Photo Finish: Joe Chanin Secret Revealed

by David J. Carol

Joe Chanin

March 01, 2012 — Joe Chanin has been taking personal photographs since he was a teenager. As his career in advertising and commercial photography developed, his private passion continued “in secret.”

He had never been interested in showing or publishing this work until a few years ago when curator Anne Wilkes Tucker of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston saw some of it and wanted to include some prints in the museum’s permanent collection.

All of the images were shot on Kodachrome PKR 64 (until its discontinuation in 2009) in a dark, very under-exposed technique. Chanin’s images were so dark in fact, that his early Cibachrome prints would take hours to expose, often burning out enlarger bulbs in the middle of an exposure.

More recently, Chanin has shot with a Leica M9 and used handmade paper and home mixed varnishes when making his original prints. Chanin’s lonely and alienated images convey a world that both fascinates and saddens me, but also keeps me interested. His new book, Taken from Darkness, comes out in spring 2013. I can’t wait.

Each month, David Carol will highlight work from a photographer who shoots for love, passion and personal expression.

David J. Carol is the Director of Photography at CBS Outdoor. His photographs and award-winning photography books are in the collections of major museums and institutions throughout the United States. He is a portfolio reviewer for ASMP and Palm Springs Photo Festival, and judges photo contests for Rangefinder and PDN, among others. Contact him at or go to his Web site,

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