ahh, Paris in spring…

Joseph Koudelka gives a winsome Martin Parr a pat on the back after the Paris portraits session

John Gladdy emerges from his Paris hotel executive suite, only to be met by the dreaded Burn paparazzi


Like most photographers, I have a bunch of ideas about half cooked….Only some very few of my many on going projects actually get finished…I write about finishing often on Burn because it is the one single element most holding most photographers back..They just do not finish..I have often described a one in ten “finish rate”, which sounds low, but might actually be high….In any case the above two pictures, along with hundreds of others will fit into my now 4th book in progress tentatively titled:   PHOTOGRAPHERS (I have known)..

You will have to use your imagination on the typography and layout, but you can probably imagine the scrapbook look that would contain all the pictures I have made of my colleagues over the last 40+ years. No not just now as in Paris with the Magnum crowd and a piece of the Burn crowd, but all the way back to my college days, newspaper days, NatGeo days and 15 yrs worth of Magnum days and from seminars and photo fests world wide and all of my students and on and on and on…

Yup, I have pictures of probably everyone reading this text right now…Right? Or pretty damned close to it. Everybody shoots these “extended family ” pictures , but I might just have been doing it longer and over a wider demographic of our photographic community than most…

This is not so unusual , for photographers seems to love taking pictures of each other. I saw it at Look3 and I see it at the Magnum meetings like the one we just had now in Paris.  Photographers will often say “don’t take my picture, I belong on the other side of the camera”,  then give a silly grin into the camera just like everyone else getting their picture made. C’mon let’s face it, we all like being in a “memory picture” …Not a good picture. Not an intentional picture. Just a snapshot for the memory book. Well, this memory book might just be a real book. So unselfconscious and so not “trying” that it might just have an authenticity to it that would give it some lasting value. A little piece of history. And of course I will sell a copy to all the photographers who are in the book! Hot sales figures right there. :)

Of course, the cynical response could be, and will be, “who cares about a bunch of pictures of photographers?”…. a fair question of course…Well, I would sure buy a copy if someone else did it..Assuming it was done in a really interesting way…Just a bit of text, a few identifying captions, and well ..done…

Above are just two of the many I took around the Magnum annual gathering of the tribe. The first is of an unusual moment when Martin Parr arrived at the HCB Foundation cocktail party after photographing dozens of Parisians who had been lined up around the block to have a Parr Portrait as part of a Paris office fundraiser. Who could be more different than Parr? Koudelka, that’s who…Yet this is classic..Two photographers who see the world so so differently, and who might disagree on some issues, yet blend in a family way in the long run of our cooperative..This is the extended family of photography that I have always seen since my youngest days. Here played out on the same time stage with a late night Burn crowd reunion in the room of John Gladdy who decided to show us work at 3:30am after a diet of champagne, red wine, and tequila…All of this is part of my photo mix. What I have seen since starting to shoot this sort of thing during my grad school days.

That old famous line “if you remember the 60’s you were not there” is pretty much true. Same for a lot of these gatherings. I sure would not remember 90% of the stuff I see in my contact sheets. So good thing I made a few snaps to trigger the memories. Good ones, great ones,  to be sure..

Next time you see me, smile..You just might end up in the book…

337 Responses to “ahh, Paris in spring…”

  • Panos…

    You got it at last night’s dinner!!
    Bull’s eye, brilliant stuff.
    Very dreaming, with your typical “bite” and as usual as free as ever and extremely inspired.
    My favs are 1, 3 is a killer!, 7 lovely, and 11.

  • Panos…
    And 12 also!!

  • Panos…

    Sort of Sally Mann coming back to Virginia after six months living round Venice Beach!

  • Paul,
    there is always a particular time of the day that the light is just perfect..All i “have” to do is go against it!..and all of a sudden im not bored anymore! thats what i like about photography!

  • Another i recently learned , Paul,
    is that if the light is not that good where u standing, then move around a bit (and especially , try to go “against” it;)

  • Panos…

    I know what you mean!
    Paris taught me to break every rule I knew if it was necessary to express myself. Because our truths are so subjective… why worry? If we don’t follow our truth our work won’t be credible and if we do follow our truth there’s a chance we may for a little while let our souls take a break…

  • Paris taught me to break every rule
    totally agree although remember: regarding “going against the light” is not necessarily a broken law…
    Again, and i only speak for myself ,is that all im trying to do is to not get bored!

  • Panos…

    I’m off to dinner…
    Went on Sunday and shot some landscape stuff, finding it hard to make images without people within the frame. Used to be completely the opposite in the old days….
    I don’t know if it works or not and I don’t know if it should be in BW or colour and you and everybody else can tell me if it’s crap or not, because that is always very useful to me, no point living a lie :)
    I’m also not very comfy with this image…


  • Panos…

    by breaking rules I meant steps we usually hesitate to take because we are perhaps out of our “comfy zone”.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    can I sing now?:)

  • yes, Civi! :)

    I photographed a band last year, and they released their first CD now. (Party on July 8th)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    thank you THOMAS…

    I am singing

    PAUL…Thank you…I follow

  • a civilian-mass audience

    and yes,yes…BURN is the best place to be…
    and THANK YOU MR.HARVEY,just thank you
    I have to say Thank you to OUR FROSTFROG…MR.BILL who is “fighting” up there in Wasilla

    I am honored…I feel like AKAKYIRL…I hate myself
    cause I can’t write what my soul wants to express…
    oh,well,this I have to say…
    I have an amazing BURNING family…
    I am the happiest civilian in the Universe…

    Your civi

  • a civilian-mass audience

    EVA…are you there,yet?

    raining here…can’t protest but saved chickens.
    your address,please…your attention needed in the e-mail area..


  • MIKE R – Indeed, it does look very good, even from the brief and completely failed experiment I had with it. Just not seeing the changes as I went was very daunting and also not fitting with my “I need it now!!!” attitude at the time I tried it out the other day.

    But I hoe to sit down with it and carve out some time to really getting to grips with it, as it does look extremely powerful once you understand how it works and how to make it do what you want it to do. I’m really looking forward to crawling up that learning curve a little. ;-)

    PANOS – yeah, not PS Raw plug in, but a software Anton linked to the other day. Looks godd, and it’s free/donation which is extremely cool for figuring out if there’s a hole in your workflow for it or not. Definitely a cool one.

  • We interrupt this program for a bit of humor….

    I guess this is proof that even a monkey can do this job….


  • Pete, thanks for that! Had me and my wife both cracking up :-)

  • Thanks, Thomas.

    DAH – Still no hurry. This summer is crazy busy for me – sadly, though, except for daily blog stuff, I am not doing that much shooting. Instead, I am pretty much staying inside producing work done in the dark days of winter. Everything is backward of what it ought to be.

    Going on a little shoot later this week, though.

    Thanks for the words, Civi. You are right. It may not appear that way, but it is a constant fight. Constant! Anywhere, I guess. Must be the nature of life.

  • It is just impossible not to laugh. Or is it.. Impossible to not laugh… Ah who cares… That is funny I don’t care who you are…

  • Civi – I’m not quite sure how it happens, but every now and then I go through the process of approving comments only to discover later that somehow, they are not up and I must go back and approve them again. That happened today with your two comments, but they are up now.

    So is the picture I originally shot for you (part 3) but, according to your wish, wound up shooting for everybody, on behalf of you and me.


  • Pete – Funny as funny can be. Makes me feel kind of like a monkey myself.

  • @ PETE:
    Absolutely great. Even a monkey can do that! and the monkey is taking its own selfportrait looking forward to submit here on burn… on even to apply for the Driver License.
    Wonder what Nick Nichols from the Geographic would think about that kind of images…jaja.

    Thanks fro sharing.


  • VIVEK – my friend has one of those!

    Here’s a fairly cool talk by one of the team he is part of – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChKwIUhx_ic

  • ”1955. I cross the states. For a year. 500 rolls of film. I go into post offices, woolworths, 10 cent shops, bus stations. I sleep in cheap hotels. Around 7 in the morning I go to a nearby bar. I work all the time. I don’t speak much. I try not to be seen. One day in Arkansas the police stop me.
    What are you doing here?
    I have a Guggenheim Scholarship.
    Who’s Guggenheim?
    I spent three days in prison. Anguish…”

    Robert Frank 1991

  • no time to write, but my friend Zhe-Zhe has picked up another major award! :)))))))

    for those who didn’t dig or get her series when it was chosen as a EPF finalist, here is another great award:

    she’s big news in china, had no idea she was known well here until i saw her under efp…but this has been a pretty big here for her….China Award, EPF, Arles, and now Ingge MOrath….

    big congrats Zhe-Zhe!…more later


  • FRAMERS ,,,,,,, woah ……

  • Bob, great news. I loved “Bees.” That was the only one that really moved me. Nothing to do with the content… I was moved by the sheer artistry of the storytelling, color and compositions.

  • Framers Intent…

    Wow I love the photo!!
    Apart from the fact I’m hardly ever photographed by anyone, so thank you very much!!:))
    John Vink on the left and I’m the guy on the right…


  • Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser is from Guinea, also the home country of Amadou Diallo, the street peddler who was shot to death in the doorway of his Bronx apartment building by four New York City police officers in 1999. Guineans leave their country in large numbers, partly because of grinding poverty; 70 percent live on less than $1.25 a day , despite the fact that Guinea has almost half of the world’s bauxite (from which aluminum is made), as well as iron, gold, uranium, diamonds and offshore oil.

    The same leaders whose theft and mismanagement have kept so many Guineans poor in the decades since independence from France, in 1958, have also been ferociously violent, massacring as many as 186 unarmed demonstrators calling for democratic reforms in 2007, and at least 157 demanding the same in 2009. After the latter massacre, members of the state security forces gang-raped dozens of women to punish them for protesting and to terrorize men and women into silence.

    While the American government condemned the massacres, the bauxite kept shipping, supplying Americans with aluminum cookware and automobile parts. That’s no surprise; the biggest mining companies doing business in Guinea are based in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia.

    People fleeing state-sponsored violence and extreme poverty will do anything to leave. I receive requests every few weeks to write expert-witness affidavits for West African asylum claimants. As a personal matter of conscience, I will not write in support of an applicant whose testimony I believe contains inconsistencies.

    Yet asylum claimants are often asked to perform an impossible task. They must prove they have been subject to the most crushing forms of oppression and violence — for this, bodies bearing the scars of past torture are a boon — while demonstrating their potential to become hard-working and well-adjusted citizens.

    This is where the lies and embellishments creep into some asylum seekers’ narratives. Immigrants share tips and hunches about ways to outwit the system, even as immigration judges try to discover the claimants’ latest ruses. But I can say from experience that for every undeserving claimant who receives asylum, several deserving ones are turned down. So few Africans gain access to green cards through legal channels that the United States government grants about 25,000 spots annually to Africans selected at random through the diversity visa lottery.

  • Didn’t make Eddie Adams this year. Bummer.

    Congrats to all those who did.

  • That was John Vink?!? I’m not very good at recognising famous photo people, but I have a book with some wonderful and inspiring early Vink pictures in it.

    *waves* Hi John Vink, sorry I didn’t say to you at the time. I am just really very inept. And I prefer the pictures by you than of you. I pay more attention to the former.

  • “That was John Vink?!? I’m not very good at recognising famous photo people”

    Don’t worry. Sat and talked to Chris Morris for about 45 minutes and never realized who he was.

  • @Pete Marovich

    “We interrupt this program for a bit of humor….

    I guess this is proof that even a monkey can do this job….


    That made my morning! thanks for that link.

  • “That was John Vink?!? I’m not very good at recognising famous photo people”
    he he…no worries,…i had dinner with Al Gore’s (ex “almost” president) wife once and i was informed after the dinner party who she really was…:))))))))

  • …in the meantime , Tour De France is getting “hot”…

  • Sara, love that photo of John Vink and Paul!

  • Short interview with Phillip Toledano: Make Stuff that Matters – http://bit.ly/mJhxFW

    “I wish I knew where the ideas came from. I wish I could go to a store and I could just browse the shelves for ideas. It would certainly be much less terrifying, because not knowing where they come from is frightening. I always think maybe I’ll never have anymore ideas ever again.”

  • Don’t know if this has been posted here before but here it goes:


    “The i9 takes professional photos and videos and allows you to easily compress and share your content to Email, MMS, Flickr, Facebook and/or YouTube directly from the Leica app”.

    How about directly to burn? :)

  • BRIAN FRANK – you mean Chris Morris of Brasseye fame? If so, I am insanely jealous of you! If not, then may I ask just this – is there some famous photo dude called Chris Morris who I am supposed to know?!? *runs off to check google and pretend like I’m not such a n00b (or whatever slick new term has overtaken said reference for the experientially challenged)*

    JUSTIN SMITH – Thanks! I too rather like my “Paul and random possibly Magnum dude” pic (I am not kidding – it was titled something like that…).

    PAUL – you’re famous! I recognise you on the street (and also know your name). That’s more than can be said for numerous other people… (in moments like this, I do wonder how I ever passed my Logic 101 paper back in schoo)

  • BRIAN FRANK – I have a very asty cold right now. I think it has affected my short term memory.

    (this is the best excuse that I honestly have)

  • I’ll give you a pass since you’re under the weather. :-)

  • MW :))

    yes, Zhe’s ‘bees’ was also my favorite as well…and ironically, the essay i wrote the least on…tried not to give away my profound affection for it and her….and it was tough, because i really enjoyed the EPF finalists and was thrilled for Irina’s work as win, just as i was thrilled about Laura and daria…and of course for the others…but for me, as a ‘documentary’ photographer who has tried to break boundaries for a long time, it is Zhe’s work that spoke the most to me…and work that only increases in its intensity and beauty over time…and she’s young and smart and wonderful…and quiet…so happy for her…and actually ‘shocked’ too :)))…shocked in a good way…it’s nice to see the IM award go to a person who is pushing boundaries on what is ‘social documentary’ work…and self-exploration…so happy…

    and have more good news/awards to share about Marina (big news) and me (semi-big news), but that must wait til later…much later….

    running :))

  • Sara: John V and Paul: 2 very very handsome men!…lovely photo :)))…and yes, i was referring toyou later, i liked your Paris/burn pics…and you have a lovely smile indeed :)))

    John V: you look like you’re going for the Belgium Deep-thought pose? ;))))))))….you always that way outside of PP? :)))))))))))

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