tough call…

about five minutes ago i had to make a "tough call"….i made the decision not to name the stipend recipient today as was originally planned…i am so sorry to disappoint those who have probably been anxiously waiting for the final results…but in my desire to make my self imposed  "deadline" of december 15, i was running the risk of rushing the edit….i just flat out need some more time…’s why…

looking quickly at the 250 "portfolios" overall is amazingly easy, but once inside each of your folders and looking closely, i have a much more challenging job than i originally thought…or, even thought yesterday!! first of all, less than half of you put in the metadata any kind of information on the essays at all…i was spending way too much time just trying to analyze the content of many stories….in some cases, there was not a clear breakdown from one story to the next, if there were multiple stories….i may send a few private emails to some of you requesting more info….and with about 8 exceptions, most of you need a serious edit…i think maybe there were only 3 or 4 of you who had a 20 picture cohesive essay…most could be cut …and i have no problem in doing this……i love to do this……but, it will  require some thoughtful time consuming work and contemplation…

i would rather "catch a little flak" right now for being late with my decisions, rather than think i  committed "rush to publish"….one of the "sins" of our craft….

picking the one recipient of the grant can be done fairly easily…this is not the problem, nor even the point….i am down to a healthy handful…if i had to, i could make that decision right this minute…but, this photographer is only part of the equation…in a way, the smallest part….because what is impressive is the whole body of the best of your work which will be edited down to a nice tight collection…..i will probably publish online about 6-10 of the finest essays….and perhaps 30-40 singles….this number could come down when i see the whole package…the worst "look" would be if i run too many pictures….

i will tell you right now there is some interesting variety in your work…a very nice combo of color and black & white and of straight documentary and more subjective interpretation…in most  cases, "bearing witness" to a subject, but with a very broad interpretation of narrative…and i am so so pleased about this…there will be many different "styles" in our final show….

now my schedule during the upcoming holidays is like everybody’s schedule during the holidays…do we not all  somehow need to be everywhere at once???….in any case, i am off to Paris tomorrow for a Magnum board meeting and then on thursday to see my family in Colorado…home cooking…yes, apple pie….to be realistic (a word i rarely use!), i think the best thing is to make the announcement the first week in january…with the work of the stipend recipient and the chosen best of everyone else all viewed together on the new website being constructed specifically to display your work….

many of you have been with me through the whole thinking process of this forum…it is, and always has been, a "work in progress"….i do apologize for the delay, but i do hope you will appreciate this extra time as time spent making sure i "got it right"….

i will continue looking at comments here and in the previous two or three postings….to answer any questions and just to keep up our usual musings….for me , this was a tough call tonight….i anguished over making it…..but now , it feels better just to have "cleared the deck" and done it….how about you??  is it easy for you to make "tough calls" or do  you dwell on decisions you do not want to make??

81 Responses to “tough call…”

  • Don’t worry. We’re not going anywhere. Do what you have to do.

    Enjoy the crazy all-over-the-place Holiday you’ve got ahead of you! Hope to see you in DC sometime after the new year. I’ll be in touch.

    Thanks for everything! You rock!

  • I for one can support this decision, and am really looking forward to seeing all of these projects. Good on you for putting quality first. Lord knows there is no way to rush it.

  • David: :))

    Just walked in from a lovely, snow=wind strewn walk with Mrs. B, about to watch Tarkovsky’s “Ivan’s childhood” (since our trip to Buffalo was canceled due to storm)…funny, each time i log in, it seems like’ you’ve just posted (unless it’s a contest, and then im very late ;)) )….

    anyway, just these words amigo: Do not rush anything. Your neck and heart is on the line and you need to do whatever is best for you and for this project. I often thought: damn, that boy’s nuts!!!, such a deadline, $donation, all pics, etc…I am happy you are being kind now to yourself…you deserve some time for rest and digestion and breathing and yea, damn right, fresh pie ! :))

    I personally am not on pins and needles, ’cause my only hope is to see the essays together and the work that this project drummed up: that’s my jazz and drug: to see it come to life together….

    dont anquish, but now that the awarding of $$ is absolutely the least significant part of this thing for many of us: its the idea the work has been looked at by you and others then it was tunneled and swallowed and will be shared…that is what matters…

    dont anquish, take a break and be safe in London and colorado and when you return let us know and and the rest is a bloom :)))

    as for tough calls: no, i dont anguish, ’cause we never know the outcome and because the outcome (any and all) lead to a place that it build upon richness and decision….there aint not right or wrong calls, only calls, and each of those point to somewhere that will lead to another call….

    for me it’s like that first time i jumped (not dove) off the highboard in the public pool: i thought, ok, fuck it, it is what it is…and then splash….and now: can’t get me off ;))))…had i broken a bone, i’d have probably gone a different direction, like been a rabid hockey fan ;)))…(not offensive intent to hockey fans)…

    get rest and have a great flight :))

    hugs :))

    running to watch a flick


  • i think take your time is key. its got to be a tall order going through so much work, in a way i don’t envy that task, although it would fun to see all that work. double edge. i always had the sense though that there would be something very honest in the analysis of our work. things being looked at fairly. it would be interesting to see your approach. do you move pretty quick through photosets until something stops you or do you take your time with each shot looking at the layers and depth, also curios if anybody else has seen the work, or are you taking it on solo.
    anyway, seems like the 15th came along way to quick.

    tough calls, for me that translates into good decisions/bad decisions. shit i am trying to think what tough calls i have made lately. none. that would seem to be the answer. I think all the stress in my life is all in my head.

  • There have not been many days between returning from the workshop and this. Just chill and give it time. Maybe some of them ferment given some time, as wine, that’s always good example. I would love to see the variety of topics. Even stats. I wouldn’t mind stats based on a population of 250 shooters.

  • For starters, you gave us a very healthy extension to every sense you should have all the time you want to see your baby through..

    Tough body does all the talking, I just need to listen and do as I’m told :)

  • If you have 250 portfolios down to a healthy handful you should be able to make a decision after a good nights sleep. Leaving 250 photographers hanging until the first week in January is going to be tough on them. None are going to complain ofcourse. But, really, how much time are you going to spend on six or eight portfolios over the next three weeks? You don’t have to do your “publish” edit. Deadlines are important in our business. A day or two late on the announcement’s no big deal, but three weeks?

  • I think tough calls are for chance decisions, where you do not possess all the elements of the answers for all possible options. Like roulette russe or who carries a camera at all time ;-).

    Most decisions involving unknowns, we make one way because we simply do not wish to deal with the consequences of the other choices (especially when others are involved). In your case, I think you realized that even being able to make the call, you just wouldn’t be happy with a process based on swiftness of decision.

    I also think that the next couple of weeks are a time of the year where many emotions come to play, possibly running deeper than usual, and may provide perhaps a different angle, less cognitive, in approaching some of the essays submitted.

    This way, between us 250 and you, a silent, but potent communion is operating, from the sharing of all these images, which changes them from submissions into companions, if nagging little ones!, of your Xmas season.

  • First of all, thank you David for the opportunity and for all the energy you are putting into this incredible and creative project. Photography has become more and more important to me every day that passes by…I must say that this forum and the assignment has truly changed my life! Thanks for that!

    I agree with someone that said that we learn from you not only to become good photographers but also better human beings!! And that’s priceless :)

    Quality is always first!! Take all the time you need, enjoy your holidays and I’m looking forward to hearing your comments and constructive feedback on our work!

    PD making “tough calls” is always difficult, but deep inside you always know which path to take… walking it is another different issue…

  • I used to be a dweller. Not anymore. Besides, there are two of us making the big decisions and we have two dependents. It actually makes the decision process easier. On both family and personal matters.

  • David, good clear thinking on your part, as you would say :))

    Sometimes it is important to “don’t just do something, stand there.” And i do think presenting this incredible collaboration as a polished whole, with announcement, is infinitely better. Enjoy the holidays :))

  • A teacher of mine in India insisted that the peace we feel after attaining something we want (same can be said about making a tough decision) has nothing to do with the “achievement” and everything to do with no longer having to think about it….Decision made. Enjoy the pie…but first a few croissants please!

    I am relieved for you and for all 250 of us. I couldn’t imagine how on earth you would be able to edit all this work so quickly. Too much to do… It is really a gift to us that you WANT to take the time to really examine the submissions. A lesser man would just want to “get it over with” and I thank you for caring so much that you want to look closer. We all benefit from this.

    Please keep us posted on your editing process when you get back to it. I’m sure your comments about editing our work will inspire us in our future editing.

  • “i am so sorry to disappoint those who have probably been anxiously waiting for the final results…”

    i don’t think anybody here is at all disappointed with your decision david! for me, i can say that i am much more than happy to be able to to reach you through my photos. i think this decision of yours, what you call “tough call”, shows your natural dedication and honesty towards your chosen field of work. don’t worry david, the fact that you are putting so much effort in this project of ours cannot possibly make anybody “disappointed”. what can i say? sometimes the word “thanks” is so insufficient to express one’s gratitude. so, like you, i say CHEERS :)
    take care and enjoy…

  • “i am so sorry to disappoint those who have probably been anxiously waiting for the final results…”

    i don’t think anybody here is at all disappointed with your decision david! for me, i can say that i am much more than happy to be able to to reach you through my photos. i think this decision of yours, what you call “tough call”, shows your natural dedication and honesty towards your chosen field of work. don’t worry david, the fact that you are putting so much effort in this project of ours cannot possibly make anybody “disappointed”. what can i say? sometimes the word “thanks” is so insufficient to express one’s gratitude. so, like you, i say CHEERS :)
    take care and enjoy…

  • I was talking to Kelly tonight about the depth and breadth of what the submissions must be… a lot of the people here I’ve seen their work, but definitely not 250! Especially considering the vast cultural filters that these submissions have come from… how to compare apples to oranges and pick one? Like Bob, I am most excited not about a single winner, but to see the results of this collective effort.

    I can understand the mound of work on your plate. Do I anguish when faced with tough decisions? When it’s just for myself, less so as time goes on. But in a case like this when it’s not for yourself I can imagine stewing, yet driven by the stoke and nourishment of so many earnest efforts sparked by this community.

    ps – Kelly and I are surprised to hear you say ‘metadata’. ha!

  • i am sorry for this ‘double trouble’ everytime i comment! the culprit is my connection! but this time it reinforces what i said

  • I think I’m with John R. Fulton Jr. A deadline is a deadline, and since I had my work in on time, I’m mad as hell.

    Actually I’m just kidding—of course I have my gushing, appreciative Bob Black side—one that already sees the body of work without actually seeing it—that long-suffering side that knows that something must grow in it’s time. But if I may play Devil’s advocate (if not the Devil himself) didn’t we have a pretty significant string regarding “making excuses” about a month ago? I say that with a smile on my face :))

    This crowd is so nicey nice—nobody wants to be the angry fertilizer :))

    Don’t get me wrong—I do want to see the work in it’s finest form. But it’s become a daunting task to maintain patience without so much as a teaser, a trailer, a preview—something to whet the visual appetite—something so I know what I’m up against, as well as part of at the same time.

    Those words are chosen carefully (think “salmon” when you hear the words “up against”.) I’ve never viewed this as a competition or contest, but there must be some gauge (DAH) by which stories and styles are found to be more inspiring than others—otherwise 250 of us would be published as opposed to 10 or so. (I’m talking myself into sympathizing more with David’s task.)

    But instead I’ll wind down with this point (my tough call) I’m convinced that David will work with a clearer head if everyone isn’t kissing his ass all the time.

    Chop, chop good teacher!!

  • David

    I still have remorse that I give up your contest by walkover after your review my works, but if you have so many participant my hart is more quiet now. I’ll be waiting for winner!

    Let’s fairest will win!!!

    Martin (running for capture some moments :)

    and about dedline… don’t worry, be happy (song says)… you are between friends!!

  • Doing things in a hurry is not good at all. We all know that doing things at the last moment because there is a deadline pushing us will cause stress and probably mistakes. It is better to see things from perspective, with time and a cup of tea in your hand. Looking deeply, trying to “feel” what is inside and not only see. So for me, it is just perfect that you take this thing so seriously and decided to look closer and closer taking more time. That says a lot of you!! That says that you really care and that you don’t want to miss anything on this. So, thank you again!!!

    About the tough call… I had to do one some weeks ago. It was a similar situation. I was in charge of a big ‘intercultural’ project between two countries running into a deadline with many things still up in the air. The need of time was precious in order to make things good, as they deserved to be done. And I had to make “that” call and postpone everything. I felt terrible, like if I had failed, but deep in me I knew that it was the best thing to do. After the tough call I felt relieved but…. do you know what? I felt so “relieved” that took me a while to start moving again…. Now I’m working on it again and really hope to see it work soon!!

    Gracias again, David. You did the right thing!!

  • David In a world of hurry hurry…., good old quality work/judging is welcome take your time and enjoy your family time and thanks a lot for this collective images process. And Bob B once again a pleasure to read your words, and I love to see your choice of movies!!!

  • You are right David McGowen, this is a nicey nice site, but I don’t see much ass kissing, just genuine appreciation for what DAH is doing here. Have you seen anyone else doing anything remotely like this? I know that you appreciate it.
    DAH, I can’t wait to see some results but you made the right decision. A tough call is where you know what you have to do: but you really DON’T want to do it! I’ve made tough calls, everybody has to at some time. So, bite the bullet David, enjoy the holidays. We all want to see results but we want to see considered results.
    Best, Mike.

  • I thinhg,,, than alway,, all the peolple if is for something fine,, the peolple can change all…an in this case.. you are taking more time in ours work to take the best desicion….

    and also take your time and enyoy whit your famili this holidays ,,,,I know also that you goint to be in mexico(oaxaca) in february…igoint to be too but in mexico city,,,im goint to see the posibiliti to go some days to oaxaa,, becouse i want to see tha you can see my portfolio…..ok David,,,enyoy yuur time, and dont woried about this……


  • Well, knowing now how you will present everyone’s work I think it is worth the wait. In fact, like others here, I am actually more interested to see what has been created by everyone than to find out who will be the stipend recipient. And I think everyone will appreciate your decision because it just shows us once more how much you care about this “collaborative experiment” and it feels very good to know that you will really take the time to go through our work and choose what you think is the best. I just wish there could be a way to witness the whole process of reviewing and chosing because it would teach us a lot, but it is impossible so I’m happy just to wait and see what you will put on the new website in January.
    I believe it is hard to be the one who makes the tough call because you feel you have all the responsiblity on your shoulders and you are never sure how people will react, feel or think after you make the call… but as long as you have good reasons to back you up in the end you won’t dissapoint people and in fact they might be greatful for your decision and you will be relieved for having made the tough call.

  • thank you
    even if my photos won’t be selected, thank you

  • my mom refers to me (affectionately, i suspect (& hope)) as “slakkie”, afrikaans (dutch) for a small, slow snail..I tobb, toss & turn, try and work out the angles & consequences of every decision; yet still manage to make many idiotic’s kept it interesting, at least…

    David, I suspect that to most of us that has been part of the process since the beginnin’ (way, way before money reared it’s head), it is all ’bout getting feedback from a mentor whose life and work we have respected for a veeeeerrrrrry long time (i think you’ve realised this by now).
    To think, somewhere in NYC (or Bangkok ;=]]) DAH has taken serious time out of his personal and professional life to have a good look at my pictures, for better or worse, sends shivers down my spine..

    Echoin’ Ana “I still have a lot to learn but I assure you I will work harder and harder to do my best because I really don’t want to disappoint you…”

    travel safe & have a blessed festive season, amigo!

  • i realize now that i dumped most of the metadata when i made up the jpegs for upload. typical noob.

    any chance we can get a list of finalists? even if just some anonymous single images? would be nice to square up the competition.


    well amigo, you got me laughing at 6:30am sunday morning!!!

    believe me, i do not live in a world where people “kma”….i am always ready to take the tough question…sometimes i have the answer, sometimes i do not..

    and you are right , a deadline is a deadline…even if self-imposed…that is why i anguished over the decision to change it…oh no, this is starting to sound like a conversation with my girlfriend!!! my oh my, i am getting busted from every angle!!

    seriously david, i see editors and publishers moving their publishing dates all over the place for a variety of reasons all the time…the magazines always come out on time, but the specific story schedules get juggled regularly…and my book publishing date changed three times….now, i do not want to be like THEM, but i was caught seriously between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”…i am sure THEY always feel the same!! am i starting to sound like THEM??

    ok, here is the situation…so many stories entered just have zero caption information..some are obvious, but some are can i publish an essay here without even a title? even when the work is provocative…

    the student work i display here on the forum usually only has a title, but those are stories that i have been tracking closely and have worked with the photographer and most likely done the edit myself to create a visual thread…

    i am thinking about your “teaser” or “preview” idea…it seems to me that yes it would appease this angry mob temporarily, but i still think perhaps the “surprise” element is worth waiting for, albeit two weeks late…do any others of you have thoughts on this??

    if we do this again, i will have a permanent page for the web site with bold face details for submissions….just so that i am not scrambling around at the end, writing emails to photographers asking for a title for their story…

    it is totally true that it would be really fun if somehow this audience could see this process of selection, as my students do in a workshop..but, i just cannot think of a way to make this happen….can you??

    what i will do however, is to write a piece or pieces on the selection process and keying it off of specific stories..

    yup, i am making excuses!!! guilty as charged!! but, i would rather make the “late excuse” rather than the “this looks bad because” excuse…..

    david mcgowan, please try to hold your temper!!!


    yes, you are right … i so stated in the post that i could make the decision on the stipend recipient quite a name and say “photog x just received my stipend”….but that would make the stipend photographer way way more important than everyone else…and i just do not want to do that….

    i think it better to show the whole community body of work from whence the stipend photog was chosen…a context….and there are just enough “rough edges” with some of these submissions to not want to “rush publish”

    sure deadlines are important in this business…but, so are captions and general story information!!! back in days when we worked together on the newspaper, do you think clarkson would have published our pictures “on time” if we had no captions??

    john, my friend, you very well know that the deadline is the burden of the photographer to the publisher..and i extended the deadline for the audience here way back…i do not ever recall (do you?) of an editor or publisher having an obligation to me for a publishing date…sometimes my Geographic stories are published a whole year or more after i thought they were to be published…

    now, that is only a reference to the “business” of which YOU spoke..this forum is different..and is not a business anyway…i simply want to give 5k to a worthy emerging photographer…and show, in the best possible way, the work of the audience on harveyforum…..

    there is no doubt in my mind, that if you were sitting right here with me right now and looking at what i am seeing, you would make the same decision for the same reasons!!

    all of that said, i love our little “arm wrestle”…it is fair enough….and part and parcel of how things are challenged and should be challenged in our craft…isn’t that what we have always done???

    maybe we should now have a three way phone chat with rich clarkson….he would settle this for us!!! our original boss is still our boss….can we ever escape???

    peace amigos, david

  • Don’t worry about it David.
    You are doing an amazing thing for this community already, and like most people prior to me already said, it’s better to take a bit more time, and get the result you want out of it. It’s an enormous task and only shows us that you are taking it/our work very serious.
    So take the time you need, have a great time in Paris and Colorado and we’ll hear it when you are ready.

    I myself can fret over making decisions. I’m a libra and the scales go up and down all the time, but I learned to just make some choices very inuitively and it usually works.
    I can still be scared once I decided something, but in the end I never see things as final. If I don’t like the result or the way I’m going, I can always change direction. And that somehow gives me piece of mind.


  • Haha I have learnt 2 new words today… According to my Apple embedded English dictionary, “flak” comes from the German “Fliegerabwehrkanone”, literally ‘Aircraft Defense Gun’ (1930s…).
    Well, maybe not the best of German culture…

    Anyway I think you’re not going to catch any flak at all :)

  • Forgiveness? Ah….let me think…! But for your idea and the the extension, I suspect that a significant portion of this work wouldn’t exist at all. Including mine. We are involved in something that is being defined as it goes — a beta experience.

    The stimulation of a body of work by disparate individuals only joined by this blog is in itself the creation. Discovering what people saw and and how they saw it, what moves and motivates them, will be a fine way to start out a new year. Your challenge started when ours ended, and is to show the work in the best possible way.

    As for tough decisions, I don’t like to make them AND I don’t dwell. I’d rather make them than have someone make them for me, or make them by default. I try to give each one the time it needs (the hardest part for me) and no more.

    Enjoy your time & travels with friends and family.

  • I do wonder how waiting three weeks is actually going to “be tough” on anybody. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit disappointed about having the “deadline” moved, but I also can’t lie and say I wasn’t thrilled back when it was extended for submissions.

    Anyway, for those who think it will be rough on you (which I suspect is actually very few)…take a deep breath, shake it off and go enjoy your day. Maybe make some photos.

    However…just so I don’t come off as a total “kiss ass”… David, you slacker, get back to work! ;^}


  • “but i still think perhaps the “surprise” element is worth waiting for, albeit two weeks late”

    ..yes, absolutely..

    “so many stories entered just have zero caption information”

    ..that’s right, if we collectively didn’t do as asked, and have made your task more difficult, how can we expect you to rush and step over that important aspect? I don’t doubt someone else would just throw out any image without the information that was asked for, disqualify it, and omit the problem.Through an extended time period, you found a way to be inclusive and do us all a favor.

    By the way, Epiphany is celebrated on January 6, and many consider that to be the real ending/beginning of the year. Accordingly, that is when you want to complete things by: eat up any leftover food, release old habits, make decisions. The word epiphany itself means “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.” So revelation that was proceeded by the down to earth. In Christian terms, it’s the revelation of the human child of Jesus as the divine being.

    Too, the Epiphany is coincident with the time when sun is at Perihelion -closest to the planet Earth.This sun energy would bring, in more pagan terms, strength and enlightenment, and would “shed more light on things”.

    So please, feel good about waiting till then!

  • Erica,

    Really? Christian symbolism? Ugh. I don’t think this blog needs that.

    But…maybe that’s just me.

  • David, I sent you a card to my exhibition to Magnum, the address you gave me. In that card is the title and statement of my exhibition, which is actually the same for the photos I uploaded here. Just thought to tell you, since I totally forgot to put it in the meta data. That was something new for me, editing the meta data.

    Anyway I do not know if that helps or if the postcard got to you, but I do actually have a title and a statement for those photos.

    I thank you for all this you are doing, it is an unexpected bonus so it is hard for me to expect anything since you have already surpassed my expectations by providing this for us.

  • Michael, the pagan bit was at the end.. peace and light to you, whatever the source..

  • “with the work of the stipend recipient and the chosen best of everyone else all viewed together on the new website being constructed specifically to display your work….”

    along with your sentence: most of you don’t have a clue about editing.. or something along those lines…

    well, I think that this “workshop” could have been a great learning experience just for that specific point, learn how to edit. But if you only put up the best work, how can one learn that? It would be a pity, to me. But then, I’m not part of it anyway, just thought it might be interesting and something more than a competition.

    best, happy holidays!

  • EVA…

    i know what you mean, but how could i teach online 250 people how to edit??

    when i do this at my workshops, it is an all week intense experience hands on for 8-12 photographers…i just do not think i could duplicate online this stream of teaching….if i could, i would..and if you can tell me how, i will!!!

    however, when the best work is published, maybe i can show some examples of stories where there were many good pictures, but many superfluous pictures also…

    please be aware that editing is a common problem even among some very well known professionals…when i last judged the u.s. national Pictures of the Year competition, i was thinking the same thing….in general, few photographers are good editors of their own work….most need to bring in a friend or someone they respect to get help…so my comment, “most of you need a tough edit” was not intended to be a severe critique…

    stick around…you will pick up on a lot of things here…if you are in the new york area, please come to my loft…i am always helping young photogs how to edit their work…not in official workshops necessarily…if i am home, i am usually available….

    cheers, david

  • ERICA…

    i would rather not disqualify anyone….i can bend a bit….thanks for your support…and i hope to see you soonest in the new year….

    cheers, david

  • If there is still a chance we do not see the assignement as it was never planned, that is: not a contest, with finalists and winner, it would be swell.

    I am convinced that evryone sent work that they are proud to present to David, but that many did not do it with the slightest idea of competition. I am even sure that a few are not expecting anything but David’s consideration and dedication from looking at their essay.

    I think this attitude fits the best how we are all together participating and getting to know each other a bit more every month.

    Let’s keep the final decision about the money recipient just incidental to the whole process, just as I understand David sees and feels it.

  • I’m far from disappointed, just on the edge of my seat! I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say the opportunity to apply for the grant is amazing in and of itself. Thanks David, take your time!!

  • HERVE…

    thanks for your good attitude…..and i will do my best to write private emails to as many entrants as possible with a short critique…yes, you remember correctly..this grant came at the end of our gathering of work…nobody who uploaded originally knew there were funds attached….but, that is why i extended the deadline…this will all come down good….

    cheers, david

  • Herve,

    This is exactly right! In fact I would suspect that is what’s making David’s job all that more intense. Simply declaring a winner of a competition would be the easy part. But, as you call it, a real “consideration” of the work submitted…that’s the exciting part.

    Looking forward to it all.

  • David, looking forward to seeing you too..

    and of course, I am very glad you wouldn’t cut any of us for not giving you everything you needed on the first go around..I appreciate that generosity of spirit

  • thanks for your good attitude…..

    That’s the problem with getting older. Becoming wiser, patient and equanimous…God, I hate it, what happened to my starting blocks?!?!


  • Hi David,

    I have gained tons of respect since the beginning of this blog. Take your time to make the best decision.

    At the end, I chose not to submit my work, not because I think it is of no value but because I do not have the desire to become a pro photog.

    I could share with you my pictures, but outside any kind of competition or exhibition.



  • This opportunity is such a gift… and a few more days won’t hurt anyone. Except maybe our curiosity, which we can all learn to control… So it’s all good.

    Thanks David, and safe travels.


  • Well for me it is always hard to make a tough call. I guess that’s why they call it “tough”.

    Anyway, this delay only shows us how seriously you are taking this, it’s yet again a great surprise, a good one. By the way, I uploaded my share close to the deadline, and since there was no confirmation it would be nice to know if it got all the way through…


  • “it is totally true that it would be really fun if somehow this audience could see this process of selection, as my students do in a workshop..but, i just cannot think of a way to make this happen….can you??”

    Even if you could do this in some partial way it would be amazing. Let’s think about it. Any ideas Michael C?

    “what i will do however, is to write a piece or pieces on the selection process and keying it off of specific stories..”


    You have already mentioned this but I do want to remind you of your “promise” to critique each of the original entries (in the spirit of non-asskissing) :)
    I believe that was part of the “deal” you made when extending the deadline.

  • Mea culpa, for a half:)) … I am one among those who have submitted without caption, yes, very bad!!!, but weeks later I realized and emailed with Michael if i had the chance to resubmit, he confirmed and I did. I too am curious to know if you are doing the work all by yourself or with others: wish i could be a fly surviving the winter cold and be there :)) and watch u and listen to u … anyway you need time, great! … you take the time, and we wait: you have created something unique, free and open to everybody besides their age or nationality or gender, without requiring any contribution fee neither a theme, or a style, or right grabbing, just PHOTOGRAPHY CREATION so where on earth does something equal exists? THANK U, DAVID ALAN HARVEY!!! and ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY. MERRY CHRISTMAS :))

  • David, I understand that it is difficult, but I agree with Eva, at the end we see the best work from the ones who sent work in (I didn’t), it would be much more interesting to see what didn’t made it into the final selection.

  • Of course I can’t wait to see the pictures and comments, but don’t worry for the delay, I don’t want this blog to be a big official competition. Finally the delay makes it more convivial, more like “we’re just between us” style, which I’ve appreciated in this blog. Though this might be more unnoying for the more professional photographers who played with, and for those who feel have good chances to win! (Hey guys, don’t spend the stipend on christmas presents before making sure you won it!!!)

    I usually dwell long on decisions I don’t want to make, and I must “face reality”, that’s very bad!! Oh, and this will be my new year good resolution for this year (my first “new year good resolution” ever).

    I was just looking today at all the old pictures I’ve taken in the last years, and was scared to see how bad most of them have been!!! This blog gave me some insights in what photography is, and some opportunities to progress. Without the time extension I could’nt have posted any pictures, discovering the blog quite late through the magnum blog. 10 days before the submission I was still thinking I wouldn’t probably sent the taken pictures at all…

    Time to come back to the (so bulky) camera!!! I usually don’t take many pictures at all, and haven’t got a single roll developped since I submitted my pictures about one month ago! So bad! But not making excuses! :-)


  • Hi David,

    No need for apologies. On the contrary… it appears the vast majority of people here (myself included) continue to owe you a debt of gratitude.

    Regarding decisions: my day job is basically to develop decision analysis algorithms and software, but I am somewhat indecisive in practice… “somewhat”: I can’t even decide if I’m indecisive. Pathetic!

    So here’s another vote in favor of postponing the “deadline” in favor of doing the right thing. Have a great holiday-


  • One thing i can say is that i love magnum…David,Paolo, Nikos Economopoulos,Koudelka,… but nobody reaches out to the crazy,
    impatient … 250 “groupies” … just like David Allan Harvey does…
    The only photo-genius that i know that doesn’t act like a ’70’s
    “rock-star”… David is not untouchable,he is not hiding…I cant wait
    for your next book… You are to the 250 just what “Leonidas” were for just 50 more…

    p.s:I also love Nikos E. work…We are both from Greece…Guess what:
    “Nowhere to be found…unless you pay…for some kind of workshop… i guess”
    Hey man…once again: “Thanks for being around”…and if you ever find yourself in L.A. dont forget to stop by at one of our parties…!

  • TOME…

    your work is and sound…


    yes, i will do this feedback as per promised..

    i am sitting here with michael…we can think of no way to literally do an online editing excercise…unless we just took one photogs portfolio and showed the “before and after”…would that work for you???

    surely, i will write as much as possible on the process , including a new post discussing this very issue…as i have said many many times, editing is just as important as shooting and layout/typography the same….


    i think the best thing i can do is to give feedback on individual entries as is cathy’s request…i cannot imagine displaying the “not so good work” as being stimulating in any meaningful way, unless it was in the context of editing..


    off to paris in 45 minutes..i do not know if i will have time in the next two days to do much posting, but i will try…

    by thursday, i will be in colorado and will be able to do posting…

    so please, everyone enjoy your holiday time…back to you soonest…

    peace, david

  • David-
    Just the fact that the whole package is more important than the winner is so telling of what you’re trying to do here, and your amazing guru qualities!

    Seeing the variety in how we see, think, organize our thoughts in the same 4 month period will be so much more rewarding for me personally than just winning images. To be able to open that “new” web page and be overwhelmed with images of all kinds, exciting!

    It is so much harder to make decisions concerning other people. My rational side doesn’t allow me to anguish over myself; few important decisions are wrong, they just lead down different roads. But when other people are involved…whatever choice you make is gonna shoot an open can of worms at you.

    I always feel better once a decision is made. I hope that any of the lingering anguish has dissipated! It was a good choice.

    Bon voyage, ami.

    And as for everyone else, I hope wherever you spend your New Year is as beautiful, fresh, clean, and provocative as my snow covered wonderland here in Michigan!

  • “unless we just took one photogs portfolio and showed the “before and after”…would that work for you???”

    The bottom line is that it’s your blog, the rest of us are here as guests. You try very hard to keep it “democratic” and everyone appreciates that but whatever you do must work for YOU. I just wanted to give my “vote” for including us in your editing of our work…any way you can find to do that is most appreciated.

    As you wrote to Stefan:
    “i think the best thing i can do is to give feedback on individual entries as is cathy’s request…i cannot imagine displaying the “not so good work” as being stimulating in any meaningful way, unless it was in the context of editing..”

    Here’s a thought…
    Are you planning on giving the feedback “publicly” here on the blog or thru private e-mail? If we were in a workshop you wouldn’t be taking each one of us aside to critique our work privately, or would you?

    In previous workshops I’ve taken the entire class sees and hears all critiques together so if everyone is up for that maybe we could all learn from each other and see examples of what you are critiquing.

  • checking 250 essays is one hell of a task i guess so i was surprised when you said you want to do so in the pre-christmas time. anyways, i’d be more than happy to get any kind of feedback.

    take care,

  • David – If I made you laugh this morning then I’ll call it mission accomplished. My half-hearted rant was just that—and since I’m not likely to be one to stir the pot in person, I figure I can get away with it through the electronic veil, where I can regret and squirm in private :)) It was really just in the spirit of giving “a little flak” which you had already resigned to catching.

    Maybe I just needed to hear it in terms I could relate like “… dudes, I was waaaaaaay to hung-over after the Magnum party to look at your work on Saturday… you’re gonna have to give me a few days…”

    But seriously, on to editing and captions. I probably fall into the group that’s lacking in both areas. I consider myself pretty savvy digitally, but the idea of putting the entire story in metadata kind of flew past me, as it probably did for most. I had expected that if the work itself was compelling enough, that a request for a descriptive paragraph or two would follow. Maybe a text form field on the site can be created to accompany the submissions of future projects.

    As for editing I (probably as most) maxed out with 20. I had asked this question in the past, but never found the answer: Beyond just shooting, is this a fine art exercise in editing, or an editorial exercise in building a relationship with an editor? (In this case, DAH.) If it’s the latter, then I would expect the submissions to be loose and maxed, as I presume an editor would prefer, but makes the process longer (therefore the need for David’s extension.) Most of us could probably edit the work of others, but struggle with editing our own.

    You’re probably right that a “teaser” has little point so close to the end of this project, but maybe on the site for future projects, a weekly random favorite could be posted. The Photo Friday thing I have going kind of has that feel.

    Is there any way to do a case study of the selection process for one of the submissions, even if it only starts out as a written piece? Maybe that’s something a photographer from one of the workshops could write.

    Lastly, this isn’t completely related to this entry, but I have to comment anyway—I’m not entirely buying that more time necessarily creates a more thorough process. Of course it depends on the task, but a refreshing type of focus comes from being under the gun, and the efficiency can be quite surprising. David I’m not suggesting you’ll procrastinate on this, but I bet you’ll still have the same rush at the end when it comes to final decision making. Otherwise, what fun would it be?

    So thank you, dankie, gracias, ahsante, muito obrigado. Your tireless efforts are why we are a community.

    Best of luck in Paris and CO.

    David M

    PS Did I win? :))

    PSS I’ll let you know if the Aaron Siskind Foundation meets their deadline. :))

  • David, thank you for your response and your gentle offer, should you stroll through Tuscany you’re welcome here (not for editing, but a glass of wine ;) ).

    “the entire class sees and hears all critiques together so if everyone is up for that maybe we could all learn from each other and see examples of what you are critiquing.”

    That’s what I think too. Of course you can’t publish all the 250 entries, but some perhaps you can, let us see all the 20 pictures (or how many were sent for the specific essay) and tell us which are in and which out, and if the case also why. I don’t even think too many words are necessary, seeing and thinking by our own why you have decided one way instead of another would be very stimulating. So basically what you wrote:”however, when the best work is published, maybe i can show some examples of stories where there were many good pictures, but many superfluous pictures also…” would be very appreciated!

    Saluti, buone feste :)

  • David

    Festina Lente=Hurry slowly[sort of Latin]

    Your party=your rules= your abilty to reschedule if required.

    Cripes-give the guy a break-all this FOR FREE!
    Festive thoughts

  • Christ, yu brought this on yourself:) Did you REALLY think David that you would get through 250 essays in a month’s time with a WKSHP in BKK and Xmas in the same month?:) LOL, David, and you struck me a such a realistic guy when I hung out with you for those 2 weeks in Seoul.

    1. You did us a huge favor. We dont have the right to bitch.
    2. Just doing this was a favor for 90% of us: it got us thinking along the same lines as a professional: projcts and editing. Thats the biggest step anyway, the rest is a matter of learning.
    3. Who really expects to win? I dont, so what do I care when you show us the work? Now, if I was expecting to win then maybe I’d be pissed…but would never admit it in public.
    4. 250 photographers? You were lucky it wasnt a thousand. Im shocked it wasnt much more than a thousand to be truthful.

  • Beside my etymological comments about ‘flak’, I would also like to say that I really see no reason to complain, given the informal character of this forum and the fact that David does all this ‘for free’. This is not a ‘business’ thing and, as pointed out by several people, this is also what makes it so enjoyable. Now, I understand of course that one may become a bit impatient to know the outcome but, being among those who have no chance to win, I am not so much curious to see the one winning submission as I am to see the whole set of selected pictures. I guess the “best one” will probably be not that much better than the “second best” anyway (if it makes sense at all to rank essays in this way)… And, like Eva, I think it would be very interesting to know why some pictures were selected and why some weren’t, at least for a small number of essays.

    Regarding the captions, I am also among the people who put very little information. But when I look at photography books, most of the time I only see the place and date. Now, the pictures in these books have, by definition, been very carefully edited, and there is certainly a “visual thread” in them, as you said, which may lack in our submissions. But, on the other hand, I think that sometimes the theme of the essay may be quite clear and, even if the edit is not good or should be cut, would the captions make much difference then?

    It is also true that in books, there is most of the time a short introduction, foreword or afterword… This is generally very interesting to read how the photographer feels about his own work, about the place/people he photographed and what his intentions were. And it may help understand the photographs at a deeper level. But, at the same time, does it make the pictures any better? One may not even agree with the photographer’s interpretation of his own pictures, but still love them. So I see these texts more as interesting bonuses than as an integral part of the work. I think the same about titles. They may be very subjective and, quite often, other titles could fit as well. Just like novels’s titles, about which authors sometimes change their mind several times before making a decision. What do you think?

  • i just returned from an overnight snowshoeing trip to the mountains. I’m totally exhausted. I was thinking about the results on Saturday during the hike and felt regret that I will be late to congratulate the winners.

    So I was elated to hear you need more time!


  • yo, David…just left u a comment under Tell It Like It Is :)))))



  • David, There should be no apologies regarding this undertaking. You should do what you need to do, when it can be done. What else?

    But on a slightly different note, I do believe it would be a shame if the key operational/logistical details of this project were lost, so maybe they should be written up — just a very short account — for use on the Magnum site… If this just adds to your workloads then maybe an intern or even one of us could volunteer to do it…copy back to you for factual additions, fact-checking etc… Just an idea.


  • Hey Dave,
    Am here in Winton , the heart of Petterson country,on the verandah of the Tatt’s Hotel accross the road is the North Gregory Hotel where our od mate Banjo got into a litle trouble with some sheila named Matilda.
    It’s taken me 2 days driving to get down this far from Darwin, It’s hot, theres no one around,the flies have only just gone down , someone stole my spare tyre , Have you ever seen a movie called the Proposition?
    It was filmed around here ,the main character , a policeman walks out into the street a week before Christmas , High summer , and says
    ” Australia! What fresh hell is this?”
    So spare a thought for the southern hemisphere when your up in Colarado – We are baking here!

  • The hardest wait is to see the work online. Really curious to see the diversity of work (Editing that is going to be a big challenge I bet). Wary of the internet after today. Someone hacked into my ebay account and managed to list 200 Pink Hair curlers from my account. Very weird.

  • Your honesty is like a breath of fresh air.
    Can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking
    the time to get it right. Happy Holidays to
    one and all.


  • David,

    I am wondering whether you guys printed the submissions out on some sort of contact sheets or whether the it’s all done on a computer screen?

  • GLENN,

    You’re just saying that to taunt us, aren’t you, given that it is a balmy 28 with a windchill of 15 here in our happy little burg [that’s -2 with a wc of -9 for those of you on the Celsius scale, and yes, we are all freezing our bahakas off here in the northeastern US of A]

  • Have hardly slept the last 3 days because I had to prepare a last minute gallery show, that will start right when I come back from Scotland. I got the news on friday evening and had only the weekend and half of today to get all done. I only wish I could make it a smaller show or have some more time for preparation …

    Minutes ago I was thinking of making a call and “call it off”, because I cannot take decisions anymore – my head feels like it is full of wet&used tea-bags.

    But I am so over the edge, I cannot even decide to make the call… I just want to sleep …

    I will not make the call, i know it, and I will be glad for that. I knew it would get very tough, so the first thing I did was a huge to do list. I am just following the list. Brainless as I am right now. Just following the list until the very end and hoping, I did not forget anything.

    I took the decision of not making the call right at the beginning. Right on Friday. BUT if anything would not have worked out as written on my list, I would have tried for a change in time or amount.

    But apart from this very special situation – and I have not read all the posted comments yet – it is very important to be able to revise decisions if situations change. Something that is ok today might not be ok tomorrow anymore.

    History is full of examples…

    I will be departing now. And I wish all of you a wonderful time with friends & family & fresh pies & whatever your hearts demand.

    If I manage to get online, I’ll write from Scotland, otherwise I’ll hopefully be back in January.

    (have not sent anything in for this contest of yours, David, but I am looking forward to see the wonderful portfolios that surely got sent in. And I am sure most of the people did not aim for the money but for the chance of having you reviewing it…)

    All the best for all of you,

  • Hi Lassal
    Your off to Scotland, thats awesome, I am actually Scottish myself and my dad is there in Edinburgh, just out side, called Kirkliston. anyway where are you going, are you on Holliday or wrk? make sure you have some extra layers, it’ll be freezing there.
    have fun, and to you and David, Bon Voyage!

  • i’m under no illusion of winning; just excited to see who did! gotta be some great stuff…

  • but Mustafah:

    u r an EXCELLENT photographer…and so damn young!!!!!! ;)))))….

    listen: i am NO illusions either, but I cant wait to see ur essay too :))…


  • He’s running again.

    Hi Bob.

  • I’m afraid that I’m the only person who didn’t write her contact info too! but I’m not sure still you receive the pix. it was first time I use ftp by my mac and it made me confused a bit.
    any way Noushin Najafi Birgani is me with this emil address :-)

  • David,

    I always wondered how on earth you would be able to come up with a choice in a month, so I was somehow relieved to see you extended the deadline ! Postponing sounds like a wise and considerate decision, and I think it actually shows respect to the photographers, by taking the appropriate time to review their work properly. I confess I have a bit of a hard time understanding the people who complain: this is not an assignment with a deadline and some cash at the end ! This is about you, a Magnum photographer, deliberately willing to dedicate some of his time to help others (and even raising money for that purpose) !

    As for taking tough decisions, well I guess it all depends: sometimes it helps to have friends’ advice, others it’s better to ponder on your own, you can follow your head or follow your guts, sometimes it’s good to doubt and wait, sometimes it’s better to rush and “jump in the water”… I think the worst is having regrets about not having taken a decision ?

    Anyway, enjoy your Xmas holidays and have a happy New Year :-)

  • hey paul :))))…yea, always-always ;)…what else to do? ;))))



  • Very nice work, Mustafah.

  • Hi “w robert”,
    yeah, cannot wait. Should be packing because I leave in some hours but … stuck here ;-)
    Will be on Davaar Island for the first week. Half work and half fun – need some peace of mind for some tasks and thought that the island would be best. Meeting Rose there, the landlady, and her family. Don’t know if anybody else will be there. We will be renting the Lighthouse house, which just sounds perfect.
    Hope it is not going to be too cold. Gulf Stream and all… but I am prepared to have a bottle of Lagavulin in front of the open fireplace every day while reviewing my essays!
    Well, maybe a glas of it. Or three… For the sake of orthography. (Thankfully it is going to be in German)

    I’ll pass through Edinburgh. Looking forward to see it.

    Call me crazy but we are trying one night in a bothy… yeah. During wintertime… Hmmm … Guess I’ll have to put everything on I have. ;)


  • Wow, I just love your work, Mustafah!

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