(based on a true story)



So I took this picture about half an hour ago. In Rio. Well, Renata is in Rio and I am at home alone in Carolina talking to a black cat. Renata is a character in my book about to go to press in Italy which was shot in Rio. My not so secret fantasy night in Rio. (based on a true story). Yes the real title. Go figure. Presses roll in 20 days. Hmmm, maybe I put this in? Blending fact and fiction all the way.

What about you? If you are a documentary photographer, ever think about fiction? In photography fiction and non-fiction tend to be done by different photographers . Writers cross all the time. My work in Rio is all “real” but real only to my immediate surroundings. For this book I did not “go anywhere” to take a picture. Wherever I happened to be, was where I was going.

There will not be one word in this book. Zero text. Almost no title. That is why I want you to read it very very carefully.



408 Responses to “(based on a true story)”

  • PAUL

    the doing what you love piece was terrific and EXACTLY what i have believed since i was about 20…well, i always believed it, but only realized i could actually DO IT at about 20….felt at first like i was “getting away with it’ and then realized i could make it a life course, a philosophy for doing what i HAD to do….i thought your link was for Paul Graham the art photographer, but alas no….no matter…good piece for all to read….surely blending your work with your life is the only way to go….

  • PAUL

    the quote from Steinbeck is brilliant

    “A book is like a man. Clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly.”

  • That was a good read. Thanks Paul.

  • PANOS:

    Here’s one for you…



    Justin P

  • Reality as a concept is greatly overrated. Eat a liver and onion sandwich with mustard and see for yourself.

  • David…

    I also thought it was Paul Graham the art photographer until I started searching round the website!! :)

  • Thodoris…

    “Trees in the field” is the kind of landscape photography I keep feeling in my soul and heart. That for me is a good example of half way between fact and fiction. It takes me somewhere you could never reach in real life without stopping and letting go of all current daily distractions. Everyone sees these kind of trees, flowers and fields by roadsides but no ones usually pays any attention to them.

  • And whilst being dragged into our local Burger King I saw this book in the local Spanish bookshop and in English of all things!! Of course I just could not resist such a temptation…

  • The always interesting mr garlington…and its all based on a true story or two….


    This, unfortunately, isnt.


  • @ PANOS,
    Thanks for the advice, will try to do that private meeting…and let the people bet by their own. Will tell you. The idea is not to sell, the aim is to know people, know people related with art/photography and have a good day. I put a lot of energy in the exhibition, will tell you the result.
    Thanks dude.

    PS: I’ve been controled by cops twice in my life, both without ID in my pocket… He said to me: Well… you are not cooperating with us, and bla, bla, bla, but cops in Argentina or France are not like cops in US… You can negotiate…

  • Thanks Paul, I really appreciate it…

  • John…

    Thanks for Mr Garlington’s video. BTW I noticed you have one of Mr Garlington’s images on one your walls.

  • Hi, folks. I’m here in Bangalore, now, but not in a very good situation to keep up or communicate. I can’t send out emails, and I can’t use my phone, can’t Skype.

    Vivek, if you read this, once I get this phone situation resolved, I will try to call you at the number you left and see if you happen to be anywhere along my route of travel. I would like to meet you, if it can work out.

    Mark, if you read this and will be in Mumbai, I will arrive evening March 19 and spend March 20 there.

    Other than that, Howdy, everyone.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Thank you for reporting MY BURNIANS…as FROSTY says Howdy:)

    two computers are crashed…BUT hey,our spirit is UP…
    and based on a true story…

    keep BURNING…
    I will be back

    your civi

  • John Gladdy…

    What’s the “unfortunately isn’t link” about?

  • Hello all, and David, I have been reading Burn but not writing.. I have been taking pictures but not really showing them to the broad audience.. just very curious what real photographers and other visual people here would think about the pictures that I took in Colombia http://photo-essay.photoshelter.com/gallery-list

    As far as i know most people here make a living by taking pictures and video… not unique, but one time I wanted too:) however, to me seemed like all the doors in a photojournalistic field were closed for me… and people told me that now being good at taking good pictures isn’t even enough… Yes, i understand, if you have enough money and passion you can work, publish yourself, make a book yourself, make gallery shows yourself… I see enough example of this.. but this way doesn’t really match my personality and i don’t like pushing my work too much when I don’t see the interest from the industry… I don’t have that capitalist nature i guess:)

    Best wishes to all

  • frostfrog …….. am on a train towards gujrat …scheduled to b bck in Mumbai on th 19 th ……. anyways … look fwd to ur call

  • Hi Ron..

    not a photographer here, but my experience, if you are great at something over a period of time, not just once, and you have passion, and you believe in yourself and work hard, you will get there, IF YOU RELLY WANT IT!

    Just my two cents.. am old enough to have ’em.. :) can’t look at your essay, sorry, am browsing on the phone and stumbled over your comment..

  • Eva, thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree with what you say… but I also believe, if one can’t afford to do photography, or almost any kind of activity, full time or at least 70 % of his time, then it’s impossible to show your maximum, and if you don’t show your maximum… I believe only in total commitment here… it takes too long to get a decent image… but who will provide you with food and pays for the place you sleep??

    Some people in general are modest, and are not that confident by their nature.. and if they see this activity doesn’t pay their bills.. for how long one is able to believe in himself??? three years, five years???…:) Cheers

  • There are musicians, artists, grandfathers, great grandmothers, photographers in their 80’s committed to their craft and producing great work and alive and involved in whatever life throws at them. ……………….. don’t get fame and fortune mixed up with what one does.

    If you want your work to be out there you will have to push that is the nature of the communication/media beast …………just like burn here if there were not people pushing its content and responding there would be no burn for you to read

  • for how long one is able to believe in himself??? ……….well after they are pushing up dasies

  • Imants, yes absolutely, no doubts… but that fame and fortune??… well, at least in my case, if I liked or even needed fame and fortune there would be way more productive and quicker ways to achieve it in my home country:).. by the way, I don’t know any photographer who could be considered a financially rich person or even close to that… and that fame is a very relative thing – ask the majority of people outside of visual arts field who was HCB or who is DAH, I have done it many times:)…

    OK, but I don’t mix those f&F things with a personal self-expression… to each his own, but to me photography is about other things than f&f.. and probably why I don’t even use my own name together with my work. If anyone ever were interested in my pictures I would most likely to use my pseudonym:)… and if I ever were forced to make a gallery show, I would not be there either – I would just ask someone to shoot video of the event, and I would make sure in advance there wasn’t a lack of vine and snacks:).. that’s who I am.. I want to be invisible, let me alone – that is my attitude… I know, in capitalism culture and environment it sounds insane… Cheers

  • .. I want to be invisible, let me alone …….that’s bullshit otherwise you would not bother to post links to your images and ask people to comment on your work

    statements like” don’t see the interest from the industry…” contradict what you are saying and of course there is no interest as you want to be invisible

    fame and fortune was stated in reference to photography not other quick fix related fields

  • On your site you write …………….≥≥≥≥≥≥…….. I am available for photojournalistic assignments around the world ……………. a tough call for someone who wants to be left alone

  • Then again you can paint your face put on a red nose, sure you won’t be invisible but ………

  • RON

    i do not think we have met, nor do i know your work…however i did just take a quick look at two of your essays from your link here and saw imo some very interesting work..classic photojournalism yes, yet good classic…now i must sleep.but i will take a closer look tomorrow…i and out of whatever thread is going on here and the conflict ..i do understand your disdain for commercialism, and not quite relating that to anonymity, but as i said i am sleepy and i was reading fast and i might have missed your point entirely….

    cheers, david

  • as far as f&f is concerned being a Swiss banker gives one the fortune without the fame anon is the way to go

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Welcome home RON…!!!

    keep working my BURNIANS…

    as IMANTS says…”If you want your work to be out there you will have to push that is the nature of the communication/media beast …………just like burn here if there were not people pushing its content and responding there would be no burn for you to read”
    YES,yes,yes…keep Pushing my People…

    sooner or later…we will all push daises,azaleas,wild greens…therefore…let’s push OUR vision,our dreams…let’s push something…whatever works for YOU…
    BE YOU
    work Hard
    let the Universe be with YOU…all of YOU…EPF 2012 is here…Focus!!!

    good morning from beautiful Greece…BURN is the place to BE!

    P.S…I would love a report from ALL of YOU…ASAP…helloooo:)))

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Thank you MR.HARVEY…for pushing…the envelope!!!

    and a big hello to our RIO people…RENATA,ROBERTA…and RIO CREW…

    back to my aisle…where are you… JUKKA:)!!!

  • Ron

    Keep the faith and continue to work hard and who knows what will happen. Like Imants said, I don’t think you would show your work here if you didn’t wanted to make it as a photographer.


    I love how happy you are in the morning, it brings joy to the world hahaha.

  • … unfortunately it’s impossible to be just completely black or completely white in this life… ideally, I would like my work to be visible indeed, especially if it in any way affects the audience. I see this as a self expression, I have to do something during my short existence on this earth, and at this stage of my life I like doing this the most… but still, I do not want to be visible or known as a person physically because this isn’t part of my self expression… and I am not too philosophical about my pictures and I have nothing to say about them except the basic capture, I am just a photographer… I don’t see a contradiction in this at all, and in a world of artist and writers it used not to be that uncommon… and yes, I am available for assignments.. and yes, your honest opinion about my pictures matters to me a lot…

    As i have already said, I enjoy the work of taking pictures, and if it payed my rent and food I would be a very happy man, because I have the rest I need in my life… what’s wrong with that? On the other hand, if a couple of people like David Alan Harvey say – “you are not going to go that far with your talent and pictures you take…” that would be OK with me, I would just have to regroup myself, and would not waist too much time (I would, but just way less:))… I doesn’t look tasty to me at all when untalented people pushing themselves and their pictures.. I would like to avoid being in such a position… but no one has ever told me – “I don’t like your pictures”… but seemed like no one wanted to pay though:))..

    David, thank you very much for taking a look at my pictures, and as you said you will write me more later, i will wait… thank you

    P.S. Forgive my written English, I am not a native English speaker, and I didn’t even learn this language at school:) And please, NO personal attacks, I am who I am.. if you don’t understand or it seems contradictive to you… then you have to be me to understand it…

    Best wishes to all

  • Ron…

    Just do your photography to make you feel good. If you’re really committed to it and even if fame and fortune pass you by you’ll be out on the streets taking pictures. BTW I swear I’ve seen these images before, they keep ringing a bell in my mind, although I’m sure they were in color. I like your images, there’s something slightly atypical about them all. Anyway you do seem to have the ability to tell little stories.

  • a civilian-mass audience


    Viva MICAEL…viVa ALL

    and viva to all our friends Upstairs…oime LUCIO…grazie

    and as RON says…forgive my English and my Italian..and especially my Greek…

    BASED on a true story…we better stay away from PANOS…during LOOK3,right HERVE?:)))))))))))))


  • Ron..

    had a quick look, same as Paul, I remember some of the pictures, and also remember who had linked to them a while back here on Burn.

    And will repeat what I said a while back: stories and photography is everywhere, no need to travel far, our backyards are somebody’s exotic destination.. it is the eye that counts, not the distance we put between our home and the pictures. That is an excuse.

    You are available for assignments all over the world.. but want to make a living out of photography.. that means somebody must pay for your service.. I think it is hard for anybody to hire someone without knowing more.. contraddiction is ok to some extent, I guess we all have that within us, but if you are not out there in the world (your work), nobody will be aware and willing to pay, that is for sure.

  • John..

    love that photograph you linked to! Thank you!

  • So ron all what you really wanted was a critique on your images and sell them?

  • Paul, Eva,

    very strange to hear that you have seen my pictures and that someone linked to them here on Burn… while ago I have send just some of them to one street photo competition and that was about it.. but no one knew this gallery except for two of my none photographers friends, and actually for the last about eight months the gallery has been closed and not accessible.. i just reopened it two days ago.


    critique?- yes. Honest opinion? – even better. To sell my images here? ha ha:) – I don’t think you would buy them even if you liked them:)… Somehow I think in real life you have a very good sense of humor, while on internet probably it isn’t always easy to get it:).. Cheers

  • Ron. I quite like some of the first set of images and I do like the ‘traditional’ treatment you have given them. Nothing makes me go WOW, but nothing makes me cringe either.

    The Vilnius images are perhaps stronger in themselves, but the whole bleach bypass/partial de-sat treatment does them no favours at all from where I am standing..Not quite sure why you would choose a treatment like that for these.(truly interested if you wish to share)

    Both sets seem to come from someone who knows what a picture looks like.
    Curious as to why the anonymity.

    EVA. As you know, so do I. But it does mean a lot that you do too.

    Paul. Only that I do not share Mikes love of sharing the fact behind the fictions of my images (only with a few people anyways). ..

  • John Gladdy…

    Are you beginning to feel better at last?

  • John Gladdy,

    thank you very much indeed for your time. It seems that probably I am not that completely useless as I thought about myself eight months ago… probably that was just my crisis.. and I even sold all of my camera equipment… i didn’t take a single shot for about a half year till now… and now I take pictures only with my mobile phone camera:)…

    I think to make you say “wow” would be way too much to expect for me:).. and I would need more time to get involved there deeper… while back then I had “only” about one month in Colombia, first time, no Spanish… on one hand it’s good, on the other it’s not enough to get involved deeper… it would take me more time, or maybe a second time and after a good Spanish class, to come out with something stronger.. but i saw the potential there, and now I even have my good friend and own interpreter in Colombia..

    As for color and general picture treatment, you know John, I am way more a hunter than a cook.. I would rather give my pictures to a good cook, tell him what I would like, and see what he would came up with:) seriously, but I don’t have such a person yet… I used to have though when I shot B&W film, and that was my father:) who liked cooking as well as taking pictures… but in general, I don’t like too much color maybe because I am very boring and nostalgic person… I might experiment some other color versions one day though… I see, some people make nice color stuff…

    As for anonymity, I just need my privacy, and on internet it’s very easy to become too public nowadays so everyone can trace you, even people that you don’t want them to know about your current life…

  • Ron, welcome.

    Your pictures show that you have some talent and skill. Unfortunately, talent and skill alone does not translate into a living. As you have found out, there is not much of a market for traditional street photography.

    A musical analogy. I do know musicians who make a living as musicians, but the majority of them are very poor, work very hard, and make many sacrafices. I do know several who make very good livings as musical academics/teachers. Then there are a few superstars.

    I pay my bills with photography, but my other passion is playing music. While my group occasionally get paid to play, mostly we play for the love of it. I have no illusions about the level of my playing, or aspirations to become a professional musician. That is fine with me. It enriches my life.

    Yes, if a passionate and talented young photographer works hard and persists, recognition and financial success could follow. It also cannot be denied that luck, obsession, ego/self confidence, good health and means play a huge role. Like all the young painters, musicians, athletes, would be.com millionaires etc, very few will “rise to the top”. Does that mean one should give up? No, but it does mean we need to enter the race with eyes open.

  • Gordon,

    yes of course, that’s imho how it approximately works almost in any kind of field, except those “real” jobs. I have been in sport boxing.. but sport is at least way more functional to everyday living, makes you tougher, fitter, less vulnerable physically and psychologically in this dangerous world, and even better looking:)… photography itself isn’t that functional until it becomes functional and it becomes to very few as we know it well. The act of taking pictures is a very good meditation though… I respect and admire those passionate and committed “amateur” photographers from 60’s 80’s who kept documenting world around them all their lives but never get published.. some of them get published after their death though…

    I believe, my personal live on this earth has no meaning what so ever, and I know I need to live here and now.. and thinking realistically, I see my personal photography being just as a form of meditation that i really need sometimes, as well as I need some yoga stretching for my spine after I lift heavy weights in a gym… While taking pictures just a half time as a hobby it isn’t about going somewhere up because this way you will be able to show just about 1/3 of your potential or even less… kind of sad but that is reality as we know.

  • 100! AVE AKAK…oh forget about it…

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