Monthly Archive for January, 2012

Teresa Cos – I Was There – Observations on “The Society of The Spectacle”

Teresa Cos

I Was There – Observations on “The Society of The Spectacle”

“I Was There” is the first chapter of a long term (lifetime) project which explores western society and its obsession with success. I started by depicting the worlds of art, fashion and culture, where anxiety and struggle for success, together with the desperate need for recognition and approval are ubiquitous; where people live with the constant fear of being considered losers. The images have been taken in 2010 at Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice Film Festival, Milan and London Fashion Weeks, Frieze Art Fair in London and Paris Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC).

I chose these events because they are globalised examples of a bubble (for instance the art industry) that is on the verge of explosion. As wrote Jean Baudrillard: When one looks at the emptiness of current art, the only question is how much such a machine can continue to function in the absence of any new energy, in an atmosphere of critical disillusionment and commercial frenzy, and with all the players totally indifferent? If it can continue, how long will this illusionism last? A hundred years, two hundred? This society is like a vessel whose edges move ever wider apart, and in which the water never comes to the boil.

If one substitutes current art with current society the equation doesn’t really change, does it? And who are these indifferent players, if not us? I want to keep on exploring and understanding photographically the Hyper reality created by consumerism, where people aspirations are dangerously confused with the models of living that the society of the spectacle is constantly selling us and where need has become desire and admiration envy.

To me, it is fundamentally important to understand these social dynamics because, by creating the idea that through a selfish individualism everybody can finally reach extreme forms of wealth and success, one drastically contributes to the social and economic disparities in this world.




I was born and grew up in a small town called Latisana, in the North East of Italy, a one hour drive from Venice, where I ended up living for six years as an architecture student. It is thanks to architecture that I discovered photography, because it taught me to look at the world through different eyes.

After graduating in 2008, I was in the Italian team of architects and urbanists in the international table of consultation wanted by the French government to produce ideas for the future of Paris. I lived for seven months in the suburbs of the French capital, producing my first important body of work, Banlieue 08/09, that allowed me to be accepted last year onto the Photojournalism & Documentary Photography MA program at London College of Communication, where I graduated with Distinction.

I live and work in London and I am also part of the photography collective Five Eleven Ninety Nine.


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Teresa Cos

Collective Five Eleven Ninety Nine


Sydney Photo Fest

We are working around the clock to make this happen. This being an exhibit of the recently photographed ONE NIGHT IN RIO and the book/portfolio to launch simultaneous.  I will probably be here in my NY loft night and day for three weeks . Sequencing, choosing paper stock, size, interplay between photos etc etc.

The RIO book/portfolio is going to be unique. Unbound, unfettered, interactive. The limited edition will have an archival print and comes in a hand crafted box made in Rio. Finely printed by the best in Italy. For those of you interested in the special edition of this  book please contact me directly:

If you are anywhere near Australia in May or have been thinking of an Australia adventure, now is the time. The HeadOn Photo Festival is going to be buzzing. There are  many great exhibitions including a very special exhibition of BURN 02. Our very own Imants Krummins is going to be mounting a small exhibition of his students in Sydney. I will be doing a one week photo essay class at Bondi Beach. Anyway, check it all out. We will keep you updated on additions to this program.


Yurian Quintanas Nobel – Grabarka

Yurian Quintanas


Every year on the 19th of August, thousands of Orthodox Catholics moved by faith flock to the holy mountain of Grabarka in Poland to celebrate the Transfiguration. Many of them go by foot or on their knees, many carry the traditional orthodox cross for many miles as a sacrifice to God. On their arrival the pilgrims place their crosses into the ground and start to pray. They continue their prayers throughout the entire night, hoping to achieve health for themselves and their kin, and salvation for their dead ancestors.

The Holy Mount of Grabarka, also known as ‘The mountain of the 6000 crosses,’ is the largest center of worship for the Orthodox community in Poland. The story goes that in the 18th century, a man suffering from cholera had a dream, put a cross on top of the mountain and miraculously healed. From that day people have carried crosses to the sanctuary, and year after year the mountain has been filled with thousands of pilgrims. Grabarka is a place full of mysticism and spirituality; a sacred place that serves its devotees as a link between the world of the living and the dead.



The concept of death as an end or a transition, the idea of immortality and the belief in an afterlife, appear in one form or another in practically all societies and moments of history. Death is a daily fact, implicit to life and one of the only certainties of humanity. However, the idea of death remains remote and elusive to the majority of people; just the mention of it is considered taboo. It is basically conceived as a personal failure, causing its presence to fill us with fear. We feel pain and suffering because we don’t know how to deal with it, and aren’t prepared to accept its imminence. There arrives religion- the myths, and the different beliefs which generate hope in the human being when facing this great mystery of life: death.




Yurian Quintanas Nobel was born in Amsterdam in 1983, but has lived all his life in Banyoles (Spain). He studied photography in 2007 at IDEP SCHOOL, Barcelona. Yurian has worked on his own projects, which are still in their formative stages. Gradually he is becoming more interested in stories away from the daily news and more related to his own life experience. Over the past four years, Yurian has won several prizes and was awarded scholarships to “XIII International photojournalism meeting of Gijon” and the Magnum Photo Workshop scholarship with Chien-Chi Chang.


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Yurian Quintanas Nobel


Smoke Break

Hanging. Supposed to be writing a piece for NatGeo on what goes on beyond this porch in OBX.  Yet this is about as far as I can get into the world of writing. Posting on Burn, which I doubt is considered writing. Chris Bickford and Jennifer Kolb take a smoke break after our pizza and beer. The sun flies through the sky down here. No sooner do I get up, than it is so quickly afternoon. That is just the way it is.

Charlotte Tanguy – Nyx

Charlotte Tanguy


In St-Petersburg, pollen comes out of poplars that were massively planted there after the second World War, in order to fill the holes in the city. Because so many of them were planted, and the pollen started to pollute the city, people became allergic to these pollen.



In St-Petersburg, I met Lielia during these so-called “white nights”, 21st of June 2010. I saw her walking through a cloud of white dots, pollen. She refused to be photographed, but took me to her home anyway. She showed me a cut out photograph of her son Anton, a journalist who got killed in St-Petersburg in 2000.

Her dog, a dalmatian, was jumping on me.

This project is about hopelessly trying to own absence… a walk with no beginning and no end through St-Petersburg, haunted by Anton’s photograph.

I came back to see Lielia in St-Petersburg in February, and will go there next time in June.




Born in 1979 in Lyon, France. Based in Paris.
Graduated from Ecole Nationale des Arts decoratifs de Paris (ENSAD) in 2004, started photography in 2008, and joined Agence Vu’ in January 2011.


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Charlotte Tanguy


This week we have been exploring the first in an upcoming series on our biz decision makers and the process of getting published . There are many ways of course, but seems best if I take you into my real world of publishing right now. Not to say “this is the way”. Merely to show you this is one way. Simply  an example of a certain kind of creativity. Not the only kind. Just one kind.

Anyway I have taken you with me where I was going anyway. To NatGeo where I had a story coming up for approval. So I had a conversation with NatGeo Editor Chris Johns, and later with Creative Director Bill Marr and yesterday with Senior Photo Editor Sarah Leen. I hope I got all those titles right!! Today Chris approved the layout that Bill, Sarah, and I had been working on all weekend. Nothing is real in my world til my mother has a copy on her coffee table. Yet things look good and things look as above so for those readers who voted for the lead picture, the fish won!! Yet neither the  wave shot  nor the surfboard picture “lost” for they conclude the piece which  makes it more poignant I think.

Yes, I am telling you that the readers of Burn actually had the ears of the editors of NatGeo. For real. How much influence? I will never tell, but you did matter. Anyway, for whatever it is worth , nothing like this ever happened before. NatGeo doing exclusives on another site? Burn Magazine? Not even on their own NatGeo site. So honestly we are honored.

This OBX essay is a very straightforward little slice of old fashioned Americana. Very uncomplicated unobtrusive photos. Probably a fantasy. All documentary photography, yet still a sort of  fantasy for me personally. This is NOT a photo essay of the whole outer banks of North Carolina. These pictures were taken just off my front porch. Almost literally. All of these pictures are no more than a 30 minute bike ride from my front door. One even taken FROM my front door!! How cool is that?

I think the appeal for NatGeo readers for a personal story is just that even for me it is interesting, having traveled all over the world with my camera as a brush or pen, that I came back to where I started. Honestly, I could literally live anywhere in the world I choose. I have looked at the menu. I have been to some of the very best countries and cities and places much “better” than OBX. Yet home just pulls. More than all of the other forces. I guess it’s the smells and specific bird songs and the wind and the ever dominant dangerous and peaceful sea.  Right now I look out now on a windy cold rainy miserable day. Seems perfect.

This picture above was just taken on my iPhone with lighting assistance from my friends Frank and Dawn (who were previous Comic Book characters, remember?)..Yes, I have left Washington and am at home. OBX. I am supposed to be writing the story to be integrated with the picture spreads above . Yet what am I doing?  Yup, avoiding writing. Yes,  drinking beer with my friends, sitting by the fire, and posting here on Burn. Is this just getting me in the mood?

See the problem?

dah at home working on OBX text ….photograph by Frank Overton Brown III

Grogan Diarmait – New Way Home

Grogan Diarmait

New Way Home

‘New Way Home’ incorporates autobiographical elements into a non-linear narrative on longing, loss, joy, intimacy and vulnerability. The result is a subjective reflection on the human condition. Disparate experiences coalesce in a body of work that is ultimately concerned less with an external reality than with highlighting ‘fragmentary moments of interior significance’.

As individuals we have this desire to relate everything to ourselves.  I’m always looking for new images to replace the ones I’ve already made, to express the same feelings more succinctly or more accurately. This is why there is a certain anxiety present in my work, alongside a sense of melancholy. Perhaps it’s about my own fear of disappearance. The camera is an extension of my longing, a yearning for associations, for meaning and for stability in the face of mortality. But the images are made with the understanding that any such stability is a phantasm. Any truths expressed in the work are always partial and contingent.

Authenticity is what I’m striving for. I only want to work in a territory that I’m intimately familiar with. The raw material of the work is natural, but as soon as an image is made it becomes a kind of fiction. I find that tension between truth and fiction, objectivity and subjectivity, to be endlessly fascinating.




Diarmait Grogan was born in Ireland in 1983. He studied photography in the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire, graduating with first class honors in 2008. His work has been exhibited internationally, including an exhibition as part of the ‘Exposure’ program of Format09 International Photography Festival in Derby, UK. He recently presented his first solo show in his home city of Dublin.


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Diarmait Grogan




Sarah Leen, Senior Photo Editor, has been the Magazine editor most involved with this story. She has been shepherding this story since day one. Sarah was a working photographer for 26 years with over 15 stories published in NG prior to evolving  into an editorial role. So she knows whats up.

A question in comments here from Sam Harris prompted this answer from Sarah

Thanks everyone for all your incredibly intelligent and thoughtful comments. This has been not only lots of fun but a real education for us in so many ways and we at NGM truly appreciate your participation in our first effort to open up our story process to the larger photographic community.
I will try to answer some of your questions (and yes Sidney I did work with John Stanmeyer on the Malaria story we did a few years ago. Thanks for remembering that one!)

Sam, the process in general goes something like this. A new story idea comes in from a photographer, writer or someone on the staff. It gets reviewed by an Executive Team of Editors, including our fearless leader Chris Johns (see David’s interview in an earlier post.) Once the idea has been approved it goes to the story team that has a Photo Editor, a Text Editor, a Designer and maps, graphics and research staff. And of course the photographer and writer.
Then the photographer and I do more research into the idea and make a plan for how to cover it photographically and also rough out a budget. (We collaborate with the assigned writer and text editor on the overall direction of the piece from the beginning.) Then we have what we call a “pitch meeting” where the story team presents our plans to Chris and his Executive Team. At the pitch we get feedback on our plans and hopefully the greenlight to proceed. If its a yes we submit the budget, get that approved and away we go.

In the field I communicate with the photographer as needed. Some photographers like alot of communication, send in jpgs for feedback, lots of back and forth, others are lone wolves and you have to go looking for them. The photographer sends in ALL images to the Photo Editor at the completion of each trip, and in RAW form if its digital. (This can be thousands of frames.) I do look at every frame. The photographer also does their own edit which I combine with mine. We value and want their input at every stage. Its a real partnership and one of the things I most loved about working here as a photographer.

Once I have gone through all the images and have a rough edit the photographer and I will often continue to edit together using some screen sharing program to get it down even further. Sometimes we edit the whole story this way especially if they live abroad. If they are more local we bring them in to finish the edit and create what we call either the Halfway Show or the Final Show, depending on length of story, how many trips, etc.
The Shows are presented to the Executive Team and story team. If its a Halfway we discuss how we plan to continue and finish, what’s missing, etc. Also get feedback from the team and find out from the Editor if we are delivering the story he wants. If its a Final we generally proceed to layout and start the process you have just been witnessing.

The layout process is the culmination of months of effort and can be so much fun but also heartache as you have to make tough decisions about what stays or goes. And there are only so many pages to play with. Also there are different ways you could put it together and it would look good. Then we present the layout to the Editor and team. That will happen tomorrow afternoon with OBX. Chris can then approve it as is or want some changes. He may see images we left out he wants back in or a different lead or ending. I value these meetings and hope new ideas bubble up and we can make it even better than it already is.

David’s OBX is a bit unique as it’s more of a personal essay about OBX than a reportage about the Banks. Its personal yet it still reflects OBX to anyone who knows the place. I myself have waffled back and forth about what should be the lead. But I always try to make decisions from a place somewhere in the center of my body that responds almost physically to an image I like. I use my brain to keep me on track journalistically but I try trust my heart and guts about the photography.

Sorry this has been so long but I hope I have answered your questions in general. And thanks again for participating. Once Chris decides on the lead we will let you all know. Then you will just have to wait till June to see the whole story!!


We are showing you now the “next step” ..Three versions of three opening spreads. You can see just by moving things around a bit, it changes the whole mood and feel. We are not going to show you any deeper into the story, because we want to still surprise you a bit in June when the story is published.   We also need to surprise the Editor Chris Johns when he will either approve or have his own ideas on what direction we should take. There is no free lunch. These are the layout challenges of print. Picture choice and sequence needing to fit into an 18 page slot in the Magazine. Of course, simultaneous with the NatGeo Magazine publication of this essay will be an all inclusive version for your iPad.

Next week we will let you know which opening Chris chose.

I will find out when you do. Right now, I am getting on my horse and riding out of town. Down to my OBX front porch. To write the text for this piece, and to just enjoy my favorite spot on the planet.


I am NOW in the layout room of National Geographic Magazine. We are making decisions on which pictures will be included in my Outer Banks article coming up in June. You are going to help. You are going to help us pick the lead/opening shot . We are going to give you three choices. Pick one. Stay tuned. Next picture up with the three choices will be coming very soon.

Pictured here is Bill Marr, Creative Director, who is taking his weekend time along with Senior Photo Editor Sarah Leen to take this from a collection of pictures, to a publishable essay for Nat Geo.

The 3 photos with OBX type up at the top are what we are thinking for the opening shot. Which one of the 3 would you pick?

Young Blood

I am shooting w my phone at lunch. Now.For those of you out there who want to know who is getting those projects and assignments that many think are impossible to secure from top media companies. Well here they are: Kitra , 23, who just did the remarkable essay The Teenage Brain for NATGEO and Cory Richards, 22, who produced the high adventure film “Cold” , Sender Films .. These are the young stars . First go look at their work.. Then ask them how they did it .. Right here , right now here on Burn.