summer job…

Dasha wants to see California. Los Angeles specifically. She knows L.A. from the movies. New York  police car chases a la television shows she wants to see as well. In the meantime, she and a few hundred other Ukrainians are biding their time on the Carolina coast filling in all sorts of jobs. Dasha and her friend Katya work at a miniature golf course. Galaxy Golf. A golf course where you might immediately look around to see if Martin Parr is indeed doing a book on it. Has crossed my mind too. Classic kitsch.

I have spent the last three days photographing the Ukrainian community that paradoxically lives here side by side  in the land of rednecks and tourists and fishermen and construction workers and surfers. Most return to the Ukraine after a three month summer stint, but some have married and raised families with the local crowd. However, Dasha and Katya see themselves raising their families in Kiev.

The Carolina shore and L.A. and New York are simply passing fancies. A growing up adventure and a first time, maybe last time, flirtation with America. My best pictures of these women and men mixing in the local environment must be saved for my upcoming essay on this coast for NatGeo and book following, yet I can never resist simple portraiture just because, well, I just like to do it.

Summer jobs. The best of times, and maybe the worst of times. How about you…Ever now fantasize your best summer job?

129 Responses to “summer job…”

  • I guess there is still time but I always wanted to be an ice cream man for the summer. I can’t imagine anything finer than riding around playing the ice cream song selling kids ice cream. Did I mention the ice cream? There’s also that Lion conflict stuff I’m after but that’s more of a winter thing.

  • That grassy field shot is amazing! I love the mystery.

    Summer job….well in my teens the best job was not to have one. I worked hard at it.
    I can’t relate with the fact that these people are ultimately wanting to go back (to Kiev) so they are here to raise money and go back home….I can understand it but can’t really relate to it.
    Teens and adults all have different agendas. Mine was to have fun and party. I had a roof over my head and 3 square meals a day. Lucky me I did not take it for granted and I am not an ungrateful person. Mama raised me good you can say…
    Looking forward to seeing more images.

  • my best summer job ever was a cashier in a porn movie theater…about 23 years ago…i learned a lot in that job!

  • Panos, I’m sure that being cashier was much better than being the janitor there :-)

  • Panos, laughing loud; you got paid too?

    Justin, too much information!

  • PANOS…

    my question is: did the customers avert your eyes when buying tickets? now of course they would not, just thinking 25 years ago…

  • This may sound lame, but… I, right now (and for the past 15-odd years), have my best summer (and all other seasons) job. I am a very lucky man.

  • “yet I can never resist simple portraiture just because, well, I just like to do it.”

    I think maybe you can’t resist pretty women! Nice pics and you didn’t have to walk through plate glass to get them…. ;)

  • tres sexy….
    where is tarzan i wonder?
    LOVE this shot in the tall grass….
    would love to see it on the side of a building in a city…..
    has a nature/city feel to me……..

  • I remember one summer when I was 20, working as a gardener for this charming lady and her young daughter. That garden was damn hard work under the blistering Mediterranean sun, but I didn’t care one bit, as the beautiful daughter used to invite me back to the house once her mum went out for the afternoon…

  • David – If these are outtakes… wow! They are brilliant! Both of them. We have a Ukranian community here in Wasilla, too – and a Russian, Belarusian and other communities of the former Soviet block who came largely after the ice curtain melted, except for some of the Russian Old Believers, who were already here – but they are families and they are here to stay. From time to time, I get a few shots, mostly of young people, who live near to me and hope one day to find the time and gain the trust to go deeper.

    Professional bush pilot and truck driver – except that I would not want to just fly where people told me to fly, or drive where I was told to drive. I would want to fly where I wanted to fly (which, to a limited degree as money and the job I was doing warranted, is what I did before I crashed my plane) and drive where I want to drive.

    But really – I have my fantasy job right now; I just don’t have the resources to go about it as I would like and so it is but a ghost job of what I want it to be – yet I have been far more fortunate than most (but not than you!),

  • ahahha, I think all the jobs I ever got in my entire life were summer jobs, that’s how busy I have been with life’s responsibilities…. I got the idea when in school they used to tell us machines would do our jobs in the future (while we’de be, at least Panos, famous 15 minutes?), I thought cool… So much for saying we learn nuthin’ in school! :-)

  • I fait trop beau pour travailler (weather’s too nice to go to work):

  • David,

    This is very interesting to hear that Ukrainians are coming to the Carolina coast for summer jobs. There must be a specific reason? So you are working on two NatGeo stories at once, Brazil and now this one?

  • David,

    Your most recent Twitter comment is an interesting one. It does seem that there are many photography couples out there these days. I think if you are both photographers things can be a bit easier as the other person understands the peculiarities of being a photographer. Otherwise, totally immersing yourself in your photography while your girlfriend or spouse is left to a 9-5 job and that routine can create issues. On the other hand your fellow photographer companion must be cheering for you just as you cheer for them because petty jealousies won’t get you anywhere either.

  • I had no idea that you were into miniature golf.

  • Panos,
    Hahaha, why is it that I can see you working as a cashier in a porn movie theater? :))

    That’s gotta be the best reason to keep working under the blazing sun! Guess you have cool memories still today, right?

  • Summer job? Summer’s 6-months away; I’m still getting used to Winter! ;-) Seriously; if I’m still shooting in summer, what I’m shooting now; then I already have my dream job. Too many summers worked inside in a supermarket I’m afraid…..

  • Panos; I’m with Justin on that one… ;-)

  • As for summer jobs as a kid; that was usually lugging haybales about on the farm during hay making.

  • Ok – I blew it. I fantasized about my best job, not my best summer job when I was young.

    That one is easy. It was working on my aunt and uncles ranch in southern Idaho. It was kind of tough, getting up every morning before the sun and then to go out and do anywhere from 12 to 16 hours of hard, manual labor, but it was fun, too, and I learned a way of thinking around problems that might otherwise have passed me by.

    When the summer was over, I bought a big cowboy hat and a Mamiya Sekor 35 mm. camera with an 80-200 mm lens and then became yearbook photographer my senior year at El Camino High in Sacramento.

    But then that is not a fantasy, either. It is a memory.

    I guess my fantasy then would have been to have used my new camera to take pictures for Playboy – but I was still a minor and my mom would have said, “No!”

  • I had summer jobs, and after school jobs, from the time I was 12 years old. For many summers, I worked at a very large drive-in theatre, which of course meant I could eat free popcorn and see every movie that played for free.

    Now days, having worked all those summers, my goal is to work as little as I can and to relax. I’m planning to take a trip to Nova Scotia to play music for a week, as well as spend as much time as I can with Martha at her Lasqueti place. We were there last weekend for the Arts Festival, going back this weekend for a wedding.

  • Ukranians, Croatians, name ’em, they’re doing the summer jobs which American kids are too lazy/disinterested in. You see it in OBX, you see it in Maine, and throughout the States. Been going on for awhile.

    In the meantime, the portraits are lovely. It’s what Burn needs (IMHO) — more work by The King :-)

    Those done on your little GF-1?

  • did the customers avert your eyes when buying tickets?
    not only that ,
    but ALSO…honestly..they always had the EXACT $$ amount ready . no change needed, no wait…

  • Yes, David, were these done on your Lumix? There is a curious sexuality to these photos. The one in the grass particularly so. Does your contract with NatGeo mean that if you have shown these photos here on Burn they can never appear in NatGeo?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I love the photos…
    you pull me closer …then you push me away…
    hide and seek…!:)

    summer jobs…oime…this I have to say:

    “May you – Work like you don’t need the money, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like no-one is watching, screw like it’s being filmed, and drink like a true Irishman”


  • a civilian-mass audience

    PANOS…I am with ROSSY and JUSTIN …oime:)))

  • DAVIN..

    yes, these are with the Lumix GF1…and yes, i have two assignments, Rio and Outer Banks..having two simultaneous slows both down because obviously while you are working on one , you cannot be paying attention to the other..the fact that one of them is where i live, does not make it any easier..more convenient yes, but not easier..actually harder…but i am pleased with both projects of course…officially researched and proposed both projects of course…the pictures i published here are unlikely to appear in NatGeo because they do not show literally enough the outer banks…these two portraits could have “been taken anywhere” , a popular editor’s refrain when eliminating pictures like these from the pages of the magazine….a picture for a magazine story on outer banks would more likely be something that would show these women interacting with locals or at least be way more environmental than these two…those are normal magazine and newspaper mantras…i do have some very interesting situations with these women interacting with the Carolina culture…those i would not publish here prior to the NG piece…

    for the outer banks work it is difficult to discern when i am on or off official assignment because i am always always shooting here whether i am commissioned or not…and Rio as well…i am finished Rio assignment work and when i return for one last blast in a few weeks to round out the book, i will be doing my own financing of that photography…all of us must do our work whether we are paid to do it or not…i have never known any photographer that you would have heard of who does not believe the same…

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Thanks for the words! But these sorts of photos presented here should surely be up for inclusion in a book.

    How does having a NatGeo assignment where you live make it harder exactly?! Please explain, although if you mean it easier to photograph the exotic–a foreign country–then I very much understand.

  • DAVIN..

    well, yes ..every time i take any picture for anyone, on or off assignment, i am going for a book..a book is always always my yes, for a book long term, these two would have value for me….while i do love also the “short form” narrative that is built in to any magazine project simply because of space, the full on essay carries a special weight..

    working from home is hard because you are home…with “home things” to do…friends stop by…you go to the hardware store…the cat gets sick….etc etc….before you know it, the day is gone…putting in my normal 14-20 hour day that i would anyplace else is almost impossible from home…fortunately this particular story is kinda about me being at home….but still , good work takes a supreme effort…even if the “effort” is your daily life…having said all of this, i would not trade this at home essay or the Rio piece for anything…it is nice nice work to be savored for sure….

    cheers, david

  • Uhuh, agree with all that you say. I like the idea that you have cats. I like cats too. At the end of the day though, being paid a day rate to photograph from home for weeks or months is not that bad of a deal, right?


    i mentioned above ,yes, the GF1…and yes the Ukrainians have been coming here in droves for at least five years….the young women above work from 9am til 11pm…..yes, 14 hours straight up…they live together in large groups, none have any kind of transportation, and all that i have talked to plan to spend the money they earn here over several weeks with one week in New York and one week in the end before heading back to the Ukraine…they see this summer job as a break even deal..Dasha for example is heading back to Kiev for university law school…

    cheers, david

  • David, I am very much enamored by what you describe. As an American it is hard for me to think how some people idolize NYC and LA when I idolize Eastern Europe. . .

  • David; Rio and home, that’s a pretty nice counterbalance?

  • ROSS..

    yes, i think so…feels good…and the seasons match…winter here, summer there…both book projects with Rio coming first…and fairly soon…Rio is hot, dangerous, crazy,spectacular, passionate, too sexy etc etc…Outer Banks is quiet, down home, nature, good old boys and family….one kind of story and then another..both of them fit my personality because i fit into both worlds…as i think you well know, i go way way beyond just chatting it up with folks on the street…again, not what i try to do, just what i do….and i know you are working the same way…

    cheers, david

  • Except that these Ukrainian women look “passionate” and “too sexy”, at least to me. . .

  • The closest I’m going to get to Rio is the type of fruit drink on sale here! ;-)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    ROSSY…no worries…RIO and every RIO is in our minds…

    what the heck am I smoking?:)))))))))))))))))))

  • Tanguy…

    Yes very cool times, but definitely the daughter was way hotter than any midday sun I’ve ever been under:))

    But summer is not for “working”…
    I have many a summer been the totally, complete, unabridged, celebrity endorsed, work dodging, late sleeping, hard drinking bum, photographer and guitarist…
    I do insist with utter urgency every Burn reader who hasn’t spent one whole summer practising this challenging style of creativity must try it out…
    And saying you did this as a teenager does not count…

  • It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave.
    Tupac Shakur

  • Rock is so much fun. That’s what it’s all about – filling up the chest cavities and empty kneecaps and elbows.
    Jimi Hendrix

  • a civilian-mass audience

    PAUL…what the heck are you smoking?…:)))))))))))))))
    (to be perceived as a compliment)

  • Civi…

    I’m smoking life and keeping it deep down in my lungs until tears make my eyes BURN…

  • PAUL..

    ok, i think you are getting it..need to see this feeling in actual photographs that tell us what you are saying in words…do it


    i cannot believe YOU did not notice that the lipstick shade in the portrait above matches perfectly with the Burn logo…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I am colorblind;)


    they would match in any color :)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    easy for you to say…:)

    hmmm…any luck with the cd…?

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