one month BURNing…

one of the worst ideas i have ever had was starting BURN three days before Christmas!!  what a bad idea….but, when i get passionate about something, it is hard to hold me back….so, thus it was that BURN was launched just as i was getting on an airplane and heading for Colorado to see my mother who has no internet modum…..hmmmm, and i am here to help emerging photographer’s think??  well, please know that i do not always do the right thing…however, here we are and i just want to take a minute to take stock….

first of all, i want to thank the readers here for submitting so much work for publication on BURN…some of you may not realize, but so far,  all of the work published on BURN has come from you….and this morning i was looking at what we have ready to roll and the next weeks and months are going to be exciting indeed….at first, i was really worried about having daily updates on BURN…i could not imagine it…now, i could do two posts per day easy !!  we have lots of content coming in and “the bar” is going to get higher and higher …

the internet audience is indeed a fickle one and an impatient one as well….you have so many choices out there and you want what you want NOW….i get that, but i also ask you to be a little bit patient with BURN…i was getting judged after 6 days, when i could see that to really “get” BURN ,in all of its manifestations, would take 6 months….one sentence is not a paragraph and one paragraph is not a book….i surely would not want to be judged on my first 6 days of anything… essays or relationships or anything!!  but, i will take the criticism because this  is fair enough…i have put myself “out there”, so that is just the way it goes…so expect more flaws, but expect some revelations as well…

i mean, BURN right now is just me editing, writing etc and Anton Kusters managing most of the tech stuff….i have been in about three locations since BURN started and Anton has been in either Belgium or Japan…so, neither of us can possibly get any sleep because of the time zones…and both of us are shooting as well…sitting by a computer editing is not what i envision for life…i am a working photographer and i will stay a working photographer….my number one priority photographically is my next book….and i hope you will see that this is important for me to be a photographer first and an editor second…but, my work is not published here on BURN…..yours is…..and that is the way it will be..

my choices for essays and singles are just that…my choices….choice comes from either something i really really like  OR  photographs that i think will invite discussion….and there is certainly no lack of discussion!!  i like photojournalism….i like conceptual photography….frankly, i like whatever is truly compelling….again, the work published here has come from the pool of submissions from you, or from photographers i have mentored online or in workshops…..i was thinking at first to cast a wider net and i will  do that  too, but things are coming in so fast and the essays are getting so good, that it is a full time job just to view it all….

plus, we will start soonest the “Work in Progress” section for  developing essays…i will take on 5 new photographers for this and work with them a month or so and then select 5 more…i predict many of you will be hanging around “Work in Progress” over all other sections…i will continue to profile  so called iconic photographers as a way of mixing it all up on the same pages…not only Magnum photographers as some would expect, but photographers from all agencies , galleries , etc etc…this is my nature…i do this in my workshops…my student show always follows the show of one of the greats…this honors say an Alessandra Sanguinetti or a Eugene Richards, but gives a special cred to the emerging photographers who will soon become the “greats”….this is my whole point of mentoring….to discover the next great photographer OR to provide a meaningful way of making photography an integral  part of your life…

your ideas and your work are BURN…..i am just a moderator….BURN may be likened to “talk radio”…participation is the message….as you know , i have ideas for funding beyond the Emerging Photographer Fund grant….to give some of you the funding you need to finish your projects and ideally to create from “scratch” content specific for  BURN…it would seem that  a financial recession would not be the ideal time to do this…i think the opposite…sponsors are looking to the net…content is king….for a fraction of what sponsors are spending now, we can give them THE place to be…..and photographers rights are always paramount in my mind and my life philosophy….

if you tap into your passion, if you create something special,  and if that appears here, then indeed the audience will become the producers……we have a chance for the ultimate collaboration…a chance to invent something…joining something can be terrific…inventing something is the ultimate…

your thoughts???

308 Responses to “one month BURNing…”

  • DAVID,

    I just wonder why there aren’t more selected photographs ? the ones selected stays on for days before a new one appears…

  • SEAN….

    i saw that you submitted an essay, but have not opened it yet..will do so today…i am very anxious to see how you have carried your project forward from your original Desertifcation of China essay…

    isn’t BURN blocked in China?? i am not sure what impact we can have online, but i would welcome any educational opportunities in China…maybe we can do something with the Magnum workshop program…i will go the office today and find Ren Yue and see what she thinks….thanks for the tip…

    as always, wishing you well in your work and hoping we meet again soon….

    cheers, david

  • YAN…

    the photographs in the “Selected Photograph” category have so far only been up for one day each….

    “Essays” stay up on top longer, and i think their inherent complexity deserves a little more time….

    i will start now keeping essays up on top as per usual, but also have either a “selected photograph” or a “dialogue” story just under on a daily change basis…please keep those pictures coming in…i need all the good singles i can find…

    cheers, david

  • i think burn is coming along really well. teething problems have not been that apparent to me and now that everyone is settled into the flow of the place it works a treat.

    i think comments for photos and essays is essential because, as a photographer, that´s the reason i would be interested in submitting .. showing photos is one thing – to have reactions to photos is just not possible through traditional publications and the like.. that´s one of the core benefits of this place, so long as the comments remain intelligent.

    the spread between stories and singles on the main page has balance and there are enough places to talk that everyone will be able to find a place for themselves.

    david alan harvey – seeing above that you skype.. i skype too.. it´s cheaper.. and so .. my skype name is ´bophoto´and if we could use that later for a call that would be great.. let me know thoughts.. i will leave it on for the rest of the day – if you are free.

    looking forward very much to seeing how the work-in-progress looks.
    to my mind what would be cool is if the 5 photographers selected for the month each had a mini-blog within the site, beginning with a statement of where they are and what they hope the contribution to the site will achieve.. and then over the month they are featured a discussion can be provoked with new posts by them and additional developments.. either bought about by comments on their work / progress or by their own endeavors.

    if a section like this could be worked and archived, new people to the site could mabey search by the help they need – ie. ´book publishing´ could lead to the work-in-progress pages dealing with people trying to publish.. or edit.. or planning a shoot.. that kind of thing.

    in any case – hope to speak later (lesson planning last night) and discuss more..

    burn has quickly become a stand alone resource within the photo web bookmarks and is a fitting achievement on the back of roadtrips.

    big pat on the back and thanks, now and for the future, for inspiration provided herein.

    it´s a corker.

  • I think the “channels” for Magnum are a good idea. I’ve watched the evolution of the “In Motion” concept over there with a lot of interest, and thought about how to fund these kids of efforts. Magnum’s and Mediastorm’s efforts with this kind of stuff are exciting to me. How to pay the bills on the web is the constant struggle. I’m a huge fanboy of editorial and documentary photography, forms which are threatened by the declining opportunities for new photographers to enter these areas. Which is why my great interest in Burn. Thank you for providing this venue.

    I’m your age and have been making a living with a camera for 40 years. As you point out, I learned long ago that photography has to become part of life, integrated with life, or your life kind of self destructs (relationships, etc.). I’ve seen too many extremely talented photographers flame out over the years because they never found the balance. Passion needs to extend to everything in our lives.

    Burn certainly has the potential to grow extensively, beyond the one-on-one teaching experience you appear to seek. But I understand from your posts that it’s the seat-of-the-pants, lets see what this evolves into, experience that is exciting to you. Good for you! Emerging photographers need this kind of venue more than ever.

  • Hi David,

    I think burn is simmering along quite nicely. The thing for me isn’t about content, I think there has been a really good balance so far; that shouldn’t change. I think the issue is about growth. This has to happen of course, to greater of lesser degrees, but it would be a shame if the community feel vanish because of a drive to maximize out put, for want of a better term. The fact that friendships have come about because of “road trips” and “burn” is one of the greatest features of what goes on here…… might that change if things grow to large? The close community of a village looses something when the village grows into a town. Do you envision this being effected?

    I like very much the “work in progress” idea to. I’m looking forward to seeing what this brings to the table and how people react to seeing developing work.


  • DAVID,

    I was for instance refering to “finland by jorg sundermann” which is the latest selected photograph since january 18…

  • Uau, only one month! and so much achieved! thanks David and Anton! I think that is truly important to have a space to publish emerging authors, and the possibility to discuss the projects is also one of the things I like about it. I loved the opportunity you gave me and would be very happy if I could help you guys with the growth and maintenance of BURN. Just tell me if I can be of any help. By the way, maybe I just haven’t figure it out, but isn’t there a way of editing comments? best to all, Miguel

  • I am so pleased to have stumbled upon this dialog. I am far from emerging, but always looking for something fresh, like here. Keep up this great project. By reaching out to these growing photographers, you are helping to cultivate the thoughtful witnesses we all want to be. Burn is bookmarked. Best wishes, Paul O’Mara, Rome, GA.

  • JIM…

    yes, i guess i do lean towards the seat-of-the-pants style experience….well, that has been my life as a photographer and it is probably unrealistic for me to somehow become some kind of highly organized linear biz oriented person…my apartment in New York is small as is my labor of love beach spot, and i do not have any of the “toys” some men seek..

    so, my standard of living might low by the judgment of some peers, but my LIFESTYLE is five star…and this philosophy is of course part of the one-on-one teaching experience i try to give young/emerging photographers…part of my teaching is about photography, most of my teaching is about life…

    having said this however, i do now have around me some pretty savvy people…folks who want to help make BURN at least able to pay a small staff so that we can expand at least as you may imagine and, more importantly, pay photographers to go on assignment for BURN….

    thanks for your thoughts…keep ’em coming….

    cheers, david


    each photographer in “Work in Progress” will have their own discussion effect their own blog…i am not quite sure what the advantage would be to go beyond …like right now, the discussion on Anton’s yakuza piece is between Anton and whoever is writing…how good this gets depends on how often Anton wants to get on and answer questions and how often he produces new work……

    book publishing is pretty tricky online..i have thought a lot about it and do book publishing workshops from time to time…book publishing is the love of my professional life…i love love books and life is different after you publish a book…but, how in the world we deal with it online is beyond me…”going to the wall” is definitely a live experience..i cannot see how that could happen online…books are tactile by nature and i think the experience of making a book is equally tactile…

    however, i discuss various aspects of making a book here all the time….Patricia started her book right here…but, when i stopped by her home to actually move work around and start thinking about really publishing, that was a one-on-one experience…and when she gets ready to go to press i will be in her living room or she will be in mine..

    i will Skype you today or tomorrow…make sense???

    cheers, david

  • Has it only been one month? Seems like more, theres a LOT of content on already, hopefully the well doesnt go dry:)

  • JASON…

    i have thought a lot about this issue…all i can say is so far so good….the number of people who write in and are part of this “community” are a very small percentage of who is actually logging on and reading and looking…the community seems small, but it really is not…every once in awhile , someone will log on here with a comment saying something like ” i have been a loyal reader here for two years, but this is my first comment”…lots of folks here my friend reading every word you write!!

    this “community” of which you speak, and of which i love, would seem to depend, in part, on my ability to jump in here and answer your questions etc…anyway, here i am!!

    Jason, all things evolve and change…”road trips” was beautiful, but i could not still be doing it…, that is going to happen no matter what we do…that is life, not business planning….the trick is to be constantly ahead of the curve so to speak by constantly re-inventing oneself …not radical psychological surgery…but, just the kind of stimulus that makes you jump out of bed in the morning and can’t wait to do whatever it is you want to do…or, i am laughing, does not allow you to go to bed at night because you are doing what you want to do!!!

    cheers, david

  • YAN…

    ok, now i see what you mean…i do have quite a few “selected photographs” ready to go…but, if i posted them anywhere but at the top, i do not think they would get their due..nobody would notice i think if they were not right at the top of the page…and we have other things to post at the top like “Dialogue” or “Essays”…different “news” on different days…some kind of content will change daily no matter what…for example, if an essay stays at the top for a few days, i will also post either a “selected photograph” or write story for Dialogue to be posted just below…there could be times when i just can’t do this because i am traveling or whatever, but mostly there will be daily updates one way or the other….

    are you suggesting a little column off to the side where there could be a daily choice of “selected photograph”??? hmmmmm, we have thought about that…and other sites do that, but at least for the time being i think three or so “selected photographs” per week is plenty…and this accurately represents the amount of quality singles coming to me as well…i must choose from what i think is the best of the submissions….the number of submissions grows by the day so maybe, eventually, we will have to create a “sidebar” for these singles…let’s wait and see…

    thanks for your question Yan…

    cheers, david

  • Whop needs a business plan? The beauty of this is that its the web….very little overhead and you arent staking your financial future on it. A business plan would kill your enthusiasm of it, and while someguy (from roadtrips) had a lot of knowledge, all the talk about modules and this and that made my head spin. Keep it small but interesting.

  • RAFAL…

    i just want to tweak your essay just a bit before publishing…i will send you the “tweaked” version and then you can tweak it back!!…in any case, you are very close to publication…you know i thought the same thing “what happens if the well goes dry?”…the opposite is happening…essays are rolling in…very very good ones…right now the water is rising…

    cheers, david

  • PAUL…

    welcome…to get yourself oriented a bit, please try rummaging through the archives…this could be helpful and get you “in the mood”….and, of course, your work is always welcomed as well..

    cheers, david

  • Thanks David, I was hoping for a tweaked version from you. :) Glad to hear its only a tweak and not a surgery LOL


    we would welcome you to join us in every way…mostly, i would like to see you continuing your project..this should be your first and continuing priority….but if we can come up with a way for you to do other things, like spotting photographers who are doing interesting things, that would be cool too…

    i do not think you can edit your comments here…i can, but you can’t..if you make a mistake it is just a mistake!!! if you make just some kind of terrible mistake, you can write to me and i can change it, but try not to do that por favor..

    cheers, david

  • CATHY…

    so well put and thanks…

    AND your bag should arrive at your house today (or tomorrow).. that is, if FEDEX does indeed deliver!! i sent a small light colored vertical style messenger that is lightweight and perfect for street shooting….no returns!!!

    cheers, david


  • VEBA..

    you can indeed post links for multimedia…just follow the instructions for “essays”…all essay submissions have a link we must view before we can start editing…i will get back to you soonest (or Anton will) on what you need to do for an e-address…i am very interested in video material and we are going to post one soonest…i will find some time later today to have a look at The Lazarus Project…in any case, congratulations on this sophisticated placement of your work….

    cheers, david

  • definitely makes sense david- and final edits are as personal as the statement people want to make..

    editing with a student today it was great when they actually disagreed with my selection and gave good justification as to why.

    where i am now is ploughing with editing.. the first long edit which could easily be culled down by 50% or more online, to 200 – 250.. at this point i´d be really interested in others opinion and talking about the idea and the best ways to produce it, in terms of organization of chapters and the best way to tell the story.

    will look forward to talking and perhaps expressing myself better than here in type.



    please send your work into submissions essays…we will put it into “Work in Progress” soonest…

    cheers, david

  • DAVID,

    Hummmm….”i have never gone “to work” a day in my life”…. I am afraid I cannot quite say the same…. Actually meant to be at work right now but we have a snow storm in Cincinnati, with roads blocked, schools closed so staying home, enjoying reading BURN :):):)… Thanks for these inspirational posts….


  • So many of us are working on long term projects that I think it would be helpful to share excerpts from a comment that DAH posted on Road Trips back in July 2008. Here are David’s words:

    “working on a long term project goes something like this:

    (a) initial burst of energy and enthusiasm..first pictures…this is the easiest part

    (b) a slow down….second guessing, tortured thinking…wondering if it will work out…this is the hardest part

(c) second wind….another burst of energy from out of nowhere..more good work comes…you start to see something really developing

(d) another slowdown…but not as bad as the first….because by this time you will have a pretty good body of work…and this time you must tell yourself you cannot quit..too much at stake by now!!!

    (e) your final burst!!! like a runner at the end of a race…last kick!!!! squeeze squeeze squeeze…

    (f) knowing you are done…just absolutely done….

(g) time to edit….and then that whole process all over again with editing!!

    (h) time to pursue a layout…time to study typography, design, paper, binding…which publishers will work best??

    (i) time to “make it happen”…do it..find the publisher, organize an exhibition, seek gallery space…

    (j) stay on top of the printing and distribution..make sure it comes off the press as you intended….

(k) opening night….all your friends and family are there…pop a bottle of champaigne!!! make a speech..sign books..enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!

    you MUST believe this is all worth it..and i can tell you that it is….but, you must know that this process is totally agonizing as well…you will suffer…you will be elated…you will suffer again and again…you must be happy with the percentages of pain/pleasure….90% pain, 10% pleasure…but that 10% is rare air…a place where very few go…”

    Posted by: david alan harvey | July 12, 2008 at 05:02 PM

  • DAVID,
    did someone said FEDEX???

    agreed, make sense…
    Peace should prevail..
    I will work harder on that..

  • Hello David, This may be my first post on the new Burn. But like so many others I have been reading from the start. It seems like so much longer than a month ! So much great work.
    Its 4am here and I’m heading for a flight- again. Too much work…interesting work…work that pays the bills, but not MY work. For me Burn has become a great source or inspiration and frustration. I check in daily but with never enough time…..often feel like I just miss things (Steve McCurry). But despite Burn keeps my head spinning with ideas and the determination to continue to pursue my own ideas..

    Thanks Mate.

  • Veba, HUGE congratulations on the critical and popular success of The Lazarus Project! I generally buy books according to which ones were chosen as finalists in the National Book Award and other prestigious literary competitions. And I’ve just ordered my copy of The Lazarus Project. Thanks so much for sharing this info here. The web site is AMAZING as are your photos. Bravo, my friend!


  • Pat,

    I hope we do not get stuck at e) :):):):)


  • DONE..
    david – i have tried to be concise.. and hope you can see the light i have attempted to switch on…

    many thanks.

  • Hey Eric, if we’ve come this far, nothing will stop us now! It reminds me very much preparing to run my first marathon. I trained every day for an entire year to run what only took 4 hours on a warm October day. But I finished with a smile on my face and that was my intention.

    I think you, Panos, Rafal, Bob B, Audrey, Erica, David McG, David B, Andrew S, Chris, Lance and others too numerous to mention are in it for the long haul…and yes, we’re ALL going to finish with a smile!


  • Hi David,

    I guess its a matter of balancing the scales. It all seems to be going along nicely, growing in its own unique way…. which is great. I think my point is about letting that happen of its own accord, with a gentle nudge here and there, so things evolve and remain vital, and yet are still organic. Sometimes if things get to big, they can be hard to control and ultimately the quality suffers. But, as you said, so far so good – you’re doing a great job…. and I’m sure nothing will change.


  • David,
    i didn’t know where to put this request and as this seemed to be the best place, i put it here. kindly consider doing one of your workshops in india in near future (if possible, for indian students). there are many reasons for this strange request. in my city calcutta itself, i can assure you that there are many talented young photographers who, with the right kind of inspiration/lessons/knowledge, can do wonders but there are not many opportunities for them to learn it and learning it from photographers as experienced as you is totally out of the question and beyond dreams. there are not many schools where one can learn photography here. the only option is going abroad, which is impossible for most. here, one who wants to move to the next level, has to bank only on the net. but theories are theories and photography is one subject where one needs hands-on experience. there are many things that you and others say here that simply goes over the top simply because lack of exposure and knowledge though we want to learn.
    i don’t think i have been able to properly word my request but i hope that you understand the need/purport. it will be a real help if you consider this request. i can assure you that you won’t regret.


    save this…i had forgotten all about it…we may need it again for Work in Progress…thanks

    cheers, david

  • MATHEW….

    thanks for checking in…please send me new work as you have it….safe travels and i do hope we have a chance to meet again…all good memories mate, all good memories…

    cheers, david


    we sent your backpack to you yesterday, but unfortunately not signed…Mike fedexed it out before i had a chance to sign for you by mistake..he did not know that i had not already done so… i will have to do it when we meet in India…

    i did do a workshop in India last year and it was very rewarding…i had about 6 Indian students among the 12 who attended…i would welcome any chance to return to your country and the voices of your countrymen told me the same thing you are telling me…..let’s see what we can work out….

    cheers, david

  • hey all,
    to say it first: i really like burn. however, i have hard times reading it since the page is just to wide for my small notebook display. i was just chatting with anton, apparently 1024px had to be sacrificed and only 2% are apparently 1024px. BUT: what about all the people who kind of dropped out because they can’t see the page properly anymore?… and btw of talking about anton: run into him at brussels airport the other day. funny story.
    so, i have some work to share with you as well: I started a project on ‘Camel Wrestling’, a winter-only sport in Aegean towns in Turkey. I finished some first shootings during the championship in mid january: please feel free to have a look and comment:

  • will look forward to that day when you do your next workshop here. you are a busy man and time is short yet the need is extremely urgent and the chance seems to be the only one for many of us.
    thanks for the backpack. may be it is good that it was not signed this time, at least i have an excuse to demand a meeting with you next time u r in my country. :)

  • i´m at the ´G´ spot…
    as it were..

    and the final 100 metres of the marathon is tough..

  • David, I am such an eager student that I have a folder in which I have saved every Road Tips comment you ever posted to me about my project. I will be bringing others out and posting them here as time goes on.

    your grateful student

  • Hi DAH / ALL

    Just a quick note to say happy one month birthday to burn..

    DAH, I want to let you know oI am not dragging my feet on my essay, but have been shooting / editing / captioning up until recently when I have been knocked down hard with a migraine that won’t it is really difficult to work or think straight..and the computer makes everything worse..but as they say in the caribe..soon come..


    i have the smallest notebook possible and it fits fine….i thought all those problems were worked out????

    help Anton , help!!

    cheers, david

  • ERICA..

    i have no doubts about you…relax…i will be ready when you are…

    cheers, david

  • I might add that that folder contains not just DAH’s comments but EVERY comment posted about my project that ever appeared on Road Trips. Such communal wisdom!


  • :) you just made my head feel a wee bit better

  • i was talking with anton about it and he said that the page is optimized for 1280; however, my great but small Thinkpad X61 has only 1024…
    dunno, if there’s something todo about it, or that’s just how it has to be. if i am home, i have a big screen, but on the road (and that is most of the time): no chance to see burn properly…
    best, claudius

  • Just wanted to say: what a great first month. I have been one of the many ”silent witnesses” ever since the first days of ”Road Trips”, for some reason or other never feeling comfortable enough to join in (english not being my mother tongue didn’t help either). I am sure BURN will really compell people to step out into the light, so to speak, and show themselves, show who they are, what they are about, what moves them, drives them.

  • Thanks David (and Anton)… email address is required so you can confirm the authorization and access the ‘privately’ published video, otherwise you can’t access the material, link on it’s own is not enough… but no rush, I only thought it would be useful to have a clear submission for people who make this kind of work in Quicktime or other video applications.

  • Thanks a lot Patricia… I certainly hope you are going to enjoy the book. Would love to hear your comments once you read it. Best,

  • the novel is drop dead brilliant…..!!!….make you laugh hard and kick you in the balls and break your heart…..

    veba’s work too :))))


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