advance warning….


update:7:15 am september 3  nags head, north carolina…..hurricane Earl….

house shaking like hell and cannot take much more it seems…but not taking in water anywhere that i can see which is amazing in itself…now blowing 75mph and raining horizontal sheets…my street is a river…i doubt i can even walk outside and surely not make it to the truck….i cannot believe electricity is on and coffee almost ready…

simply spectacular to see and feel , but not something easy to show in a picture..will a shot out my front door is probably best i can do and even that will not be easy…weather satellite shows it is almost over…cats tired of being prisoners in the darkroom…they do not seem to have any appreciation whatsoever that i saved their lives…so far

( below is september 1  post)

no joke, i am now in a bit of trouble…

hurricane Earl , now updated to cat 4 is gathering strength …and headed for my town…this is a very different report than i had earlier today when we all thought Earl was going to pass 300 miles out to sea ….now, it appears we have been given advance warning of the worst possible news for those of us who live in the Outer Banks of North Carolina… all but permanent residents are being evacuated and almost everyone is preparing to leave…our island can take any beating , it is  supposed to move around and come and go,  but the structures on it are extremely vulnerable to wind and water at all times…everybody knows, nobody should live here…

yet i do, and i always knew the risks…grew up in this neighborhood, fell in love with photography in this neighborhood…

i now have about 24 hours to make some very major moves…i must do all i can to save my house and honestly there is not too much i can do except close the wooden hurricane shutters…what i really must do is round up all things of archival value…my negatives which i have here ready to make use of my darkroom …was just getting ready to print a few editions of my early family work…

my son Bryan and his girlfriend yoga maestra Michelle  are my neighbors…just by amazing luck we are all here now to lend each other a hand ….Bryan travels the world as a film maker but always makes sure he is here this time of year for the world class surf…Bry lives to surf and he has made it an art….film making is in second place in his mind, but his visual talent is clear….Bryan’s main tool,  the surf , was in its most majestic moment this afternoon…..alas, those beautiful waves from this afternoon might just come and try to clean out these overbuilt beaches by tomorrow…i just love those waves….they are the earth and the earth has rights… more than my personal property which i hope will survive, but it won’t be the end of the world if it doesn’t…

however, i am not idle, nor complacent ….if the projected path of the hurricane continues as is predicted , i will have no choice but to put my negatives/prints/books  etc into my pickup truck and drive away to safety…if it were not for the negatives etc i would be tempted to stick it out..and no my friends cannot come and get the negatives for me..already thought of that…they will not let anyone not from here to come here…i think …

hmmmm, story here?? maybe i can get permission from NatGeo to let me publish a picture or two here on Burn from what is going on…i mean wouldn’t that create buzz for their upcoming OBX  NatGeo Magazine story which they are contracting from me?? just thinking off the top of my head…more important things for me to think about now…

when things get dire , i feel my best…little things irritate me and i am annoyed too easily….but big things and major problems tend to make me calm and focused… problems are no more important than anyone’s,yet this seems to be a problem for many…every tv network on the planet is set up down on the beach…..anyway let’s not overdue this..all things relative and in the realm of natural fluctuations , this is the easiest to survive because of the advance warnings…..but i do know that you would be interested and mostly how ironic that we have been discussing archives, and digi and film etc etc…

ok, must move on this …i will keep you updated as best i can….

oh yes, almost forgot, much better and bigger news…Diego Orlando , Special Projects Editor of Burn, is in Perpignan, France at this very moment and is showing (and maybe selling) first edition copies of BURN 01 at Visa Pour L’Image …we must also talk Jean Francois Leroy, Founder and Director,  into at least a projection for the Burn audience next year..if you are in Perpignan now , just know i miss hanging out with  you and yes  please buy a book from Diego…this is a seriously cool book featuring 25 essays from photographers/artists published here on Burn , both iconic and from the audience here, two think pieces by Akaky and Bob Black, and  printed and bound by the best in Italy supervised by Diego and designed by Anton Kusters and researched by Anna Maria  Jester and yea i am in the mix too…  and if you are not published  in this edition,  maybe next….please try….best part of this is if my own stuff ends up underwater, at least i will have BURN 01 to show….i think this really might be the first seriously published book/magazine from the works from an online blog audience…

anyway, just to give you something constructive to do , i will do what i often do and ask you a question…

ok, here is a relevant one: if you were in my shoes , would you now concentrate on getting the old work/negs/prints off the island or should i spend my energies on taking new pictures of the catastrophe around me?

-david alan harvey-

1284 Responses to “advance warning….”

  • If you can not found a safe place for the archives to stay and made photos i think is better put the old work off the island and the energy to do that is number one. If you can solve this first so then solve how to arrange a safe place to resist the storm so you can make photos. Think about it, can you lost all the archives for make new photos? Good luck, sound like you will need it.

  • ahh…remember the days of lone tumbleweeds rolling across Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills~~~~

  • Disaster photos are boring… Good luck, somehow I believe you’ll make the right choice when the time comes (very soon)… Wish everyone in the area to be safe.

  • of course…saving the archives is first priority – reports say Hwy 12 may be flooded – and as NC natives know, hurricanes are a regular visitor, although we have been ‘lucky’ for some time with the near misses of a full impact hurricane – when storm sands and the ocean reach to the mailboxes. Hopefully this hurricane will just brisk by. Need a safer place for the goods? I’m 3 1/2hrs +/- drive east of Hatteras and offer an option. email>>

  • …ooops that’s west of Hatteras, ha ha, late night work and I’m always thinking of going eats to the beach – anyways~~~

  • DAVID,

    Hope you, Bryan, Chris and the whole gang in OBX stay safe first and foremost!… Maybe you should get Bryan to get the hell out of here when it is still time with all your archives while you somehow stay behind…. My sense is that having worked over the past weeks on this OBX assignment for NatGeo, you will want to hang around… but I have never been in a cat 4 Hurricane in woodden homes by the beach…. that certainly does not sound like the best plan…. if you choose to stay, please at least find a safer place if this exists in OBX….

    I also would have liked to be in Perpignan mysef, if only to be able to see this Burn 01… but somehow, this did not work out this year… My father is there… another exhibit as part of the Off so he is on a mission for me to find Diego and get me a copy if possible… Diego will be a popular man there :):).

    Stay safe… Looking forward to the report on Friday/ Saturday after this Hurricane is gone and hopefully all is well and house still standing!


  • Tough call David.

    The first priority is to take care of the archive, maybe duct tape it all into plastic totes and send them off to high ground with someone you trust, who is getting out while the getting is good.

    Then stay and possibly get the best storm photos ever? Depends on how much personal danger you are willing to risk. I love storms, but if it were me I’d get my wimpy bum outa there, shooting pics as I pack and leave.

    Stay safe, good luck, good shooting.

  • DAH
    this is the time to dance your dance….
    a little of this…
    a little of that….
    I don’t know hurricanes,
    but I know fires and earthquakes….
    she’s always the queen..
    our dear
    be safe…

  • Hmmm, big Cat 4? I saw the houses in the marsh and the island cut in two after Hugo in S.C. I can’t imagine sustained winds of 140 with much higher gusts. Bent a car door in a gust of 100. Go. After all, aren’t all the best pictures on the edges, not in the eye of the storm? I mean, who are you going to photograph there anyway? :))
    Best to you and all your family, I see it’s projected to hit Delmarva as well.

  • Save the negatives (and hard drives, cameras, mementoes, kittens etc)!! And yourself! New photos aren’t worth it. And there will be pics to made evacuating. Best of luck David. Thinking of you….

    …god our weather is boring here in the PNW:)


  • DAH,

    Thanks for taking time in the midst of all this to share your two cents worth on my comment in the last thread. As usual, your two cents is worth a million bucks to me! :))

    It may please you to know that even if you have to leave and are unable to get a single new shot…the one you posted at the top of this thread is my favorite image I’ve seen in MONTHS! Who is that girl??? I LOVE it.

    Safety is first and foremost but can’t you pack everything up and put it in your truck and then go out and shoot? I guess Mother Nature is going to be the ultimate “decider” here. You will know what is possible and will act accordingly. We will all be waiting to hear how it goes. Take care.

  • DAVID,

    I shouldn’t be, what I know about hurricanes
    but hell… I am!
    Completely sure everything will be alright! Will be fine!
    aftermath you will have a lot to clean only.
    Be sure your family is safe
    then be sure You are safe
    than take care about old stuff
    then take care about new frames

    and one more, when worst will comes remember the corners of your basement are the most safe places!

    and picture you’ve published is outstanding!
    I love your sensitivity for the moment.
    Hope you will take more but safety!safety!

    I will thinking of you and keep fingers crossed my friend

    and give us note how are you and your family just right after you can!

  • Stay safe.

    I recently had my first experience with a typhoon. Only its fringes touched Manila on its way to the South China Sea but that was enough to scare the hell out of me.

    I can’t imagine what it’ll be to be in the middle of a Cat 4, in a wodden house. I think priorities should be: 1. yourself 2. your negatives etc. 3. new photos. Hopefully you’ll find a way of doing reasonably well with the three of them.


  • Dear David,

    I’d say grab those negs, prints and other valuables and get out of there. Better to be safe.

    Good luck out there!




    (serious… she would tell you to get the hell out of there)

  • David,

    down here we annually have ad campaigns ‘stay or go’… forest fires are our worst nightmare.
    being surrounded by eucalypts (highly flammable trees) for miles around. there’s not that much one can do.

    the summer before last a fire got out of control and came close enough for us to have ashes blowing into the front porch. very scary. lucky for us the wind changed direction but others in the neighboring town weren’t so lucky…

    my thoughts were for the safety of my family and a bag of hard drives & my camera – couldn’t think much past that.

    as others have said, grab all those negs and prints and hard drives, maybe see if someone else can drive, and shoot your escape, ‘the exodus of obx’ sounds to me like it could make a very nice dps…

    best of luck

  • Send the negs on with someone trustworthy and stay. It’s what you do.

  • Send the negs on with someone trustworthy and stay. It’s what you do.

    Good luck whatever you do.


  • Well, having lived through hurricane Lothar back in ’99 in the Swiss mountains, where trees were flying like matches, roofs taking off like wings and silos rolling downhill like toys.. dunno.. you’ll do what you’ll have to do, but if you stay and there’s still time, think ‘no power’, get water and food that needs no cooking.. we were cut off completely, no heating (in December in the snow, no possibility to light a fire in the house we were), no water, no cooking, roads interrupted by debris for days, no medical help.. I’m sure you’ll do what your heart tells you to do, for the practical needs listen also to your head! Un’abbraccio! And: the cats!!

  • David, I think you’ll find a way to do both somehow :)
    Whatever, take care good care, and if it doesn’t sound crazy enjoy it, it makes you know you’re alive.

  • I’d get my negs etc. and my cats somewhere safe and then decide what to shoot. As Tom Hyde says, “After all, aren’t all the best pictures on the edges, not in the eye of the storm? I mean, who are you going to photograph there anyway? :))”.

    The chances are that in the storm you are not going to be able to see/photograph anything. The consequences to the human population and the environment of the OBX are the story (like Phillip Jones Griffiths in Vietnam, the people were the story, not the bang-bang). This being the case, photograph the refugees (your neighbours) from the hurricane both during, and after, when they return home: and photograph the effects on the OBX – again, when you return. It’s a plan, and a good plan today is better than a great plan tomorrow (film, The Edge). And look after the cats!

    Stay safe.


  • David!

    I’d take my old stuff first but.. listen to your heart and try to be safe whatever you decide!


  • David,

    Beautiful photo…

    I think ultimately I would get the stuff off the island, but the urge to stay and take pictures would be very strong…at least until I saw a tree flying past me!! Live to see other days…and yes, don’t forget the cats!!

  • Oh, David, when you emerge from Earl, and before you get hit by Fiona, do you think I could drive by Diego and get one of those Burn01 books??

  • Ricardo Vasconcelos

    Save the negatives and your memories and above all, help each other! It is not worth losing the work of a whole lifetime for a story, although I realize that this city, this neighborhood, is also your life.
    Here in the south Europe is very hot, especially here in Portugal. Many fires are destroying entire villages and ruin lives. This world is collapsing…
    I hope everything goes for the best with you and your family.


  • EVA…

    yes, that is where my head is as well…anxious to see as are you….


    so, how is Burn 01 in your opinion? after all , you are the star!!


    cats now residing in the darkroom…have enough food and water etc for several days…did not know what else to do…they cannot travel with me…can you imagine 3 cats with me in a car driving around in a storm trying to take pictures?

    cheers, david

  • Can’t you have your kid or daughter-in-law take the stuff?

    I wouldn’t presume to advise you on such important matters as your life and legacy. If it were me, I like to think I’d say to hell with the material crap and experience such a powerful moment, and I probably would, but these days I find it harder to say to hell with my family to get that old looking into the abyss of death clarity and exhilaration, so again, can’t presume to advise. Feel a bit jealous though.

    Fantastic photo, btw. Love the composition.

  • David,

    I don’t think any new photographs you could take would be worth risking all the beautiful photographs you have already taken, as well as your life…….. priority should be packing up and getting out, then if there is any time left you can shoot. Be well.


  • evacuation…u just staying there..doing the photos…enjoying the wild side:)
    You will be rewarded!


    Michael, pleased you like the picture..but was not sure if anyone would see the girl…hard to see this photograph on the computer screen…

    smiling…”my kid” is kinda in the same boat, no pun intended…while he has no archives here to save, he is a videographer and is trying to decide to shoot or to leave…the tough part of the decision is this…there are no cat 4 hurricanes on record having hit this part of the coast….even the modern houses up to code are built to maybe maybe withstand a cat 3…cat 4 considered a total wipe out of all structures…we are just a few feet above sea level…my old house will absolutely not survive a cat 4 direct hit…

    i have photographed hurricanes before and rode out the worst, Gloria, way back in the eighties…hard to shoot..almost nothing to see while it is happening…damn things usually hit at night and wind pics?? very scary while they hit…scary but with not much to shoot usually….bad combo…hmmmm…damage pics are generally boring aren’t they?? anyway, on the case…batts charged…extra cards….cats in the dark room….boarding windows…hard drives in the back seat of my truck and my negatives and vintage prints too…crazy…i mean really….

    cheers, david

  • DAH

    Only you can make the decision on whether to ride it out or not. If it is going to be close and a cat 4, I would seriously consider leaving.

    No, the best pictures are not necessarily on the “edge.” Here is the thing. If you leave, and there is a lot of serious damage to infrastructure and roads, the authorities can and probably will prevent ANYONE from returning until they deem it is safe to travel the area. This was always something to think about when I was living on Hilton Head and the evacuation call came. If you left, the best you would get was traffic and people huddled in hotels. If you stay, you get first-hand coverage of the damage, the people returning (which will be harder if you are stuck in traffic returning) and the recovery work.

    But of course none of this is worth risking your life.

    Now in the future, I would seriously consider investing in a bunch of Pelican cases. Big and small. They are the best waterproof cases I have used for cameras and important things like film, prints and computer hard drives. Buy them and have them ready to pack. When the next storm comes, load all the important stuff and be prepared one way or the other. A couple of thousand dollars worth of Pelican cases is the best insurance in the world. And if you leave, you can throw them in the back of the truck and go.

    It never ceases to amaze me how when a hurricane is on the way, everyone runs out and buys water, generators, batteries and all the supplies they need. If you LIVE in a hurricane zone, you should already have all of this. I guess it is just human nature to procrastinate about these things.

  • PETE…

    exactly….procrastination is the mother of all “i will get it right next time” endeavors…

  • You know, to follow Herve’s tradition of calembour I would say… Get the Earl out of there!

  • Again, can’t presume to advise, though the intelligent thing to do seems rather obvious. Storywise, I’d guess there are probably more relevant photos to be had along the evacuation route and in temporary shelters, no? Lots of people adapting to difficult conditions. I’m sure that’s the story most people live rather than the huddled loner scenario. And I’m pretty sure you can talk your way past the state police for the aftermath, should you decide to leave.

  • David,

    “my old house will absolutely not survive a cat 4 direct hit…”

    I hope the hurricane will not blow with full strength. You have such a beautiful house! I was always jealous about your beach house and The ocean of course :)
    Be safe, be wise and dont forget about your cats :)

  • No need to worry about David ,,,,,,,,,, he’s out there like a kid waiting under the xmas tree for for his new toy. Gotta luv it!

  • Pete with practical ideas, Panos with a ride em cowboy attitude…which way do you think i will go? yea, well that was easy wasn’t it? the reality is that this will most likely turn out to be the party night of the year..the folks who stay, which now includes a bunch of us , will huddle for a tequila or two…first of all , this gives perspective..about what is important and what is not…so, basically i will try to save the negs, hard drives only of my personal possessions and be prepared and am prepared psychologically to let it all go..i can even say goodbye to my favorite house ….even the life safety issue is not an issue…i would rather be blown off a mountain top than get hit by a bus, if you get my drift…nature dangerous is nature at her best….try to get to the sidelines and see the show, because it is a show…every single major natural “disaster” would in fact be a totally amazing thing to see…we just build our houses in the wrong places, that’s all….Pelican case packed w negs (been using em for years) and bottle of Patron and some candles ready…yeeeehaa !! what more can a man ask for?? well, yea, but i am on sabbatical…

  • MW

    ” I’m sure that’s the story most people live rather than the huddled loner scenario. And I’m pretty sure you can talk your way past the state police for the aftermath,”

    As for the first part, yes that is the most obvious story, unfortunately also the most told. During major storms the media is flooded with these photos. If a photographer can be safe and stay, especially if they can huddle in with a family or a group of die-hard storm riders, that is the story that will be unique among all the other coverage.

    As far as talking your way back in, good luck. I was friends with half of the cops that covered the island I was living on and my father was a personal friend of the sheriff. I also lived on the island. I was told under no uncertain terms that if I left during a mandatory evacuation, that there was no way in hell I would be allowed back on the island until an all clear was issued. OH, and I was working for the local paper at the time also. I would say that IF you got pre-authorized to return early, that would be one thing. Otherwise I would certainly not count on it.

    You need to understand the logistics. I have not been to the OBX but from what I can see there is essentially one main road in and out. This is the way it is on Hilton Head. After the storm passes, if you plan on getting back early once they open the roads, you have to show up early. People would be in their cars queued and ready along the road coming back. It was backed up 15 miles one time.

    Again, these are just the facts of an evacuation. Your safety is always first over the photos, so that is the first decision. A cat 4 on the beach in a beach house… glancing blow by the storm… maybe, depending on where you can hunker down. Direct hit? NO WAY. Catagory 3, maybe. Cat 1 or 2 I would probably stay. But alway have a safe place, which may not be your home.

  • By all means,take care of the image archive.
    As well as part of your future economy it is yout legacy.
    Riding out a Cat 4 storm will,at best,only result in more hurricane images.
    Ironioc,really, that the hurricane angle is quite a key component in your OBX story
    but hardly worth risking 5 decades of work in addition to your life.

    Does make an interesting case for a digital archive,though where multiple offsite
    copies of the originals would make this part of your decision moot.


  • David,

    I’ve got a buddy in Morehead City. I know it’s across the sound, but perhaps it’s a safe-house option for
    the archive, but hell they are most likely in it as deep as you, but he’s on the mainland.

  • “Pete with practical ideas,” ????

    Just giving the facts. Truth be told, it would be very hard to get me to leave. anything short of a direct hit by a cat 4 or 5 and I would most likely stay. Generator and SAT phone at the ready!

  • “Does make an interesting case for a digital archive,though where multiple offsite
    copies of the originals would make this part of your decision moot.”

    Ah yes… Photoshelter… dual mirrored datacenters.

  • PETE…

    i can make some decisions at the last minute…IF i found out that a cat 3 or 4 hit was coming directly at me, i would still have a couple of hours get off…cat 4 direct hit not survivable i have heard…dying one thing, suicide another…however, i am now looking into a very sturdy hotel as a possibility….i think what is going to happen is that i will literally be driving around with my negatives, drives, some prints in the back of the truck as i “cover” this event…got some poetry to it , right? what most likely will happen i think is that this cold front moving east will save us..keep the storm just offshore…still a helluva blow is coming…but perhaps not a direct hit…

  • On a related note, there’s a tropical storm watch here in Brooklyn. I’m thinking I should evacuate (frankly any excuse will do), but doubt it would fly with the boss. Anyway, if I make it down to the beach, I’ll keep an eye out for any pelican cases that wash up.

    All joking aside, best wishes. I’ll say a word to the void for your safety.

  • MW

    Burn Hotel is 6 floors up….

    friends with an apartment well above sea level – priceless…for everything else there is Mastercard…

  • DAH

    Yeah, that is why I always waited until the last minute. You have time, but it is a good thing everyone does not get to think like that. Would be a hell of a stormy traffic jam.

    Now about driving around a storm with negs and drive in the back of a truck… poetry is not really the word that comes to mind. (laughing). I hope they are in waterproof containers?

    Oh, and I knew you were not going anywhere!

  • loving this. find myself checking the weather at OBX and worrying about David…following him on this journey. Looking forward to seeing the outcome and some images….stay safe. (but not too safe)

  • OK, so it’s decided.

    I can feel the giddy excitement. Ride-em cowboy.

    I gotta say David Alan, you live big. Have fun at the party.

  • DAH,

    Another reason to stay: NWS forecast calls for a beautiful Labor Day Weekend :-)

    Seriously though, stay safe! Keeping you in my prayers…

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