dangerous current…



We are now in the process of building a separate page for the Family Drive project. We take off driving around Oct 1 for an online version of the process, but of course I am shooting all the time on it. This body of work has been modified a few times in the last three years and is even a traveling exhibit , large prints/ medium format film, yet evolution of idea and stance and raison d’être are in constant flux…Why? Because I change my mind.

Rather make up my mind. Do what will come most natural. Reflect the feelings I have about family in the broadest sense. This new project will absolutely not be what you might imagine it would be. I just cannot do, will not do, a traditional look at American families as I originally intended. An evolution of an idea is not the end of an idea and I always knew I needed another “moving part”. Not more moving parts, less moving parts, but a different moving part. Simple.

Driving across country to take pictures is a really really old old idea. Everybody’s fantasy , and almost everybody has done it. Including many non-Americans, starting with Robert Frank. Kerouac, Pirsig, Steinbeck, Thompson, Twain, Least Heat Moon, Kuralt, hell American travelers are many. Still the road beckons somehow. Crossing America North is a THING. Hard to explain, but a real thing. I guess it is because it is the WAY the place was “discovered”. Folks went West. Guns blazing. Kick ass. Wagons packed. Mud, blood, and beer, all the way, the American way.

Who among us cannot get caught up in the current election process? I mean, this time it really is a defining election. Oh I doubt the country would really change no matter. I lived in Washington for 15 years, and I know for sure that Washington is Washington and protected by all who reside no matter red nor blue. It really is one big club. Yet still this moment is as defining as I can remember. It will set a tone one way or the other. So my journey will blast right into the heart of it and will be over just as a prez is chosen by “we the people”….

The trip across will NOT be the whole book of course…It is just for others to join here online and see a thinking process. Like my riobook online , intended to be a bit of a workshop or educational experience. Unlike riobook , this will be open and free.

So join us online. Jump in with questions. Show up and buy us lunch (please).

Or, show up first at the Bubble Lounge in New York on September 24th. A Rio blast with all the characters from (based on a true story) live and present  and dancing and well, be there! Not to be missed if you are in New York. Oh yes, a cast of characters present that you might imagine if you were imagining…This is a manifestation of my last online adventure. I try always to turn my fantasies into realities…Oftentimes a real mistake, yet sometimes just right…Find out :)



172 Responses to “dangerous current…”

  • I am satisfied with what I do photographically as I stick with my intent.

  • Gordon, although I recognize you are a fine person, I can’t say I agree with you about apps and processes such as Instagram and Hipstamatic. Whenever I see those fake polaroid type photos, my first thought is to ask why anyone would want to instacrap all over such a nice pic. Instacrap and “image that works” are pretty much mutually exclusive as far as I can tell.

    Paul, yes, I agree you probably obsess over gear too much, though it’s your business and whatever gets you through the night is all right, at least as far as I’m concerned. For me though, part of the great enjoyment of photography is figuring out how to recognize and overcome a camera’s limitations. Good article in this month’s PDN about a small town photographer doing great work with a cheap camera phone. Makes that point. Of course for paid work I think it’s wise to get the most possible detail at the best possible exposure and worry about the look in the darkroom, though I’m not always that cowardly.

    Me, I’ve been floundering lately, turning into a beach bum, enjoying the see breeze, developing a bunker mentality in response to my inability to walk around like I used to.

  • MW…

    Yes I probably obsess too much over gear, especially when my 1ds II isn’t with me taking photos. Interesting because it’s more a personal limitation on my behalf than the cameras themselves. I found this out today as my wife and I stopped at a lovely outdoor cafe and had a drink. I don’t usually drink alcohol except for one miserly can of beer shared with my wife on Saturday nights, so when I was on my second glass of beer at the cafe I was obviously under alcohol’s influence. Suddenly the GX1 became a fun camera as I joked about taking photos of everything around me as my loyal Canon sat quietly on the table. So as usual is just a matter of letting go…

    BTW do you like William Eggleston’s work? Your work reminds me a lot of his stuff and that’s bloody cool as far as I’m concerned. Be patient that injury of your’s will finally heal or at least the pain will become something of a minor bother.

  • Oh and instagram… I just find it so much easier to post my camera images on Instgram compared to my blog page. The app is made for photography unlike a WordPress blog which caters to everything and does everything in a mediocre style. But yes it’s funny I’m using an app which is kind of hated by many photographers to show my stuff.

  • “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
    -Ray Bradbury
    Change it to photography and it’s equally apt.

  • Paul, your links didn’t look like the instacrap I’m thinking of, which would be the fake polaroid/toy camera light leak type stuff. Maybe I’ve confused it with hipstamatic?

    I like Eggleston but don’t see much similarity outside of some of his shots of superficially boring midwestern type woods. Could say the same thing about Christenberry and his superficially boring midwestern storefronts.Through in some superficially boring meth people and you’ve practically got my Ruruality project.

    You may be onto something with the beer, though you might want to consider Dr. Gonzo’s advice for journalistic productivity and hunt up some wild turkey.

  • mw
    “why anyone would want to instacrap all over such a nice pic”

    C’mon, why would you deliberately shoot a blurry picture instead of a sharp one, a black and white over a colour one, use shallow depth of field when you could have it all in focus, shoot polaroid when you could shoot film, etc etc etc. DAH “instacraps” all over the photos in his twitter feed, no-one asks “how much is David and how much is Instagram?” Who cares. They’re just amazing images.

    Sorry about your loss of mobility, I can relate totally. In some ways it opens a new window. Patricia Lay-Dorsay is still doing amazing stuff despite her lack of mobility. It can be an opportunity to look inward.

  • I think you guys are missing the point. Instagram is a distribution channel, not an image filter. Here’s Stanmeyer on why it’s valuable:


  • MW – I missed something somewhere. What are you facing now?

  • “how much is David and how much is Instagram?” Who cares. They’re just amazing images.” ………..For viewers and the star struck as you are not a drama.

    For photographers struggling with getting their photographs right and conceptually strong it can be a real dilemma as the aesthetics of the “look” can dominate ones creativity.

  • “you just are a total dick… I never realized you were such a dumb fuck.”

    Imants – you do nothing to advance your argument by resorting to such cheap and immature insults.

    I say this as one who greatly admires your work. You have a unique vision and you express it magnificently, but you also have a need to gratuitously and snidely put others down. There is no call for it and you do not build yourself up, enhance your own status or improve upon your work when you do so.

  • Paul, vis-a-vis the GX1: it $200 or something more, but get the viewfinder. It helps.

  • it apostrophe s, thereby denoting the contraction it is and not it or its. Something I actually do know but once again I hit the submit button without proofreading what I just wrote. And yes, not proofreading is a stupid thing for me to do.

  • Frostfrog I don’t see you making the same plea to Gordon and his comment which I just responded to in the same he used

  • should be ………same colorful language he used
    The GX1 viewfinder ain’t too foul

  • Imants – It is true Gordon used “colorful language” that he could have avoided but he did not hurl similar epithets at you. “Who gives a fuck?” is a lot different than calling someone a “total dick” and “a dumb fuck.”

    The two are not equivalent at all.

  • Frostfrog he quoted me and then stated stupid fuck etc so it is directed at me . So the dumb fuck can go fornicate with a funnel web spider for all I care.

  • Imants – You can certainly make a legitimate argument for taking offense at his words, “stupid comments” and “what the fuck” but his use of these phrases still do not strike the kind of personal epithet in your words. You are right in that he could surely have chosen his words better and I may have been wrong to overlook them when I called you out, yet calling someone a “total dick” and “stupid fuck” is still a very different thing.

    I don’t think I can change your perception though and it was foolish of me to wade into this argument. I will bow out of it. Disagreement and debate is good, but I just hate to see this forum degenerate to this level of non-discussion.

  • Frostfrog it was directed to me so I responded in the same tone. It seems to me you accept his tirade well so be it join him in the funnel web spider mating game

  • 95% everything but Imants ……. 2% Imants http://www.etrouko.com/timegiver.html shit there even is a instagram of my imac screen thrown in

  • Imants, what is the other 3%?

    Whatever, thank you for the link – just about everytime you post an etrouko link, I go take a look and always I am deeply impressed, perhaps even awestruck. One of these days, I hope to click that “buy” button and send my $150. Right now, I’m just buried in medical debt. Give me time and I will.

    Well, I’ve got to bow out of this and all other discussion. In about 12 hours, I’ve got to leave here to catch my flight north and I am both excited, scared, and a bit lonesome for the warmth of my house, family and cats, even before I leave them all. After three months of slow, up-and-down recuperation that has left me with a new, giant, hernia in the middle of tummy that the doctor plans to sew up in a new operation come February, I feel weak and fragile. But I still bet I come up with some polar bears, whales, an Iñupiaq Eskimo kid with a model airplane and maybe Shell, out in the Arctic Ocean, turning the future who knows what direction.

    I want to invite everybody to follow along on my blog, but I have this fear I won’t be able to post much, due to slow internet coupled with the fact that my blog upload program has a tendency to just completely shut down when faced with slow internet. But anyone who wants can check now and then.

    I have many things to do before I go and it would be good to get a few hours sleep, so this is it for me on Burn for awhile.

    Farewell. Have fun. Debate hard. Shoot!

    I’m gone.

  • Death at Guantánamo Bay

    Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni citizen and one of the first detainees sent to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in January 2002, died there earlier this month. There is no official autopsy report yet, but in his decade in prison he had gone on hunger strikes and made several suicide attempts.


    ( worst thing is when Authorities won’t even let a wrongly accused man take his own life.. The ultimate form of escape… but hey the Reps do the same to women trying to convince them that in case of Rape a woman’s body – with help from Hesus – will abort the unwanted fetus )
    Crazy shit and it’s 2013… almost

  • Frostfrog, have a great trip, it sounds amazing, can’t wait to see what you get up to. Take it easy, it’s the only body you have.

  • DAVID,

    Just saw your Rio photos on the NG website, and then the October issue of NGM arrived and I saw the printed hard copy article… you may well feel closer to and more enthusiastic about (based on a true story), but the photos that NG published are stunning, and the layout of the article in particular is among the best that you and they have ever done, living up to, if not surpassing, the high standards you have set in NGM articles in the past. Whoever did the picture editing (I assume you had a hand) and layout did a stunning job, and the printed article is far more impressive than the singles up on the NG website. I can understand if you feel that you have done this kind of thing many times before and need to move beyond it in your personal work, but I at least still deeply appreciate that in your partnership with NatGeo you can and are still producing things like this. Really, really great group of photos here.

  • Panos…

    Call me boring or square but I believe a Leica M camera with video and live video is gaudy and I dare say rather vulgar. Talk about premeditated and cold-blooded bad taste…

  • A bit like going to purchase a Rolls Royce and inquiring how many miles it does to the gallon…

  • Paul don’t hit the messenger ;)
    But I still prefer the 5100 for video…
    I don’t even know the price of that new M!?
    Anyone knows the possible price?

  • Truth is that all car makers ( sorry, CAMERA makers )
    pretty much hit that limit of excellence that honestly we don’t need any more pixels..
    Nikon sells 25mp for $800 now, in two years it’ll be $50..
    Cameras exceeded their limits now.. They are ALL really that good,
    Technology went so far that left the artist naked!
    Nowadays we have no excuse for great photos/videos/art visuals etc..
    All cameras are great all laptops are awesome.. No excuses..
    Where’s the LOBSTERS? We got the golden forks and porcelain plates!
    Where’s the LOBSTERS? Pescado por favor?

  • Paul, I agree with you about having and eye-level viewfinder… I just don’t feel as comfortable with composing/shooting with a screen at arms-length. Just not intuitive for me. Like you, even though it’s big and a bot heavy, nothing I have feels as good as the D200 that Kurt gifted me.

    I also agree with you in some respect about the M – I would rather have the best tool for the job that having to make do with a Swiss Army knife all the time. That be said, at whatever price the Leica M command – the video feature will be nice bonus (especially if one can afford only the one system).


    thank you…the Rio story was my baby from the beginning at NatGeo…my idea and official accepted proposal…the way i often work…..for sure i was pleased with the layout…NatGeo photogs are in general always involved with the stories they in effect produced all the way…the visual story development is that of the photographer oftentimes in collaboration with one of the picture editors…in my case here with Susan Welchman and David Whitmore who take great care…so, i have always been heavily involved with layouts and this one was no exception…

    final approval is of course that of Chris Johns, Editor. Yet Chris and the other staff listen to photographers. After all they were the only ones to actually have been “on the scene”..remember Chris IS a photographer (see Burn interview).I always tell young photographers the smartest strategic move they can make is to get really really educated in every part of the process of story development….it is the only way you will ever “get your way”, to be respected as an equal by any editor..

    Yes, (based on a true story) is a greater achievement for me personally and in my most immediate peer group in Magnum, yet i know many will prefer the NatGeo version. Cool. i like it too….i really have enjoyed a magazine career…now time to move to my own next level, yet i will never forsake the past and my colleagues and friends..for sure it was the respect i got from the NatGeo crowd for (based on a true story) that certainly got them fired up to do as very best they could with their own medium…i am proud of both versions….

    i think however, my greatest pleasure will come from the upcoming newspaper version…to be distributed for free in the favelas of Rio…..

    cheers, david

  • ALL

    i think by tomorrow or the next day, we will have a new page…my old Road Trips will come back…mostly to cross the U.S…to take you on i hope an educational trip….but i might just keep the page..and even start it before the trip….lots going on for me outside of Burn, and i just don’t want to have my stuff on the front page of Burn….so i need an outlet but it will be separate….

    hey by the way, BurnBooks got nominated for a Lucie Award for Best Book Publisher of the Year for (based on a true story)…we are in good company…other nominees are Aperture, Steidl and Abrams….ceremony in Hollywood in Oct….a rise in the stature of BurnBooks is potentially great for anyone here with a book in their heart….anyway, stay tuned…

    cheers, david

  • geezuuuuuuuuuuus…..
    thats all i can say!

    good OL’ ROAD TRIPS back?????????????
    Hollywood it is… Hollywood it is then… back home it starts!

  • DAVID,

    Congratulations for being nominated! I’ll keep fingers crossed! I hope you win. can’t wait :)))))

  • Panos,

    I’m afraid old Road Trips can’t back, but I am sure the new one will be also great!

  • Congratulations, David – I hope you win!

  • You’re afraid that you’re afraid that we can’t bring back the past and I’m afraid you’re right regardless fears you or I fear… Im afraid its Hard to live a fearless life without fears:)
    Big smile Marcin:)Valid fear;)

  • “my biggest fear is my own set of fears”
    New self made proverb;)


    all good things have a time limit…normal and desired….the old Road Trips is the old Road Trips…cannot come back as you say….yet seemed like the logical title to have for upcoming trip….the thing is i end up doing so much on instagram, FB, etc and none of it comes to Burn which is pretty crazy, so setting up another page here or going to a Tumblr page seems logical…we can see how it goes…we can always change whatever we want…just as long as you are around!!! always always nice to hear from you..any new work for Burn??

    cheers, david

  • CONGRATS!!! on the Lucie nomination!!

  • As Road Trips is gone for good, why call the new thing by the old name? DAH Cross America Express? The Continental Trek? The Harvey Limited? American Anabasis? Pilgrim’s Progress? The D. A. Harvey Traveling Photographic Exposition and Road Show? Think of something, and don’t forget to name the van you’re crossing the country in. Don Quixote didn’t go wandering about looking for knightly adventure on some nameless nag; he went wandering about on Rocinante.

  • If you don’t win, then Lucie got some splainin’ to do…

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