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Graduation season is well underway, with kindergartners, high schoolers, college seniors and graduate students alike donning caps and gowns to celebrate their achievement. With their diplomas, graduates also get words of wisdom from a commencement speakers and a good excuse to celebrate. -- Lloyd Young ( 31 photos total)
US Naval Academy graduates throw their hats at the conclusion of their commencement and commission ceremony, attended by President Barack Obama at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on May 24 in Annapolis, Md. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)     

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Why do we like haunted houses? Wars, terror, drones, pandemics, rising sea levels, killer bees, fungi in pain meds—isn’t the world scary enough? Yet we line up for what the industry calls HHA’s—haunted house attractions (as opposed, presumably, to actual haunted houses)—hoping to be freaked out. And if we believe the current web meme Scared Bros in a Haunted House, it works. Totally freaky, dude.

In fact, scaring people is a growing industry, rapidly gaining on Hollywood in revenues. Forty years ago, haunted houses were limited to scary carnival sideshows. Now there are magazines, websites, and trade shows for operators of haunted attractions, providing info on the latest trends: zombie runs, animatronics, 3-D, screamparks. In fact, Haunted House magazine boasts: “The haunted house industry is an American export.” We have no trade deficit in fear.

On one level, this is easy to understand. It’s all about death—that undiscovered country our culture keeps off the thought-map. Death, death, death, coming at us in the form of ghosts, monsters, maggots, snakes, killer clowns, necromancers, headless horsemen, slime crawlers, banshees, and all manner of rotting flesh and decay, aiming to infect us with its fate. The haunted house takes us to death’s door: sewers, graveyards, mortuaries, abattoirs, bottomless pits and of course, hell itself, yawning wide to receive us. Abandon all hope and enter at your own risk!

But of course, there is no risk: the journey allows us to brave death and make it out alive, the very thing we wish—oh man, do we wish—we could do for real. Every scream, every start, every time we nearly pee our pants is a shot of Red Bull to our love of life, a reminder that we hate to leave it.

Once, while on assignment together at Niagara Falls, Lisa Kereszi and I went to Ghostblasters, a haunted house crossed with a laser tag game. It was around the time that Lisa started shooting haunted houses, and secretly she was afraid every time she went to one. She thought she might get killed and end up as a haunted house display, but she didn’t tell me this. We climbed into a jerky little cart and got yanked through a maze of semi-scary dioramas. When the ghosts popped up, I shot them with a pistol and Lisa shot them with a Mamiya.

You don’t need to be Susan Sontag to understand that photographing something reduces its fear factor. Lisa’s pictures show us the haunted house as a fail: the paint peeling off plywood, the boom box strapped to the wall, the dust in the corners of the makeshift Bates Motel. “I challenged my fears,” she told me, “but it didn’t totally work.”

That’s because the pictures are somehow scary all over again—and sadder than the haunted house itself. Reality is seeping into these pictures like maggots squirming into a leaky coffin. Walls are cracking open, curtains gape onto the next room, all those plugs and wires takes us right into the mortal hands of the folks we’re paying for this illusion of an illusion, this brief moment of terror we can conquer, unlike the real dread lurking behind it. These fearful fragments we have shored against our real ruins. They’re no match for what really frightens us: blood, as the sign in one picture says, guts, gore. Meat sacs, long pigs, wetware, bags of bones, bleeders. Our horrors, ourselves.

Lisa Kereszi is a photographer based in New Haven, Conn.

Ginger Strand is the author of Flight, Inventing Niagara and Killer on the Road, which traces how violence followed construction of the interstate highway system.

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Mark Steinmetz works in the venerable tradition of photographic prowling that bets everything on the ordinary. Each picture is the fruit of an unplanned encounter: Though the photographer may know more or less where he is going, he can’t know precisely what he will find. An accumulation of these improvised perceptions can make both a world and a way of looking at it.—Peter Galassi

A series of three books—South Central, South East and Greater Atlanta—published between 2007 and 2009 brought the work of Mark Steinmetz to prominence. His quiet, yet confident, black-and-white portraits reflect the isolation and detachment of youth. They suggest transience and are an intimate connection to the lives of strangers.

His latest publication, Summertime, released this month by Nazerali, echoes the sentiment of his previous three books and features images taken over the last decade. Steinmetz tends to think about work over long periods of time, keeping the various bodies of photographs in his head and weaving pictures of the same spirit together. However it is not only process but also circumstance that resulted in the work taking so long to surface. When Steinmetz, who studied at Yale, began making his intimate black-and-white portraits in his twenties, interest rested in fabricated color photography, not photography documenting the way the world actually looked. With the world in a more sober place, viewers have been more receptive to Steinmetz’s point of view.

Although Steinmetz has at times worked in a more scheduled manner—including a series on Little League Baseball and one on summer camp—his preference is not to nail things down too specifically. “I don’t begin a project with an agenda that is going to over-determine the outcome,” Steinmetz recently told American Suburb X. “I think it begins with a faint vision—one of those whispers on a breeze—that somehow gets a grip on me.” The photographs in Summertime are the product of an intuitive roaming approach of a photographer who always has his camera with him, in search of people where they might be out in public.

Summertime opens with an image of a boy laying on his back with an empty school bus and deserted school yard in the background, which sets a school’s-out-for-summer kind of tone that continues throughout the whole book. The photographs are more widely spread geographically than those in the earlier publications concentrated in the South, as Summertime sees Steinmetz getting out more into the country: to New Haven, Conn.; Boston; Chelsea, Mass.; Chicago and rural Illinois. The images were taken in places where the photographer was either living, visiting his parents or teaching. That connection affords Steinmetz a familiarity and comfort and enables an ease he strives for with the strangers he photographs, which is reflected in the pictures. In black and white, things can rest a little easier in the frame. Summertime is more about the kids and that feeling of having all the time in the world in summer—and in the middle of winter, Summertime is what we yearn for most.

Summertime was published this month by Nazraeli Press.

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Global protests against economic injustice gripped cities over the weekend, predominantly on Saturday, October 15. Solidarity with Spain's "Indignants" and New York's "Occupy Wall Street" protesters brought demonstrations over the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the worldwide economic crisis to cities from Hong Kong to Tulsa. Hundreds of thousands joined the mostly peaceful demonstrations, although arrests were made in many cities, and clashes with police in Rome became particularly violent. The movement shows no signs of slowing. Gathered here are images from cities large and small. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)
Members of Occupy Wall Street stage a protest near Wall Street in New York on October 15, 2011. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

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New Yorkers remember the victims of Sept. 11, plus a community mourns a high school basketball star and Union Square gets a new sculpture. A look at the week’s best images from around Greater New York.


Police officers from the United Kingdom marched in formation across the Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday, Sept. 11. The group walked from downtown Brooklyn for the memorial ceremony at Ground Zero. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Children and young adults took part in a citizenship ceremony at Citi Field before the Mets game on Wednesday. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)


A 37-year-old Verizon worker was electrocuted Wednesday morning in Brooklyn as he worked on lines connected to a utility pole, officials said. Here, the scene at the corner of Christopher Avenue and New Lots Avenue. (Andrew Hinderaker for The Wall Street Journal)


A woman lit a candle at a memorial at the entrance to the Grant Houses complex in Manhattan on Monday, following the murder of 18-year-old high school basketball standout Tayshana Murphy. Ms. Murphy was shot in the hallway of the public-housing project on Sunday. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


A selection of whiskeys are on display at Whiskey Park, at 100 Central Park South in New York, N.Y. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


One hundred dancers gathered around the Revson Fountain at Lincoln Center on Sunday morning to perform ‘The Table of Silence Project,’ a public tribute to the events of 9/11. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


David Shih and Christine Toy Johnson rehearsed a scene from ‘Crane Story’ at the Cherry Lane Theatre. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


Grilled Octopus, organic lentils and potatoes at Bocca East, 1496 Second Ave. at 78th Street. (Nick Brandreth for The Wall Street Journal)


The members of Squad One in Brooklyn’s Park Slope assembled to observe a moment of silence at 9:45am Sunday. The company lost 12 firefighters ten years ago at the World Trade Center. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


A demonstration kiosk was set up on Wednesday in a pedestrian plaza south of Madison Square Park for a news conference announcing a bicycle-sharing program New York City plans to launch next year. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)


A 26-foot tall bronze sculpture, ‘Elefrandret,’ by artist Miquel Barceló was installed in Union Square in Manhattan. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Members of the press stood in the newly opened Memorial Plaza at Ground Zero during the opening of the National September 11 Memorial on Monday. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Leigh Keno, the host of the popular television show, ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ inspected a chair of Wall Street Journal columnist Ralph Gardner at his home on the Upper East Side. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Lifeguard Randy Dodd, center, carried a memorial wreath out to sea during a memorial service at Long Beach, Long Island, Sunday. Mr. Dodd and about 300 other surfers held a ceremony in the water, forming a circle and joining hands. Each surfer wore an armband with the name of a Sept. 11 first responder from Long Island. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Inside of the offices and manufacturing floor of the Lee Spring company, a tenant in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Third-grade teacher Tavares Bussey read out loud to his students during the first day of the school year at Brennan-Rogers, a K-8 public school in New Haven, Conn., on Sept. 1. (Jesse Neider for The Wall Street Journal)


Maggie Jewell, 6, created a makeshift memorial to her second cousin, Joseph G. Hunter, a firefighter who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2011, during a memorial service on the tenth anniversary of attacks at Lido Beach on Long Island on Sunday. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)

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jesuisperdu:

“Noé” is an experimental documentary project concentrated on Noé Jimenez, an eighteen year old living in New Haven, Connecticut. When I (Clayton Cotterell) met him in a painter’s open studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 2006, we quickly struck up a conversation. He explained that he was an artist and shared his incredibly tenuous plans for his immediate future. When I asked his age, I was shocked to learn that he was only sixteen at the time as his demeanor and interests had led me to believe that he was at least in his twenties and much closer to my own age. Despite his maturity, there were times where his true age was exposed through his physical gestures and naïve comments. This duality between maturity and adolescence are what initially interested me in starting this project. As I continued to photograph him, my perception of him and the world in which he existed in would dramatically shift. 

At a certain point in this project, I realized that when I was photographing Noé, I was actually searching for an escape from my own adult reality. I was looking for an idealized world that I placed upon Noé and his surroundings. While photographing Noé, I concentrated on key aspects of his life such as romantic relationships, father/son relationships and coming of age issues. Throughout the project, I also began heavily imposing my own perceptions of what those aspects meant to me. I idolized my subject and the period of life he was going through as a means to understand where I have come from and where I am now. I see Noé in an indeterminate state that is common to all of us at some point in our lives and I created this project to capture this extended “in between” moment in photographs. Go here to see more.

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