New Releases

Books, Feature, New Zine, Travel

We are proud to announce the release of two new zines.

The first has been a long time in the making. I traveled with We Were Skeletons, all across America, as well as parts of Canada & Europe, & my new zine “I’m Alright To Drive” is the culmination of endless hours in a van. Photographs & stories from the past 5 years, 56 full color pages, 6×9 inches, & hand numbered & signed in edtion of 100.




We also excited to announce the release of Jani Zubkov’s zine “This Is Not A Dark Ride” I met Jani through band friends & we have interviewed him here before at Empty Stretch & now we would like to present his 24 page full color zine, documenting often forgotten pieces of America.



janizubkovs_darkride_06Both are now available in the Empty Stretch Store. 

Petty Thieves Number Three Zine + Release Party!

Books, Events, Feature, New Zine, Petty Thieves, Spotlight

Guess what just arrived?!? Petty Thieves Number Three!! It looks beautiful and the awesome work within it, is still driving us crazy. Thank you to everyone who submitted and for those who haven’t yet, you got until tomorrow to send us something for the projection party! Check out the specs below:

Petty Thieves Number Three
Various Artist
96 pages, saddle stitch, 6x9in
edition of 100
printer: SmartPress
BUY ME – 18USD + S/H

Featuring: Patrick JoustPeter CurriePhil JacksonSofie van DamJacob FogelLaura PannackMcNair EvansJosh AndersonCarine WallauerJustine TobiaszRosaline ShahnavazJason HanasikMaureen DrennanLloyd StubberMads GreveBen HuffAimee PijpersLibi Rose StrieglMichela PalermoRichard Ramirez Jr.Aaron CanipeE. Brady RobinsonIPG ProjectStephanie MillElizabeth MoranChihHsien ChenJordan SullivanMelissa ButlerMichal BrezinskyJordan SwartzHalle Chapman-TaylerBarrett EmkeBrad WestcottAlan HunterMargaret Holland AdamsDerek HendersonJuan MadridKatherine SquierMatt Lief AndersonEsben Bøg-JensenHannah KuoTrevor PowersBrett DavisDaniel SheaNathaniel GrannAnthony GeraceCécile MayotCarson Davis BrownTammy MercureMariya UstymenkoK. Eleanor BleierMark StrandquistHeather Iris Galt-McloughlinNic PersingerBlaise ChatelainPaul John NelsonJared RaglandChris BerntsenJordan BaumgartenKevin TadgeKristoffer Tripplaar

PT3_Postcard3Speaking of the projection party, a dual photographic projection and release party for Petty Thieves Number Three will be hosted in collaboration with Furthermore at the Petworth Citizen + Reading Room {829 Upshur Street NW, Washington, D.C.} on November 8, 2013, starting at 8pm. It’s all ages, no cover, full bar and food available, and a guaranteed fun time. Check out the FB event here.

Book Review: “Kievbound” by Mariya Ustymenko


“Home” seems to be a recurring theme within the work Empty Stretch is drawn to. It was the title of our first publication and still has a strong presence within the work we seem to produce. Usually, when I think of the word “home,” a sense of nostalgia crosses my mind, and while the location isn’t always the same, I have a very certain type of image that comes to mind. My mental image of “home” though is not to be found within Mariya Ustymenko’s newest zine, “Kievbound,” published by Antler Press. This surprisingly didn’t hinder me from becoming transfixed within the story Ustymenko’s unravels.

Kiev seems stagnant and not within a “home is where your heart is” ideal. Rather, the city seems as if it’s waiting for something, a something Ustymenko may or may not think will come. The images were taken between 2003 and 2007 using two classic Soviet era cameras, the Kiev-19 and Lubitel-2, a seemingly deliberate decision by Ustymenko to obtain a gritty and even at times, ugly aesthetic. Muddled blacks and blown-out highlights help paint the picture that Kiev is still trying to find its path, like the viewer trying to decipher a shadow from an outline of a dog, the city struggles to distinguish what is old and what is new.

The portraits, of possible friends and family, provide a sense of growth that the viewer is looking for within the zine. While some inhabitants seem content or stuck, others stare definitely at the viewer, countering a gaze that up until that point had been laden towards voyeuristic. It is like a subtle backtrack on Ustymenko’s part; that while things may seem bleak to a certain degree, power, and even love, still flourishes within the city. This complexity, or even contradictory element to the book, is what I find so appealing. “Home” shouldn’t be a simple word to describe, and the emotions it derives are never as clear-cut as they may first seem. This is felt by the viewer when they finish experiencing the zine. A feeling that is hard to describe with words comes to mind, but ultimately that’s okay, because Ustymenko’s images help create a visual story that provides an answer to what that feeling is.

The design and layout of the zine is rather simple and seems more inline with an ongoing series Antler is currently producing, and while I think it would have been interesting to see how a more organic design would fit with these images, the attention to printing and consistent design helps support the narrative that is being presented. “Kievbound” is an interesting short glimpse into Ustymenko’s past and a portrait of a city that may or may not still be looking to be “found.” I’m sure the archive is much larger than what is being shown and ultimately, I hope to see this evolved into a more fleshed out story, whatever that story may be.

Please check out more of Mariya Ustymenko’s work here and feel free to pick up a copy of “Kievbound” here.


“Burnish” Review by David Gauthier


First, we would like to say THANK YOU for everyone who stopped by the New York Art Book Fair and visited us. It was a blast getting to meet so many amazing people. Second, we are thrilled to share a review of our newest photobook, Burnish by Isabelle Evertse, from David Gauthier,  head of Cultural Affairs at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure (ENS) in Lyon, France. The review originally appeared in french here on the webpage, Below is an english translation of the review and we still have a few copies of Burnish for sale here:

You receive an envelope. You take it in your hands. It is unstamped. Its content is already revealed. Waiting for you. It is no doubt as old as the photographer. Black birds fly against a grey sky: it’s the cover of the fragile letter Isabelle Evertse addresses to her father, to the readers. The letter is entitled BURNISH. The title is preceded by a note from the author: The 1990’s and later today. A girl. Her father. They barely met. Two countries. Two continents. Thousands of kilometres. A few letters. Interpretations.

In the meantime, the mane of a white horse eating grass has appeared. Let’s slowly turn the pages, without precipitation.  An epistolary of time awaits us. We enter the intimacy of a father-daughter relationship, a raw sensitivity “à fleur de peau” as the first flower motif envelope evokes.

The envelopes have crossed seas, oceans, countries… they are all precious. They are all carefully opened with a sharp letter opener and all have been meticulously kept, in a small secret box. Could it be the famous “black box” of this beautiful object? With precaution, we continue to turn the pages, without any rush. We discover what Isabelle Evertse gives away about herself. A story, hers, through photographs, regardless whether they are fictional or real.

She tells us through images of wilted flowers soaking in the used water of a small glass, portraits of her father (we imagine him), almost anonymous self portraits, affectionate landscapes, crumpled paper, so crumpled that they draw garments, white shirts, white blouses (and yet some are receipts), a complete number of four envelopes including the one which contains the book, letters whose inks have evaporated and fly off the paper as the aviator in the following photograph placed under a yellowed paper and then suddenly a banana skin thrown over a bowl with it’s spoon!

Yes, all this is very enigmatic. Isabelle Evertse gives us another key, the last one, at the end of reading BURNISH. Burnish (bûrnsh) tr.v. burnished, burnishing, burnishes 1. To make smooth or glossy by rubbing; polish. n. A smooth glossy finish or appearance; luster. There you have it, the book could end on this definition that could open Pandora’s box. “The Happy End” if there should be one, is elsewhere, no doubt in the last envelope with the floral back (very Victorian, very Laura Ashley) but it’s content will not be revealed to us.

Burnish a very personal little book proposed by Isabelle Evertse. It is composed with tact, in its spirit as much as in its materiality. The American editor, Empty Stretch published it this summer 2013. It is part of those objects so difficult to define that it captivates you. Oh, damn! I forget! The last page ends with words, hand written sentences on the very Hitchcock like motif that is the cover. Don’t dream! Don’t count on me! I won’t say anything on these final words! They belong to the almost confidential world of the photographer, which you need to discover, on your own, parsimoniously. I will say no more.

Already what a privilege to discover her epistolary imagination yet so real! A small precious book to the image of Isabelle Evertse’s pale skin and blonde hair, everything is fineness and delicate in her proposal, skilfully layed out by the editor.

The envelope is cruelly attached to the book (you will not be able to put the book inside the envelope! I assure you!), the fineness of a Bible paper so thin that you turn the pages without moistening them of fear to smudge the ink… and yet the images are magnificently reproduced. There are overlaps even. Everything holds together and slides fluidly… The rhythmic of an intelligently and poetically composed sequence, object-book, object-letters, object-envelope, the exceptional book of an author. If a dark double page, nocturnal (yet the red on the tree is so significant) punctuates the harmony of the diverse image formats, themes and emptiness (blank pages like stage directions invite you to take aback in silence, to catch your breath before diving back into the neither troubled nor clear waters), you can only be sensitive to the message of a “Proust’s madeleine”, announced by the numerous dead leaves, often recurring in this letter.

Whilst I write this letter, I see yellow-necked chickadees perched on the flowering rosebay, on the look out for a “je ne sais quoi”. I emerge from this book-letter immersed with a strange feeling… as if my mother-son relationship was back in jolts. But, we all have a secret garden. Isabelle Evertse has hers; she made a small modest book of it, humble yet so beautiful, so “poignant” that life is perpetual movement… and hope. Rare are such singular books by their form and content… but is it not also the fact that this project is one of a life in it’s course, a young photographer soon to be a mother, published at a moment in her life where the maturity of the project makes it remarkable.

– David Gauthier

New Book: “Burnish” by Isabelle Evertse

Books, New Zine, Pictures

20130629_WashingtonDC_0094 Empty Stretch is very excited to introduce our newest photobook, Burnish by Isabelle Evertse. It has been a real pleasure working alongside Evertse in the creation of this book and we can’t wait to share it with you all. Check out more about the book below and enjoy!

by Isabelle Evertse
48 pages, saddle stitch
edition of 100
printer: Conveyor Arts
Purchase Here – View Full Series Here

Burnish (bûrnsh) tr.v. burnished, burnishing, burnishes
1. To make smooth or glossy by rubbing; polish.
n. A smooth glossy finish or appearance; luster.

Burnish is a record of a girl and her father, of the words that might or might not have been said, and the intrepid expectations of how things should have been. Letters that once were cherished and loathed, have now yellowed with time as the rough slowly becomes smooth. Quiet gentle whispers build as a girl tries to connect with someone who is both here and not.

flower mail-isabelle evertseArtist Bio
Isabelle Evertse (b.  Cape Town, South Africa) She emigrated to France with her family and her education was shared between French and English schools. She pursued a BFA at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Toulouse in 2007. Thus she discovered her passion for photography and entered the National Photography School of Arles obtaining her Masters in 2010. She has since then accomplished internships with the Magnum Photo agencies in London (2008) and New York (2009). Photography has become essential in her everyday life. Through the aesthetics of a still image, her primary goal is to combine the vividness of her imagination and the beauty that lies in everyday life. Her work revolves around her country of birth (South Africa) where her soul resides and her country of adoption (France) where her future lies. Immensely attracted to travelling the world, her projects are inspired by foreign cultures and her numerous journeys. She founded and created piK magazine, dedicated to promoting photographers worldwide in March 2012.

Book Review: “I see around me tombstones grey” by Stefano Marchionini

Books, Feature, Pictures, Spotlight

Stefano Marchionini is a photographer who has always engaged me by the range and quality of his work. Whether shooting in color or black-and-white, a very intimate and relatable quality comes across that never seems to dwindle after repeated viewings. Marchionini recently released a self-published book titled, I see around me tombstones grey, that focuses on his relationship with his parents after being away for an extended amount of time and the feeling of “home” that his parents bring to him, even when the physical locations of “home” may have changed.

The book is a strong testament to what smart editing and simple design can do to allow for images to speak for themselves and breathe. The pacing of the book is evenly spread between sequences that build to a sense of short-lived intimacy; short-lived, because as soon as one may start to feel a sense of nostalgia or love take form, a reminder of the fragility of life is suddenly thrown in. The finite quality of our relationships with those we love is a hard universal truth that Marchionini reflects upon throughout the book.

Conversely, the imagery often rejoices in the lighter and mundane moments between the photographer and his parents. An image titled, “my father in the garden,” shows Marchionini’s father working in a garden that seems to slowly engulf him despite all of his attempts at pruning. It is an action that seems important while doing but one that in the scope of things, really doesn’t matter as the garden will outlive us all. Subtle reflections like these build upon the theme of the book to guide the viewer through their own thoughts and feelings, a trip that requires multiple visits to really grasp what is being said, but is luckily made easy through the craft of the photographer.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and please check out more of Marchionini’s work on his website and flickr.

Book Review: Chris Berntsen

Books, Feature, Interview, New Zine, Pictures, Spotlight

I was driving around New Orleans with no real destination, when I passed a guy on a bicycle, he looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place it. A few minutes later, I realized it was Chris Berntsen, this only solidifies his somewhat mythical creature status. He does what I try to do, only he succeeds. He seems to constantly be in transit, he consistently makes new work, & is one of the nicest people I have come to know in recent years. We interviewed him about a year ago & since then he has had shows in Montreal, New Orleans, & Philadelphia, & released a new book “The Ritual of Nothingness.”


It come’s in a xerox cardstock sleeve, black & white with a beautifully cyan out of focus portrait, gold text scribbled across in messy cursive. As I pull the book from the sleeve, I almost immediately realize, he has accomplished in one book, what I have been trying with Empty Stretch releases for years; he has kept the ethos & feel of a zine, yet translated it into book form. Photos taped in, sporadically arranged, collaged, notes written; he has stepped right inline behind the greats of Jim Goldberg’s “Raised by Wolves” & Ed Templeton’s “The Golden Age of Neglect.”



I first got into Berntsen’s work because of his photos & videos of bands & his closeness to them & I have stayed interested in his work because of that proximity. You can look at these photos & know he cares about his subjects, some faces repeat, & you can actively see the transitions of his friends, whether physically or geographically. He has spent years with these people & this is their yearbook of sorts & I can only hope to one day produce a body of work so drenched in passion & so footnoted with care.


If you haven’t previously seen his work, I urge you to get a copy of the book, as well as take another look at his website, he is constantly adding new photos & videos.

You can email him at or pick up a copy at Dashwood Books in New York.

Saturday Fight Night

Books, New Zine, Pictures, Shop, Text

Biblical narratives drive a lot of my photographic work as well as its long and rich history in the arts. I took a Bible history class during my sophomore year of high school and got an in-depth look into stories from the Old Testament and more than a few of them were new to me. One in particular was a story from Genesis, where Jacob, while traveling on the road to Canaan, encounters an angel and wrestles with the angel until daybreak. Through this struggle, Jacob becomes a much more spiritual person and finds peace with God.

This seemed like such an odd occurrence to me. The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel has been depicted through art history for centuries and years later when I saw Paul Gauguin’s “Vision After the Sermon” in college, my interest in the biblical story was renewed.

“Vision after the Sermon”, Paul Gauguin, 1888

Meanwhile in my hometown of Hickory, I kept seeing these advertisements crop up on the side of the road for wrestling matches at the local National Guard Armory buildings. I was sort of interested what went on at these matches as they always seemed to hype up some of the personalities and weaponry being used. Now that my long-term undergraduate thesis project was completed, I decided to start a short project involving photographing these wrestling matches while thinking about them in a Biblical framework.

I went to a few matches over the summer, incessantly taking pictures ringside in the giant concrete Armory building. The lack of air conditioning made me feel like I was one of the wrestlers because I was sweating more than usual. It being summer and all made it that much worse. There was nothing short of fun to be had at the matches and at $8 a ticket, it was more entertaining and less expensive than a movie ticket. Girls running the merchandise table defending themselves with pizza cutters, wrestlers breaking open Diet Pepsi cans with their teeth, throwing it on the ground, and dog collar matches where two opponents duke it out while being held together by a long, chain link.

The spectacle of it all fascinated me and made it exciting for me to make pictures. Maneuvering wasn’t that easy and predicting where the match would go kept me on my toes. What resulted in this project is a new zine called “Saturday Fight Night” — Gauguin’s painting seemed a lot more important to me, and the dots of harsh stage lights in the background of the pictures felt Divine in a small way. Through the elaborate drama of the wrestlers, the same lessons Jacob learned in the wilderness about humility, masculinity, stubbornness, and ultimately, inner peace and victory were exacerbated in the wrestler’s actions and faces.

“Saturday Fight Night” is a new 26-page, color laser printed zine, signed and in an edition of 25. The cover is 67 lb. grey card stock with Gustave Doré’s 1855 depiction of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel on the cover in inkjet. The book is pamphlet-stitched with waxed linen thread and measures 7.5″ x 8.5″. Pick one up at the Empty Stretch store for $10!

We Don’t Have Sun Like This

“We Don’t Have Sun Like This” by Andrew Weathers & Andrew Marino

The use of photography as a means to say where we are and what we’re seeing is important. How one choses to picture a scene somehow evokes the feeling of where they’re at in the final image. What the happy problem then becomes, for artists, is how to navigate through our own archives, to see through what everyone else sees on trips to find our own vision to say what we want to say.

Artists Andrew Marino and Andrew Weathers have been talking back and forth with photography for sometime now. They have a wonderful new photo book out called We Don’t Have Sun Like This. The volume showcases photographs from Marino and Weathers presented side by side, Marino’s, taken in North Carolina, and Weathers’, taken in California. The smart diptychs from both photographers play off each other’s strengths — Weathers’ eye for experimental color and Marino’s head for composition and the uncanny. Already duly aware of the North Carolina landscape and Marino’s photography, his photos felt like a bit of home to me and when placed beside Weathers’ California views, what he was seeing felt familial, too.


The third thing that happens when two images are placed beside each other is exploited by both photographers. Where each photographer is stationed becomes slightly and delightfully disoriented to the viewer when each pairing is made. This sequence in particular caught my eye — here, light, or the underpinning concept thereof, is validated through Weathers’ craned-up camera in a flash in a chandelier. Marino seeks it out it the tall, tall cattails, each flower like a lightbulb for the sun’s electricity. Each photograph compliments and simultaneously contradicts the other. Interiors verus exteriors, night versus day, real verus fake, otherwise not making sense separately, but making all the sense in the world after every turn of the page.

Yet each photographer maintains their own voice throughout the conversation. At the end, it reads, on opposing pages, “Photographs on the left were made by Andrew Weathers in California” and “Photographs on the right were made by Andrew Marino in North Carolina.” What’s successful about We Don’t Have Sun Like This is the use of the book form as a conceptual basis for the images and where from which they’re taken. Weathers’ images felt like California to me before even reaching the end of the book and the fact that they were on the left side of the page might’ve been a subliminal clue. And all the way on the right side of the page, were Marino’s North Carolina images, balancing out the other coast.


I’m starting to feel like a spoiler for this photo book. There’s just so much to discover and figuring out how and why pairings were made. We Don’t Have Sun Like This is a great opportunity to get to know two artists and friends through their conversations with photography. The photographs and sequences are challenging that make it a joy to thumb through and come back to multiple times. Andrew Weathers and Andrew Marino’s clever eyes give their viewers something deeper to discover in photography and more importantly, how it can be used. A lot of the time, pictures say more than the photographer can know.

Pick up a copy of We Don’t Have Sun Like This from Experimedia. Check more of what Andrew Weathers is up to at his website and if you haven’t seen read it already, see the Empty Stretch interview with Andrew Marino.

Interview: Alex McTigue

Books, Feature, Interview, Spotlight, Travel

Alex McTigue had this way of just popping up. Scrolling through page after pages of photos & one catches my eye, Alex’s. A link from from someone’s website, Alex’s. A small brown covered zine on the bookshelf of one of my best friend’s, Alex’s series Anywhere But Here. Every time I saw some of these photos or held his zine, I found something new. In Empty Stretch style I forced some questions upon & thankfully, he pleasantly answered them. Do enjoy.

Empty Stretch: Age/ Location/ Favorite things in life?

Alex McTigue: I live in Brooklyn NY, and my favorite things in life are reading and throwing fireworks at people.

ES: How did you get into photography?

AM: I think at some point every hardcore kid or skateboarder tries photography. Some just make it out a little sooner.

ES: Your portraits come across as informal but not stolen moment, while also using the space to inform the viewer of the subject’s personality. How much of your work is set up, so to speak, or directed?

AM: They are all set up in terms of the person is aware that I am photographing them. But otherwise they’re pretty much your usual youth exploitation photographs. Especially with these photographs, not much is directed, not by me at least.

ES: Your series/ zine “Anywhere But Here” if not only by the title, seems to very much be about anonymity, yet the photos are very intimate. Were these planned situations & people or just photos that seemed to work together & convey a sense of nowhere?

AM: All of these pictures were taken on a trip a few years ago between NYC, Chicago, and Austin. I think this was the easiest collection of pictures to think of as finished because there was a very finite amount of time to choose from, and didn’t leave the option to keep going. The trip was planned, more or less, but the situations… who knows. When you spend that much time with a few people, intimate situations are bound to happen. At the time a lot of friends started traveling or running from/for whatever reason, and listening to prodigy I finally realized you can run but you can’t hide forever.

ES: Most of your work is black & white, but there are a few color images through out, do you prefer one over the other?

AM: I think black and white photographs are truly beautiful. But as with everything, certain times dictate certain decisions. If I had my choice I would just be able to write and call it a day.

ES: Do you photograph & then group them & form a series that way, or do you plan ahead what you are looking to photograph?

AM: I guess when I take pictures, they just pile up until something gets done with them. There is no real order, except like I was talking about earlier with a clear beginning and end of something.

ES: I have seen your zine all over the place, friends bookshelves & stores all over the country, is that the way you like your work to be viewed & if so, why? If not, do you prefer galleries or web viewing, etc.

AM: I would much rather a lot of like minded people be able to see and relate to the things I make than a few art world people. I have always been interested in zines and DIY outside of art, I don’t see why it should be any different when relating to art. Thats the beauty of self-publishing, you can do whatever you want whenever you want. Make as many as possible and give them away. Nobody is worried about cost effectiveness when nobody is making money. Plus, looking at something tangible like a book or zine is much more intimate and physical than looking at someone’s tumblr or flickr. I get so much more out of the experience that way, so I assume the same goes for others as well.

ES: Finals words?

AM: These are some great photographers to check out.

Chris BernstenAndrew KenneyGeorge Underwood, Reggie McCafferty, Nelson Offley, Vinnie Smith, BSVIV books

Please find more of Alex’s work on his website & tumblr & if you find a copy of Anywhere But Here, do yourself a favor & pick it up.