Jan 30, 2020
I don’t know if we’ve ever had two photographers with such divergent styles on the same episode. It would make little sense to even have them on together, except that their individual work is exceptional, and they are married to each other.
This week on the B&H Photography Podcast, we return to a format that has served us well in the past—speaking with a couple who both work in photography. We really hit the jackpot this time, with Joseph O. Holmes and Sara Bennett, not simply because they are interesting photographers and really nice folks but, between them, they embody a wide range of photo skills, from the technical and artistic, to the narrative and journalistic, from portraiture and art photography, to advocacy and social documentary. It’s quite an interesting situation and Holmes and Bennett, each in their own way, offer personal insight into their varied projects, and they also generously allow us a glimpse into how they work together as a couple, raising a family and supporting each other’s work.
Sara Bennett’s photography, which has been published in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and the PBS/News Hour, grew from her years working as a lawyer, primarily on cases related to battered women and the wrongly convicted. Her portraiture of women in prison and transitioning from incarceration humanizes as it advocates and educates. Her books, Life After Life in Prison, The Bedroom Project, and Looking Inside: Portraits of Women Serving Life Sentences, are beautiful and simple documents that serve a higher purpose, and we talk with Bennett about her intentions and the long process to find the right women to photograph and the complications and joys of photographing in prison.
With Joseph Holmes, we start the conversation with New York City—and I don’t think we ever leave. Holmes could make a great image in a dark closet, but his work has such an understanding of our city and the subjects he has chosen to photograph—“Cooks on Breaks,” “Urban Wilderness,” “Streit’s Matzoh Factory,” and “Tracing the Underground,” are so New York, without ever touching the boiler plate. Blending portraiture, documentary, and street photography, Holmes’s dedication to the photo series and his technical aplomb represent the best of fine-art reportage. His work is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery, and pieces are included in the permanent collection of several museums, including the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Check out his photo annuals and enjoy this wonderful conversation as much as we did.
Guests: Sara Bennett and Joseph O. Holmes
Photograph © Joseph O. Holmes