on the road with antoine d’agata….


Most of you seem to like the conversations I have with editors, curators, and photographers. Bill Hunt was our last conversation still up and Jim Estrin from the New York Times Lens Blog will be next. Following will be Susan Meiselas as curator/photographer and champion of the Magnum Foundation supporting photographers with serious projects no matter how affiliated. There will be surprise conversations along the way. As now.

Now I am literally on the road with Antoine D’Agata with whom, in the moment above depicted, am sharing both beer and vodka in our Motel 6 in Bismarck , North Dakota. We are part of Magnum’s Looking For America project. To be a major exhibition and book. Some of our colleagues at this very moment are in Rochester , New York doing Postcards From America which is a project within the larger America project. postcardsfromamerica.tumblr.com Yes, I am confused too. But no worries. Trust me, it will all come down in a good way and with our best work all coming together in print and on the wall.

So Antoine and I are headed for a story called (by me) BIG MEN LOOK FOR BIG OIL….In about an hour we will get into our lumbering camper van and head for a town with a lot of rich people who have no place to live. Hence the camper. Williston , N Dakota struck oil. The wild wild west. A bunch of men making a lot of money and sleeping in their cars. Williston was not ready for this boom boom boom.

My story will be sort of an interview with Antoine , who flew from Paris yesterday, and my own pictures from Williston. Or not. We joked last night , towards the end of a bottle of Grey Goose , how funny it would be if we never got out of this Motel 6. Did the story , a story, of a motel on the highway. However, I think we will move on. Curiosity.

Panos Skoulidas, from Burn comment section fame, and who started with Alec Soth and Jim Goldberg and Susan Meiselas on the original Postcards project which started in San Antonio is driving the van, helping me with computer stuff, and shooting video and doing his own record making.

The whole thing is crazy of course. In seven days I have to be in Australia for my Rio opening. Nobody in their right mind would be doing THIS now. Yes, exactly.

Well, come along with us. I will post some stuff here. Panos will too.
Check out the Magnum Tumblr (http://lookingforamerica2012.tumblr.com) for more and well one way or another we will bring you a story. Not sure what story but a story for sure.

Ask Antoine a question. Or any of us. If we do not answer right away, it will be an internet issue. Ok road trip about to happen. In pursuit of THE TRUTH.

Alec Soth may have said it best in an email to me. “North Dakota might not be ready for Antoine and you”.

Stay tuned.

170 Responses to “on the road with antoine d’agata….”

  • Of the series: just friggin’ DO IT!

    Would be a surprise if you’d not.. question to Antoine.. did you think twice before jumping on the plane to nowhere land? Curious..

  • Baby due any day now and there’s a big part of me that would much rather be hanging in that Motel 6 with you guys (or even alone!). Best of luck out there!

  • Three Guys.
    A Motel room.
    A bottle of Vodka.
    Some olives.
    A Bible.

    Pretty sure that spells P.A.R.T.Y out Dakota way..

  • very impressive atmosphere… orange color, silence, liqour and a man…

    David, Thank you :)))

  • agree with john g…….

    What is ‘unconventional media’
    Is that like a camera made of anger, or telepathic video…?

    ..and if you are ‘searching for America’..in America, does that mean your sat nav is faulty?

  • …also..even with Panos at the wheel is ‘Hurtling’ an appropriate adverb to use for a winebago, Unless the sentence also has the words ‘over the edge of the precipice’ in it?

  • Serious question:

    how much freedom are you given by Magnum? What I mean, if you really would decide to stay in Motel 6 (I know you’ve moved in the meantime), get sidetracked on the way to Oiltown, what happens? Shooting for Magnum, basically self assigned?, is it different to shooting for a client?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Who is driving the van?:)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))



    I will sing later…damn:))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  • a civilian-mass audience

    CHARLES…give a big hug to the family and baby Leica?

    ok…I have a question…?

    are we gonna see any ladies? hmmm…”BIG MEN LOOK FOR BIG OIL”
    I guess…my question is rhetorical…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Where is JIMMY…I see a cow…:)))

  • Question:

    Since the two of you are going to the same destination and following and developing the same story…does that mean that “the story” each one of you is pursuing has already been planned or will this be a “let us get there and let’s see what happens” type of thing?

  • light + geometry, boom.

  • Hey.. Mr. Gladdy… kisses and hugs and thank you :)


  • Serious question. How are you approaching this? Lots of upfront research, contacts, access? Or showing up with the gods of serendipity? Something in between? I’m very interested in the process you guys are taking to put you in the right place with the right people at the right time.


  • EVA. More than welcome. Though what made me think that picture on top was any good I dont know :)

  • I hope you are keeping your eyes open for cats.

    It would be a shame to make such a great journey and miss the cats.

    Nice cow, Panos. I’ve had some interaction with holy cows myself lately.

    Vivek, I see you are here on this thread. Did you get my earlier message, about how impossible my schedule got even before I reached Mumbai, where I stayed so briefly, and how difficult it was to make phone calls without a working phone?

    Anyway, I had a great time in your country, even with all the sadness and sorrow I, and those who I traveled with, felt. A wonderful time. A great time. Fantastic time. I want to go back again. Maybe next time we can meet up.

  • You boys going to visit some of those Spartan “man camps” that you’ll find all over the Bakken region of North Dakota?

  • The ONLY example of a photographic duet I know of is by Mr. and Mrs. Becher, who would make images of German watertowers and silos, side-by-each. Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris would cover a geographic region together, but would still work separately within. This is similar to the model being used right now in Rochester. It would be fascinating to watch David and Antoine work a scene simultaneously, or at least see their results. A variation on the contact sheet idea of viewing a scene from different angles, but this time, from different eyes.

  • Not so fast there Jeff.
    These guys work as a duet.

    And I have to say the work, in the flesh, is stunning.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    maybe I am in the wrong aisle…SPARTAN !!!

    or maybe this




  • 3:41 am…
    We survived the night..
    All good! Exhausted! Don’t forget to check tumblr and see u early in the morning..
    SF Jason , yes, MAN CAMPS ,INDIAN RESERVATIONS tomorrow at 7am
    One love!
    Big hug from me DAH and D’AGATA..
    Goodnight from the “gorgeous” town of Williston..
    The creepy little town that the testosterone flows like a cascade…
    Generator off, lights off, 0 C degrees outside, heater off..
    Life on the road is good, great , unique…

  • frost frog ……………. next time when u r here …we have to meet up ………..

  • Thanks, John.

    Marchand and Meffre are very much like the Bechers, in that one shot is taken, with the actual shooter left anonymous. Who made the image? How does the actual technique of one react to the other? We don’t know.

    I’d be interested in viewing other work where any non-pj event was covered by at least two photographers. Maybe there is the issue of the stifling of artistic license and freedom, which some would consider distasteful. Picasso and Braque were able to overcome the notion, as were Van Gogh and Gauguin prior. Limiting one’s creative self-expression in the company of others seems to me to be a precious sophomoric argument made by independent-minded, iconoclastic artists, but it is such a novel approach I think it bears some study.

  • When it comes to duets or even groups, in rock music there are cases where inspiration runs highest when both people hate each others guts. Kind of tug of war trying their best to keep the limelight all to themselves.
    Van Halen (Eddie versus David lee Roth) Metallica (Hetfield versus Mustaine) Guns and Roses (Axl versus Slash) and I’m sure there are loads more. Although it’s not the case in North Dakota it would be interesting to pit two photographers on the same assignment together who couldn’t stand each other…

  • To Paul’s point about rock duets, the greatest performance I’ve ever seen (only on video, unfortunately) is John Cale and Lou Reed performing “Forever Changed” in the “Songs for Drella” concert at BAM. Don’t know if they hated each other, but there was certainly a rivalry and you can just see them trying to attain new heights during that performance.

    As to the North Dakota trip, sounds great. I’ve driven through that part of the country several times and did some seedy bar tourism along the way. Visually, I loved both the landscape and the people as well as the small town architecture and diner culture. Look forward to seeing the results.

  • John – Thanks for the link. I had not seen this work. Even online, it is stunning.

    Panos – This is one trip I really wish I could be on. But maybe later, by myself. I have applied for a grant that would take me back to that part of the world – but for a wholly different purpose. I doubt I will get it, but when I read your words I sure hope so.

    Vivek – I hope so. And the same is true should you ever make it to Alaska.

    Civi – You are Hellene for certain, your message all the stronger in your gentle and loving voice.

  • Like the cow, dislike the phrase “one of the most unique.” Unique is an absolute: something is either unique or it isn’t.

  • @ PANOS:
    What an intense experience, what an intense sort of internship on the road… can I call it “roadnership”? Much, much better than a workshop! Keep reporting, even though if you don’t have internet access. Write down in the Notepad of you iPhone or whatever…, when ideas that you witness from DAH and Antoine are poping out your mind then, with wifi, copy & paste in Burn. Best way of learnin’.
    What about a Top Five daily list??

    Be aware of the testosterone…
    I love the limits on Google Maps of North Dakota. A simple rectangle… what else?

    Have a nice Friday!

  • Sounds like a fantastic project and some great stuff coming up here!
    Look forward to hearing more about this trip
    Have a great opening in Australia David.

  • http://instagr.am/p/J51QdlBrYu/

    ALL… Big hug from DAH and D’Agata!
    Traveling all day.. Mostly no Internet ..
    Nobody ignoring you.. We have terrible reception around here..
    I have to TETHER iPhone as a hotspot to blog and work..
    Not cheap..
    Antoine will answer .. keep asking..
    Keep shooting.. Keep having fun
    We love you!

  • We are on the road again.. Plan changes all the time…
    We expect the unexpected and act accordingly..
    Plz don’t forget to check the MAGNUM TUMBLR site..
    We will update with new photos after midnight.. Driving shooting all day and working
    usually between midnight to 3pm in our MOBILE “office”;)



  • “Strippers In Williston, North Dakota Raking In $2,000 Per Night In Tips ” CNNMoney reports.

  • Bill. Been redoing my website and I thought of your recent trip when this lot went up.

  • Following your instagrams Panos…..and looking at the tumblr.
    Keep it coming!!! and stay safe!

  • Question:

    There is only one picture by Antoine in the tumblr….maybe Antoine can talk on his view about online showcasing of images and the whole instagram phenomena?


    Thanks for that link to the set of photos from India. There are many beautiful, striking, and memorable pictures among those… material for a book.

  • John Gladdy…

    Absolutely beautiful images, of course your BW photos are really something else. They really kind of overshadow the colour work which is just as brilliant. But the BW stuff is hauntingly special…

  • Sweet baby Jesus on a pogo stick. I’m normally not the giddy fan type, but here we have a Cowboy and an Outlaw. And vodka. Smelling salts please!

  • I always enjoy a chance to come along for the ride, if only digitally. Thanks for the opportunity yet again!

    Curious as to when and where you draw the line as to the viability of a photo story and of course the inevitable regrouping and victory.

  • John, thanks! You see in depth, with thought, feeling and in beauty.

    I think by Monday I should finish this India series – but with a bit left over for later, should it feel right. I never intended to let it go on and on like this, but I guess I just don’t want to leave India behind.

  • Correction – I was thinking it is Saturday night. It is Friday night. So hopefully I will finish the series by Sunday night – not Monday. In India, I almost never knew what day it was. I thought I was over that. Guess not.

  • I was looking images and reading captions in the other blog site. Thanks Panos, DAH and Antoine for posting. I see D’Agata having not so fun… in that rainy day, between the camper and the wall. I bet, that he were thinking about French elections, and the 20% score of LePen’s (extreme right) results last Sunday. Geeeeez!

    In North Dakota, I found a similarity with southern Patagonia in Argentina. Big, big flat land, oil below, indians that will lose they home or land, wind, low density of people by square kilometer, not muhc to do (besides working and sleeping).

    Thinking about Kadir Van Lohuizen reportage, inmigration in Americas… money is the real thing…

    Big hug

  • First prints of books 4 and 5 now showing all at burn ……….. catcha soon David a co http://www.etrouko.com/

  • Okay Here are a couple of serious questions for DAH and Antoine.

    What is the purpose of these shoots?
    What are they meant to achieve?
    Why you DAH? and probably more importantly…why you Antoine?? (long flight to shoot a non event)
    Why do I feel completely underwhelmed by whats coming out of this and the Rochester postcard stuff, which, with honorable exceptions, is very average?
    And I dont mean average for a bunch of elite photographers maybe having an off day or three, but just average, period. Formulaic even.
    Apart from ‘sell more stuff using the company logo’ I can see very little reason for it.

    Certainly dont want to piss you guys off at all here, but I am just trying to honestly articulate some questions that have been nagging at me for a while.


  • ALL

    we are having a hard time finding net hotspots…back to you in a few hours to answer ALL questions…Antoine is not comfortable with the net experience and so we will ask him and then give his answers to you …i will quote Antoine…some very good questions coming from all of you and all part of this process….let me get some coffee, try to get to a net cafe (now at McDonalds, not a great place to write) and we will do our best to bring you into what we are up against and to answer questions about expectations…all good..

    cheers, david

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