james nachtwey – struggle to live

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James Nachtwey

Struggle to Live – the fight against TB

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James Nachtwey has documented the resurgence of tuberculosis and its varying strains MDR and XDR in seven countries around the world. These countries include Cambodia, Lesotho, South Africa, Siberia, India, Swaziland, and Thailand. He has captured the lives of both patients and health care workers in the struggle against this ancient disease, which still remains very much a part of the present. Not only does TB remain a killer disease in its most recognizable form but it is mutating into even more deadly forms: multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extremely drug resistant (XDR) TB. While still a small subset of the TB cases, these new strains pose a grave global health threat. XDR-TB is a man-made catastrophe, resulting from too few resources being allocated for the proper diagnosis and treatment of TB patients in developing countries.

“Despite the fact that tuberculosis afflicts a huge number of people it’s not on the radar screen in terms of public awareness. Normal tuberculosis, if diagnosed and treated diligently, is very inexpensive and doesn’t take very long to cure. But if normal TB is not treated, it mutates and becomes 100 times more expensive, requires a two-year cure and a long stay in the hospital, which many of those infected cannot afford. The thought of XDR getting out of control is truly frightening,” says James Nachtwey.



James Nachtwey’s career as a war photographer began in 1981 when he covered civil unrest in Northern Ireland. Since then he has photographed more than 25 armed conflicts as well as dozens of critical social issues. He has received the Robert Capa Gold Medal, World Press Award, Magazine Photographer of the Year, and I.C.P. Infinity Award multiple times. He has been named recipient of the TED Prize, the Heinz Foundation Award for Art and Humanities, the Common Wealth Award and the Dan David Prize. “War Photographer”, a documentary about his work, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002. His photographs are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, among others. Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with TIME Magazine since 1984 and is a founding member of the photo agency VII.





Struggle to Live – the fight against TB by James Nachtwey

401 west street NY, NY 10014

on view from:
january 20, 2010 to march 25, 2010



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James Nachtwey


Editor’s note:

I am very proud to be able to publish here on Burn our first sponsored photographer essay. This has literally been months in the making and representatives from BD came to us with James Nachtwey’s  blessing after our Burn presentation at the Look3 festival.

This will be revolutionary for Burn and the industry and perhaps serve as a model for future  online sponsorship for photographers. As most of you know, this has been my goal all along. To be able to pay photographers for online representation of their work with rates as good or better than current print rates for major publications.

We are starting by kicking the door down with James Nachtwey. However, in all of my discussions with BD and some other potential sponsors, my primary intent is to provide funding for the emerging photographers who are what Burn is all about. I intend for the ratio of iconic photographers like Jim to emerging photographers to be one to three. One icon, three emerging. I want to see a world where the icons lend a hand to the next generation of serious photographers in documentary and in art. By starting with this model, I hope I can help make this come true. At least now, we have a real start. I will continue to work to complete the circle.

For those of you who feel they should be “in the mix, in the running”, make sure I know your work. Either by submitting work to Burn or the EPF or by knocking on my door. This is happening. Now.

Customizing sponsors to specific photographers and projects must be taken very seriously. Matching the right funding to the right photographer is  imperative to the sponsor , to the photographer, and to Burn. This is where the net can excel. The nature of the net allows this to happen, and because we are a small operation, we can offer premium exposure and minimal investment to qualified sponsors, pay the photographer well, maintain all photographer copyrights, and bring enough income into Burn so that we can best serve more photographers and readers/writers in the long run.

At Burn, we are now in a position to customize sponsors with photographers and/or subject matter to be assigned. While this work in the Nachtwey essay was photographed prior, our goal is to finance original photography as well. We have the ability to build out an essay/project so that the sponsor is 100% pleased and the photographer is 100% pleased as well. On this one, and in everything we will build in the future, the sponsor and the photographer and we at Burn become symbiotic in nature.

We are very flattered here at Burn that a leading medical technology company like BD would choose our humble magazine to make their first online general magazine funding. We are equally flattered that James would choose Burn as well. So, we have done all we can to make it more than right for both parties.

We will do the same for whoever comes next.

-david alan harvey


This presentation was made possible through the kind support of:



74 Responses to “james nachtwey – struggle to live”

  • thanks very much david, anton and everyone else for bringing this together. It definitely encourages the rest of us.

  • As Lance says “hard hitting but heart-felt”.

    As Panos says “(a) something actually happened in real terms of action to allay more misery and suffering (b) a photographer was paid for his work on Burn and with more to come …”

    The power of the essay is that the horror shown is accompanied by a message of hope and the solution to the horror – should we as a race decide to embrace it.

    The money we spend collectively on armaments could provide a permanent solution to TB in a very short time.


  • Here in India, I feel very close to this story.

    People have come up to me many times with documentation that they have TB, usually asking for donations. Often it’s a scam to make money but for the people shown here, no scam, just the sad truth.

    We are so sheltered in the West, so far from most of the suffering, disease, poverty. Thank goodness for James and others like him who bring these people’s lives closer to our own.

    Good job burn!

  • The essay is stunning, devastating and touching. We are all moved. A brilliant piece to kick-off the inevitable evolution of BURN – the corporate sponsorship of (emerging) photographers, benefiting both the artist and this site.

    But – am I the only one who sees the potential here for a conflict of interest? Becton, Dickinson and Company provide injection delivery systems for the pharmaceutical companies. In 2009, their sales were over $7 billion with an income of $1.2B. Ironically, any positive outcome of the promotion of Nachtwey’s fine work above may lead to increased sales for BD, and with their fat margins, soaring share prices.

    Perhaps the power of ‘Struggle to Live’ stuns us to concentrate on the problem of escalating strains of TB, and maybe the ethics of who sponsors the work should be discussed at a later time, but for me there is now a sounding-note of discomfort with this new phase of BURN’s trajectory.

  • Jeff, I share your discomfort. But the reality in the modern world is that this kind of content probably wouldn’t be much published if companies weren’t allowed to fund them in their own self interest. I think this kind of sponsorship is the least egregious of the existing alternatives.


    i share your concern for the possible perils of sponsorship…that is why this was literally months in the making…as you know i have shunned all banner ads and other forms of possible conflict of interest funding for Burn…this was indeed a big step for us….and if it bites us back for any reason , then i would cease seeking sponsorships of any kind…we are now primarily looking for grants to support photographers at Burn and just a few well considered corporations that will of course come under heavy scrutiny….

    it is true that ANY company who chooses to sponsor a photographer on Burn or anywhere will indeed be looking for some benefit to themselves…this is a given…i cannot comprehend how it could be otherwise…none of us who have been published in ANY magazine check out the corporate backgrounds of all the advertisers who make publication of that story possible..however, we are being very careful here on Burn…JN himself is very careful of who sponsors his work…could we still make a mistake even though being very careful? i suppose so, but i think we will be so much more scrutinizing on sponsorship than any major publication….why?? because, as i said, i share in general your concerns….

    i hope this BD sponsorhsip will lead to one thing…the saving of lives…the fact that it is sponsorship for JN/Burn is secondary…however, BD makes money in the field of medical technology…JN makes money as a photojournalist…Burn was paid for the production of this essay….priests are paid..brain surgeons are paid…relief/rescue workers are paid…so, just on the face of it, getting paid is not a bad thing..i will say at this point however, that all of us who work on Burn do so at a financial loss even with this sponsorship which simply covered our production costs..Burn is a labor of love…

    the focus of Burn in general is to provide a light a model for the next generation of photographers…part of this light is that they may earn a decent living documenting the planet as have their forebears…to make the internet a viable professional career….all photographers who have earned a living so far have done it with sponsorship one way or another..

    i think under very careful scrutiny you will find the BD,JN,BURN relationship to be a fine one….going forward, each sponsorship/relationship will be reviewed for its own integrity….

    thank you for bringing this up…it is important…i should also add that if you , or anyone, has a more creative or better way to bring funding to photographers for their commitments, then i am all ears….

    cheers, david

  • Having worked on this sponsorship deal, I might just add that I was thrilled to be associated with BD because of their real commitment to creating sustainable solutions to global health challenges. They are doing much more than simply providing medical technology – this company walks its talk. AND they believe strongly in the power of photography to educate, inform, and move people to action.

    As Civi might say… ‘what not to love!’

    To learn a little about the ‘on the ground’ work BD supports, visit this link: http://www.bd.com/globalhealth/initiative/


  • Thank you for your post, Kerry. A few years ago, I worked in the BD Biosciences division. While I’ve lot touch with the company initiatives since then, I always felt that BD was a sincere and progressive company (as well as an excellent employer).

  • I have spent the past week in the field with a slow internet connection and not time to check my favorite sites – Burn being one of my top two favorites.

    Now I come home, open Burn to see the work of the latest emerging photographer and see – James Nachtwey!

    What a powerful piece! It was the shots that showed the love that moved me most.

    I’m very pleased to see Burn take this step. I hope it works out. I think three to one is an excellent ratio.

  • Thanks, Justin, Kerry; my discomfort has been eliminated by your posts. BD’s social conscience is reassuring, and offers Burn an excellent first choice as a sponsor.

    David, thanks for your elegant defense. Sponsorship is certainly okay by me, and there is nothing wrong with corporate and artistic self-interest – or profit. It just seemed possible at first glance, that in this case the sponsorship which led to the publication, could lead to government support and intervention as this work has already accomplished (as stated above). In the case of disasters such as the long-term effect of TB here, or the sudden disaster in Haiti now unfolding, it can be argued that even in those cases a profit is acceptable.

    But profit is one thing, and profiteering from disasters is another. There is a thin line between the two – the line has been crossed many times in the past. Let’s hope your vetting process remains true, and that good corporate citizenship can be seen and appreciated here in the same way emerging photographers are.

    And thanks also to Jim. I don’t have any bias to sponsorship per se, and in fact look forward to seeing here the logos of companies with a good corporate moral code. The editors and staff at Burn have, for me at least, built up a long line of credit which I’m happy to lend back – with interest, of course!

    Regards to all.

  • WOW…what a fantastic surprise!! I didn’t expect to come across James Nachtwey’s work so soon around here. This is a really good sign! Congratulations James, BD and Burn for the great inspiring work!

  • Superb. Thank you David, Jim, BD, TED and Time.

  • Thanks, David. Haven’t seen and talked with you since my National Geographic days. I’ve followed James’ work over the years. And everything he has ever done has been powerful. However, this may be the most powerful and the most important. I can imagine what a toll this took on him personally, but whatever it may have cost him he has helped to awaken all of us. This is what we all should be about. My best to all of you. Steve Wall

  • Was my comment made yesterday deleted, or did it just not arrive?

  • To find this essay by James Nachtwey in a web site curated by David Allan Harvey is a perfect example of the benefits of the Internet (even if looking at prints is a superior experience). I live in the south of México, an for many years I have admire both from the distance, my only chance to see their work was in National Geographic or in commercial photo magazines (lots of equipment surrounding a few pictures), I don’t even had seen any of their books. Now I feel like I’m in touch. I watched Nachtwey’s speech at TED, the very beginning of this work, and now I can see the results, which are amazing.

    Congratulations again to David, this is a place full of dreams an cruel reality, and a great hope to photojournalism.

    And David, I got an idea to contribute. After watching this essay I wanted to share it with all my friends, but the majority of them doesn’t understand English. Spanish subtitles would help to get this message to a greater audience. I’d like to make the translation, if you agree (believe me, my Spanish if much, much better than my English).


  • Plenty of stick but not enough carrot. Where the words are upbeat the pictures are not I want to see ex TB patients having fun.Wonderful and all that but you need to tack a whole lot of good news on to the bad.

  • What more could one want, what more could one hope to see? I avoided watching this till now because i was afraid of what i’d see in these photographs. But this essay was so profoundly moving, so warm, so beautiful that though i may have winced here and there, i also smiled at the expressions of love which were so palpable, and i felt great hope for the possible survival of these patients who appear to be so close to death’s door. So much to think about, to think about, to think about..this essay does not end here, nor does it end today. These photographs will live on in the memories of any who have seen them. Thank you all who brought this into being. Thank you James N. Amazing. Beyond amazing.


  • Best of the Best!
    James Nachtwey is without a doubt a Master. His courageous and sensitive heart supports a lifetime work that have shaped the way we communicate with photography.
    Thanks to Burn for bringing this to its audience

  • This work is beyond magnificent – it is breathtaking in every way – and I will look at it again and again. Thank you to ALL involved in its creation – including every subject who gave their permission for the world to see their suffering that others might live or the struggle to live be lessened through their sharing their situation. Thank you James Nachtwey – you are incredible!


    PS I often share work through Facebook and was surprised to find that instead of an image coming up (or a choice of images) when you share this work, there was no choice but to have the initials of the sponsors. This means that not a single image can be seen when you post or forward it which will inevitably reduce the number of viewers given that this is a photo-essay multimedia piece and, a picture paints a thousand words (or more in the case of this author).
    I don’t know how many people use Facebook (and other venues where it can be shared in this way) but it must run into millions so, if the intention is to maximize the audience for all involved, surely at least one photograph would be beneficial to the cause, the subjects, the photographer AND the sponsors. I see that the BD company logo on this page is clearly visible but not so large to be overly intrusive – the very opposite to how it appears when you share it…

  • Apologies if my last comment was offensive in any way. Would it possible to have a single image as an alternative that pops up when you share this work?

  • The disease is a killer but this portayal of the issue is half-glass empty rather than half-glass full. Nachtwey talks of “hope” but fails to show this in his work. He talks of people making valiant efforts to support TB victims but fails to capture the spirit of this valiancy. His words include prospects for reversing the trend of TB, yet his voice betrays his leaning towards the misery and death his works seem preoccupied with. There are some great pictures here, don’t get me wrong. But the series is packed with suffering and dying people beyond what is really necessary to drive the message of the TB’s seriousness home. How does TB affect people’s lives? Nachtwey does not allow us a window upon the lives of those people who are trying to get on with their lives outside the gloomy wards of death-ridden hospitals. Where is the “struggle to live” portrayed in these pictures? Where is “the best that lies in the human spirit” in this series? It is all death and decay.

  • simple language, no colours, no frill, crude facts… the message is clear and dramatic.
    A lesson for every reporter. Congrats

  • One word ….. amazing, this reportage’s work is exceptional, very hard but real. compliments

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