Bobby Davidson ( likes cutouts….representations… is not too hard to figure out what this Parson’s School of Design student is trying to say with the above created cardboard cutouts image….it pretty much says it all in our current landscape of everyone taking pictures of everything….does this symbolize the end of photography as we know it (or should i say knew it)??

not on your life…if young photographers do not see today/now/ this moment as offering them more than any previous generation’s wildest dreams, then they should just go back to bed….every generation has to re-invent something…whatever my generation had, they pretty much built themselves…it only looks now like perhaps it was handed to them, but alas life just ain’t like that…sure there are problems now and yes there were problems then…different problems,  but things needed to be revolutionized, changed, modified, re-worked, then as what is new??…

most problematic today is simply figuring out how to finance our passion….but, this will be done, this will be done….the smart ones, the positive thinkers, the doers, will figure it out…they already are….personally, i am so so pleased to just be able to lend a small helping hand to the next generation…what could be more worthy in life than the passing on of knowledge to the next in line??….leads to the big warm all around….give it away is what i say…please do it the first chance you get…this time may come sooner than you think….

Burn is almost one year old…a lot has happened since our original powwow in my loft just before Christmas last year….go back and search for the photos taken at the time….read what we were thinking…how we came up with our name, who said what to whom,  who took the lead, who gave the time , and who created this organism…who is the who? you is the who that’s who…

right now our repository of distributable content from Burn contributors would rival potential output of most medium sized agencies….young photographers have clearly chosen Burn as one of THE places they want to be published along with MediaStorm, 100 Eyes, NYT Lens blog, Aperture, Foto8 , PDN, Digital Journalist, etc etc…today’s online photo world is no longer a zero sum game….instead of competition it is co-opetition….like minded peer groups often supporting the other…an umbrella under which well meaning serious communicators in the arts and journalism can co-exist and thrive…it is about trust…it is about authenticity….this affirmation from the young generation gives me only one thing…a sense of responsibility….dammit, i have dug myself into a hole…i cannot quit now!

in the last few weeks i have been working to establish relationships with the established giants of the media as well as keeping things operating with stealth….for it will be stealth that will save us…the giants do not have stealth, but they know it when they see it….they may be welcoming partners after all….not necessarily out of altruism, but out of a combo of a sense of the right thing and practical production costs….we are in the right place at the right time , the right connections , the right content, and the ability to produce on demand…  a bridge to the future…..beyond those types of relationships, i have also now a grant writing team in place as well as other funding possibilities soon to be announced so that photographers published here receive a fee and commissioned work is well funded…both for the emerging and the established photographers…obviously my goal is to make the emerging, the established…and the established, keepers of the flame…

i may be asking a lot of you, but i surely plan to pay you back..with an on demand print magazine by the end of the year, with a possible Burn book imprint,  alternative gallery shows, $15k grant, international seminars, and with cold beer in my refrig for any of you who stop by…who doesn’t know that??

the other morning at 3am, i woke up out of a deep sleep and was wide awake instantly…sometimes, maybe always, my ideas come to me at the weirdest times and for no apparent reason…lightning bolt….always simple, nothing complicated, obvious, pretty straight forward ideas….i am not an intellectual, but i do think about things….esoteric and utilitarian concepts coming together….yes, a dreamer forever, but i do like to see product on the table so to speak…anyway, i woke up with an  idea and title for a new magazine(as if i needed more work! and Anton hates me for this!)….anyway, four hours after my “wake up call” we bought…

Circus …the online magazine for the REAL EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS…..

young photographers aged 15 and under…..not a kids magazine…the opposite….

an international magazine produced by the very young generation that would appeal to “adults” as well as to their own peer group..sophisticated…leading edge….

when you think about it for even a few seconds you can see it…killer…

yea, yea kids with cameras is nothing new….that is the point…we will  work with schools, aid organizations, inner city groups, NGO’s,  etc etc to create a child safe site and allow a real home for all this work which is being done worldwide….just as we know that the walls of grade schools are filled with great art , we know that the purity of the very young will manifest itself in something very very special….i will ask Burn photographers to help …with their ideas and with their time and with their curatorial efforts…so now i am digging a hole for you!! you can’t quit now…..told you.

with the combination of Burn and Circus we have nothing but interesting things to think about….and work to do….if you do not see it that way, i suggest you log off now….if you do stick around,  i plan to continue nurturing  this audience as much as i can…i can only do so many Skype calls in a day, or portfolio reviews in a day and your patience is appreciated… but, many of you know that i do give it a good try….

why would i do this?  simple…if i discover even one strong talent out of a thousand , then i will have done my bit…

if i can mentor one book, one show, one photographer who makes a mark, then all is well…and the work in progress nature of Burn allows all of us to see a cross section of what is being produced today…for better or worse…and the more good photographers who are inspired here, or developed here, will only lead to stronger content ,therefore making us more viable for support with each passing day…and Burn will pull Circus, and Circus will push Burn and, well,  you get it i am sure….smart crowd….

why i am writing this just before a 24 hr marathon flight is beyond me…avoiding packing and paying last minute bills could be a reason…not having written a Dialogue post in a long time could be another….or, more likely, i just have built up energy and it has come out somewhere…this is too damn long, but i do not have time to really edit…so this is raw… a contact sheet or whatever…please just remember the good parts…laughing.

oh by the way, remember the story from last july on my stray cat, now constant companion, Simone?

well,  Simone is pregnant…now what??

1526 Responses to “cutouts??”

  • I get that it may SEEM like that to you, but clearly David doesn’t write about everything he thinks about – and this is a very broad thinking man.

  • Who’s asking for a kitten from Simone?

  • A kitten would be a thrill for my little dog. No kidding, he grew up with cats. He loves them and does not understand why the ones he meets here do not seem to appreciate his presence …

  • Let’s not let fear of the lawyers crush dreams and aspirations before they’ve even had a chance to flower. That said – Jim does have a point (or two), in that there are some formidable obstacles. Nevertheless, others have done things like this, even here. Friends of mine started a foundation about fifteen years ago which very specifically uses photography with kids, particularly in gritty urban neighborhoods.The foundation survives, and yes, photographs taken by 9 year olds actually get published, some even on the internet. It’s not insurmountable (but the effort has been grueling so far as I can tell). Take a look at – this is the place I’m talking about.

    That said: I think that David’s talking less about photography as therapy here, and more about liberating the intense creativity of kids, and giving them a vibrant platform. Even a cursory Googling of kids and photography brings up a number of sites and venues, so the challenge is less likely to be around publishability etc, and more around how to create that compelling, focused environment that brings kids’ creativity to the fore.

  • @ someone please in BKK: Can someone swicth off David, he has more stamina that the bunny of Energizer… !!(laughing. Great idea!! Having a whole community of photographers from 2 years to 99…amazing. What a present for the 1st anniversary!!

    I’m totally in with this idea. I’m calling the spanish burn community all over the globe. If the project goes by, I’ll help in the translation of some text from English to Spanish, so kids can read that easily without the helps of parents.
    Who’s IN??

    C U,

  • Damn, Panos! You are trendsetter with your blurry cat!

    Photography’s newest obsession: bokeh in the FOREGROUND! Yep, everyone will soon be comparing the bokeh of various lenses. “I like how my Summicron renders the foreground out-of-focus, to separate it from my subject, the background.”

    :-) Big hug!

  • sorry, should have read “comparing the bokeh of various lenses on close objects”. :-)

  • ALL…

    Doug mentioned TED talks… reminded me of an fantastic talk given by Sir Ken Robinson
    all about children, creativity, the education system and the future…

    Under the circumstances i think it’s a must watch for everyone…

    it runs for almost 20 mins, but it’s well worth your time, it’s extremely inspiring, very funny, thought provoking… and totally relevant.

    DAH… perfect in-flight inspiration…

  • Hillary, wonderful post.

    I’m with ya on that one. Count me in.


    p.s. my household has a 3 month old puppy and an 11 year old who already takes better pictures with a Pentax K1000 than with a point & shoot. Can we join the Circus? :)

  • Justin, re: foreground bokeh, check out Kyunghee Lee’s essay _Island_ here (just search to find it).


  • Sam, that is a great TED post….I can’t remember how I found it some time ago, but I actually have a quote from it on my FB page and in my notebook…

    “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson

    Good light, All

  • Some time back I made some comments about how people should be careful about what they say and how they act in an online forum since you never know who may be reading and also because google search can find old comments easily.

    The website Aphotoeditor has a post that talks about perception and how it relates to a clients decision to hire you…. An interesting read.

  • Like I say, the web makes everything worthless.

  • Photography’s newest obsession: bokeh in the FOREGROUND! comonly known as why is my lens back focusing

  • Any chance that Simone’s kittens would be able to carry extra batteries/CF cards strapped to their backs? If so, I could use one.

  • Simone is pregnant. So is burn…giving birth to Circus.

    In the case of Simone I recommend spaying!

  • I think the entire idea sounds great. I don’t want to sound negative but my only concern is how David and Anton are going to be able to continue their own work? There are only 24 hours in a day. But then again, they certainly know how much they can handle!

    Meanwhile on the home front; just found out I missed out on the Creative NZ funding. Oh well, wasn’t banking on it and you’ve got to be in to win. I think what sunk my project was that it was too “commercial” Time to put Plan B into action.

    Anyway; just been notified by email that my new Holga is on its way to me. So there you go; a silver lining! Or should I say a shiny Chinese black plastic lining!

  • DAH wrote: “i always wondered why Allard never went beyond his assignment and create a book on the Blues..almost a crime….yes, some of his best work..but Bill never works unless on assignment, which is strange for such a fine photographer…a loss to be sure that he did not go back down and do that book….i leaned on him several times, as did all his friends, to no avail…”

    Even stranger still given that I saw an interview somewhere where Allard said he could have spent a lifetime photographing the blues … but … he is certainly still taking pictures, yes?

  • “what could be more worthy in life than the passing on of knowledge to the next in line??….leads to the big warm all around….give it away is what i say…please do it the first chance you get…this time may come sooner than you think….”

    David is so right about this. After having had the good fortunate to have been mentored by him on my self portrait project, “Falling Into Place,” I came to the realization that I could never pay DAH back for all that he’d given me so freely. The best I could do was to hope the day would come when I could pass on the gift by mentoring someone else.

    My opportunity came much sooner than I could have imagined, sooner than I felt ready, to be honest. But I’m so glad I said yes when a friend asked me to mentor his wife with her newly-purchased Canon 50D. Diana and I have been working together weekly for the past four months, and I have learned so much from her! Like me, she started from scratch in terms of technical knowledge but was brimming over with a “can-do” spirit that has taken her so far so fast. This 50 year-old woman lives on a farm and takes me seriously when I tell her to take shots from every possible angle. She’s shot more times while lying in chicken shit than you can imagine! Her ingenuity takes my breath away. Age doesn’t matter; it’s all about excitement in the doing.

    So when David talks about extending Burn’s mission to children, I am behind him all the way. My concern, like Ross’s, is how to accomplish this without stretching David and Anton to the breaking point. But like a circus, will succeed if there are many players in the ring. Together we can pull this off. So let’s figure out how to share our diverse and complimentary gifts with youngsters across the globe.


  • “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson

    I keep tellin’ ya Andrew, originality for it’s own sake is highly over-rated…much/most of the best recent work here is traditional, latest essay as an example.

  • Patricia

    Yes, when we mentor, we learn at least as much from our students as they from us. I’ve always mentored, most recently my son Robin, 27, who is working with me now at my studio.

    I’m anxious to see this project develop.

    I’m a big fan of “kids with cameras” The film “Born into Brothels”, for those not familiar with it, documents the lives of children in an Indian red light district, and a project in which they are given cameras with which to document their lives. It is very moving. It is also a testament to the power of the photograph, and the power of a single person to make a positive change in someones life. You can purchase a book of the childrens photos on the web-site for $65.00. It is well worth it, and the proceeds go towards the project.

  • Jim, I’m surprised you didn’t lobby for a different name than Circus. Perhaps, ‘Crash”

    Then you could be reading ‘CRASH’ and ‘BURN’ . :>))

  • a response from a fottreen year old……. ahh yea it’s a good idea, I like it but you know,it will be still run by you older people………….it’s not the same, it’s not REALLY ours

  • Andrew

    Just watched the Robinson lecture, great stuff.

  • Welcome Circus !!!

    Brilliant idea – besides passing on to the core value of passing to the next in line, teenagers drive the internet, teenagers are the internet. They make it possible for MySpace, Digg, and such. It is really a circus out there and the programme is voted and decided by them. They have a mushy brain and it is an advantage in this case. They are the unmolested brains with originality of only they can match.

    David Alan Harvey – you are genius.

    I wish I could see you saying for the first time “It’s gonna be a circus” and laughing…. and then Anton mumbling in his french accent – circus, circus, circus …. hmmmmm. wait, CIRCUS – THAT’S MAGNIFICENT. MERDE -> check the name, check the name ….

    I wish a Burning Circus to us all!!!

  • Sam,
    great link and a great speech! Thank you for a big laugh! What Ken Robinson says is so, so true!
    Please watch!
    Enjoy the day!

  • teaching kids is endlessly rewarding and so much simpler than teaching older people…
    the best work which the ones i used to teach produced, (expelled and ‘troubled’ 13-15yr olds), was undoubtedly from their home lives.. as a way of gently enabling the group to talk about their personal experiences through photos – and without having to directly speak.. first lessons in relative reality.

    perhaps there would be parents prepaqred to allow that to be seen, yet most likely not.. it was never allowed to be seen outside the group.. some of it made billinghams work seem tame, especially from one who regularly came into class stoned – once on acid..

    apart from that there was some excellent work involving joiners, montage and their neighborhood which of course would not have the same challange to publish.

    it’s a great idea and with the free thought and ‘play’ attitude which so many adults seem to loose to ego and ambition it can potentially be a more interesting place.

    obsessive snapping as a youngster produces a great deal of work.. in fact tor capas new nursery teaches digital photography from the age of 1 yr, with water and shock resistant cameras.. they love it.. project it onto a big screen.. just as i did at collage with students in my last job.

    give it 6 months and i will encourage him to make a submission :o)

    ENJOY bkk david and ketchup soon.

  • The last time I was in Vanuatu I had the chance to look at some work done by kids from the squatter settlements. After they had got the “smile and snap each other” pics out of the way did some fantastic work.

  • I don’t understand circus as a flickr for kids. I do understand circus to be like burn, for 15+ youth.
    Certainly, parents need to allow this to the kids.
    The pictures are – to my understanding – curated, i.e. someone viewed them before they go online.

    Reading some comments here, makes me think that “children” and “photography” leads to a kind of one-way thinking. This is a real pity.

    I was moderator/admin for several years in a huge photo community, which also has youth and kids online.
    I don’t see that many issues, however these must be handled in a transparent way that the participants and parents know what it is about and what happens next.

  • Yes, I can see it now. David posts on Circus, “O.K., kids. Anton and I are going to be in the Australian outback for six weeks with no internet. Ya’ll play nice, now.”

  • Australian outback for six weeks with no internet……………. we do have internet out there . We dock the lambs’ tails and replace them with little satellite discs

  • Yeah, but can I download episodes of “The Prisoner” on my iphone out there? Lambs with satellite discs for tails are so “yesterday.”

  • so “yesterday.”……. not really as it is all about carbon trading the discs double up as solar energy units thus neutralise the methane gasses produced. and the farmer pockets the cash

  • no nrrd to download that’s were the “The Prisoner” retirement village is situated 54 klicks east of Bullamakenka as the galah flies

  • Circus Possible Successful Format
    a suggestion

    Dear all, I think that in order to distance this new venture from forums and blogs like Flickr and others, we should maybe see Circus as a possibility for younger keen photographers of not only exhibit their work online (thing already existing in flickr, myspace and so on…) but giving them the chance to have their work viewed and commented by a rotary panel of chosen burnians or more established photographers so that they can be mentored without having to attend expensive and far away workshops dedicate to older and richer people.

    By presenting Circus this way, not only this could really make a difference in the vast panorama of online photo based communities, but it could have strong potentials of being financed by various institutions.
    It would, more or less, take the format of a continuos photo contest, without the necessity for an award, without a deadline and open to all, like Burn.

    If This project would start successfully, and carry on being so, with a bit of effort (and/or with a bit of finances) we could start this virtual and real network of small but effective workshops. We could bring together youngsters from all over the world and they could learn from one another.

    I have already written on my previous comment that I do work with young people in London teaching them photography, and the institution that is supporting these kind of workshops is very keen in seeing further follow-ups, specially in the international scene, that would only help doing things better.
    Any comment is welcome!
    Thanks guys

  • Circus …the online magazine for the REAL EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS…..

    young photographers aged 15 and under…..not a kids magazine…the opposite….


    time for some original photography…
    enough with all those “blurry kittens” from disturbed adults…
    time for some new ideas coming from innocent kids…
    great idea
    lets do it
    big hug yall from the city of Mustaches..


    ohhh..ive been travelling on this road too long……….

  • I was about to travel north today… but i felt so tired…

  • Gordon

    first, props for posting that TED link go to Sam – I just remembered seeing it and actually rewinding and writing down that quote….

    You said “originality for it’s own sake is highly over-rated”….I agree in one context…but I think about that quote in the context of finding our own (original) voice….and that we can find our voice by attempting to copy (isn’t that one of the basic artistic approached as one learns?), but that we can’t be afraid to follow our hearts when seeking that voice…or be afraid of making mistakes along the way….

    To tie this back to the child-like approach and innocence and lack of fear of failure, if you will….I once heard an author talk about being born physically disabled, impoverished, black, in apartheid S. Africa…and how his dream was to learn to sail….

    As he recounts it, you need to remember one thing about children…they often don’t accept “no”, and will repeat the same question even after being told “no” several times (all of us who are parent likely recognize this trait :)….he tells of being about 11, and going to the Royal Yacht Club in Johannesburg…and simply walking up to people and asking “will you take me sailing?”…so that it went like this:

    “will you take me sailing” “no”…
    “will you take me sailing” “no”…
    “will you take me sailing” “no”…
    “will you take me sailing” “no”…
    “will you take me sailing” “no”…
    and on and on for over a week….asking everyone he saw…and then finally…

    “will you take me sailing” “yes, I will”

    As adults…what makes so many of us lose that ability to go after our dream with that singularity of purpose, disregarding all of the “no” answers we get….do we at some point learn that “no” means give up?

    The end of the story is that he took that opportunity to learn all he could, and persevered in the face of amazing challenges…and ultimately made it into the elite world of solo yacht racing, and has sailed alone around the world in a sailboat he built himself….true story.

    We can all re-learn this from children…and help them….and in doing so help ourselves…

    Good light to all this Wednesday…and safe travels if you are on the road…

    p.s. The author/speaker who told that story is Neal Petersen, now a successful motivational speaker. I don’t usually go for this kind of stuff, but I highly recommend his first book “Journey of Hope Merchant”. Also, you can see some clips of his motivational speaking seminars here…especially check out the introduction, treasure chest, childhood, learning to navigate, and bottom of the world…

  • this is where i think i am…:)

  • Panos….know the feeling….

    Now, take your camera and go stroll, and capture that feeling….remove it from yourself into your work…

    At the very least, you can get out and have a good greek beer for me :)


  • .know the feeling….

    weird, numbing feeling..
    aint it?

  • I think the Circus magazine idea is good as long as Burn can keep on Burning with the same speed as it has.

    I bet there will be more single photographs at Circus…

    But I don’t quite see the same room for tough and honest criticism in the Circus comment section as here under the essays. You got to speak the same language as the kids do, or else they won’t learn anything, and if they don’t learn anything the purpose is gone. But as long as people comment with an easy language and without being over-complicated and over-analyzed it might work out fine.

  • David B

    I’ve sent you an e-mail. Need a quick reply!

  • “weird, numbing feeling..
    aint it?”

    indeed it is….i know it sometimes when I’m traveling – having to travel alone, usually not knowing anyone in the city where I am….

    numbing, empty, detached…

    last picture I took while in that mood is going to right now…..

  • I think many of you may have gotten a bit off topic…What about the conceptual direction photography such as Bobby Davidson’s work goes? I think its something worthwhile being investigated. Asking ourselves questions about the nature and function of photography is relevant now more than ever. All of his photo work seems to have a conceptual bend to it and its awesome!

  • bjarte..
    done.. see you soon.. look forward to seeing your new work.

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