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The Ama are predominantly female pearl divers from Japan, although their breed is dying out–although new Ama continue to be trained, it is now seen as a grandmother’s job. In a tradition purported to be 2,000 years old, the Ama dived in nothing but a loincloth up until the 1960s. Today, they wear a wetsuit at most. Although this is generally not one’s only job, it is a job that lasts a lifetime–the older divers are reputed to be able to dive the longest.

More can be read about them here, although I prefer to study the images of the Ama through the lens of photographer Yoshiyuki Iwase:

This photograph’s contrast between black and white, extreme posturing of the naked female body, reminds of of Helmut Newton’s fashion photography.

The nude female form in these photographs is presented with awe; their musculature seems asexual in this photo–almost a meditation on human strength. Whereas this:

is a dead ringer for contemporary Western pinup photography. It’s an interesting, mismatched photo series as a whole.

See them all here.

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Check this work out:

Looks a bit like a Norman Rockwell painting was superimposed on a photograph, right? Makes you think about the miracle of photoshop.

Look again.

And, again.

That’s a real man.

Alexa Meade is a “25-year-old artist whose work lies at the intersection of painting, photography, performance, and installation.” She paints models in the style of 2D paintings and then sets them free, running through our 3D world, re-compressed into the final product we see here. She straddles the split between reality and perception in her art, and makes us question our own knowledge in the process. Her work brings the art of trompe l’oeil into the modern age.

From the Washington Post:

Meade uses a brush. She paints skin on skin, lips on lips and eyebrows on eyebrows, and the insides of nostrils, using her own mixture of nontoxic paints and unspecified ingredients. Her subjects must sit still for multiple hours as she follows the natural contours of their faces, varying brushstroke and color to exhume their inner essence. When she’s done, they appear banished to two-dimensionality, yet they also seem fuller, more dynamic. She then sets her subjects in an installation, or photographs them. There are no touch-ups or special effects beyond acrylic on flesh and the initial complacency of the observer.

Check out her other work here.

This is an image from photographer Gerard Castello-Lopes, a “disciple of Henri Cartier-Bresson.” Although you can see the resemblance between Cartier-Bresson’s images and Castello-Lopes’ images, there is obviously a large disconnect in the modernity of their thought and material.

Castello-Lopes took photographs in a war-torn era accompanied by an overall break with uncontested national pride. The result is a beautiful meditation in modern life, heavily influenced by new forms of media (like film).

Tokyo Compression is a photoset by German-born, China-based photographer Michael Wolf.

These pictures are tender portraits of hectic souls. Their emotions are carefully stowed away in favor their public persona, but glimpses of their feelings break through, especially in the photo above.

The rain droplets don’t touch her but leave snaking shadows across the planes of her face. Her mouth open and her eyes downcast, she seems occupied and introspective, so much so that she has almost forgotten to guard her own expression. That preoccupation that she embodies is a human condition–I see myself and my own conflicts reflected in the unknowable depth of her eyes.

Full set here.