PDN Photo of the Day

Field Guide to Bird Songs

Yola Monakhov Stockton‘s delicate images explore the interaction of humans and nature. A new exhibition of her work, now on view at the Alice Austen House in Staten Island, New York, curated by Natalie Matutschovsky, Senior Photo Editor at TIME, brings together two series. In her black-and-white series “Empire Pictures of the Hudson,” she shows the waterway as a place for socializing and for enjoying nature. The striking color photos of birds in her series “Field Guide to Bird Songs” recall the imagery seen in decorative art forms, from frescoes to tapestries to the paintings of John James Audubon. Monakhov Stockton collaborated with scientists and naturalists on the Massachusetts coast, and at universities and research centers across the Northeast and in Costa Rica, to photograph wild birds captured for banding, before their release. Photographed in orchards or paths, she incorporated into her photos paper backdrops, light leaks and in-camera masks. Monokhov Stockton, who has previously photographed conflicts in the Middle East, Central Asia and elsewhere, is interested not only in documenting the birds but also looking at the act of making a photo. She has said, “In a sense I’m turning the world itself into a studio.”

Aaron Schuman, the photographer, writer and curator who wrote the wall text for the exhibition, notes: “This is not a photographer who is determined to define the world for us as she sees fit, but instead — through careful attention to how (and why) she utilizes both her subject and her medium — quietly reminds us to carefully reflect upon it in a variety of ways for ourselves, both within and outside of her own frame.”

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