grace kim – love hotel

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Grace Kim

Love Hotel

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Love hotels in South Korea are commonly known to be where lovers go to carry on secret affairs. I was given access to photograph the rooms of a love hotel in Seoul after couples had checked out and before the rooms had been cleaned. Korean culture has many rules and formalities that have always felt very restrictive to me, so I was intrigued by the idea of being where I shouldn’t be and observing things I shouldn’t be observing-remnants of love affairs that were presumably forbidden as well. By visiting the rooms just moments after they had been vacated, I wanted to explore residual tension between the presence and absence of the anonymous couples, and to contemplate the stories implied by what remained. Rather than consider the rooms as a whole I focus on the bed, treating it as a metaphor for love and nostalgia.

 

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Grace Kim

 

167 Responses to “grace kim – love hotel”


  • Voyeurism of the most boring kind. Photos of unmade beds. While this obviously had some internal meaning to the photographer, it’s too personal to speak to me.

  • Eerily cold, and I can’t stop looking. The lock of hair on the bed, a stain on another, the (likely) pillows under sheets that look like a body, the bright light trying to peer in through the slightly open window. Not an easy subject to portray so mysteriously. Nice job.

    Asher

  • It really “speaks” its own language…
    thats for sure…!
    If, for example, the photo with the bloodstain was the “opening” one…
    then i wouldnt even have to read the above note…or description…
    it is strong and it explains…. it was “disturbing”… it “smelled” sweaty, stuffy,
    creepy, uncomfortable, weird…
    i dont know, i loved it, it moved me… i dont wanna see it again…
    but for sure… strong, and to the point…
    good job
    right on…
    loves it…..

  • I hardly think taking photos of beds and toning them to death makes for good journalism. The story seems like a good idea, but it needs much more work and creativity on the part of the photographer. ” I wanted to explore residual tension between the presence and absence of the anonymous couples.” Just not seeing it, sorry.

  • Without the text it’s some tossed bedding. With the text it’s tossed bedding with come on it, making it mildly more interesting than my stupid belly button lint.

  • and now I know why I get ‘weird’ vibes in some hotel rooms..
    I’ve always thought of affairs
    as passion..
    lust…
    these images are haunting..
    dirty..
    the other side of affairs..
    I like the concept,
    but maybe there are more images to explore besides the bed…
    I dunno…
    eeewwwww……
    **

  • thank you for all your comments so far, I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts whatever they may be, it’s very interesting as this is an ongoing work in progress. I just want to clarify that I don’t consider myself a photojournalist at all, or even a photographer in the traditional sense. this work is very personal and much more about me than it is about love hotels per se. to the one who called me “stupid photographer”, if you don’t like or understand the work I completely understand and appreciate your criticism, but you sound very angry and there’s really no reason to be nasty about it.

  • Never even thought to look at this piece as being photojurnalistic. To love photography and still have such a narrow view of what it is is really astounding. Yet it still keeps popping up. Every time. This is not a photojournalism site. Okay?

    Moving along.

    I think the essay really only needs words to undertand it as a story obout hotels where “forbidden” couplings have taken place. Viewed without words there are some really good pictures here. The use of geometry and shape and a yin-yang like use of black-and white makes some of these photos of beds really work for me.

    Not my favorites, nor something I’d hang on my walls, but good and interesting nonetheless.

  • Just last night I posted below comment under the “Self Service” post. It is well applicable in this case so I am sorry for the re-posting. Replace vehicles with couples, eliminate stains from it and here we go:

    I believe in power of ABSENCE of things in photography (and visual arts in general). Often, I find things missing to have more impact then those included (of course, the absent would be meaningless without the components that a present).
    That is where this photograph ‘work’ for me; the absence of vehicles, the absence of people, the absence of trash, no stains and no remains of human or any other activity… as if “self” labeled pumps are self-sufficient and need no interaction with humans or technology.

    The terrifying effects that absence could create were wonderfully described in the W.G. Sebald’s story about another great author Vladimir Nabokov in his essay “Dream Textures, A Brief note of Nabokov”: “At the very beginning of Nabokov’s autobiography, programmatically entitled Speak, Memory there is the story of a man who, we must assume, is still very young, and who suffers a panic attack when he first sees a home movie shot in his parent’s house a few weeks before his birth. All the images trembling on the screen are familiar to him, he recognizes everything, everything is right except for the fact, which disturbs him deeply, that he himself is not where he has always been, and the other people in the house do not seem to mourn his absence.”

    Wonderful, isn’t it?
    Best to you all,
    Veba

  • The idea is really good and really interesting…the execution, though, I feel is lacking. The introduction with the text allowed for a perfect segue for stories newly passed (now past) to unfold and present themselves mysteriously. From Grace’s intro, I was expecting to see imagery that explored these mysteries by making educated guesses about the happenings of these vacated love dens. There, in her visual explanation and exploration, I would have seen her connection to these people that she had never met…her fantasy about their fantasy. I know that Grace had commented that these are very personal to her, but I don’t really feel her connection to the subject or feel her fear or anxiousness about exploring forbidden places and witnessing something our eyes are not meant to see. As a work-in-progress, I say, “Bravo!” because the topic is so intriguing…I just would like to feel her presence more through the imagery. Great start.

  • Veba..
    Exactly.. Right on.. U nailed it…

  • I think that this is a really great start, too, Grace. An interesting subject to ponder, and the spaciousness of your pictures leaves a lot of room to do just that. I also would like to re-emphasis the difference between this kind of work and say newspaper photography (hopefully without trying to speak too much for the photographer): these pictures are not meant to hit you over the head with a very explicit message or story; they are more conceptual in nature, and leave enough ambiguity for the viewer to explore the themes in a personal way. After working at newspapers for a couple years, I can appreciate the role of easily digestible explicit types of imagery within the context of a newspaper. Folks don’t necessarily want to explore ambiguity over their morning coffee. However, this is also an extremely limited and form of communication and expression. It hardly taps into photography’s potential to evoke subtle/complex emotion and alter the way we think.
    This essay def. has the potential to do both of those things, and I think its well on its way. It just needs more work. What will make this typology more interesting, is the subtle variations in what each pair has left behind. Right now, there’s a redundancy of rumpled sheets, shot in a similar style and with a similar emotional tone. Definitely on the right track though, and a fascinating project so far!

  • beautiful thoughts, thank you for sharing

  • AUGUST…

    i do not think there is any attempt by the photographer , nor by me, to show this as an example of “photojournalism”….personal documentary yes, journalism no…

    cheers, david

  • GRACE…

    please note that you were NOT being called “stupid photographer”….Stupid Photographer is the writer’s moniker (online name)…he or she was obviously not fond of this work, but the context of the comment must be clarified in your mind….Stupid Photographer has his/her own website and you might want to have a look…very often there is something to really think about…

    cheers, david

  • oh! haha that is funny, thank you for bringing that to my attention david!

  • David,

    Although many of your readers may understand at first look that a particular piece that you present does not fall into photojournalism or any other particular category, many may not. Maybe a reason to categorize the content or even maybe a better argument for an introduction by you? (As if you are not busy enough….

    Obviously many readers are using this as a learning experience and maybe some clarification as to where a particular piece of work falls in the photographic world may be of help.

    Just thinking out loud….

  • What a great subject. I hope Grace has the courage to look deeper. While this may have been difficult to gain access, the greater task will be to get closer to the issue and express it. Taking a look at a society’s dark corners is no easy task. Good luck Grace and be safe.

    Best,

    Paul

  • What is it with some people and “photojournalism”? It boggles the mind.

  • Grace, i guess this makes you a ‘spy in the house of love’, no? :) Seriously, i really, REALLY like this project though i couldn’t quite get at why until i read Veba’s comment and then EUREKA! Yes! That’s it, negative space..it’s like the pillows and rumpled sheets and tangled blankets are still palpably imprinted with the bodies in every way and yet there is no body. “8” looks as if a body was left behind. i found myself staring at these beds trying to gauge the depth of the passion of the couple. If the pillows were tossed around like pellets shot from a gun or if they remained neatly in place, that was a clue. If the blankets were balled up at the foot of the bed or hurled over to the side, that was a clue, if the remote was left on the bed, aha, another clue, were there cups, condom wrappers, towels? all clues. Secretive lovers making love in secret, leaving only discreet silence behind. If you’ve been there, or have been tempted to go there, then you know these beds, literally or metaphorically. Wrecked hurriedly, abandoned in haste, leaving only the physical and emotional detritus as silent witness to the act. Bravo!

  • PETE…

    frankly, i like to see where the readership goes with it…by the time one reads all the comments on any particular essay or single, the readers here have pretty much summed it all up …it should be pretty obvious by now that photojournalism is not the intent of many of the photographers here (nor the intent of BURN), although we have had some pretty good photojournalists as well and many more soon will be published…

    i find most “definitions” to be pretty stifling in our modern world of photography…the myriad of possibilities with photography fascinates me…all the different ways a photographer can be an author…i am afraid that if i somehow tried to categorize the work, i would automatically be putting a ball and chain on the work….what i could do however, is to encourage the photographer to just say a whole lot more about their intent, or how THEY categorize the work…most do that in their captions, some choose to let us figure it all out…

    i try to play this site like a piano (yup i have hit some bad notes!)…but, to one day give you one thing, the next another….i even read the comments for one picture or essay and then play the next post to either dispel or prove the trend of the previous posts comments…it does not always work, but sometimes it does…daily updating of anything is bound to have its weaknesses…

    you are right, there is an educational imperative to BURN…but i do not believe in teaching from a pulpit…i like for young photographers to have an open mind..be exposed to all sorts of things…schools and newspapers and magazines have a rigid set of “this is right, this is wrong” mission statements… but, i think an open mind is the only thing that will lead the next generation to a higher plateau…i do find folks are pretty damned smart…i think they know journalism from personal expression,and the sometimes combo of the two…and the minute that anything becomes dogma, or gospel, or a “rule” i just cringe..always have, always will…

    i am sure you were reacting to the comment of Missouri grad student August Kryger…i know where August is coming from ..i was a grad student at Mizzou too…i know what they teach at Mizzou…it is solid photojournalism..and it works…lots of students have come out of there and gotten jobs at newspapers just like yours…the integrity aspect of journalism is a good thing…but unless there is “mind expansion” beyond this one very small aspect of photography, then i am afraid the August Krygers of the world will feel “let down” by the time they are forty…they will have missed their chance at authorship….and true authorship only comes from not having any “contest-like categories” locked into their head as “the way to go”…

    Pete, you are a very good man…and i truly thank you for thinking…and what you are doing online with American Journal and 37th Frame is totally commendable…perhaps together, and along with many others, we are giving exactly the educational experience that may be helpful and unique for a new generation…

    cheers, peace, david

  • I see what you mean… Makes sense.

    By the way, did you get the email I sent you the other day?

  • PETE..

    i am in e-mail hell to beat the band…i have not seen yours…but , i will go looking…

  • David,
    I may as well ask the same question. Did you get my email? I wrote you back the other day.

    A response wasn’t/isn’t necessary but with all the mail you receive it’s good to know for sure that you got the message.

  • Well, all this talk of porn without people is all very well and good, but just as an aside totally from left field, I sold a picture this week at a photographic exhibition in a town just down the road from our happy little burg, which made me feel better but did very little for my bottom line. It was a photograph of Pete Seeger and went for $30, of which I got $22.80. It ain’t much, no two ways about it, but it’s more than I had before and I was trying to get rid of the frame anyway. I used the frame in last year’s show; in fact, the picture I had in the frame last year is still there—I just turned the cardboard backing around. Last year’s picture was that of Jesus hanging from the Cross, which, when you think about it, is a neat lesson in how being an anti-government agitator has changed from that time to this. In America, Pete Seeger gets investigated by a bunch of sweaty pols hoping that investigating subversive banjo players makes them look good to the voters back home, and then damned if all their efforts to nail him are for naught. Pete goes on to receive Grammys and a host of other honors and gets to live to a ripe old age, a time where he can look back at a life spent fighting the good fight for the poor and oppressed of the world. By contrast, Jesus of Nazareth had no such luck. The Romans, who didn’t give a rat’s ass what the folks back home thought about anything one way or another, beat the shit out of Jesus and then nailed him to a tree as a warning to any other smart-mouthed Jewish agitators who thought that the poor and oppressed of the world had anything other than a good swift kick in the teeth coming to them and that anyone other than Tiberius Caesar was King of the Jews. America, though, is a different kind of place. Amongst other things, we have flush toilets and high definition television, not to mention Pete Seeger.

    Still, the success with the Seeger picture has led to other things, as things are wont to do. After seeing the photograph, a local organic hamburger shop (no, I am not kidding) wanted some of my pictures of our happy little burg to hang on their walls. I emailed them some sample black and white pictures and they were enthusiastic about getting some 11 x 14’s of them up on their walls. I must admit that I was mildly surprised at this; urban blight looks good in black and white, to be sure, but I am still failing to see the connection between economically distressed Rust Belt areas and selling organic hamburgers. Perhaps seeing urban decay sets off an atavistic demand for meat that tastes the way it used to before the invention of refrigeration, a time when America got its meat straight off the hoof and complete with speckles of fly dung liberally distributed from one end to the other—perhaps some psychologist can explain this phenomenon to us the ignorant toiling masses—me, I just don’t know.

    And what I found especially interesting was this: their hamburgers are 100% organic, they are 100% local, they are 100% grass fed, and they are 100% humane. I was not sure what a humane hamburger might be; do you hug your hamburger before you eat it in an effort to raise its self-esteem or is humanity a special topping, along with the onion and pickle, and will it cost you extra to have your burger with some humanity on it or will the cops, spoilsports that they are, let you get away with something like that? When I enquired, the young man behind the counter told me that humane in this case meant that the butcher killed the cattle with as little pain as possibly and by the most humane methods available.

    If our young beef pusher meant to ease my mind, he failed dismally. One may quibble over words like humane or painless in regard to the cow, but to the cow, the difference is largely semantic—they still wind up ground up and cooked between a bun with a side order of French fries and a frosty cold Coke. And what do they mean by humane? Did the butcher or his assistant, in an attempt to ease the cow’s mind about its imminent demise, dress up like a pair of milkmaids and creep up on the cow from behind while the unsuspecting bovine was chewing the morning’s cud yet again and then shoot it a couple of times in the head when the cow wasn’t looking? And once they shot the cow, did they leave the gun and take the cannolis? Our young beefslinger had no answer for any of these important questions and neither did I; I didn’t even stay for a burger. Once they get my pictures up on the wall, I must go back there and see how they taste. They’re organic, after all; they must be good, right?

  • Akaky, if you ever put a book out, I want to be the first in line to purchase one.
    But then you and your alter ego probably would never be able to get through negotiations with the publisher.

  • 그래도, “바보같은 사진가” 라는이름을 고르는 사람이면, 월래 남한테 실례스럽게 원한많고 나쁜 태도를 보이지 않습니까? 장난 아니다!
    (Just checking to see if Hangeul comes across on BURN as well as it did on the old “Road Trips”).
    Grace, I will look at your photos more thoroughly and comment after I can get to a braodband connection tomorrow.

    Cheers,

    Sidney

  • CATHY…

    no, i have not seen an e-mail from you either…but, will check soonest…

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Have you considered a secretary? (grin)

  • Funny, I almost find myself wishing these were even more “absent,” I guess more clinical in a sense, like Adam Smith’s Chevron station. I want the photographer to be less present (ie the strange angles for affect, flash ghosts, etc) so I can hang out longer and peruse with a scientific eye the artifacts the lovers left behind (yes, they are subtle). The image that works the best in this way (and is my favorite of the bunch, one that I wish I could have taken) is #13. I love the daylight creeping through the window – is it early morning after a night of lust, or was this a daytime tryste? I love the mystery in that photo, yet it is the one that is the most “horizontal” (straight?) so to speak.

    Burn continues to surprise nonetheless. Thanks for publishing this.

  • Charles and I are on the same page in relation to the photo that struck us as the most successful. For me it was also #13. Everything works in that photo: the evocation of a night of love with the wrinkled undersheet, tousled pillows and crumpled up bedspread; the morning light radiating through the closed shutter; the perfectly balanced composition and contrasting values.

    Grace, this is a wonderfully original concept and you’ve made a good start. It will be interesting to see where it goes if you stay with it. Please keep us posted.

    Patricia

  • After looking over the her site I’d say Grace has one photo essay that at his point has been unnecessarily split into 3 parts, one of which is presented here.

  • Hey Grace

    You’ve got lotsta jam for taking on such a subject, I don’t know where your interest comes from but it is fascinating non the less.
    I guess I’m feeling there is not enough here to work for me. I mean the concept is titillating, but I’m not getting much here. I’d love to see the same bed 15 times from the same viewpoint, after different clients used it,Maybe some close-ups of bits and pieces, a blury shot of clients leaving, something, in short more.
    You are not telling me the story.
    However good on you for showing us as much as you have. I want to see more.

  • O.K. It isn’t photojournalism. So what do you do with this besides post it on Burn? Publish it in a book? I don’t think 150 pages of messed up beds is going to stir much interest. Put it up on Utube? Put photos of disheveled beds on the walls of a gallery? Hang them on the walls in your house? I don’t require everything to be photojournalism. But what good is it going to do the photographer if there is no outlet for the work? If it’s so personal that people don’t get it (except, perhaps, some folks who read Burn)? If the goal is to do photography only for yourself, then that is a noble goal. But it doesn’t pay the bills.

  • Jim, now you’ve got me curious. Do you take your photos to “pay the bills” or mount in exhibits or be published in books? Is photography all about how it will be received by others, as in prestigious and/or financially flush others, or could there be something more?

    Maybe this would be a good question to throw out to the community: Why do you take your photos, create essays, express yourself this way? Do you need/expect financial and/or public recognition and rewards?

    Patricia

  • If “paying the bills” is your photographic raison d’etre, your photos will reflect that. If personal and/or artistic expression is why you photograph, that’s all the reason there needs to be to photograph. My personal experience, limited as it is, is that when I decided to let go of all the self-imposed expectations, my photography and my photographs became a source of self-nourishment.

    Asher

  • If all artists were to stop creating,
    because they didn’t have an outlet for their work..
    what a sad state of affairs the world would be…
    as Asher stated,
    ‘my photography and photographs become a source of self nourishment’
    om shanti….
    **

  • who said that there is no outlet? just because you and several others on Burn don’t like or understand it, that does not dictate how the rest of the world will feel. you seem very inclined to narrative, editorial, or documentary genres. but the art world is a vast and fertile place for pure ideas and self expression. anyway, if there are one or two people who understand where I am coming from (veba, kathleen, panos..) than that means more to me than any paycheck. there are many more beds to photograph and much more for me to explore as the work develops. the process of creating is just as important as the final piece (if not more important), that is the difference between being an artist opposed to someone who takes pictures.

  • Patricia/Asher:

    “Do you need/expect financial and/or public recognition and rewards” and “If “paying the bills” is your photographic raison d’etre, your photos will reflect that”

    I think that if we lived in an ideal world you would be right. I mentioned raising this exact subject to David a while back. Some of us are attempting to make a living out of our work. To say that you must only shoot for yourself is partially true and respectfully; can be seen as slightly elitist.

    I shoot and write for a variety of magazines and do my best to make interesting compositions of both words and pics. But is it art? Not really; that’s what my private projects are for. They are for me, and if they achieve recognition then great. If not, my soul sure feels a hell of a lot better for doing them.

    If you have a separate fulltime job then fair enough, you can do what you like. I work pretty long hours finding, selling and completing articles; and am fortunate to have seventeen guaranteed articles to complete. Especially in this financial climate.

    Are they wonderful commissions for Time or National Geographic? Of course not; they are small 1000 word and pic pieces for small mags. Good solid and interesting work, but art? Sadly no.

    But I am fortunate to meet interesting and often inspiring people doing everyday things. For example; today I spent the day out the backcountry farms with one of the local farm livestock buyers. It’s just a “day in the life” type piece for a farm magazine. The buyer is a great guy, I make more contacts in the rural areas where I often work, and it beats the hell out of working in a supermarket (my old job as a butchery manager)!!!

    That small mag pays only 10c a word less than New Zealand Geographic, and I get regular monthly work as a bonus. The extra photos I take go in to both the NZ and UK agencies I work with. They are the cream on the top that helps pay the mortgage and guess what? Help me do more work on personal projects.

    Often I’m able to resell re-worded pieces to other local mags. But; I have now got 3 solid months of work ahead of me; whereas if I was back in a supermarket I could be given the flick with a week’s notice…. Even more so now.

    In some ways, if I wasn’t trying to make a go of full time photojournalism I’d have more time/finances to pursue both projects.

    But I feel I’m beginning to find the right balance. Doing meaningful magazine work and pursuing projects that interest me in my spare time. Sure, I would absolutely love to spend all my time on my projects, but like most have a mortgage to pay etc. And to be honest, it would be a lot easier to pay if I had stuck in my old “go nowhere” job in a supermarket. But like the old saying goes “I’d rather die on my feet fighting than on my belly crawling”…..

    Cheers

  • Wow….
    Not everyone supports themselves with photography, and that allows people to pursue interests that may not necessarily pay the bills but something that genuinely interests people. When I read your comments Jim, its as if you forgot that photography can be something more than merely a way to pay the bills. I sometime imagine what it must be like to shoot things you have no interest in, a.k.a. a daily newspaper job. I imagine it would be a life draining experience.

    However, you are wrong on several points. The first one is that something personal would be of no interest to anyone but the photographer. Fortunately we have scores of photographers publishing highly personal works and with great success. Nan Goldin to Jacob aue Sobol, even Larry Towell’s fantastic book about his family. All highly successful artists showing us highly intimate and personal work.

  • Well said Grace,

    I dont want to assume where Jim is coming from but I do sense a certain ignorance about many of the artistic trends boiling away in the photography world. I think that this is project is strong conceptually and will eventually find more than enough outlets.

  • Van Gogh sold how many painting when he was alive? I do believe he died broke. What a sad world it would be if he gave up on his art.

  • Rafal;

    I agree. I once talked to one of the local news guys from the provincial paper and he said he was jealous of me. I asked him why? He had regular work and wages, a luxury if you’re a freelancer like me. But he explained he had to shoot everything he was sent to, whether he was bored by it or not. He also little time to spend on each job; often only a few minutes.

    That was when I decided I was glad I was freelancing. Even though there is no real job security about 95% of the stories I work on are ones I have an interest in.

    Cheers

  • Ross,

    I fully respect (and often idolize!) professional photographers and the need to pay bills. In fact, at times I consider myself fortunate that I can shoot at whim and on my own schedule (when my real job allows…); it is indeed a luxury. I have worked as a photographer “semi-professionally”, whatever that means, for a local magazine and newspaper, to the point that I have seen the color of the grass on the other side of the fence. An assignment is a responsibility to someone else. A personal project is a challenge to be true to your own vision, with non-monetary rewards, and occasionally monetary reward as well. But if monetary reward is the driver of a personal project, it just seems to me that that would defeat the purpose.

    I guess my point was that, in response to Jim P.’s post, there’s also a need, a time, a place, and a valuable reason for work/art such as Grace’s essay, Bob’s essay, Adam’s photograph, even if it’s not immediately clear whether this is a practical purpose and what that purpose is.

    Asher

  • Asher: “if monetary reward is the driver of a personal project” I totally agree with you!!

  • thanks again to everyone for your thoughtful feedback, I love the range of viewpoints and the different turns this discussion has taken so far

  • Grace,

    “the process of creating is just as important as the final piece (if not more important), that is the difference between being an artist opposed to someone who takes pictures.”

    Beautifully written.

    I think the search for the photograph is, sometimes, maybe, almost more fulfilling than actually firing the shutter, which can even be anticlimactic (staying within the theme of your essay…). Looking at your photos (again) from this project I think you’ve found a groove that will progressively become a bigger piece of your essence.

    Asher

  • thank you Rafal, I appreciate that

  • yes! perfectly, that was well said. did you write that in hangeul yourself or is that auto-translation? just curious

  • (preface: i’m hungover and can’t compose my thoughts properly)

    -like the idea of the project (in theory)
    -the execution left me wanting
    -wondered why the photographer chose to shoot in black and white
    -seems color would better serve the project
    -wish this was being shot in color
    -don’t know why but the black and white doesn’t work at all
    -can’t emphasize enough that the black and white doesn’t work
    -please continue this with color film and probably medium format if you can
    -definitely feels like something is ‘missing’
    -yes color
    -no black and white (for this project)
    -hungover and incredibly full of korean bbq

  • And who knows what something is worth until they do it? I scrimped and scraped in the 80’s to shoot my friend’s rock bands (remember bulk loading tri-x anyone?) not because they were going to get famous (who can know that?) or I was on commission (yeah right) but because it was what I was passionate about and I felt I could bring my own artistic expression to it. Well, lo and behold the bands did get famous, I’ve done several books and license pictures from then constantly. But at the time I had a lot of pressure from various people who thought I should do “serious” photography (ie art – which I thought I was doing), or “make a living at it” (ie catalogs – really). If I had of listened to them … well I don’t even want to think about it.

    So keep on doing what you’re doing, take the (constructive) criticism with an open mind and a thick skin, and yeah if it works it works, if it doesn’t then you have a whole life ahead of you.

  • hi mat, it is black and white for several reasons.

    -visual and conceptual continuity–the beds metaphorically embody one continuous space that is more psychological in nature than photo realistic. I also love the purity of black and white and the duality that it implies. to me it is pure poetry and expression, and that is important to me for this work

    -there are many implications with color, it opens up an awareness and subjectivity that I prefer to be left unsaid. I actually did experiment with color in the beginning but the images reminded me too much of wong kar wai films and cinematic cliches of “asian underground”. this idea of underground may be the backdrop in a sense, but that’s not what the work is about at all.. but more than this, I found color to be distracting in general and what I wanted to express was getting drowned out by all the noise. I do love color, just not for this work.

    for these photographs, because I am small and not very strong, and also because of the way that I’ve wanted to approach it, working in 35mm makes much more sense. it gives me freedom to explore, I can work much more intuitively and organically. i do shoot medium format on occasion but it really depends, at the end of the day how I choose format (film, digital, 35, med, etc.) depends most on how it affects my process and whether that will help or hurt the development of the work.

    I can understand why you want to see color, and I’m sure it would be beautiful. but that would be someone else’s project! not mine :)

  • 자동 번역, 무슨? 한번도 쓴적이 없는 것에 자랑 있는데요.

  • The title is the same as Yoshiyuki’s “The Park”‘s third part, which is composed of video stills :o)

  • Hello,

    I am sorry but it does not work for me, know you Sophie Calle’s “Hôtel”? Maybe it misses me a texte for every picture… I don’t know…it misses me something…

    all the best, audrey

  • hi Joni !

    thank you, I did not know Kohei Yoshiyuki, I like very much…

    Best, audrey

  • 어쩌다 여기까지 오셨는지 모르겠지만 사진들이 볼게 하나도 없네요
    님 진심으로 이 사진들을 자기 이름을 걸로 자랑스럽게 업로드하신 겁니까?
    아니면 누군가가 여기에 올리라고 강요를 해서 쪽팔림을 감수하고 올리신 겁니까?
    데이빗 앨런 하비 블로그에 간간히 올라오는 사진이 좋아서 가끔 들르고 있었는데
    사이트가 바뀌더니 왠 어중이떠중이들이 잔뜩 몰려왔네요.
    님 사진을 찍고싶다면 이런거 공개해봐야 님 경력에 먹칠만 할 뿐이니 그만 접으시고
    숨어서 열심히 찍으세요. 그리고 좀 완성됐다 싶으시면 공개하시죠.

  • I agree with Michael on this one; having visited Grace’s site this essay makes more sense in the context of the other two. I find the three of them taken together as a whole very compelling, especially so as they explore aspects of Korean culture that are usually hidden well away. I find the concept of the ‘Love Hotels’ intriguing and I have to admit I’ve never heard of such places before – what are they called in Korean?

  • I’ve been a working professional photographer for 40 years. That means that I’ve been able to get up every day and shoot photos. Every day. Now I’m also a newspaper editor. But I still get up every day and shoot photos. Photography has been good to me. It’s bought me a beautiful 300 acre ranch. It’s paid for Leicas, Nikons, Canons, Hasselblads over the years. And being a professional photographer has meant I haven’t had to work a day in my life! Looking back, I can’t think of anything I would rather have done in life that spend every day with a camera. My stuff has filled newspapers (I’ve had 50 feature photos published in the newspaper last year, plus many general news photos), hangs on the walls of area galleries, and on the walls of numerous homes and businesses.

    I say all of this to give some perspective to my view of photography. Had photography not paid the bills, I could not have done a fraction of what I’ve done. My professional work has not only given me money, it’s given me access and eventually the luxury of shooting what I want for newspapers rather than what some assignment editor tells me to. Professional cred.

    I don’t care about starving artists of the past. The starving part didn’t make them better artists. The lack of recognition during their lifetimes didn’t “nourish their souls.” David Alan Harvey didn’t become DAH simply because his work was personal (much of it is) but because it was accessible and paid the bills. Had it not paid the bills, David would not be in the position to do what he is doing with Burn and the emerging photographer stuff. Had it not paid the bills, he would not be a member of Magnum (Magnum is far from a non-profit organization where member photographers are concerned). Had it not paid the bills, you probably would have never heard of DAH.

    Every photo I shoot “nourishes my soul” because I love photography and have never wanted to do anything else but be a photographer. And doing it for pay has made that happen. If you have a trust fund or someone who wants to support you while you create great art, fantastic! If not, then you better get real about what you are doing. Because I’ve pimped myself out for money, I can look back at 40 years of doing exactly what I wanted to do, photography. As “emerging photographers,” what do you want to be doing 40 years from now and how will your work get you there?

  • Maybe you like then also the work of Sophie Calle? (I love it, it deals a lot with voyeurism in mundane events.)

    From wikipedia:
    “In order to execute her project The Hotel (1981), she was hired as a chambermaid at a hotel in Venice where she was able to explore the writings and objects of the hotel guests. Insight into her process and its resulting aesthetic can be gained through her account of this project: “I spent one year to find the hotel, I spent three months going through the text and writing it, I spent three months going through the photographs, and I spent one day deciding it would be this size and this frame…it’s the last thought in the process.””

  • Hi Audrey

    Ha, just read this comment after I wrote the comment above about Sophie Calle :o)

    Cheers,
    Joni

  • Yes, I love Sophie Calle, I have some of her books…

  • Cool, I think she’s the only contemporary artist whose work I really like. It’s not bullshit, it’s clever, and often even beautiful. Plus she gets very involved with it. I don’t have any of the books though!

  • What Kurt Said!

  • JIM AND ALL..

    i just read Jim’s comment and unfortunately have to rush to class in ten minutes…you may imagine i have a lot to say on this one….a lot…

    quickly , i will just have to insert that very few Magnum photographers do commissioned work (assignments)..they earn their living selling their work AFTER THEY PRODUCE IT TOTALLY ON THEIR OWN…

    just exactly the way that i am working on Off For A Family Drive…

    making money with photography has zero to do with getting into Magnum…as a matter of fact, many a successful freelancer has tried to use financial success as a way to get in and it does not work…look at our nominees…see any financially successful freelancers in there???

    yes, Magnum is a business and must survive but it does so selling the personalities and the authorhship of its members…period…NOT the other way around…and a huge wing of Magnum is totally non-profit…the Magnum Cultural Foundation sponsors the Emerging Photographer Fund right here with no strings attached, no corporate payback ..nothing..just helping a photographer get a break..and yes right here on little old Burn..

    you got some of your facts wrong Jim…not good newspapering….please please do your homework better before putting things down on paper as you have done here…

    Jim , oh by the way, “besides just being published on Burn” ain’t such a bad place to be…we have the audience here you never had at the paper……worldwide, not just local..the “circulation” and exposure and photographer gets here on Burn right now i am sure way exceeds the readership of your newspaper…well, yes, way exceeds…

    the few writers here might have you thinking it is just “us”…not so at all..haven’t you noticed that most of the published photographers here are not writers?? ever see one word from Medford Taylor or Giovanni Cocco or Grace Kim or Vic Cobo or Aisnlinn Leggett etc etc etc??? yet, they and thousands others are regular readers…i get hundreds of submitted essays and singles every week..almost none of them from the writers here….

    damned Jim , you sure are the classic caricature of the grumpy newspaper editor..

    i can just see you now…actually i always loved my newspaper friends, but optimism and open mindedness was never one of their traits…but, somehow i like you anyway Jim …we wait for your usually negative “weigh in”…cool Jim…..keep going….if you weren’t quite so cynical i would put you to work doing some editing but i am afraid many a promising photographer would get cut in the process…

    damn, i am now late..no time for breakfast…rushing off…back soonest.

    cheers, david

  • read my comment above to Jim..good discussion …keep it going…but Jim is not a bad man…just sort of a victim of a certain time and way of thinking…help him out…ok, my Oaxaca students are going to be mad at me…later….david

  • Interesting subject with lots of possibilities, I suppose. However, as has already been stated I think that Grace really needs to explore the depths of her creativity. One used bed after another is redundant and boring. There is a lot to be said about the loneliness of these images and of the Juxtapositions of an affair to that loneliness. As I said, interesting but needs work…

  • David, I know what Magnum is. I know it’s function. I know how it is supported.

    Yeah, I’m sure you have a broad audience here. So does flickr and utube. I’m not sure exactly what that means. The internet is pervasive, but content is transient. Everyone is looking for a new fix. I actually think what you are doing here has value, but perhaps not in the way many think it will.

    My stuff may only be seen by thousands, but they see it every day. I’m sure the essays shown here are extremely important to the photographers. That they have spent considerable time on them. But here they are on Burn and on their own websites. Now what? Next project? Six months? A year? Where? Where will these projects be in a year? On their websites? One of 10 million other websites that nobody can find?

    Most interest is local. Only superstars attract national or international interest.

  • To be honest Jim, it doesnt sound like you like photography, just a certain niche of photography. You seem very happy to dismiss a lot of what doesnt fit in your narrow scope of interest. You make one big mistake in claiming something isnt accessible. It may not be accessible to you, that however doesnt make it inaccessible. Im very curious about what you shoot. I googled you, I couldnt find anything about a Jim Powers photographer or editor. If you have had all this success, where is all this amazing work? Im simply asking because I want to see what you shoot and where you are coming from. It would be interesting to see because you are outspoken about the work of others without putting yourself out there.

  • Jim, click here,
    to see some straight, classic, newspaper , pure photojournalism..
    no bullshit, Burn artistic crap here…

    http://picasaweb.google.com/innerspacecowpanos/IphonePics?authkey=BGUe4H-Il-8#slideshow

    ( famous quote of the day )
    “why use a camera when you have a phone”
    T.S. ELLIOT

  • Rafal, I’m just a hack PJ. Nothing of interest here. I suspect you will find links to very few of us working in the trenches.

    As for my opinions, I think you are right. They are completely out of sync with this website, so I’ll just go into lurk mode and enjoy what I like and ignore the rest.

    I think David is doing a good thing, here. He is providing a venue for all kinds of photography, especially stuff far from the mainstream. That isn’t a bad thing, at all. The more photography, the better.

  • Oh, I do have a slideshow of all 50 of the feature shots I did last year for the newspaper. Just straight, local stuff. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to hijack this thread with a link to my stuff. If you have an email address, I’ll send you the link.

  • i find this to be a nice photographic essay. i like the simplicity, mystery and loneliness of it. though the images seem redundant – each has it’s own mystery and story to it. nice job… keep working it…

  • James,
    no, no.. please post your links…
    you are not hijacking anything…
    please post either here or at the “Dialogues/One month Burning” page…
    or email me at innerspacecowpanos@mac.com
    just as Rafal , im curious too , to see your link…!
    go ahead..

  • jim
    don’t just lurk, your curmudgeonliness will be missed — too much here is “oh, i love it, so sensitive, so “heartfelt.” i’m not sure though that only superstars attract attention — “superstars” or anyone gets attention by producing compelling images which speak to humans everywhere… photography itself fought a huge battle at the outset because artists didn’t think it deserved attention… i’m not sure why you think all photography must fit only your definitions — although on the last post you noted that you liked the work of a variety of people including leibowitz (often very canned, overproduced) and lachappelle (ALWAYS canned and overproduced)… anyhow, keep nudging the readers here, they need someone outside of the inner i-love-you circle…

  • Grace,

    A really interesting concept and project. I tend to agree with Mat about the colour but then again thats just my personal opinion. I think one of the best things about this website is the feedback and the comments and hearing a plethora of opinons on a body of work. I find it all a bit random there isn’t much structure to the work and it looks like most of it takes place in one or two hotels. I do love the textures of the bed and the details of the hair and stains really do make you wonder or cring at wondering what goes on in the room. Would love to see more stuff and how the project develops though.
    I love that David gives us such a wide varitey of different styles, genres and views on photography and check daily to get my photography fix. Grace’s essay might not be everyones cup of tea but that being said doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the menu.

  • JIM….

    you just are not paying attention amigo….how many times have i written right here that our goal is to PRINT…our goal is to fund photographers…to create something new…now it may not work …it probably won’t work….but, dammit, we are giving it a try…and you are a big part of it…your voice is just as important as anyone else’s….now, if you throw out a critical missive and then in turn get one back, it seems pretty silly for you to then go slink in a corner with your feelings hurt!!! give me a break!! so stick around Jim…….we may all learn something we did not want to learn….

    you are right…most interest is local…but, the term “local” has changed with the net…for example, we are like a small publication here….boutique publication…but, we are worldwide obviously….and you mention the “superstars”..guess what?? they are quite anxious to be published here….you will see…the only thing keeping them from being here more is just their time and my time…

    cheers, david

    cheers, david

  • I just now had a chance to read the above comments, so allow me to clarify. My comment left above was not intended to demonstrate a close-minded approach to photography, far from it. I am well aware there are many different types of photography other than journalism. I myself probably take more “non-journalistic” or “personal” photos than photojournalism. I won’t get into a discussion on the definition of journalism, but perhaps I was not accurate enough in my speech. At any rate, please don’t presume that because I am being educated (and still have much to learn) in photojournalism that I don’t appreciate art and personal expression. I was under the impression that this site was a place for us to learn and express our point of view. My point of view on this piece was that it was boring. Others will obviously feel differently. But to ask for emerging photographers to express their viewpoints and then say we’ll be “let down when we’re 40” seems like a bit of a disconnect. Is it not OK to offer our personal feelings about a piece of art/journalism/personal project? I clearly said why I did not care for the piece. One person’s critique. Hopefully this is more clear.

  • So the question is: Do I need for my photos or essays to be seen online, in print, on a gallery wall, on my own wall or the wall of my next door neighbor or even someone across the globe? Is that why I spend hours taking photos as I did this morning (I’m totally unblocked thanks to the encouragement of DAH, Panos, Asher & Wendy)? Or is there something else going on here…

    Jim’s comments made me ask myself these questions and I’m grateful to him for that. The answers have surprised me.

    One of the reasons I take photos is that I adore the mystery and unknowingness (a word?) of it all. Whenever I open my downloaded photos, it’s like Christmas morning when I was a kid. It just delights the heck out of me. Especially when the gift I open is exactly what I wanted. Or even better, is something I never could have imagined or thought to ask for.

    Another reason I take photos is that I simply like doing it. I love the heft of the camera in my hands, looking through the viewfinder, snapping the shutter release button, even setting up a shot using my remote shutter release cable. This is how I see the world and live in the moment. It is my way of finding the “mindfulness” referred to by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk.

    Yes, I love sharing my work with others but that’s not why I do it. That’s simply another way of being in community with people. And I am, after all, a people person. Surprise, surprise.

    Patricia

  • I want to add that it is just that spirit of surprise and “unknowingness” that I feel every time I click on my BURN bookmark. Grace’s essay has shown me a conceptual approach to creating an essay, one that is totally unlike anything we’ve seen on BURN before. Each of us responds differently to her work. But I’d say most of us would agree that seeing “Love Hotel” has been valuable in our development both as viewers of photography and as photographers ourselves. Grace has done exactly what David urges all his students to do and that is to take ownership of her subject, to approach it in a way that is integral to who she is. Yes, this project will evolve as she pursues it. That’s just the point.

    Patricia

  • Charles,

    In one of those great internet coincidences I “ran into” you thru a comment made by Eric J. Keller to a facebook friend we share. I don’t know Eric but hope to meet him when I get back to Santa Fe in April.

  • Joni,

    “she was hired as a chambermaid at a hotel in Venice where she was able to explore the writings and objects of the hotel guests.”

    For years the news has been showing all the germs and dirt hidden in hotel rooms. Now you mention this. How can I stay in a hotel again? :)))

  • Patricia,
    I am 100 % with you, this is exactly why I press the button. I simply like to look at the world through a camera. I wrote about my love affair with photography above.
    Reimar

  • Since the internet – “local” is defined as planet earth.

  • Jim, you got me thinking. I like to apologize first with Grace for my long comment which has only little to do with her work. I looked at Grace work and I think it is very valuable! Keep going!
    Grace you photographed the places where people came to make love, I write about my love affair with photography.
    Photography is not an easy love. For the last 20 years I earned my living with photography only – mainly working for newspapers. I am proud about that. The way I was brought up there is no work which is a disgrace.
    And there has never been a single day when I got up in the morning and thought that I didn’t want to go out and take pictures. This has never happened and so I love this job and it gave me the chance to enter the lives of all sorts of people and explore the world. Simply: it is a great pleasure to be a photographer! Well, most of the time.
    My newspaper work allows me to meet new people every day, no matter if they are rich, poor, smart or stupid, funny or arrogant, celebrity or homeless or whatever. They are all interesting and everyone can offer something. It is rather my own ability to grasp it. This is life and there is no such thing as a boring assignment. It is my attitude and my approach to people and situations that make an assignment good or bad. Usually the assignments that I look forward to turn out to be the most boring ones and then the assignments when I think – okay, this is going to be one hell of a job – they often turn out to be the most rewarding.
    The most bleak jobs bring in the most money and the really interesting ones are sometimes just for my own experience. And you cannot predict when you get a good picture. This can happen any time, anywhere. And that is a great joy to get this moment.
    However I admit that this newspaper work has ruined my vision somehow and this is very hard to fix. This is another battle I am fighting.
    During my studies I did many self assigned projects. On September 11th in 2001 I set out to Hungary to photograph my diploma essay about Roma people in Hungary. Just before I left home I had seen the planes crash into the World Trade Center and then I took off to Budapest and Pécs with my little red Ford Fiesta, a Hasselbald and some hundred rolls of film. An uncertain future lay ahead, but I was motivated like hell to do a good photo essay. Togehter with 5 other photo students we did a project about the 6 countries that were going to join the EU in 2004. We created photo essays that explained a bit about each countries way to become a EU member. It was an idea, that was born on an office desk. We were all willing to work hard and do the best work possible.
    I choose Hungary because my only idea of Hungary at that time was that they eat gulash. Ethnic minorities have always been of great interest to me and after some research I felt I should do a story about the Roma people in Hungary. They are the biggest minority in Hungary and the EU demanded the integration of minorities. So I thought this could be an interesting story. Until then I had never met a Roma before and I thought they would roam the country with waggons and horses. So I went to find out for myself what the life of the Roma was like. It was a great experience and I met some of the most wonderful people, but I also experienced the grim reality of poverty and the sense of living on the edge of society. Photography was my entry key to all this and I am very grateful for this unique experience.
    To make a long story short. We had a lot of financial support from various sponsors including the EU. The total cost for our project ran between 50 000€ to 100 000€ – probably even more – an awful lot of money. We published a book „Neuland Europa“ and had several exhibitions in different european cities and many of our images were published in print and online – worldwide. So, yes, it was a success and an invaluable experience! An awful lot of work as well. I didn’t break even on this project – but that was not my ambition. We wanted to have freedom and the experience of working on something meaningful.
    Today my projects are way smaler in scale.
    After having completed this work at the beginning of 2002 we were all eager for new assignments, but at that time the world and the print market had changed. The disappointment came in the first half of 2002. I was struggling very hard – after the diploma I had no more credit at the bank and no jobs for month so one day I simply didn’t have the money to buy myself a f…ing cappuccino and I had to ask a friend of mine to pay for me. At this point I decided that I didn’t want this to happen again. Somehow I got the money for a digital camera together and it turned out to be a money making machine. At the end of the year I broke even. But that also meant that I had to give up some of my ideals of documentary photography and so I became a bit of a prostitute if you like and I did commercial jobs as well. I created images that the world doesn’t really need. This is a neverending dilemma to balance between making money to pay the rent and to work on my own projects. And I feel many of my colleagues are in a similar position. I know photojournalists are extremly good at lamenting and moaning. Ah, awful, I cannot hear it anymore. This really pulls me down. I feel that if you are good at the work you do, that will always prevail.
    To accomplish the project about the new EU member countries we paid a high price. We had the freedom to photograph the way we thought it was right, we followed our own vision and our own believe. However the truth is that today only 3 of us are still working as professional photographers – it is still hard to make a living out of it. A strong will and dedication is needed. We all keep our own projects running, at least every once in a while. And as long as I can run, I will run and follow this love affair. I guess this is true love ;-)
    And yes, much depends on everyone’s own ability to promote himself and to dedicate to a job. A career is not like a short race, it is a marathon. So there are many aspects of beiing truly successful. To get it all right is pretty tough. Sacrifices are inevitable.
    Esspecially when you work as a true artist, you need this financial freedom to work without any limitations like Grace Kim.
    A few weeks ago I met a good friend of mine who studies photography in Leipzig. She is doing a wonderful job, she is very dedicated and a way better photographer than I ever will be. She has traded a secure career in becoming a primary school teacher to become an artist, a photographer. She lives on an absolute minimum of money. When I talked to her I could hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes – this fear of not succeeding: Am I good enough? Is this all right what I do? Will I survive financially? I know how hard it is to bear this. Photography is not an easy love. I believe in her and I happily gave her my beloved Hasselbald who was sitting unused with me for far too long. I am sure she will do some great work with it.
    And yes, I have seen good photographers on their knees, wondering if it is all worth it? Some gave in, some succeeded. To get out of this valley of darkness, it takes a lot of stamina, a strong moral, good people who support you mentally and financially. It is like in sport, a good coach doesn’t only give you a good strategy, but most important of all courage and motivation. I think David Harvey is a great coach!
    The road ahead is tough and certainly not easy, but I am myself more optimistic than ever, because the still image hasn’t lost any of its power and with the digital age we have countless new opportunities.
    Nevertheless a stipend for photographic projects is absolutely vital plus the guidance of an experienced photographer is invaluable. These are important ingredients to create some fine work and to grow as a photographer.
    Burn is a great platform for showing work and it is so helpful to exchange ideas and get new inspiration.
    Who knows where all this is leading to? The way is the goal.
    Let’s roll! I have got to get my own butt moving as well!
    I wish everyone good luck and superb light and plenty of space on the memory cards or plenty of film in the pocket!
    Reimar

  • one of the beautiful things about Burn is that it presents a forum for free speech and discussion for emerging photographers who are developing their work (that is exactly what I am), so what’s the problem? there is always something positive to gain from feedback, whether it is good or bad, or just coming from someone who is taking out their aggression on you. as has been said many times, this work is in progress and when the time comes, it will be presented in a broader context as a finished piece. I had no idea my work would provoke such heated discussions. after looking at some of their work, i can see that many of the readers are coming from a very different point of view from how I approach photography, so in that sense it is a good and bad idea for me to show my project here while it is in progress. I will definitely be careful about how the work is presented in the future.

  • Also…

    Jim said: “Most interest is local. Only superstars attract national or international interest.”

    Well “most” might right, but American Journal which deals entirely with content about the United States, has a pretty good international readership. About 35-40% of the readers are from other countries.

  • I’m terribly interested in every photo I shoot for the newspaper. If I didn’t enjoy what I do, I wouldn’t be doing it.

  • JIM, please don’t lurk, I look forward to reading your posts. We need a Devil’s Advocate here.

    From what I have seen of your posts; your comments have been broadly correct; from what I assume is your position as straight pj photographer and editor. I understand your viewpoint that internet exposure is transitory, and agree that much of it is, but I truly believe that Burn is different. I blog here: I don’t blog anywhere else. If David quit Burn, I’d still blog here; I appreciate the intellectual stimulus and the shared love of photography.

    It’s incredibly difficult for young (and not-so-young) photographic talent to get noticed. It is particularly gratifying to see established photographers giving their time and expertise to help them. My hope is that a future major photographer will say in an interview “My first essay was shown on an internet site called Burn Magazine. It was amazing to see my photographs up there: it really gave my confidence a boost and spurred me to begin the essay that would become my Big Break”.

    I’d like you to meet David at one of his workshops (you do have a gratis invitation) and to hear what you think of the experience.

    Having a picture editor here at Burn can only be a good thing. We need to know your background in order to put your comments into context. Then we need you to say why, in your world (any many will want to work in your world) this photograph works and this one doesn’t – and why. No lurking!

    Best wishes,

    Mike.

  • Wonderful thoughtful timely discussion.

    Jim, please don’t go away, we need your voice and the wisdom of the elders among us, as much as the sometimes cocky cynical opinionated voices of youth. I can still remmember when I knew everything too. I can also remmember back in photography school (’69 to ’71), that we were all “arteeests” and would never prostitute ourselves. (money is so vulgar) We also need the voices of those who love everything and just want to say so.

    Jim I can relate to some of your comments. I have made my living as a photographer since 1971. I’ve done commercial/industrial, photojournalism, audio visual, and, for the past 25 years operated a (gasp) small town portrait studio. I love what I do. I love getting up and going to work every day. I am more passionate about making images now than ever. You and I make images every day, some of them for money, some of them for personal reasons. BTW my personal work looks nothing like my commercial work, but one does influence the other. As working photogrphers, our “photo-chops” are pretty honed. Making photographs becomes pretty much instinctial. As a pro you always have to come back with the goods, no matter the situation. It keeps you sharp.

    The photos I make for money these days are mostly portraits. I am continually grateful that my clients will trust me, and pay me big stacks of money to make these photographs. The photographs may have a very small audience, but to that audience they are absolutely precious. Many times I’ve had people in tears viewing their portraits for the first time. In 25 years in the same town, I’ve photographed little kids, later their weddings, then their children. It is a huge priviledge. I don’t take the responsibility lightly.

    I think as photographers we need to separate what our art from our craft. When we make photographs, we practice our craft. If the images somehow transcend their immediate surface reality and just perhaps illuminate some universal truth, then maybe they become art. I don’t really care. I am just practicing my craft, and indulging my compulsion to continually make images, for money or not. I’m just lucky enough to be able to be paid for some of the images. Doing it for a living means I get to do it every day, all day. I am immersed in photograhy, obsessed by it, it is who I am, not just what I do.

    DAH, thankyou for Burn. Keep it coming.

    Gordon L

  • My dear friend Reimar

    You say “The way is the goal.” That is EXACTLY how you have lived your life. I also know that you are a fine photographer, one whose work deserves to be seen here on Burn. I will continue to push you until you give in and submit your photos/essays to David!

    Thank you for sharing with us the story of your long love affair with photography. There is much to be learned there about passion, faithfulness, risk and authorship. I know you are in it for the long haul and it is our world that is benefiting.

    hugs
    Patricia

  • I’d like to see it too, Jim. One month BURNing thread would be an entirely proper place, or you can just link to it by typing in the address as your website the next time you post.

    or

    jarediorio@gmail.com

    truly interested as pj student myself.

  • the day we start to measure ‘success’ by financial or material yardsticks is the day we should hang up our cameras. Money and possessions are important, but integrity has to come first right? we have to live, obviously, and for that you need cash, but if I were to tailor what I do to ‘maximise my sales profile’ or some other such bullshit, and neglected to follow my heart, just to get more ‘things’, to be ‘well off’, then Im sure that at the end of my road I would have lots of nice ‘things’ and a great big lump of regret.
    Work to live and create, dont live to work and accumulate. Life is NOT a read through.
    John.

  • Gordon. Very nice post. You seem to have found the balance to make it work for you. Thats nice to hear.
    john

  • Grace,

    for me, pictures 01, 02 and 14 work very well because they show more specific traces of the ones who spent (hopefully) quality time there, in particular o1 keeps a mystery, with this eye of the towel looking at the other towel. In all these 3 pics we can see there is a bed, but there is more. You changed the angle of view it´s more close up and it´s not only the entire bed seen from above as in the other photos. In these 3 pictures you didn´t show the obvious, there´s an element that gets the viewer hooked, the eye, hair, stains. 14 in addition as it is full of light shows that these places don´t need to be dull and dark, that they also may generate happy feelings, even beginnings. in any case – go on with it , good luck!
    BTW, have you seen Nadav Kander´s “Rest/Stay”? He also photographed love hotels, mostly in Japan.
    http://www.nadavkander.com

  • Fair enough. that was just a single case scenario. Horses for courses etc etc. Cheers

  • balance… that’s the key word we’ve been missing here, thanks for bringing it up!

  • Patricia;
    “Do you need/expect financial and/or public recognition and rewards?” Re: Public recognition. I don’t think it’s always a case of either needing or expecting public recognition. But I don’t mind admitting that it’s nice when people acknowledge your work. I’m not an ego tripper, but do get a warm buzz knowing I’ve managed to turn out something that people/peers like.

    Maybe for me this comes from spending many years working in an environment where incidents of acknowledgement were very few and far between. Actually yesterday when we were way out the backcountry on a remote farm, the farm couple immediately knew my name and said they enjoyed reading/viewing my work. And like I said; it was a nice buzz.

    Conversely it doesn’t worry me if someone doesn’t like my work either. Horses for courses.

    But if nobody enjoys a modicum of recognition why promote your own work at all? Let it sit on the hard drives and slide/negative folders. Why submit to Burn, magazines, publishers, galleries?

    But I do agree that it shouldn’t be the sole reason for working. That MUST come from the heart and soul.

    Cheers

  • Grace, I just visited your web site and saw the other two galleries–Loveland & One Night Stand–that are part of your exploration of sexual mores/culture in South Korea. Fascinating work, especially when seen together. I really look forward to seeing where you go with this project. You are really onto something!

    Patricia

  • Grace,

    I have to agree with you in rejecting Lurker’s criticism, which doesn’t seem really appropriate for this forum… most of what appears here, as you say, is “Work in Progress” and it is just the kind of venue where experimentation is welcomed and where most people’s responses are meant to be helpful towards advancing the work further.
    However, I see by this and your other replies above that you really don’t need me to defend you… you are quite capable of doing that for yourself!

    안녕…

  • sorry, have been away :))…

    Grace, and all:

    ABSENCE and SILENCE….the twined walls by which the rooms of our lives are always constructed….

    It’s interesting to me to read some of the criticism. If anything, I could have savored even more photographs. I see this essay not in the least at all about journalism, nor even voyeurism with regard to the lovers, per se (although, the aspect of voyeurism is a powerful and critical element in Grace’s story), but I see this essay as one defined and wrestling with self-exploration, specifically an examination of what it means to photograph, to photograph others. Each of us, whether reporter or diarist, is an voyeur, an examiner, a spy in the house of photography and i see this essay very much a nervy and hypnotic exploration of that, an examination of the feelings Grace has being in a place that she is not supposed to be, nor are we, a room still so filled with the presences of the lovers, particularly because of their absence, that we begin to believe they are still inhabiting, haunting this room (pic #8)….

    an examination of how WE ALWASY leave behind our selves, the detrius of our lived lives, whether an abandoned room, or blood-cum stained sheet, their fucking one one of the indications that there is still presence (hair, condom wrapper, strewn sheets, left behind articles, etc)…but i see this not at all an journalistic or even documentary examination of the Love Hotels, but an examination of what it means to transgress…for in the context of Korea, this already is a transgression, but so do Grace’s images and presence in a room that was not meant for her, in a place where the lovers had thought they’d have ‘privacy’…our privacy is in fact an illusion…and this is the uneasy thing we understand the moment we become photographers…

    I am incredibly surprised that the journalists in the group do not understand this….it’s the very first thing one lears as a journalist and it’s an uneasy mandate…

    a marked life, the marked room, clipped by scent and passaged bodies and stain and light and weight in he sheets and rimmed-rhyme of the scent. In fact, I don’t read the essay at all about the lovers, nor the Love Hotels, but about Graces’ (our own) exploration of coming to terms with observation, with our relationship to people and places who are unaware of us. Frankly, it’s an essay (for me) about the act of photography and the tension we all feel photographing others, for we in fact, each of us, are stealing moments, observing people who are not always aware of us, cloving the moment ripe of it’s understanding for our own understanding.

    the particular context of Sexuality is also a interesting tension in the essay, something that lines the essay given the cultural ‘taboo’ of discussing sexuality or rather addressing sexuality in an environment other than through shadow and locked door. A large part of my life, photographic and teaching wise, is defined by the stories and the relationships of my students from Korea, who make up the largest number of my students, and by extension, play a large part in my own photographic work. The love hotels in Korea are very very different than the love hotels in, say, Japan and worlds apart from their siblings in Europe and N.America. It’s not necessary to write about that here, but I will see that what I found the most interesting and challenging about this essays has to do with the cultural divide, that maybe many viewers here are aware of.

    In fact, the absence of the lovers, the duplication of many of the photographs make the story that much richer for me…because there is an incremental tension as we shift from photograph to photograph…it is a story about discovering, like Alice through the Door, once she’s found the right key, and all that comes forth from that….until we arive at the final photograph which speaks about what the absence really suggests….

    As for the discussions above…..well….i’ve written enough about all that already….;)))

    the song remains the same…

    wonderful story Grace…the tension is so rich, and i think it’s a rare when one works which documents one place (love hotels) becomes a song for another (the tension of observing)….

    I would recommend Sophie Calle’s work…

    thanks so much for sharing

    all the best
    bob

  • grace

    i like your beds.

    ben

  • Hi Folks,

    Firstly, I liked Grace’s essay. I think all the critical stuff has been said about it, so I’m not going to get into that. I will say that there is a lot of honesty here, people are open with their thoughts and their work, which is great. I think its pretty brave to put work “out here” for all to see, for all to critique, but many have done it all the same. Jim, I think if you are so quick to be so negative about peoples work, you should at least let us see what you can do. Its only fair after all.

    Cheers

    Jason.

    Ps, David, I sent you an email a while ago, do you know if it arrived?

  • Jim,

    Why not just post the URL of your work on the REPLY info page so we can click on your name and see what you do?

    Anyway, one of the most “local” style photographers on here has been my favorite so far, that’s Amanda Lucier. Her work is about as local as you can get yet it breaks out of those bounds and becomes global with it’s humanism and compelling compositions, albeit of small moments and unknown persons . Not all of us are globe trotting pj’s (as much as we would like to be) and yet it’s possible to make work in your own backyard that is unique, groundbreaking, avant-garde, personal, political, heartbreaking, joyous and the list can go on and on. By definition all of those traits are endemic to the human condition worldwide.

    What a bore this site would be if all of the work was the same sort of prescription. And David is right, most of the best work done by photographers was sold after the fact. I would say less than half of the work on my website was done on assignment or commission, and the pieces that were I rarely use the ones chosen by the editors.

    Best,

    Charles

  • The only thing I have on the web is light feature stuff, no hard news. But you are welcome to check out the slide show of 50 feature shots from last year.

    http://www.39thframe.com/

  • Just light feature stuff is all I have on the web, but you are welcome to it.

    This didn’t post the first time. Maybe it will work this time.

  • Jim ,
    if a project or single photo ” only” ends up on Burn or on a personal website is already an achievement.
    “Where will these projects be in a year? On their websites? One of 10 million other websites that nobody can find”….
    Luckily your prediction doesn’t appear to be true. There are cases that have generated assignments and interest from people who took a closer look as a result of being featured here.

  • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…
    i will second that !!!

  • I forgot to say : … Katharina !!!!!!

  • Hey Jim

    Don’t apologize for having only “light feature stuff”. You came back with the goods. Nice clean stuff that tells the story with no pretentions.

    Gordon L.

  • katharina, the signal to noise ratio of the web is too high in favor of noise to be very useful, especially now when Pulitzer price winning photographers are having trouble getting enough work to survive. This site has the advantage of being associated with the name of a famous photographer, and that is something…but there are hundreds of thousands of photo galleries on the web, representing the work of some amazingly good photographers.

    I want what David is doing here to work. I desperately want it to work. More photography is better than less photography. But photos of disheveled beds and statues having sex being paraded as art seems to me to only be adding more noise to the web. The art world is incestuous, existing on its own plane and rewarding or withholding recognition from whom it will. Maybe a famous photographer can provide an alternative to that closed society. Maybe Burn will be it.

    I just can’t figure out exactly what Burn is. Perhaps David has brought the right weapon to the hunt, though. He might hit more ducks with a shotgun than a rifle.

  • Thanks for posting a link to your photos, Jim. It always helps to put a photographer’s comments within the context of his/her work. And strangely enough, I’d already placed you somewhere in Texas. Of course, when you mentioned your 300 acre ranch, that was a pretty good hint…

    Patricia

  • Patricia, my photography is irrelevant. The thread isn’t about me. It’s about Grace Kim.

  • or Pulitzer Prize, rather than price.

  • Ah, but Jim, your earlier comments made it also about you.

    Patricia

  • Jim,

    I have been here just a couple of days and in that time i have seen so many comments of yours that are so offensive and churlish i could barely believe my eyes. Grace’s essay seemed very much like a haiku to me and i haven’t gotten it out of my mind all day–the images haunted me at work, during traffic jams, while i interacted with others, as i ate lunch alone in a restaurant. I kept seeing the tangled sheets and blankets, each “arrangement” unique as flowers in various stages of bloom and droop. And yet the very first comment in the thread was for me, another example of your ugly intolerance, dished out without even an effort to understand Grace’s point of view or concern for her reaction to your harsh, cryptic criticism. What you wrote was so ugly it almost, but not quite, destroyed the loveliness of her efforts for me. And everyone begging you not to go, not to go into lurk mode. And you coyly strutting, bragging and pouting like a true diva. And i kept thinking, who IS this guy?!?! Now, now, i see, haha, Tyler County, Texas. My God…i lived several years in Hillister. Tyler County was and probably still is a dry county (no liquor) with not much to make it noteworthy. Just long-leaf pine, dogwoods, copperheads, logging roads and a hurricane a couple years back. Lots of religious zealots and racists. But nice people anyway. Just plain country folk. Oh yeah, and folks from Houston who come out for the weekends to their little cabins in the piney woods. Maybe that’s all changed. i don’t know. I would never put down Tyler County. i have fond memories of bbq’s, lazy walks down sandy roads the air redolent with the fragrance of honeysuckle, making muffins with wild raspberries, fishing for catfish in the honey-colored streams and trips to the county line to pick up a six-pack. But to read your nasty-assed comments and see what appear to me to be world-class photographers trying to appease you and then to find out you’re in newspaper work in Tyler County?!?! Well, i have got to tell you, i cannot stop laughing. This is rich revenge indeed.

    Forgive me all who are regulars and serious contributors here. i wanted to be one of you. But i cannot support this man’s grievous lack of tolerance for any photography other than his own narrowly defined band of acceptable genre.

    Be well all..

    Kathleen Fonseca
    Brasil de Mora, Costa Rica

  • Jim,

    you did make it about you. Ive seen you go on the attack more than once here and its funny that you seem to fold so quickly when confronted. This thread was supposed to be about Grace’s work but the poison youve shown here has put a damper on things. Now, Im not asking you to like the work, only to express yourself as an adult, less bile and more thought out analysis, which I have yet to see from you. There are people here who can beautifully analyze an essay or an image, with clear thought and an impressive understanding of what art is, what photography is. Even if they dont like the work, they can express themselves thoughtfully. You are not one of them from what Ive see so far. Ultimately, bile and anger dont bring anything worthwhile to the discussions as they are intended here on Burn.

  • hmm..revenge is not the right word..irony is more to the point.

  • Jim,
    the lines between strictly this… strictly that ” genre” are fading in editorial and elsewhere.– It’s nice to see that David makes an effort to show some ” alternatives” here , incl.Grace Kim’s Love Hotel during a time indeed when thousands of photographers worldwide have trouble to make a living . Why Love Hotel should be belittled as just ” noise” on the internet is unclear to me. Who knows if sooner or later the photographer won’t be hired precisely for her vision or commisoned to show her work in places she’d never thought of ?
    ( I am speaking from personal experience:) )

  • thank you sidney! you make me laugh with your comments, because I try to stay neutral and just observe what is going on, but when people cross the line I can’t stand it. I want to tell them, save it for your shrink or your hairdresser! some people are haters, what can you do? that’s their problem. I do appreciate every opinion however, even from the angry people. it’s interesting to me to see how people from different backgrounds understand photography and how they regard my work. there have been some things said that have been right on and I appreciate that a great deal. I try to keep an open mind and take in what is relevant and leave the rest behind. so thank you to everyone who has written in with your passionate and honest thoughts! I really mean that.

  • A portrait doesn’t have to include the literal for it to be successful. Step right up and engage your imagination, folks! Grace, you’ve got a great project. What remains… As I see it, the sky is the limit in both style and subject. Keep going, don’t let criticism thwart your creative vision.

    What a boring world we’d have if every image was straight and served-up-on-a-platter, no interplay of synapses or heart required. Long live the artist! We make work because we must, we have something to say, we’re learning how to say it- better, and share it with the world in hopes that we make a connection.

    Obviously, we must all find a way to survive and pay the rent. To echo John’s, Bob’s and others’ sentiments, once you’ve stopped creating work for yourself and begun creating for someone’s else’s agenda, you’ve lost sight of your vision and what makes you unique as an artist.

  • thank you Patricia!

  • I think jim
    explained very well his point of view
    and his idea of photography
    writing about bob black’s essay.
    I dont see any anger or bile, just someone
    who frankly expresses what he feels.
    I’m sure he’ll be the first to write nice words
    when he sees some great work.
    Please jim keep posting here…

  • Grace, Love Hotel is the most abstract of your work shown on your website. My understanding of Eastern photography is that the culture of the East is important in understanding its meaning. If I look at the photographs as representations of something other than the reality that they show I see abstract shapes and forms that are metaphor for the people that have vacated the rooms. The shapes of the pillows, bed sheets, creases in the sheets etc. seem to echo the shapes of the vacated people. is this what I’m supposed to see?

    I like it.

    Mike.

  • I quick note on all the comments…..and dont worry, i will be posting a long bob-black comment, i think, for now, i spent my load on my own essay thread ;)))…

    Its been interesting to read the comments and the ditties back and forth between Jim (and others) and supporters. I must say also that I am a bit concerned too with the tone. I think Jim is a critical necessity of not only Burn but for all photographers to listen attentively. Jim and i have had quite a few discussions and I found our ‘discussion’ interesting and challenging and I’d hope it shed some light on both our points of view, a discussion that WAS NOT born of enmity or bitterness just a discussion based on not only differences but different ways of relating to photography ( http://www.burnmagazine.org/essays/2009/02/bob-black-bones/ ). I attach the link not to promote my essay but to encourage others to read the discussion (sorry if that appears shameless).

    Jim has certainly his bedrock roots in photography and knows exactly what he likes and doesn’t like and he sounds (to me) just like my old editors (whom i loved and respected and adored) at the Eagle, that i had written about on ur last discussion. Ditto Guy, and as with guy i tried to explain intention (yes, picture #3 was to have dust) with technical problem, (no some of the other pics were ruined cause of the dust) from sloppiness/inattention. I think that many young photographers miss, really miss, the value of discussion, particularly with older photographers. I am not saying that I agree with Jim at all about what does and does not constitute photographic work which reaches people, actually, i would love to buy him a tall whiskey and sit down and chat, but though he often sounds dismissive, I read his words as a person whose life has been committed to, defined by and rodeo’d by photography and he’s sharing that with the other photographers.

    Now, i dont care if photography has bought him a 350-acre ranch or not (fuck, photography and writing has given me and my wife a 700 sq.ft apartment, and what’s the difference?), but there is a distinction between journalism and non-journalism. Journalist is NOT A GENRE OF PHOTOGRAPHY, it is just a profession. I think photographers confuse this very much and it’s a frustrating and depressing argument (my 3 years of frustration at Lightstalkers). What matters, and I believe what David has tried to promote here is PHotography in all it’s ilks and guises. Shit, most of the work that we’ve seen has still been mostly based in the idea of document: how about created negatives, or appropriated imagers or contrived images, etc. It’s all part of the exploration. How about the idea that an image that is destroying, falling apart, is as legitimate (what i tired to do with the pin hole images). The point is that photography, like those great endless plains, has only just been begun to be explored…so much more to do…

    and I would also say that Grace and others NOT PERSONALIZE the criticism, but instead see it for what it is: an opportunity to discuss or debate or re-shape others thinking and your own thinking. I think the problem is that too many photographers look at other work through the prism of their own perspectives, their own ideas, instead of trying to ‘see’ what it is that’s going on. I find almost most of the photographers i meet see the world and the work of others ONLY through the perspective ‘what would i have done’ or ‘could i have done this’ or ‘i wouldnt do that’ or ‘that’s just just, my ideas are better.’ In a sense, I have grown to like reading Jim’s comment because while i find them often clausterphobic, or maybe that should be angoraphobic, i find them said with genuine conviction

    photographers must also prepare to fail and if they think that negative criticism at burn is shocking, they’re in for a much much bigger surprise in reality. i know, my wife and i life the ‘photographic’ life and struggle each day to put bread on the table and to try and make work that is compelling and a reflection of our lives and ethics and work beliefs. It is a cold cold world and the sooner photographers gallop toward discussion and fertility rather than toward tribal unity and blindness the better.

    I would ask both the people that challenge Jim and Jim himself a simple question: which is the more valuable lesson: what you’ve taught someone else or what you have learned…..i think both parties might nibble on that…

    i know why my time in the Sun at burn was so valuable for me….as a photographer….

    and no, no one has called me for work, and I dont expect that to change any time soon…

    but that’s not why I’m here at Burn, just of great things are blooming here, as David intended, and that aint just about showing photographs……:)))))

    hugs
    bob

  • I’m not belittling her work. If it brings her satisfaction, that’s good enough. And it has generated 125 posts on Burn magazine.

  • Bob, the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that trying to pass anything along to other people other than technical knowledge is a useless pursuit. We rarely learn from other’s experience. We all must begin at the beginning tilt with our own windmills.

  • Rafal, the world that ultimately sees and evaluates our photography is, for the most part, not populated with with “people here who can beautifully analyze an essay or an image, with clear thought and an impressive understanding of what art is, what photography is.” They are going to say to themselves, “that sucks,” or “man, I really like that.” One of the most common complaints I hear from art school grads is that the real world isn’t nurturing and supportive of their work like the world of art school was.

    Most folks that see our stuff have no background in art or photography, its history or its language. They neither analyze work nor understand symbolism. If all you want to do is talk to other artists, fine. But they aren’t the ones mostly buying our images and essays. It’s boring editors sitting behind a desk at a newspaper or magazine, with a limited news hole and budget, that is making those decisions.

  • Jim:

    man, aint that true true! :))

    gotta run to reach…

    cheers
    bob

  • Kathleen..
    no need to apologize…
    you made everybody laugh….
    texas…………………………………………….
    “…fond memories of bbq’s, lazy walks down sandy roads the air redolent with the fragrance of honeysuckle, making muffins with wild raspberries, fishing for catfish in the honey-colored streams and trips to the county line to pick up a six-pack…”
    …………………… ha ha…. yep !!!!!!!!!!!

  • But you do have the background to add more. I mean 40 years of photography and now a newspaper editor. Im sure you could bring much more to the table than just “that sucks”. Im 100% sure that you can so the fact that you choose not to is frustrating.

  • So true, thanks for simplifying that.

  • Grace. i am not a big one for words in support of pictures, but reading your description on the aims of this project I WAS interested. this little bit ” By visiting the rooms just moments after they had been vacated, I wanted to explore residual tension between the presence and absence of the anonymous couples, and to contemplate the stories implied by what remained. Rather than consider the rooms as a whole I focus on the bed, treating it as a metaphor for love and nostalgia.” – sounds great as an idea. Trying to realise such a concept in purely photographic terms though may well prove a tough cookie to crack. I personally dont think its anywhere near finished yet, but you are exploring ideas, and more to the point you are ‘doing it’. Thats important. Also, you get thrown to the lions a bit here and you stick to your guns. Good for you.
    john

  • JAMES…ALL

    i gotta give you credit man, you have sparked a great thread…actually, it has all come up before, and if i really think about it, may be THE discussion among so many photographers today….and the comments here have been terrific i must say with good arguments on both sides….no side will WIN this debate…both “sides” can learn a bit from the other…never never hurts to look at something from the “other side”…

    now Jim, by the way , this is not a shotgun approach to editing…i have a very clear vision …however, am i not using a rifle either….i do not like guns…i prefer the camera as my weapon, so i will use a different analogy please..you many know that i use a medium wide lens in my work… to perhaps have one subject dominant, but an environment either shown or intimated..context for the main subject…

    so at any given moment on Burn you could imagine i am espousing one thing and the next you might think another…all this “noise” out there on the web and in print as well is something i take in every day…so i am editing what is submitted to me every day on Burn in much the same way that i would “edit” in my mind a roomful of people at a wedding or a football game….photographers are editors most of all..they are choosers…

    so the noisy net…life itself is “noisy” is it not??? photographers take the “noise” of life and simplify it in a photograph..as do writers, painters, etc etc…so if you look at Burn as a kind of photograph itself, or an object in and of itself, with me being an editor, but working in almost the same way to create a final product as i do as a photographer, then you may begin to see where this all goes…or not!!

    the most important thing to remember, is that we are building here…BURN is a process…an EVOLVING journal..says so right on the masthead…we are going for an end of the year annual or book in PRINT…the process of getting to that , or to anything creative can look messy or disjointed (even the old newsroom Jim, did not look like the final edition now did it??)..backstage of a play ain’t the play, nor the making of a movie bears no resemblance to the movie…

    ok, shifting a bit, i think that what Bob points out is quite interesting.. “journalism is not a genre of photography”…newspapers and magazine use photography mostly as a form of illustrating a journalistic point, but not as photography itself…and herein lies all the confusion for so many….

    there is such a big difference between a picture of something (a depiction of reality) in front of us and the completely different intent of someone trying to make a photograph which would be or could be considered an object in and of itself…and to further the confusion some of the folks attempting to make PHOTOGRAPHS (no journalistic intent) use “documentary” as their vehicle…for example, we are not confused by Gregory Crewdson at all…he manufactures his pictures like a Hollywood director and is therefore very clearly labeled an “art photographer” (actually a very good argument could be made that Gregory is quite documentary, but my oh my we will never end this chat!!)…

    so understanding the difference between a “picture” and a “photograph”, and the intent of both, is crucial to this whole discussion…

    anyway, now we have Grace (and many others like her) who use the “documentary” as her way of personal expression…i am in the group that thinks Grace is evolving…not yet finished…but i want to encourage photographers like Grace to push push push this plane of discovery as far as she can go….because, for me, to take a photographer with the imagination of Grace and slowly, at some point, introduce her to some of the realities of the business (and there are some) is way way better than to blast her to hell and make her conform to some mythical editor so that she might take her talent and bend it all around so as to receive a paycheck..in other words ruin her before she has a chance to flower…..i would allow Grace to develop in her own special way so that she is chosen finally by the best publishers and galleries ( and by the way ironically perhaps her print prices will be way higher in the long run than if she had “sold out” in the short run…)..

    now Jim, i looked at the list of all of the photographers you admired most that you mentioned a few comments back..i know each one…knew them long before they had any reputation at all…every single one, and me included, were total 100% revolutionaries and could barely hold any kind of job at all…most editors would not hire any of us….most editors will still not hire any of us (do you think that Salgado, Webb,Nachtwey, etc could possibly go out and shoot a newspaper assignment?)…no way i say…we all know that…..every real talent needs a sponsor, a de Medici…(without Peter Howe there would have been no Sebastao Salgado) ..special editors are like special photographers….there are not many….it takes a few talented editors to allow a few talented photographers to move forward…as simple as that…

    again, 90% of the so called super talents or recognized photographers or “superstars”(your term) could not get “hired” by 90% of the editors…which swings us right back to one thing….mass acceptance , a mass audience, is NOT what any great photographer i ever knew had as any kind of goal…a wide audience may have been developed around them, but mass communication was SECONDARY to their PERSONAL VISION and came as a result , rather than as a cause…

    Jim, like Bob i would love to sit down with you and have a cold beer or Jack Black on your 300 acre ranch or in my, smaller than your car garage, loft in New York…and yes yes in my early days at the Richmond Times Dispatch i met many a photographer and editor who thought just like you and told me EXACTLY word for word what you are telling the readers here…i mean, honestly , the conversation has NOT CHANGED during my whole career..net, no net..same damn conversation!!! so , i would not try to change your mind…

    and i think that probably a little bit of deep deep down Jim Powers does not really believe all that Jim Powers says…

    anyway, good to have you here as counterpoint, devils advocate, whatever….we all need one….

    cheers, david

  • Really? I hadnt thought of that.

  • so much for absence and silence…

  • what’s a boy to do ;)))….

  • David,

    Interesting point about journalism and photography. Although I think I am a bit more open than Jim appears to be on this discussion, I too am obviously a newspaper photographer. And being one, I never really looked at it in that way… “…newspapers and magazine use photography mostly as a form of illustrating a journalistic point, but not as photography itself…”

    This has been a great discussion and your point is well made.

  • beats the hell out of me, but whatever it is, you ain’t doing it…

  • With much talk about “paying the bills photography” accompanying this essay, I’d like to regale you with a recollection I have of a BBC television programme from way-back about a New York street photographer who hit The Big Time. My memory of the exact contents of the programme are a little shaky (if anyone can help me out here please do) but as I recall it was an Arena production and told the story of a photographer who basically photographed on the streets of NYC and then sold said photographs (rather good photographs) to passers-by on the streets of said city. Well, one day, someone from one of the top magazines sees the mans work and thinks to himself “these are really very good, I wonder if we can use him”. So the man is suddenly whisked from his street world and transposed into the world of the high-end magazine. I think they had him photographing fashion etc. From the stuff he was producing I thought that all was going well but he decides that he would rather return to his own work and sell it on the street.

    If anyone can fill in the gaps of this story please do so, I’d love to pick up the story again and see how he fared. Interesting to see how success, for him, was not earning vast amounts of money but was realizing that he was already a success before being ‘Discovered”.

    Best to all,

    Mike.

  • seems like you’re in a particularly pernicious mood of late dad…im doin’ exactly what i’ve been doin….same as u…

  • I have never been a pernicious mood in my life, although I was a bit annoyed when your mom ran off to seek fame and fortune in Ohio and took the toaster with her. That was just too much.

  • I know the internet lends itself to cranky, acrimonious discussion, but I don’t get the negativity here. David started this online endeavor as an educational resource for emerging photographers (and he considers all photographers, even his Magnum colleagues, “emerging”). So here we are. Burn is whatever we make of it; it’s not David’s or anyone else’s attempt to promote a certain aesthetic or agenda. Jim, why get all pissy about it?

    Thousands of sites present photography, but how many of them are designed to promote critical discussion of it? Everyone here is articulate and eccentric. There’s a lot to learn and think about, even if every essay is not your cup of tea.

  • Kathleen, I’m 58 years old. I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I’m exactly where I want to be. Doing exactly what I want to do at this point in my life. I’ve nothing to prove anymore. I choose to live in a small town just as DAH chooses to live in a loft in New York. Looked very hard for a place like this in S.E. Texas. I think it funny that you choose to attack me for where I live. Tyler County is still dry, by the way. The Liquor stores are about 25 miles away any direction you want to drive, though. So keeping the fridge full of longnecks is no problem at all.

    By the way, Haiku’s came into existence as a reaction to poetry filled with references and symbols that no one but insiders could any longer understand. And, there are “world-class” photographers that live in the middle of nowhere in Montana. Ad hominem attacks don’t become you.

  • Grace, I really enjoyed your beds, and literally laid my eyes on them more than once… However, they left me with the feeling of an “incomplete” project…
    Love “Hotels” are part of my country’s culture as well, we call them “Motel”, something which caused me great confusion 7 years ago when I moved to the USA and saw “motels” everywhere! I spoke no English back then and had the ingenuous momentary assumption that Americans spent a lot of time “in bed”; it is amazing what cultural shock can do to you. On that, I watched your slide show with a bit of contentment, with a certain warmth from being able to somewhat relate to your personal view of such a “secluded” atmosphere.

  • “especially now when Pulitzer price winning photographers are having trouble getting enough work to survive”

    I have to say I do not understand completely what this sentence supose to mean. I know a few charwoman who have trouble to survive.

    I think you miss many things mr. Powers, and I think you are not too good in visual media theory.
    But your voice is valuable.

  • Ludmilla…
    It was great meeting u yesterday..
    In Venice Beach…
    Thank You for coming down to shoot with me..
    It was a pleasure having a clam chowder with u..
    But when later, I made it “Home”…
    and I checked the 3 links out that you sent
    me..
    Amazing.. Great work in progress..
    Please post your links here ( one month burning )..
    so ALL can see your talent…
    I loved it .. Great work..
    Keep it up.. Maybe we will shoot together once more
    down in Venice but this time I hope for sunshine…
    Peace y’all…
    ( ALL, I’m in the police station right now..
    Trying to retrieve my 4gb stolen, confiscated sdCard.. Wish me luck…)

  • So there I was, me and my Canon, wandering around the wicked city yesterday photographing the indigenous wildlife in its native habitat, and I didnt see anyone from Burn, nobody at all. Where were you guys? You spend your weekends wallowing in the fleshpots carousing and wenching, chasing harlots and strumpets and doing whatever else people do in the big city on weekends and on Monday you’re too hung over you can’t get out of bed in the morning. A good thing I spend all of my time here in our happy little burg, where the air is clear and the crazies only get stoned on alternate Tuesdays during Lent.

  • Yeeeeeees…
    SdCard released…
    4GB. full …
    Lots of stuff…
    I also got a surprise…
    DAH… that unfortunate jail night..
    Well, DAVID shot about 30-40 photos
    with my M8…
    later I will post a slideshow with his
    photos only.. from that night…
    ( I hope he won’t notice coZ the copyright
    is still his…) laughing..
    Anyway.. I’m back in Venice right now..
    Doing a sub story on the mighty Venice Beach Pigeons..
    See y’all later tonight..
    Peace and hugs from Venice ..

  • “…you’re SO hungover…” profread proofread proofread, dammit!!!

  • grace

    i like this series for a number of reasons, and can see different contexts for use which would suit the work..

    hotel rooms are clinical and vacuous places to me, having spent many years trawling between them. devoid of character, their plastic charms and feux comfort denied me the only pint of interest i ever found in them – who was here last and what did they do?

    my ritual would always begin with a pint of beer and a bath.. set up the laptop and some music to feel like home – i´m more a fan of a living room couch or even a floor than a hotel room.

    but i have left some states behind me.. which i am glad no one could record.

    having only skimmed the comments lightly it seems to be a contentious series, which i guess is about right.. it could seem dull.. to a dull mind.. although to any other it MUST hold interest.. photographic concept is strong regardless of technique.. although i would have loved to see it in all it´s seedy colourful beauty.

    thanks muchly
    david

  • Jim
    Attack you for where you live? Nah, I´m jealous of your address. I just thought it was amazing how you spend all day and night in here passing unnecessarily harsh judgements on anybody´s work that isn´t your glass of iced tea and being petted and cooed at by those whose feelings you´re trampling like so many cow turds. I was wondering if you were the head of photography at MOMA or something. Surely somebody this intolerant, this cryptic, this harsh, this indifferent to the feelings of others MUST be breathing some really rarefied air. Someone so accomplished, with such stature that I should shake in my flip-flops to be allowed to post in the same thread. And what do i find out? That you´re just a guy in Tyler County, Texas with a fridge full of long-necks. Woo-hoo. It was a pretty funny joke on me. Suddenly, like the Wizard of Oz you shrank way, way down in stature to a far more manageable level. Do i still think you´re a mean SOB? Yup. But i´m betting your bark is worse than your bite. At most, you´re like a Maytag washer. Constantly agitating.

    By the way, if i recall correctly S.E. Texas was considered actually more southern than texan and in this part of Texas land is called a farm not a ranch. Regardless, a ranch is a better fit for your internet persona. Ride ´em cowboy!

  • yes! I do approach these photographs as a visual poem. I look at the pillows, blankets, etc.. as characters in a sense, mimicking an imagined, poetic dialog between the lovers, and myself sometimes included.

  • hi ludmilla, where are you from? I am very curious what love hotels are like in your country, and how that relates to broader cultural attitudes in general. they are so different from culture to culture although at their core they are all the same. the series isn’t complete so you are right to feel this way, it’s an ongoing exploration that I have been working on since last year. if you or anyone else is interested in seeing the most recent edit, please check out http://grace-kim.com/lovehotel_01.html. would love to know what you think. thank you for sharing!

  • grace,

    i love this project. every time i come on here i fond something new. so nice and refreshing. what i like about this is the nice tight edit and good strong images. there are also so many directions you could have gone in with this project… but you went with a simple, intimate and ultimately what i think to be the strongest approach to this. it is a very interesting portrait and i cannot stop going back… very nice.

  • AUGUST…

    now you have taken my comment “let down by the time you are 40” totally out of context!!! i was talking about the newspaper work ethic, not any kind of comment or philosophy you may have..actually, i suspect that the two of us would disagree on very little…

    cheers, david

  • Hello Grace,

    I am from Brazil.
    And to appease some of your curiosity, I found a link with photographs of Love Hotels in my hometown. Even though there is no translation on the site, I am sure you will be able to navigate it without any major complications… Dreams Motel

    Thanks for sharing the link of your most recent edit… I really enjoy it, and am a believer that this project can reach a certain remarkable magnitude. Keep up the good work!

  • David. that last comment is a bit patronising no? dull to a dull mind? Your opinion dude. the CONCEPT surely is interesting, to me at least, and while I absolutely agree with what grace is doing with this, I find the pictures kind of dull[in so much as they do not yet live up to the concept they represent, and are , to me, mainly plain], And I can Assure you I am called many things, but dull aint usually one of them. Calling Absolutes based on our own tastes is always a recipe for disaster in my book, and we should all, rightly , be called on it. Opinion is one thing and we all have one of those up our sleeves, but it aint usually fact.
    PEACE
    john

  • having only skim read the comments there was no personal offence intended john, and of course it is only my opinion thats it COULD seem dull..

  • hey david. None intended either, or taken.
    John

  • Thanks for the insight Grace. Yours and Kyunghee Lee’s work is really the only example of Eastern (Oriental) work that I have seen. As David mentioned once, it is very different for the more reality-based photographs that we are used to in the West. I had to look more than once at both essays before I “got it” but it was well worth the effort. Thank you for helping to expand my visual horizon.

    Best wishes,

    Mike.

  • thank you ludmilla! for your support and also for this link which is very interesting. the site reminds me very much of korean love hotels.

  • Morro All,

    Am I right when I say that as professional or yet non professional photographer one is surely inspired by the imaginative, daring, creative (to not use the word “arty”)attempts and accomplishments of other visual artists, musicians, dancers etc and that it doesn’t matter at the end whether those bought a ranch, or cut off their ear in frustration? Which ever way, if it’s only the paycheck that makes ones’ creative juices flowing, someone else’s truth gets spoken.

    What will have been a highly creative and influential carreer to one photographer might have meant a mundane cut-my-pulse-job to someone else. We all set our own standards. And that’s necessary.

    Hat off not only to them who survive within the industry, but to those who aspire entering it. Two hats off to those who go the extra mile finding and speaking their truth, especially if it means financing personal projects themselves. David, all hats and shoes off for what you’re doing for others. Thank you very much for that
    . Herb

  • love the concept of the love hotel…
    refreshing. unusual…
    the shards of light.
    pillows strewn..
    sheets crumpled and pushed aside with a life of their own
    stark but evocative..
    someone said poetry… i’d have to agree

  • I am denumbed seeing these pictures.What beautiful,original idea is,and the photographes are telling the stories of light & shade depicting fulfilment & despair.

  • Grace,

    Clearly the pictures evoke thoughts of ‘what happened here’? Were these affairs only extra-marital, illegal, perhaps even hidden or forbidden? I have not been to Korea, but I here that there are many strict rules for public conduct and that the rules are left behind when in secret.

    Some of the comments are unnecessarily harsh and even unfair. But, art is valued by those who view it and allow themselves to be open to it’s message. I don’t see your pictures as this or that, but allow them to reflect my minds imagination of what I might be if I were in the frame at that moment in time.

    Thank you for sharing this insight that you have.
    Neil

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