Monthly Archive for April, 2009

michael francis mcelroy – beating



















Beating  by  Michael Francis McElroy


Ft Lauderdale, Florida .This unidentified man was attacked and beaten by 2  youths in broad daylight. Teen violence is a serious and rapidly growing problem in America. From the horrible incident at Columbine, Colorado, to the everyday incidents of youth violence, it is apparent that the problem is growing not shrinking. There are, according to most studies, several possible contributing factors which lead young people to violent behavior. One problem facing children growing up in America is today’s media bombardment. Children growing up in today’s media are learning all the wrong things at all the wrong times.

(editors note:  this is a straight un-posed photograph of an actual event as so described    -david alan harvey)


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Michael Francis McElroy


nathaniel ward – bullet catcher

"Sargent says I'm going to grow up and be a bullet catcher.", Ca


Bullet Catcher by Nathaniel Ward

“Sargent says I’m going to grow up and be a bullet catcher.”, Cadets, Mt. Sterling High School ROTC, Mt. Sterling, KY

I encountered two teenage ROTC cadets in Mt Sterling, Kentucky this fall. After I photographed them, they asked to see a copy of the shot. Holding the Polaroid proof, the boys dropped their stoic expressions and began to relay their stories. One would ship out three months after graduation as a tank gunner and the other joked he would grow up to be a bullet catcher. The Bullet Catcher said his mom didn’t care because the last time he saw her, he was eight and she was outrunning the police on drug and assault charges. While he had tremendous pride in public service, the Bullet Catcher’s pride was wrapped up in the devaluation of his existence. He was acutely aware of his history and environment but seemingly held no anger over a dearth of opportunity or a surplus of hardship. He was a child and yet he denied, in that moment, the entitlement of American youth. Resigned to the facts of his past, he was goofing on the promise of his future while doing everything in his power to make a better life.


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Nathaniel Ward


on a roll….

three days ago i moved most of my belongings out of “the Kibbutz’, my New York home for the last four years….certainly one of THE buildings in NYC among the photography crowd and a few other crowds as well….more than a few iconic photographers live there , along with some internationally known artists of all types..jazz musicians, sculptors, painters, the like…the Kibbutz is an ugly building…..but it has high ceilings and lots of light and a rooftop to die for…nobody doesn’t like the view from my rooftop…the East River takes a hard left northern turn going up right at the point where the Kibbutz sits near the Williamsburg Bridge…so this small piece of geography is a unique  vantage point in New York where you can look all the way down to Wall Street and all the way up to Harlem…yup, the whole island up and down, all in one glance…

the view from my loft is a view that normally only millionaires have in New York…yet i pay little, for the Kibbutz is an unimproved artists loft… there are many writers here on BURN who well know that i live a spartan existence…it is too late in my professional life now for me to make “big money”…for whatever reasons (divorce did not help), i have done everything in my power to avoid ever having too much cash…yet, i have never been out of work…but, i have consistently rejected some commercial work in favor of “doing my own thing”…and, i have not regretted this lifetime decision for one second….i would rather have the pictures than the money…as simple as that…time spent in producing books does not reap financial rewards, nor does all of the personal shooting i do…whatever magazine assignments i have done (40 stories for Natgeo alone), and even the best ad jobs, have all pretty much been tailored in the long run to whatever personal project i was doing at the time…simply put, i worked for the magazines, the magazines worked for me…

well, you may be asking, if this Kibbutz is so damn cool and you love it, why in hell would you move out??? answer: as many of you know, i found an old historic beach cottage down on the Carolina shore that is just, well, just just ME…i had sold my small apartment in Washington which i had owned for 20 yrs….sold it before the financial crises and bought the little beach cottage after the crises…so i was lucky, not smart…so now i own, by luck, my dream house…with the smells and feel of where i grew up and started making my first photographs…the sea, the sea, and the sea…so so sustaining for me my whole life… this house will always need repair….and the old kitchen will probably stay the old kitchen…but the fireplace draws well in winter and the wrap around porch lets you sit outside anytime, and away from wind, because there is always a leeward side…most importantly, this house is very near my two sons, a fathers dream… it fronts a 40,000 acre state park…nobody can ever build in front of me or in back of me…water to left, water to the right, dunes straight ahead…nobody can see me standing on my front porch, even though a tourist area is not far away in reality..yup, t-shirt shops etc are somewhere out there over the dune line…but, never mind, i am in my own little world…as usual…

creating “my own world”  has been my lifelong pursuit…as a kid i played in the dunes not far from here and made prints in my humble darkroom and dreamed of using my camera as a tool for exploration and expression…i refused to let anything interfere with that original dream…it was too powerful a dream to deny….

so, here i am right back where i started…with the same damn dream…it will not go away even if i wanted it to…so yes yes a lot of hard work blah blah blah, but i sure feel just plain old lucky…so lucky that i feel compelled to share with others what i think are the ways to get lucky….to make photography a life, not just a means of technical recording…hence BURN….as i sit in my mostly broken down beach cottage right now, it totally amazes me that i am right this second communicating with so many of you…you are “out there” somewhere just over the dune line…you are not just in my imagination, you are very real…

communicating online was never a dream per could it have been??…that just happened…and after all it is just a part of what i do anyway…BURN is some kind of reflection of my personal life, so it is actually a personal project of sorts, only with your work instead of mine, but it is somehow my work too…so, we are in this together…BURN is just simply what goes on in my loft at the Kibbutz all the time…official workshops yes, but general hang spot for photographers more often than not…as i said, one of THE photo spots in New York…many of you have experienced this first hand at various photo projections and events …and more than a few of you have even slept on my floor (ode to Koudelka)…

ok, back to the point…all my stuff is now out of the Kibbutz…i simply cannot afford to stay there any longer because my primary expense is now the beach house (by the way, the beach place will soon become a place for you to visit…a bit of a trip, but worth it…and i plan to have some limited photo events here as well). anyway, i have just enough money to keep the Kibbutz loft through May…it now sits largely empty…and as i was pulling away from the Kibbutz three days ago, i thought “damn i just cannot let this place go…it is just too too perfect for a NYC space…”

so, the van was packed and it just hit me just as Mike and Tony Skater and i turned on to the highway….my thoughts raced to the obvious…so obvious…..

i thought: why not turn the Kibbutz loft into a BURN gallery for the photographers here??…sell your prints from selected work….

figure out some fair percentage for both of us (galleries usually have a 50/50 split) so that when Tom Hyde sells his tumbleweed photograph for $1000. he keeps half, and BURN keeps half (or whatever we work out)…to pay for the gallery, the office, and Anton, therefore financing BURN and YOU with an infrastructure we already have in place…sell your self published books too…BURN would not be an agency, but BURN could be your agent…there is a difference…and nobody has anything to lose that i can imagine…IF you sell a print, you help yourself, you help Burn…maybe help me to finance shooting some more families for my long term Off  For a Family Drive…i mean, i wanna play too!!

i am soon to be looking for major subsidies for BURN…not advertising…i am talking major support to be able to finance photographers work…the EPF is only the beginning…taking large amounts of funding with minimal strings attached is of course the goal…impossible?? not really…we do it at Magnum with some regularity…

as of last week , i have been charged with helping to develop an online “channel system” for Magnum…Magnet….BURN will become a Magnum channel via Magnet…other Magnum photographers may or may not have their own channel…Magnet can develop its own funding as a larger “brand” and/or BURN can secure its own funding or both… or, perhaps we become a “column” or “channel” on other major sites as well…we are in uncharted waters…this will keep us viable here and help to keep you growing and producing out there just over the dune line…

i will be announcing soonest the new Advisory Board for BURN…an “A” listing of folks respected in our business and who will draw sponsorship and/or donations….i will be announcing soonest the entire list of staff from our audience here…up until last week, i had Anton Kusters and yours truly doing everything…Bob Black has volunteered, at my request, to be Editor at Large (seeking new talent, writing special essays, and well, just being Bob Black)…Kerry Payne has worked hours and hours on a viable business plan (she does that professionally), and Chris Bradley, Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather has volunteered his services outside of his agency, to study the whole “branding” bit…i am talking with several others of you who have expressed interest in helping us with BURN…you know who you are…

all of this sounds a bit daunting, but all of this will allow us to do exactly what we are doing only about 10 times better…right now we are “one dimensional”…i can see much more “depth” with each photographer whose work is presented on BURN….

i will not go into details of what we will do now, but believe me the possibilities are revolutionary…let’s face it, it is time for a revolution…throughout history whenever there has been confusion and floundering (which certainly describes our business/craft now) is exactly when something comes along and changes the “face” of everything…

the large publishing companies, with debilitating overheads, cannot move with stealth in this new economic environment…they have now to fire half their staffs…they have big buildings with big monthly expenses…at BURN we have my humble loft ….and we are in close touch with all of the same photographers that many magazines and agencies now cannot afford to hire…and they have to “over please” their readers so that they can attract a circulation which attracts advertising revenue….hmmmmm.…we could build,  at a fraction of the cost, a better mousetrap…we have low overhead and a circulation that produces itself…

the audience is the action…

to point,  we have YOU….the new breed…the new generation…the next bunch to rip it up…and WE are already gathered…we are not making stuff up here, i am telling you all of this already exists….hmmmmm, so put two and two together…timing, timing, and timing…and Chris Bradley’s concept of “co-opetition” is so true in the online community…we are not competing in the old fashioned sense of it….we will not take one dollar away from the established media companies…..we actually will help them…they will help us…funding is going to be shared by many….we just have to be in the game…

these are ideas anyone can have….so, why would it work for us??  because we already have totally in place a whole combination of things that nobody else has…but even if it does not work, what the hell?? nothing lost at all…forget one possible fear right off…my close attachment to all of you is germane to this whole issue….i ain’t going anywhere…and you know damn well i cannot get rich, because it would blow my whole image…survival sounds attractive however…

ok, well sorry, this was a way too long winded comment…but,i am in full thinking mode, so forgive please…and besides, the whole point of this is that i need your thoughts…but just on the ONE ISSUE, the gallery issue, for the moment…a BURN based gallery to sell your prints (curated shows…say, monthly events to do so)…i can hang 30-40 prints at a time…we can have print storage shelves etc etc…you provide the print or work out a deal with Mike to print for you (Mike has very long list of known photographers for whom he has been their primary gallery printer before he came to work with me)…

as with everything with BURN , we are a community with arbiter…just as in the submissions here for publication on BURN, the EPF (recipient to be announced at Look3) , etc etc. not everyone can participate in everything, but everyone sure as hell has a chance…do exemplary work , and you are “on it”…

again, just one more way to turn our online experience into a reality…

your thoughts???

richard mark dobson – the crest hotel

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Richard Mark Dobson

The Crest Hotel

play this essay


editors note: this is a long essay…but, i think certainly worthy of discussion…stick with it…do not even start to watch this if you do not have a solid 15 minutes at your disposal….. -david alan harvey

I remember the Crest Hotel way back in the 70’s. In fact it was from this hotel that I gathered my first impressions of our newly adopted land, South Africa.

Emigrating here with my parents from England in January 1975, I was 12 years old when we arrived at the door of the Crest after a short cab ride from the austere Jan Smuts airport.

Upon arrival at this comfortable 3 star hotel, a stone’s throw from the bustling boulevards of Hillbrow, I was awestruck by the views from our 12th floor window. Glittering skyscrapers and a zillion apartments surrounded us on all sides; our hotel it seemed was at the epicenter of all this glitz, with its lively terrace and sparkling pool. For the two weeks that we lived in Hillbrow at the Crest while my father sought rented accommodation in the leafier northern suburbs, I gathered impressions of this ‘Americanized’ metropolis, admiring its scale & lofty buildings, sensing its economic presence and buzz, all the while searching out the exotica of black faces to remind myself that I was in Africa after all.

Certainly during those first few weeks while strolling past the café & bakeries and soda pop joints of Pretoria & Kotze streets on balmy summer evenings, I could see clearly that this was the abode and playground for a predominantly white cast. I saw lots of happy white faces! An illusion of blissful living. An illusion of harmony and human equality. Yes this was a place of happy shiny white people, and I, the little white kid who’d just stepped off a plane in Africa from England, was entranced.

32 years later, I return to the Crest. Still entranced but for different reasons. The place has changed, the city has changed, and the country has changed. I’ve changed.

The Crest hotel therefore is my personal attempt to join dots, and answer pertinent questions to my own sense of failed idealism and dislocation. Projected through the presence of others, the Crest after all is where my journey to South Africa began. For many presented here today though, this is where their journey will end, or has ended already. It’s where their relationship with South Africa is coming to an end too, but certainly did not begin.

As an artist/photographer I intend to explore further themes or locations that I hope will allow me to investigate my relationship with this country and my country of birth, England. And how the two sit incongruously side by side within my own psyche. The Crest is where I chose to begin this investigation.


Richard Mark Dobson (Cape Town 20 April 2009).


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Richard Mark Dobson


andrew harrington – amur leopard



Amur Leopard by Andrew Harrington

Amur leopards are the world’s rarest cat. Between 25 and 40 remain in the wild. Can you remember how many kids were in your class at school? Imagine that’s the whole human race, it is not a good place to be. The population has been stable for the last 30 years but the cat photographed here is seriously inbred, his father and grandfather are the same animal. They suffer from the usual problems of poaching and habitat destruction. What started as a drunken chat at a felid conference has turned into one of the biggest privileges of my life (Imagine photographing one of the last Dodos)


Website: Andrew Harrington

mark ovaska – city in mourning

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Mark Ovaska

City In Mourning


On April 3rd, 2009  Jiverly Wong, depressed by economic hardship and aggravated by his poor English language skills, walked into the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y. and opened fire. Within moments 13 victims were dead. As news of the tragedy spread and the victims were identified, the city of Binghamton began to mourn.

For more information on helping the families of victims visit Binghamton’s website here.


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Mark Ovaska

coming home….


Maria Burns is my next door neighbor…literally….and a photographer….and an erstwhile student at the International Center of Photography here in New York….Maria is Swiss and a finer neighbor one could not have…i just took this picture tonight after returning to NYC from the Carolina shore… i was leaving home and coming home at the same time… happens here in the Kibbutz, folks just pop their heads in to say howdy…mighty small town feel the Kibbutz… just as i was trying to edit something for Burn, in walks Maria….

saying that she couldn’t stay long, because she ,”i have to do my homework”….

in any case, what would you do?? yes, damn right, you take a picture….any old picture..right??

now i want at some point in time to photograph Maria seriously for the “You Made Me Leave” book i am doing…this was just a “warm up” picture…a print to give to Maria…..neither of us is “loose enough yet” for the real thing…but, this is part of the process….and i will show you what eventually comes out of it….

by the way, Maria is a professional “hugger” (see YouTube link below)….i think we could all use one….

what is the point of this post???

why am i not announcing the EPF grant finalists?

yes, ok ok , i will announce the EPF finalists soonest…i am not trying to tease, i am just behind…so, my usual plea for patience will i hope not fall on deaf ears….i should be able to announce the finalists to be juried for the EPF by next week…so, that will be my next post under Dialogue….

well, there really is not much point to this post except it is  just in the spirit of “journal” or “diary”…and i have a pretty good photo diary of snapshots  of family and friends as above  from the time i was 13 to just a few minutes ago when i made this photo…and maybe i just wanted some excuse to write tonight and keep it  “light tonight”  on our forum…while our number one preoccupation is viewing the work of some young photographers here on Burn, the phenomenon of Burn is that so many of us have become such good friends in “real life”…our virtual world has become the real world…cool huh?? …and something that none of us know about yet will happen here on BURN and with our community and the work produced…

we are going to have a tiny little notch in photo history….i believe in that kinda stuff….


i think there are few of us who do not feel the magic in full throttle ,thundering down the road….and while there has never been an intent here to create some kind of social site, the BURN crowd exists in reality …. worldwide…many of you reading this know this to be absolute…of course the writers here form a bit of a dysfunctional family…pretty obvious….doors get slammed……arguing  is heard…..yet, the laughter is raucous….life/photoraphy  is talked about in a special way…the best of Burn will make us all proud…..the respect runs deep……everybody sits down for dinner….nobody really leaves home…..

maybe that is the point of this post…maybe i was just trying to say ..welcome home…..

abrazos, david

paul russell – beside the sea

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Paul Russell

Beside The Sea

play this essay


Why the seaside?

Well, I grew up in a little seaside town and spent a lot of time wandering around and around, even in the dead of winter. And now I find myself back in another seaside town, so it’s subject matter I know very well. It’s an interesting location, as the mood and feeling changes from the busy in-season buzz to the quiet out-of-season period. Superimposed on that annual cycle has been a gradual decline in the popularity of the English seaside holiday over the years, with the growth of cheap foreign holidays and budget airlines.

Where were the photos taken?

The pictures were taken at resorts along the English south coast, including Weymouth, Bournemouth, Swanage, Lyme Regis, Brighton, West Bay and somewhere in the English Channel. The bulk were taken over the period 2006–2008. I’m currently unsure if the project is finished or just resting as far as the shooting is concerned.

Do you often talk to yourself?

Erm, next question…


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Music: Derek Pierce, aka ‘beatsystem’ –



sigurd fandango – fast food heroes

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Sigurd Fandango

Fast Food Heroes

play this essay


They may not be paid very well, and the hours might be long. But behind the counters of McDonalds, Rays Pizza and other more anonymous fast food joints I found the workers to have a certain pride in their job.


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Sigurd Fandango


editors note: Norwegian photographer Sigurd, jet-lagged from Oslo, shot two portrait essays during my weekend loft workshop recently…this is one of them….he and five others joined me for my first weekend shooting workshop…it is often very interesting for me to see what some can do in such a short time….each student worked on their own “mini project”…i see value in both the long term essay and the short intense immersion into a subject…i push my students very hard to try to do something that is at least a “beginning”…..a concept they can work on more when they return home…we will see if Sigurd chooses to continue or if this was simply an exercise in his stylistic portraiture….


-david alan harvey

anton kusters – as light shines on thy thigh



As Light Shines on thy Thigh by Anton Kusters


Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo –

Going deeper underground… Walking the streets with Soichiro and his family. Kabukicho is the red light, food & gambling district of Shinjuku, smack in the middle of Tokyo.

We gather at his office, where he shows me the work of Watanabe Katsumi, a japanese street photographer of this particular district who, for about 40 years, barely making a living, sold his street photographs back to his subjects. Amazing stuff.

I’m surprised that somehow he must have taken the time to research this book and lend it to me to look in. We talk about photography, the schedule that lies ahead of us, and the places he and his family are going to take us to. I am impressed what is in store for us. And excited.

Some of the other family members arrive at the office. Everyone is waiting outside, time to go.

I’m definitely aware of the weird mix of feelings while walking the streets at night with them, in ‘their’ burrough. A mix of respect, fear, clueless-ness, anger and admiration from the people, the hustlers, the shopkeepers, the prostitutes, the restaurants, the tourists, the club owners,…

It’s my first night out shooting. We’re on a so-called “go-around”, where the whole family gathers in fine suits to walk the streets collectively, greeting everyone, being greeted by everyone, in effect unmistakably showing everyone that they are, simply, ‘there’.

The message is crystal clear.

Two regular japanese guys walk up to me, smiling and gesturing friendly, apparently wanting to see my pictures.

I see Soichiro in the corner of my eye taking an immediate distance and signaling me, that this is in fact undercover police… The family disperses, like nothing ever happened… Just in time I have the presence of mind to start playing dumb and speak in a way too loud voice “tourist, tourist, picture”…. and I take off in another direction.

They don’t follow me. Close call.

And thus ends the first shoot.


Anton, april 2009

Anton Kusters


About the Essay

Soichiro is the lead character of the story that i’m starting to tell, about a Yakuza family in Japan. After more than 10 months of preparation, my brother and I have been granted access to start a long-term project to document the visible and hidden life of that particular family. All names used in the account above (and previous and future accounts) are fictional.

Here on BURN, i will regularly provide visual and textual accounts of our adventures.

I hope to be able to publish a book on this story.

Previous chapters:
Meet Soichiro