(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.