pump, Davis grocery store with the Coca Cola sign, the man sitting in the chair in the shade and the pinball machine next to him. The truck’s grill sets the time frame. One of those great images from the 1930s, “The Milk Delivery Truck“, Austin, Texas (May 5, 1934).

Does anybody here speak any longer?


I think that the question of the day is how were humans able to survive for thousands of years without their smart phones? Our iPhones and Androids serve many purposes besides being able to communicate via telephone for which they were originally created. For emergency use, for checking news, sports scores or the stock market nothing can beat a smart phone. They have become indispensable. Today it is unusual for someone to step outside of their home without a handy smart phone nearby. I say that it is an important tool, but only a tool. The tool does not run me, I run the tool when necessary.

A new language has even been created, in part to cut down on usage for people without unlimited plans. LOL, IMO and TTYL just to name a few. We have a shared family plan with our carrier which is unlimited, fortunately. I checked our phone and text usage for a recent month. My usage was phone-93 minutes with 29 incoming texts. No outgoing texts. On the other hand my daughter’s phone usage was 287 calls for 1610 minutes and over 1,000 texts. The carrier does not provide information on text usage for over 1,000/month. It seems as if she lives on the phone. How does she have time for anything else?

What I find actually rude is when a stranger that you might meet is so busy texting a friend that you have become part of the wallpaper to them. It’s as if you don’t exist. If you drive your car by always looking in your rear view mirror you will miss very important information right in front of your face. We learn from observing and speaking to people that we meet for the first time. To text to family and friends ad nauseum is always to be looking into the past. It will always been a few seconds in the past. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Our blog photo was taken on a Manhattan subway car in New York City, “Texting…Texting…Texting“; January 31, 2018.




Gangs of L. A.


When we first saw this image we were reasonably comfortable in saying that these men were not currently attending classes at USC. Los Angeles, California a/k/a/ the gang capital of the United States. Not only is Los Angeles populated by members of the Latin Kings, Bloods and Crips, in no particular order, but many other gangs as well perhaps not as well known outside of California. In viewing this image we quickly determined that these men were not members of the Latin Kings. Research indicted that the image was taken in Lakewood which is more or less Crip territory, but not exclusively. Street names of the men in the photo were provided, and it seemed that the evidence led to a conclusion that these men were Crips. However, the school colors of USC are crimson and gold so a Crip would not be wearing USC sweatshirts in those colors. The men also display battle scars and what appears to be blood stains on their clothing. We conclude that these men are members of the Bloods unless otherwise corrected.

Unloading paper money.


We at DPI believe that this is a very special image and worthy of further examination in a blog. This was the scene in front of the “American National Bank“; Atlanta, Georgia c.1916. American was soon to go out of business, but we see the unloading of paper money in these coils of in front of the bank. Workers and security personnel. Direct deposit? If I were a banker I would want to display an image such as this in my office.


If you are not familiar with the term Gandy Dancer you should be. The term is not used strictly for section crews in the South, but it covers other areas of the United States for workers of many nationalities over many decades. The songs and cadence used have their origin from Southern black workers laying track. What is also similar is the cadence used in the military during training as anyone who has ever served in the military will remember.