Photo Of The Day: The Tragic Story Of The Airship That Changed Transportation History

Uss Akron

The USS Akron flying above the Manhattan skyline in the early 1930s. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Long before there were jumbo jets and cruise ships ferrying people to every imaginable destination, there were airships. Huge, helium-filled, blimp-like aircraft were the cutting edge of transit technology nearly a century ago. Surely as Depression-era New Yorkers looked up and saw the USS Akron airship flying above Manhattan’s iconic skyline, they saw the future.

But in the case of the USS Akron (and the rest of the airship industry), the future held disaster.

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Nathan Bett: Learning to Disappear

We live in a world of constant documentation: our meals, our travels, our friends — if you have as much a smartphone, all of that likely exists in some pictorial form. But just how do we document the relationship between the photographed, and those doing the photographing?

Nathan Bett answers that question in his 2015 series, “Learning to Disappear.” In it, Bett, a Brooklyn-based photographer and artist, makes subtle digital composites of the reactions he received while doing his street photography around NYC. Through this series he questions the relationship between the photographer and photographed, as well as street photography’s place in the art photography world.

Originally from Marquette, Michigan, he spent time after college doing commercial work for automakers in Detroit before moving to New York to get his MFA from Parsons School of Design. He received the National Photography Award from The Camera Club of New York in 2011.

We spoke with Bett on his formative years, as well as his philosophy on the ethics of street photography and the “stink eye” he often received while shooting “Learning to Disappear.”

Bett’s responses are excerpted from Scrapped Magazine’s upcoming issue. All photos below were taken in New York City.

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Learning to disappear

"I started off by just taking a lot of classes that I thought sounded interesting," Bett said. "I was in a black and white photography class and enjoyed it. My professor and I connected, and he seemed to think I was a good photographer.

It just kind of made sense to me to stick with it. It’s just something that I fell into. I don’t think I owned a camera until I was probably 21 years old, a Nikon FM 10 fully manual."

Bett Disappear

"Detroit actually used to be one of the biggest photo markets in the country. During the 1970s and 1980s, Detroit used more 8x10 film than anywhere else in the world. Because the auto industry is there, and the auto industry spends more money on advertising than all other American industries combined. I worked for a studio, pretty much the last of the big Detroit studios. Our biggest clients were Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Harley Davidson."

Ltd Towers

"I was working in a million-dollar playground in Detroit. The studio had a couple of hundred thousand square feet of studio space and every piece of equipment. When I wasn’t working, I could come in and build a set and use their lights and $60,000 digital camera backs.

But when I got to [Parsons The New School For Design], I didn’t have that million-dollar playground anymore. So, I thought, what are the resources that I have at hand? I have the city of New York. I guess I’ll use that because that’s what I have. So, I had to adopt a new working strategy. I think, in the end, this propelled my work forward."

Nate Bett Mannequin

"[My work now] is less contrived. Now, even when I’m manipulating my images, I’m responding to the real world. Aesthetically, my work shares a lot with street photography, but it’s not traditional street photography. For example, when I first started making my composite images I had a different idea in mind, but then I started noticing all these people in my images giving me the stink eye.

At the time I was really timid about shooting people on the street even though that’s what I was interested in. So, on a whim, I cut all these people out and put them together in one image so that the viewer is surrounded by them. And it just hit me like, 'That’s what it feels like! This is the anxiety that I’m feeling. It feels like this!' I discovered something about the way that I felt that I didn’t understand until I had visualized it. That, to me, is what art making is about, self-discovery and emotional expression."

Coney Island

"And that’s why it’s hard for me to make that work today because I don’t give a shit anymore. I’ll walk right up to somebody on the street and stick my camera in their face. I don’t care if they give me a dirty look."

Nathan Bett Gate

"I don’t think I ever felt like I was doing something wrong. I had anxiety about it because people were openly hostile to me."


"In fact, if I don’t encounter a certain amount of [hostility], I feel I’m not trying hard enough. Pushing the boundary of acceptable social interaction, I guess. Getting the shot I want regardless of how the subject may feel about it. Capturing the world as I see it, sometimes at the expense of someone else’s comfort. It’s hard to articulate in words."

Ltd Many People

"Paul Graham expressed this in an essay called 'Unreasonable Apple.' His point was basically that the art establishment doesn’t know how to talk about street photography. It’s really easy to look at Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall or Thomas Demand, these people that we think of as artists using photography, and say, 'This is what the artist did: She put on a costume,' 'He recreated a moment,' or 'He built a model.'

It’s a lot harder for the art world to talk about [street photographers] like Stephen Shore or Gary Winogrand. Did they just stand on a corner and push a button? I mean, you and I know that that’s not true, but the art world at large doesn’t know how to talk about it. I think it’s a genuine form of art."


"I want to get at what life is about. At least, as I see it. People treat that phrase 'the meaning of life' really strangely I think. I think they give it too much reverence. I find meaning in life every day.

What is a photograph of a woman standing in front of a hot dog cart and blocking her eyes from the blinding sunset? It doesn’t mean anything, exactly. It’s just a beautiful moment that is gone as soon as it happens. And that’s what life is. That’s all it is."

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Nursing Home Built On Cliff’s Edge Collapses — And Remains Open

Nursing Home On Cliff

The Cheval Roc nursing home after last week’s landslide. Image Source: Gizmodo

“Situated on the picturesque headland of Bonne Nuit Bay, the care home offers an exceptional environment with incredible sea views.”

So reads the Cheval Roc nursing home’s description of its oceanfront facilities on the English island of Jersey. It all sounds lovely, until you realize that those sea views also mean that the nursing home is precariously perched atop 100-foot cliffs.

All you’d need for disaster was one landslide — and it took less than a month for that very thing to happen.

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40 Eye-Opening Vintage Public Health Posters From The 1940s

If you’re going to invoke hyperbole, it might as well be in the name of public health — at least that was the logic of public health workers in the early-to-mid 20th century. Reminiscent of propaganda posters, these occasionally (unintentionally) funny vintage posters actually made quite an impact on everything from slowing the spread of infectious disease, to bringing home the importance of vaccinations:

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Vintage Health Posters Syphilis Crippler Copy

Before the widespread use of antibiotics, syphilis plagued the world for centuries. Starting in the 1930s, public health posters promoting the prevention and early detection of the STD became widespread.

Vintage Health Posters Shame Too Long

Campaigns sought to achieve early detection — in part by downplaying the shame of contracting the disease.

Vintage Health Posters Children Dinosaurs

Passage of the disease from mother to child was very common, making it vital to educate the public on the risk it posed to children — as well as the fact that a cure had been found in penicillin (albeit too late for the dinosaurs, apparently).

Vintage Health Posters Tuberculosis March

Tuberculosis is another highly contagious bacterial disease spread through the air — apparently by breathing, coughing, laughing, or speaking.

Vintage Health Posters Swim Shark

Swimming is a great exercise that can keep you healthy if done in sanitary pools. It may also be an important skill in escaping the pneumonia shark.

Vintage Health Posters Points Hurdles

Tuberculosis posters encouraging testing were everywhere.

Vintage Health Posters Grades Together

Some TB campaigns even linked good health with good grades.

Vintage Health Posters Flower Obey

The well-meaning and colorful posters could be visually confusing, though; the imagery in the two shown here has nothing to do with prevention or treatment of the disease.

Vintage Health Posters Expecting Breastfeeding

The proper health of expectant mothers and infants were less understood subjects than they are today.

Vintage Health Posters Vaccination Lifelong

Education on vaccinations and children’s health and safety became very import topics of the public health system.

Vintage Health Posters Nurtured Firecrackers

Many public health educators used ridicule and fear to shame parents into proper child rearing habits, such as not letting them play with firecrackers...

Vintage Health Posters Milk Eat

...or encouraging the consumption of dairy products.

Vintage Health Posters Fruit Balanced

Some of the advice was at least a little better than others, such as telling people to eat a balanced diet.

Vintage Health Posters John Vision

Public health activists also championed regular vision tests...

Vintage Health Posters Clean Swan well as the connection between hygiene and health.

Vintage Health Posters Liberty Fight

Early public health posters presented cancer as a nemesis to be fought — a trend you still see today.

Vintage Health Posters Early Women

The posters also emphasized that early detection was critical to increasing the chances of survival.

Vintage Health Posters Kills Three

The posters also emphasized that while often terminal, there were multiple treatment options available, and that a cancer diagnosis did not always mean a death sentence.

Vintage Health Posters Bite Scratch

With a public generally uninformed about infection-related risks, public health workers underscored the dangers of everything — from dog bites to injuries in the work place.

Vintage Health Posters Sanitary Diptheria

Public education of toxoids such as the tetanus shot (as well as greatly improved home sanitation) also directly led to the decrease of fatal infections, such as diphtheria.

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All posters here can be found in The Library of Congress Print and Photograph Catalog.

Next, be sure to check out these Soviet-era propaganda posters, or see Communist-era posters for Oscar-worthy Hollywood movies.

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