sam harris – postcards from home

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Sam Harris

Postcards from Home (2008 – 2011)

play this essay

Postcards from Home revolves around my domestic life and especially focuses on my two daughters Uma & Yali growing up.

After several nomadic years, we migrated to Australia in 2008. It was with the restrictions of our migration process (keeping me from professional photography and travel) that home life became my only consistent opportunity to photograph and the project was born.

As I witness my daughter’s transformation in what feels like the briefest of moments, I’m compelled to preserve something of our time living together.

An early part of Postcards from Home was previously published on Burn Oct 2009.


Born and raised in the suburbs of south London, Sam Harris is a self-taught photographer. In his late teens he made a home darkroom that he practically lived out of for several years, experimenting nightly whilst listening to records. These passions led him to start freelancing in the London music industry of the early 90s, making album sleeve art. Sam went on to also shoot editorial portraits and features for magazines such as The Sunday Times Magazine, Esquire, Dazed & Confused and Raygun.

In 2002 Harris felt the need to re-evaluate his lifestyle and photographic direction. Together with his wife and small daughter he left London and travelled slowly for several years. During this period Sam began the process of turning his camera inward… In 2008 Sam & family settled in the forests of Western Australia. He now teaches photography and records his family life.

Postcards from Home will be exhibited as part of the Sydney ‘Head On’ photo festival at Global gallery, Paddigton May 6 -15th 2011.

Sam will also be giving two talks at the Head On Seminar – Day 1, 14th May. ‘Transition – From London to the Bush’ and ‘Rock N Roll Photography’, along side Tony Mott, Sophie Howarth & Tali Udovitch.

Related links

Sam Harris


Head On Photo Festival

189 Responses to “sam harris – postcards from home”

  • Wow, I really like this one. Great color sense, nice use of go betweens, lovely feel. Kinda lost me 18 – 23, style for those is a bit out of place and images feel redundant, but overall, great stuff.

  • I love this. Life.

  • Very lovely. So close, so lifely.

  • EVA…

    yes, posted for exactly that reason….and a big fan of Sam Harris anyway….we have had this set to go for awhile, but now seemed the time…

    hugs, David

  • Can’t wait to get back home and see Sam’s latest images…
    Smiling…I consider myself an expert on his family work since DAH suggested I should study the first part of his marvelous family essay.

  • Damn, Sam, I love your stuff. This is so wonderful. I Love your life.

  • excellent!

  • Every time I think I’ve seen the Best of Burn, then I see yet another. Like this. Stunning in every way. Bravo, Sam!

  • Love this essay Sam, just love it. As Eva says, life: an affirmation of life. The subject is heartwarming and the photography superb. Thanks for sharing – the exhibition is going to be a huge success!


  • simply lovely….
    hope to see this series as they go thru their teenage years…..
    love #27….
    would love to see your exhibit, congratulations!!!!!!!!
    what size are your prints, and how are they being displayed?

  • Intensely intimate and utterly lovely. Yum.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    SAMMY…I received your postcards…long time ago…
    and I will second all of the BURNIANS…

    my book is not here yet…hmm…I can wait:)!!

    back to my aisle…

  • yes sam..
    so good to see this again..
    and now..
    could it be the most important subject of all?
    i see fledgling efforts to be the parent we imagine ourselves to be.. learning-on-the-job.. you’ve a great deal to be proud of in your family, as your family do in you.

    always a fan of your photographs – from long before we were friends, in the case of your music portraiture..
    am a fan of your family too..
    for living an evolution..
    taking on challenges and evolving when many would feel contentment and stagnate..
    i mean to say – you’ve pushed yourselves beyond the easy part.. the simple “dream” and into harsh reality.. despite the detractors and mundane tedium of making change happen.. the let downs when reality does not match imagination.. bureaucracy.. there you are.. doing your-own thing.. and photoing.. and exhibiting..

    an inspiring young bunch of explorers you are.. and it’s been some welcome comfort to myself, and my own geographical changes, that we have our friendship..

    i owe you an email..

  • and THANKS for this piece now..
    and the opportunity it provides..


  • Couldn’t wait any longer looking on my niece’s laptop…
    Absolutely lovely! Brilliant set of images which your daughters will treasure in years to come. The quotidian which we usually overlook as something so banal is as you’ve proved full of magic and what life is worth living for. Love the colours and the overall diversity of the images, makes a very compelling essay and once again wanting more new images sometime soon…
    “The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”
    Kurt Cobain.
    “If youth knew; if age could.”
    Sigmund Freud.
    “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”
    George Bernard Shaw.

  • wonderful essay. These photographs really have a heartbeat. The sun just came out in Chicago for the first time all week making me feel alive !! I get that same felling looking at this work.

  • SAM
    super duper
    celebration of life
    un pretentious
    not easy to shoot
    no cliche
    no easy money
    u got the strength
    vissaria style/Patricia style..
    greater than Sally Mann imho
    i can go on on and on

    time for as to skype btw soon…

    (sorry for stealing/adopting/borrowing Wendy’s poetic style:)

    this essay feels soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooood and soothing after all those late breaking disturbing news…


    THANK U DAH, for posting this essay
    THANK U SAM, for sharing with us this amazing work..once again, Best essay in Burn..

    yes my day started the right way
    thanks again Sam..
    you have the most beautiful family!

  • Loved your first spread, Sam, love this one, too. The photos may be two dimension, but when I look at them, I feel four dimensions – the standard three and fourth being the depth of human interaction and spirit.

    It looks to me like being denied the right to make a living a professional photographer was the best thing that ever happened to you – not just because it led you to create such a great set of photographs, but more so because you have been able to grow up with your daughters.

  • Absolutely love it Sam!!! The most evocative “stories” are often right at the end of your nose…. :-)

  • #5 is brilliant!

    I do continue to struggle when I see personal essays like this – somehow I fail to connect because it’s somebody else’s family and while I would like to care, I just don’t. But that’s my problem, not a problem of the photographs shown.

  • Sam, I’m sitting here right now in the rocking chair on the front porch, Little Feet live playing, feet on the rail, with a glass of JD rocks as a warm sunny day winds down (finally here in the rainforest). The dog is rolling his tennis ball between my feet and the chickens are milling around, bald eagles flying over eyeing the chickens, and humming birds are fighting over the feeder while the deer forage the field. The only thing that could have made this day any better was your essay and a smile. Many thanks to you and Burn for both.

  • I feel the same as Carsten. While I’m certain these photos are very special to the photographer and his family, I just don’t feel any connection with them. Well done family snaps. Some of it I acknowledge is that I have no children to make a purely emotional connection to life with kids. But most of it is that it’s somebody else’s family, with which I have no connection.

    The photos are well done family snaps. Can’t figure out why family snaps are on burn, though.

  • Regarding Carsten and Jim’s point, that’s what I felt as well about 18-23, though to be honest there are a few others. I think, in general, that for kid pics to work they have to be about “children” or “childhood” or something universal, not just cute snaps of the photographer’s kids. A lot of the pics in this essay manage that.

    I have kids and thousands of pictures of them, many of which are interesting from an artsy photography perspective, but, you know, the ones I like best are much closer to typical snapshots than pieces of art — blowing out birthday candles, first time in a pool, that sort of thing, bad light and all. But for those kind of snapshots to be interesting, they pretty much have to be my own kids or people I know and care about. Otherwise…

  • Jim,
    Would it make any difference to you had the kids been Eastern European immigrants
    and not the photographers own children?

  • it is an interesting thought mtomalty..
    the idea of immigrants photographing their own lives i mean to say.. from an insiders perspective.

    were there more socio/political context to sams work – such as you suggest.. eastern european or asian moving to the us or uk how would that be taken? forward thinking? exploratory even?
    we’re the photographs a result of a gallery outreach project or a “celebrated” photographers initiative, would they be more celebrated?

    to me it makes no difference.. our own children and “the family” is a valid and surprisingly difficult subject to photograph as openly as sam has..

    a blooded tooth on a child is relative to all our pains – no greater and no less – and so to photograph that face in agony is just as valid as to photograph any pain… add to that the fact the blood of the photographer runs through the childs veins and it becomes a difficult photograph to take.

    in any case..
    whatever the subject – it is very easy to dismiss.
    more difficult to search for why there is respect, and stretch our understanding.

  • Jim, there are some seriously good photographs here i.e. not snaps. I agree that the family aspect of the essay is more important to Sam than to us; nevertheless there are some gems here. For me, 1,3,4,5,8,14,22,and 27 are the best. Number 5 reminds me of driving with the car windows open – when I had hair.


  • All… thanks so much for your comments… i will be back shortly to respond…
    (most of you are probably asleep right now, anyhow…)

    but while it’s fresh… David Bowen,

    thanks for putting so eloquently what i had in mind but could never express quite as effortlessly as you in written words. Whilst i find this work challenging to shoot for many reasons… it is also, without a doubt the most rewarding.

  • Jim…

    I don’t see family snaps here at all. These images evoke the beauty of childhood, the stops and starts kids and parents endure whilst living together and growing up. As far as I’m concerned these images aren’t too personal and they do manage to convey the feeling of childhood in general.
    Seriously you should spend perhaps if haven’t done it yet some quality time with teenagers…it does us adults no end of good…makes one remember not everything is black or white and if one goes about it properly with a desire to listen and adding our experience into the mix they also come out benefiting.

  • David Bowen – thanks indeed. Knowing that you were out there dealing with similar challenges helped me a lot in those darker days… sometimes I really wondered what the f… I’d done with my life, my career… but you gave me a lot of encouragement, I appreciate that massively.

    Really looking forward to seeing some of your latest work…

  • Panos, Panos, Panos… what would we do without you…

    You flatter me too much with your compliments!! But thanks mate : )) I really appreciate your words and I know you talk from the heart, we all know that!
    Sally Mann, dude! Now that’s one photographer I’d love to hang with (dah?!! – laughing…)

  • About ‘connecting with’ it… I think it may take time to connect with art in general. If there is some ‘resistance’ at first then it may very well be a good sign, because then there’s more opportunities to explore the details and to learn to appreciate that which seemed unfamiliar at first. To break through that resistance is a good feeling. Tickling.

    Sam; You seem very good at not paying attention to limits or rules – that’s perhaps the biggest reason why this essay works so well. I’d like to ask so many questions – but for all I know I might find the answers by looking through the essay some more. I think I’ll do that after making some coffee now.

    Thank you for letting us look into the life of your family – twice!
    It is a huge gift.

    Good luck in Sydney.

  • “Our names will flutter
    on these hills like little fires.”

    –Wendell Berry

  • Civi…Wendy…

    Civi… your book?! it’s almost on it’s way…

    i am working on a couple of books right now. one is a handmade edition of ? – well I’m making 2 but I’ve got enough materials to make maybe 4 or 5…

    i wonder does anyone know how that works? if you make only 2 books, can you say it’’s an edition of 5, knowing you can make more ‘if’ you need to??

    the other is a print-on-demand version of postcards from home, with a few extra images also. i’ve been working on it, on and off for ages now… trying different designs and companies etc. but it’s practically done… it needs to be as I want to have a few copies with me in sydney…
    once it’s good to go, i’ll let you know… : )))


    yeah i plan to continue until the girls eventually leave the family nest. i am hoping that the coming years, will provide the ‘meat’ of the project… Uma is 11 now and fast approaching adolescence… should be interesting…

    what size are my prints?… expensive! : )) yeah some are quite big (or at least big for me…) i don’t want to spill all the beans now… all cotton rag… some will be around a meter wide, others smaller… i’m planning on doing some blog posts from sydney, with shots from the gallery etc… so stayed tuned ; )

  • Bjarte!

    Nicely put… and before coffee : )))

    “You seem very good at not paying attention to limits or rules”

    maybe that’s my south london comprehensive school roots : ))

  • Tom…Ross…Bill…Paul…

    tom hyde, you paint a lovely picture – where in the world are you??? Sounds like my kinda place… raising my mug of tea… cheers to you!

    Ross, cheers mate! love to see you over in Sydney (that’s just over the way from you isn’t it!?)…

    Bill – Frostfrog

    thanks! your very kind… the forth dimension… i like that…

    Yes being denied pro photography for a few years certainly was a catalyst for me, that and Burn.
    but I must say with regard to growing up with my daughters … THAT was a choice I made some years before, back in London, whilst pushing a baby Uma on a swing one weekend… hence all the traveling etc…

    Paul… thanks!… i find it so interesting to read how other people view my photos, i don’t think about it too much myself, i just try to be instinctive and see if i like it afterwards… i think i’ve always tried to be like that with photography, playful… but some times were easier than others…

  • Sam…

    I wouldn’t limit your editions at all…
    Make limited runs of the same print or book…
    Just imagine you get lucky and that book of yours you’ve decided to make a limited edition of 10 becomes the only work everyone wants to buy, but you can’t sell anymore because you promised you would only make 10 copies/editions…

  • Sam…

    When you are taking these family photos are you just shooting all for personal reasons or are you also thinking essay wise?
    I’m shooting the “same project” different kids :).. I was thinking of the photo of your daughter lying on the ground after falling off her bike, I’ve got a couple of similar images different accidents… I’ve been accused by my wife of taking the photo before coming to the “rescue”… it’s the only kind of images she is slightly against as she keeps telling me to stop kidding myself into believing they are just personal stuff when it’s more of an essay image…she’s probably right but in 20 years time it won’t matter because it will be my kids childhood and that’s all..

  • Patricia…Marcin…Mike R…Paul Treacy…ALL…DAH…

    Patricia – great to see you back here on Burn… we’ve missed you… and thank you for your compliments…
    i hope your still shooting inspiring work… about time we saw some here on burn i reckon!

    Marcin – cool!

    Mike R – thanks for your kind words… fingers are crossed for the exhibition…

    Paul Treacy – thanks indeed!

    OK, i’m off to sleep now… busy days… too busy… DAH – how do you do it?!! this last month has almost put me on the ropes and so much i still have to do… preparation for the seminars is only half done… handmade books to finish… paper work/forms/bills/scanning… and only a few days until i fly to the other side of the continent…

    ALL… thanks for taking the time to look at my photos today and to respond. Especially after the tragic news. My heartfelt sympathy to all Tim’s family & friends.

    DAH… i owe you a message… but better when i am fresh…tomorrow…much respect and many thanks


  • Paul… nice one…just read your post, but i need to sleep now… i’ll get back to you tomorrow : )))

  • a civilian-mass audience

    SAMMY…can you please sign the book,just one…and write me nice stuff…like

    From SAM to Civi
    the best civi in the world
    with 20 baby chickens, two rabbits
    one turtle,two fishes,’in the broken grecolandia…
    you know English…make me look good
    like a special civilian…blah,blah…

    hiiiiiiii…just kidding…keep rocking mate…
    TO LIFE and beyond !!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    ok,goodnight…to you to your family and to ALLLLLLLLLL aboard !!!

  • SAM: :)))

    i don’t have a lot of energy at the moment to write, so i shall cheat and post what i wrote to you 2 years ago when version 1 was shown….this story meant alot to me then, it still means alot to me now….i too have made the decision to make the immediate world around me that by which i would navigate my life, my work, my hopes…..some of my favorite images are back, with some gorgeous new ones (the opener is so much stronger than the original opener)….and i love, of course, all the abstraction and lyricism…in truth, it isn’t what we SEE about the life in front of us, our families (that indeed would be simply snap shots), but it is what the life in front of us allows us to conjur, to reimagine, to reignite, to create…this is not your family but this is work that came from the alchemy of family life, loss and love… shots show, photography imagines…and that is the difference…i still love this work so much…

    feeling sad, tired, yesterday, i wrote a student in taiwan: life is like a light in a room in the morning in the spring, off the corner. It will disappear in the morning, it shall more quickly disappear, …but there are more mornings yet to come…..

    and by the way, when the first version of Postcards aired in October of 2009, Jim Powers wrote, “Some very personal snapshots. As Civi would say, “What not to love.”…my, how time has changed…

    I repeat to you what i wrote then:

    Sam! :))))

    Boris Mikhailov once said that there are three types of ways to take pictures: with distance as a reporter (having no true relationship with the subjects), with financial/commercial relationships (paying the subjects or the subjects paying the photographer) or with Love (photographing friends and families and the people and places which define one’s life). Although I have deep respect for all three types of photographic practice, it is the photographers and books which work from ‘love’ that I have always been most drawn and most inspired by. Your essay is indeed an act of love, but not only love for your family and home but for something much more profound and fundamental: the wonderment of the living and our relationship to that. From the most personal and private of moments, you have sewed us a universal story one in which each of us can recognize the scent and taste and touch and sound and light of our own families and lives. From the particular, the universal is born.

    Some of your essay reminded me of Trent’s magnificent project Christmas Tree in a Bucket: not in style, but in spirit: the capturing of a moment that yields in shadow and light, in music and laughter, something that stitches together all of our gossamer lives. Same too the work of one of my heroes: Lartigue. Jacques Henri Lartigue is one of the greatest photographers to have ever graced this world and his photographs, comprised entirely of friends and family and moments that surrounded his life have been a pinpoint of expression for many of us. So too the extraordinary work of Meatyard and Araki and Fukase and Goldin and Towell and Mikhailov and Cameron and Eggleston and all the other remarkable visions that have chosen to settle upon the immediate of the people and family and life around. All those extraordinary family albums that most people will never have the opportunity to see or sift through, to touch or tip against the weight of memory of their own lives. From David Harvey’s Out for a Family Drive to the book that my own grandmother (a photographer) made for me of my own life, these family albums have been a north point toward which i’ve banked my own life, as a son, a father, a husband, a photographer, a writer. I am inspired Sam, equally by the breath and light and joy and mystery that is contained in your essay here as well. A reminder of what we all have and what shall be torn rift from each of us eventually.

    There are so many extraordinary moments in this story that I am left NOT wanting to talk specifically about the images, though many of them stun: this extraordinary photograph of the young girls in the car, her hair electrified by the dance of the wind tonguing through the carwindow and the sun startling each of us, as if that child were our own who has grown up and lept far away (it looks like a gorgeous kodachrome moment), the extraordinary physicality of the chewing-gum photo: the scent is there lingering in the elasticity of the moment, and the burst pop coming later, the ghost train (as if a Platonov story) outhouse outside the window of the home, the blundstones after a walkabout reminded of their own weariness with the death of the sparrow, the hoola-hoop, the fractured sun weeded over the limbs of trees, the crepuscular profiles of noses and toes and teeth and books and darned yarn, as if all those gorgeous nocturnes that alight upon each of our lives, the birds and the sheaf, the buddhist prayer flags born from laundrey, the songlines in the window and along the car’s speedometers, and above all, the music and the voices and the laughter that inhabit and haunt nearly ever photograph in this series. For in truth, when i am alone and think of my wife and son, of my own life with my brothers in my childhood, sound is what defines all my memories: the sound of laughter, the squawk of argument, the bleet of joy and the bench of breath, for to raise a family, to photograph a family is to come to terms with that bridging of the silence of being alone and the tumult of all that sound of life. When my son leaves us, it is his voice, either with joy or with anger, that i shall miss the most profoundly and which shall quietly break my over over the days of absence.

    For in truth Sam, each of us negotiates and wrangles with that absence and each of us knows that, whether we are parents or not. As a son and as a father and as a photographer, I was scraped large by the magnificent joy and tenderness and photographic beauty of these pictures. They are more than family ‘snapshots’, but as Towell reminds in his view from his porch, they are clues into each of our lives and worlds. Most of the people we love will disappear from our lives. We who will be wren’d and ratcheted from the soil from which we felt certain. We shall be misunderstood and confused, betrayed and bereft, we shall loose most of the things and people who are important to us, either through confusion or fate, circumstance or ego, from hubris or negligence. We shall, most of us, bury our parents and grandparents; we shall loose friends; we shall be misunderstood and criticized, by friends and family, parents and children alike. We shall loose everything that we hoped to plant, cultivate and see thrive. And with our children, our most enduring and precious life, we shall loose them too. there is a moment in Anne Carson’s magnificent Poem-Novel, the autobiography of red, when Geryon (i think) describes what it means to be a parent: as if standing on a hill and in the receding distance, on a further hill, is the child who is running faster than we are, and we are unable to catch them, for they are galloping toward the further horizon, to their life and their future, and we cannot catch them, and in the ache of that realization, is the ache and wonderment of life.

    and yet, we must cherish that. For photography has a way to point toward the corners which words, as Berger reminds, cannot lick and illuminate. Everything about the people and light and places in your magnificent story Sam will change and alter and disappear and yet, is it not photography’s power that allows us to remember, to hold on tight to that which is best about our lives and to which we must often be reminded: the place of love and community and family in our lifes which helps us buttress against the descending ending. these photographs are filled with light and music and have become, as with the best of all work, about my own life too. maybe i was a bit sensitive this week, after having wrestled and thought about and come to terms with the loss of a close person in my own life. and then just this morning speaking with my mom, who this week went through intensive, invasive surgery, and trying to keep her positive and laughter-filled as she struggles with pain and change and fear. If anything Sam, your beautiful story reminds me of a simple truth: that if we look around our lives and celebrate, hold closely and faithfully those around us and see that, our live, even with sorry and sadness, grows meaningful and light. As a photographer, I too have spent most of my photographic life trying to speak against the receding by photographing family and friends and students and the world of memory and the world i know best: that which defined me and my life. It is this peculiarity that makes your essay for me so strong, so joyous and so special.

    Take those people who are close to you into your arms and fill your life with them and with their animated, blood-driven warmth for eventually, sooner than we all expect, that warm space between our arms will be filled with empty space. Celebrate that and forever remember that. It is all we have and more than that.

    congrats Sam! gorgeous and magnificent work…

    all the best

  • a civilian-mass audience

    oime…BOBBY…I wish I can copy and paste your posts on my brain cells…so I can enjoy them later…
    BUT…that’s why we have BURN archives:)!!!

    back to SAMMY…

  • Bob Black

    Thanks for re-posting your wonderful thoughts. You have a wonderful ability to articulate what many of us I’m sure feel.
    Sam has the wonderful ability to make pictures of moments in his own life that resonatate with all of us. A perfect illustration of DAHs oft quoted “don’t show me what it looks like, show me what it feels like.

    Sams style here is major up close and personal. One feels as if we are peering through his eyes in “being John Malkovich” style. I can almost hear a sound track, smell bubble gum.

  • Yes, Bob, and they are still personal snapshots. I have nothing against personal snapshots. There is no way to criticize personal snapshots as such. But I still wonder why they show up on burn.

  • marcin luczkowski


    Personal snapshot is photography. Burn show photography. Burn show personal snapshot.
    nothing to wonder about.

  • mtomalty – :o)

    yes sure:(.. if the kids were starving somewhere in Indonesia or Uganda, crying etc, if it all was shot in trix then “some” here would love it…yeah we “bring awareness”..”saving the world” (and trying to get paid at the same time of course)…. balloni! bull…! cliche zoriah style…”good photojournalism”…bull…bull..

    Sam thank u for “letting us in” with no alterior motives..just your love for your family and photography…u succeeded even if u didnt manage to “save the world”…
    Although u managed to sooth (save) my soul, gave many a smile and lots of eye candy shots too..
    What would be more successful than that?
    people think out of the box…most looking for the easy , “moneyshots”, kids suffering from malaria…

    Sam thank u for NOT doing all that and thank u for choosing the hard way instead of the easy cliche one!
    big hug

  • “don’t show me what it looks like, show me what it feels like.
    DAH, BOB, GORDON, TOM, u all summed it up:)

  • Man, I like some of the photos, but this is turning into a real circle jerk. Taking pictures of your kids is choosing the hard way? Mmmmkay. So now who’s gonna go for the greatest challenge in photography? Yes, I’m talking about kittens… Or is it squirrels?

  • “Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.”
    Blaise Pascal.

    “If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.”
    George Eliot.

  • MW…

    Sorry! Just in case, my last comment wasn’t posted at you, I hadn’t even seen your comment…in fact it wasn’t posted towards anyone… just celebrating the commonplace.

  • mw
    The easy way is to choose the exotic. Far away places, colourful awe-inspiring scenes, famous people, momentus events, conflict, poverty, depravity, etc etc.

  • Hey, as mentioned, I generally like the photos and admire Sam’s technique and skill, it’s just that some of the comments seem a bit high falutim for such a refreshingly simple subject.

    And Gordon, if you think it’s so easy to take great photos outside the backyard, why do so many find it so difficult? I’d be more likely to hazard that it’s easy to do things that have been done before and very difficult to pull off something unique, but I don’t really believe that much of anything is easy…

  • MW

    I laughed so hard I damn near pissed myself. That is funny shit. And just like most great comedy, it is funny because it is true.

    Yes the photographs are wonderfully shot. But I also am not really moved.

    And god I wish Bob Black could say how he feels about something in 100 or so words instead of going on and on referencing everything he has ever seen or read. I am sorry, Bob, but I just have to say it. The long essays just seem to scream “look at me and what I know.” For me it stops being about the work discussed and more about you.

    And please do not misunderstand. I think you have a valid point of view and I usually like to read it… until I nod off.

    I mean really… 272 words along with another 1,397 printed from an earlier post?

  • Sam; Yup; Sydney is only 2 hours away! I thought you lived in Perth though?

    Jim; I don’t really comment much on essays; would rather chat about it to the photographer over a beer etc :-) But…. what photographs DO you like? Cheers

  • Jim did not say he didn’t like them. He just said they do nothing for him.

  • PETE: less than 100 words below for you:

    I will no longer post essay comments. I write not to say ‘look at me’ but because when i write about photographs this is who I am. I’m also a writer. It is clear my time has long come for me to stop this twaddle. So for you:

    I like the work, alot. It speaks not so much of ‘truth’ of the family but for the creativity, joy and loss, that family conjures and incurs within the life of the imagination. The pictures are poetic and wisely with light without being maudlin.

    I’ll spare you all from now on.


    so clever, once again.

  • should have written i will no longer post comments. decided today. will support the work and support burn, but there are better ways to support the cause then to write and be called an attention seeker. cheers, b

  • Pete and Bob…
    Please don’t either of you change your style of writing :)…what the hell I don’t even want Jim Powers to change…Jim’s the number one Burn fan, he must be the record holder of first comments on essays here on Burn.

  • Bob

    OK, now your just going from one extreme to another. Is there no middle ground? I doubt anyone would claim that your opinion is not of value.

    I just have to believe that you, a writer, could give your thoughts and opinions without resurrecting things that others have said or written to make your point. I read the comments to find out what others think. If I gave a shit what Boris Mikhailov thought, I would seek him out and ask him or read his words here if he felt like commenting.

    And then there is:

    “There are so many extraordinary moments in this story that I am left NOT wanting to talk specifically about the images, though many of them stun: this extraordinary photograph of the young girls in the car, her hair electrified by the dance of the wind tonguing through the carwindow and the sun startling each of us, as if that child were our own who has grown up and lept far away (it looks like a gorgeous kodachrome moment), the extraordinary physicality of the chewing-gum photo: the scent is there lingering in the elasticity of the moment, and the burst pop coming later, the ghost train (as if a Platonov story) outhouse outside the window of the home, the blundstones after a walkabout reminded of their own weariness with the death of the sparrow, the hoola-hoop, the fractured sun weeded over the limbs of trees, the crepuscular profiles of noses and toes and teeth and books and darned yarn, as if all those gorgeous nocturnes that alight upon each of our lives, the birds and the sheaf, the buddhist prayer flags born from laundrey, the songlines in the window and along the car’s speedometers, and above all, the music and the voices and the laughter that inhabit and haunt nearly ever photograph in this series.

    No offense to Sam Harris, but HOLY SHIT BATMAN, if I was the photographer, that would almost embarrass me. Although the outhouse reference may be appropriate.

    But seriously. Don’t stop commenting because of me. I am sure there are fans here that would hate to see you go. I also would hate to see you not give your input. Besides, I can just skip over it. Others can plow on.

    Additionally… ever heard of a period? LOL And YES NOW I AM TEASING YOU….

  • And to be clear, I would never presume to want to tell Bob how to write anymore than he would want to tell me or others how to shoot.

    Just telling how I feel about it. LOL… Which obviously moves me more than the essay.

    Again, Sam, The photography is beautiful. I just have no connection to it.

  • Now let us return to our regularly scheduled programming and talk about the essay. Sorry for the interruption.

  • Bob Black:

    So, I just watched my beloved Knicks (you might remember Charles Oakley) be eliminated from the post season. To see you eliminated from this site would be too much. (And I’m guessing Pete might be pulling an Uncle P here, out on that porch. This isn’t typical.) Your insights are always welcomed and your command of language is always far more than appreciated; I’ve never encountered anyone with such command of both hemispheres of the brain. If you do indeed go from here, it’s been a treat and an honor reading you. My very best to you and your family.

  • Bob, I love your comments and insight. I was going to suggest you try and cultivate a thicker skin, but on second thought, keep it the way it is. I don’t think anyone was really trying to offend. :))

    mw, you are right, nothing is easy. Not coming up with a new take on a classic theme, not making pictures of your life that transcend just family snaps, not making pictures that people will actually pay you to make.
    I suspect that those who do not get, or are not moved by these pictures are not parents.

  • Pete… I wasn’t being a smart arse to Jim because I’ve always enjoyed his comments. I was (am) genuinely interested in what type of image he DOES like. But thank you for answering on his behalf ;-)

  • Gordon; Unfortunately I’m not a parent, but I do “get” them. Funny; I was in bed the other morning when my partner’s grandsons (aged 5 and 3); jumped in beside me to watch some TV. The eldest turned to me and said “Ross; it was fun playing with you yesterday” … I’ve got to admit, even though I’m an old fart, it made me a little dewy eyed….

  • Being a step grandpa counts Ross.

  • woah! just woke up and read all the above…

    PETE & JIM, hey no worries, i’m not bothered one bit, thanks for taking the time to write…
    personally… i find it fascinating peeping into someone else’s life, their head space, seeing how they see their world or how they want to show us… whether in books, movies, music, paintngs or photographs…

    MW… i want to respond to you, (thanks for writing) but i’m not really sure what your saying? i’ve read your posts a few times, you seem very good with words however, which makes it all the more confusing…

    ROSS – yes i live (near) Perth (like 3 hours south…) but Sydney is where the exhibition and photo festival will be… love to meet you there!! hopefully i’m gonna hook up with Glenn C…


    i think you will be wondering for a long long time..essays like this will indeed continue to end up on Burn…well, i should say actually they will rarely end up on Burn, because there are very few photographers who can shoot as well as Sam….seeing…the name of THE game…not many seers…not many at all…

    cheers, david

  • DAH

    “seeing…the name of THE game…not many seers…not many at all…”

    WAIT A MINUTE… I thought you said: ““don’t show me what you see, show me what you feel”.”

    Which is it? LOL

  • PETE…

    smiling…that is not a contradiction at all…and besides, you misquote me/misunderstand me……

    what i said to you once was “do not show me what it looks like, show me what it feels like”….

    “seeing” is a whole lot different than showing what something “looks like”…i.e. an “accurate rendition” just ain’t necessarily fine seeing…maybe fine reporting , but this is another thing entirely…

    good “seeing” will indeed often show us what something “feels like”…nothing could be a better example of this than the current essay…

    cheers, david

  • Did not say it was a contradiction… just wanted to jerk you around a bit… LOL

    But there is still the question: are we talking about what it feels like to the photographer or the subject? (assuming of course an animate subject)

    Guess it depends on the story.

  • PETE…

    i think we are not on the same wavelength here Pete….:)……what it feels like to the viewer…letting the viewer know what it “feels like” , not what it looks like…feel it rather than view the rendition…takes “seeing” to do this….got it? probably not…we have been having this same chat for three years!! my oh my…. :)

    cheers, david

  • I do understand what you are saying. Let the viewer know what it feels like. Yes, but from whose perspective? Photographer or subject. For instance, this essay about Sam’s kids…. What it feels like for Sam (the photographer) to have kids or what his kids feel as they are growing up?

    Or, a photographer doing a homeless story… should the photographer show what it feels like to him or what it feels like to the homeless? One is harder than the other. Yes the photographer has to make the viewer feel it, but which “feel” are we channeling?

    Passing on to the viewer what the photographer feels is passing on the photographer’s interpretation and this may be more art than journalism or documentary.

  • PAUL…

    well.. when i take photos i’m not thinking about anything other than the ‘moment’. however when it comes to the editing, then of course i think in context of essay, exhibition or book…

    of course sometimes you have to choose your moments… which i suppose is at the heart of photography anyhow… sometimes i have to decide whether to be a dad or a photographer. sometimes you have to let a shot go… like when the girls pet rabbit died. Yali was standing there with this limp dead rabbit in her arms, sobbing her eyes out… the light was really nice… what a shot! for a split second i contemplated running to grab my camera, it would have been an absolute classic image,(the ones we don’t get always are ;)) autumnal sky, grey clouds and broken shafts of sunlight and Yali, wet with tears with the dead rabbit lying across her outstretched arms… but i couldn’t, she would have been so hurt by that, i had to comfort her, be dad… but i’ve thought about that a lot, where do i draw the line… when you shoot at home there is often something else more important that needs to be done…

  • Sam; sorry I missed the part about the exhibit. I’m pretty busy shooting at the moment and wouldn’t have the funds to get there anyway. But I hope everything goes well for you (I’m sure it will!) :-)

  • PETE

    i think we are channeling the photographer interpretation who is channeling the subject…the photographer is our storyteller or interpreter ….the subject has a voice through the photographer or artist..this could of course should of course include feeling the subject as well…again, the perfect example is this essay….and i can no longer even have the conversation about what is art and what is journalism or documentary as if they were necessarily two separate worlds…sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not…with good seeing they are the same world imo……with Sam’s work here we clearly are in the overall realm of documentary and yet the seeing is so good and so interpretive and so beyond the average documentation, that it could indeed end up being viewed in an art museum or in art circles, yet still be documentary…as Sally Mann, Bruce Davidson, and Frank and on and on and on among the truly great photographers of our time….

    cheers, david

  • PETE…

    “Let the viewer know what it feels like. Yes, but from whose perspective?”

    from MY perspective!

  • to clarify ‘MY’ perspective..

    as a father, when at home, together, this means my family… when one of us gets angry or upset, we all feel it… (we live in a small house) just as when one of us laughs and laughs we all feel it… the family feeds back into ‘my’ feeling, my mood, which effects how/what/when i photograph…

  • SAM

    I was not questioning your essay. Just using it for an example. Should have made that more clear. It was a general inquiry into DAH’s statement.


    As I said above.

  • PETE…
    no worries, i didn’t think you were, but as your question used me as an example i thought my perspective might be insightful…


    i appreciate your writing as much now as i did then. THANK YOU, SO MUCH.

    i LOVE reading your posts, they are always so enriching… and always so heartfelt…
    Burn ain’t Burn without your lovely, big fat comments. one day there will be a book
    full of them…. you are a great artist, teacher and human being… please keep on being
    Bobby Black Running, we love ya!

    p.s. remember how you mentioned Trent… he’s got a 10 year retrospective at the Head On festival : )) opens the day after my show… looking forward to checking out that one…


    i love that ‘One feels as if we are peering through his eyes in “being John Malkovich” style’. thanks!
    great movie… and probably an influence (laughing) – now i must go and munch on some toast…

  • SAM

    In the context of what I’ve been reading here, I must try to say more articulately what I feel about this essay. I say “feel” because, to me, this work is all about feelings. Mine as viewer, yours as photographer/father, your daughters’ as girls growing up and living through what that means, your wife’s as a mother who obviously is there for her daughters. So often I don’t even see their faces and I don’t need to — their body language tells me all I need to know.

    But this work goes so far beyond a simple view of childhood. I never had kids and that has nothing to do with how I react to what I see here. Words are tough to find to describe what I see in your photos. If I say “art,’ there are those who will throw up their hands and cry, “I told you it wasn’t documentary photography!” Well maybe it isn’t, but it sure ain’t snapshots either.

    I see photographs that push the bouundaries of what we think they can/should be able to do. Many of these images — not all, but enough — take me where dreams do, into a place within myself that has no words and is usually hidden from view. It rings a bell of remembrance, sometimes joyful, sometimes so tender I can barely stand to hear it, occasionally filled with pain and longing.

    See, I told you words were going to be hard to find. They all come out sounding trite. So be it. I just hope you realize that your sight and insight has profoundly moved this viewer. I am grateful to you for the soul you have invested in this essay and in your well-loved daughters. I am changed by it.


  • Sorry, Sam, I forgot to respond to your question. Yes, I am in the middle of a longterm project that I’ve been working on with more passion and dedication than ever! It features hundreds of amazing young musicians, ages 7-24, who are part of one of Detroit’s treasures, the Civic Youth Ensembles. Don’t know when I’ll be ready to show it but if you pop me an email I can send you a link to an initial edit.

    Thanks for your interest…


  • Haven’t posted here for a while, a little late joining the conversation. Just want to say that being a Dad and having two young kids of my own it is hard to photograph your family. The moments have to be right and it also has to be the right moment to take a photograph. Sam said it perfectly that it is often hard to be Dad and a photographer at the same time. Great essay, I really enjoyed it.


  • Far away places, colourful awe-inspiring scenes, famous people, momentus events, conflict, poverty, depravity, etc etc…………………. exactly where I am exotic to me but ordinary to the locals. Taking a untypical image, chances not good

    …………………. Sam I appreciate what you are trying to convey to the audience. Most seem to miss the point of interaction, the space in time that exists within……………. not all is about the photographed image. Too many photographers talking photography as a isolated activity here.

  • ps I enjoy not being a photographer

  • Bob B…
    You just be you, you just stay here, you just keep on writing as you do and it’s OK with me if you keep saying you’re going as long as you don’t EVER go…

  • Pete’s so anal he counts words and dreams of becoming a security camera

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Nobody leaves BURN…I have not signed any permission slips…
    and I have no intention to do it…we have Democracy afterall
    “…272 words along with another 1,397 printed from an earlier post?”I wish PETE to count my words too:(

    SAMMY’S photos …like AUDREY’S family…oime so much vision BURNING around us…

    P.S …ADMIN…which one is my aisle?…I am wandering around aisles…:)


    your last comment was the funniest line on Burn ever….. :)


    i mean really, even you have to smile at that one…


    there is no doubt in my mind that you will make something so special and heartfelt of these young musicians…i look forward to publishing soon the best of this work…

    cheers, david

  • I enjoyed this greatly, Sam. Congrats!

    Love how you, in the end, reveal your daughters. Touching.



    “See, I told you words were going to be hard to find.” You must be joking! if only i could find words and express myself the way you do (and quite often, when you write here on burn…).
    Thank You! so very well put…

    I’d be honored to a ‘sneak peek’ at your latest work, it sounds very exciting…lots to get your teeth stuck into i imagine… i’ll drop you a line, but it will most likely be after Sydney (i leave on friday and i’m flat out & way behind…).


    glad you dig the work, thanks for taking time to comment.


    Namaste Gee…
    so glad you turned up! “the space in time that exists within” – you know it!

    are you gonna be back in Sydney in time to meet up? (opening night on may 6th, i’m there until 16th…)

    CIVI : )))

    so glad you mentioned Audrey! i love her family photos. Audrey if your out there… i’d love to do a joint exhibition with you some time, some where… your b&w and my colour…

  • Yes I smiled. But I do hope you don’t think I actually did a manual count. GRIN
    I don’t have that kind of time.

  • PETE…

    will i see you at Look3? surely we can find something to agree on!! i will certainly agree with you long enough for you to buy me a beer…..oh by the way, by sheer coincidence i was reading comments on The Maguires where you unjustly accused me of finding something nice to say about every picture no matter how bad…hmmmm, i doubt most of my students would agree with that one…if that were the case, why so many tears? we do of course disagree on the proliferation of “snapshot” photography…just for the record i do not like any one type of photography …i do not judge by type….i view and judge by photographer and the work at hand….so some so called snapshot work is relevant and some is not, just as some straight news photography is good and some is not…i think we have to look at everything for what it is, what it means, the photographer intent, and mostly the visceral reaction to the work…and i highly highly recommend you getting a point and shoot camera or phone camera and going crazy…see if your bad snapshots can be as good as the bad snapshots you hate here….by the way, your workshop colleague Kurt Lengfield blew everybody away in Mississippi with his iPhone work..i know , i know another controversy…but none of us could help but like it…you will see…

    see you soonest…

    cheers, david

  • SAM…

    this is just incisive close to the heart work done with a special eye….photography does not get any better than this….sure, pictures of your family…nothing new…everybody does it…however, when work rises above the mean level, i pay attention….and this work literally sings….you have done triple duty here…stayed home, been a good dad and husband, and made your mark in photography as well….many thanks for Postcards….

    cheers, david

  • You shoulda took the rabbit shot sam.


    yes, his only mistake

  • DAVID…

    i am most honored and grateful, and quite frankly taken aback by such responses, especially yours.

    this work that you have given me the opportunity to share here on burn has grown very much because of burn and especially due to your attitude. you lead by example, you live the life you want to live (which is something i always strive for) you are generous with your valuable personal time and your energy and your passion is infectious. this past month i’ve been full tilt in preparation for Sydney, i feel burnt out already, i’ve not even left home yet! i don’t know how you do all that you do… but anyway i digress…

    I am hugely grateful to you and to all the BURNIANS… this place has been my photographic lifeline. Living out here in the bush for all it’s merits can be isolating, and there were times when i so needed, another perspective and simply to exchange with like minded folk. I am positive that Postcards would not have evolved the way it has without this place…

    CHEERS to you and all the burnians!!!

    i hope that one day in the not to distant future we get to hang someplace… and shoot the breeze… maybe your porch, maybe mine or maybe someplace in-between.

    with much respect and gratitude

  • John, David,

    i know i know…

    i can pretend that i did the right thing ; ) but i can still see that image burnt through my retina – cover shot!

  • I feel a little better knowing I’m not the only cold blooded father round here who would of shot the rabbit pic!! :))))

  • Hey DAVID

    Can’t make it to LOOK3 this year. Bummed about it but I have a family commitment I must attend. Maybe you will be in D.C. soon? Be happy to buy you a beer!

    ” you unjustly accused me of finding something nice to say about every picture no matter how bad…”

    I did not mean that as an accusation. And I was only basing it on the workshop I attended and the one I sat in on. Maybe I was too general… Actually I find it admirable in a way.

    “i highly highly recommend you getting a point and shoot camera or phone camera and going crazy…see if your bad snapshots can be as good as the bad snapshots you hate here”

    I don’t “hate” snapshots. I just identify them when I see them. A snapshot to me is a photo that was made without much thought to content or composition. Just a grab of a moment in time. Anyone can do that. No talent, experience or training needed. My parents have a whole trunk full of them. Maybe I should send them to a museum and call them art. I don’t need a point and shoot. A photographer can make a bad photograph or a snapshot with a D3 or an iPhone. Everyone has.

    A photo with an iphone (without any fancy apps) is no different than my D700 except that you don’t have as much control so exposures tend to be off, noise is higher, file is smaller, blah blah blah.

    I can take a fuzzy, poorly exposed, grainy photo with the D700. I have done it/ I choose not to. I prefer to be more deliberate.

    Although, when looking at all the photos of blurry ground from the errant shutter releases when I am editing, I always do say, “this may be my best work.”

    Maybe I will send you an essay of those… LOL

    First beer is on me.. lets discuss it then.

  • Oh, I do want to point out that yes I have seen some beautiful images with the iPhone. I know it can be done. Same with a point and shoot.


    But is it the app or the actual photo that makes it interesting?

  • SAM

    See this is one of the reasons I don’t have children. The first being that it is easier just to rent my sister’s kids from time to time.

    I would have to have a damn camera around my neck all day long just on the off chance that the rabbit picture popped up!

  • PETE.

    i thought it was obvious i was teasing about the critique “accusation”….

    yet, the trunk full of snapshots your parents have should indeed be treasured…trunks full of snapshots will soon be a thing of the past…hard drives ain’t the same thing…organize those of your family, catalog them, file them, and yes maybe they would belong in a museum..why not? why is photo “training” to be admired? trained to do what? to take pictures in a particular way for ??? newspaper, magazine, portrait studio?? all commercial reasons to be sure…not one of them from the heart…even more trunks full of pictures way more disposable than your family snaps in your mom’s attic…dig in there….could change your whole perspective….and pop one in a link here…one of you , mom and dad…do it

    sorry to miss you at Look..will be DC at some point for Rio layout etc….

    cheers, david

  • I disagree! Sam’s instincts about the dead rabbit shot were right on. No photo – cover shot or not – is worth hurting the feelings of a child in such a vulnerable moment. Ask any conflict photog about the shots they didn’t take in respect to a suffering person’s feelings and/or need for help. I’m sure they have many, some potential prizewinners among them, ones that will be forever “burned on their retina.” But, hopefully, we are human first and photographer second. Usually the two can act as one but once in a long while, we must make a choice. Sam made his choice at that moment and my guess is his daughter appreciates his decision.


  • Sam a postcard from India
    ps email me I will catch up in Sydney

  • Hi Sam,

    I love the work you are doing on your family… so beautiful and wonderful… I will be honored to have an exhibition together… anytime… I would really like a signed print, would you be ok for a print exchange?


    thank you very much for your email, play with the children, it’s holidays here :))

    Happy hugs, audrey

  • SAM – I hope you don’t mind, but I shared this project with the Flak Photo Network on Facebook. Carlos Lopez, a photographer, posted there asking about projects with a childish or cute theme, and I thought your work is of a high standard and fits his general outline well. Not sure what he wants them for, but he might be in touch, or might post on here.

    Gonna comment on this in a bit – have looked through a couple of times myself, and I love the quality of the images. Want to let my thoughts percolate a little before commenting though. The response discussions are, as usual, very interesting!

  • Patricia…

    You are totally correct and I’m sure my wife would of scolded me heavily for my callous action!
    But just think about it… A good portion of Sally Mann’s “Immediate Family” photos are images which many would of never of dreamed shooting…and I’m very grateful she didn’t think twice about her actions.

  • Oh I treasure them. Without a doubt. But they are snapshots. Not art. They are a historical record of the family. Not great photography. It is what it is and there is no reason to elevate it to something it is not. Of course they will be saved.

    And just because a photo is created from the heart, does not make it a great photo. Just because they are fun to look at and they make you curious about the people in them does not make them great images. I love to pick though old photos at flea markets. They are fun and intriguing.

    And some things do need to be learned to do well if you want to earn a living doing them. And that obviously includes being self-taught. Don’t think so? Lets ask Panos how much his talents as a B&W master printer would be appreciated if he did not learn to print well. Printing from the “heart” would not cut it.

    I can make a b&w print. But not well. If Panos and I made the same print from a Nachtwey image, one would end up on the wall of a gallery and one in the trash. No matter how much I put my “heart” into it.

    If someone wants to simply create images from the heart, they should. I believe every photographer should shoot what they love to shoot. Shoot what moves them. Shoot what is important and what matters to them. Some of this will be successful to other viewers. It will almost always be successful to the photographer.

    The main distinction is whether this is a hobby or a career when determining if it matters.

  • AUDREY :)

    the honor is all mine! i love your work, so much…

    i’d love to do a print swap:)) just choose one…
    yes an exhibition together, it’s a done deal…

    …as they say around these parts… too easy!

    Civi, YES thank you

    ALL… don’t miss another look at audrey’s photos

  • PETE…

    for me, the sort of photography i now do is far more challenging than anything from my career in london. i learnt to work in a tough competitive market, music and editorial, l learnt to print b&w well and worked with master printers and art directors, editors, designers, pr and marketing people, the works… but after a while it became formulaic for me, it evolved into media and product… i guess my early stuff had been a lot freer, i missed that and my direction no longer inspired me… i had to unlearn some habits, but i hung onto some too ;) and so here i am living in a small piece of paradise and shooting what i want and that’s all i want…


    gf1 meelega!

    great shot… where are you?
    yes i will e-mail you…

  • Love the series, Sam. Cant wait to see more of your work!

  • SAM

    I know exactly how you feel. I started in newspapers but then because I was young and so enamored with the idea of shooting sports, I started a freelance business and became a pretty successful golf photographer. (there is an argument there about whether golf is a sport, but that is another story, LOL)

    Shot professional golf for 15 years. That also became formulaic and I became bored. It was a shitload of fun, but not fulfilling. So I got out, spent a few years rebuilding my portfolio and got back into photojournalism. Obviously not something one does to get rich, but it is what I want to do professionally. And I find it more challenging than chasing Tiger Woods around the golf course.

  • Sam, great family pictures. I love pictures of kids; they are always preferable to the kids themselves. I was going to go on about how Bob writes epic prose poems when captions would do, but I think I’m going to skip that right now. There is an elderly gentleman using a computer not ten feet away from my desk as I type this and as he goes hunting through whatever it is he is hunting through he is farting up a storm and I need to find some fresh air right now. Again, Sam, I like the pics a lot.

  • For those wagering, here is the current score for this thread (including quotes and links)

    BOB BLACK : 1784 words in 3 posts , zero LOL’s used

    PETE MAROVICH : 1740 words in 15 posts , 5 LOL’s used

    They’re neck and neck coming down the stretch but Bob’s run-on sentences might just
    be eclipsed by Pete’s subtle neediness once the race is complete.

  • I love this essay. Would love to hear the daughters’ side of this story, decades down the road, maybe at Sam’s retirement party when they recount what it was like to be lying in a heap on the ground after a bicycle accident, with Dad shooting away like a member of the Bang Bang Club.

    I like the artful casualness here, too. Great stuff!


    and you are now tied with Imants for first place in the funniest comment category on this post…nice work!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Photophilosophers…you do have a sense of humor…!
    hmmm…I got it all wrong…:)

  • PETE

    just read your comment about your family snaps, shooting from the heart etc…we just march to a different drummer amigo….totally different viewpoint…totally….yet, remember Pete i too earn my living as a pro photographer…just shot Rio for NatGeo , clearly a young man’s assignment..yet i value personal work more..matter of fact, Rio IS personal work..from the heart….that’s why they hired me i am sure…..ask them…they sure do NOT hire anyone to do favors believe me.

    this is tough love Pete, but dammit you ask for it i swear:

    at the Richmond Times Dispatch i was exposed to a lot of photographers who thought like Jim Powers and like you…i vowed never never to let that kind of thinking into my head…i loved those old crotchety news guys, but they were just too damned cynical…and their visions of photography and writing did not match mine…i was 22 when i listened to their philosophy…i am still here and still working, BUT the only reason i am still working is that i did not and do not buy into the so called “company line” nor become one of “them”…gave em respect they deserve, but did not buy in…..if i did it their way, the way they prescribed to me, and seemingly your way, for sure i would not have books or assignments or anything at all imo…

    yet, i cannot hit a golf ball straight…tried many times…put out a window or two a the Princess Anne club in va beach…so my hat is off to you for playing the game…golf is about precision and concentration and staying on the fairway… is about teeing off in the wrong direction and having that be exactly the right decision….fore

    cheers, david

  • mtomalty,

    I’m afraid your analysis is seriously flawed. There are 6 LOL’s in Pete’s posts.

    :)) Absolutely brilliant! This essay and comments in general seem to be full of fun!

  • PAUL

    as mine as well…high five

  • “and you are now tied with Imants for first place in the funniest comment category on this post…nice work!!”

    I defer the title to Imants. His ‘observation’ is in a totally different category.
    Mine only required a little perseverance (and going temporary blind counting those tiny white words
    on dark grey background) while his required intellect, a touch of passive aggression, and only 13 words !

  • “I’m afraid your analysis is seriously flawed. There are 6 LOL’s in Pete’s posts.”

    ….and one ‘GRIN’.

    Exposed as a sham in less than an hour !!


    well, i just would not want to choose just now…two different types of comments and both deserving of first place…and your second comment here now, is helping the first one, so got you right up there dude…maybe time to quit while you are ahead?..smiling

    cheers, david

  • ”Passive agression”
    I just love that phrase MTOMALTY, you really have summed up the marvelous Imants. He’s like some Zen master and 99.9% of the time when he posts one of his characteristic comments he’s utterly correct even though it may hurt one’s pride…

  • Sam; Audrey and David McGowan’s work were probably the first essays that really turned me on to look for stories that are right under your nose. I still think Larry Towell’s “The world from my front porch” is one of the most successful at achieving that very goal.

    But I still think that a big (and often overlooked) advantage of the “close to home” story is that the practical logistics of shooting them is easier. It’s easier to sustain them because they don’t cost as much as a story sited further afield (no airfares etc); and you can shoot them more frequently.

    I also think that attempting to find the special out of the “ordinary” or a subject that may be considered mundane is one hell of a challenge to try. And because it is one hell of a challenge, it’s challenging for the photographer. Just my 2c worth! :-)

  • Sam:

    I’m delighted Audrey and you have found each other. I thought of her essay yesterday when your’s first appeared, probably because of the little things that capture your countries culture, like the eucalyptus trees, the Blundstones, the little bird. These are foreign to my geography and culture, and add much colour to my understanding, appreciation, and adoration of your work.

    (Also…you say much when you declare your joy in swimming with like-minded travellers here on Burn; it’s just that I feel Bardou and you are drinking from the same cup!)

    Bob Black:

    If you encounter someone thrusting an irritatingly lit match in your face, there’s no need to back away from it. A little puff will extinguish while holding ground. I’ll show how how in May!


    No need to wander the aisles…Big Sam plays a small arena but lives in a large country. Room for all here!

  • DAH

    Why is it that we never seem to be talking about the same thing. Maybe one of us is not listening?

    I did not play golf. I photographed golf. I did use to play, but that really was a hobby.

    Now just to clarify once again. I do not subscribe to any “company line”, I am self taught and never set foot on a photo-j school campus. I shoot what I like to shoot and I shoot it the way I like to shoot it. (NOW I HAVE THE RECORD FOR USING THE WORD SHOOT IN ONE SENTENCE ON BURN FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO TRULY HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO – and an aside to mtomalty – the firefly photo on your home page rocks!)

    I have never photographed something in any “style” that was anything except my own. I have never edited a story to match a publication’s way of thinking. My work has evolved and is still evolving. But apparently I am a cynical company guy because there are images that do not move me or that I think are banal and lacking content of any meaning to me?

    I would like to put forth that other than Jim and maybe someone I am missing, there are few here that ever disagree with you. People bow down here like everything you say or think comes from the burning bush.

    Well David, you know I don’t always agree with you LOL – (someone count that) and I am happy not to always subscribe to what can really be the BURN company way of thinking. Michael Webster was spot on.

    Also, for the most record, Jim Powers and I are not even close to thinking the same way.

    Now, lets continue this over beers and let people get back to talking about Sam’s work.

    Jeeze Sam… I am sorry to hijack your essay.

    Now everyone sing along….” why can’t we be friends, why can’t we be friends……..


    i think i owe you a MASSIVE THANK YOU, you match maker you! please e-mail me so i can write to you.
    when i get my self-published book finished (very soon now) i will send you a copy :))

    thanks for thinking of me.

    namaste gee, welcome to burn… and thanks!

    “I love pictures of kids; they are always preferable to the kids themselves” Laughing – especially on the school holidays : ))

    thank you… your comment here is very much appreciated. please let me put the record straight though…
    i was pushing Yali on her bike, camera slung over my shoulder… she fell and as i reached forward to pick her up, a brief pause, for about 125th of a second, ‘click’ and that was it, all in one motion ;)

    yes and no…i think that when you go on assignment, you go into a certain headspace, focused, intention… your on a mission… you can live like that for as long as your on assignment, however at home you can’t always be on a mission, in fact even when you want to be, others have different plans for your time : )) and usually something special seems to happen whenever it’s my turn to do the washing up, or cook dinner or i’m working on the computer… or gardening in my veggie patch… for me, shooting at home is a much slower process…

    i’m also very glad to have made contact with audrey. i love her work. now i have to make a tuff choice and pick one of her images for my wall ;))
    thanks for your insight, it’s always very interesting and helpful to hear what people think, which images talk to them most and why, so thanks! glad you like em…

  • There has to be a Burn2 if DAH does leave in June – I’m just getting to know all the family characters around here…(so not gonna say who is the grumpy grandpa tho…)

  • “namaste” in greek translates :”here we are”…and its not necessarily a Great Alexander’s quote but its “greek enough” for me..;)
    (of course Imants disagrees and he will insist its macedonian or something;)
    welcome home Imants;)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    SAMMY…check your e-mail…you will give me the book when I see you…
    I travel light:))))))))))))

    namaste pali=here we are again!!!

    Focus my BURNIANS,focus…and yes,as PAUL says ” PARTYYYYYYYYYYYY”
    antifasis…I don’t think so.

    P.S JEFF…to the wanderers and beyond !!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    and to all of you…YOU will give me your books when I see you…
    I do travel “light”…oime

    back to SAMMY…

  • As a non-photographer I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this essay. I love the warmth and honesty and presence these pictures have. David Perlov would LOVE them! I’m sure the exhibition in Sydney will be a big success. I only wish that there will be something someday soon in these British Isles that I can get to! Very much looking forward to your continuing work, I’ve been enjoying it for some time now. You’re an inspiration to me as well – so, carry on! To think that it all started in the window at Peanuts one winter…

  • PETE..

    my apology for thinking and mis-reading that you photographed golf and did not play golf…my mistake…

    whether someone here agrees with me or not is not the point…and has nothing to do with outside friendships etc…my best friends and i disagree completely on many issues…we are still that is a given…

    there is no “Burn line” of thinking other than the fact that as with any editor of any magazine there will be a point of view when asked for…you asked about this essay…..but i seriously and honestly try to present many photographic points of view…i publish work here that is not my personal way of working at all…and there is zero motive or gain of any kind one way or the other to promote one kind of work over another…you see anybody sponsoring this site? you see a dark deep motive to promote a certain kind of seeing? hell, i just want “seeing”…any kind of “seeing”.

    i am simply trying to look at photography today…as it is….as an aside, but related, did i try to make you into something other than Pete Marovich in my class? did i tell you how to shoot or how to think? did i try to make you shoot color or b&w or with an iPhone or not an iPhone or portraits, or out of focus, or sharp, or anything at all that would resemble a push in one direction or the other EXCEPT to get you to think about YOUR POINT OF VIEW??…..WITH PICTURES, WITH PICTURES

    you even said in one of your comments right on this thread ” dah i was just trying to jerk you around”..i think that is the whole thing with you Pete……my role as either a mentor or teacher or editor is only to bring out the best in others…if i did not give my opinion at all then i would not be very responsible….or what would be the point of comments?

    fact is Pete, i take a lot of time to try to communicate with you and others here on Burn…i honestly do not have time to do this….to get a letter like yours will only make me not do this at all..why would i? a waste of time is the first thing i think…better to go just do my own thing…lots going on..lots positive going on…no time to play the negative side of life…sorry.

    by the way, we did not hijack Sam’s essay…this is why we are key off of essays presented…Sam well knows what i think of his work , he has a good sense of what everyone thinks, and he will move on to his next project…

    just put something on the table Pete…show us…kill us..make us weep…make us laugh…but just do it for heavens sake …with pictures!!!

    cheers, david


    a Burn 02 in print has been in the works for awhile…different look, different format, different designer, as was always my plan…each issue will look totally different from the other…and each edition will be a limited edition…..

    for example, now there are no more Burn 01….whoever has one, has a unique item…this is the way we will publish in print always…limited so that there is added value…

    online is for looking, print is for keeping…

    by the way, we hoped to have Burn 02 ready by Look3 fest , but it might be later…like a fine wine, it takes time and care…

    cheers, david


    No worries. If we all agreed this would be boring an there would be nothing to talk about.

    “you asked about this essay” – actually I didn’t. I said I liked the images but as a story it did not move me. The rest was a bunch of nonsense about long posts by Bob Black. I think that was where the essay got hijacked.

    “just put something on the table Pete…show us…kill us..make us weep…make us laugh…but just do it for heavens sake …with pictures!!!”

    Did that, many times…. not a problem. We are good.

  • Shoot, to shoot a koala in a parachute munching on a eucalyptus shoot the way you want to shoot it [the koala, not the shoot of eucalyptus, although there are times, I suppose, that you might want to shoot a koala eating a eucalyptus shoot with something more lethal than a Nikon, especially after this koala that has spent the day munching on one eucalyptus shoot after another shits all those shoots all over your shoes] is hard enough, but to shoot the koala in a parachute eating a eucalyptus shoot as it shits those shoots on your shiny new shoes the way some shoot-ignorant editor wants you to shoot this parachuting shitting shoot-eating koala is just too damn hard to do, and so you’re just better off telling the editor to go shoot himself.

    No, I dont have anything better to do.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Can I sing now…?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    oups,don’t shoot me…wrong aisle:)

  • ALL..

    more important musings…i just posted elsewhere Mike Brown just wrote me and “happy to be alive”…blood transfusion yesterday…all ok in relative terms…




    keep the fire going…i am going to take pictures…

  • DAH – Um, I meant I hope there’s a continuation of this site/the community on it if you do leave in June, as you said in another post. But I’m looking forward to Burn 02 as well!

    Glad to hear the news about Mike Brown, my best wishes go out to him.

  • AKAKY – genius. Lenny Bruce genius.

  • SAM,

    Fantastic work, a bit late to the thread here as I was away this weekend…taking family pictures…

    This is an inspiration and it’s pretty much what I’ve been shooting for the past two years – my son Felix since his birth (see the singles shot here on BURN). Now how to make that into an (ongoing) essay is the HARD part because one does need to find the sheer beauty along with the universal truths in it to move “beyond” and many of the most important moments can be overtly obvious and cliched (some things just are what they are) and/or extremely subtle. And if you are anything like me you’ve taken thousands (upon thousands – thank you digital!). I am finding it gets funner as his world expands – your images make me long for an age that’s still years off for Felix, and long gone for me (and not easily remembered). Will be interesting when our children are older to see what they think of their extensive documentation compared to our (well at least mine) parents skimpier telling of our lives.

    Best of luck to you and your family, and once again thanks to DAH for presenting photography in all of it’s various messy facets.

  • Been reading a bit around the comments.. I see some can make no connection, the cause seems that they have no kids.. ok.. but.. we ALL have been kids one time or another, all here except for Vissaria who is still in the middle of it.. isn’t that enough to connect?

    Besides that, must we really have been in a situation to be able to relate, to connect? I don’t think that having no children is the problem with this, in this case..

  • Hi Eva :)) !!

    Yes, exactly well said!
    Write to you a little later, I’ve been and I am very busy :)))!!!

    Off to rehab and carrying my camera with out of date film…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I am looking everywhere for woods…and with help from my BURNIANS
    and the whole Universe…we are building fires .Voila,we are all set…

    I am singing now…
    Woods on fire…dancing with SAMMY’S postcards !!!

    friends just left ftom civi’s house.I am out of everything:)…therefore food and wine on YOU
    hmmm…all of you cause I am MASSSSS and I eat a lot and I drink a lot,etcetera,etcetera…

  • EVA – excellent post! I’ve never been in a war-torn country, nor needed to live in a motel, nor been a drug addict, nor a million other things I’ve seen in images I’ve connected with.

  • ratio of those that talk about work to those that do the work :o)

    i’ve said too much..

    gone ..

  • a civilian-mass audience

    BURN CREW…I know you are busy BUT it seems that “paper aisle” is on fire…
    I guess…we can all stay here for the night…

  • CIVI CIVI CIVI!!! Greek lessons, right here, right now, at my home, teacher is called Elpiniki!!!

  • Just been announced – Jim Goldberg has been awarded this year’s Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2011. Congratulations Jim!

  • Ops.. sorry, Sam, wrong aisle.. (copyright for this goes to Civi)..


    cheers… i appreciate your comment very much.

    yes, as they get older i think it becomes much more interesting. i have been photographing Uma and Yali, since birth and especially so since leaving london to travel when Uma was not yet 3. it’s difficult as you say ‘the most important moments can be overtly obvious and cliched’. thats the biggest challenge for me, that and a repetitive environment… the ratio is slim because of that… i always feel like i’ve run out of possible shots… until the next new one comes along : )) (moving house would help freshen things up too) so, yes it’s a continuous challenge…

    all the best to you, i look forward to seeing your series with Felix


    time giver! whenever i’m in india time seems to have a different value, elastic…

  • Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2011
    If I EVER present anything like may cut off my fucking thumbs.
    And NO! I do not give a shit what your take on this is…or who you are.
    Framers intent…that means you too.

  • If you are not willing to have the courage of your convictions…..DONT HAVE CONVICTIONS..have opinions.

  • Whoa, john g, what’s up?

  • DAH, Anton, I like having all comments on the same page, but I can barely even access Hot or not anymore, and my computer locked up when I tried to post on it. Burn has been loading veerryy slowly for a few weeks now.

  • Thanks Michael K. Still not getting it. I live way deep in the woods.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    Goodmorning BURNIANS…

    EVA…ΕΛΠΙΝΙΚΗ(her nameday is on 1st of September)…you are in good hands.
    tell her : kali mou daskala,filia from Grecolandia=my dear teacher kisses from greece;
    me agapi= with love !!!

    IMANTS…we follow you! share some beers and farts with SAMMY when you two meet;)

    GORDON…please,bring some woods…MR.HARVEY said to keep the fire going…hmmm…
    BUT my connection is slow… like a snail on my door;)

    and as JOHNG says…convictions ~ I LOVE YOU ALLLLLLLLLLL

    Keep Shooting…I am gonna BURN this place down…where can I find a Xylopolist…any ideas?hmmm

  • Civi.. fraula, piato, macheri, piruni.. I think.. only words I still remember this morning.. I must write everything down, but with my scribbling, not with your hieroglyphics.. too much for my old brain!!

    Paul, wanted to ask, how did the shooting go?

    Feels wrong to write here though..

  • a civilian-mass audience

    EVA(WOWWW)…you are a fast learner!

    we are at SAMMY’S place…
    Postcards from home…home is wherever your heart is …
    hmmm…since my heart is Here and There…I am not gonna BURN this place down…afterall:)))

  • Eva…
    Feels odd writing here but I can’t open paper is hot on mobile so my appologies to Sam and his family :))…
    Well everything that could go wrong went wrong…bu i suspected this would happen but anyway here’s the list of cock-ups it’s amazing my persistantce in keeping on that night…
    My brother-in-law lent me his automatic car no buses working at 2:00am, so i drove into city and spent exactly 1 hour and 15 mins looking for a car space, remember i used to drive a van round this city so i know EVERY parking trick there…but nothing so i had to park on the outskirts of town…and it usually takes 10 mins on a bad day to find a car space :)
    I was now at least an hour late with 40 min walk with one crutch I haven’t walked with one crutch in the last 18 months for more than 15 mins per day…
    So i was slightly worried and nervous, luckily equipment wise i went with one camera one lens and one flash so really light…
    I finally arrived in Pain big PAINand it’s 7:00 pm and this was meant to last till round 2:00am!!!
    So anyway I started shooting but pain was bad bad so I did an MW and got 2 cans of beer and decided to relax…
    And i did relax but pain was always a constant reminder and i shot with my 1dsII in one hand of camera flash in the other.
    Well the actual celebration /procession was very subdued too much, nothing like what i linked here for Jeff. So it was very difficult to get anything outstanding…so i concentrated on the fringes and the mood…and kept on till the end
    but i must admit i havent looked yet at the images…and then the walk back to the car was pathetic but fuck the foot i never give up

  • a civilian-mass audience

    “He is able who thinks he is able.”

    to PAUL …”I never give up” !!! GO BURNIANS,GO BURN…we never give up…
    easy for me to say…I have olive oil,chickens and wine…civilian’s home is ready for more people!!!


  • Paul… OUCH! Next time, take a cab!! You do have them over there, yes? Let the pics sit.. and there’s the next event coming up soon.. and then another, and another..

    Civi, how comes I can’t find a V in your alphabet?? ευχαριστώ :)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    EVA ,your name is Εὐα,EYA…
    got to blame the Ancient Greeks for this digraph,double vowels “ευ/EY”
    hiii…V…we don’t have V…cause we lost our Vision…:)
    BUT we use B instead…or sometimes the double ευ

    P.S…we have a small v…which is our N…Nἰκη!
    παρακαλὠ;) oime

  • a civilian-mass audience


    ΥΑLI = YAΛΙ …means glass


    VIVA = BIBA…etcetera…:)))

  • Eva…
    The problem was the streets were cutoff for the Easter Procession so no Taxis. Oh and Taxi fare home is the same as a good photobook …just ordered Anders Petersens ”Cafe Leimitz”. Enjoying ”Half life” a lot… Hoping to print your photo sometime this week if kids on holiday, rehab and domestic chores let me.

  • Paul, I’m sorry to read about your disappointments, especially after you did the yeoman’s work in terms of prep, planning…and parking. It was a similar situation for me; my take on the 12 Stations turned out to be banal and derivative. For me, the only consolation was the realization that my efforts were banal and derivative…

    Putting it in context with Sam’s essay, the idea of photographing events in one’s backyard is an enriching experience. It doesn’t contain the romance or excitement of shooting new stuff in a foreign setting – or working a fresh happening for the first time. What happens in our everyday world changes just as much in front of our eyes as much as putting ourselves in a different environment. Unfortunately for you and me, there was no dead rabbit at hand, or in hand.

    Marc Davidson, Bob Black:

    The Cherry blossoms in High Park are expected to peak this weekend. I’ll try to get there for Saturday; perhaps we’ll bump into each other.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    BURN CREW…ANTON,HAIK,ANNA-MARIE…give me more names…
    THANK YOU …THANK YOU…it’s working…
    you are one photo…you are 1000 words!!!
    MR.HARVEY…keep shooting…the BURN is BURNING…

    LOVEEEEEEEE…and credit where credit is due …

    SAMMY…SAM HARRIS…thank you for opening your home…now,I am going back to my aisle…!!!But always your civi:)

    Keep BURNING…keep shooting…MASSIVE love !!!
    I am the happiest civilian

  • SAM,

    Okay, gotta get Felix’s shoes and jacket on soon and off to daycare. It’s those struggles that are mundane but terribly real that are the most difficult to record, esp as one always seems to be in the middle of it. And you are so right about the repetitive nature – at least I feel I’m keeping in practice with the M9 between real assignments even if the actual pics are only for my (and family’s) ingestion.

    But I think Eva’s point is the most poignant one yet – let us never forget in our dealings with the world and other beings that we were ALL children at one time – vulnerable, curious, sad, happy, naive, independent, needy, and so on. I liken Felix at two to a drunken sailor – sprawled on the floor crying for Mama one minute and singing shanties the next. It’s that unshackled being that I love and fascinates….

    Yes, a change in space would help the interest level of the photos! :) Especially a change to a land of sunshine! No such thing here in Seattle….



  • a civilian-mass audience

    CHARLES…you have SUNSHINE…look mate…
    can you see? it’s in your home…;)

    yes,EVA…got it right…that’s why I love our BURNIAN LADIES …!

    back to SAMMY…

  • Yes, of course you are right CIVI!! :):) And now, as a bonus, it’s even coming through the windows!

  • GLADDY – not sure what you meant with the comment directed at me? Jim won the DB and I was just sharing the news and congratulating him on it. The DB matters little to me personally – not only would I never be in the running for it, I’m also pretty bored by it. Still, the cash must come in handy for Jim so, in that sense, it was a good prize for him.

    CIVI – watch out – I’m planning a London trip for soonish! ;-P

  • Paul,

    I am very sorry that things did not work out for your Easter shoot. I greatly admire your persistence and determination! (plus, beer is good medicine :-)

  • Framers. no not directed at you. or mr goldberg.

  • I read all what has been written. After so many comments and opinions it s difficult to add anything new. I can only say this is a great work, full of emotion. Me and my wife have no kids but this kind of photos really gave us a joyful time. Bravo Sam !
    PS And as amateur photographer a lot to learn, as very oft on Burn!

  • the rules say nothing about eliminating previously exhibited/published work..we only ask if shown elsewhere for our own information/education , but at no point do we infer that it would be excluded from consideration…many works entered and shown have been previously published or exhibited…

  • David… are you referring to my blog post?
    if so, i think there is a misunderstanding. i was talking about the rules of the Olive Cotton Award which does not permit previously exhibited images.

    cheers, sam

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.