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….”

  • 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

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