What he cited was this: You Don't Look Native to Me which I am pretty sure John likes not so much for the pictures or ideas, but for the "OMG a marginalized people" content. You know, which is a real thing. It totally sucks to be marginalized, and lots of good work has been done about this kind of thing.
I have written several essays about work in this vein that could accurately be described as "glowing" or perhaps even "hagiographic" so if it has occurred to you that I just hate pictures of poor people, nope.
This is not particularly excellent work. It is the standard output of the MFA crowd, better than some, not quite as good as others. All the pictures are willfully vernacular, and some of them seem to have no point whatever. The bullet riddled stop sign means nothing other than "rural" and the vaguely New Topographics pictures of the small cheaply built homes are not particularly on-point. I suppose we are to assume that these people are low-income? We see pictures of the marginalized people, and we see a few bits and pieces of how they live. Which is to say, exactly like all the other rural teenagers in the USA, except they have more Indian Stuff on their walls.
In part this is simply "holy shit, rural people, so weird and poor" porn, very chic. In part this is "holy shit, marginalized people, I feel sad, we should do something" porn. Again, très très chic.
So, having established this work's place, now let us look at more of Maria Sturm's work on the same web site, in particular: For Bird's Sake which is about another somewhat marginal population on the other side of the world. Again, it's not terrible, but not great.
But look at both of these things side-by-side. They are almost literally the same photo essay down the neck tattoo.
The second one, about birds, I met a few weeks ago in a book, attributed to Cemre Yesil rather than Maria Sturm. If you look closely in that book, and on the web site I linked to above, you will discover unobtrusively noted that this is a collaboration between the two.
But what is interesting here is that the two photo essays deploy precisely the same tropes on really quite different groups of people. Both are on the outskirts of society in one sense or another, but otherwise they are radically different people.
This suggests that Sturm is deploying what we might call "her style" as a way to tell every story, rather than sorting through the situation and crafting an approach that will be well-suited to the story that she wants to tell. It feels like a novelist who decides "fuck it, I'm telling everything in first person flashbacks, because I know how to write that" which might be good or bad, I dunno.