on the edge….


I have never been one to follow any “routine” for long. I always want to get as close to the creative edge as I can. The status quo tends to get boring quickly. So when asked recently to participate in the upcoming Magnum Nudes project, my curiosity was immediately piqued since I had never photographed a nude in my life. Yes, I shoot lots of women, yet always the pictures were about moment and eyes and a certain sensuality, however all of my portraits were of women fully clothed. The assumption from my Magnum colleagues of course was that I would do well with a female nude if I gave it a good try. Even with almost direct orders from Abbas (who is running the nude project) “bring me a nude from Brazil”…

Yet alas, my dearest women friends said NO. Absolutely not. My orders from Magnum were one thing, the mantra from my closest amigas was different. They said “David you must shoot a nude dude. Be challenged. Do it”.

I was totally lost. Had no idea how or what to do. Was even a bit panicked by the idea. It simply was not what I do. However, with a little help from my friends, I did it. A small piece of this work above from my rooftop in New York. I knew nudes were not easy. I remembered this from my drawing class at school. Even skimpy bikini shots from Rio it was absolutely very very difficult to get a real photograph. Sure pleasing to the eye, but to go beyond the obvious takes some work. A male nude seemed almost impossible for me. So my personal status quo was indeed challenged. So to the edge I went.

Challenges of all kinds are popping up all around me. I have three new books to publish fairly soon. One is easy. “Tell It Like It Is” will be republished soonest. “Off For A Family Drive” will take a giant leap forward with my upcoming one month drive across America, and the other one is a secret for now. My only interest in photography right now centers on books, collector prints, and mentoring. If I can possibly afford it, I will take no assignments. I have done enough assignments. I will work harder than ever, yet only on my own projects. Even my assignments in years past always had my stamp on them. Personalized them as much as possible. Yet now is the time to go back to my roots and be 100% pure on everything I do.

This will of course affect Burn. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how to keep Burn going and yet devote myself at the same time to my own work. BurnBooks will have a very high priority, with books coming from established photographers and the emerging alike, my formula here. Our success with limited edition books takes us into a whole new arena never imagined by me when I started my Road Trips blog a few years ago (when was that?). The changing times, daunting for some, seems like nothing but new opportunities for me. I have always refused to wallow in any kind of self pity. The publishing industry has changed for sure, yet I never felt as some do that “it is all over”. No way. Sure the old way is gone which is natural evolution. The new way is surely better for those who see the light.

Burn Magazine from now on will do essays in a different way. I am dropping our Submissions button. Our current submissions system no longer serves a purpose. It creates lots of wasted time.

New essays will now come from nominations from top editors, gallerists, professors of art/journalism, workshop teachers, and those of us on Burn just being diligent talent scouts. All essays will have a mentor/sponsor/nominator attached. A statement from each mentor will be a part of the essay in addition to the artist statement. I have ideas to go well outside of photography as well. Yet that is discussion for another post.

I am at this moment in Santiago, Chile for my opening at Galería 64. I enjoyed the opening night, the show was brilliantly hung, and yet for me discovering about 6 new Chilean photographers has been the highlight. I go to enough photo events around the planet every year to gather more than enough original work, and whatever I miss can be found by the aforementioned. We will be way more involved with every essay published here on Burn. This will do two things. Give added value to the readers here, and shift some of the responsibility to my peers in the craft. The proverbial win win.

You will not see this change most likely for a few weeks. We have a nice lineup of essays already prepared and ready to go. Yet I honestly think you will like the change. At the same time we are trying to figure out how to afford a new web design which will feature our amazing archive here. Right now readers really have no sense of our deep deep archives built over the last four years. Our archives now are hard to search. This will change. With these changes Burn will go from blog to library. For sure also Burn 03, another magazine in print, will be born.

For those of you who are serious photographers, Burn should provide a new opportunity. For those of you who prefer to simply have a look and read, the content will be deeper.

As I go to my personal edge, I am, as usual, taking you along with me. When one goes to the edge there is of course the danger of falling off. Going too far. When the nude dude was on my roof, severe storm warnings were in effect. My normally summertime crowded rooftop went empty. Most ran for cover. Only three of us said “let’s do it”.

A glass of wine sitting in the middle of the table is boring. A glass moved to the edge is interesting. All of us just need to know the fine line between total stupidity and creative danger. Walking that line is the essence of LIFE. We only get one shot.

Is anything sweeter than finding that line?


-david alan harvey-


183 Responses to “on the edge….”

  • A glass falling of the table is visually interesting too, but I would drink the wine first.

  • David,
    That image is evocative and dreamlike. Thank you for offering us that insight into your creative process. I was a bit surprised to hear it was difficult to find women in Brazil to pose nude. It seems, especially from your work, that the culture you surround yourself with is perfectly comfortable in their skin and isn’t intimidated by a camera. Perhaps a spontaneous nude is more doable than a requested one?

    As far as the submission process for Burn I have to say the proposed changes are a bit disconcerting. Will Burn go from being accessible to any photographer with a vision to those with a vision AND industry connections? It sometimes seems the hardest part about “making it” in this field is the social aspect, and the randomness of knowing the right person at the right time. Will there be a list of said editors/gallerists with nomination access, or will it be a matter of photographers contacting lots of people in hopes that one of them is “in”? Also, those photographers who are more advanced in their careers/contacts than others would have a leg up nominations, no? I would love to hear your thoughts on this, and I hope it does not come across as presumptuous. I just love Burn and its message and would love to see that continue!


  • DAH –

    Cant wait for the changes! I think it is a necessary step for this developing (online) magazine. Imagine the work that will be shown if the sources come from many different places! Although my chances of my work getting on burn is not as likely, it pushes self motivation through the inspiration of the new and possibly better images. I cant wait for a new book, Based on a True Story was one of best books I’ve bought in a while!


  • From burn to burn books now that is a great step especially as I am totally biased towards the limited edition book. Sure I miss the helter skelter of that old burn from the past but………………

  • David great to see that your priorities are your own endevours

  • I loved this shot when I first saw it…Now its full frame its even better…I said then it resonated of Chagall… Now I know it is…that flight of fancy that distinguishes your work David its here in this… genius…

    I think you should stick to male nudes for a while if they come out as even half as interesting as this! Grand photo, grand visions…

  • David, when I learned you were participating in this, I tried to picture what you might produce and saw something along the lines of what Abbas ordered.

    What a surprise! A most impressive one. And how odd to see such an unusual, provocative, mind-challenging image set against the edge of such a familiar scene. Who in the world would ever conceive of such an image, except David? Art all the way.

    And David, sometime after I returned from my first round of surgery in early July, you left a comment here telling me to expect an email from you, “soonest.”

    I was very curious about that email, but I know how busy you are and a lot of things changed with me after I encountered so many setbacks and complications and wound up in a situation where, thanks to pain and drugs,I found myself incapable of producing material I had earlier thought I could reasonably accomplish.

    But a week ago last Thursday, my surgeon removed the anti-blowout brace he had implanted in my gut. The pain eased dramatically. I quit the painkillers. My body is healing, my head is clearing, each day I feel better than the day before and in the past week I have done what I said I would do, three or four times over. At one point, I pushed the entire package aside and headed off into an entirely new direction on the same theme, but then came back to the original and finished in a blend of both.

    Don’t worry about that email you were going to send – but do look for an email from me, either late tonight or early tomorrow. It will point you to my new package.

    I agree completely – you need to concentrate more of your time and effort on your own work, but first please give the email I am about to send and the work it will point you to just a little bit of your time.

  • …it will point you to my new package…

    Damn! How do I make such errors? I did proofread, too. But I read what I thought I had wrote, not what I had actually written.

  • Frostfrog / Bill – thanks so much for a good laugh on this monday morning! Please continue to feel better every day!

    David – great photograph and an even better big picture – thanks for that & looking forward!

    Big hug to you and all, D.

  • burn 3.0 – very good.

    yes yes the edge.
    when i began photographing it was as much to know how it felt to be in many of the situations presented in respected work as to communicate and present a perspective..
    told a friend i wanted an interesting life and to experience as much as possible, so as to outgrow my parents and their preoccupations.. avoid their suburban nightmare.. teenagers, eh?

    after a while the difficulty is to settle-back rather than get to the edge.. the later becomes the comfort zone pushing the former further out of reach.

    having a young son helps :o)

  • a good moment of temporal-stretch beats any drug..
    small tugs of panic-induced calm, when the world momentarily slows down.

  • Love the roof shoot, David! This assignment from Magnum will be a “piece of cake” to Antoine D’Agata.

    Will write tonite about “ON THE EDGE” post. Gotta go.

    FaceBook “told me” that is Roberta anniversary, so -> Parabens pelo seu aniversario!!


  • This all sounds brilliant and I love how things never come to a standstill round here. Never get a chance to start getting bored and this is one of the strongest points about Burn.
    Viva Burn 3.0!

  • David…

    Is there still a chance for some of us to be mentored by you? Walking on the edge is tough enough as it is and if you’ve never been there it’s really like walking in the darkness stumbling all the way. I’m very serious about the mentoring and it’s not something I take lightly, knowing it requires dedication and time on your behalf.

  • Davis,

    Change is a good thing…puts one on the edge and makes things fresh.
    All great news except that most likely we will not see you around commenting as often. You will surely be missed! but who cannot rejoice in what you have decided to do? well…what you are already doing?!?
    You might not comment here as often going forward but most likely we will see more of your work and that will be fantastic! that to me it’s better than a bunch of words….

  • ooopsss! David….not Davis ;-)

  • Oh…before I forget….what about the “burn diary” idea?
    How will that fit with what is to come?


    it should fit in perfectly…thanks for asking…do not worry we have not forgotten it..i have just been a band on the run…coming home tomorrow….(i think) ha ha

  • “Bring me a nude from Brazil…”

    I’ve always wanted to have that kind of power. Ah well, too late for me now, I suppose.

  • PAUL

    of course ….i am not changing my life, i am simply restructuring….i will be looking for totally dedicated photographers to mentor…discovering for me is discovering…either a new project for myself or becoming an integral part of another creative person’s development…i cannot go into this anymore now because i am being kicked out of my room, must change to another and the place is a mess…ahhhh alas creative thoughts interrupted buy REALITY..damn…ha ha…back home tomorrow..back here tomorrow

    cheers, david

  • Looking at this picture reminds me that there are people in the world who do not have to remove feces filled Dunkin Donuts coffee cups from the premises because the janitor doesn’t come in till four pm. Still, you have to admire the guy’s ass-eye coordination; he managed to fill the cup without any spillage on either side. He’d have won a gold medal if there was an Olympic event in this sort of thing.

  • Patricio…
    Facebook tells “30” ..Shit…That’s right! How that happened so fast?
    Obrigada Patricinho..very sweet of you

  • Miss Roberta, that right! Many congratulations on your twenty-nineteenth birthday! And many happy returns of the day and the number!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    ROBERTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA !!!!!!!!!!!!…Happy birthdayyyyyyyy…
    We love YOU!!!

    oime…I am on the edge…I am trying so hard to check the photo…
    Where are my 3D glasses when I need them…?:)))

    May the party begin…MR.HARVEY…geez,YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE !


    P.S FROSTY,no worries…you might be slightly dyslexic…it’s all good/sending hugs:)

  • This image is pulled straight from my subconscious – don’t know how you got inside there , but you have rendered it beautifully!

  • David, another good evolution and I agree with Imants on both his points. All good things evolve, or pass. Good to see Burn evolve, again. The more I see the traditional publishing models struggle or fail, the outlets take increasingly cynical attitudes toward their content creators, and now, the evil empire buy its way into the archive of collective history while shoveling its latest weapons systems onto the world, the more I appreciate Burn and its egalitarian approach. Wnile you may remove the submit button I know Burn will always be open to the best work. Looking forward to it.

    I really do think this is a window on the future when the artists get their collective heads on straight, organize, create, publish and leave the traditional outlets to their spinning plates of perfect pasta in high key bokeh.


  • I join in the happy chorus – Happy birthday, Roberta!

  • Civi, Akaky, Panos, Bill and dear Burnians who shared some love also by facebook… Somehow, in your own way, you have this capacity of making me feel good, or simply better. Just a feeling to be embraced in my special day, and provoked by you who I don’t even know in person. That’s the magic, the gift, the words, gestures and consideration that are never lost on me. Im profoundly grateful to each one of you for making the Aug 20 th a happier day ..Love..

  • @ ROBERTA:

    30, ..Shit…That’s right! How that happened so fast? Think about this: Shit happens!! :-) JAJA


  • 30? Geez; I turn 50 in February. And that sure went fast… But the way I look at it is that at least I’m lucky to be still kicking at (nearly) 50….

  • I turned 50 four years ago and I’m still trying to reconcile myself to the idea.

  • Regarding the new burn order, sounds like a plan. I don’t really have an opinion. Just roll with the changes.

    Regarding the rooftop photo, as I said, it’s difficult to make serious choices after just quickly flicking once through a card. I spend a lot of time obsessively looking at my photos, slowly paring them down until I am as sure as I can be about my choices. That said, the one you show here was not my favorite, not even close. I’ve been wondering if it’s yours, or if you are holding back the best one(s) or if, perhaps, you’re shy about showing the full monte here on burn?

    Regarding the video discussion under Gladdy’s essay, here’s another one of my little multimedia thingies. It illustrates some of the points I always try to make in these discussions.

    Red, White, and Blue from Michael Webster on Vimeo.


    Happy Birthday!!!
    I am coming a bit late to the party, but my congratulations are heartfelt.
    For me, 29 was an interesting year of transition and preparation for one of the great adventures of my life which began when I turned 30. 29 was also the year I was able to buy my first real up-to-date SLR camera and three good lenses, and started seriously taking pictures. And the last year I saw my father alive.


    Seems like you could come up with a pretty good riff on “Fifty-four forty or fight!” if you put half a mind to it. It’s too late to give you my advice to the young…”Never turn fifty!” 50 was easily the most wrenching, disorienting, disappointing, and disturbing year of my life so far… and it’s been pretty much all downhill since then!


    (Somewhere in mid flight between Santiago and the US East Coast…? Man, that must be one long and tiring flight…) Having never actually used the “Submissions” button on BURN myself, I guess I have no valid grounds for objecting to its disappearance along with the other changes in the works, though I confess to feeling a twinge of the kind of reservations Danny Ghitis expressed above.

    But BURN is your baby to do with as you feel you should and must… no one can fault you for not being extremely helpful, encouraging, and generous to up-and-coming photographers… we all need to change and move on… I am looking forward to the “BURN Diary” and some of the other changes you allude to.

    Welcome back to the land of total political insanity… I hope you can tune most of it out. The level of political discourse in America has reached a new low (no mean feat!) but also a new irrelevance given the sheer weight of money that now has effectively removed ordinary citizens from whatever access to the levers of power they once might have had.

  • As for the changes to Burn; it’s all evolution after all. The idea of producing limited edition books etc is probably a wise one.

  • My concerns are similar to Danny’s. One of the great benefits is that Burn provided an overt outlet for people to see work. An outlet where any photographer could feel that they had contact with the editor. When I went to New York to try to meet with photo editors a few years ago, the biggest hurdle was getting contact information, then to get them to call me back. It seemed the editors were trying to place barriers to those of us not already on their radar. The only reason the WSJ called me back, was that the editor thought I was the Brian Frank from Los Angeles that won a pulitzer for them. Once she found out I was a different Brian Frank, she was suddenly out of town that week.

    Like Sidney said, Burn is your baby. I can only speculate that the wasted time is from dealing with the deluge of submissions; a product of the openness of the call for submissions and of the success of the site. I can only further speculate that the site’s success and the deluge have come hand in hand. How else do you find the nuggets of greatness, if not through rummaging through mediocrity?

    In short, I am concerned that Burn will become like the WSJ, and those not already in the loop will be overlooked. I have faith that you, and the rest of the Burn staff have thought this through, and that the plans keep those thoughts in mind. If not, please take a moment to consider that issue.

    Cheers and safe travels.

  • David,

    thank you for this picture and the story around. I love this picture for many reasons!

    But I wonder, how did you come to this result? What has been the creative process?
    Had you a precise idea how the picture would look like in the end, before going to the roof with the model?
    How much of the scenario was written before, and how much was about ‘seeing’ the unplanned as it unfolds?
    Did you try and shoot many other locations/models/scenario on this ‘assignment’ until you found the right one?

  • I would much rather see this blog more about DAH’s curation of the “best” (in his opinion) photography out there, photos he discovers rather than solicits. The whole emerging photographer thing has always seemed a forced construct to me, as so many who ended up here were really not “emerging.” Other essays seemed to be posted simply because they were provocative.

    As for Magnum does nudes, the result seems to me to be a strained commercial idea. A poor fit for Magnum. Not because they are shooting nudes, but for the same reason I’ve been disappointed by most of the “Postcards from America” concept. The result seems more “make work” and forced than the best efforts of Magnum photographers.

  • I am in total agreement with your second point Jim.
    …but maybe to survive as an entity, thats how the game has to be played now.

  • David Lynch, on being an artist

  • I have the same concerns as Danny Ghitis and Brian Frank.

    Thanks for the video link Paul. I love Stephen Shore’s book Uncommon Places.

  • I love blues, always have but why does every single movie documentary based on the American South always have a slide guitar as a soundtrack. I find it kind of devalues the power of the blues, turns it into something lighthearted and puerile.

  • Tonyhayesimages…

    You may find some gems in this video :)…

  • Paul, “…why does every single movie documentary based on the American South always have a slide guitar as a soundtrack?”

    Because playing Dixie and The Bonnie Blue Flag in the background suggests a certain ambivalence with the verdict of April 1865.

    Sidney, yes, it has been all downhill ever since, and I would do the 54-40 or fight, but I didn’t like turning 40, either, although the statue of the pig balancing on its nose was pretty cool, I thought. And the fighting thing is out; making a fist that means business is still not possible for me. I can take the caps off of bottles of Diet Pepsi, which may not be important to you, but it definitely is to me.

    Brian, going through my multiple submissions is not rummaging through mediocrity; it is trolling through crap. Speaking of which, we have a suspect in our Dunkin Donuts crapper caper. There’s not much we can do to him at the moment, but he seems to be using our bathrooms to smoke crack in and so we are keeping an eye on him now. Why he doesn’t use the toilets instead of a coffee cup is a Rosicrucian mystery.


    that IS the way it will go….nominations, but more involvement by me….


    who said it was difficult to find women in Brazil to pose nude? i did not say that at all…i said my women friends who are around me told me that i MUST shoot a male nude…for creative reasons…..that a female nude would be too easy…not sure how you read that wrong….i will also do women nudes for this project….in Brazil or wherever….

    you have an equally skewed vision of how great essays are published…a view held by many, but not a view i share at all…not at all…a very poor excuse if you think you need some kind of industry connection to make it as a photographer…….if you shoot a great essay for sure 100% i will see it…i swear i do not know of any great young photographer who is somehow going unnoticed…no way….

    we will be looking for nominations from editors and gallerists and teachers, but i did not say that we would not be looking!!

    i said WE would be looking as well…seems you are skim reading amigo!!! this is part of the problem..people jump to wrong conclusions..

    i will be looking more than ever!! i just discovered for example a few great photogs in Chile than i never would have seen in submissions…i am going to make it MORE of a point to be looking at portfolios etc….i travel a good bit and am even crossing this country soonest on my own family shoot..if there is anyone in this “industry” who is accessible it is me…i am only one person, yet if you cannot get to me, then you will not have the fortitude to get to anyone…

    yet the idea that “acceptance” is somehow egalitarian just is never the case, never has been the case, and never will be the case in any venue in the world nor throughout the history of the world…everybody gets a chance, but not everyone deserves a spot…how could that be?

    we will have at least three picture editors here on Burn…with emails…you can find us…easy…we are looking for your great work Danny…we are dedicated to finding great essays never seen before…we are not trying to get out of work, we are trying to go work …to work and develop the best…

    we receive almost no submissions from the commentators here…the ones who do submit, who take the time to work with us, we have published of course…and we will continue to do so…

    my suggestion is: go shoot….stop thinking too much about when where and how it is going to be published…everyone i know at Magnum, NatGeo, and here at Burn is waiting for this brilliant work….

    thank you ….

    cheers, david

  • I am waiting and expecting something to change…:)
    It always stimulate me!!!

    David, Thank you always…:))) you are the best!

  • And I love..love… this picture very much.. :)))
    …seems like fantasy…

  • …last night tonight with Antoine in Texas, San Fran tomorrow…
    plz call me if u wanna get “involved” in his final chapter of his new movie
    (thank you).
    And after all this is done, september 1st , “see” you all in Casa Azul, Mexico city…
    Since im so obsessed with FRIDA KAHLO I decided to go “stay” in her house for a week…i have tons of questions to ask her , i dont know where to start…



    “my suggestion is: go shoot….stop thinking too much about when where and how it is going to be published…everyone i know at Magnum, NatGeo, and here at Burn is waiting for this brilliant work…”

    This is a piece of advice that I’ve just read below…do not intellectualize too much!!



    This some text!“my suggestion is: go shoot….stop thinking too much about when where and how it is going to be published…everyone i know at Magnum, NatGeo, and here at Burn is waiting for this brilliant work…”

    This is a piece of advice that I’ve just read below…do not intellectualize too much!!


  • Paul,

    Thanks for the link/video. Haven’t watched it yet but will do soonest. Agreed about the slide guitar thing. It’s a wonderful sound in and of itself (think Joe Walsh), but overuse in a particular context starts to grate.

  • B R I L L I A N T . I love the unexpected about it, the surreal, the fantasy.

  • DAH to Frostfrog, on “Free Beer, no, sorry, free portfolio Reviews, July 11, 2012:

    “private email to you soonest, i just wanted to say hello here…”

    As I noted the other day, it is quite okay, probably even for the better, that “soonest” still awaits a future day, as I was knocked so off-kelter that I couldn’t do anything anyway and your email would have reached a drugged up, helpless person wracked by pain. But I am on kelter now and off my pain pills. I still got a big ugly, ragged, hole in my tummy but I am strong and growing stronger everyday. I am working. I am accomplishing things. I have done what I told you I would do and have sent a new email to you along with a link.

    I am raring to go back into the field and I believe my surgeon will give me the go ahead when I see him September 4. I then expect to be gone almost immediately and I could well wind-up in a no-internet environment – painfully slow internet at best.

    It would be wonderful if “soonest” could come a bit before that day.

    Truth is, I am itching to go so bad my mind keeps toying with the idea of taking off early next week, maybe even this weekend, but that would probably be foolish of me. If something went wrong, someone would have to radio for a SAR helicopter to come and pluck me off a very remote island.

    I don’t want that to happen.

  • DAH – I just talked to the captain whose crew I would be boating with and they plan to head for the island from the village August 29, weather permitting, which would mean I would have to leave here on 28th. I really want to be there. The action will not begin until September 1, so it’s possible that if I gave myself a couple of extra days to heal a little more someone might make the trip on the 31, then I could give myself until the 30th to leave here. So it would be great if we could do some serious communicating before then.

    My doctor might say, “no, it wouldn’t be wise” but then I might just go anyway. Every day, I am stronger and more healed than the day before and so I could be up to seven days stronger and more healed than I am right now. That might be just enough…

  • Frost- be well, glad to hear the good progress!

  • I’m with Milli, nice to see you’re stronger and healthier Bill.

  • David

    As always, humbled and inspired by your energy, your output, your ideas, your personal courage, and your generosity. I’m looking forward to following whatever new direction evolves here. I would very much welcome easier access to the archive, and a burn diary.

    Love the rooftop nude. Very DAH. Surreal, sensual, provocative, anything but boring. I must point out the obvious. To my male eyes anyway, this photograph, while it contains a nude male figure, is all about the woman, and her beautiful legs straddling the horse. Mystery swirls around her like the storm.
    I know you and many would be horrified, but if this were up to me, the first thing I would do is photoshop out the buildings near his left hand.

    “we receive almost no submissions from the commentators here” You may recall inviting me to submit some of my commercial portraits. I have been slow getting this together for a number of reasons, but would still like to do so at some point. I tend to think that my own attitude towards making photographs, and how I chose to live my life, comes more from the center, or the core, than the edge. I would love to bounce a few thoughts off of you or one of the other editors. You can find me at glafleur3@shaw.ca

    Have and awesome family drive.

    WOW! Didnt know you could make film look just like instagram. Cool!
    Can I get some from the app store?
    How does it fit into your phone?
    yes this is a facetious comment.

  • “tungsten balanced?”

    Hope so! :)

  • Thodoris…

    Is this the “Impossible Project” Polaroid imitation film? If so, is it as bad as I’ve been warned?

  • Sally Mann colour landscapes from Mexico…

  • “The only freedom, for those who have nothing, lies in self-destruction”
    Antoine D’Agata

  • “The only freedom, for those who have nothing, lies in self-destruction”

    That’s a limited view of freedom, to put it mildly.

  • Try exchanging the “limited” with “personal” and it all make sense
    (I hoped it was kinda clear, anyway big hug)

  • id love to elaborate more but not tonight…
    no time for talk, I gotta do the walk..
    Thank u all, that supported me supporting Antoine’s new work,
    ok , back to work

  • .. and don’t forget if anyone that hasn’t seen my request for help in San Fran plz call me..
    (need locals Californians , thank you ALL again)

  • Thanks, fellow alumni Milli and Edite…

    I think I did get a couple of calls back to reality, though. Last night, our calico cat head nudged me in the belly and it really hurt. Then just now, I got out of the shower, went to a mirror and gave my wound a good study. It is still big and huge and open to a lower layer of flesh that looks raw steak spread with a glaze.

    It suddenly dawned on me that if something did happen, if this wound opened up out in the ocean and the crew suddenly had to turn their attention to me, they might lose out. So I will stick to the schedule the doctor has put me on and try to do this next year. After being cooped up all summer doing nothing and suddenly feeling so much better, I got to thinking about whales and polar bears and the good, physically demanding cold life and the cold air and I wanted to be out there so bad I let my desire get ahead of body.

    Speaking of freedom – that’s where it is – out there in the Arctic Ocean with an Iñupiat whaling crew.

    So, DAH – we should have until Sept 4 to do some good communicating after all. I sure hope “soonest” finally comes by then.

  • I want to tell you a photographic story:

    Yesterday was the anniversary of Henri Cartier Bresson, he would have 104 years old.
    The story is about this incredible photographer that influenced me a lot in the beginning of my photographic life.

    I was in a “dark” period of my life. I was 25.
    Going to University was simply unbearable, because my soul was not fulfill with what I was learning at that moment. I was studying physics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    Sometimes instead of going to lessons, I’ve just went around wandering like a “rolling stone”, thinking, walking nothing unusual.
    In May 2oo5, wandering in downtown, I decided to go to a gallery that looked interesting, according to the cultural newspaper.
    I payed the entrance, went upstairs, the security guy checked my ticket and then… BOOM!

    An immense space with high ceiling, very well illuminated, with no one inside, just prints hanged in the wall. Big prints and very well mounted pictures of an incredible Henri Cartier Bresson retrospective, more that 80 black and white pictures in front of me, with no crowd (because It was a Tuesday at 2pm… who the hells goes to an exhibition in a week day after lunch???)
    I made the tour three time, contemplating every single image, the composition, that “moment décisif” and how can someone could make such photographies!! I was overwhelmed by what I saw in there.
    Leaving the museum, I was like a zombie… thinking about images recorded deep in my brain for the rest of my life.
    Coming home, I commented that during dinner with not much attention from my parents, I little more from my sister (she was starting architecture at University).
    The following day I loaded my parents Canon AE-1, with one film and went out to shoot. I can say that my photographic life started that day. Before that episode, I always took “tourist” pictures, but from then on, my vision changed radically and wandering the streets of Buenos Aires was not anymore the same…

    Thanks to that exhibition, seven years later, I’m completely devote to this art, not regretting a second about the choice of leaving aside numbers, integrals, derivatives, equations, quantum mechanics and all that scientific stuff that I still love!
    I have to admit that sometimes I struggle to make a living in photography nowadays… but no regret at all.

    It always impressed me how this exhibition changed my life and having an aim/goal is one of the best things that make me feel alive and move forward.

    Hence, I just want to say first to Henri: “Merci beaucoup pour tes images et ta façon de voir le monde” and I also want to thanks this awesome burn community for the momentum that gives me energy to go further with this amazing art.

    Love you all


  • Thank you, pAtrIcIO m., for shearing your inspiration-to-get-started story. I enoyed it. After I read it, I went wandering through your images and enjoyed that experience, too. I found your home page image of the bike in the fountain to be an especially excellent tribute to Bresson – as are several on your Patagonia page. Itngoes without saying that I really liked your Patagonia cats – especially the one sleeping below the window.

  • Patricio,

    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing that.


    You are doing it! walking the talk..you said it….Looking forward to seeing the outcome.
    Sending you some tropical storm isaac energy winds to charge your batteries!

  • Very exciting when a burnian’s work pops up in my feeds:


    congratulations, Anton

    YOU ARE ON NPR!!!!!!!!!!
    right on bro!

  • Carlo, in a month an a half you will be one of the first to see the outcome…;)
    thank you

  • …400,000 people live in tents in Haiti as we speak , “anxiously” waiting for STORM Isaac to hit!
    although i dont pray in general, this time i WILL pray for the poor people of Haiti …..
    TOUGH NIGHT tonight


    great story…thanks for sharing….i think HCB may have had that affect on many…


    i am still interested in your commercial portraits….and you can send directly to my email and copy in the rest of our crew….no submissions button does not mean we are not interested nor not looking at work from commentators here…of course we are …we are simply changing the way that it happens…i am: davidalanharvey on skype if you want to show me a selection…i would be nice to chat with you…


    i don’t know, cannot remember, what you write here and what is private, so i won’t say now anything about the last batch of pictures of yours i saw…i just want to talk about those….we are planning our cross America trip which will start in October, but a call with you would be a pleasure…off to new york today for about 3-4 days, but not going on any major trips…try skype…text first always best….i am so pleased your health has at least stabilized…


    likewise…ahhh Haiti..always always in the eye of the storm….

    cheers, david

  • John …

    A few years back I found on ebay someone selling boxes (500 exposures) of expired Polaroid film specifically made for passport pictures (it even has… it’s daylight/flash type… of course been expired more than 7 years by now doesn’t help its color fidelity…


    My girlfriend shoots the Impossible film with her sx70… even though it’s not that impressive in terms of contrast and color saturation, you can actually make good pictures on it… its most important problem for me is its price… if you want you can see examples of Ioanna has done so far with it on her blog http://travelsanddaydreams.wordpress.com
    One of her pictures will be published by Random House in a Polaroid postcard collection by the end of the year…
    Also, they’re still working on their formula… there is a new version in bata testing which supposedly fixes most of the shortcomings of the previous/current version of the film…

    By the way, I’m writing this from beautiful Santorini!!!
    I’m manning one of the most special bookstores on the planet…
    If you visit Santorini, you must visit Atlantis Books…

    Thanks for watching my web site.I’m glad that you’ve enjoed it. The cat is from the Recoleta’s cemetery in Buenos Aires, not Patagonia. Nowadays I can not take that kind of pictures anymore… too much loneliness in that period.


  • Thodoris, truly that is one of my favorite bookstores. Last time I was there a sign in the window proclaimied it as the Obama campaign headquarters for Greece. The Meteor Cafe just around the corner played jazz from the Seattle NPR station. And at the seaside cafe in Ammoudi, we had to lift out feet during dinner as waves sometimes washed through the restaurant. Missing Greece.

  • Thanks, David – I will do that – probably Tuesday. On Sunday and Monday, I am going to pick up my cameras for the first time since my surgery (I have blogged iPhone exclusively), go to a summit and see what happens when I try to do a bit of shooting.


    “Nowadays I can not take that kind of pictures anymore… too much loneliness in that period.”

    I can relate. Images of cats run through one of the darkest periods of my life.

  • First photo I ever made it was a cat ( on a Nikon GF-20 ), I was trying hard to make a nice photo coz my “goal” was to eventually “get” to the owner;)
    And I did! And it worked! Hard to stop shooting after that experience!
    I got lucky ( thank you camera ;)

  • a civilian-mass audience


    I am back …back in our BURNING home…oh,I miss you ALL…

    yeahhh,baby…I was traveling,oime,GREECE is freaking beautiful…and the journey never ends!

    I am going to check my chickens…hmmm…
    it is really a HOT summer that we are experiencing here…
    and I will be back to check YOU ALL…

    I am a happy civilian and I do LOVE you ALLLLL…

    VIVA,VIVA,VIVA…BURN is the place to be !!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    AKAKY…AKAKIE…99…watch me out…I am on the edge…

    holding my ouzo..

  • a civilian-mass audience


    ok,back to our BURNING..edge…
    I’ll be back

  • I feel you Tom… I’ve been here for 5 days now and even though I’m leaving on Tuesday, the separation anxiety has kicked in already… I do plan to come back to shoot a project—off season… will see…

  • AVE AKAKIU…oh shit…

  • Panos,

    Looking forward to it!

  • @ PANOS, FROSTFOG and ALL cats lovers:

    It’s usual that many, many photographers take pictures of cats in a large way.
    Personally I found the answer that cats are like photographers: They move in an accurate way, wisely, in silence, with charm… usually the point of view is incredible, i.e. from the rooftop or in the top of a high wall or fence, where they can “admire” the whole scene and nobody could bother them…

    PS: Cats are Leica users… :-)

  • “cats are like photographers: They move in an accurate way, wisely, in silence, with charm… “……………….

    … the alternative is a cat that used to hang around near my place went straight to art http://www.iamparanoid.org/

  • The above image was taken with a Sony RX100 and made me a better photographer

  • Reason…………….I am not wasting money on overpriced leica stuff and get to travel, make art and books

  • a civilian-mass audience

    IMANTS…you are paranoid…that’s why we love you…

    and yes,PATRICIOM…cats are like you…they are philosophers
    same thing for chickens…!!!

    and as AKAKY says…shit,I LOVE YOU ALL!

    I need reports ASAP…THODORIS, I would love some visual…


    ok,I am still reading…be strong,keep shooting…shoot,shoot,shoot
    your civi

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I am sending good energy…to our AMERICAN friends …
    ISAAC if you can hear me…

    please,be nice to our people…

    I am sending good energy to JAPAN and to ALL our people in the Universe…
    may the spirits be with US!

    P.S…and remember there is always civilian’s door open…key under third pot(baby olive tree)

  • “I do. I don’t know if it’s for everybody. But, I tend to think in larger bodies of work, mostly because I am in love with books. That is the ultimate thing to me, to have a body of work in a book. I think it is a miracle when a book comes out. I think it is the ultimate form. But that is just an opinion. If you are going to do that, you tend to think in terms of larger groups of pictures.”
    Keith Carter

  • civi,

    isaac was not too bad around these parts…strong winds and lots and lots of rain but all is fine!


  • a civilian-mass audience

    PAUL and CARLO…Thank YOU for reporting!

    Be strong MY BURNIANS and let me tell you, I don’t need visual…go find a safe place…

  • It’s all in the head..
    Nothing is real

    Click link below to see blood :


  • Watch my video “Blood On The River” on Viddy


  • Watch my video “Sheriff Escorts Prisoners Training Dogs in SA River Texas 2012” on Viddy http://viddy.it/RqcCNd.

  • Civi,

    I am here.
    Not always fully awake, however :)

  • Civi..

    All good, I’m LOST in the middle of NOWHERE on my way up North.. crossing waters, small ones..

  • Hi Eva
    Sent you an email,last week, at your Burn address
    Did you receive it or should I look for another solution to the
    question I presented?

  • Mark.. on it :)

  • Now that I am greatly improved and growing stronger and better every day, I have discovered wonderful things while suffering such an ordeal, and loneliness and sadness can be brought on by growing well. It is in my post from today:


  • Frostfrog

    Permission to do nothing. I relate completely to your ordeal. Been there, done that a couple of times. There is something perversely wonderful about recovering from major illness or surgery. There are no expectations. While it is a time of pain and huge physical stress, it is also a time of renewal. You get to re-invent yourself, be looked after,and sleep. Don’t rush it.

  • A deliciously sultry photograph. What a great challenge for you, a nude dude.

    I’ve been following burn all the while though not commenting very often. I’ve been thinking deeply too about pushing the envelope and getting away from my comfort zone to delve more deeply into what photography and the photographic life means to me.

    I’m no longer at home with my boys all the time. They are forging their own paths now and I must endeavour to find such a path again for myself.

    I have decided to change course. Rather than chase photo assignments and weddings to earn a living I have decided to dedicate my photographic practice to personal work – books, prints and online endeavours and to facilitate this by pursuing another of my passions to earn a living, by training to be a swim coach.

    I did this years ago and worked with disabled youngsters but in order to do this here in the UK I need to re-qualify to UK standard.

    Now that I’ve made this decision (and paid for the training) I feel really excited and rather free.

    I have already outlined my next project which will likely take a couple of years to shoot. I’ll send a brief outline of the idea to see what you think, David. I don’t want to mention it here.

    Good luck seeking the edge. I hope you’ll be checking in on occasion to tell us of your experiences.

    Good hunting.

    – Paul Treacy

  • ” There is something perversely wonderful about recovering from major illness or surgery.”

    Really? I missed that part entirely.

  • Gordon – Yes, but of course without my wife nearby, shepherding me through, I think it would have been pure hell, and that would have been about it. Akaky, I sure can understand your point of view, but if you get a chance and are curious, click on the link, read the Akaky-length text accompanying the pictures and then you will know where I was coming from.

    Paul – love that cat picture.

  • Yo,

    Long time no speak…

    FYI: there is a long interview about ‘Quest for Land’ on Eric Kim’s blog…



  • @ ALL in Lyon (FRANCE)

    During September there will be 9PH Photography Exhibitions all around the city.
    “Mediterranean Culture” is the subject of 2o12. Not reportage, more contemporaneous photography, still photography, big format, etc, etc.

    Here is the Official program in PDF


    Martin Parr will be here, during his exhibition on Sept 13th at 18,30hs, as well as Manuel Castro Prieto (he has a great B&W work).

    Hope see some burnians there. This year I can not go to VISA in Perpignan :-(

  • “Police New Recruits Getting Trained By A Police Dogg ;)” on Viddy http://viddy.it/OLKu4U

  • For those of you who understand Italian…

  • “For me, the most beautiful thing is to wake up, to go out, and to look. At everything. Without anyone telling me “You should look at this or that.” I look at everything and I try to find what interests me, because when I set out, I don’t yet know what will interest me. Sometimes I photograph things that others would find stupid, but with which I can play around. Henri as well says that before meeting a person, or seeing a country, he has to prepare himself. Not me, I try to react to what comes up. Afterwards, I may come back to it, perhaps every year, ten years in a row, and I will end by understanding.”

    Josef Koudelka

    This is me down to a tee! I can never plan anything photographic apart from doing a nude or a portrait. I work by inspiration and what provokes me visually at that exact instant, the hardest concept for me to grasp about my personality was the fact that one day it maybe a landscape and the next day it could well very well be a still life.

  • Thank u Paul for links!!!
    I’m going to Mexico city tomorrow for one purpose only: to visit Frida’s Casa Azul…
    All my life I’m prepared for that, BUT … I will react as it unfolds..
    Nothing is real u know, it’s all in my head, but I might also return there year after year until I finally UNDERSTAND “IT” or maybe I’ll never return there ever again..
    Anxious to see what my inner feelings combined with pouring endorphins ( whatever left up there , smiling )…
    If nothing moves up there I’ll beg Madame Tequila to help out..
    Let’s see.. I hope I won’t need an “assistant”…
    Either way, a combination of “reaction” and relative “preparation” is all i believe in this particular
    “blue Mexico” as I call it!
    See ya all soonest!

  • Wipers
    Gun Club
    The Leaving Trains
    Dead Kennedy’s
    Suicidal Tendencies
    2Pac and Bob Dylan will in be the iPod preferences
    and of course Mark Lanegan for the late nights!
    Oh sorry I almost forgot IBRAHIM FERRER the Cuban god!
    All that only if the local
    Marriachi suck:)

  • Panos…

    I hope that very private bathroom which remained closed for I think 55 years is still open. This is the one which Graciela Iturbide photographed and I think she was actually the first person to enter since Frida’s death.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Thank you ALL for reporting!!!…

    safe travels PANOS!!!…be ready for your birthday PAUL…welcome back MR.VINK…

    Blue moon for MY BURNIANS…


  • a civilian-mass audience

    THOMAS,EVA,CARLO…thank u!

    PAULC…I love the picture too

    FROSTY…check in …hope my cat is rocking!


    oime…DAVIDB,CHARLESP…I need updates…

    LOVE YOU ALL…reporting from broken Grecolandia…no drugs from Monday…

  • I was surprised there wasn’t more talk here about Outer Banks. I get that it’s not remotely edgy, but I think it illustrates an important part of who David is and the photography is, of course, excellent. This one, I think, is great in that timeless kind of way.

    And for Jim Powers to keep silent after the way he constantly bitches and moans about anything that is the least bit edgy is a bit mysterious. Isn’t this the kind of thing you approve of, Jim?

  • http://instagr.am/p/PCWD4zhrRt/

    ON THE ROAD TO MEXICO CITY, going to visit Frida…
    See you all in a week… If you really miss me (lol),
    check mi Instagramones cavrones!!!
    Mucho love …
    Happy new month everyone!!!
    ok gotta go! Agave Elixir waiting:)

  • “Bridges to the island were not constructed until the 1930s and the only form of transport on or off the islands until then was by boat, which kept them cut off from much of the mainland.”

    So says the BBC, which ought to know better, dammit! If there’s no bridge to the mainland and your only way on or off the island is by boat, then you are not just cut off from much of the mainland, you are cut off from the mainland, period. My apologies to all for the persnicketiness; it has been one of those days here in our happy little burg.

  • Odd that NatGeo (or BBC in their very short edit) doesn’t have my favorite pic from the published essay online. Guess they can’t give away everything.

    Funny, I got my POS rental car stuck here, briefly …

  • I bet there are a lot of brilliant photos from the OBX essay which didn’t get past the tight NatGeo edit which I hope one day will see the light.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Happy Birthday PAULLLLLLLLL…!!!

    yeah, one day I hope I will stuck there too…:)))

    Enjoy the ride…MY BURNIANS!

  • CIVI!!!!

    Thank you very much! :)
    It feels rather odd turning 40 today :))

  • @ ALL:

    A small interview of Anders Petersen in Turkey, talking about “importants things” in photograhy.
    8 minutes. I don’t know him personally, but I can tell that is a someone very interesting and funny.


    I need to take one advice from it: Need to unplugged my brain more often when taking pictures.

    Have a nice week

  • Happy birthday Paul – you young man! But take heed – you will turn around three or four times and you’ll be 60! So shoot, shoot, shoot!

  • Frostfrog…

    Thank you! I will take heed and it’s something that’s been nagging my mind for a couple of weeks. How time flies past and unless you are 100% aware of the fact chances of doing something worthwhile photography wise run out.

  • Hey, it’s Brooklyn Carnival time again. I didn’t photograph it this year, except for a very few pics that the participants asked me to take. No, I went all in with video this year, which was particularly difficult this morning. It was far and away the best light of any year I’ve ever been and there were more bands and marchers than I’ve ever seen. There were maybe a few more photographers, but still none in the best spots where I spend most of my time. Man, I could really regret this and thought about ditching the video a lot throughout, but went ahead and stuck with the plan regardless.

    Anyway, I only took three still photos. Well, technically more than three but only three situations with the same people. Here they are. And here’s hoping I can salvage some video that I like at least 10 percent as much…


  • MW…

    The colours and hues and tones have nothing to do with your images fom last year. I bet it’s a mixture of different camera and another kind of light. Very interesting.

  • And this is my favorite image from my holidays. Linked to instagram but shot with my Panasonic GX1…

  • Paul, no the colors have more to do with my mood this morning. I developed those photos to go together, none of them would work in the overall project.

    You seem to have made a bit of a leap with your photography lately. Congrats.

  • MW…

    Thank you! The fact that I just turned 40 has been nagging my mind for a couple of weeks and changed my outlook on my photography. I’ve always had this sense of urgency to create images but now it’s been intensified. I’m not a big fan of printing BW prints from 35mm negatives but the fact that size wise 35mm cameras are light and easier to use has made me put down my medium format cameras. This way of thinking 6 months ago would of been impossible…

  • “And for Jim Powers to keep silent after the way he constantly bitches and moans about anything that is the least bit edgy is a bit mysterious. Isn’t this the kind of thing you approve of, Jim?”

    Didn’t realize there was a topic here about the story to comment under. It was a good story and the photos very DAH, which is also a good thing.

    As for “edgy” photos, they are now so common they aren’t edgy anymore. Shooting the darkest stuff possible seems to be the route photographers are taking to get noticed, though. Kittens, unless they are eviscerated and laying on the street, just don’t work anymore.

  • Sorry Jim no pussy but I found this on the street http://www.iamparanoid.org/

  • In a similar vein to Imants’ comment above, but without the work-unsafe illustration…

    You may not believe this, but in the years between 1960 and 1980 and even for some years afterwards, pubic hair was everywhere you looked here in this our Great Republic. One could scarcely open a magazine in that halcyon and very hirsute era without seeing pubic hair in such profusion that the confused reader had to check the magazine’s cover to make sure he was looking at the most recent issue of Playboy and not some religious tract featuring a gaggle of elderly rabbis debating some arcane point of Talmudic lore. The movies of the time were no better in this regard. A moviegoer in those years could hardly sit down with his bag of popcorn and start to eat it before the screen bombarded him with bush so thick that he half-expected to see images of grim machete-wielding conquistadors chopping their way through the foliage as they searched for the seven lost cities of gold. The television news covered story after story of the bush wars in Africa, especially those in Angola and Rhodesia, and John and Yoko appeared bush-visible on the cover of their album, Unfinished Music 1. Popular music proclaimed the glories of hair, Broadway presented Hair, the musical, with pubic hair front and center for all to see and emulate, and merkin manufacturers did a booming business in providing the pubiclly unendowed with a shaggy cover for their inadequacies.

    Now, a little more than a generation later, all of this has changed, changed utterly. Merkin manufacturers who looked forward to a furry future of ever-expanding market share have gone out of business or have gone into the life insurance business. Pubic hair, which once stood on the commanding heights of American life and culture, is now so out of fashion that many people under the age of twenty-five have never even heard of it. Those who have would no sooner display a trace of pubic hair in public than they would throw away their cellphones. It was not always thus. How pubic hair rose from a despised place in the American psyche to the heights of fame and fortune and then fell again as it lost the imagination of a generation is one of the tragic tales of the American experience.

    Before the turn of the late and utterly unlamented twentieth century, very few people in the United States had ever heard of pubic hair, and if they did it was certainly not a subject they would have brought up in public. Most people who had heard of it simply assumed that pubic hair was yet another example of European decadence that no decent American would ever be interested in, much less discuss with his wife. No, we had left that sort of thing behind us when the Pilgrims got on the Mayflower and headed west across the Atlantic to Massachusetts to found their shining city on the hill. In that shining city on the hill there was no room for, and certainly no toleration of, Papists, priests, freethinkers, or pubic hair, and after a few generations of official suppression pubic hair had slipped out of the Puritan consciousness in much the same way that the idea that Native Americans had a right to their land had.

    The Puritan suppression was so complete that more than a century and a half after the landing on Plymouth Rock, at the very founding of this our Great Republic, not one of the Founding Fathers brought the matter up in any way. Thomas Jefferson did not mention pubic hair in the Declaration of Independence, James Madison and Gouveneur Morris did not include the regulation of pubic hair among the enumerated powers of Congress in the Constitution, and Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton never mention the words at all in The Federalist Papers. Even among the voluminous literary and scientific works of Benjamin Franklin, works written over the better part of sixty years, there is no mention of pubic hair, not in the Silence Dogood letters, not in Poor Richard’s Almanac, nor in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin either. Franklin’s Polly Baker says nothing at all about pubic hair, although the careful reader may suspect that she knows more about the subject than she is letting on, and even as distinguished a tome as Fart Proudly does not make so much as a passing reference to pubic hair. By the beginning of the 19th century, the memory of pubic hair had disappeared in the United States entirely.

    This began to change slightly in the mid-19th century in the great wave of immigration caused by the potato famine of 1845-1849. As the coffin ships disgorged more and more of Ireland’s wretched refuse on America’s shiny new floors, rumors swept through the nation that not only were the Irish lazy, dirty, vile, and Papist, but that they might think nothing of bringing filthy European notions like clericalism, socialism, and pubic hair here to the United States. The very idea shocked many good Protestants to the quick, and more than a few of these good citizens joined the anti-Catholic, anti-foreign, anti-pubic hair Know Nothing Party in order to protect their country and their families from what they saw as a gross indecency. These people need not have worried; in the end, pubic hair did not show its face in public, despite the testimonials of a few artists and other bohemians who’d spent some time in Europe and picked up strange ideas while they were there. For the average American, pubic hair was what it had always been: a subject so taboo, so redolent of Papism and European depravity that no decent person would ever bring the subject up and only the most hardened member of the demimonde would allow a customer to discuss in her presence.

    The veil of silence surrounding the subject began to fray slightly during the First World War. The war sent millions of healthy young America boys to France, and there were few places in France more popular with those boys than the Pigalle district of Paris, the notorious Pig Alley, as the doughboys called the area. Pigalle was Paris’s red light district, and in that district many a decent young American boy learned more than he’d ever known about a lot of things, including the French proclivity for cultivating pubic hair. By the time many of these young soldiers had returned to the United States, not only were they familiar with the idea of pubic hair, they could readily identify the most popular French styles such as the Imperiale, the Balbo, and the queue de singe. Despite this exposure, however, the returning doughboys could not interest their wives and sweethearts in pubic hair or the newest Parisian styles of bas-coiffure, and any interest there might have been was lost in the prolonged boom of the 1920’s. Pubic hair was too subtle a pleasure for that money crazed boom time, a time when the heart that did not break would turn to papier-mâché.

    If pubic hair was too subtle for the 1920’s, it was too expensive for anyone during the decade of the Great Depression, except for those malefactors of great wealth who could afford to indulge such proclivities and who were, in fact, the only people anywhere in the world who could. It was a bad decade for pubic hair. Spain and China, always the leading exporters, found their markets drying up first due to the bad economic times, and then by both countries’ descent into civil war and foreign invasion, respectively. France, the other great exporter, should have benefited from Spain and China’s troubles, but did not, because of the vicious internecine political battles between the Right and the Popular Front government of Leon Blum. And there were more troubles ahead.

    The troubles that made it next to impossible for these countries to export their pubic hair soon merged into the greatest conflict in world history. With France and most of China under foreign occupation, and Spain’s economy devastated by the civil war, it was impossible for a civilian anywhere, even in such neutral states as Ireland, Turkey, and Switzerland, to purchase pubic hair. In the belligerent nations, such as Great Britain, for example, the supply was so small that the government forbade its private ownership. Even in Germany, which had access to the French market and what was left of the Spanish market, the supply was so small and so precious that entire divisions of the Wehrmacht stood guard over the supply and the RAF constantly bombed the storage facilities in order to deny the Germans access to the material.

    After the war, the desire for normality and the beginnings of the Cold War dictated that pubic hair return to its status quo antebellum as one of life’s great unmentionable subjects. American society’s demand for a return to good old-fashioned American values, however, now stood in direct conflict with the lived experience of tens of thousands of young people, many of them veterans. In The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Dr. Kinsey showed that many men did not regard the cultivation of pubic hair being in any way abnormal. When The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female came out some years later, Dr. Kinsey’s finding that women felt more or less the same way about pubic hair as men did created a storm of controversy, with pastors denouncing Kinsey from their pulpits from one end of this our Great Republic to the other, and led inexorably to Lenny Bruce’s arrest at the hungry i in Greenwich Village on a charge of public indecency for using the word bush in a joke. The times, though, they were a-changin’.

    After two centuries of suppression and repression, pubic hair burst through into the public consciousness in the 1960’s. The happy alignment of the youth movement, the civil rights movement, and the antiwar movement created an atmosphere in which pubic hair was not only tolerated, but actually encouraged, especially by young people who wanted to reject what they saw as the outdated and wrongheaded mores of a corrupt and materialistic society. Fueled by the energy of the youth movement, pubic hair found its way into every area of the country, despite the best and largely Sisyphean efforts of social conservatives and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI to suppress it. Pubic hair was everywhere young people were. During San Francisco’s 1967 Summer of Love, pubic hair was not only acceptable, but also virtually mandatory for any young person who wanted to be taken seriously. Two years later, in July of 1969, pubic hair reached the apotheosis of its acceptance in the United States. First, Neil Armstrong brought pubic hair with him to the moon on Apollo 11 and no one thought that this was in any way strange, and second, pubic hair finally went completely public at Woodstock, largely due to the intense storms that swept the festival site, storms my mother attributed to Neil Armstrong bringing all those rocks back from the moon with him.

    By the 1970’s, even such conservative organs as Playboy understood that it was no longer possible to pretend that pubic hair did not exist and began displaying it in prominent places in their magazines. The final arrival of a long delayed acceptance could not, however, hide the social problems that came with the intense cultivation of pubic hair. Many critics pointed out the spike in drug usage among people who also had pubic hair and the sudden explosion in the population of pubic crabs. These crabs, once endangered almost to the point of extinction, became a major nuisance to cultivators and motorists alike as their natural habitat returned to normal. Everyone agreed that something had to be done about the problem, but few ideas proved very practical and very few people wanted to go to the extreme that one small North Dakota town did, where the inhabitants set fire to great swatches of pubic hair and waited with shovels and baseball bats in hand for the crabs to come scurrying out. The ASPCA sued to stop the crab bashing, but the court threw the suit out, citing the town’s right to rid itself of social nuisances like crabs and Communists.

    The 1970’s, which began on a positive note for pubic hair, ended badly for it and other Seventies phenomena like disco and leisure suits. Once the thrill of the forbidden was gone, pubic hair became old-fashioned quickly, and then the Brazilians happened. Over the years, Brazilian swimwear manufacturers had managed to reduce the amount of cloth in Brazilian bikinis to a level that would not be enough to produce a good-sized men’s handkerchief in any other sweatshop. Despite the minimal outlay in costs and materials, Brazilian bikinis became a worldwide sensation, and all around the world it quickly became clear that the wild, untrammeled, Ansel Adams type forest of pubic hair would not do in a world where single strands of twine had become a fashion statement. To accommodate the new style, and in the face of intense opposition by many environmental groups, vast forests of pubic hair came crashing down, either by clear cutting or being dragged out, roots and all. The disaster, from an environmental point of view, was total, and those great forests remain to the green movement a symbol of pristine nature falling to the crassness of human style.

    That style is with us yet, and the places where pubic hair once grew in abundance now resemble an endless vista of strip mall parking lots. Pubic hair has vanished from the scene with a completeness that almost defies description. Occasionally, one hears of it in a humorous context, as when a scoutmaster recently fought off a rabid beaver that attacked a den of Boy Scouts on a camping trip. There have been sporadic efforts here and there to revive the pubic hair craze, but they’ve all failed due to a lack of public interest. The devotees of pubic hair need not fear. Eventually, it will be back. Few things are ever really lost; styles come and go, and after a generation or two, they return once again, almost as if they had never gone. There is no new thing under the sun, as the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes; there is only the old returning with a new name. It is ever thus.

  • Jim Powers: “Kittens, unless they are eviscerated and laying on the street, just don’t work anymore.”

    Damn, Jim. You make me feel lost. I’ve had a unique, fun, challenging and interesting career played out before an appreciative but very small audience and at a certain point in the 1990’s, I realized I was headed for an old age of poverty for both my wife and I – BUT, I believed I had an ace in the hole, one that I could convert into real financial support at the end – my cat work.

    In fact, this is what I was going to make my first iPad ap book on – Cats. Cats from all across Alaska, from the Southeast Panhandle to the farthest north Arctic neighborhood on the continent proper, from up and down the Yukon River and the Kuskokwim, too; from the Aleutian Islands to a porch from which one can sit and on a clear day actually see Russia; from Prince William Sound to Bristol Bay.

    Now you tell me this doesn’t work anymore????? That I am soon to be reduced to an old of poverty and misery????

    Whoa, whoa, whoa is me!!!!

    And to make matters worse, I have stayed entirely away from Instagram! Just one more thing for me to spread my time and energy on and now it turns out it is the one thing that really matters.

    Double triple whoa is me!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bill, it’s woe is me, not whoa is me, unless you’re a runaway horse, I suppose. Then it’s whoa for the horse and woe for you if you’re along for the ride.

  • a civilian-mass audience


    I would like to receive reports from our BURNIANS,KATIEEEEEEEEE…in Costa Rica…ASAP…

    Here in Grecolandia…we don’t have drugs,food,work …but we might have a Formula1 circuit:)))
    oime…only in the land of the free @#$%&

    VIVA BURN!!!

    please,keep reporting…I love you ALLLLLLLLLLLLL…

  • Whoa, Akaky!

    Having growin up Mormon, a culture in which “Woe is me,” is quoted daily, and in the west, sometimes right in the midst of cowboy culture even having worked for a short spell as an erstwhile cowboy myself, I am very familiar with “whoa” and horses.

    The older I get, the more I make this kind of silly mistake. “Whoa, frog, stop it. Woe, woe, woe! Whoa!”

  • Frostfrog, do not worry. With kittens out of the running, you can now focus your efforts in your declining years on compositing Google Street photos while basking in the approving glow of your monitor.

  • An interesting behind-the scenes look at the making of photo book I hadn’t heard of: “Sweet Life” by Ed van der Elsken.


  • Jim – First, you rob me of all hope, then you restore – brilliantly. And the brighter my monitor, the more brilliant my future. :)

  • Akaky, end of the Bush era. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • You’re welcome. I was very fond of the Bush era myself, but all things must pass, I suppose.


    Many thanks for that link to the story on Ed van der Elsken and “Sweet Life” which I too had never heard of… I would really love to see the whole book… just the few pictures from Hong Kong and Japan have me deeply intrigued.

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