Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography

Posts by Mike Lander

U. S. February 11, 1938


To be honest when we first saw this image we liked the composition but had a difficult time in defining the story. What was this photo trying to say? The collapsed buildings could have been caused by a natural disaster. Why then would the fence posts still be standing untouched? Were to buildings demolished by design to make room for improved structures? A nice, rural photo with an interesting composition but what else? Does not look particularly like a farm. And then we realized that the story here is about the utility poles bringing electrification to rural America. Probably a WPA project as the timeline is correct. “Electrification“; U. S. (February 11, 1938). It was after seeing a photo and reading a report in Newsday (3/33/23) that convinced us of the story. See: “PSEG to take 5 ‘monster’ poles down”.

Lactaid: Fat Free


Maybe gone but not forgotten. First it’s baby formula and now this. Good luck trying to find some Lactaid: fat free milk. I called Lactaid several weeks ago and they told me that it was a nationwide problem. 1% and 2% is available but not fat free for those of us who depend on it. Even other lactose and fat free brands are nearly impossible to find. What’s going on here? Can’t be for a lack of demand. Supply chain problems? Maybe the cows are on strike. If so, they must be French cows. The French are always going on strike over one thing or another. Toujours les français!

U. S. c.1940


I used to think that a photo silhouette was some photographer’s mistake. An underexposed photograph. A good scene ruined.  How wrong I was. I find a photo silhouette to be more attractive than a non-silhouette in many cases. The silhouette is dramatic. It is mysterious. It is sterile because in the case of the photos in this blog, “Oil Refinery” (U.S. c.1940) the photos can be used to symbolize any and all refineries. The lesson here is not to dismiss a silhouette out of hand as it may prove to be a truly fine, artistic photograph containing subtle meanings never intended.

U. S. c.1940

U. S. c.1940

Kansas (1933)


Just another farm photo you say? I could not disagree more. Fred and Thelma cannot bear to watch as a piece of their farm equipment is hauled away on a flatbed truck. Look to the left of the car. This is Kansas during the Dust Bowl. The farm equipment appears to be a horse drawn plow or hay rake. I would argue that they are selling off pieces of their farm in order to pay for the necessities of life. Farms became unproductive and many farms were eventually abandoned as their owners moved to California and elsewhere. Normally I would object to the photographer’s shadow in this photo, but the significance of the photo outweighs any technical defects in my opinion. A very sad day indeed as we can see by the expressions on their faces.


And So It Came To Pass“; Kansas (1933)

September 11, 1967 - Brooklyn, N. Y.


Newsday reported today (January 29, 2023) – “31,000 LI Educators Make $100G+”. As a retired NYC high school teacher I feel qualified to speak on this subject. Several members of my family past and present were and are in the education field. If anyone thinks that this is an easy gig I say you’re welcome to try. A vibrant education system attracts the best qualified personnel, and the school taxes you pay keeps the value of your home high. The photo in this blog, “UFT ON STRIKE“,  was taken on September 11, 1967 outside P. S. 176 in Brooklyn, N. Y. by me. Average elementary school teacher salary at the end of the 1966 school year was $6,279. The lady in the photo was my Mom. She was the school secretary and did not make nearly the salary of a teacher. She died 2 years and 18 days after I took this photo.

Elkmont, Alabama (1933)


There is not much commentary one can add to “Despair“; Elkmont, Alabama (1933). In this case a picture is worth 1,000 words. Tragic times during the Great Depression. Tragic for many people. This is the type of photo often seen in the work of the Farm Security Administration photographers during the 1930s. But this photo is not one of them.


Berlin - 2022

Freedom tastes good. You can certainly feel it and smell it from the photos sent to us by our newest contributing photojournalist, Gary Luciano, on his trip to Berlin, Germany (November-December 2022). Gary is based in Texas. I have a passion for night photography and Gary’s work well defines Berlin’s appreciation for freedom. Only a people who have lost their freedom can truly understand what it means to regain it.

You can also view Gary’s work here: “Berlin – 2022“.

U. S. c.1905


You have to ask yourself just how many cotton pickers (nee: slaves) would it take to pick this much cotton? That was my first thought upon seeing this photo. A virtual mountain of cotton bales waiting for shipment on a dock as far as the eye could see. You need to see something like this to understand the magnitude and also the attended suffering of cotton pickers in this industry.

Cotton Mountain“; U. S. c.1905

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