righteous (as in bob marley def)….

(interview with Alec Soth , above, coming soon…..stuff you never knew)

I have had writers block for the last three weeks, yet I am not a writer. Which is no doubt  the whole of the problem. I can do ok with pictures on demand. Not so with  pen and paper. Surely it isn’t that I don’t  have much to tell you. I have too much to tell you, yet i need to be brief. I will get right to the point.

For those of you who have been readers here for awhile, you probably figured out a long time ago that this is a pretty humble operation here at Burn. While we are in popular terms a “wildly successful new brand” , we make no money and our staff is still an all voluntary army.  Now mind you we are not even trying to make money. Yea invest in us!  Smiling.  Seriously, all of us value independence and freedom more than money. So we are not looking for bosses. Yet we are looking for support. Sure, uh huh, right dude, who gets money without a boss?

In fact we are ninjalike action heroes because we have  generated some income from thoughtful donors to pay for our $15,000 Burn/Emerging Photographer Fund grant with funds donated through the not for profit Magnum Foundation. Subscription donations help to pay photographers for work published here. These are donors who simply believe in what we are doing.

Yet indeed, we are scrambling to make things work . There are two possible solutions. First , is to accept advertising. While I have zero aversion to advertising and have done ad photography, I think that for Burn right now we might just be able to survive without it and therefore have a really clean slate for just doing what we want to do and with a particular kind of unencumbered cred. This audience will basically make the decision for funding/donations  based on the steps we are making.

So you may ask, what steps?

We want to make more of what we did in the last two weeks. Financially and psychologically supporting an emerging photographer like Egyptian  Laura El Tantawy in Cairo and at the same time commissioning an exclusive for Burn essay by Paolo Pellegrin. Both photographers with unique styles and both looking at Cairo.

Both with equal pay, equal artistic control, and one time use only photo rights..

My stated initial goal of Burn was to combine the iconic with the emerging iconic. We have done it now with original photography from both and an exclusive here.

Next we go to firebrand Bruce Gilden who will be in Haiti during elections  and a soon to be assigned young  Haitian photographer to shoot a parallel story with Bruce.  Followed by Alec Soth (shown above during my interview this week)  and and an emerging photographer chosen by him. Our aesthetic interests will know no bounds and we will actively seek all individual styles of work.

Simultaneous with these projects sponsored by Burn and the readers of Burn will be a special corporate commission presented by BD who sponsored James Nachtwey with his TB essay published on Burn in 2010. BD will now sponsor in Russia both Nachtwey and emerging star of Russian descent,  Alisa Resnik. Frankly we would welcome this type of selected corporate sponsorship for any of the above projects as well. We feel we will get them , but I am willing to bet on it in the meantime with our readers support. BD was happy with Burn as a platform before, and have come back this time with additional support for a talented young photographer.  So this is a model. Again all of this original work both by Nachtwey and by Resnik will be featured first here on Burn with a proper drum roll preceding.

All of the above projects highlight four new emerging photographers as well as the established legends.

I think we have taken a large step forward today without losing any of our identity. We just want to do things here on Burn, and upcoming in print magazine  Burn 02,  that are simply cool.  Serious.  Fun. Imaginative,  and flat out informative as well. If it is  not rewarding to do and we are not giving you something unique, then we fold the tent and go have a beer. Already in our short history I think we have helped a few young photographers, respected a few icons, and made  a lot of new friends along the way.

Now one of the things I have noticed about creating space, funds, and a platform, is that while some receive , some feel left out. This is a conundrum with no real solution except  I can say that I will do my best to pass things around. I cannot support everyone. My honest hope here is only to set an example so that others better equipped to do this sort of thing than I , will take on the responsibility and the effort. I am as accessible as I can be to photographers with ideas. At the same time, I do have my own photography and books to do, so there are times when I disappear into my own shooting as I am about to do in Rio. So all patience is appreciated.

We are struggling in the good old fashioned way. Times when real things happen for the right reasons. Feels like such a time.


592 Responses to “righteous (as in bob marley def)….”

  • The future sounds very good. The idea of pairing emerging and iconic photographers and presenting them in the same light, well, that is really fantastic and really giving due respect to both entities. I hope the future is long and bright for this endeavor. And as you say, if it stops being fun, “fold up the tent and grab a beer.”

  • Sounds like a brilliant plan for the future, David. I can’t wait to see Burn grow. Think it will take a combination of time and continuing the good work. I’m preaching to the master here when I say nothing sells as well as good work. Props for doing all this, to all the Burn team.

  • Yes David!

    you keep on inspiring with your vision – just to think of how burn evolved… and it don’t stop.
    as Kenneth has said the pairing of icons & emerging is fantastic. fresh.
    exciting times…

    as for ad’s, i think we all would understand if they had to appear, however if they can be avoided that would be so much better… waiting to hear about bonfire?

    Massive Thanks to David, the Burn Crew & all the Burnians…

  • Wow David – this is heart-pounding news!!! Best wishes on this exciting, ambitious direction.

    Also…I’m elated to see Gilden is going back to Haiti. May I make a suggestion? The Cubans have been carrying the yeoman’s work with medical aid in the field on the island, yet the American media has intentionally kept silent on this. Perhaps a Burn essay on the involvement of Cuban doctors will serve to embarrass the West into quickening their aid. Wouldn’t it be great if Burn could get in front of social change this way?

  • Ahh we have moved house again

  • sounds great DAH, pretty soon you’re going to be sooo famous you’ll be unreachable.
    more power to cloning!! YAY!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    “May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true. May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you. May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong…”
    Bob Dylan

    MAY we ALL be BURNED in a righteous way…i suggest to keep struggling…I am a civilian that’s all I know…
    hmmm…we are All under the same tent…for now…just have your beer close by…I have my ouzo:)))

    P.S …a tech question: What camera did MR.HARVEY use to take this picture above?
    the winner will receive a “room ” upgrade …in the tent…!!!

  • Civi.. I know I know.. a PHOTOcamera!!

    Ok, now going to read what Bob Marley has to do with a tent.. or Bob Dylan.. and a room upgrade.. there must be a fire BURNing under that tent..

  • Civi probably his little critter “gfie”

  • a civilian-mass audience

    come on,focus myBURNIANS…you can do better…:)))))

  • Fire burning indeed.. I’m gonna love this, ’cause there will be great photography from both the iconic and the emerging.. and if the emerging is native from the country s/he shoots in/about that’s a plus.. we’ll get an inside view which some times is lacking.. will be very very interesting to see.. yes.. gonna love it! Great, really great news and direction this BURN thing is taking, thanks to all involved who make it possible!

    So I second Panos “geez….. im in” … following and supporting, a buck here and one there, whenever.. as long as it’s fun and as long as it lasts..

  • a civilian-mass audience

    EVA…you might have lost the upgrade…BUT you won the post of the day…!!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    MyGRACIE…bring the ice-cream…today,we celebrate(actually every day we celebrate here…)

    I LOVE YOU ALLL and of course I will be back…

  • David, excelent news! In my case I would happyly suscribe to Burn, like a year suscription for example. Burn has given me a lot all this years. In fact much more than i’m aware of, and much more than any other photo magazine that I had paid in the past. So it’s fair to paid. Maybe you can give like a premium suscription, including a copy of the printed Burn mag. I don’t know, just thinking on a businnes model to help support Burn. Maybe you can even do a small survey with all actual readers and see what they think about a paid suscription (volunteer for example)

    Hope this helps.


  • JEFF..

    well yes i have been impressed with Cuban doctors and their deployment into various catastrophic events long before i even went to Cuba…this really is a good story…however, seems to be more of a word story in its magnitude, but if a photographer approached me with a good Country Cuban Doctor essay idea, smiling, i would go for it i am sure…thanks for thinking


    i enjoy doing these things because it is part of my nature…but i would rather do them unobserved behind the scenes…the nature of all of the new media makes that not quite possible at this point, but the sooner i can turn this all over to a couple of 25 yr olds, i will do it….it is funny, i live like a hermit at least half the time….but the net makes it seem like i am “out there”……i am not “out there”…i am hiding in the dunes and the woods watching rabbits forage…a funny new world….

  • A screenshot of your screen every three weeks would be wonderful!

    Good luck with more BURN work.

  • EVA…

    really really good things evolve…they do not go away but they meld into other good things…i hate monuments….i love spontaneous art….Burning Man in the desert is great!!..Burn does not have to last a long time to have done its job…matter of fact, that would be really really bad if Burn lasted too long…so let’s enjoy this moment…..a flame lights the way, then goes away…..

    cheers, david

  • David..

    You know, I think I’ve been lucky in my life.. always had dreams.. some fade, some become true.. and new ones find me along the way.. nothing more I could wish for.. as long as it lasts.. :)


    no time to write, really…on the mend….but, so glad to see this new incarnation too….:))))….anxious to see Paolo’s work….and will be happy to see Alec’s collaboration (yo, alec, i’ll collaborate with you: here is a pitch: let’s do an essay on a book, our visual variation! ;)) )….and all good things….

    btw, you’ll see a collaborative event soon David, something that has NEVER been proposed before for Burn, but i gotta keep the secret until we offer it, but if even it is not accepted, you’ll (and the folks) will not have seen anything like it as yet (which is why we’re hoping burn digs it :)) )…something about Russia too, but completely different that what is usually offered up :)))))…..but, patience….it’ll happen before you come to town :))….and we can chat then….

    and i promised, once i’m healed, i’ll get you the 2 new young photographers (they’re ready) and my landscape dream/poem to you….just no must ‘focus’ on something more important….

    sight is more than just an eye(s)…i had wanted to write during that discussion 1 week ago, but i’ll just wait to put my money where my mouth (and eye) is :))..

    so happy for burn and for all…hoping to be back in 10 days or so with more words, writing, and of course the pictures…


  • or better, dave, i’ll do a project with you as the iconic photog, we’ll do a variation on Dunes..i’ll shoot it when i’m in Foley beach in august (foley vs. obx :)) )….

    btw, an idea for printing books under the BURN moniker: how about collaborative books??….

    LBM has done a brilliant job with their book and zine publishing (i own 4 of their books and zines)…but BURN could do something unique: a series of artists books with collaboration (hey Alec, don’t steal this idea, it’s mine for BURN ;)))…

    jsut a thought under medication :)))


  • for example:

    book 1: laura/paolo: egypt
    book 2: Venice/Harvey (venice)
    book 3: kusters/sobel:
    book 4: vink/agnes d: indochine

    book 100: black/d’agata (the eye)

    etc ;)))


  • a civilian-mass audience

    from Bob MARLEY to BOB BLACK and back to BURN…BBB what not to BE !!!
    wishing best energy to ALLL and to you BOBBY…
    I am going up in the mountains…BUT I will be back…
    as SAMMY said…
    “Massive Thanks to David, the Burn Crew & all the Burnians…”

    I am the proudest civilian of the world…

  • oops, i meant

    book 2: PANOS/Harvey (venice!)…

    see the f**^&# meds ;)))

  • Kinda interesting read here.. and even more interesting thinking of how things are done right here on this very platform called BURN.. say something about swimming against the flow:


  • a civilian-mass audience

    and since nobody got the tech question right…

    the winner is the BURN CREW…who are working behind the tent…
    My respect and my love to all of you…


  • David, Jeff —

    There’s nothing new under the sun… For the past month I’ve been trying to get at a Cuban clinic in a town 15 minutes from where I live outside of Jacmel, Haiti. They’re the cream of the crop from what I hear. They don’t wait for people to come to them sick, but travel into the countryside doing home visits and checking on all the kids, which not many of the other clinics do. I’ll let you guys know if I ever get the access (and the pictures).

  • “Seriously, all of us value independence and freedom more than money.”

    Speak for yourself.


    Deadline: March 1st, 2011


  • Moving, evolving, growing…all good action words. Love it.

    CIVI, the tech question – looks like the GF1 – you can see him taking the picture in the picture…..kind of fun. Didn’t answer sooner because I thought someone said it…oh well, will sit back here in coach without the room upgrade and drink ouzo with all…upgrades aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be.

    Who knows/can tell me how places like Aperture, that sell limited prints on line, do fulfillment? Is it all manual? Do they have prints already, or do they print on demand? If you were to print on demand, is there a way you could ensure the artist the quality control necessary?

    Another topic – has anyone ever taken one of the magnum workshops, where they have multiple masters and you pick the one to work with, like the one in Toronto as part of Contact?

    BOB – hope things are going well with the eye…please keep us updated – many good vibes being sent your way.

  • Andrew.. to your 2nd question (workshops), a friend of mine has, came out with great work and loved it.. I’d do without hesitation.. if Toronto wasn’t on the wrong side of the planet..

  • David,

    The future appears to be bright for Burn, yet I sense a bit of timidity in your writing. It seems you are wavering a bit – and rightly so – from the weight of all the responsibilities of this new medium. It is a tremendous endeavor. I commend you and all that volunteer their efforts and hope you find solace in the fact that you have inspired a tremendous number of creative minds by forming a community that embraces a new approach to creating, assessing and sharing their work. Kudos!

    Perhaps a suggestion for funding proposed stories and collaborations. http://www.kickstarter.com and http://www.emphas.is There is a huge community willing to pay for quality projects up front. This may not be news to any who visit the site but it is worth checking out. I’m willing to help out in any way I can.

    Be well,

  • BEAR…

    what a great name..Bear..i guess with a name like that, perhaps my writing does seem timid..smiling…i sure do not know where you see wavering however..thought i was being flat out bold, perhaps too much so…maybe you sense that this whole effort would be too much for me to bear alone (no pun intended) and if that is what you mean absolutely yes…mine is only out here as an example, not as the be all end all solution….i am going out to take pictures…others with more expertise than i will move this initiative forward….yes we have supported both Kickstarter and Emphasis projects here already…we could set up our own version of that , but i think a more subtle approach fits my style better…we will see….yes Bear come and see us…we welcome all suggestions and help of any kind…many many thanks in advance…

    cheers, david

  • Andrew.. here’s the link to the work I wrote about up there:


  • Exciting times for Burn… better to Burn out than fade away!

    Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
    Benjamin Franklin

    Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
    Henry Ford

    The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
    T. S. Eliot

  • CIVI/ANDREW :)))

    thank you….feeling the healing vibes…i dont want to go into detail at the moment, as i think we should all be focus on DAVID/BURN and the good changes…but things are stabilized with meds…next step is when i come off the meds and see how the eye adjusts before i see optho/surgeon…fingers crossed…it’s been a profound and unnerving 12 days, but as I told Teru K, i’m a believer and an optimist…and i don’t want to freak people out (yet ;)))…..more importantly, , i have much work to do with with pictures and some young photographers…and my long delayed 2 projects for dah….but, i promise a full counting once the next 10 days have past….so, forget my problem for now, and let’s be focus on BURN with fevor and flame :))))…

    ANDREW: a number of lurkers/commentators have been part of the MAGNUM/CONTACT workshop…you can write Marc D too, he did his with Chris A…you can also write me as i’ve spent a ton of time with those guys, talking, helping, etc…plus: you can toronto :)))…and whiskey ;))….i don’t know who the teachers are, but it’s a good gig…and you’ll get to meet mrs. b…buyou’ll work your butt off :))))…which is always good…

    gotta run, will write in a weeks time or so….


  • It is amazing to see burn emerging. Wow. Great and good luck.
    I’m not so sure, if my work as producer of content can follow the new beat, but I am sure I can as viewer and supporter/donator.
    No matter, how I am perceiving it, burn is always a hatchery of ideas, learnings experience and new insights for me. It helped me to see differently and to photograph in another way.
    Thank you for that and keep it up :)

    It is an honor to be part of this community.

  • Thomas.. I like the mood of the color (and shudder at the noise of the last pic… but it does fit) .. wouldn’t convert.. but of course that could change if I’d actually see them bw… so just skimming through them once and fast (dinner time here), I’d say remove the one bw..

  • For my 2 pennies, Thomas, I agree with Eva, the BW is out of place, and IMO, #10 blur too. Also, #2 seems a bit weak, especially in the context of color tone/mood, but it’s only me.

  • Thomas…
    In my opinion or you add more B/W or you remove that one image. :)
    my favs are 1, 2, 3, 4in colour :)!!, 8, 12, 15, 16maybe?, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24.

  • Thomas, my two cents is to deal with this yourself or maybe to find one person whose aesthetics you trust to help you with this. I’d be surprised if David thinks it’s a good idea to toss this out for everyone. Kind of like the committee making choices we were talking about the other day. No, be confident in your vision and present it when you’re ready.


    Michael is right…in general it is a bad idea to edit by committee…but the main reason not to spill the beans here is just that…by the time you publish this, and this was one of the few actual assignments endorsed by me, everyone will have already seen it…you lose the surprise element..i did end up taking a quick look after i realized you had posted a link here and i do think, even from a cursory look, that this is going to be terrific…let me know if you really want to leave the link up..if you change your mind, i will take it off…but the decision is yours to make…

    cheers, david


    good decision..but if you change your mind,or someone changes it for you, put it back…again, committee editing aside, let’s just blow ’em away with a strong showing of work nobody here has seen…

  • DAVID,

    thank you. We will :)
    it is not complete yet, and my “season” starts in a few days again. There are some journeys to do, and I already had an idea for a spin-off of this. The idea with the “Business-Traveller Magazine” is growing.

  • “i have been impressed with Cuban doctors and their deployment into various catastrophic events”

    They have done wonderful work i Timor Leste too…

  • Is Hipstamatic too “hip” for photojournalism?

  • Eva…thank you for the link! now I’m wondering if I’d even be able to participate in a workshop like that….

    Bob, will be up that way sooner or later no matter what, will make sure you know ahead of time…look forward to seeing you and Mike and marc again….

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