The Teen Years- Joseph Bellows Gallery

The Teen Years

July 9 - August 26, 2016

Upcoming Exhibition
The Teen Years
July 9th – August 26th, 2016
Opening Reception: July 9th from 6-8pm.

Joseph Bellows Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, The Teen Years. This group exhibition will open on July 9th and continue through August 26th, 2016. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 9th, from 6-8 pm.

The Teen Years will feature a selection of both vintage and contemporary photographs that address the physical, social, and emotional aspects of adolescence, and the formation of identity. The photographs included in the exhibition present a collective portrait of youth: its awkwardness, innocence, fury, elation, beauty and trepidation.

Photographs by Joseph Sterling, Edward Sturr, Enrico Natali, Elaine Mayes, Bevan Davies, Nacio Jan Brown, Melissa Shook, Harry Ibach, Duncan McCosker, Christine Osinski, Joan Albert, Sage Sohier, Mark Steinmetz, John Myers, Andrea Modica, Bill Yates, Roger Vail and others will be included.

To request further information or high resolution images please contact Joseph Bellows Gallery at Established in 1998, Joseph Bellows Gallery features rotating exhibitions of both historic and contemporary photography, with a special interest in American work from the 20th Century. More information can be found at

For more information please visit the Joseph Bellows Gallery

Snapshot: ‘The Teen Years’

Article originally appeared in Financial Times

©Mark Steinmetz, Jessica, Athens, GA, (1997)

In 1983, with a vague idea about working in film, Mark Steinmetz dropped out of Yale School of Art and headed to California. Poor and directionless, he was inspired by a brief friendship with the LA-based black-and-white street photographer Garry Winogrand. His work now features in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Like his mentor, Steinmetz’s monochrome photographs communicate sincerity, closeness and a sense of mystery. “Staged work often seems fairly lifeless,” he says. “There’s little surprise to it — it lacks that freshness, that rawness that comes from discovering something that’s out there in life.”

Travelling the nation, Steinmetz sought to capture the spirit of American adolescence. His work now forms part of the Joseph Bellows exhibition, The Teen Years; a collective portrait of the beauty and awkwardness, the sound and fury of youth.

‘The Teen Years’, Joseph Bellows Gallery, San Diego, California, until August 26;

 ©Mark Steinmetz,  Highway 441,  Georgia-North Carolina State Line, (1997)

©Mark Steinmetz, Highway 441, Georgia-North Carolina State Line, (1997)

 ©Christine Osinski,  Two Girls with Big Wheels,  (1983-84)

©Christine Osinski, Two Girls with Big Wheels, (1983-84)

 ©Linda Brooks,  David in his room , (1981)

©Linda Brooks, David in his room, (1981)

 ©Joan Albert,  Martin , (July 1980)

©Joan Albert, Martin, (July 1980)

 ©Elaine Mayes,  Rodney, 19,  Haight Ashbury, (1968)

©Elaine Mayes, Rodney, 19, Haight Ashbury, (1968)

 ©John Myers,  Juliette , (1979)

©John Myers, Juliette, (1979)

 ©Andrea Modica,  Untitled , Modena, Italy, (2010)

©Andrea Modica, Untitled, Modena, Italy, (2010)

 ©Edward Sturr,  Coney Island , (1963)

©Edward Sturr, Coney Island, (1963)

Mark Steinmetz, Angel City West

By Loring Knoblauch | Originally appears in Collector Daily

JTF (just the facts): Published in 2015 by Nazraeli Press (here), as part of the NZ Library Set Two. Hardcover, slipcased, 64 pages, with 58 black and white reproductions. Includes a short introductory essay by the artist. In an edition of 350. (Cover and spread shots below.)

Comments/Context: Looking at the lesser known early work of an established artist is a bit like going on a treasure hunt. Made before the artist likely settled into his or her mature style, these images often feel fluidly rough, unfinished, and experimental, and seen with the benefit of hindsight, tantalizing hints of what would come later can be seen peeking through. In many cases, an artist needs to work through some major influences first, unpacking their merits and determining which parts can be repurposed for their own use, so early periods are sometimes a methodical exercise in sifting through the echoes and connections of teachers and heroes, in search of the genuinely original voice underneath. But early production is just as often made with an untainted freshness, the without-a-net risk taking coming naturally from the very beginning. In both scenarios, opening the long sealed boxes and examining what happened at the start can be a critical part of building a larger and more comprehensive narrative arc for an artist’s career.

This lushly produced photobook heads back to 1983, when a 21 year old Mark Steinmetz left art school at Yale and headed west to California (his pre-selfie self portrait graces the cover). A short preface to the book sets the scene – Steinmetz living in a tiny roach-infested apartment, running into Garry Winogrand at a local camera shop, and ultimately seeing Winogrand around town enough that they started t0 drive around together in Steinmetz’ champagne-colored Fiat taking pictures. While Winogrand never looked at Steinmetz’ photographs (and subsequently died just a year later), for a young artist trying to find a path in photography, cruising Los Angeles with a master (Steinmetz’ driving so Winogrand could shoot out the window) must have been quite a thrill.

Steinmetz’ own images from this period certainly bear the stylistic hallmarks of the serendipity of classic street photography, where small moments, gestures, and juxtapositions create single frame vignettes, so clearly he was well aware of the history of the genre. And if there is any telltale sign of Winogrand’s indirect influence in these early pictures, it is the touch of social darkness that inhabited Winogrand’s late work, filtered through Steinmetz’ eye for composition; to my eye, there is just a hint more of this deflating mood here than in what Steinmetz would produce later (this is his ninth book with Nazareli).

Like any newcomer to LA, Steinmetz hits on the surfaces that give the city its distinct character. He catches the lilting grace of a roller skater lost in the music. He frames the sun-baked freeways against an impenetrable smoggy sky. He tracks the bored gaze of a child at an enchilada stand. He revels in the sparkled mist of lawn sprinklers. And he collapses the jolting contrast of a fake Christmas tree and arcing palm fronds. While these are geographic themes we have seen before and since, Steinmetz delivers them with a visual maturity unusual for his young age.

Steinmetz seems more at home capturing the fleeting eccentricities of the everyday, especially when a portrait coalesces inside unexpected surroundings. An older man stands on the sidewalk, framed by a narrow band of chainlink fence as thought trapped in a tightening vise. A mechanic ponders the dense cloud of mysterious smoke coming from his garage. A father emphatically tells his tiny daughter in frills of white to go the other way. A young girl hanging out a car window examines the bent over backside of someone rooting in the gutter. And a man seemingly passed out underneath a picnic table hangs on to the wooden bench with weary heaviness.

Compositionally, we can see Steinmetz expanding his angles and views, testing different techniques. He explores width in shots that capture the alignment of a rock in the dirt with a far off VW bug and the expanding distance between a man crossing the street and another sitting by the roadside. He plays with fences as barriers, cast self portrait shadows, fabric patterns (the checked shirts of triplet girls, the animal print pants of an elderly shuffleboard player) and beams of sunlight that catch a woman’s face or hair. He tries out the extremes of light and dark, using sun-blasted white apartments as a backdrop, the shiny dark back of a truck as foreground interruption, and the limitless darkness of a sidewalk sinkhole in the bright afternoon as a central subject. Even Steinmetz’ understated visual humor starts to emerge, allowing the contrast of a skinny boy and a muscled man walking nearby, the poofiness of a fuzzy poodle named Happy, or the heart-shaped bent branches of a suburban tree to deliver their comedy with quiet reserve.

As photobooks go, this is one where sophisticated design focuses attention on the superlative photography, rather than distracting from it. The monograph’s production values are simply immaculate – gorgeous large reproductions given enough white space to breathe, an elegant gold slipcase, and sequencing that deftly shows us patterns and connections in the pictures. It is positively regal in its celebration of these photographs, and luckily enough, Steinmetz’ pictures deserve this kind of perfection of presentation.

That Steinmetz made such consistently excellent work as a 21 year old is hugely impressive. Even if we attribute some of his developing talent to the osmosis effects of Winogrand’s approach to the medium, the pictures we might deem derivative in some manner actively (and knowingly I think) push to get beyond fawning homage. This one of those photobooks that is so much better than we might initially realize – the photographs provide a compelling bridge between the broad-based influences Steinmetz was raised on and the places he was to go later, and that artistic evolution is an intricate and layered story. The photobook delightfully integrates unexpectedly informative and often great pictures into a lovingly crafted and well produced object, offering a rare glimpse of a previously unexplored chapter in Steinmetz’ long career.

Collector’s POV: Mark Steinmetz is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery in New York (here) and Charles A. Hartman Fine Art in Portland (here). Steinmetz’ prints aren’t consistently available in the secondary markets – only a handful of prints have been sold at auction in the past five years. As such, gallery retail likely remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.


By India Doyle | Originally appeared in Twin Factory

10.05.2016 | ART , CULTURE | BY: INDIA DOYLE
His subject is one that has been much documented across the arts, but photographer Mark Steinmetz lends a unique eye to the chronicles of contemporary American life. Whether capturing everyday happenings within a Cleveland school or the natural environment of Sandy Creek, the photographer’s ability to imbue images with unforced narrative consistently delights.
This capacity to scrutinise the idiosyncrasies of daily life whilst remaining aloof from the frame allows Mark Steinmetz’s photographs to both transcend and embody their moments in time, rendering his images powerful historical documents as well as works of art. With a ninth monograph, Angel City West out on Nazraeli Press, we asked the photographer to lend insight into his work, inspiration and future projects.

When did you first start photographing?
I started very early on. My parents gave me my first camera around the age of six. I have many clear memories of photographing when I was a child. I remember that framing a scene was always a pleasure for me; I liked making the decision of whether I needed to stay standing up or whether I should scrunch down or move in closer in order to make the best picture. I had set up my first darkroom in my home at the age of 12.

Can you talk a little about the Angel City West series as a whole – how did they come about, what camera were you working with and what were you looking for when taking these pictures?
I was 22 and restless. I had moved to Los Angeles after having left the Yale School of Art after my first semester. In LA, I met the great photographer Garry Winogrand and was able to photograph with him on several occasions. I used a Leica primarily but also dragged around with me a twin lens reflex. My impulse was just to make interesting pictures that were realistic but still had an independence from (and weren’t exactly responsible to) anything that might really be going on. I was exploring the fictional strangeness that’s intrinsic to photography when you extract an image from the flow of life and I was trying in my youthful way to match or supersede what photographers such as Winogrand or Robert Frank had done.

What is it about black and white that you’re drawn to?
Black and white is what I was looking at when I started to photograph and it’s the medium of the great masters I admire most. There’s a removal from the world with black and white; it strips away one of the levels of illusion from the world. It seems to concern itself more purely and strictly with structure and light. Colour photography needs to be primarily about colour, and to me it seems rare that it can be controlled in any coherent way since the relationships between the colours take over and can too easily overwhelm what’s really of interest and importance. But then again we see in colour and that’s what most everyone in photography has been up to lately.

How important is a sense of place to your portraits of people?
I tend not to have less interest in photographs of people where they are placed against a neutral background. The subjects then seem like butterflies pinned in a collection. Richard Avedon’s group of portraits in the American West are strong but it makes little sense to me that he puts the people he’s photographing against a white backdrop instead of leaving the gas station or the road behind them as background. I much prefer placing subjects within a context. The scenes are less sterile that way and more convincing. That’s how life is.

You often photograph people in motion, or seemingly unaware. How did you develop this style?
I prefer photographs where it feels like something is happening or about to happen, where a moment is suggested. Walker Evans photographed people surreptitiously in his series of subway photographs for the reason that “the mask is down” when people don’t think anyone is watching them. I’ve always been a quiet person. I don’t make waves and I don’t startle people. Many of my portraits seem natural as if they are not aware of being photographed, but I’ve had to talk to them and gain their permission in order to position my fairly large camera exactly where I want it to be in order to make the picture I want.

In general do you see the role of a photographer as a watcher as opposed to someone that is present in the picture?
Koudelka is a great photographer but in his book, The Gypsies, the subjects are looking at him and responding to his presence. It’s up to each photographer to define photography on his/her own terms. In my case, my mother was French and I’ve spent a lot of time in France where people sit in cafés a lot and people watch. That’s how I photograph for the most part. I don’t intervene.

The Angel City West series was taken in the ’80s, are you still interested in the city and the people when you look around at Los Angeles today?
Yes, very much so. I’d like to spend more time there to photograph. Los Angeles remains a very interesting and unique place. Like Paris, it is a terrain that has been explored a good deal in cinema, photography, and literature, so there’s an audience that already has an understanding of the place. That means you can plunge right in. You don’t have to start at zero to establish a context for your body of work as a context already exists.

I love your Sandy Creek series, did you find it challenging to capture the natural world in the same spontaneous way?
Thank you for loving the series. Like most people I need a break from time to time and photographing in nature allows me to unwind and to photograph without any of the stress of photographing in the cities. The trees don’t talk back to you. It’s a very different problem. I think nature has a lot to teach us and particularly anyone interested in the design fields needs to take a serious look at what nature has come up with. Robert Adams and Atget have been helpful to look at.
Generally speaking, what are your influences?
Anything in life can be an influence. Some things stick to you, some things don’t. In photography, Atget, Evans, and Winogrand are the great influences but there are so many.

What are your projects for 2016 / 2017?
Right now I’m working on a commission from the High Museum in Atlanta to photograph at the Atlanta airport – that will be a show in 2017. I’ve also been photographing in Europe a good deal and in particular in busy public areas in Paris, Berlin, and Milan. I should have a book on summer camps come out next year and possibly one later this year of unpublished photographs from the American South (no titles for the books yet).

The Lyric of Light

 By Austin McManus |  Originally appeared in Juxtapoz

At age of 22, after dropping out of the Yale MFA program, Mark Steinmetz headed west to Los Angeles to continue his pursuit of making photographs. Despite his dependence on a car within a city of vast sprawl, he repeatedly had chance encounters with the illustrious photographer, Garry Winogrand. During the last year of Winogrand’s life, Steinmetz would subsequently photograph alongside him and adopt similar approaches to his own photographic ethos.

Steinmetz has said that for a significant portion of his young adult life, he would allot the bedroom of his living space to a darkroom, and kitchen to the print washer, while alternatively sleeping in the living room or hallway. The traditional process of shooting film, as well as self-developing and self-printing, continues in Steinmetz’s practice to this day, but he now does the chemical work separately from where he lays his head at night. He has produced over a dozen bodies of work, in categorically nebulous categories, with titles like South Central, Summertime, Greater Atlanta and South East. Steinmetz has explained that the names are more abstract than informative or useful. An exploration of the multitude of compelling images Steinmetz has created over 30 years reveals a cohesiveness and uniformity from which he never deviates. Steinmetz’s work has been included in a number of renowned museum collections across the U.S. and, working closely with Nazraeli Press, he has produced several monographs, many of which have sold out and now command high resale values. —Austin McManus

With Garry Winogrand as His Copilot, Mark Steinmetz Photographed 1980s Los Angeles

By Rebecca Bengal | Originally Appeared in Vogue

It was the summer of 1983. Mark Steinmetz, then 21, dropped out of Yale art school and headed, on a bit of a whim, to California. He’d grown up in the Northeast. He thought he might like to work in movies. And he wanted to meet a hero of his, the photographer Garry Winogrand, who for years lived in Los Angeles, shooting his way through some 8,000 rolls of film.

In L.A., the golden dream fizzled a little. Roaches ran over the futon on the floor in Steinmetz’s studio apartment, in which he’d also managed to fit a darkroom. Someone told him that Winogrand had just left town. But that person turned out to be wrong, and Steinmetz’s instincts were proved weirdly, serendipitously correct: That summer he started running into Winogrand everywhere, in the most far-flung, unlikely parts of the city. “Garry never saw anything of mine,” Steinmetz said in a recent phone call. “He just knew me as a guy with a camera. But I guess I spoke about photography in a way that was acceptable to him. And he was a guy who really just wanted to hang out and do his work.” Driving around Los Angeles in Steinmetz’s champagne-color Fiat, they’d each make photographs. The work turned out to be some of Winogrand’s last (he was diagnosed with cancer just months after Steinmetz first struck up a conversation with him; he died on March 19, 1984, leaving behind thousands of undeveloped photographs); but they were among some of Steinmetz’s earliest pictures, and are published for the first time in his new book, Angel City West, (Nazraeli Press).

Winogrand was a teacher only in the loosest, most accidental sense, breezily steering Steinmetz away from, in his words, the bullshitters, nonsense, and seductions of the world. “His cheerful, practical manner and advice probably helped me shave off years of worrying how to be,” Steinmetz writes in the book’s essay. Though Winogrand may never have seen these pictures, his influence hovers all around them—the second angel of Angel City West. The first, of course, is Los Angeles itself.

“There’s a certain atmosphere, a certain mood, a certain exoticism to different places, and I want to squeeze that into the frame, not so explicitly, but I just want to let that rain over the picture,” Steinmetz says. “I come from a cinema background—film noir—it’s so important to get that kind of atmosphere into the picture. Certain places just get you pumped up to describe that.”

A roller skater, a family gathered around a boom box, a woman waiting for the traffic light to change—the situations are fairly unremarkable. But the pictures record light-changing moments, catching subtle uncommon flashes amid the everyday: delightfully odd discoveries so casually delivered you feel as if you’ve stumbled upon them yourself. Steinmetz’s subsequent, widely exhibited bodies of work wander along city streets, through parking lots at night, backyards, and baseball fields in Italy, Paris, and around the American South, especially in and around Athens, Georgia, where he has lived and worked for many years. Un-orchestrated and artful, his photographs rely on a kind of magic convergence of chance and observation and craft. “Mark Steinmetz works in a venerable tradition of photographic prowling that bets everything on the ordinary,” wrote Museum of Modern Art curator Peter Galassi of an earlier book, South East.

“You go with the flow, you keep your eyes open, and you follow your intuitions,” says Steinmetz. The way he shoots in L.A., Miami, Memphis, or anywhere these days is much the same now as it was in 1983, cruising the freeways with Winogrand or walking the streets solo. It was a purer era in photography back then, though, he says, before a feeling for fictional tableau over straight photography took hold, before “interesting” pictures were valued over beautiful images, before color dominated black and white.

As we speak, Steinmetz spools back to the language of cinema. “There are emotional notes that black and white can deliver that color cannot,” he says. “It’s a different medium. It’s like silent film. You know, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin delivered some moments where they killed you. They just absolutely killed you. It’s not going to happen like that again, with sound.”


Originally appeared in South x Southeast


March 12, 2016

10a – 10p

Join us for a full day of shooting at Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor’s farm outside of Atlanta, with noted photographer Mark Steinmetz. Lunch will be served on the grounds while we discuss the morning’s shoot and plan for the afternoon’s.

At 5p please join us down the road at 3Cent Farm for cocktails, dinner, viewing the day’s images, photo talk, and relaxation.

Space is limited.

$375 includes admission to Andalusia, all-day workshop, lunch, cocktails, and dinner at 3Cent Farm.

 To register for workshop only click here.




Country Store, 3Cent Farm
March 11, 2016, 1-5p
Friday afternoon Mark Steinmetz will conduct a limited number of portfolio reviews at the Old Country Store, 3Cent Farm, outside of Milledgeville, Georgia.
Space is limited.
Photographers must be attending the Saturday workshop the following day.
To register for workshop and the portfolio review click here.


 photo credit: Irina Rozovsky

photo credit: Irina Rozovsky


Mark Steinmetz received his MFA from Yale University in 1986. He is a Guggenheim Fellow whose work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris, among others. Among his 11 published books are The PlayersSouth EastGreater AtlantaParis in my time, and the soon-to-be-released Angel City West. We encourage you to visit his website.





How to Start a Project

People want to feel like they are in control. Often, before even starting something new, people try to determine by various means how their project will turn out. It’s important, I believe, not to get ahead of things but to simply allow the outcome to unfold naturally. Trying to decide too soon what results you want will lead to rigidity and lack of surprise.

Also – people like to justify to themselves that the work they are doing is valid and it seems natural to use words to tell yourself that what you are doing is important and meaningful. But it’s important to not to too narrowly define what you’re doing through the use of language. People want to feel like they have a grip on things and so using words to make sense of what you’re doing might provide a feeling of relief and control but be careful you don’t make your project less interesting by having it fit neatly into a scheme of words. Images have a power that is different from the power of words and they communicate in ways that words cannot. In today’s culture, words dominate our thinking and, used in a lazy manner, they help sustain a spectrum of fundamentalist thought. Being able to accept ambiguity leads to a better quality of life and better work.

Garry Winogrand was taking his kids to the zoo while he was going through a difficult divorce. He took pictures, realized he was on to something, and eventually produced The Animals. One afternoon I heard a bat strike a baseball – that sharp crack – and I turned and saw a Little League game and I knew in an instant I would do a body of work on the subject (which will be published next year – The Players). In some ways it was part of a natural progression from what I had been working on but I experienced my realization in one forceful moment. When I moved from Chicago to Knoxville to accept a temporary teaching assignment I very soon had a strong feeling/image for the work I would do there – it was a mixture of vision and intuitive knowing – but I could find no words that might helpfully explain to others or to myself what I was doing – this work would become the book South Central.

It’s important to be cultivated. In my opinion, reading and considering great literature is the best way to do this, but there are many ways to deepen your understandings and your capacity to feel and notice. If you are cultivating yourself, the chances are greater that the work you end up doing will be worth doing as far as others are concerned. It’s best not to ask how your work will be received by the world or how it might boost your reputation. Just stay close to your own guidance and see what comes. Be authentic and natural – it sounds easy enough but it actually takes some discipline and courage. If you are able to quiet yourself and be honest with yourself, then it will be easier for you to embark on a project that truly excites you and rewards you. 

—Mark Steinmetz

as published in fototazo, 9.20.2013