holiday lights….

i am always telling my students and those i mentor that the most obvious and best projects are just at your front door….so it is a concept i endorse and have indeed lived…yet, i need to re-learn it all the time and the subtleties therein…so sure, it was clear and obvious that i would two years ago launch on a drive across country and do medium format work on American Family…keyed off all the work i had done on my own family…good idea, and i moved on it…what never occurred to me until a combo of  the family exhibit in Madrid last spring (which i viewed as a work in progress at the time) and something my son Bryan said to me yesterday, is  that i was indeed “done” with this project after taking the very first picture….after all, isn’t a family album complete even if there is only one picture in it ? how many pictures does a family album make? everyone always asks me regarding projects  “how do you know when you are finished?”….my usual answer is that you just “know”…you  simply feel it is done…

the incredible revelation for me on this one was that i was finished as soon as i started….so, i am done….

in other words it is a movable feast…always a work in progress and always ready to be shown at any time…..for this one there could never be an end and at any point it is finished…i can do a 15 print show as i did in Madrid , or a 100 print show , or a 1,000 print show using the contact sheets alone , or a combo and with hard copy albums and big prints and videos, well, the whole bit……a two book boxed set…one of my own family who i have documented since 13 til yesterday….and the other the med format work of families from all over my country….this of course could have no end internationally once i complete the U.S. work.

my love of family and extended family runs deep…my relationships at Burn, Magnum, NatGeo, are akin to familial bonds (often with all the drama to go with it!!)…that will lead to yet another book (trilogy?) no joke just called “Photographers (i have known)” for i have religiously documented them (i have everybody)  as well and all of my students  and Burn audience etc etc etc…for those of you who have met me, i most likely have taken your picture, right?… this work is family as well…

Sally Mann      Charlottesville, Virginia 2008

so, forget all of my pictures of the world ….what will be important is all the work i did “on the side”…the family snaps…yup, those will be IT i am sure….knowing that now makes me wish i had tried harder…but, i guess that is the whole point…i didn’t TRY…it simply happened….

this simple revelation is of course totally a game in my head…nothing physical has changed…nothing has happened…EXCEPT the way i am thinking about something….a something that was right in front of me…yet this,  as we all know IS everything…for those of you who have studied with me, this is a real work in progress right before your eyes….just as Road Trips and Burn have been as well…i am sure you can all see it…and feel it…there is no way to beat that which is organic…authenticity is the benchmark…

as we swing into the holiday season and the end of 2010, reflection is always our mantra….throwing out that which does not work and moving towards things which do….i doubt any of us get it exactly right, but willingness to change and push new initiatives forward is after all our being….

are you finishing something up or starting something new? or both?

yes, my holiday lights are up all year…they  get blown around in the wind, fall down, get skewed, a real work in progress….just like me..


2105 Responses to “holiday lights….”

  • I´ve just had phone call from the school where I teach Landscape work…
    My 21 pupils went to the school direction asking if I could keep on teaching them… My workshop was only meant to last till the end of Dec started at the begining of Nov, it seems they´ve enjoyed the classes so much they want to continue a couple of more lessons!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to LIGHT the way for others.”
    Happy Holiday Lights PAUL.P!

    Are we there yet? How long do I have to wait?
    The wifi light will be out …pretty soon…
    And the tick-tock sound …starts to get on my nerves…:)

  • Family pictures, .. hm. I have only a few, because when I started photographing more seriously,
    I had no longer a family (only two, quite photo-shy sons). Now I have burn :)

    However, I remember as a child we quite often took the box with the familiy pictures and browsed through them, with my mother telling stories. It was always a nice and warm event.

    I think, I finally found the title for the Business Traveler essay:

    – “Five to nine: The Longer Days”

    Thanks to eva, she was so kind and came up with the idea of 5-9.

  • While I would never try to put myself in the same category as you, I am amazed at how much you and I think alike.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    PANOS…safe travels to you too

    …may the travel spirits be with me and with all my BURNIANS…
    I love airplanes,terminals…I love to travel…here in Europe nothing is moving
    White and black, black and white…But I am an optimist!
    I left behind my chickens and my books…my pictures books…
    To Finish old business…to start something new…
    I am Evolving…

    Can I start singing now?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Five to nine…the journey never ends!

    Viva THOMAS…
    Bravo EVA…5-9…you are a K-9:))))))

  • a civilian-mass audience

    ROSSY…where are you Aussies?

    Are we there yet?:)

  • Mimi, if the planes are still not flying, you could always document the wait or an alternative quest to reach your destination… ;-) I actually secretly wish I’d been planning this last week – airport departure lounges are great liminal spaces and an extended stay there could have made an interesting complement to my bus series. (Yeah, I never fully switch off!). Hope you get to travel, mate.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    It’s getting dark …Dark and White!
    FRAMERS…For you
         “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.”
    And mate…check this one…I know, you know…
         “In order to fly, all one must do is simply miss the ground.”
    Douglas Adams

    I want to start the party…shall I wait for the signal?

  • Imants, cool slideshow thanks for sharing that. Reminded me how I first got started with photography – shooting my family with a basic compact back when I was a teen. My Pops was ill with emphysema and couldn’t travel, and all my dad’s side of the fam lived miles away down south. I’d gone to visit them and promised my Pops I’d take some photographs for him as he barely got to see them in those days. I knew the usual family group photos wouldn’t cut it, I wanted to give him a feel for their personalities and make it real for him. Anyway, some of the shots from that are here – mostly my sister’s kids in that set, and one of my uncles. Funnily, that uncle shot film on an Olympus and a Nikon, and I remember looking at his lenses and other gear laid out and thinking it was one big visual alchemist’s kit and I couldn’t wait to master it. Film has had to wait, but from that moment I was hooked on photography, and shooting film is one of the “must do’s” for 2011. Finding a way to continue the family shots is another. Nice one for reminding me of all that.

  • PAUL…

    good research…i had not forgotten the Raul mauling, but i had forgotten Lee was there for that as well…hard to forget Lee anywhere, but it all becomes a big blur after awhile…smiling

  • I don’t think I was there for that one; it was the year before. Anyway I don’t remember a full on bullfight and Raul getting mauled. Glad I’m unforgettable. It will make it easier for people to remember my name when I am famous!

    My family arrives today! So excited.

  • BTW Thomas, enjoying your link to the travel piece. Very familiar.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    LEE…i wish you …all the wishes!
    Enjoy every minute…

    i just check your family…you have a backyard…but where are the chickens?:)
    I guess you had a big feast..:)))

    can I start now?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Is it 21st …or am I lost …between terminals?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I need the green light…

    I am ready …I am waiting for the green light…

  • Great to hear about your “new” project about photographers.. I suppose I am part of it :)

    DAH: “Are you finishing something up or starting something new? or both?”

    I am working on a few project…
    1) BLACK SEA
    I am waiting for a summer again :)))
    I am waiting to drive my car back from Romania to Poland… i think it’s most important project for me until now… my personal experiences are strongly bound with my photographs
    3) WALKING AWAY about disappearing peasant culture in Romania
    4) panoramic photographs from Silesia…
    I like xpan, I will continue shooting with it but I am a bit confused… I feel that those photographs looks a bit old style… I think I will continue just for myself to have some record of the place where I am from.. maybe to exhibit it in Silesia, Poland…
    for sure the most personal and most desire to finish is LOST HIGHWAY for me

  • Regarding projects. If you have the time available; how many work on a number of projects at once? I was thinking of a couple of major projects and 2 or 3 on the backburner for when you happen to be in the right place at the right time.

    Cheers :-)

  • AGA…

    thanks for the memory…and yes indeed you are part of the project….i left a new comment under the picture of you and Lance on Road Trips just now…i did not realize that could even still happen…hmmmm…anyway, you look very very busy..good for you…let me see the first project you get finished…and so very nice to see you here..

    hugs, david

  • a civilian-mass audience

    my apologies But i cant wait…

    tick-tock…no more


  • a civilian-mass audience

    its 21st …my time zone

    and HAIK and all the BURNIANS ..


    P.S gotta go…Enjoy the ouzo,wine,milk,tea…
    i will be back…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    oh, before I go…here is my project…its work on progress…:)))))
    KATIEEEEEE…where are youuuuu???????

    i will be away from my desk…for few hours,days,months…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    My thanks to all of you. You that you gave us “voice”, you who dedicate youself to “us”.
    “LOVE, PEACE & PHOTOGRAPHY” will prevail…

    To all of you : photographers, civilians… we are all citizens of the world.


    AGA AS Tamara De Lempicka
    ANNA MARIAB. J AS Mary Cassat
    ANNA.B AS Timarete
    ANNE H. AS Rosa Bonheur
    ANDREA G AS Maria Sibylla Merian
    AUDREY BARDOU AS Berthe Morisot
    ARAGO MARIE AS Theresa Bernstein
    CATHY SCHOLL AS Lucy Bacon
    CARRIE ROSEMAN AS Agnes Martin
    CRISTINA.F AS Artemisia Gentileshi
    ERICA MACDONALD AS Heller Frankenthaler
    EVA AS Sofonisba Anguissola
    FRAMERS.I AS Elizabeth Siddal
    GINA MARTIN AS Harriet Hosmer
    HILLARY AS Kay Sage
    JENNY L.WALKER AS Gillian Ayres
    KATHARINA AS Catarina Van Hemessen
    KATIA ROBERTS AS Lydia Emmet
    KERRY PAYNE AS Violet Oakley
    KYUNGHEE LEE AS MargaretWhiteread
    LASSAL AS Auguste Rodin
    LAURA EL-TANTAWY AS Injy Aflatoun
    LAURAM. AS Giovanna Garzoni
    LEE AS Sarah Miriam Peale
    LISA LOGHEN AS Grace Cossington Smith
    LISA WILTSE AS Joan Mitchell
    MARINA BLACK AS Zinaida Serebriakova
    MY GRACIE AS Lila Cabot Perry
    NANCY.P AS Cecilia Beaux
    ROSA V AS Clara Peeters
    SALLY MANN AS Sally Mann
    SOFIA QUINTAS As Josefa De Ayala
    VALERY RIZZO AS Catharine Critcher
    VICKY AS Isabel Bishop
    WENDY AS Marion Wachtel

    MR.HARVEY’S MOTHER AS Maryanna Harvey
    ANTON,THE ANTON AS Georges Braque
    ABELE GUARENGA AS Umberto Boccioni
    ANDREW B AS Henri Matisse
    ANTONY.RZ.AS Paolo Uccello
    ANDREW SULLIVAN AS George Bellows
    ANDRIEW W. AS Matthias Grunewald
    AKAKY AS Roy Lichtenstein
    ASHER AS Pisanello
    JAMES NACHTWEY AS Francisco De Goya
    JOHN VINK AS Salvador Dali
    BILL ALLARD AS William Turner
    BOB BLACK AS Kandinsky Wassily
    BRUCE DAVDSON AS Giotto Di Bondone
    BRUCE GILDEN AS Rembrandt Van Rijn
    BRIAN FRANK AS Grant Wood
    BJARTE AS Edvard Munch
    BRENT.F AS Thomas Eakins
    CARSTEN AS Leonetto Cappiello
    CHARLIE MAHONEY AS Albrecht Durer
    CHRIS HINKLE AS Oscar Kokoschka
    DAVID BOWEN AS Joan Miro
    DAVID MCGOWAN AS Benjamin West
    DELLICSON AS Marx Ernst
    DIEGO ORLANDO AS Modigliani Amedeo
    DOUGMCLELLAN AS Adam Elsheimer
    DOMINIK AS Man Ray
    ERIC ESPINOSA AS Gustav Klimt
    FRANSESCO AS Giorgio Morandi
    FROSTFROG AS Paul Klee
    GAETANO AS Fra Angelico
    GORDON LAFLEUR AS James McNeill Whistler
    GREG GORMAN AS Botticelli
    HAIK AS Arshile Gorky
    HARRY AS Edouard Manet
    HERVE AS Caravaggio
    IAN AITKEN AS Francis Bacon
    IMANTS AS Mark Rothko
    JAMES CHANCE AS Rene Magritte
    JARED IORIO AS Marc Chagall
    JEFF. H AS Lauren Harris
    JIM POWERS AS Jasper Jones
    JOHN CLADDY AS George Frederick Watts
    JONI KARANKA AS Valentin Serov
    JOHN LANGMORE AS Maurice de Vlaminck
    JASON HOUGE AS Georges de La Iour
    JUSTIN PARTYKA AS Malevich Kazimir
    JUSTIN SMITH AS El Lissitzky
    KIRIL SUROV AS Victor Vasarely
    MARCIN AS Jan Matejko
    MARK TOMALTY AS Nicolas Poussin
    MARK DAVIDSON AS Marcel Duchamp
    MARTIN BRINK AS Caspar David Friedrich
    MATTHEW NEWTON AS Brett Whiteley
    MATT AS Worthington Whittredge
    MEDFORD TAYLOR AS Andre Derain
    MICHAEL C. BROWN AS Claude Monet
    MICHAEL KIRCHER AS Thomas Hart Benton
    MICHAEL LOYD YOUNG As Paul Gauguin
    MICHAEL WEBSTER AS Marsden Hartley
    MIKE HALMINSKI AS Jacques Louis David
    MIKE BERUBE AS Jean Paul Riopelle
    MIKE PETERS AS Francisco De Zurbaran
    MIKE R AS William Orpen
    MIMI AS Nicholas Hilliard
    PANOS SKOULIDAS AS Gustave Courbet
    PARR MARTIN AS Warhol Andy
    PATRICIO.M. As Carlos Morel
    PAUL TREACY AS Thomas Gainsborough
    PAUL PARKER AS George Caleb Bingham
    PETE MAROVICH AS Norman Rockwell
    PETER GRANT AS Homer Watson
    POMARA(PAUL) AS George Seurat
    PRESTON MERCHANT AS Honore Daumier
    RAMON MAS AS Diego Velasquez
    REIMAR OTT AS Pierre August Renoir
    ROSSY AS Charles F.Goldie
    SAM HARRIS AS Tom Roberts
    SIDNEY ATKINS AS William Blake
    STEFAN ROHNER AS William Hogarth
    STEVE MCCURRY AS Michelangelo
    THODORIS AS Edward Hopper
    THOMAS BREGULA As Max Beckmann
    TIM RIPLEY AS Paul Delvaux
    TOM YOUNG AS Winslow Homer
    VASILIOS AS Frederick Leighton
    VIVEK AS Jamini Roy
    VELIBOR AS Primoz Trubar
    WEBB ALEX As Paul Jackson Pollock
    WROBERTANGEL AS Henri Robert
    SPACE COWBOY AS Paul Cezanne

    In memory of Andrew Wyeth And Masaaki Okada and to all our friends up Here and Up There…!

    your Civilian-mass audience!!!

    P.S if your name is not up there…My sincere apologies…but one of my chickens
    broke my reading glasses…oups, I am out of time…
    Happy Holidays to All

  • a civilian-mass audience

    oups,HAPPY BIRTHDAY again
    i hope… this works

    P.S Bravo Thodori

  • IMANTS AS Mark Rothko………. nah no way see my blog civi

  • Civi! A Tour de Force!

    And you found my Irish ancestry.

  • A year has passed already? Wow!

  • Civi; tht list is a stunner! I wish my pics were worth as much as a Goldie though!

  • Civi…

    Thanks mate…

    Also, even though I’m not all that familiar with Hopper’s work, I do love this one:
    which happens to be on the cover of the Greek translation of Kerouac’s “Lonesome Traveler”…

    happy travels and new beginnings…

  • Happy Birthday Burn
    Very cool civi!! Had to google mine!!
    But what about you?
    Viva Burn

  • Civi: I REALLY don’t like Salvador Dali.

  • At the risk of sounding like Henny Penny… I was really surprised to see a photographer of Larry Towell’s standing needing to seek public funding for a project.

  • Civi

    Love you dearly.

    Here are a couple just for you.

    Martha herding ducks this afternoon. You may not remmember the duckling pictures I posted for you earlier this year, but here they are all grown up, and having escaped from the duck yard.

    Another Christmas card for you. (gag me with a Hallmark Card alert) French Creek harbour a five minute walk from my house, and where the Lasquei Island foot passenger ferry docks.

    Civi, thankyou for your always gentle, loving, and positive energy. I hope you are getting to enjoy family this season.

  • Ross – I am ALWAYs working on multiple projects – probably a dozen at a time… It takes me a long time to get some things done, some things I get done right away.

    Civi – you are probably the most thoughtful guy in the entire world… I would give you a good cat, if I could…

  • CIVI ;))))


    (how do you think we ended up together) ;))))…

    and, ok, i’ll take Kandinsky…have always been a drunk abstract russian at heart ;))))


    and our HOMER! :)))))


    p.s. DAVID: I will try to write something proper for your Holiday Lights post…i think i can sing up something ;))…before i leave… i type this, Marina and dima are over the Atlantic on their way east…..

  • CIVI:

    if you want a plug into the Black Family, life, i’m sending you a vid….marina and dima are over the atlantic….i’m feverishly scanning negs (late) to send to Oli pin-at…rather, i gotta send one and i can’t make up my mind….so, i’m screaming at the scanner to process my damn muddy negs faster….Wolf Blass at my side….

    but, this is very much the spirit of our family…you’ll see when you arrive…

    ok, gotta run….


  • Civi:Wow…!

    JV:you will have to like him from now on..
    I guess Civi is running low on inventory…;)

  • Had never heard of Sarah Miriam Peale. Had to google her. Portrait painter. Funny. Over past three days have been asked to do portraits for a Christmas Card and a brochure for my daughter and a friend. I am a terrible portrait taker. And it is because I don’t use flash and can’t seem to get in sync with strobe…

  • ROSS..

    you should not be surprised…most Magnum photographers need funding…they have standing because they work on projects they believe in and because they are talented photographers,not necessarily working on projects that someone might finance…Larry almost never does a project that anyone would pay him to do…Magnum as an agency garners often large funding for us to all work together on projects like the AIDS work from last year or the Korea work from the year before, but these are few are far between…we all apply for grants …we all struggle…Kickstarter seems ready made for us quite frankly….what better way to get funding than from those who want to support your project?? Magnum photographers probably do way less commercial work than any equivalent number of photographers…so, support Larry in Afghanistan if you can…he deserves it…and he needs it…

    cheers, david


    Civi is not a guy…most of the time


    yea, dude…let it go…rip it up

  • David; I had already pledged, and posted the request to Facebook just in case any of my friends wanted to

    Cheers :-)

  • ROSS…

    oh great Ross…it will all come back to you tenfold….one way or another….many thanks….

  • LEE,

    What does using flash have to do with taking portraits? If not comfortable with flash then just find some existing light, good or bad, and take some portraits. Don’t sweat what you are not comfortable with and do that which you are.



  • CIVI,

    Wow, fantastic list. And funny thing is I’ve always had a thing for Degas since I was little (go figure).

    You are truly a force….


  • Charles, you are right. I have taken good ones in existing light but really needed more with these two. I will get there. “..and do that which you are.”

    Totally socked in with rain and heavy cloud cover so no lunar eclipse. Way disappointed. But family arrived and they are snug in their beds and I’m about to be too.

    Good night to one half and good morning to the other half.

  • Civi:

    Sophonisba once said:“Life is full of surprises, I try to capture these precious moments with wide eyes.”

    Indeed indeed.. one of yesterday’s precious moments, if only for me:

    Thank you, Civi :)

  • Lee..

    Any chance you can sign up at one of DAH’s lighting workshops? As I get not just flash.. wish this was done closer to home..

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