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Pigeon Fancier’s Club. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini

6 Quirky Clubs You Should Probably Join Today

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Pigeon Fancier’s Club. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini

Photography by Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini
Q&A by Kate Erbland

It’s only appropriate that “Hobby Buddies,” a superfun photo series that captures some of the quirkiest clubs and subcultures, was created by a pair of “hobby buddies,” the professional duo of Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini. From kites to chess, plants to poodles, the Swiss photographers lovingly render enthusiast groups into smart tableaus, proving that no matter how niche your pastime, you're never truly alone. We managed to snag the pair and ask them some questions about their craft:  

What sort of professional training have you had?

We both did an apprenticeship as photographers in Basel, Switzerland. Over four years, we worked two to three days a week in a studio for professional photography. We mainly concentrated on fashion, advertising, food, and people for our shoots. During the four years, the other one to two days a week we went to school for art, in the department of photography.

Santa Claus Group.These aren’t new! The first jolly group, the Benevolent Order of Santa Claus, was organized in 1937.

What other artists or styles of art inspire you?

There are so many great works out there. We love a good idea and a good realization! Whether it's photography, painting, sculpture, music. A few examples? Liu Bollin and his photographed drawings, Charles Fréger and his series “Wilder Mann,” Lori Nix with her photographed settings, Kathrin Freisager, the “Strandbeest” of Theo Jansen, Kristof Kintera, and William Kentridge.

Orchid Club.Incidentally, the word orchid derives from the Greek orchis, or “testicle.” In the 1300s, English speakers called it a “ballockwort” for, well, similar reasons.

How did you two decide to work together? What are your favorite parts about having a partner?

Since 2007, we have shared a studio together, so we spend a lot of time together. Both of us work on our own projects. While sharing a studio together, you can support each other and—very important—you don't have to drink your coffee by yourself.

Children’s Chess Club.You know who was also a chess club member? Thomas Jefferson. He often played against James Madison.

How did you come up with the idea to photograph clubs? Which club was the hardest to track down?

One day, Andi asked me if I would like to work with him on a free photography-story for a newspaper. The idea of staged group photography was something I already had in my mind for quite a while. For the newspaper, I adapted and completed this concept for that specific series. At the beginning, we started with a series of eight photographs, then we did another eight, and so on ... now the series contains over 60 photographs.

The poodle club was quite a challenge. The room we needed for our setting couldn’t be too big for this specific idea. We found the perfect place, the size was perfect, the rear wall as background was ideal, and the rest of the room was big enough for our setting and all our studio lights, but with all the owners of the dogs, it finally was quite full. The dogs were perfectly behaved, but we still could take just about three shots.

Poodle Club.Not pictured: Babe Ruth, whose 1921 mascot was a French miniature poodle.

What’s been your favorite project to photograph?

A great thing about a photographic project in general is the concentration on a idea, for a specific period you focus on something. The “Hobby Buddies” were really great to work on. We get in contact with so many people through the societies and the different interests.

Hat Club.Established in 1750, America’s first secret collegiate society was called the Flat Hat Club.

What would you like to photograph that you haven’t yet?

The best ideas are not realized yet.

Kite Club.The kite originated in China around 400 BCE. Legend has it that Han Dynasty Generals would fly them over the walls of a city to measure how far an army would have to tunnel to get past the defenses.

Hobbie Buddies (Kehrer Verlag) by Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini is now available.


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Matt Cardy/Getty Images
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Check Out These Images of Last Night's Spectacular Harvest Moon
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Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Each year, a special moon comes calling around the autumnal equinox: the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon—the full moon that falls nearest to the equinox—rises near sunset for several days in a row, making early evenings extra-bright for a few days when farmers traditionally reveled in the extra-long twilight while harvesting their crops at the end of the summer season. And because the moon looks larger and more orange when it's near the horizon, it's particularly spectacular as it rises.

The Harvest Moon
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

October 5 marked 2017’s Harvest Moon, and you may have noticed an extra spectacular sky if you were looking up last night. It's rare for the Harvest Moon to come so late in the year: The last time it came in October was in 2009. (Last year's fell on September 16, 2016.) Here are a few luminous lunar pictures from the event, some of which make the moon look totally unreal:

And if you missed seeing the event yourself, don't worry too much: the moon will still look full for several days.

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7 Throwback Photos of 1980s NYC Subway Graffiti
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In May 1989, after a 15-year-long campaign of slowly eradicating New York City’s subway graffiti train-by-train, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority officially declared the city’s subways graffiti-free. There’s still subway graffiti in New York City today, but now it's confined to rail yards far away from the stations and tunnels. By the time the trains make it back onto the tracks, they’ve been cleaned of any markings.

There was a time, though, when graffiti artists had near-free rein to use the city’s subway trains as their canvases, as much as the transportation agency tried to stop them. A new book of photography, From the Platform 2: More NYC Subway Graffiti, 1983–1989, is an ode to that period.

A photo taken at night shows a subway train tagged

Its authors, Paul and Kenny Cavalieri, are two brothers from the Bronx who began taking photos of subway trains in 1983, during the heyday of New York City's graffiti art era. They themselves were also graffiti artists who went by the names Cav and Key, respectively. (Above is an example of Cav's work from 1988, and below is an example of Key's.) Their book is a visual tribute to their youth, New York's graffiti culture, and their fellow artists.

For anyone who rides the New York City subway today, the images paint a whole different picture of the system. Let yourself be transported back to the '80s in some of these photos: 

A subway car bears tags by
Some of Kenny (Key) Cavalieri's work, circa 1987.

Graffiti on a subway car reads

Blue letters tagged on the exterior of a subway car read “Comet.”

Pink and blue lettering reads “Bio” on the outside of a subway car.

A subway car reads “Pove” in green letters.

The book includes short commentaries and essays from other artists of the period remembering their experiences painting trains. It's a follow-up to Paul Cavalieri’s original 2011 collection From the Platform: Subway Graffiti, 1983-1989. He’s also the author of Under the Bridge: The East 238th Street Graffiti Hall Of Fame, a history of four decades of graffiti in the Bronx.

From the Platform 2 is $30 on Amazon.

[h/t The Guardian]

All images courtesy Paul and Kenny Cavalieri // Schiffer Publishing

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