Down by the Hudson A photography project by Caleb Stein

I don’t know what post-industrial decline means. It is a vague notion in my head. Boarded-up homes, the husk of dead factories with broken windows and overgrown grass, businesses gone to seed. And the people? The people are missing in this picture of decay in my mind. When I first came to Poughkeepsie fifteen years ago, I was told by an academic that while there were pockets of prosperity in Hudson Valley, this town had suffered from post-industrial decline. I’m not a sociologist and I cannot say with certainty if such a statement is even true. But what draws me to Caleb Stein’s images is that he provides us the people missing from my mental picture. And what’s surprising about these images, no, what’s honest about them is that instead of people, we get faces. Individual lives. Their wealth of stories and secrets are shielded from us—mysteries that we cannot part—but we wonder and ask questions because that is what I think the photographer himself is doing. Hello? How are you? How is your day going? I imagine him asking this over and over again with the same people who then begin to treat him as a neighbor that he undoubtedly is. The photographer as everyman. On the street, in parks, and at the watering hole where we see that his eye is as clear as the water. Consider the remarkable image of the Prom Boy, a picture taken on the street on which I live. This image does fill me with wonder. Such a fine, even tender, mix of contradictions: the large flower in the buttonhole, the bandage on the nose, the slightly askew bowtie, the bruised eye, the stubbornly dignified gaze… I could go on. I don’t know whether I’m right or wrong in saying any of this about the young man. All I can be certain about is that this is what living is about, this tussle with the real, this strange encounter across divisions of race and class, in a rectangular visual space. This is life.

– Text by Amitava Kumar (author of Lunch With A Bigot and Immigrant, Montana, among others). Discover more of Caleb’s work here

Monthly Photo Contest

Color film portrait photograph of a young woman by Michelle Marshall
© Michelle Marshall

2021 Portrait AWARD Deadline: 31 May 2021

"In a portrait, I’m looking for the silence in somebody."
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

Portrait photography has one of the oldest and most interesting histories that harkens back to the early days of the medium. Through portraits of iconic figures or ordinary people, we discover a deep interest in others.

Recent works or gems from your archives, classic or experimental, and through any kind of storytelling: we want to discover the most powerful and captivating images of today’s portrait photography. We are open to all interpretations and want to see faces that gaze right into the soul!


1st Prize: $1000 · 2nd Prize: $600 · 3rd Prize: $400

Submit Now