Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Video for Smithsonian

A while back, I had the pleasure of photographing Paul Theroux, the famed travel writer, at his home on the island of Oahu for a story for Smithsonian Magazine.  I also collected sound and video for a short piece for the online magazine.

I uploaded it to my Vimeo channel so that you can see this short piece about the art of hula in Hawaii.

Aloha and a hui ho!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/178621129″>The Meaning Behind Hula</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/susanseubert”>Susan Seubert</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Travel Photographer Susan Seubert shoots Portland, Oregon for Smithsonian’s Instagram

This week I was given the keys to Smithsonian Magazine’s Instagram account.  My home base is Portland, Oregon and I love this city because not only is it beautiful, the community here is full of interesting and engaging people.  This week gave me an opportunity to share with the world some of the iconic people and places that I hold near and dear to my heart here in the Pacific Northwest.  Below are a few of the images from the project.  Please continue to follow me on my Instagram account @susanseubert

Have a beautiful summer!

Photographer Susan Seubert in Smithsonian Magazine

The April issue of Smithsonian Magazine features a photograph that I made on assignment in Washington, D.C. last November.  I was invited by the magazine to make an image of the Green Book, a guide first published in 1937 for African Americans who traveled by car and needed to navigate the segregated United States.  The magazine was started by Victor H. Green, a black postal carrier from Harlem.  It began as a slim, 15-page directory with recommendations in the New York area and listed safe places for black travelers to visit. These included gas stations, hotels, beauty salons, golf courses and even individuals who welcomed people into their homes.  The guidebook grew as people contributed to the directory and eventually this publication encompassed areas outside of the U.S. You can read the story here.  The image was created using the wet-plate collodion technique, known as an Ambrotype, a photographic process that dates back to about 1851 and was used as documentary photography tool during the American Civil War.  I have used this process for a variety of applications from magazine stories to personal projects.

The Green Book, photographed at the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Green Book, photographed at the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

Save

Wet Plate Collodion Photographer Susan Seubert shoots for Smithsonian Magazine 101 Objects Issue

This was one of the most challenging assignments I’ve had in recent years.  I received a call from my editor at the Smithsonian Magazine asking if I would be available to shoot in Washington, D.C.  It was going to be in July, (read: hot!), and would take about a week.  The editors at the magazine were busy coordinating  seven photographers from around the United States, including Dan Winters, David Burnett and Albert Watson, to photograph a collection of objects at various Smithsonian Museums. I have been working in wet-plate collodion for about five years now, and was surprised to learn the photography department was interested in that work for an assignment. It was the first time anyone had ever commissioned work from me based on my “fine art” portfolio.

The title of the issue is called, “101 Objects That Made America.”  The segment I photographed is entitled, “America In the World,” and all the objects that were chosen have to do with America as it relates to the world. You can see the pictures online here.

The pieces I was assigned to photograph span five centuries.  The oldest “object” was a Novus Orbis map from 1532, based on tales from Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci.  It depicts the world as round, which at the time was a new idea, South America takes up most of that hemisphere and Cuba is where North America lies.  The youngest object that I was assigned gave me the most pause and I felt a bit of a chill when the curators brought it to our makeshift studio.  It is from 2001 and was donated to the Smithsonian by the New York City police. The stairwell sign from the 102nd floor of one of the twin towers that was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th was gently put on the set.  It had been found at the dump where the debris from the site had been taken in order to find any human remains or other significant evidence from that terrible day in American history.

When the issue was launched, the letter from the editor invited people to discuss the objects chosen for the special issue and to participate in a dialogue about what was included and why.  I cannot imagine the vetting process of choosing only 101 objects out of 37 million.  However, to be in such close proximity to things such as the Pocahontas engraving – the oldest piece in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection – was an extraordinary experience and one I will never forget.

The opening spread in Smithsonian Magazine for the section I illustrated, "America In the World."

The opening spread in Smithsonian Magazine for the section I illustrated, “America In the World.”

The second spread in Smithsonian Magazine where the oldest and newest objects are placed alongside a gas mask from World War I, the sign from the TV show, Mash, and a salvaged nuclear fallout shelter.

The second spread in Smithsonian Magazine where the oldest and newest objects are placed alongside a gas mask from World War I, the sign from the TV show, Mash, and a salvaged nuclear fallout shelter.