Monthly Archive for January, 2012

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Valentina Riccardi – No Rent

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Valentina Riccardi


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Most of my work happens in Ibiza, Spain, where I decided to live a few years ago to merge and integrate in a community and discover a way of living that was far from what I knew, having grown in a big city, but very close to what I have always aspired to. I didn’t realize that this inspiration would eventually become a huge part of my photographic practice, a photographic story. I started to photograph the people I lived with, to document  the life there. Over time, this became an intimate and personal project.

Ibiza is an island in the Mediterranean Sea where the local people and the hippies merged at the end of the 60’s. At that time, Ibiza became one of the popular places to live “freedom”. What intrigued me is the fact that in the midst of all the corruption (drug dealing, partying and real estate dealing), you can still find people who want to live outside society, self-sufficient, living their lives in a humble way and pursuing other values rather than materialism, emphasizing values like sense of community and harmony with nature and themselves.

Several houses on the island are inhabited by squatters who pay no rent. And if most of the time they are allowed to live there, they don’t have the security you get if the house was private. Most of those houses (sometimes hotels) are ruins that are renovated and inhabited quite normally. I would like to show how those places are transformed and take cared for, show the way the space is used, the way they live in their community, ecologically and very creatively.

No rent, no power, no faucets, and all this by choice. Water comes from a well, the washing machine runs with a pedal mechanism, power is a gift from the sun. Not far from drunken British tourists and disco boys and girls full of Ecstasy, this is a totally different world. It’s Pink Floyd 40 years later, but with a different dream: no more utopia, just life, essential life.

I wish to document people and places that represent this lifestyle and would like to show this minority that decided to leave the struggle of the city, to get closer to the nature.



I was born in Brussels from a Belgo-Italian family in 1987.  I lived in Spain for several years before moving to NY to study at the International Center of Photography. I started to photograph what surrounded me, work with images in familiar situations and document the everyday life.

I am based in Ibiza now, where I plan to pursue this photographic essay. Being my first long term project I plan to dedicate myself fully in this passion, create images. I consider this an amazing journey and know there will be more, because life is a perpetual movement.


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Valentina Riccardi

Chris Johns – Editor, National Geographic Magazine

A CONVERSATION WITH CHRIS JOHNS                                                        FIRST IN A SERIES ON “DECISION MAKERS”

Chris Johns was named editor in chief of National Geographic magazine in January 2005. He is the ninth editor of the magazine since its founding in 1888. His extensive redesign of the magazine and focus on excellence in photojournalism and reporting have revitalized the magazine into a timely, relevant read for people looking for deeper insight into environmental and energy issues, world cultures, science and the natural world.

Johns’ editorial efforts have been recognized with 13 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors in the past five years, most recently for Magazine of the Year and Single-Topic Issue in 2011.

Born in Medford, Ore., Johns began his career in photojournalism when he joined the Topeka Capital-Journal as a staff photographer in 1975; in 1979 he was named National Newspaper Photographer of the Year. In 1983, after three years on the Seattle Times as picture editor and special projects photographer, he embarked on a freelance career and worked for Life, Time and National Geographic magazines.

Johns’ books include “Valley of Life: Africa’s Great Rift” (1991), “Hawaii’s Hidden Treasures” (1993) and “Wild at Heart: Man and Beast in Southern Africa” (2002). He wrote the foreword for “In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits” (2004) and the introduction to the National Geographic book “100 Days in Photographs: Pivotal Events That Changed the World” (October 2007).

Chris was awarded an honorary doctorate from Indiana University in 2010. He studied photography at the University of Minnesota and holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism with a minor in agriculture from Oregon State University.

He lives on a farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains with his wife, Elizabeth, and their three children.


David Alan Harvey:  You, Chris, are the Editor of this magazine, of National Geographic Magazine.

Chris Johns:  Pretty shocking development actually.

DAH:  Well, this is the thing. When I met you, you were an aspiring photographer. Am I recalling that correctly?

CJ:  That’s right I met you…gosh you and I met a long time ago. You had come to town on an assignment for the Geographic and you came into Topeka and I think we went over to KU together, didn’t we?

DAH:  Yeah we met at a restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas.

CJ:  That’s right.

DAH:  So you were a student.

CJ:  No no, I was working for Rich (Clarkson)  then. I went to the University of Minnesota.

DAH:  Oh that’s right.

CJ:  That’s where I went to grad school.

DAH:  Ok. So you were working for Rich as a staff photographer at that point, right?

CJ:  Right. I had come over as a summer intern from Minnesota.

DAH:  Were you an intern when I met you, or did you already have a job?

CJ:  No I think I had just joined his staff. You had left Topeka a few years before.

DAH:  You had just joined the staff when I met you and you had an assignment in Lawrence?

CJ:  Yeah I did a really bad job on the assignment and I can’t remember why I was there. Rich was giving me hell about it in front of you, which was probably completely justified but I was mortified at the time. It was a picture I’d taken at Storemont Vail Hospital.

DAH:  Oh my. Well you know we can’t have this entire interview be about Rich Clarkson, although he would love it, but we do  have some parts of our background somewhat similar…there’s some crossover there.

CJ: Absolutely.

DAH:  Midwest universities  and same boss out of college. We both worked for Rich right out of grad school.

CJ:  You finished grad school and I didn’t though.

DAH:  No I didn’t finish either.

CJ:  Oh you didn’t?

DAH:  No I had Cliff  (Edom) as an adviser, remember?  He didn’t know how to get people to do their masters thesis. So there’s like twenty people out there who became significant people in the business, but all of them did not actually get their masters degree.

CJ:  So you’re like me.

DAH:  Same road map

CJ:  Well I’m a grad school drop out.

DAH:  We are both college dropouts. Laughing. No we just didn’t finish our thesis. Nor did anyone in my class. I am waiting for an honorary degree, laughing.

CJ:  I wanted to get to work.

DAH:  Well same here.

CJ: Of course I had Smith  Schuneman…at Minnesota

DAH:  Cliff did a lot with the Missouri workshop, well he invented/created the whole world of photo workshops, Cliff did, Cliff was a catalyst, yet Schuneman was a force in another way. Not better, just different. Same values.

CJ: That’s right.

DAH: Things that get established when your young, getting started, and those things don’t change. Your first hero, your first boss, I mean, you know, nobody occupies those places at any other point in your life, right?

CJ: Well, that’s right.

DAH: Well, ok, so right now, right this minute, you’re the editor of National Geographic Magazine, and yet you are a photographer. I know you as a working photographer. Tell me about this. Now this is a first for somebody who has come right out of the working photographer gene pool and into a position of making decisions. The series of interviews that I’m doing is on the decision makers. Everybody wants to know what the editors of these magazines, these top magazines, are thinking. And so that’s why I am here. I’ve got access to you, I’m going to take full advantage of that, and because the readers of Burn are interested and I’m always interested.

CJ:  Well we are  just snoopy by nature, David.

DAH:  Well we are journalists, we are curious. I think If we weren’t we wouldn’t have this kind of work. But tell me about this relationship between you as a photographer and now as an editor. What does that mean? Tell me about that.

CJ: Well you know I have been editor now for believe it or not seven years and its interesting for me to think about just sort of how my thinking has evolved and I think that the longer I’m editor, probably the more I’ve come to appreciate my roots of a photography creative person. When I became editor of the magazine I had a lot of catching up to do because I’d only been out of the field three years and I’d had a great opportunity that Bill Allen had given me to come in and basically supervise the picture editors at National Geographic and then eventually the last year I did that job, the third year, I also worked with Kent Kobersteen, the director of photography, as well and came under my supervision, but the thing I didn’t have a lot of experience in was of course managing a big staff of contract free lance people and staff people, and I didn’t have a lot of experience in the business end of magazines and then again I was very fortunate that I had John Q. Griffin who was the president of publishing group who really, really helped me quickly get up to speed, especially on more of the business end of things.

DAH:  Business side or the managing side?

CJ: Well I’d say both, but especially the business side. You know, I mean we had some other people helping me a lot on the managing side. You know, and that’s one of the things you learn as a field photographer is if your going to be a successful field photographer, you’ve got to develop alliances really quickly, everyday your building them in the field, and you better be very honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know and you just said it a few minutes ago, we are by nature curious, so when your curious, you want to learn, you want learn more, you want more experiences, and I think that was a real advantage. I would make the case that there’s no better training for me to be editor of National Geographic Magazine than to be a field photographer. I can’t think of how I could have had better training in many ways. You become self-reliant. You learn in the field that there is no point in making excuses. Its completely performance based.

You know, you’ve got to get the job done and you’ve got to figure out how to do it, and your going to have to figure out how to do it quite often with the odds seemingly against you. You’re going to be told no a lot. No doesn’t exist in your vocabulary. I mean your pragmatic, you know to not beat your head against the wall, you know that’s not what I’m saying, but you’ve got to take that story somewhere, you’ve got to refine your vision, you’ve got to be trustworthy, you’ve got to be authentic, you’ve got to know who you are, you’ve got to know what your strengths are, you’ve got to know what your weaknesses are, or your going to fail out there in the field, and there is nobody really there to pick you up. I mean, sure, you’ve got a good relationship, and a very trusting relationship with an editor, but its still your baby, and all the other things you’ve done in the past are important to you and you draw from them, but its still the pictures you produce during that assignment or during that personal project, whatever the case may be, and I say personal project for assignment because the longer I stay at National Geographic, just like you did, the more my assignments became personal projects. They were what I wanted to do.

One of the great things that happened to me in school was Smitty Schuneman, my professor at the University of Minnesota, gave me what I believe was a 15 hour class over the course of the year on the history of photography. We went from Fox Talbot to Daguerre all the way up through William Henry Jackson, Brasai , Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy O’ Sullivan, Jacob Reese, Lewis W. Hine, clear up to your work, to Ernst Haas’ work, to Don McCullin’s work to Gene Smith’s work. The sweep of the great masters of photography and I had reached a point in my career at the Geographic where you ask yourself well what I am bringing to the table? I’m deeply steeped in the work of those masters. I’m still studying Edward Weston’s pictures.

I’m studying all kinds of photography because I love photography. And then you say to yourself, just over time, it’s a very organic thing, you say, well what am I bringing to the table? Now I’ve been given this gift, this career, with incredible opportunities. How am I going to contribute to this profession, to this craft that I love so much, and feel so strongly about? Where’s my voice? What’s my voice going to be? How am I going to refine my voice and amplify it? Well by extension, that’s what I do everyday as the editor of this Magazine. My job is to find the voices along with my staff, along with Kurt, Ken Geiger, and you, and Nick, and Bill.

We’re always out there, looking for talent, looking for young photographers who’ve got that spark, who’ve got that promise, who’ve got the hunger, and then you say let’s work with them, guide them, not tell me, guide them, council them, support them, and let them develop their voice, like I was given the opportunity to develop my voice. So you know that right now I would say is the great place…

DAH: That’s it. But you’re all alone. You’re all alone in the field and your probably all alone here too in another way.

CJ:  Well what you do, is you’re constantly refining your vision. When I was a photographer it was constantly refining my way of seeing, my way of feeling, my way of transmitting that to film and to some cases into writing too. But we’re by nature visual people. There’s no denying that, lets embrace it. So yeah your alone, but your surrounded by people who…(pause) help, collaborate

DAH:   I mean psychologically, I don’t want to ask the leading question, but out on the field you have to make decisions that are based on the story, based on all that stuff. Based on the animal behavior  in some cases, in your case in particular because you’ve done a lot of street level people oriented photojournalistic work and you’ve also done a lot of natural history work.

CJ: Which I would categorize as photojournalism.

DAH: Oh yes of course fine, I’m just breaking it down, I’m just refining the definition.

CJ: Yeah, sure.

DAH:  Still, your having to make decisions based on place, time, money, and everything else. Now here you are, in this office, elegant office I must say, with an incredible view of Washington D.C., and you’ve got a lot of support, a lot of helpers, still…I would imagine, that like being in the field, even with the support that you have out there, that this job would still be somewhat similar in that you’ve got to make a call.  A lonely call. If you are wrong , everybody points…

CJ:  That’s exactly right. And how do you make a call in the field? Well, the more mature you become, the more seasoned you become, the smarter you become, the wiser. That’s probably a better way of putting it. When your working on the Outer banks David, or your working on Rio, or your doing one of your own projects in Rio, the day’s that you really feel the rush are the days when you feel like things are coming at you so fast, things are happening, and everything that you have ever experienced in your life, is coming to bear that day. You’re in the zone as athletes say. And when you’re in the zone, you’re drawing on all this life experience and what you’re doing, too, is basically following your gut. You’re thinking, sure, but you’re not over thinking. There’s a visceral, gut way of working. And what I’ve learned here is that as you become more confident, as you make mistakes because if your not making mistakes, man your not pushing yourself hard enough.

If you get afraid of making mistakes, you are toast. You’re done. You’ve got to have courage. You’ve got to believe in yourself and the people who you surround yourself with, that you can go ahead, and your going to weigh the options, your going to be decisive, but a lot of its going to be visceral. This is really important because when it comes too intellectual, it becomes too cool. But when it becomes more visceral, and I’m not talking about flying off the handle, but there’s a gut thing.

And you could be looking at a cover, and your going, you know, man that cover, we’ve worked and worked and worked on it, but it’s not right. It’s not there. And I can’t really quite tell you why. Then over time you can probably figure out why, but it goes for a layout, it goes for a lead picture, you know, how we open the ipad, what kind of video we use, and basically what I’m talking about is a refined throughout your life to grieve taste. A lot of what you do at National Geographic is you’re an arbiter or taste. And of course what we want to do, I don’t want to be elitist, unapproachable, inaccessible, but I want this to be an experience of high taste. That you cant get any place else, and of course when you tap into that gut reaction knowing that there are times you’re going to be wrong, admit your wrong, move on, learn. It’s very analogous to being a photographer in a field, and everyday making decisions.

DAH: And even managing people.

 CJ: Every one of us have had assistants blow up in the field, you know. Every one of us has gotten furious in the field. I mean, every one of us has had profound disappointments. Every one of us, David, has had days, if not weeks where you think you may never see a good picture again. You know and I know how low you can be.

DAH: Down in the mud, and the blood, and the beer

CJ:  Yeah. And you and I know how high you can be. And you learn to deal with it. And that’s not necessarily dissimilar to now. The thing I have to do though is, when you’re in the field and your low, you cant be down in the dumps with your assistant, your interpreter, your guide. You can’t be rolling up to somebody’s place to make pictures and start bitching about something. You’ve got to put on the face, and drag yourself out of bed, or whatever it is, and deal with it. You and I both know some of those days when its been so dark and you can barely get yourself going, turned out to be some of the brightest days of your life.

DAH: Yeah.

CJ: So what comes with that hunger, is a sense of curiosity. And what comes with that hunger is passion and caring, and your really wanting to take their photography and their story telling ability to the highest plane they can take it.

DAH: You can’t just want it. You must have it in other words.

CJ: Oh I hear about people who want it all the time. Wanting is easy

DAH: I mean yes people want it (laughing). They may not still want it after they walk a mile in our shoes. Or, they may want it even more..

CJ:  Well people say ” I want your job”…well so what? No I want people who are hungry and are walking the walk. I mean just putting it out there and they really believe in what they do. They care deeply about what they do. And they want to be better. Yet, they’ve got their voice and what they want to do is not be like everybody else, they want to take the voice they have, the experiences of their life, their soul, your life’s experiences, and refine it, and amplify it, and bring it to another level to share. To share what they see, to share what they feel. It’s just this sensational honor. David, you’ve got it. Hunger.

DAH: And you do too.

CJ: Absolutely. Yes, hunger.

DAH: All of us. Deep.

CJ:  I don’t know why.

DAH:  I don’t know why either. I don’t know if we’ve explained anything to anybody but its true. That hunger is the thing.

CJ:  It’s the same thing. It’s this drive. You know, when I became editor of the magazine, the drive didn’t go away, it was channeled in a slightly…

DAH: In a slightly different direction.

CJ:  I still work 60 or 70 hours a week.

DAH:  Well I didn’t think you took this job to take a vacation. I don’t think anybody did.

CJ:  And frankly at age 60 I have probably cranked up more than I ever have because one of the things you start to realize at a certain point in your career…

DAH:  You edit. I mean you edit your life .

CJ: Right. When you’re a photographer you start to realize at some point, in your career, that you’ve only got so many clicks left. You’ve only got so many more times your going to press that shutter, so you better start getting with it.

DAH: That’s so funny, I agree with you one hundred percent, and yet people would look at that and they would smile. I mean that you’re thinking that after you’ve accomplished so many things. And yet your thinking” I better get my act together now”. That’s crazy. Yet I think the same thing.  I mean, its kind of humorous in a way. How many stories did you do for the magazine?

CJ:  Oh, twenty some.

DAH:  Twenty some! How many books?

CJ:  I’ve only done two decent books and I’ve done a few crappy books.

DAH:  Okay, so you’ve got two books that we can talk about and twenty some magazine articles, and at sixty years old your thinking its time to get your act together. Now that is so weird. Nelson Mandela wrote your forward. Amazing.

CJ: I’ve got to do better.

DAH: Yeah, I know the feeling

CJ: I can’t be slipshod here.

DAH: No but yet at the same time, you value time with your family. I’ve seen you with your family. You value time with your friends. I’ve seen that as well. You have Elizabeth, who you met in Africa and Nichole, Louise, Tim who are just the nicest young people.

CJ:  My family is number one.

DAH: So you’re not just a maniac. But it’s a work ethic thing. It’s a work ethic, it’s a passion.

CJ: It’s a deep thing where you know, you talk to a great writer, you talk to a great photographer, and you can’t help yourself. You have to work. You have to take pictures. You have to create. These are things that you are…these are almost obsessions.

DAH: Wait a minute. Say that again,  you can’t help yourself?

CJ: You can’t help yourself.

DAH: That’s it. You just can’t help yourself

CJ: Sure.

DAH: So this whole interview comes down to that?

CJ: Absolutely.





Front Porch No. 3

FRONT PORCH NO. 3    by dah

Happy Ending

Hi David,
Exciting news! The photo of mine from the workshop that you ran on Burn was used in Life magazine’s 2012 year in pictures special issue. The caption has some really nice things to say about the picture as well. I would never have this photo if you hadn’t told me that my photo of sleeping protesters from the day before sucked and I should keep working it. So thank you, and I’m pleased to say that the investment in the class last fall has already started paying for itself, financially, professionally and spiritually.

Hope all is going well. I really enjoyed reading the updates on Rio online, and can’t wait to see the book when it’s done.

Cheers & happy new year

Andy Kropa



I have been trying to get this job done for about 7 years. Get my archive, that was stored in a garage in downtown Washington, a bit closer to my home.  A long but rollicking ride from D.C. to OBX with an old friend and a multi media intern ended with getting all my stuff in one place.

I took pictures and found old pictures. My excuse for little heavy lifting.

An old case I had not seen for about 40 years was opened. Not by me, but by one of my helpers. Gold. The picture on the right, shot when I was 19 or 20 and accepted to a juried show at the Va. Museum of Fine Arts, and what I considered to be my first successful picture was found today along with a “second”. Yes, to the left here, my first print of the situation. Later changing my find for the mounted photo above. You can see the same boy far left in the tattered picture with four children.

An even more truly serious find. My original fiber prints from Tell It Like It Is. I did not even know these still existed until today. Thought these prints were lost. 40 years lost. Yes, I must say beautifully carefully printed by me in the darkroom set up not far from where I was shooting. Back in 1967. As Bruce Davidson himself pointed out to me were shot 4 years before East 100th Street.  I was shooting by day and printing by night. Obsessed.


I am not sure how many times I moved as a kid, but it was a lot. My stuff has been packed up and moved from one space to another so many times that I honestly would have to spend some serious time thinking about it to come up with a number. Sometimes multiple moves even in the same city. So since I starting accumulating negatives, slides, prints, you know pictures I wanted to keep, I have moved dozens of times. Somehow from those earliest years until today everything is intact. Sort of. It is all there, but where is it? This is the problem. Lots of hasty moves. Cardboard boxes full of treasure in some cases, and marked on the outside with magic marker “selects” or “look again”. Nightmare. Yet today , as seen in the sequence above , treasure. Not for anyone else , but for me.

We just got everything moved in. I plan to rent a small house at the beach. Get all my stuff there. And offer work/study programs to say 5 young photographers, to come an help organize my archive in exchange for a great place to live at the beach and a full on career workshop for them. Evaluate their portfolios, get them going on projects, help them edit, and generally mentor as I most often do.

Road Trips was my personal diary. Burn has been set up to feature this audience. Yet many from this audience have asked me to jump in with my own work just a bit more. Yet when I decided to take an online audience with me while I shot in Rio last month   I took that effort away from Burn and on to its own site. The good vibes and karma were so good with riobook that I thought I might try  a bit more mix and match here on Burn. Just more of what most folks are asking for. Solid photography from emerging photographers and insights into process. This is what worked so well on riobook.  If you were not there, honestly you missed something. Matter of fact , many are signing up now even though they know the day by day is finished, it still stands as a unique experience. An authentic experience. No way to manipulate they way it all came down.

Yet the emphasis here on Burn is still you. Burn 01 and Burn 02, our print magazines, will be followed by Burn 03. You should try to get your work in 03, the place to be.

We are also in the dreaming planning stages for SURFING WORLD. Yes, the art of the art of surfing. A book about surfing for surfers and non surfers alike. Martin Parr will shoot some of it. Top notch surf action photographers will shoot some of it. Maybe one of you can convince me to let you shoot part of it. Show me what you can do and I am up for anything.

We are also planning  a handsome book SOUTH AMERICA, a group essay shot by 80% South American photographers. It will not be what you imagine. I will be looking at portfolios soonest.

In the wings for new books are Laura El Tantawy for  IN THE SHADOW OF THE PYRAMIDS, Panos Skoulidas for DEATH IN VENICE, and an epic by Jukka Onnela and few nice surprises to be announced soonest.

Our Emerging Photographer Fund grant of $15,000. will be announced soonest. The new emphasis on the EPF grant will be to do work for Burn. Rather than a reward for past work, the shift will be to create new work , then to be  published on Burn. More of a commission than a award.

This coming May , Burn  Magazine will have an exhibition at the HeadOn Festival in Sydney, Australia alongside my own One Night in Rio. I will be doing a workshop at Bondi Beach at the same time, and I have asked Imants Krumins to curate a small show featuring young Australian photographers under 18.

So I am trying to keep things interesting for all of us.  It is only the right frame of mind and the right karma and the right space and the right place and the right mood that well makes things right…feel good, feel right….be right.

We will never get there, but we will always be on our way….

Peace, dah





My House Right Now Outer Banks 9:24pm


Two things going on here. First , this crew got my archive from a garage in Washington, loaded it into a super size uHaul truck and got it to here tonight. We unload in the morning. Second thing, I just wanted to test the iPhone email system direct to Burn. I want to do some fast posts from various locations as I did on Riobook. Spontaneity. I am often either in interesting places or with folks in the biz who may interest you and the technology allows for instant communication. Of course I will not post every two minutes. But just as with Instagram  (my favorite place to publish) I do not “go anywhere” to take my phone shots. I rarely go more than 15 feet away from wherever I am to take a phone picture.

Why is my old old old Magazine Photographer of the Year trophy on the dashboard of my truck? Egocentric behavior syndrome? No , it just fell out of a tattered cardboard box today as I was moving boxes stored for years down to my Carolina home. I never displayed “awards”. I only cared about the pictures. The University of Missouri columns bronzed as here , I do not care about. The school yes, I am an alum. The award yes, I had a good year. So it is irony beyond irony that these columns are coming home. Would make a good tie rack.

photo boy

This was by far my best photo job. Ever. Both Magnum and NatGeo pale by comparison. The Virginia Beach Photo Service. We sold tourists pictures in little telescopic plastic viewers. 2 for $2. , 6 for $5. Deal. I was 19 in this shot. This job helped me learn to talk to strangers. This shot was the lead picture we showed to NatGeo editors this morning for my Outer Banks story coming up in June.Why this shot for NG? Because this is a personal journey. I fell in love with this shore as a young man. Because of my work I have been able to live imaginable fantasy times ten, and get a Phd of life on each project, and being blessed with being able to have as a life instrument my little Leica, I have chosen to come back to these shores as my home. Not my retirement home. Photographers only retire when they die. Just my home. My feel good spot. No matter where I am in the world I fantasize my front porch. Smells right. OBX , come see me…

Editor National Geographic

This is the entrance to National Geographic and this is the Editor of National Geographic Magazine. Yes, Chris Johns a field photographer with “more than 20” published essays to his credit who became THE editor of NatGeo. We are on our way to his office after being cleared by 7 year security officer D’Won Addison, 35, who grew up right here in Washington and served in the U.S. Army. Chris hung up his cameras and now has an elegant office with a nice view of downtown Washington and about 5 blocks from the White House. Johns has a power job. You will read my exclusive interview with him right here on Burn just as soon as I can get it transcribed. He will tell you from his viewpoint what it takes to make it as a photographer shooting for a major magazine.  Stay tuned.

Alberto Lizaralde – Frail

Alberto Lizaralde



Frail is about those everyday moments when everything collapses. Little moments where our life changes, spins and breaks. Suspended moments in which something has just happened or is about to. Situations in which time, objects and places lose their physical nature. Tiny fragments of life which, when put together, redefine our idea of control of ourselves and the world around us.
We are vulnerable in the everyday.




Alberto Lizaralde was born in 1979 in Madrid (Spain). In 2002 he obtained a degree in Advertisement in Madrid. He worked as a film critic and directed two short films and some cultural live events. He currently lives in Madrid (Spain) and combines his work as creative supervisor at Contrapunto BBDO advertising agency with his projects in documentary photography.


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Alberto Lizaralde


Sometimes you just do not want to be finished. Sometimes you could just roll on along. For awhile longer. Just a bit more.

This is the second time I have had an assignment from National Geographic to do a story on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Back in the late 80’s I did an overall coverage of the outer banks . However, this essay is personal. Plus I will do the text. OBX is an example of both the best and worst of man’s use of a fragile environment. Honestly, it would probably best if nobody lived on these constantly moving shores. Home to  folks who have just decided that just where they shouldn’t be is just where they wanna be. Misfits, fishermen, surfers and pirates. Folks like me.

I think you are looking at around 40 photographs above which represents the final editing. Down from thousands of clicks to  the 40 picks we  will show tomorrow.  This 40 will then come down even further to about 12 that will be published.  The result of two years off and on photographing right from my front porch. Sometimes literally. I have traveled around this lonely planet quite a few times for NatGeo….my university to the world….the only real education i have. My official formal education is  imperfect…Yet the  life of steeping in a subject is more than perfect.

This recent work on my life by the sea will be presented to Chris Johns, Editor NatGeo,  on Thursday. Presentations at NatGeo are hard to describe. So much is riding on these shows that anyone who did not say they were more than nervous when getting ready to present would be lying. Months of work is being decided on. Stories can die right at this meeting. I have had stories killed. Nothing personal. The story might just not work. Everybody, the very best, have had work which needed help or hit the cutting room floor so to speak.

Rare air has its price.

What I want to do this week and part of next on Burn is to meet the decision makers. The editors. The ones who decide who gets an assignment , who does not, and why. Chris Johns is a super pro NatGeo photojournalist and natural history photographer who is now THE Editor of the Magazine. The first pro photographer to hold such a position. I will interview Chris for you next week. Maybe he will even answer a question or two for you,  but I cannot promise. During the upcoming days I will introduce you to several editors starting with Senior  Photo Editor Sarah Leen who is the editor for my OBX story and also an example of a long time NG field photographer who six years moved inside to make a difference. Sarah is a mentor for many photographers. Both emerging and established alike.

Photographers  always work hand in hand with a picture editor at NatGeo. Someone who watches over the whole process. This editor works closely with the photographer helping with research, coordination with the writer, and a support to the whole visual side of the story all the way through the layout process. To make sure there is a usable coverage, to make sure the creative juices are flowing , in effect a “coach” a “guide” a “director”  to help the photographer just get it done. No small task. This varies from photographer to photographer and from story to story depending on many factors.

I will let the editors tell you how THEY think about it.

I feel good about this down home story. A personal diary of sorts. My best pictures? I always think I should have done better. I just feel good about having a chance to give some a  taste, a compelling reason  for why I feel exhilarated by this land. Yes, this land, this sand, this drifting dune I have chosen after banging around the world to hell and gone.

After doing the Rio book bit online, I realized how fascinated people are by the process. The motives. The USE of photography becomes way way more important than the photography part of photography.  See my best explanation of process here. For real.

Anybody can speak the photographic language now, as we use any commonly spoken language, yet alas there are  only a few poets among all the correctly speaking. So I love these new challenges , these new ways of telling the stories we all want to hear.

Technology changes fast, yet  surely the desire to hear or see or feel an amazing  recollection, a compelling  story, a colorful representation, a honest portrayal,  will not change.

In an effort to give this audience what I think is the most educational things we can do here on Burn , I will do more process stories. Stories about who did what and how in hell they did it. Stories about the decision makers from several top magazines and newspapers Starting now with NatGeo , but moving soon to The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and on and on to give you some insight into the process for contemporary print and online magazines in terms of commissioning work. Talking to editors who are looking for the next super talents.

Burn will always be stories told  from this audience and from legends alike. The same mix of 75% emerging photographers, 25% icons will roughly hold. We will  do more commissioned assignments leading towards Burn 03 (later in 2012) and I think all of you know there will be a Burn show in Sydney, Australia paralleling the opening of One Night In Rio at the Australian Center of Photography in May of 2012.

I have way more to tell. Yet I find one idea at a time is best here on the net. I will be back in the next few days to suggest more to come, and of course to always listen to your thoughts. Well, most of them :)