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This is the third year of the Guardian’s photography issue, and fittingly, three themes or commonalities are at the forefront.

First, there is an emphasis on urban landscape or place — while we’ve always only showcased work by Bay Area artists, this year a number of photographs overtly consider specific settings in SF and surrounding areas as part of their subject matter. Or, in the case of John Chiara and Aaron Rosenstreich, their chief subject.

Second, this issue often — though not always — looks like trans or queer spirit. Molly Decoudreaux, Jack Fulton, Katy Grannan and Josh Kirschenbaum all capture moments in the neverending gender play that is San Francisco life. The vast breadth and wildly different shadings of their collective vision is itself quite different from the East Coast trans visions of Diane Arbus and, later, the "Boston School" (David Armstrong, Nan Goldin, and the under-known Mark Morrisroe).

Third, there is a tension between now and then, thanks to a 1968 photo by Fulton, a contribution from archivist Robert Flynn Johnson, and the issue’s more contemporary looks at local faces and places.

To borrow a phrase from SF Camerawork curator Chuck Mobley — who remodeled it from documentary filmmaker Thom Andersen, who in turn took it from porn director Fred Halsted — in the images that follow, San Francisco plays itself. It’s a great performance. (Johnny Ray Huston)

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JAMES CHIANG

TITLE Untitled

BACKGROUND This image is from a recent collaboration with the kind folks of the San Francisco Food Bank.

SHOUT OUTS Josh Kirschenbaum’s work has always been my primary source of photographic inspiration. Special thanks to the Academy of Art Photo Department, and the wonderfully talented students there for allowing the exigency of my work to expand beyond just the printed medium.

WEB www.jameschiang.com

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JOHN CHIARA

TITLE Bowdoin at Harkness, 2008

BACKGROUND I photograph cityscapes in a process that is part photography, part event, and part sculpture — an undertaking in apparatus and patience. Many times this process involves composing pictures from the inside of a large hand-built camera that is mounted on a flatbed trailer and produces large scale, one-of-a-kind, positive exposures.

SHOUT OUTS Artists I have worked with and those who have been inspirational are Jean Graf, P.K. Steffen, Michael Ninnan Hermann, Sue Ciriclio, Linda Flemming, Jim Goldberg, Stephen Goldstein, Larry Sultan, Richard Misrach, Marco Breuer, and Muriel Maffre .

SHOW "An Autobiography of the Bay Area, Parts 1 and 2," Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, second floor, SF. (415) 512-2020. www.sfcamerawork.org.

WEB www.lightdark.com

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MOLLY DECOUDREAUX

TITLE Go-Go Outfit, Lamp, and Heels (Mica Phelan), 2008

BACKGROUND This is from "The Creatives: Daytime Portraits From a Queer Nightlife," a series of portraits of San Francisco’s DJs and drag queens in their personal spaces. Mica Phelan, a.k.a. "VivvyAnne ForeverMore," is the creator of Tiara Sensation and Beast clubs and the designer behind House of Horseface, as well as a method go-go dance master.

SHOWS "The Creatives," Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. The Seventh Heart, 1592 Market, SF. (415) 431-1755, www.myspace.com/theseventhheart. Also: Nov. 10-Dec. 18 at the Lexington Club, 3464 19th St., SF. (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com

WEB www.mollydecoudreaux.com

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SERGIO DE LA TORRE

TITLE Waiting for Olafur Eliasson (from "Drivers"), 2009

BACKGROUND The idea is to photograph a series of limousine service drivers at different international airports. In front of the camera, a driver patiently waits with a sign in hand for an artist that will never arrive. The artists include Gabriel Orozco, Olafur Eliasson, and Francis Alÿs, among others. The artists’ names are selected based on their international presence within contemporary art spaces including museums, galleries, publications, and art events over the last nine years.

The process involves hiring a limousine driver to go to the airport and pick up a given artist. Drivers are expected to arrive five minutes before the arrival and wait for 10 minutes. These photos are not staged. The driver is real and he believes the artist he is waiting for will likely arrive, like in Waiting for Godot where two tramps wait by a sickly-looking tree for the arrival of M. Godot. The tramps quarrel, make up, contemplate suicide, try to sleep, eat a carrot, and gnaw on some chicken bones. Between the first and second day, the tree has sprouted a few leaves.

SHOW "An Autobiography of the Bay Area, Parts 1 and 2," Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. SF Camerawork, 657 Mission, second floor, SF. (415) 512-2020. www.sfcamerawork.org.

WEB www.maquilopolis.com

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JACK FULTON

TITLE Three on a Cadillac (from the portfolio "Nellie’s (K)night: Black and White Photographs From Halloween 1968, the Tenderloin, San Francisco, CA")

BACKGROUND The prelude to this is Martin Luther King’s death in April, and Mario Savio’s defiance at University of California Berkeley in 1964. It is ALL about freedom of being who you are and being appreciated for that. In 1968, when these photographers were made, the only night a man could "legally" dress as a woman in public places was on Halloween. In the then-Tenderloin, the baths were open and fun was everywhere with the police supporting the whole thing.

SHOUT OUTS Thank you to Brennan and Don Guynes

SHOW "New Works by Togonon Gallery Photographers," Nov. 5 through Dec. 5. Togonon Gallery, 77 Geary, second floor, SF. (415) 398-5572.

WEB www.jackfulton.net; www.togononongallery.com

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ROBERT FLYNN JOHNSON

TITLE "Buddha Pests"

BACKGROUND In this anonymous photograph, Bohemian Club members somewhat irreverently sit in the hands of a 70-foot plaster replica of the Daibutsu of Kamakura, Japan that was made for the "Buddha Jinx" of 1892 in Muir Woods. The next year, the Bohemian Grove was permanently relocated north to Monte Rio.

MONOGRAPHS Anonymous: Enigmatic Images From Unknown Photographers (Thames and Hudson) and The Face in the Lens (University of California, 208 pages, $45).

SHOW "Hunters and Gatherers: Photographs from the Private Collection of Robert Flynn Johnson," through Aug. 29. Modernism Gallery, 685 Market, SF. (415) 541-0425,

www.modernisminc.com

WEB flynnjohnson@gmail.com

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ROCKY MCCORKLE

TITLE Wishing Well (from "You and Me On A Sunny Day," 2007)

BACKGROUND For the past few years, I have been constructing a silent film narrating the internal discourse of an elderly woman in today’s pervasively influential world. Through a sequence of stills, "You and Me On A Sunny Day" explores the impact that film and fictional media has on her way of life.

SHOUT OUTS Special thanks to Gilda Todar for her extraordinary acting and dedication. We’ve taken photographs for this project nearly every Sunday since 2007.

AWARD McCorkle is one of the winners of Flash Forward, the Magenta Foundation’s annual international competition for emerging photographers. A book launch will be held at Lenox Contemporary in Toronto, Canada, in October.

WEB www.rockymccorkle.com

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AARON ROSENSTREICH

TITLE Illinois Street, San Francisco (from Ocular Landscape), 2007

BACKGROUND This is an image taken from my studio window near the Mirant power plant. In that particular moment the sky was extraordinarily apocalyptic. This image is part of a series of constructed landscapes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

SHOUT OUTS Eugene Atget, William Christenberry, vernacular landscape photographs, neighborhood histories, urban planning

SHOW "PastForward: The 25th Anniversary Exhibition," through Aug. 29. The LAB, 2948 16th St., SF. (415) 864-8855, www.thelab.org www.thelab.org

WEB www.aaronrosenstreich.com