community

Ibiza_club

it has always been curiously interesting for me why photographers seem to automatically form communities….of course, gathering together is a primal aspect of human nature which guarantees survival of  our species…all of us speak constantly about, and set demands for, our independence and individuality ….and yet we usually do this is in the secure warm company of friends, family, or a peer group….

there are a plethora of organizations for every type of professional group…in any city there are dozens of "conventions" daily for dentists, engineers, teachers, mechanics, farmers, mountain bike racers, wine makers , stunt pilots,  etc etc etc and on and on and on….so on the surface, there is nothing particularly unusual about a gathering of like minded souls…

i have just spent four days at our Magnum annual meeting in new york, which this year celebrated 60 years of community…there have been literally thousands  of hugs and kisses and handshakes and expressions of love and friendship and speeches and reverential moments of silence for those passed on and moist eyes and invitations to "please come to my home"…i have never quite witnessed anything like it in any peer group that i know of…..it cannot just be "survival" alone that has created this community….

for me , this has been particularly apparent at Magnum, but a sincere gathering of the "tribe" and a general comaraderie  has always been there from my days in grad school, newspaper staffs, National Geographic,   group photo book projects, workshops, seminars, etc etc…

the basic curiosity for me is that photographers actually seem to "like" each other…i cannot imagine a room full of writers, for example, spending four days and nights with each other….photographers are often rivals for the same magazine space, the  same galleries, the same book publishers…..yet, we tend to  "high five" each other at every opportunity…..

so, my question to you  is  simply….why???   why do these  disparate personalities  find  comfort in  a  group ??   i have been trying to analyze this conundrum for years….maybe some of you have the answer……

   

30 Responses to “community”


  • Yea… this is quite interesting… I remember when I was first time shooting demonstration. Everyone running, yelling “get out of my way!”, “Don’t screen me man!”. And then in little break w were meet in one place (around me, I was new), and everyone talking, showing each other photos, talking about equipment and events. Ten minutes after we running again and everybody yelling to another. I’m not a person who everywhere looking for friends. I was surprised, and shocked… who are those people? I was thinking myself…
    And naturally “at home with DAH”…
    Meeting place…
    In some way it is in your home…

    Why we need to be in community?
    I don’t know answer, and I don’t wont to know…
    Answer probably will scares me…

    Ok.. I hurry on bus…
    little trip for money… no shooting…

    peace
    Martin

  • – on one side… because we must be, by the very nature of what we do, friggin masters of opportunism! and community organization has everything to do with opportunity.

    – on the other side photographers (esp documentary photographers) are a bit like shrinks. we have to be good dealing with people, breaking through… we are as good as photographers as we are as honest, unbiased, unpretentious, easy to access persons.

    oh and writers or painters have to be relatively secret about their deal because they depend more on what’s INSIDE of them, while photographers rely more on what’s OUTSIDE… so there’s no great use on that type of secrecy anyway. we can’t hide… “reality”!

  • I’m going to post about my last night dream, that is actually related to the topic at hand. Explanations come after the depiction of the dream.

    Well, basicly David Alan Harvey happened to be in Cardiff for one of our night shootings. British nightlife is an incredible, colorfull, lively thing. So not that surprising this far. But then the gregarious photographer behaviour kicks in. Nor Maciej nor me can shoot at night without at least three or four pints in our bodies, so David just joins in for those cheeky Polish beers that Weatherspoons serves for a couple of quid. Shooting starts, progresses, we discover how David is better flirting with girls than we are, and we end up wasted. David misses his flight and ends up sleeping in my spare bedroom (and I think that there’s some weed smoking involved somewhere, but memories of the dream get blurry at this point). Well, a worthy experience I would say.

    Origins of the dream come from: a) shooting last night out after a whole day shooting a common project, b) discussing David’s Living Proof earlier on, c) having a local meeting on Thursday. Well, and drinking too much, of course. Up to a point I find that shooting with somebody else builds your confidence, shows you some new tricks and approaches and allows you to introduce people in your shooting grounds or introduce yourself into theirs (aren’t we all just curious to see what’s out there?).

    PS: sorry for the sordid bits reported in the dream ;-D

  • yes but photographers have two sides to their nature- pack animals on the one hand but also they can be incorrigible loners, in between the sociable bursts.

    Journalists are gregarious too, but mostly from fear – if one mysteriously works late or gets a call from the NY office, all the others start nervously phoning round their contacts to see if they’re missing something. But photographers seem more generous than writers with no joy in others failiure. Maybe it’s a sense of all being in the same (sinking?) boat, we have to stick together in order to survive.

    Thanks for the photo from the Magnum meeting. But all that foam in a room full of cameras – is that wise?

  • I thought you were having your meeting in NYC not Ibiza ;-)
    Clive
    http://www.clive-evans.com

  • I guess its just fun to be around other photogs. I can imagine this especially at the top of the game, like the Magnum gathering. You guys are established and really, there isnt much competition between you guys. Different styles, subject matter, etc. Its a good point that was made about 2 natures. I like getting together with other photographers to talk. Especially true for me because I live in Seoul so thats kinda a rarity. Id love to be in your shoes and be able to get togeher with other photogs on a daily/weekly basis..especially the names you get to see a lot of. But going out shooting, I hate others with me. I have to be alone.

  • I don’t think it’s accurate to say writers/painters/other artists are less prone to get together than photographers.

    Literary circles are common, from the whole Hemingway-Getrude Stein-Fitzgerald-Pound-Joyce-etc circle, to the Bloomsbury Group, to the Mermaid Tavern, to the Beats. Writers also hold plenty of conferences themselves.

    Think about bohemian Paris cafe culture in the early 20th century- Modigliani, Picasso, etc. all hung out together.

    Any difference, I think, might have to do with the nature of the end product of the art. and different techniques are more apparent. A radically different method of writing and a radically different method of painting would be very easily noticable, but other than going really far out there with Photoshop and variations in personal style, photographic technique is pretty much set.

    Also, as another poster said, photography is primarily an “outer” art: the photographic artist takes the world and records it artistically. There isn’t much content from the photographer himself in the artwork, that is, one can’t tell the photographer holds a particular political viewpoint, moral code, artistic philosophy, or anything like that from most photographs. Other arts express precisely those things, and those things create controversy. Musicians get along well, too, because a series of notes also doesn’t convey that information unless wedded to lyrics.

  • it’s all about the LOVE, baby!!

  • david alan harvey

    to: ??

    first of all i did not say “other artists”…i just referred to writers…

    painters, musicians are of course very much like photographers in almost every way…

    and i certainly cannot possibly agree with you that a “particular viewpoint, moral code, artistic philosophy” does not show up in the work of the finest photographers…

    i will be pleased to supply you with a photo book reading list that may make you think otherwise…

    yes, there have always been famous literary circles and certainly many conferences etc…what i was talking about is something totally different…i mean, real bonding with a group for 20, 30, 40, 50 years!! real friendships between real competitors!!! not a conference or a weekly official “meeting”, but sincere bonding..

    do not think for a minute that i would disparage any writer…i am expressing myself right this minute with words…i cannot do what i am doing right now with my camera…

    writers are some of my best friends…i work with writers more than any other profession…i am not “out there” with photographers, i am “out there” with writers…

    and writers guide me as no others…i read novels, historic books etc etc about every thing or place i photograph…i always refer to writers as providing the basis for my work….i got my “divided soul” title from jose camila cela and gabriel garcia marquez gave me more than any photographer….my hip hop work is based on rap lyrics….

    my only point was that writers do not congregate as a group in quite the same way that photographers seem to do…at least not the writer friends that i know…

    this statement was certainly not intended as a slight to any other artist of any kind working in any media….i love all artists to the core….

  • david alan harvey

    hey lance!!! nice timing!!!! i hope you are just fine amigo….when do i see you next??? missing good times…..abrazos, david

  • david alan harvey

    amy…

    maybe that photo of the magnum meeting came out of joni’s dream!!!

    martin…

    my my man, you sure do say the nicest things….many many thanks

    tome..

    photogs may be a bit like shrinks…we have to analyze people in split seconds sometimes or do long term psychoanalyzing..and for sure when i teach workshops i sometimes feel like a shrink, although totally unqualified and then, of course, probably needing one!!!

    joni…

    interesting dream…..and sounds even like a somewhat plausible “truth” except that i do not recall ever having been in cardiff…

    but, i do confess to having “inhaled” at some point in my life which in and of itself can lead one to “flirt” a bit i suppose….

    i do, however, always try my best to be a gentleman, so i do hope that shows up in your dream too….

    rafal…

    i am not with my colleagues as much as you imagine…..that is why i value the time i do with them so much…usually i am shooting alone and prefer to work alone except when my girlfriend and i are in the same general area and are shooting “together”…now, that i like…

    clive…

    after four days of meetings, i need ibiza!!!

  • David, next time your in Ibiza let me invite your for a nice group ;) dinner, out in the country side, far from the amnesia/space chaos. with some nice “gran reserva” :) and good food.
    regards Stefan

  • david alan harvey

    stefan….

    many thanks for extending your hospitality…

    by the way, would ibiza be a good place for a workshop??? when i was there, i was concentrating on the nightlife etc. and only had very brief glimpses of the rest of the island…

  • Hola David!

    I just read in one of your previous posts that you will be in London by the end of the month. I’m living very close to London right now (about an hour and a half away) if you are there over the weekend I could go to meet you… if you have the time. I would really like to see you.

    Saludos,

    Hanny

  • david alan harvey

    hanny…

    yes, yes good idea…i should be in london very soon and i will let you know exactly when…

    ciao, david

  • i’ll be in new york in early/mid october.. i’d love to drop by for sure if you’re around.. i’m assuming Aga will also be there.. very cool.. i look forward to it of course!

    regarding ‘community’.. everyone here probably knows that i have a terrible 20-hr per week engineering habit while trying to ‘cut it’ as a photographer.. and the ‘community’ amongst engineers does exist.. sometimes it’s fun, these are ‘good’ guys.. albeit boring as all hell most of the time.. but good-hearted nonetheless. some of my life-long friends i met through engineering but i would never consider them ‘engineering friends’.. rather just ‘friends’. so i often find myself in more than one ‘community’.. which is a blessing i think.. however, it’s the photo/art/journo community that keeps my pulse alive and blood flowing! i think this is because this community is always creatively ‘pushing’ and putting themselves out there.. it’s a necessity of survival.. and i’m drawn to that pulse.

  • David-

    I know you didn’t mean it as a slight. I understand what you’re saying, I was just pointing out that writers do congregate. I’ll trust you, though, since I’m sure you personally know many more of both than I do.

    My point about the “particular viewpoint, moral code, artistic philosophy” bit was that with a writer or a filmmaker it’s there in a literal sense, in the prose and dialogue. There’s things one can literally put into quotation marks and dispute in a book. I don’t mean photography doesn’t arise out of those things, just that they’re expressed in a different way in literature that lends itself more to creating dispute.

    I would like to hear a reading list from you, though, since I admire your work as a photographer very much.

  • David, I think I was mean about writers, it’s not mostly fear that keeps them together – it’s probably no more than half and half… If you’re in London on the 6th of July I’m having Christmas dinner that day (missed it last year, and if the Queen gets two birthdays I can have a second christmas) – you can come and see a whole bunch of writers congregating and draw your own conclusions…

  • I think photographers enjoy celebrating the unique. We seek out fresh images and new experiences as part of our occupation. We accept each other’s quirks and individuality. And the quiet ones are more extroverted by nature, even if they don’t realize it.

    Photography connects people. Looking through the viewfinder, we’re reaching out to the people in front of the camera. And with our pictures, we’re extending that grasp for others to grab onto and hopefully experience a little of what we saw.

    Maybe that inner need to connect is what makes photographers stick together. Plus it takes a special non-photographer to put up with someone who makes a living with a camera.

  • david alan harvey

    to ???…

    yes, that makes perfect sense…and so many good points are being made….many thanks for the clarification….it is so late for me now that i will have to wait until tomorrow to come up with a good reading list for you….peace….

    amy

    yes, i will be in london on july 6…merry christmas!! perhaps we will have a chance to meet…i will mostly be spending time with my girlfriend, but maybe we can all go out….bring all your writer friends…that would be fun….

    andrew….

    i think you may have “hit the nail on the head”””

  • David, you are welcome, if you are around…

    last year I gave a “street” WS, in collaboration with the german magazine “PHOTOGRAPHIE”, they organized everything, people came from Sweden and Germany (8 in total), we worked at hippy markets, flee markets and food markets. some nice work has be seen. if you are interested we could talk about it. and I could get in contact with LFI or PHOTOGRAPHIE, they could promote it. with you as teacher for sure there would be a lot of interest. best Stefan

  • david alan harvey

    stefan…

    well, i am just beginning a process of thinking about some magnum sponsored seminars or workshops perhaps involving several magnum photogs……i am taking in many ideas and seeing what makes the most sense for everyone…please stay in touch and i will do the same…many thanks in advance…

  • David
    You know that I now have another base in Ireland?
    Drop me a mail at clive@clive-evans.com as I think there are distinct WS possibilties there.
    Gunnar Mgaudajal, Toomas Kokovkin and myself will be holding our 2008 Luxcoop workshop there [we were in Lithuania this year-also v.good]
    Best
    Clive
    http://www.clive-evans.com

  • Writing always is described as a lonely activity. It’s a commonplace, but it fits perfectly. No one can write and look around, write and talk with someone, write during a rock concert, write with almost no light available. Not seriously, i think. But photographers do their work in a moving canoe, or swimming. Actually, hostile environments can produce great shots. That’s one thing.
    The other one is that most writers ignore their origins, i mean, it’s easy for me to forget that every word i says is full of Fernando Pessoa and Camões (when i speak portuguese), full of Quevedo and Cervantes (when i speak spanish) and, last but not least, full of Pound and Shakespeare right now, when i’m trying to order my thoughts in english, that’s not my mother tongue. What in the hell am i trying to explain? That writers can forget, easily, that they had lots of influences that bond them to their worlds, to their colleagues. It seems like they tend to isolate, trying to keep themselves clear. Unmixed. Pure.
    But it’s not possible in photography. I bet my little finger that you, David (and many more other skilled and educated photographers), can tell exactly where does another photographer came from just by taking a look at a set of 10 images. I say “came from” meaning his/her influences. That discussion from the other post.
    So, and that’s my bet, photographers tend to mix much more, and stay together, because they don’t have this need to escape from influences. They actually ARE their influences. As writers — maybe they just don’t know that.

  • on this photo… this is magnum meeting?… magnum party?…

    now i know why you are lucky being a part of this famous group… he he

    don’t forget put a photo from buissnes meeting for me… please…

    Martin

  • Martin Parr made fantastic photos from magnum 60th anniversary celebration… now i know that your photo above is from magnum party…

    you are lacky man…

    :)

  • David, just wanted to extend my thanks for your hospitality the other night (thursday)…

  • It’s always seemed to me that photography is inherently more social activity than writing is. You can make photographs by yourself or in a crowd or even while chatting with your friends, whereas, as Edgard quite rightly points out, writing is usually a solitary activity usually done in a quiet room in order to avoid distractions like crowds, friends, and the guy next door who insists on mowing his lawn while you’re trying to think.

  • It’s always seemed to me that photography is inherently more social activity than writing is. You can make photographs by yourself or in a crowd or even while chatting with your friends, whereas, as Edgard quite rightly points out, writing is usually a solitary activity usually done in a quiet room in order to avoid distractions like crowds, friends, and the guy next door who insists on mowing his lawn while you’re trying to think.

  • I just found this post :-)

    Lance… it will be great to meet you and David in NY… we will go to visit David before or after workshop? I think is better to go after (hope David will have time for us)… we will have a lot to talk for sure!!!
    I can not wait to go there!

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