Sugar Creek


This is near Charlottesville,Virginia and is part of Family Drive work. This with Mamiya VII and Tri-X film

48 Responses to “Sugar Creek”

  • I love this David.
    3 layers, each layer more mysterious than the other….
    And it feels like the moment just before the mystery is solved. Or not.

  • For many reasons the baby and cage kill the image for me.

  • A photograph of hope and optimism is what i see.

    For me if you take away the baby and playpen all that’s left are two kids running down a path. The image is nothing without the baby.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    yeah,the baby is focused…!!!

  • Great image. So many great things going on in it, more questions than answers, pure Harvey.

    I just may turn back into a film shooter yet. Got a roll of b/w in my little Minox 35GT, and another in one of my old Spotmatics.

  • “I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life.”
    Jean-Michel Basquiat

  • Picture is beautiful, I like it. Just for kicks: what did you scan, the negative or the print?


    i am not 100% sure…mike courvoisier made the scan and i am pretty sure he did so from the negative….i pulled this out of a slide show…..


    my next book will be all about mystery….


    babies surely do not belong in “cages”…at least not most of them


    not sure where you get all your quotes, but you sure have some good ones…


    i wrestle with the film/digi bit all the time….i have spent the last few weeks simply organizing my archive , and i can tell you the film “mess” is much easier to deal with than the hard drive mess….for sure i am convinced that any “selects” made with digi need to be made into hard copy….there is nothing to be trusted about hard drives….

    my film archive has survived poor storing conditions for many years…attics, basements….moved from there to here and here to there over the years…yet my 50 year old Kodachromes seem perfect (my few Ektachromes E6 gone from same era), and of course the b&w negs and fibre prints just fine…worried the E6 Velvia might not make it long, but not sure…some of my Velvia is 15 yrs old or so, and seems fine but there were never any promises with E6 process….

    but the thing is this…all of my film is easy to view….and some pictures i did not choose at the time, i look at now and am reconsidering with a big show coming in a few years….with digi i am just not going to print more than a few work prints except for the very special ones…so that means most exposures will most likely be lost at some point except for the ones that go into the Magnum archive which theoretically will keep moving from one server to the next etc etc…

    yet i do shoot 90% digi…my iPhone catalogue is the very best diary of my life….oh no not great pictures…but the best diary/calendar for seeing what i did in 2012 for example…i no longer delete or re-use my compact flash cards, figuring they are the best hard drives of all, yet still if given two cardboard boxes , one with film/contact sheets/prints or another with hard drives, i will pick up the analogue every time…..a hard drive sitting on the table just is not compelling for me….a box of prints or a sheet of slides is…might just be me…

    cheers, david

  • David, I can empathize. I’ve been working on my archive for about a month now. I’m sure I’ve put at least 100 hours into it and am probably not half done. Started out just wanting to get the keepers off-site but when I got into it realized I needed to be more comprehensive. I’m looking at every photo, doing a light processing on the keepers, saving the original and the processed to separate folders, adding comprehensive metadata, then saving off jpgs into folders organized mostly by years for copyrighting, then putting the results on a couple different hard drives for storage in my mom’s basement and somewhere else. Big, big job. Anyone who hasn’t done that yet should get started. It gets harder every time you shoot something.

    I met a guy once that used his cards like rolls of film. Filled up a card, then never reused. I thought he was crazy, but for you it sounds like the best way to go. Still want to save it all on a few hard drives and do the steps listed above, but saving all the cards is certainly wise.

    Regarding the photo, I like it a lot. It’s kind of old-fashioned though. And I like that about it, but if you want to be more modern you should probably move the baby into the center forefront of the frame and put it out-of-focus (smiley-face here).

  • MW

    well, i am a bit old fashioned i guess….hey amigo, in nyc soonest and hope to invite you over to the loft for one of our gatherings….in town from feb 18-26…..sounds like you have the archive bit figured out….sort of….and sort of is the best most of us can do…

    is it spring yet in new york??

    cheers, david

  • Hey, you know it’s always springtime in New York. And yea, sort of is how it goes. Get high enough up one hill and just about all you get is a view of the bigger hills beyond. Probably making prints in this case, eh? Anyway, looking forward to seeing you. Travel well.

  • My archives are my books a couple of copies of each, on two small hard drives plus the computer …………. the rest sits on hard drives as stuff I may use. I always had a separate digital folder organised in years from day one as I saved as I shot the by date and content still do.

  • should be…….I always had a separate digital folder organised in years from day one……. I saved by date and content still do.

  • Most of the stuff shot is useless thus a low priority, I am not a hoarder and find it easy to dispose of stuff.

  • Hard drives aren’t compelling to me either. Nothing like a box full of contact prints and a load of prints. Although I shoot a lot of digital everyday just to keep “in shape/fit” and a film camera close by just in case. And then there are photographers like Anders Petersen who have no desire or intention of turning to digital except for perhaps a few gigantic BW prints.

  • David, I’ve thought about photo archives in the context of the new digital world quite a bit from a historical perspective.

    A lot of the historical photographic record in communities came from local portrait/commercial photography studios, often family run, and in some cases spanning up to five generations (at least in my area). The old glass plates, prints and some of the black and white negatives hold up pretty well (except of course the acetate “safety film from the 30’s and 40’s). But those shops are disappearing and nearly everything is digital now. Few people make prints and the digital archives can become obsolete in a decade, and I suspect that will shorten as technology continues its exponential pace forward, unless of course archives are continually ported to new storage devices/medium. Even then …. Hmmm, I’ve got a big box of zip drives somewhere.

    Will the photographic record of today survive? And too, with the loss of family studios, many of which also recorded community “slices of life” and events and ruthlessly archived their work, from where will this archive of today derive? Newspapers? Increasingly unlikely. Instagrams? Again, unlikely. Family albums on floppies? The cloud? I think the visual history of now is in jeopardy.

    That’s a roundabout way of agreeing for the need to make hard copies and store them well. I’ve been going through digital copies of family albums I made a few years ago and I’m finally making new prints. I’ve learned, among other things, that my brothers started giving me weggies at a very young age.

    With archival inkjet prints, the prospects for longevity are better than they ever were but I suspect stone tablets would still work best. Maybe slate?


    funny, at various points, like you, i was ready to throw out the whole lot…easy….only others sort of made me keep stuff….if i had really cared all along, i would not have the mess i have….now i am actually having a lot of fun sort of taking another trip through life….i have documented the whole damn thing since about age 10 or 11…nostalgia tripping is of course part of it, but not all of it…now i am detached…yes detached…i am looking at dah as almost another person…and simply seeing a huge body of work that somebody did…and it is not even about “good pictures” but just pictures….and of course some of the “throwaways” are really amazing in their naiveté…i will of course reduce this stuff down down down for a total stream of consciousness book…NOT a retro…i hate hate hate retros….well it sure will not look like a retro anyway…i do not remember life in sequence so surely will not go from day one to whatever day this is….it will sort of be “the mess” or a sampling thereof….the “nightmare” between two covers…


    yes…i am sure you are correct…i do wish that Instagram and Tumblr could be somehow archived since i feel both are actually “pure” in their intent….blasted as the least important thing, i think they may be the most important thing simply because neither is “trying” to be something it is not….more or less the family album…i just ran thru my Tumblr which has been going for almost a year, and it was clearly a diary and honestly the only way i can even remember the year past…i am going to make super large contact sheets of either my Instagrams or Tumblr (similar)…i can get the whole year on a 6 foot by 4 foot print….archival….i have to be honest with myself…i am not going to stop shooting digi….why? because it is fluid….loose….the only problem with it is the archival bit…..oh sure my medium format b&w film really does look the very best if printed perfectly…no doubt about that…yet there is more to photography than “quality” imo…anyway, thanks for your note…makes sense…yet we cannot simply lament….we must do something…..OR, get everything archived, on paper that lasts “forever” THEN burn it!!! and take THAT picture….nope not drinking nor smoking anything…ha ha….

    cheers, david


    Same stuff going on here. My digital archive, not a mess, but too huge to wade through. On the other hand, I have several thousand contact sheets, carefully stored away in boxes in a closet, which I have only recently un-earthed and begun to view. Yes, like looking at another persons work, a treasure hunt, stuff I would have previously passed over, now, suddenly interesting. People I don’t even know who they are, sometimes don’t even remmember taking the photos, but way cool stuff.

    I’m shooting some film lately, after not shootin any since 2003. What a shift it is, and how familiar. No looking at the back of the camera, more anticipating what the situation needs tech wise, then, having to wait days…weeks, until I see what I’ve done.

    I’m actually going to drag out my wonderful old Leitz Valoy enlarger, and set up my darkroom again. Never thought I would go here again, but am excited.

    Still shooting digital, but leaving the house with only a film camera lately.

  • DAVID, maybe a stupid question but are you going to be at LOOK3 this year?

  • PAUL

    i just saw a message from you on a picture a few pictures back that you had left me a message on FB with a link to your latest work…never got the message….never saw the link…i have three diff places on FB where i might in theory receive a message but that is the least likely place i look for messages…and in general i miss stuff everywhere….email best or text even better…..always try again please just because i do get overwhelmed..anyway, please give me another chance…would love to see the work…

    cheers, david


    i am not sure….i would like to not do anything this summer but hang out at home…beach it…bike it….however Look3 might be the exception….if you come, please visit obx whether i am Look or not….

    cheers, david

  • David…

    Eva has uploaded the images in your slideshow program for easy viewing.

  • That’s the beauty of our world now that we are all done and dusted with postmodernism there is no longer a need to appropriate ourselves we are free to move on. What I quite like about digital is its ability to ignore and self destruct itself.

  • Another beauty of our world now that applies to the archive discussion and digital is that with digital we can go back and process our work differently. Although I hate most of the drudge work involved in getting the archive in order, I’ve enjoyed finding a few pretty good photos that I missed at the time. And there have been a few as well that I always liked compositionally but was unable to process adequately, that look good now with my current, much more advanced software. Can’t do that with film. It’s a one shot deal.

    Not that I mean to make a film v digi argument. Whatever works for you is fine with me. And maybe I’d feel differently if I had the capacity to be competent with film. For me though, film work requires too many skills that have little to do with producing a good picture. The ability to mix chemicals, to keep them at appropriate temperatures, to keep a dust free environment, to care for and store the negatives properly, among ohter ills. And I much prefer pointing a slideshow program at a folder of digital images and watching them go by, re-ordering them to tell a story or increase their impact, than to go through my old boxes of negatives and prints. There are plenty of ways to enjoy what we do. Few, if any, of them are wrong.

  • “…is it spring yet in new york??”

    You’re taunting us now, guy.

  • I like the idea of my having an archive. It sounds so much better than the reality, which is that I’ve got a pile of crappy pictures I’m too lazy to throw away.

  • MAY I have your ATTENTION please:

    Please check this amazing project below and SUPPORT THE ARTIST:
    MYRTO PAPADOPOULOS , help her realize it..
    Click link below:


  • I never took up photography to spend and inordinate amount of time developing and printing BW film and waisting time in front of a screen playing about with my digital colour shots. No labs left round here thanks to the digital revolution and this all adds up to more time I don’t spend with my family.

  • Panos; what I find gratifying is that she is working on a story such as this in her own country. Makes a change from those who zoom off to Asia (Bankok) etc. to do a “sex industry” story rather than shoot the same type of story in their own country.

    I’m sure they think that it will be much more difficult to work such a story in the western world, so shoot off to the other areas which only tends to perpetuate stereotypes. I’m sure the access/privacy/legal (in other words getting your arse sued off!) issues are put in the “too hard basket” Just my 2c worth….

  • PAUL

    whatever you do, you had better spend time with those young children you have at home…i have seen too many photographers, or other driven types, neglect their families in order to “get ahead” or take the assignment of a lifetime….any reason why you cannot integrate your family with your photography? sure many have done it, but so what? many have not done it as well….many have done every subject…whatever has been done before you on any topic should not influence you at all in terms of your own action..photographing your family is therapeutic and bonding at worst…classic at best…

    something i have always known, and yet gets reinforced every minute of every day, is that if it is not personal, it will never be great….good documents sure abound from photographers who were detached….but great? i cannot think of one great book or great essay that was not personal….personal does not have to mean shoot pictures only of your family, although that is a good way to get connected totally to yourself and to them…win win…but personal does have to mean something you CARE about…

    98% percent of the photographers i see are simply looking for something dramatic or cool or hip or shocking or whatever…we have all been guilty of the “find something different” syndrome….does not work…works to sell a story to a magazine, sure..but long run? your realize how fast a story even in a big magazine gets lost in the pile of stuff in the corner? instant gratification, perhaps a paycheck, perhaps even a pat on the back from your peers, but alas if “greatness” an objective, better make it personal…..

    hours in front of a computer screen, hours in the darkroom…same thing…i would suggest you shoot NOW, process later….

    try this…force yourself not to see what you have shot for a month…yes, shoot shoot shoot…but do NOT LOOK…resist the temptation to see if you “got the shot”…forget it….get lost in interacting and shooting…let the cards pile up, the film go unprocessed….go totally crazy..forget what i or anyone here will think…just immerse yourself in living the damned subject whatever it is …yes, this is an exercise, but it will help you to shoot like this later even when you are processing every day or whatever….

    this will force you to think not about the pictures but about living it feeling it breathing it….perhaps ironically this is turn will give you the “results” you might have been trying too hard to get before….

    cheers, david


    great film pitch by Myrto!! very very well done….and terrific pictures as well….for sure we should support her…thank you for bringing this to us…

    we have thought many times here at Burn that we could sort of be an or a kickstarter….but that is another whole commitment and effort and we simply cannot…but yes let’s get out the support banners for Myrto and her work….

    you have contact info for her??

    cheers, david


    well yes i agree in general…let’s move on..let’s not get shackled by “permanence”..get it….however, i don’t think postmodern is either over nor in conflict with “disappearing art” ..some art, specifically performance art, like the original Shakespeare theater performances , like Cristo, like JR, is totally intended to go away, to disappear, to be ephemeral…

    i am even working on a project that is going to take me weeks to do, and may “last” less than an hour….but you can bet your boot straps it will be documented….Cristo’s fence in Central Park is not there anymore, yet many films and photos do exist to “prove” it happened….same with JR….he moves fast, his stuff is gone fast, and yet he too wants to do more books….perhaps not as the original art , but as “evidence”….

    you Imants often express disdain for the permanent, the archive, yet seemingly in stark contradiction you also express here how you most value your own books….tangible hard copy…to be treasured, maintained, kept “permanent” be put literally on a pedestal as you did for the Burn show in Sydney last spring….

    i am totally for moving on….i get bored quickly with any status quo….at the same time i might also be for preserving whatever was going on in that “status quo”…moving on does not mean forgetting….

    cheers, david

  • The kid thing brought back a few memories. While going through the archive I came across a summer’s worth of photos from Coney Island Beach that I’d mostly forgotten about and was surprised at how close to people I’d gotten. I thought, how’d I do that without getting punched. I must have been really drunk, or something. Then I remembered, and I could see it in the sequences as well, that I had trained the kids to pose in front of scenes I wanted to photograph and then get out of the way quickly so I could take a few more clicks. Most of my major photo projects did not start out as photo projects. In this example, I just liked taking the kids to the beach. Spending a lot of time there, I started seeing stories I thought worth telling and history I thought worth capturing. Of course just about every photographer and his or her mother shoots Coney Island, but I didn’t think of it that way at first. I was a subject as much or more than I was a photographer and I think it shows in the results. Anyway, point is, and echoing David, whether all my photos of that summer are lost or end up hanging in museums, the most important thing was the time spent with the kids and the photos I took of the kids before they jumped out of the way will probably be valued for the rest of their lives. That’s probably the only kind of permanence most of us are ever likely to achieve and it’s probably the best.

  • Found a few quotes from Brian Eno that fit some of the things being discussed here….

    “What a bastard Beethoven sounds — arrogant, paranoid, disagreeable. Why am I still surprised when people turn out to be not at all like their work? A suspicion of the idea that art is the place where you become what you’d like to be… rather than what you already are…”

    “Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit — all these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided.
    It’s the sound of failure: so much of modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

  • DAVID…
    Cool.awesome, all set with Myrto contacts etc in yo email box..
    Peace and hugs to all !!!

  • Insightful and compassionate short documentary by Issac Gale (and Alec Soth)…

    Sweet Crude Man Camp…

  • Postmodernism is a bit like PJ Harvey, Talking Heads, The Violent Femmes all great stuff but past their prime with and a lost edge…………….

    ….as for the pedestal(tongue set firmly in cheek) sits rotting in the backyard at its end as a pot plant stand come bird feed stations ready as landfill as I fill in my ponds, the jars are full of this years cherries

    the books sit in a rack covered in dust a new one is about the join the fold, seen by few and fast losing their relevance every now and then I give some away ………… ah!!!! the blackberries seem to be a permanent fixture in Tassie but I keep on brush cutting and poisoning…..

  • the books are just ideas on paper

  • GREAT!

  • David…

    Thank you for your all time and advice, I honestly appreciate it. I will surely take notice of everything you’ve mentioned because you’re absolutely right about the kids/family. I am totally guilty of lately leaving them a little aside being driven by my desire to capture the ultimate photo. In fact there’s a rising suspicion within me I’m not even enjoying taking photos as much as I used to. Time to slow down and enjoy life and capture it sometimes on film or card and if I don’t get the image it will never be the end of the world. Celebrate the fiesta and be part of the celebration and not just being a viewer isolated being extremely close but so far away. I think the following quote is brilliant and kind of sums up many of your thoughts…

    “When the child was a child, it didn’t know that it was a child, everything was soulful, and all souls were one.”
    Peter Handke

    And then last night I read the following words and realized to be able to express oneself like this you have live a life, think life, celebrate life be alive and then art and creativity with truth will perhaps appear but it’s always secondary…

    “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
    C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

  • a civilian-mass audience


    Gracias to our Spanish friends …we are ALL ONE…

    oime…thank you ALL…

  • a civilian-mass audience


    same video HD

    Χίλια ευχαριστώ και πάλι!!!

  • David…

    I think Sally Mann would love this photo if she saw it. This image is thick and loaded like everything created in the south.

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