moonlight ramble…

Diego (Creative Director of Burn 02) and i are sitting on my front porch…sipping  a tequila, enjoying the total quiet…Burn of course comes up even though we have both agreed not to talk about Burn…but we have a question…for you..our question to all of you is this, and it is a serious question as we often think about in our comment section, which is always the topic of conversation when it comes to change…

anyway, the question is this: why are the numbers of comments often in direct inverse proportion to the quality of the essay? exceptions of course….yet think about it…go back and look…do some quick research…not a challenge, just a real interesting thing to think about…probably a simple answer…now, sure we all to give and take a bit on my tastes etc etc..but what i am talking about are stories over time of all tastes…

by the way, this magazine would be dead as a doornail if i actually set out to consciously please this audience…the more time goes on, the less i am interested in any kind of outside support…all the more reason for me not to try to over please….yes of course i want you to be happy…but that is another concept…whomever wants to be here will just be here….no advertising, no weird pressure… the bullet: i think in the very near future i can pull the top pro talents together to create a serious tour de force and still have Burn be an all important first step for an i really want to get there photographer….seems needed doesn’t it??

yes, as usual i have crazy ideas…but as you also know i make at least some of them come true…when i was a kid , i always wanted my imagination to be real….and so thus i have lived… i have an idea, actually easy to do, that if i laid it out right now, some might just steal it….maybe nobody can steal it…all of my ideas for Burn have always been transparent….and i am sure this will be too…just need to sit on it for a few days….anyway, all to good end is always my motive….i do not need any more stuff…my porch good enough forever….i just want to work to make cool things happen….squeeze the most out of talent and knock viewers between the eyes or spawn a subtle visual sensibility….

ok, back to the porch…


641 Responses to “moonlight ramble…”

  • David
    I will send you some portraits. I must warn you that my commercial portrait work is not leading edge, but proudly and deliberately traditional, formal, and old school. Wether my own work, or not, I’d love a discussion about the psychology and aesthetics of commercial portraits. Having spent the last 26 of my 40 years as a photographer running a store-front portrait studio, I’ve done a lot of thinking about it.

  • Bob… The “REAL” fight? Hmmmm. For me that sounds a little too much like Bachmann and Perry talking about “real Americans”.

    While helping out at food kitchens and taking care of the homeless is to be commended, let’s not get too deep into the whole what’s more important bit. I’d bet big money that many, many of the folks protesting have done exactly what you’ve done at shelters and in other areas. But to suggest that the attention that is finally now being paid to the unfairness and venality of certain corporate dealings, certain government practices … (due to these very protests!) … well, suggesting it’s not a “real” fight is missing something very big, I think.


    you have a committed philosophy and style and over time…that is the main thing i look for…besides we all know that new school becomes old school and old school becomes new school…put it on the table maestro.

  • The comments work for me as an online workshop. For those of us who for geographical, monetary or both reasons together cannot attend one of David’s workshop, the information in all the dialogue posts is astonishing, there is no need to buy a book. The truth is here and there aren’t any magic trick or recipes. Some of us need the Burn dialogue to be able to talk photography with others who are at the same level or higher when back at home there is nobody who cares about what really photography is all about and only are worried about lens resolution, bokeh or if Canon or Nikon lenses are as good as Leica lenses.

  • Michael:

    the REAL fight is in both the living and behavior, not just in the protesting…while i agree with almost everything about the protests, i also recognize that much of the same materialism and hunger for things (expensive toys, cameras, phones, laptops, clothes, etc) and the movement toward spending, acquiring is part and parcel…as much i loathe the greed that is absolutely part of our lives, i’m not so deluded to thing that the herds are so pristine…changing begins with changing self….easier to march and return to the quiet accumulating behavior….and i do not mean this in a holier than thou way…..i mean to suggest that the horrific inequality in wealth/ownership/tax responsibility that exists in the US/Canada/Europe developing world shouldn’t be vocally spoken up about (it should) but part of me sees the revolt not so much about ‘them’ (bankers?) but about ‘me’ (i/we need more)…what i said was the irony of those not helping in the food banks vs. those willing to protest and facebook and ramble about it is startling to me….i do, of course, like that the demonstrations, seem less about left vs right/young vs old so much as other ideas….but again, we should begin by cleaning our own lives/homes first…and i sure aint perfect, but before i also try to practice what is breached….folk need 2 cars, 2 computers, expensive cellphones, surfeit of other goods?….i’m not saying what is more important…but that there is a kind of righteous venom coming forth that i find, well um, hypocritical….the ability to protest also comes with wealth, something not always afforded others…but MW’s point about the idea of free speech is also important….ny shutting in down?….we celebrated the arab spring but call it class warfare in n.american…funny really…anyway…that’s all i[m saying…cheers, b

  • PAUL

    well, THAT is the entire mission of Burn in the first place…to be an online workshop……if you see it that way, then great …and thanks…

  • David and Paul,

    Some people have already expressed that same sentiment :)

  • Paul; Re; Online workshop. Me too! :-)

  • Ross…

    You were on mind when I wrote that comment. We both suffer from a deep disconnection from the big world of photography and that of course this is very good and very bad!! :)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I come here for the girls…hiiii :)

    Where are you MY LADIES…???

    ok,back to our regular program

  • Well, DAH you asked a serious question and I gave a flippant response. That’s because I had just gotten off the plane and returned home from some field work in the cold and wind, once again, just like in New York and before, going on severe shortage of sleep, and my brain could not function at the serious question level.

    But, being one of the regulars that Jim referred to, I felt that I had to manifest my presence and my brain could function at the flippant level.

    I am still too tired to think at serious level and I have no time to sit on anyone’s porch and sip tequilla or even rootbeer and it is not going to lighten up for awhile and I keep thinking about you said you work hard but play hard, too.

    Maybe sometime in the next month or so, I can take a break and play hard and then maybe my mind can think up a serious response, but, in the meantime, I say, just keep doing what you are doing as you are motivated to do it.

    It’s worked so far and it got me to New York for awhile, introduced me to a whole new branch of my family and we did bone. Furthermore, you caused me to pull up an essay that has been sitting on the back burner for years and may have just sat there until I joined my father in death. Now, that essay is on a foreburner and I know it is going to come to life. If it comes to life while Mitt Romney is campaigning for president, or, God save us all, serving as president, so much the better.

    No one else but you with your eclectic, wild, ideas backed by action and a love of photography and photographers, no matter how disfunctional they might be, could have done that.

    Keep loving Jim and do listen to him, because every now and then he does hit the mark, but never let his or anyone else’s compulsive, hardbitten cynicism and reflexive negativity cause you to doubt your own effort.

    Some things that you will try will work, some things won’t.

    Everything that you do not try will never work.

  • er… that “bone” part could have been interesting, but should have read, “bond.”

    Oh, for a proof reader.

  • Frostfrog

    “Some things that you will try will work, some things won’t.

    Everything that you do not try will never work.”

    See, we do get wiser as we get older.

  • Panos, singing, or just taking karaoke a little too far? Any good?

  • Herve the impertinent:
    Even if the “bad essays” (?!?!?) get the most comments, they get a lot less than your own entries, meaning also, if I follow your reasoning, your own photos, David! :-))))))))))

    PS:About salieri, of course he never said he was the champion of the mediocre. Either it was in Pushkin’s novel (never read it) from which “Amedeus” was adapted, or Milos Forman wrote it in the script. He was actually far from mediocre, and of course no genius, he taught both Beethoven and Schubert, and lately some of his operas and arias have found their ways on CD, one sung by the greatest mezzo-soprano of our age, Cecilia Bartoli.
    Pushkin’s novel was inspired by the fact that Salieri, in old age and senile, was said to have uttered that “I killed Mozart”. This started a century-long legend that Mozart could have died from being poisonned (which people related to his figure having bloated during his agony). Which no one takes seriously anymore.

  • Frostfrog, that was flippant? Brings some serious points to the table from my perspective. Love your blog, Bill.


  • a civilian-mass audience

    The pursuit of peace and progress cannot end in a few years in either victory or defeat. The pursuit of peace and progress, with its trials and its errors, its successes and its setbacks, can never be relaxed and never abandoned.”
    Dag Hammarskjold (Swedish Statesman and United Nations official, 1905-1961)

    Keep shooting…don’t lose your vision…FOCUS,FOCUS,FOCUS and open your souls…

    P.S…oime,shall I blame the MERMAID…for my moonlight ramble ?:)))))))))))))
    ~~~~~~~~~que sera ,sera~~~~~~~

  • a civilian-mass audience

    FROSTFROGY…yes,we do love your blog…
    squeeze the kidos …easy with LYNX:)

    GRACIE,MYGRACIE…thank you for all your support here in BURNLAND…and thanks for reporting…

    DAVIDBOWEN, KATHLEEN FONSECA…THANK YOU…please report to your nearest BURN aisle…

    and yes,yes,yes MR.JIM POWERS is my friend…golden heart…!!!

    and we do love our ACADEMIANS…BOBBY,AKAKY,SIDNEY…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    One photo philosopher (MR.HARVEY) once said that our time is limited…
    (I know mine is )therefore please use it wisely…

  • Thanks to Bob’s comment on the latest essay I discovered C.D. Wright last night.

  • Herve, that seems to happen a lot to musicians. Edmund White pointed out in his small book about Beethoven that practically the only musician this sort of sudden forgetfulness didnt happen to was Beethoven himself. After his death, Vivaldi practically vanished from the repertoire until the 20th century. J.S. Bach moldered for 80 years before Mendelsson conducted the St. Matthew’s Passion and put Bach on the map; before Mendelsson, if you spoke about Bach everyone understood that you were either referring to Johann Christian Bach or Carl Philip Emannuel Bach, both J.S. sons and guys who both loved their dad, but thought he was old-fashioned. Johann Nepomuk Hummel is finally getting now the recognition he deserves; he was a contemporary of Beethoven’s and the latter’s reputation simply buried Hummel for two centuries, which is strange when you think of it-Beethoven thought Hummel was his only serious rival; no one else came close. And Salieri is finally getting his due as well. The popularity of Amadeus has created an interest in Salieri’s work, odd as that may sound. Antonio Salieri was the Kapellmeister for the most musically sophisticated court in all of Europe, which was not a job for a musical or political hack. You had to have the goods and Salieri did. It was his misfortune that he was extremely good, but that his contemporaries Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven were geniuses.

  • Wrong Edmund. I meant Edmund Morris, not Edmund White.

  • BOO! yes it’s nearly Halloween…
    Hey Civi, and DAH and everyone!

    posts… in conjunction with the quality of the work…
    I notice that phenomenon in other places where photography is shown… Sometimes it seems to be tied to the viewer’s lack of understanding – trust me I live in a part of the world where people couldn’t possibly understand less…
    but also – if the work sucks – then people seem to nit pick at the flaws.

    So if the work is good – the chatter is less due to the lack of things to say – how could you possibly improve? why improve? It’s done so well. And maybe that’s a sign the work is successful but being shown to the wrong audience. What I mean by that is, work shown here is a bragging right and it’s shown to photographers – people who without their own work cannot make a difference in the photography world. Photographers aren’t rollers with money to through at a problem, they care, but there’s only so much they can do. and when it comes to conceptual work – there’s only so much impact work like that can have on a person. either it makes them think just a bit more about a person or situation, or it just reaffirms in their mind what they already believe, or it simply dumbfounds them.

    David,I just sent you an email about a project idea I have – would you please look it over and tell me what you think?

    Cheers everyone!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    BOO to YOU JASONHOU…and to PANOOO too and to BURNIANS hooooo…


    Good night youuhoooo…!

  • Giving Demotix a try for the occupy Des Moines march onto Wells Fargo. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  • good bye civi, stay strong….

  • You know, I don’t usually do the quote thing, but here’s one from Patti Smith you all might find interesting:

    “One of my great goals when I first started taking photographs or showing them publicly is that people might want one for over their desk. That’s my goal. You know, I could dream of getting the Nobel Prize in Literature — believe me, I’ve dreamed of everything. I’ve never been in a movie but dreamed of getting an Academy Award. I love all that stuff. But for my photographs, my dream is simply that they would have a place of honor above someone’s desk. When someone is writing or writing a letter or contemplating, they can look up and they would find a moment of serenity or a moment of centering from one of these little pictures.”

    Excellent article about Smith and her photography here.

  • my dream:

    to be rid of that desire….

    alas, i’m not that strong or at peace yet….

    though patti is still a hero…

    please watch this film Michael, glorious:

  • Thanks bob, I’ve seen it. Read the article I linked to though. The quote is not particularly Representative. Or better yet, listen to her later work. A lot of people worship her but have never listened to anything after Easter.

  • michael :)…yes, just finished reading your link….lovely…but then again, i’m a major fan of hers….thanks for the link, hadn’t read it prior…..btw, i edited Bones entirely while listening to Gung Ho and Trampin’ :))))…Just Kids (book) is wonderful too :)))…

  • MW…

    I read that article this morning! It seems people either hate her guts or adore her. I’ve never heard any of her music, any advice?

  • Ha, and as the random setting on ITunes has just reminded me, someone that fucking accomplished, in so many arts, managed to kind of accidentally take the iconic photo of The Clash. So much to admire about that kind of life.

  • Paul, Horses, duh. Then Easter, Gone Again, Twelve. Or some would say, with no doubt equal validity, this other one, that thing she did, or some other work. And for good measure check out MC5’s Kick out the Jams. And Jim Carroll’s Catholic Boy, and Robert Mapplethorpe and Alan Ginsburg and on and on.

  • Plus 4 more prints sold ( just in from gallery )..
    But I’ve no idea who is in the new team of 4 ( except from Dominic )..
    Again the big Burn.02 party moves to next Saturday !
    New prints arriving from super talented photogs like B.BLACK, LASSAL, DAH and more!
    stay tuned please !
    We have not done yet! We just STARTED!
    No bull!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    BURN family Biggest family EVER…
    I have a proof…and when I am ready I will share it with you…

    sometimes you believe that “blood” related people are your people…BUT oime…
    how wrong I was…

    just a morning ramble…BOBBY,my dream is to have the spirits permission to “see” your visions…

    I LOVE YOU ALLLLL and THANK YOU,THANK YOU…each and every one of YOU…
    I am stronger because of YOUUUUUUUUU…ALL of YOU
    thank you for let me follow your dreams…

    Your civi

  • a civilian-mass audience

    PANOS…you DA MAN…and please give the biggest hug to KIM and LOLA…

    WE all THANK YOU…!!!

  • Panos ask the patrons to deposit their coins in the jars for burn

  • “But for my photographs, my dream is simply that they would have a place of honor above someone’s desk. When someone is writing or writing a letter or contemplating, they can look up and they would find a moment of serenity or a moment of centering from one of these little pictures.”

    Precisely, why is this a desire to be rid of?

  • DAVID,

    Technical question and, so sorry, gear oriented. So I’m front row at the cage fight last night, and the dude’s on the mat getting pounded, blood sweat and tears flying, and I would have given anything to have my old split screen microprism focusing screen again but instead I have this nearly useless digital blank screen shooting wide open and cussing progress cause every shot is a hail Mary … sending you a single btw … so anyway …

    Have you looked at any of the after market old-style microprism focusing screens for your digital slrs, or shot with one? I did use a camera with the manufacturer’s alternate ground glass style screen once, only slightly better than useless in low light. I’m nearly in the dark most of the time. Thanks man.

  • Pachebel’s Canon in D,
    Just ignore the pix with it

  • DAVID … Okay, one more thing. Sometimes I get two or three related singles, sort of like a super short story, or flash fiction, not a whole essay, not a personal project, not something I’m going to pursue but perhaps interesting nonetheless. I’m sure others do as well. You guys ever thought about creating Burn Briefs, something that is up for a day or two, or has its own little location off to the side with a thumbnail to click on, sidebars from the working audience, little vignettes of life, three photos max, Super Shorts. Of course, I wouldn’t want something like that to dilute the featured more serious long-term essay but … sometimes (always/often/hopefully) good photography happens when you just show up, with a camera, kind of like life. Thanks for having an open forum so I can throw that on the table.

  • Akaky…

    Have you ever tried Alien Skin’s Exposure 3 for colour images?
    Ross Nolly and I have been using it for all our colour images. I find it manages to nearly kill the awful digital look I hate so much.

  • Michael Kircher…

    This is for you… :)

  • “But for my photographs, my dream is simply that they would have a place of honor above someone’s desk. When someone is writing or writing a letter or contemplating, they can look up and they would find a moment of serenity or a moment of centering from one of these little pictures.”

    Thursday, just before I left Barrow to fly to Anchorage and then drive home to Wasilla, a friend found me and brought me to his house to feed me a final meal of white fish and frozen caribou dipped in seal oil. I have been in his house many times, but this time, on a bulletin board with many pictures, I noticed for the first time a small funeral program pinned there. It was for his mother. The picture was one I had taken of her in the 1980’s at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. She was holding the first place trophy that she had won in the seal skinning competition and was smiling.

    It was black and white and the reproduction was terrible – kind of like an old time, black and white xerox. Probably, that’s what it was.

    I had never known that he had used that photo for the funeral, but it made me feel very good to see it there, on his wall, after all these years, still living, still speaking, if in a quiet but meaningful way.

  • Bill; That must have been nice for you.

    Paul; Tech talk alert… Alien Skin works well for what I’m trying to achieve. But I’ve found there is another more subtle effect at play too. I have been shooting with an older 24mm AF Nikkor (1989 or early 90’s vintage) and it renders more of a subtle look to the images compared to my modern zoom.

    I had that reinforced yesterday (again) when I used the zoom; the images are much more vibrant and contrasty (yes; and a plastic look) then the older prime; a completely different “look”. No difference in sharpness; but a big difference in rendering. Anyway tech talk over! :-)

    I’ve been away from Burn a lot over the last few weeks due to family issues and consequently haven’t shot out on the farm for 7-weeks either. Am chomping at the bit to get out there this week!

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