taking aim…

there is a little discussion going on in the previous post about  "war vs. peace" photography and photographers…we can keep that one going, but i would also like to broaden the discussion a bit and chat about "subject matter" period…

how important is it with what you choose to photograph in the first place? do you think "great photographers" choose inherently  "great subjects"?? 

so, just to get you thinking a bit more….please note that Ansel Adams did not set up his large format camera in Iowa…what would have happened if he did??  can you  imagine Salgado shooting in a shopping mall in Los Angeles?….in discussing Allard, most of you referred to his photographs from the West (how important is the graphic element of the cowboys hats?) ….what about his stories on Thai elephants or Cyprus?  ….does Nachtwey "need" conflict or war to be "great"?  does Annie Leibovitz "need" celebrities to make her work sing?? must Mario Testino have "beautiful people" in front of his lens to be Mario??

these are just questions…questions that come up every time i meet with a photographer trying to find her/his way…i am not giving you my opinion (yet)…i want yours….

most "professional" photographers are, by nature,  required to make any subject "look good"…they earn their living by  lending their expertise and talent to a wide variety of subject matter….certainly the mantra for most professionals  is the general thought that they should be able to go anywhere, anytime, and make "anything" look "dramatic" or at least "picture worthy"…

however,  most of the photographers you mention here in your comments  and  actually "admire" do not do this at all…are they "smarter" by choosing the "right" subject or are they just "driven" to do what they do??

the long and short of it: are some subjects just "visually loaded"??  how important is this to you?  where and how do you want to "take aim"?? 

191 Responses to “taking aim…”

  • i think it goes into the realm of what is important to you, what you care about, what you want to ‘talk’ about and you bring to that who you are and the way you respond to those elements… Ansel Adams, I think, was concerned with the environment…Allard just seems to delight in his ‘dance’ with people…his approach is warm, inviting and a little exciting. Annie is powerful and tender and to me, seems somewhat shy…i wonder if her association with celebrities gives her a vehicle to express herself. Nahtwey doesn’t hold anything back and i think he would make those same pictures so matter what he photographed. For me, the photographs that are compelling are so because the photograher is. We can’t help but bring to our work the inner reflection of our times and our locations.

  • david :))

    want to bite on this one :)))))…no time, but can i be so bold, to leave you something about content: for me it’s born all of the same place, what lay inside…will write tonight…

    and i’ll leaving something later this morning ;))


  • david alan harvey


    it is so so nice that i read you here!!! just before i left for Brazil, the day before, i finally received my copy of “Dancing in the Afternoon”….i am so so proud of you…more proud of you than i would ever ever be for myself!!!

    you have personified the very things of which you speak above…to say “congratulations” is not enough…trite almost…so , i will just say that you have warmed my heart…that is all i can think of right this minute…i hope that is enough until we next meet in person….

    love, david


    i wrote that whole post , just so you would “bite” !!!….we are all waiting!!! rip it up my friend…..and please please come on down to Look3…i will be waiting for you…

    abrazos, david

  • David:

    Just look at Ralph E. Meatyard’s work. No need to travel or choose exotic subjects. He could work with this freedom probably because his main concerns about photography where related something much more profound, like time, dead, sence of place.

    I wish I had a better english to write a deeper coment…


  • David :))

    was talking with Marina last night about Look3…will write u when i return from Charlotte…

    now, i have to run to teach, so i will leave u something, part of which i wrote for Rene’s book, part of which i expanded for you and look3…hope to publish it in its entirety soon if some mag is interested: about things…about photography…will write something later in the day about what photographers choose (where it comes from) or if subjects choose them…here is a beginning…



    Of The Old and Memory

    We are caught, a wisteried half-coin of shadow, between thumb and forefinger, of tooth and tongue, caught and unsettled in the absence of things. Is it they or we who are absent among the gathering and re-gathering of that which once was?

    Once, undone.

    The stitching of things: twigs, stone, kettle and the bone which once made up all that nailed itself around your calcified and indentured home. The ordinary spec of things which appear to be there for long, but much later seem to have been lost, a forsaking, to the space and the place of things. Where is it that things go, between the tough of palate and the turn of time, to which bending of which corner, what dampened and rusting space below the bannister, which clear glass of water, which board sagging beneath the weightless circumference of the shell that long ago was abandoned by an early and viscous interior life. Where to, those ordinary things jostling in their vanishing, when they have not yet long left our call and cadence of them is the place to which they depart?

    The jolt in the un-finding.

    We are bruised.

    We are bruised by spared space and the lift of light, a tongued tunnel of shadow lip-lit, and the hanging of a boot, moth rain and the curl of steel beneath breathed-upon moisture, the arch of the wearied ribs of a roof and the calf of a window’s muscle, the knotted knuckles of twined flower-fingers poured out of themselves from a glass and the un-carefully set dime: the spare and dare of things.

    We are bruised by the plum print of ordinary things. Those ordinary things which tattoo themselves along the passages of our ordinary lives, those things which seldom scotch-tape their removal stuck to us, but still tinkering away in their falling away: through our list and canter, the fibrous caught gone of us.

    So, how does one begin to sing upon the sting of things without welching a maudlin voice? Begin with a memory, the stitch and twitch of something that broke through forlorn sight toward a more fecund sight: a cold winter evening when you were a child.

    You remember the old this:

    Once you could curl into any small space, the size in height of a quarter, the length of a broken limb from an Elm, between a floor radiator and the bowing oak floor itself. It was then that you learned to carve yourself into spaces, imprint your child’s flesh against the bark of the hard-chiselled radiator and the un-giving floor, chiselled the way one’s initials are carved into the dentures of a school desk. You settled there, yoga’d your body in the radial breathing and bending that would best allow you to stick, like a finger between hip and socket, into the hermitage of the baseboard heater, a space that became a Sistine firmament when you closed your eyes, there beneath that which was above. Beneath the radiator you crawled and listened to the hum, the soft drumming of sound that was fluent between the grammar of the wooden floor boards and the syntax of the cast-iron pipe, sound in song and dialogue above and beneath you. How large that space? How no one knew but you as you crawled from out of your bed into the pilot’s bunk beneath. Even now, the sound is there in a home years away and miles stretched, the pliant boards that still vibrate with the ache of their age and the softening knots of the water when heated and blown through iron pipes. The old and the new. But it was then that you learned to tattoo yourself against things: the way things leap at and into. What other explanation is there that you still dream of things you know longer know the names or places of. The naming of those spaces. A floor board, horse hair, licked rain, gone homes, a crucifixion on the streets of Havana, tattooed staring from bus-window caverns along dusty roads, the children netted by lavender and lost shadow, broken and bloodied feet, chewed upon sugarcane-bone, all.

    The detritus of our lives: excavate it and see what shall unsettle.

    The unsettling of the settlement of things ticking. Our forlorn and grieving bickering.

    Come. Let us See.


    Testimony and Abacus of Bone: Pictures

    1. Iron bent like the curve of a vowel that has grown old, sat like long cupped rain over the shoulders of strangers who have failed to catch the soft sound for the coffin of the word that has pinched it: wrought and rung relief.

    2. A wrist that carries the dragon seeds of the dead now clipped along the bellow’d bone of its travels: desert and time and elapsed taps: home.

    3. Once the milky moon, wearied of it’s blue-ghost brother, shattered itself into tears which spread like fireflies across the firmament and fell, stardust and cottonseed breath, upon the netting of a summer window in a child’s room in the country: of which dreams became earth, of which net became the milky-way, of which reflection and bulb became chrysalis and quasar, of which became you.

    4. At rest two reptilian spines, arched over wet weed and gooey block, the lustrating lustre, that shift and sift of that which once was: of this so are you.

    5. And when you were asked, “what shall we do with your ashes?” you nodded and spoke of glass and water and root and bloom and pointed: in that glass see the bones of my limbs, the ribs of my smile, the teeth of my skin, the blood of the water of which I am composed, finger and joint, nail and hair, breathing: two unbaked tuber branches inside, drinking, the urn of glass: i too shall flower, through loss and leave, of this.


  • david alan harvey


    your English is “better”….good point about Meatyard….and there are many other good examples….i think some photographers are subject driven and some make “subjects” out of whatever is “inside” their heart and soul…

    cheers, david

  • by the way, i have always felt things CHOOSE ME, not that I choose them…

  • David….and everyone….this is it. I’m one of the ones who is a bit shy, but i feel so strongly about this whole subject that i had to jump…into whatever…love that feeling. The first time i worked with David he knew exactly who else i’d “been with’ …and that infuriated me. Being a new photographer i was trying to learn and also to not deal with my own personal make-up….impulsive, wild, quiet, contemplative, timid about some things….well, it’s all gone away…most of it anyway…and it’s taken being with David and a couple other people…being in their yard, but doing my own building…it makes you respond more to others who have that same passion and it doens’t matter what they photograph. it’s very cool and so, so (to quote you, David) freeing and important to feed yourself.

  • david alan harvey


    nice start!!! you are amazing!!!

    ok, now i am running..damn …i have to make a presentation in an hour and i have not shaved, showered or even thought about it until right this second…thanks for the reminder!!

    peace, david

  • Hi David, I think that the mentioned photographers have enough to do(earn) with inspiring/nice/atmospheric subjects. If you consider someone not famous, he might have to work on any kind of subjects in order to pay the bills, I might be wrong but it is surely easier to make what you like when you earn enough to live with it… On the other hand, some people tend to be better with specific subjects, it may be war, celebrities, whatever, they all have talent but this talent might even be superior when the matter is talking to them, more inspiring, referring to private stuff or whatever…

  • DAVID said (beautifully)

    “good work is a balance of feeling the “weight” and yet being at peace with yourself and your work…”

    PERHAPS most work that really sings has found a similar balance between ‘visually loaded material’ and the photographer’s ‘drive’..though there are undoubtedly individuals who could spin gold from straw.

    Listening to the words in the video clips in that link about the Portuguese contest, the word EMOTION comes up more than others when talking about an image that excels. No one said..great cowboy hat.. but certainly there are visual triggers which play on our emotions, some raw, and some from the palette of the surrounds – feeding memory and desire and the collective myths we create as people.

  • Hello David and all, this is my first post here.I think there are some subjects that are “visually loaded” because they are “socially loaded” at the same time, as e.g. in conflict situations or crime. So there are a lot of emotions or other things going on, that attract our interest as social human beings. If we capture this with a camera, we may have an interesting visual copy, may be the chances to get others interested in this capture are higher, but it may nevertheless not be the outstanding picture. I think the most important “visual load” is brought by the photographer into the picture (dunno if i can say “onto the subject”?). When we are really fascinated by something or obsessed, we see other aspects, we see deeper into the matter. Then we cross a border and step beyond what can be explained factually, be it in words or visually. Some then write a piece of music, some a poem, and some take a photo to express the “load” (which is a load on them actually?). I wouldn´t have thought that taking pictures on a farm would be “visually loaded”, until I have seen Alessandra Sanguinetti´s presentation in Oslo about her work on a farm in Argentina and the two girls growing up there. The auditorium was fascinated and what you could hear again and again was “hey, she took pictures of cows and and dogs and farm life, normal stuff – but did you ever think this could be so interesting and original?” In the presentation you could feel how much Alessandra was interested and obsessed in this, that she really took care.
    May be a photographer must be interested in the subject first and interested in photography second.

  • david alan harvey


    every photograher that i know who became “famous” (your word) enough to have the freedom to do what they do, did so by always being “who they are” from the very beginning…everyone has to pay the bills, and most of the well known photogs still struggle to “pay the bills”…

    you cannot become “well known” in the first place unless you have done something special and that must be done “on your own”…there is nobody out there who will pay you to “do your own thing” unless you are already doing “your own thing”…this must be done perhaps in your “spare time” with personal projects done as a labor of love and not for money…

    the work you do to “struggle to pay the bills” will never get you to a point where you have the freedom you desire…waiting for some mythical person or institution to “recognize” your talents will never happen unless YOU recognize your talents and put them out for all to see…


    i think you are “spot on”…emotion is certainly the “key” and different photographers find different ways to “trigger” their own emotions which then perhaps will “trigger” an emotional response in the viewer…

    if we are all totally honest with ourselves, i think most photographers, no matter how talented, would admit that some subjects are “better” than others as “vehicles” to represent artistic intent…you are correct, nobody says “nice cowboy hat”,but you are also correct in saying that some icons serve in “feeding memory and desire and the collective myths”…well put…

    i know for myself that some subjects just would never let me “be me”, no matter how hard i “work”…and with the same set of eyes that i have always…maybe i can always come up to a certain “level”, but i am talking about the work that “identifies” who you are as a photographer..just as some “great actors” sure do seem to be “better actors” when they have the “right script” and are in the “right movie”…

    surely every “artist” is looking always for the “grist” that allows them the VOICE and lets them BE….


  • Ok, I’m going to jump in here on this one…first time poster…long time reader.

    On the surface, there are two types of photographers here or photographic opportunities, if you will. Those who are being paid to get the picture (Leibovitz) and those who have the luxury of choosing their subject matter (Adams). I think Nachtway is a hybrid of this, he chose to be a war photographer and earns his living from it. Have to get the shot…want to get the shot.

    Under the surface however there is obviously more going on…passion, commitment…something to say…how well the photographer really knows and can express themself visually.

    Last night, I attended a presentation by Harry Benson and he made a comment that really made me think…he said, “I photograph people the way they want to see themselves” Seems contrary to the comments we hear about personal vision, ” through my eyes”, etc… Seems to me that you would really have to know your subject to be able to do this, yet he spent very little time with many of the celebrities he photographed and still pulled that off. I digress…

    I think it boils down to passion, commitment and having something to say. Using your examples David, Admams had a passion for and commitment to preserving the environment…Nachtway, a passion for a commitment to exposing the atrocities of war…they feel it and sacrifice for it. Thus, subject matter…maybe less important. Passion for and commitment to subject matter…maybe everything.

  • david alan harvey


    thanks for “jumping in”…

    i think you have it right….

    surely, i would not put Harry Benson in the same category as most of the photographers whose names have been mentioned here…he is a hard working,charming, resourceful, “go get ’em Fleet St. photographer”, and he has gotten some real celebrity “scoops”, but i would not look to him as inspirational…

    now, i will wait to get “hit over the head” by a Harry Benson lover!!!


  • This is a great subject. It is, however, so loaded, that a guy could get into real trouble trying to tackle it all.

    If Ansel…Iowa, the world would have the greatest pre sunset cornfield shots in the world. Salgado would shoot malls at dawn on the day after Xmas to get the hordes. Now that would make a statement.

    I think there is a bit of serendipity involved when a photographer finds a subject both that he can get into and that will market well.

    There is a heirarchy in art appreciation, or maybe it’s a triangle shape large at the bottom narrow at top. The most common sensibility is, “Wow, I’ve been on that mountain at that mall.” Somewhere up higher is “hmm, I like it, but I don’t know why. What was the artist trying to do?” AND everything in between and above.

    When Friedlander was laid up with an illness, he shot, what was it, plants that were right around him?

    What do any of you think about the watertower series from the couple in Germany?

    When you see a series showing only people’s feet/legs on the street, what is your response? “Wish I’d done that first.”

    What’s your purpose, to inform? delight?

    Of course there has to be a balance between subject and photographer, but what is it?

    As I said, loaded question, loaded with more questions.

  • I think good actors are good by the films they choose to be in. Nobody is going to remember great acting if the script is shite. Good photographers are good by the subject matter they choose isn’t the rest just craft?

  • To stretch Harry’s actor metaphor a little further, arent we really typecasting a little here? When we hear Ansel Adams, we expect to see Yosemite, we hear Salgado we expect to see the wretched of the earth, we hear Nachtwey we expect to see war. When we hear these names and then see photos of Iowa or a mall or people walking down a street doing nothing but talking to each other arent we all a little disappointed that our expectations have not been met? And that we will judge these photographs not on their own inherent virtues but on our disappointed expectations?

  • I may be wrong but I do not think one can name 10 well known photographers, dead or alive, whose success lies in their encompassing the gamut of photographic subjects. Forget the gamut, even 3 or 4. I am talking highest standards, not good stuff (since they are well known). Granted some subject overlap (environmental, street, facial portraits), yet by highest standards, one can still see the special gifts within these more “technical” categories, and if equal, according to social relevance.

    So, save few exceptions, you can always pin down a well-known photographer to a style, which is more than often tied to a visceral approach to the world, that limits the scope of subjects, while freeing the scope of emotions.

    (quite possible I needed another cup of coffee, and erred again…)

    On the topic of loaded subjects, I was surprised to read Mc Curry say that it did not matter if the “afghan girl” was indian or pakistanese. From the technical POV, sure, but no way from the ever-increasing fame OVER THE YEARS. A great shot became iconic because of the history and suffering of a specific country in a specific time. ie. “load” is important.

  • Nice subject. I’m still looking for the answer. I think it implicates a choice of life, an hard choice. Raymond Depardon tried to answer at this question in his book Paris Journal. Very Nice pictures in that book, shooted “around” his daily life in Paris. He’s more known for his work in Africa and in the desert. But same man, same style.

  • I think that any good professional photographer can make good photographs out of any subject at least at a technical level with a fair amount of vision/creativity. However the more emotionally connected you are as a photographer to the subject matter at hand the easier it is to be both yourself as an artist and be inspired by the situation.

    As my fellow news photographer buddies and I say “If you go to a war zone or famine and can’t bring back pictures that break your heart – there is something critically wrong with you.”

    That said the photographers whom we find inspirational gravitate to the subjects that they care about. Once Ansel Adams did a project with Dorothea Lange with the idea that Adams would do the landscapes and Lange would do the portraits. As soon as they got on location Ansel was more into doing the portraits and Lange was caught up in the nature photos. So they did that instead.

    My background is nature photography but my love is to photograph people in their own beautiful and mysterious lives. My landscapes are good but fail to emotionally captivate me the way that ordinary people do and my photos show it.

    When I have a subject that I am excited about my work is always better than the ones where I am making something out of thin air. When the greats go to work they have a much greater ability to choose their assignments and even then they tailor their coverage to the things that are in their emotional “wow zone”.

    David, if you got a call to do the photographs on a story about the life cycle of the Namibian Sand Wasp which only lives in an isolated patch of the desert, would you take it? I wouldn’t think so as even though you could find ways to make interesting photos of that subject you are emotionally and creatively driven by people. That would be a story for a guy like Frans Lanting who is all about animals and nature and very much to a lesser degree peoples lives.

    When Friedlander took photos of the plants near his bed when he was sick, they were not his best images. Put him in his “wow zone” and he’s Lee Friedlander again. Put David in Havana and it’s visual party time. Put David on his belly on the hot desert sand with a macro lens to shoot bugs – much less so.

  • … If exist “right” subject, why we have not two hundred “Nachtweys” every time when bus with “photojouranlist-turist” going into the war?

    … If “right” subject not exist why Nachtwey not publish his “drama” pictures from his kitchen?

    First of all “good photography” is not only photojournalism.

    I think good photography is always something what we see looking at past not for future.

    there not exist “Recipe” for good photography… talent?… subject?… intelect?… luck?… moment?… money?… possibilities?… magnum?… equipment?… ????
    even if we will have all of it… it is not mean that we will have good photography.
    but when we looking at good picture… or five hundred good pictures… we will see that this photographer had talent, right subject, intelect, luck, possibilities, equipment…

    I think that “right” subject is very very important.
    but what is “right” for me or for you not mean that it is “right” for all. That’s why “good look professional” photography is not “great” photography. that’s why I will never be Nachtwey and “everythingmade professional photographer” never will be me and Nachtwey. But this is not mean that Nachtwey will have great pictures only into conflict and he can’t make “great” pictures of flowers and pets.

    I thought last time that I have “right” subject, but I still have not “right” pictures… why? what I missed?
    talent?… subject?… intelect?… luck?… moment?… money?… possibilities?… magnum?… equipment?… ????

  • David, I know that this is not easy for everyone, and I’ve learned by reading your blog that well known photographers also struggle and of course they also have to pay the bills, I didn’t want to be arrogant… I just wonder if it wasn’t easier to reach the top of the bucket before the digital era, when less people where on the market…sorry for my poor english, my words might not reflect my mind… Getting recognized is a lot of work I guess and a lot of luck at the right time maybe ? By looking at the websites of some writers here I see a lot of good photographs (for what I can judge) and I am sure they work hard and it still doesn’t make them famous.. Anyway your initiative (blog, emerging photographers, …) is a very good opportunity and chance…

  • I’ve heard photographers complain about things, that their story is not a big issue, is not as good as others, is not as exotic as the story of the monkey trainer in India from Mary Ellen Mark for example, or like the stories in major publications… I quite agree with Jorge, that many of us forget to see around them to get the biggest story of their life.

    And I would say yes to Anne Henning, who said about “it goes into the realm of what is important to you, what you care about, what you want to ‘talk’ about and you bring to that who you are and the way you respond to those elements”. Passion connects us to our pictures. But it depends on the intensity of our passion to the subject, and also depends on the way we frame the subject in our consciousness. And so will the picture not only the reflection of the time and location of the moment, but also the reflection of ourselves.

    IMHO… correct me if I’m wrong..



  • Another very interesting topic along this one, is: can a well-known, influential, “great” photographer loose his/her “Midas” touch, for any reason (age, artistic block, no reason, etc…)?

    I know it’s been said of a few ones here (Salgado, Nachtwey, etc…), that there was a period of genius, unmatched later on, even as the photographer kept his/her relevance, if historic at least.

    PS: I keep writing “well-known”, as opposite to me, for ex., who has the total freedom to choose shooting what and as I wish, “say” absolutely nothing in the process, while blissfully enjoying it all like a pig in a pigstye, the muddier, the better… Priceless! :-)

  • In my opinion, for most photographers it is obviously a combination of subject and talent.

    But then you have the kind of talent that doesn’t need an interesting subject. The greatest street photographers, for example, work with the mundane, and somehow manage to find interest there. Witness Winogrand, or the obvious example, Cartier Bresson. Or William Eggleston. Martin Parr, even though he shoots in a variety of places all over the world, has a special talent to expose the mundane. In Parr’s case, one would almost say that an “interesting” subject would work against the merit of his photographs.

    It might just be that it is a matter of different kinds of “talent.” It does take talent to make a good photograph in your own backyard. But it also takes talent (of a different type, probably) to make good photographs in a war zone.

  • “however, most of the photographers you mention here in your comments and actually “admire” do not do this at all…are they “smarter” by choosing the “right” subject or are they just “driven” to do what they do??”

    I would hope that photographers who are shooting, not for a job, are shooting what they have a passion for, visual or otherwise, and not shooting because of what they think everyone else will like or what will look the best to others. That is my hope, I always like people who are down to earth and honest and shoot stuff they are honestly into and have a passion for. For myself that is all I can do because I can not “see” what I do not have a passion for even though I know say shooting an in depth essay say on heroine addicts is one lots of people think is “deep” and interesting and photographically interesting.

  • What I do when looking at pictures is consider “subject” inseparable from theme and style. When I see a great photograph, these notes are played at just the right pitch and the resulting chord resonates, creates harmonics, and sings.

    Theme… I think of as the unspoken, universal, abstract idea behind the work as a whole. If the world is chaotic and photography, by framing it and arresting it, imposes order, then the reason behind that order is my “theme”… metanarrative. Or the deeper meaning, passion (or obsession, or fetish, or drive, or preoccupation…)

    Subject… content, what it “is”, is not, and represents. Symbol, stand-in or simulacra, signifier and relationship to signified, etc…

    Style… the form of the photo, how the photographer chooses to say what he or she is saying.

    I think what makes a photographer “great” is the degree of refinement of each of these very complex parts, and their ability to relate them to each other in interesting ways. With refinement, I think, comes self-awareness and with that the ability to consistently create great work.

    So, if Nachtwey’s theme is empathy for human suffering, and his Dalai Lama pictures are as poetic as his always are, maybe the subject didn’t serve the theme, didn’t address it directly enough (symbol of a symbol?)… maybe that’s why folks are disappointed with the work? Does he need war specifically? No, I don’t think so… (prisoners in Alabama?)

    If Leibovitz’s theme is the mythos of celebrity, maybe photos of non-celebrities would also be disappointing (but maybe a photo of a non-celebrity that comments on the theme would be enough?)

    If Adam’s theme is the sublime in nature, I think he would have found that anywhere. Maybe not in midtown.

    If Blenkinsop’s subjects are victims of conflict, motorcycle accidents and dog slaughterhouses, what is his theme? Lurid death seems to fit… so I see a disconnect between his work and what he says about it (how he wants/needs to be perceived)

    So my short answer… while some subjects may be visually loaded, (generally) great photos need more…

  • I just read of this big exhibition in London by a german photographer…50,000 visitors in few weeks…
    He portrayed people few days before dying and just after death.
    children included. Just two photos each. I wonder if this is photography or what….. voyeurism?
    it seems just a problem of finding the ultimate idea, as weird as possible…

  • hi david, hi all,

    hhhhhmmmmmm subjects: which ones do we choose? or, do they choose us? i think that this is all down to our individual make: up our personal history, our mood on any given day, our thoughts, our feelings.

    sometimes something becomes interesting to me because of a book or books i have read, movies/tv programs i have seen, people i have spoken to, or have simply seen or experienced directly. the seed has been planted by some external means. but then i my seek out a subject based on my thoughts, opinions, feelings, my mood. the subject may reflect what i’m thinking. it gives form to to what exists in my head. but then a subject may arrive out of nowhere, as if by magic.

    just before chritmas i had an assignment to photograph in a prison, it was only for a few hours, but it got me interested. i find myself thinking about that place more and more. beforehand it was something that i never really thought about, or had an interest in. but then, courtesy of an editor, a little gift landed in my lap.

    sometimes i think its to easy to look down at the things we photograph in order to “pay the bills”. sometimes we may end up being bored, uninspired. the job doesn’t live up to our first impressions, our expectations. but at other times these assignments can takes us somewhere that ordinarily we may never have gone. for that reason alone they are worth doing. they can takes us out of our comfort zone, they make us work in way that we may not do normally. they can challenge us in more ways than is immediately apparent. so they help us to grow.

    now, i would probably not choose the same subject as bob black, or herve, or marcin, or perhaps i might. but my interest my interpretation would probably take a complete different form to theirs. why, because they are who they are and i am who i am.

    i think that this, like so many of the questions we discuss here, has no answer. who knows why any of us are are interested in something. we just are. perhaps thinking to much about it will spoil it. strip away the layers of mystery that keep us going back for more. anyway, however it happens lets thank our lucky stars when it does.


  • I remember a comment of Christopher Anderson when he won an award due to his work of Latin America…
    He mentioned that he hoped there was more people who wanted to finance projects in Latin America.
    I also heard the same from another photog, who said me that there are more grants available for projects in china for example or Africa.
    I do not know if this is so by my own experience… but this make me thing that certainly there are some limitations for photographers who want to propose a project they feel attracted, but don’t find anyone who things the same.

    I also think that the photographer may be influenced by other photographers work to choose the subject that are “appealing”… and everybody takes the same road… I don’t know how many photos have I seen of “morocco”, or “the masais”, or “china”… in so called “travel photography”… and “misery”, “prostitution”, “drugs” in photographers interested in documentary…

    It seems to me that there is something like “if this is a good subject, I must have it in my portfolio”, no matter if that subject concerns you or not.

    What I have realized is that many of this comes from the photo schools… I have done only short workshops in different schools, and the material shown to teach is almost always the same: “Salgado”, “Cartier-Bresson”, “Nachtwey”, “Magnum”, “Magnum”, “Magnum”… and not even the entire Magnum spectrum…
    I remember that in one point I decided not to learn more from workshops… and continue learning from myself. That’s how I found this site, for example.

    What you want to photograph must come from your stomach… maybe later you can explain to yourself and others why it is important to you and compose a large bla bla bla about it… but the very first sensation when you find something must come from an EMOTION, pure and simple.

  • btw David last eastern I was very happy to know Cristina García Rodero here in Venezuela, we only had a very short short conversation, but I was very pleased to meet her… a very humble person what I could see… I wish I could
    also heard that René Burri is here… but not a clue about what’s he doing and where he is… do you know if there is someone to ask?
    un abrazo

  • btw David last eastern I was very happy to know Cristina García Rodero here in Venezuela, we only had a very short short conversation, but I was very pleased to meet her… a very humble person what I could see… I wish I could
    also heard that René Burri is here… but not a clue about what’s he doing and where he is… do you know if there is someone to ask?
    un abrazo

  • i’ve been wondering this same thing for awhile now. As I travel from place to place I find some places to be more photographically inspiring than others. San Miguel was great, cancun was not. I’m definitely still trying to find myself as a photographer, but i’m discovering new and interesting thoughts about the craft that I had never considered and your blog here also provides lots of good things to think about. Just FYI, David, I’m in the Southeast US for awhile, so if your traveling brings you in my direction send me an email and I will try to meet up! Later– kendrick

  • Yes a photographer should be able to take a picture anywhere, and make it look acceptable. However, I really believe great photographs come from what you are passionate about. Can I do many things-yes-but what am I willing to travel 10,000 to shoot? Certainly not flowers or sunrises. I can’t get real excited about shooting towels on white seamless. But I am willing to spend a few weeks in Africa waiting for just the right moment, when the light is just right to photograph a person. I really believe it is all about what one is passionate about.

  • i agree with what has been said: great photography comes from within the person. it is the photographer’s vision and passion that make the picture. which is not to say that a great photographer can make any subject look great. because that vision and passion is essentially linked to what that photographer finds meaningful or significant or interesting. if salgado shhots in an l.a. mall i’m sure he’ll still produce great looking photos by most people’s standards but i suspect they wouldn’t be great photos (by his own standards at least) because salgado might not “feel” the subject. which is probably why he doesn’t shoot in l.a., because he wouldn’t “feel” like doing it

  • Choice of subject is important. But what is a great subject is ofcourse subjective. I for one have lately abandoned the usual things Ive been shooting after having really tried to digest the kind of photography that, for example, Nan Goldin is famous for. Getting into that and then into some other diaristic photographers Ive started to almost exclusively shoot at home to create a diaristic record of my life. Im mostly focusin on my family but also on my in-laws’ home (which unfortunately due to lack of time I cant really visit very often). For me its whats interesting right now, and when I try to go out an shoot I cant see much to capture, Im just not motivated. I think that motivation is the most important thing. A photographer must have interest and passion for what he is shooting. I think its from that that authorship comes from.

  • Hi David,

    To start I think it would be important to distinguish between personal work and assignments. There are some photographers fortunate enough to choose their own assignments (the truth is that they have work really hard to get where they are).

    To the question how important is it what you choose to photograph in the first place? do you think “great photographers” choose inherently “great subjects”?? I believe that the subject definitely matters in what you are trying to capture. Your personal beliefs and how passionate you feel about a certain issue/subject will make the difference in your work.

    For instance, I really admire Salgado’s work. I believe his photographs reflect his beliefs and personal struggles. I think there is no coincidence in the fact that he studied economy and that he has extensively documented the unfair asymmetries in current societies from different perspectives. I feel he was trying to make a statement, to make the difference, although he claims that there are no political intentions behind his images .

    As you well know Salgado’s personal life is quiet remarkable. He was a highly educated economist who decided to give up on his profession and started as photographer. But through a long period of time he was following his “great subjects”, maybe not always in his assignments, but was able to do this when he won recognition…

    But lets take a look to a different case… there is Douglas North who was a talented photographer and also an economist. He even worked with Dorothea Lange and she tried to convince him to become a photographer… he finally decided to embrace economy and make the difference from the academic realm. After years of research he developed his famous institutional theory and won the Nobel Prize in economy…
    (For his autobiography see: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1993/north-autobio.html)

    My conclusion: Subject matters in all disciplines and a really good body of work (photography, literature, academic publications and so on) is the natural result of a life long commitment and strong beliefs.

    Enjoy Brazil,

    Un abrazo,


  • Subjects are VERY important for me. In fact that is my dream. To be a photographer of subjects, of those “great” ideas that come to my mind and work on it until is done. Right now I have many assignments that do not fit my requires at all. I mean, those are subjects that I don’t like and where I don’t feel my soul. I just do it because it is also photography, because I love to have the camera in my hand and it gives me money. In a way, I like it… But when I really feel good, when I really fell FREE is when I get my camera bag and walk out into the wild in search of the subjects that really moves me. I have now a couple of them in mind. And I will be very happy doing it.

    I think we mention all these photographers that are great in subjects because all of us (at least me) desire to do what we really feel like. We want to do things that move our hearts and can move other’s hearts.

    But that does not mean that I can’t also enjoy the unexpected. In fact, many times happen that something just go on in front of you, something that you never expected and it can be also a great subject. So… yes to subjects, but not always thought as a plan. Give an opportunity to chance!


  • Hello David, hello all,

    I agree with most of the above.
    For me as well, it’s about commitment, about the heart, what you feel in the belly and what you want to show the world.
    Whether that is celebrety portraits like Annie, War and famine in all its facets like James…
    It’s passion to tell a certain story in your own unique way. And in that sense I believe the subject often chooses you. It’s about how you look at the world around you and what you want others to see.

    What I like in the watertowers from the Bechers is the passion that speaks out of the volume of the work. I’m not an architecture photographer, I’m not particularly fond of towers like that, it’s not the style i work in, and looking at an individual picture of them, does not really do anything to me.
    What makes it great is to see it together and there for see the obsession and the passion the couple had in documenting these wierd shaped buildings.

    And that for me, no matter what kind of photography i see, makes work great for me. Passion.


  • Hi everybody,

    have not had the time to read all of the above so I hope I am not repeating the same stuff over.

    I think in this case it’s about the little “extra involvement”. Every good photographer will probably be able to make nicely composed pictures out of almost everything, regardless if he/she is personally involved by the subject or not. The composition I mean here is a more formal thing that in worst case (?!) even neglects the subject. For me in a next step would be the composition that “dances along” with the subject, that interacts, maybe even sculpts out a defined message. But then one has to have a message first, or one has to be able to feel it intuitively.

    But then … there are probably for everyone these subjects that fill you up with images from the start, images you wait for, so you can finally take them, even if they are not yet specified, somehow they are there (David’s portrait of Wyeth at the window seems to be such a image). Like an embryo. You know they are there, you feel them, like when you have a word on the tip of your tongue … I think that is the motivational part, because if you have this feeling, you will probably stay and wait a little longer until these pictures materialize somehow, you will go out and try to see them happen… or leave somewhat unfullfilled.

    Some will probably even try to MAKE them happen, even if this would not be my approach, as I would be afraid of killing the chance to get something even grander, something I could not possibly have thought of….

    Would you all intervene to get what you want?

    Abraços à todos,

  • Hmm…
    when I talk about intervention, I do not mean planning a still life picture like Bechers did…
    Just not to cause any confusion here… I probably put it too general. It depends on the assignment and on the subject, of course.

    I whish I had the words to really ask what I want to ask, but I hope you all get it anyway.

  • Hallo LASSAL,

    habe leider von deiner Nachricht neulich nur den Absender lesen können. Mail über Deine HP kam auch zurück.

    Die “materialisierten Ideen” sind ja toll. Wow, was für eine IDEE !

    Viele Grüsse aus dem überhaupt nicht frühlingshaften München.


  • Hi Olli,

    echt?! Mist.

    Ich habe mich schon gewundert, ob da was mit dem Kontaktformular evtl nicht stimmt. Muss ich überprüfen lassen. Danke für den Hinweis.
    Mail ist info@lassal.de oder .com

    Hatte schon befürchtet, Dir irgendwie auf die Füße getreten zu sein… Habe immer so wenig Zeit zum Schreiben, dass ich füchte, manchmal den falschen Ton zu treffen…

    War über Ostern in Muc… Hatte aber vergessen zu fragen, ob Du Zeit hast, sonst hätte man sich mal auf einen Kaffee treffen können. Next time. Immer auch gerne in Ffm.

    Lieben Gruß,

    Sorry everybody, Olli just gave me an important hint: The contact-formular on my website seems not to be working.

  • As promised, i’ll try to offer something about this too, though since i’ve already began with a ridiculously long 1st comment, i’ll try to keep it temperate…plus, Dima is waiting, as we’re going out for pizza for return for Family board Game night (yea tonight), before i depart for us…lots of great thoughts already above and I agree with them and there’s nothing more to add really, but i’d like to offer a tact that looks at the idea of “what makes a good photographer/photograph” from a perspective other than the considerations of traditional/classical PJ/Documentary work, which is generally what this blog seems most concerned with, just as it seems that the vast majority of members are “traditionalists” or consider photography within that very specific range of photography: using “real life” as the beginning and ending of photography: the document……but, in truth, photography is much broader, richer and more odd than that…at the heart, it seems to me, one elemental requirement: and that is the photographers relationship to her work: their love and passion and commitment to whatever it is she is doing or thinking about or communicating. For in truth, whatever a photographer does and within whatever definition of photography she works in (journalism, documentary, conceptual, film, abstraction, fine art, point-shoot, travel, family albums, whatever), the fact is that photography is simply another vehicle to tell a story. The story is the language of our disperate and often desperate species: we communicate, above all else, not only with words, but with images and gesture and music and ideas and spiritual and silence and absence. Photography is simply another way of telling a tale, probably the basic tale we are all hungry to hear and hungry to tell, the witnessing, if you well, of this departing life and our role and negotiation and misunderstanding and longing for and of it. We’re storytellers, each and everyone of us, above all else…It seems to me that the stories we each tell ourselves, the stories to which we gravitate, the stories about which we seem to see our own pallid selves are the things which measure that which seems to roost the most richly…passion, uncertainty, commitment, empathy, love, loss, all those….those are the measures, at least for me, by which things begin to ring: to set the darkness ringing, indeed..as Heamus reminds…

    As with a marriage or a friendship or spiritual reclamation, there is no algebra for wellness, no formula by which we can decide what is or isnt a good photograph, who is or isnt a good photographer or how or how not to embark on this maddeningly emotional journey: to be a photographer, or more simply, to make photographs. I think, at least for me, one thing is uncontestable: my photography and my relationship to making photographs (the subjects (people, place, moments), the style (film, b/w, prints, etc), the time (when, when not to even take a camera) are all born of the same simple truth: I invest in my photography the same way i invest in the rest of my life: it’s simply an extension of who i am and how i attempt, ridiculously and imperfectly, to live this life with passion and doubt and commitment. I’ve written often here (and elsewhere) that for me photography, making photographs, is another extension of my breathing, another way that I have chosen (or it chose me late in life) to try to “comprehend” (not understand) the life inside and outside. For me, photography, as with my writing, is a way, a tool, i’ve acquired to try to come to terms with my life, with the life of people and places around me, a way for me to reflect and question and negotiate and think about things. Sometimes I feel compelled (often) to write about ideas and people and places, sometimes not. Sometiems i feel compelled to photograph people and places and sometimes not. Sometimes I try to photograph with an idea/reflection, sometimes i photograph with the idea of trying to show “what i have seen” or “what i have heard” or “how someone has expressed something to me.” Sometimes, i dont even think about photography. But, my photography is an investment and an extension of who I am, what i think about, where i have gone and the people that I have met or known or seen (if not known). Another tool that allows me to stew and fry and shake upon this fever that has entered me, this joyeous and painful and doubtful think we call the experience of being alive.

    If i didn’t care about the people i photograph or the places, if i wasn’t somehow infected by them, by place, by their stories, i couldnt photograph. Often, actually, the moments that move me the most profoundly raize and extinquish my desire to use the camera, instead a welling of silence occurs: i just want to listen or watch or savor, allow it to bloom and then, pop, sift and drift away. For me, in general, it’s never been a question of “should i shoot this or that”, or at least not anymore. It’s much more organic than that, but that has come (as a luxury) after lots of frustration and struggle. For me, the best photography seems to be invested by just that. I cannot distinguish (though I dont know for sure, this is merely an intuition) between the photographer/photograph and the response. In otherwords, the great photographers that affect and have inspired me, the great images, all seem to be defined by the same thing: the alchemy of the marriage of subject and “content” (the photographic properties of an image): the emotion, the epiphanous moment, the extraordinary expression the billows up from that image. The What of the What.

    the best photographers to me seem to be the ones who have invested themselves (in both success and failure) in the honesty of their commitment to that which drove and inspired them. I admire such a huge range of photographers, and some of the photographers to whom i return again and again rarely (if ever) come up in conversations here at the blog or in conversations i have with other photographers. The totality of photography is what has juiced me. Beginning with the “classicists” like brady, dovchenko, bresson and capa, smith which lead to the remarkable and inspiring work of the photogrphers i admire so much (the magnum dudes, including our beloved David and John and my hero jones griffiths to the experimentalists and the artists, like Man Ray (who opened my eyes when i was in college) and Russian Constructionists (they still startle me, nearly 100 years later) and all the “fine artists” who first really lived inside me and inspired me like Jessica Woodman and Duane Michaels and Robert Frank and Ralph Meatyard (one of my heros too) to the deeply personal weirdos like Moriyama and Arbus and another hero of mine the artists Christian Boltanski and frazier and the painter Anselm Kiefer (yes, he’s as much a photographer as a painter as beneath all those mammouth paintings are photographs), and the remarkable photographer/filmmaker M. Rodner (from Israel) to filmmakers like Chris Marker and Goddard and Tarkovsky (who also photographed and inspired Pinkhassov) and Vitor Erice, from PJ’s to Artists to Documentarians to family albums and snap shooters…….can i mention my grandmother, who spent her entire life as a photographer in obsquirity, and yet her slides speak more to me than almost any other color photographer i know…you see, photography for me doesnt just mean magnum and bresson and nachtwey and all that, but is so much richer…shit, look at all the great children’s photography done with pinhole cameras and milk cartoons…that shit probably speaks to me more than anything by Nachtwey (and I think Jim is one of the Olympians and most inspriational people, photographer or otherwise, breathing on this planet)….

    In then end, they are invested in their singular sense that photography, like writing and music and dancing and working on accounting books and building buildings and cutting air comes from the same basic spot: the personal understanding how you choose to live your life is often an indication of how that life sits inside and upon you…

    Also, there are so many different kinds of photographers. Some have the luxury to simply photograph what and how they want. Some must suppliment their “personal” projects with others, like assignments or commercial work, or shooting. Also, even the pictures we “see” are a small, small part of what a photographer shoots, so even that has been refined. It seems to me that the most “successful” photographers are those who, for whatever reason or moment or place, CONNECT to a subject, an idea, an aeshetic, a style, a commitment, an empathy to the work, the people, the craft. We “recognize” this because they have somehow imparted a part of themselves. I know a David Alan Harvey photograph by, not it’s brilliant and gorgeous color, but by its nearly erotic sense of loneliness and silence. David’s photographs, at least to me, always speak of eros, eros in the largest sense: love lost, love hungered for, and the confusion: the empty spaces and the silence, the sadness that seems in nearly all of his pictures, not an answer, but a hungering question. Not all of David’s photographs “speak to me” but lots do, not because we’re the same type of photographer, but ultimately because as a human, i recongize his voice, his humanity and the humanity of the people and places he shoots. Same too with “conceptual” artists, with those whom i feel an affinity or bond, it is often because something in them clicks inside me. I think of the Starne brothers and from the moment i first saw their work i thought: holy fuck, that’s what spills into my life too. Rarely to i see people discuss them anymore, and never here or at LS, which just goes to show how ghettoized the photography world still is…to me, i respond to photographs the same as with books or music: if somehow it sings inside me, or somehow one recognizes that there is a debth of expression and exploration and singularity there (not necessarily originality, cause thats bollocks) of a person reaching out to tell some story, which may be the story of others (photojournalists, documentaries) or the story of themselves or the story of the craft/ideas (conceptualists) etc…doesn’t matter…

    and in the end, still, rarely does anything affect me as deeply as a person’s family album…this is probably why i love david’s first (family drive) book and that magnificent book about the poor family in Virginia…though David is working in the specific tradition of Document work, there is still the same thing there…how, really, is that work different from Starne brothers or christian boltansky or NG or art school kids or my son’s photos with his $10 plastic camera when he was 5….

    the act of photography as the commited act of telling a story about what this experience of being alive is…to me, watch kids playing soccer, or go to a jr. high dance (yea, im a pappa now) and one understands quite quickly what all that means and how it relates to what we/;re talking about…….

    to sing this life electric, to, for a brief moment, arrest the disappearance within the frame of light and shadow as way to remember that once we were warriorers, once we were here…

    sorry for the long novel ;)

  • thats warriors ;)))…or worried warriors ;))

  • Shit Bob!!! you sure know how to spin a yarn!
    You are and will allways be the Poet Laureate of this community! ( with Akaky riffing along ).
    I hope to have more to add but I seem to have missed the thread on how important is the graphic element of the cowboys hats!
    Something I have had to deal with for most of my career , be it wearing them while shooting that speed lite turning up the brim look don’t cut it , how to get a bit of light in there so’s the guy who hired you don’t sack you because he can’t sea anyones faces, Shit man! the day that I learned that there’s a reason good photographers don’nt start work till 5pm in the southern hemisphere was a revelation that changed my life. Shooting people in cowboy hats makes you think a lot more , theres the added element of disguise, when cowboys wear their hats they ARE their hats , the hats disolve any sense of individuality (they hide the eyes you see!) ,You know what? I can’t remember who took it but picture of a cowboy that really sticks in my mind is of a young guy brekfasting on a hunk of old bread dripping with syrup and not yet wearing his hat with a tan line accross his face from the bottom of his nose to the bottom of his ears ( Can you help me here DAH ) might have been sam abell might have been allard , I’m sure to cop shit for not knowing who took it.
    BOB- Have you seen the Kiwi film once were warriors?
    Cheers Glenn

  • Very nice Bob..


    I was thinking about how emotion is such an important aspect of the image, and how we now have a good deal of art world successes who seem to specialize in the photograph of the blank emotion..pieces that seem more about the photographer’s concept of something (isolation, separation, I don’t know, not the kind of loneliness Bob describes in David’s works) than any communication of emotion from the subject. For a spell there was a lot of this coming from Yale grads I think..but forgive me if this a speeping stupidity on my part.

    So I wonder, why are many drawn to the anti- emotion photo?

  • Bob, check your e-mail and call me!

  • david alan harvey


    what can i say?

    this has been the most interesting and , may i say, BRILLIANT set of comments from all of you ever…

    my first reaction, and i have thought this many times before, is that the comments from all of you this past year must must must be compiled and edited into book form…this cannot be just an online forum only….

    at the end of the day (pardon the cliche), i am a “print guy”….somehow, with your permission of course, i must try to get THIS into print…

    i continue to be flattered, inspired, amazed and just am just flat out “blown away” by the way this audience has “held up”, grown, and flourished beyond anything i ever could have imagined or “planned”…

    your collective VOICE, both in text and with so much thoughtful photographic work that i see coming in from every possible angle, has created (albeit inadvertently) a new medium…as you speak about the creative process , you are creating….

    Marshall McLuan where are you when i need you??

    it may seem to many of you that perhaps there are not really so many writers here….but, you have no idea how many loyal readers (lurkers) are out there…

    in any case, let’s forget the numbers….i would rather have a discussion with a small, sophisticated, yet unpretentious , “readership” that has true “class” , than to appeal to some mythical “mass” that has no “personality” or, above all, HEART…

    i cannot and will not stop doing my photographic work…i am literally no good to you as an “editor”….i must be working, editing, failing, and feeling right along with you…without this, i will have nothing to offer….i am getting ready to come “out of the blocks” as i speak…but, perhaps ironically, i can be “on” here and still do what i have to do with my upcoming work…strange but true….

    i am not quite sure how i got into THIS and i am not quite sure where THIS all goes, but i know SOMETHING when i see it….but THIS particular THIS is a collaboration…the likes of which i have never seen….and i am laughing now, in the best sense of “laugh”, because YOU are doing all the WORK…

    so, please everybody RELAX and SMILE….do not think about it too much….i won’t either…serendipity has always been my mantra with whatever i created…..maybe my only “talent” has always been (according to my friends) knowing a “good thing” when i see it…not a “talent” actually…..pretty simple really….so so obvious…

    ok, now i ramble too much…6 cups of coffee does that to me sometimes…i might “hang” here in Sao Paulo over the weekend..my official work is over…but my friends here beckon….yes, serendipity may have “gotten” me again!!!

    abraços, david

  • Bob, one of your best :))

    I would only add, “The Why of What,” since why is the biggest question and 42 the silly answer to the unanswerable. The sum of all photography is at its best 21 striving to be 42 … reel me back in.

    It’s so nice to come to a place where discussions of photography and life intertwine, since that’s the point, or rather that should be the point … to come to a place where there are discussions of bigger ideas.

    Someone said recently, can’t remember who, in a nice turn of Capa’s famous quote, “If your photographs suck, you’re not reading enough.”

    … or thinking enough, or hanging out here. Thanks David, Bob and all.

  • David,

    If you ever need some “grunt work” done to compile blog entries, thoughts, for whatever purpose I’d be happy to help however I can …


  • david alan harvey


    i may very well take you up on your offer…i have printed out the forum up until a couple of months ago…we have two books!! editing should not be so difficult… you would be a terrific help, being the instinctive editor that you are..

    it is always nice to hear from you young Tom!!!

    peace, david

  • book…David, who is going to edit that one? each “author” for its own replies? Do you intend to reproduce typos and mistaken vocabulary that we would simply correct, if post-reply editing was available? Another book about photography without photos inside? How do we best edit, sequence and present so that the immediacy and freshness of the blog’s today-ism gets conveyed?
    Shouldn’t the book be a different project, much more than a record of what has been written over the months/years?…..

  • I be author book in english language about what however will… ha ha ha

    Yes David… what about this incorrect, imperfect, erroneous, nonenglish, nonhuman misunderstandingly comments i wrote??
    Will I be omitted at all?

  • david alan harvey


    i have no plan….just thoughts……and with the very full plate that i have right now, it certainly is not my very next priority….i can just see material for a book….i think that at some point, i would just take the printouts and stick them up on the wall and take a look…think about it…have you over for a beer and see what you think….the very first thing i would do of course of course and of course, is to make sure that each author/photographer was 100% pleased/happy/totally up for it!!! please remember, that i live in the “school of author’s rights”….

  • david alan harvey


    well, you would always have the choice to be edited “correctly” or not….frankly, my opinion would be to have your “english” be exactly the way you write it now….no change…but, this will be your choice….i will just try to talk you into being the way you are!!!!

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    if i were you, i would not “separate” the vacation from the shooting…go with the flow….allow yourself the “freedom” to hang with your family and yet make some photographs of which you will be proud…unlike many photographers, i have always had, and will always have, family or friends around…some of my best “work” is when i am not “working”….sitting at a Paris cafe with your wife may yield a really interesting “moment” at the next table…i shoot a lot sitting down..just being a customer….ask for another coffee….relax…sure, find the “best seat” right away…i compose pictures in my head while i am asking for the table next to the window next to an interesting couple…shoot “one handed”….loose….your work could “loosen up” a bit….do not “control” yourself….just relish Paris…feel it….do not think you need lots of pictures….one would be just fine….make friends with someone new…anyone…they will lead you down some sort of interesting path….you will go somewhere you never imagined and you will make a photograph you never imagined….have fun my friend!!! having fun is not at all contradictory to making good photographs…


    you asked about cropping….Natgeo has only cropped two of my photographs in over 40 stories and that was when they took two of my horizontals and turned them into verticals for the cover…they then ran both pictures inside the story full frame…normally no crop …except maybe by the few centimeters that it takes to get 35mm aspect ratio to make a double page bleed spread…

    Magnum always calls me or writes me when any client wants to crop one of my photographs…usually, for a book cover….so, i either give my permission, or i do not…if it happens to be one of my “iconic” works, i do not give permission…if it is a picture from the archive, an unknown picture, a “second” or a “third” in the edit, i sometimes give the “go ahead”….

    when Gabriel Garcia Marquez recently wanted one of my photographs for his newest book cover, and it required a crop, i relented because he is one of my greatest influences for all of my Latin America work…i found it hard to turn down GGM!!! i went back and forth with the art director and we came up with a compromise of type placement and crop that seemed to work just fine for everyone…

    all in all, i do not feel that cropping has ever been something i had to worry about much…even in my newspaper days, i do not remember being cropped….even then, i was always very cognizant and careful to print my work in such a way so that nobody would “have” to crop the picture….i knew the column widths, for example, and spacing for the text, so i might crop myself just a bit to fit without having an editor get out the scissors….

    studying design and typography was one of the best things i ever did…understanding the problems of an editor and being able to communicate with editors and art directors and help them solve their problems, usually solved mine….

    cheers, david

  • David :))

    Email sent to you.


  • hi david, hi all,

    i just got in from a day of wandering and photographing. i though i’d catch up on the latest goings on. david, i could agree with you more on how special this forum has become. i think we all deserve a well earned pat on the back……we rock! : )

    i love the idea of this becoming a book….you most certainly have my permission. once again this virtual salon of ours offers up another reason to be excited.

    now, where is steve? bob, panos, anyone….has there been anymore talk of the ‘multimedia’ project that we talked about last week? we MUST do this!

    peace, happiness and good thoughts to you all.

    take care,


  • When there’s a will, there’s Harvey! :-)

    Wait, wait….ANOTHER COFFEE?!?!?

    that might spell financial ruins, though they may let you pay it off washing a few dishes…

    Remember to ask for “eau du robinet”, just “eau” (ouateur) will set you back 5 euros, you may not even be able to keep the bottle… :-)



  • DAVID and ALL…

    english language is my weakness… I have a lot of weakness and this is one of them… I’m one big weakness…
    A few days ago some anonymous person send me e-mail with information how he hate what I’m writing here, how stupid I am and my word are, how awful and amatour my photography is etc…
    that person writing in polish (:))
    I have no idea how this what I write looks from your point of view… That’s why if you want David print in any moment in future anything what I wrote or will write… do this by your way. you can change everything or nothing :)

    I wish to write like Bob do (and running like Bob and John after him ha ha)
    But probably I will never do it properly. And if I will never speak english well I will never write what I want to say… and I always write short comment 15 minutes….
    hmmm…. expanation over

  • Ansel in Iowa, or at a shopping mall. that might have been rather interesting. I wonder how he would have tackled that kind of subject matter. maybe we would of had another Evans.
    the real macdaddy.

  • For Marcin,

    how are you? good i hope.

    listen, we all have weakness, every last one of us. but trust me when i say that i have no problem in understanding what you write here, i doubt anyone else does either. so keep on writing. as for your photographs, well they speak for themselves……you have some truly beautiful images in your site. i really love the essay you sent into david for the emerging photographer award. its probably my favorite.

    so, onto the idiot. while that person is obviously entitled to their opinion, i can say with total honesty that i think he/she is talking out of his/her ass. obviously, who ever it is is a coward, hence the need to make their comments anonymously.

    marcin, DO NOT PAY ANY ATTENTION! keep on writing and keep on making beautiful photos, because both of these are definitely not you weakness.

    take care amigo,


  • david,
    another interesting topic could be specialization.
    Why is specialization so required in our time?
    Not only in photography but everywhere nobody can’t afford to be good at doing more things.
    A doctor, a designer, a mechanic, all are asked to know more and more of a smaller and smaller part of their profession.
    Back in the reinassance in italy artists were draughtsmen, painters, sculptors, architects and designers (though that word wouldn’t exist at the time). A few scientists as well.
    Most, i’m sure, would have been photographers too if photography was invented!
    Bob Black quoted Man Ray who was a first rate painter and the great photographer everyone knows.
    Italian film director Pierpaolo Pasolini was in the first place a poet and novelist, wrote on newspapers and produced a lot of great works in these different fields, all in no more than 20 years.
    Now a photographer is asked from the beginning to decide what photographer he/she wants to be. They can’t afford to love photojournalism and portraiture at the same time. They are asked to make choices, to choose what their “label” will be.
    And those who can, who’d maybe like to change….not many do, maybe they are worried to disappoint their big audience?

    Everybody here seem to love Natchwey, Salgado, Blekinsop, I keep reading these name in our discussions. They are certainly
    great photographers.
    However David, if you see Alec Soth, tell him he has a fan here!

  • Marcin … you are too, too hard on yourself … about your photography, which i like very much … and about your writing here.

    Maybe it’s because of the language difference but i look forward to all your posts here … they just ring honest, sincere and heartfelt, and I understand them perfectly well! … interesting, your voice inside my head when i read is the most clear of all …

    And ahhh yes Bob, NONE of us will ever write like Bob does. He accomplishes the most impossible on occasion, transcending the imperfections of language by not being a slave to “the rules” or constructs. Bob just paints well, and should always, always be himself :))

  • Jason

    I do not pay any attention. I’m too selfconfident for that. and I don’t need everybody love and attention. I just thought that maybe my english thoughts are worst than I supposed…. supposed??… hmmmmm…. I have no idea what I’m writing mostly!! :)

    peace (and love)

  • marcin,

    I agree with Jason.
    The bloody idiot who wrote you so must be a very unhappy person if he finds the time for such shameful exercise.
    I could not imagine this forum without your (and Panos’) contribution.
    Don’t worry about your English, everything you want to say is always clear, as far as i’m concerned. Besides you speak polish better than everyone here!

    As to your photography, I’ve visited your website quite often,
    your work certainly has something special.
    And i’m not saying so to be polite!



  • Tom

    Bob hurts my mind!!! But I love his words!!…. and this pain!!!
    let’s words fly away to the sky!!!
    ok. I have some work and I need sleep… sleep? what is it? I almost forgott…

    peace (and freedom)

  • are some photo essays yet to be reviewed? It is not urgent but I would like to make sure that my computer didn’t delete a review, if it came, via the junk mail filter system. thanks.


    Yes, if David ever turns this massive Blog into a book, I am totally down with that and would absolutely definitely be able to help out, including coming along with Tom, Herve, Akaky, Erica and anyone else into the city and drink drink drink and edit edit edit help put together. David, you know that already ;)). the Typo’s and malaprops is a big big issue for my posts ;))))…sometimes I am positively horrified when i re-read what i’ve written here (which i why i seldom re-read here). Basically, i get inspired by a question of David’s or by a comment/idea that another has written, and i just write, quickly, straight in the blog. I dont have time to re-read, edit, spell check, all that shit, here, so, im sure there are many who think of my writing as if im an idiot savant (bob: DAH’s Rainman member ;)))…but, when i have to write something for publication, i try, the best i can, to take care of that, especially if i have an editor. it’s like a jazz improv here with me, sometimes i take what i’ve written and modify somewhere else (for my book or poem or essay im working on) and sometimes i just leave it here at the blog. but, if this were ever made into a book, i would edit what i’ve written: that is, i’d correct the typos and runon sentences and poor grammar. I wouldn’t though re-write them, ’cause i like that David’s blog is just that: like weird, wild conversations…once someone asked me how can i: 1) write well one moment and then the next 2) write atrociously (grammatically, lexically, etc): it’s just talking, so…ditch the typos, but keep the wild “spoken-word” like feel, for everyone…this aint a novel, essay, but as a book, this blog would be brilliant…language is about invention and communication, not strictly about precision, grammar…which is why still what is critical are the non-native english speakers: they, and marcin, are as eloquent as I, believe me…

    Herve: yea, cropping ;’)))…by the way, your command of english is brilliant, not just the vocab shit, but the dexterity of your writing, …god, i wish i could do that in russian or french…

    tom: thanks…again, just a riff :))…

    david: THAT’S GREAT ABOUT MARQUEZ: I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU…what a great honor indeed :))…you pics do so much look like something from one of his books :))…and the crop issue: i only noticed it at first when i saw chris’ story…but, i also think: well, there are lots of versions of a photograph, even ones we don’t always make ;)))…

    ok, have to run…

    tonight i actually have to finish an essay and finish a last photo scanning project before i leave for NC…

    more later…

    hugs all


    I agree with Jason.
    The bloody idiot who wrote you so must be a very unhappy person if he finds the time for such shameful exercise.
    I could not imagine this forum without your (and Panos’) contribution…”

    Thank you Guido,
    and Marcin you should be proud of the hate mail you get… welcome to the club… I get hate-mail-slapped every other day… get used to it..


    “…david: THAT’S GREAT ABOUT MARQUEZ: I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU…what a great honor indeed :))…”

    jesus, did i read well ????? G.G. Marquez ????….
    Holly Buddha !!!


    BOB NAILED IT…. below
    1)it’s like a jazz improv here with me…

    2)but, if this were ever made into a book, i would edit what i’ve written: that is, i’d correct the typos and runon sentences and poor grammar.

    JAZZ or RAP or PUNK
    … YES… F**K EDITING or correcting or translating or changing anything…
    Bob leave it like that though….
    i disagree with the part 2)… dont correct anything…
    its a conversation…
    fuck proper english…
    fuck proper anything,
    fuck proper clothes
    fuck proper priests and churches,
    fuck proper schools and teachers…
    fuck all the orthodox idealists , moralists of any kind
    fuck SUV’S
    fuck canon plastic lenses
    fuck the war ( and the war photographers-lol)
    fuck the FCC…
    FUCK ME….too


    I love Frank Sinatra, but i choose to prefer SEX even more…
    check some good SEX below:

    “…now, where is steve? bob, panos, anyone….has there been anymore talk of the ‘multimedia’ project that we talked about last week? we MUST do this!

    peace, happiness and good thoughts to you all.

    take care,


    Posted by: Jason Hobbs | April 03, 2008 at 01:09 PM…”



    well, you would always have the choice to be edited “correctly” or not….frankly, my opinion would be to have your “english” be exactly the way you write it now….no change…but, this will be your choice….i will just try to talk you into being the way you are!!!!

    cheers, david

    Posted by: david alan harvey | April 03, 2008 at 12:47 PM…”

    Freestyle for ever and ever…!

    If anyone changes or “corrects” Marcin’s writing… then
    I’m not buying that book….

    ok , now, back to my “people”…

  • DAVID,

    I will be in Santo Domingo for a few days later this month. As I’m working not sure how much extra time I’ll have, but if there’s any recommendations for things to do or places to eat, etc I’ll take it. Just one or two things special to you. I’ll probably only have evenings. You can email me off list if you like.

    Just got all the scans and match prints out the door for Cypher. Now I can breathe easy and maybe add a little something to this talk (though haven’t read it all yet).

    I was handed a disposable camera yesterday to take 3-5 pics on. This camera is being handed off to local “celeb” shooters where it will then be auctioned off at a local Film Forum fundraiser. Never has been taking pictures seemed so difficult. I’ve never shot with a disposable, let alone this model, so I don’t know how the pics will turn out in a given situation (do I use flash? no flash? etc). No idea what the iso or f stop is.

    And then the matter of subject matter. I generally don’t create situations for myself, but gravitate toward situations already happening. I can street shoot but not what I’m really known for. What to do? I already took one shot last night and then quickly regretted wasting 1/4 of my allotment. I have a couple of ideas but…my time is quickly running out. Anyway, this would be a good practice for workshops, the handing off of disposables. It really puts one on the spot, and there’s no gear crutch to fall back on. Hopefully I’ll just take a couple of beautiful interesting pictures. I’m not really in a clever or adventerous space at the moment – too much of that other work at the moment besides shooting that we photographers must do.

    Okay more later. I’m hungry!


  • please check an EXAMPLE BELOW…
    of what this blog or “book” will read look or sound like …
    if we started correcting… and pretending…

    I’m serious… think twice…

  • PANOS ;)))))))))))))

    NO WORRIES, I WONT “RE-WRITE” ANYTHING I’VE WRITTEN IF DAVID turns blog into a book: never, never never…i meant, i will correct the typos if the idea is to make it like a “book”…if the concept for the “book” is to make it like a “conversation” i will leave everything i’ve ever written here (almost now 1 year’s worth) as it: im totally down with that :))))))…

    cause some of my “typos” are on purpose, and some of the fucked syntax (to paraphrase my buddy akaky) is also part of the joy of writing here: to riff, drunkenly…

    im not for “perfection”: not in my photographs (that’s clear by now), not in my poems, not in my essays and not in my rants here ;)))…no worries…

    and no f*cking way would i ever ever ever “edit” anyone :))))…

    ok, running…mrs. black is calling and i have photo work to finish :)))




  • david alan harvey


    i did not receive an email from you….when i switched over to the new website i lost the e-address you probably have…but, mike says he can get it back for me tomorrow…pls resend your message late tomorrow or the next day….


    we all agree obviously….do not worry about how you are expressing yourself in either words or pictures….we do not want “another” Marcin, we like the one we have….


    Alec Soth is a good friend and you may read the story i wrote about him under “Family/Friends” part of this forum…he is the one who got me into this crazy online biz in the first place!!! then he quit!!! go figure…


    yes, i still have about 15-20 reviews to do….i can only do about 5 per week max…..the hard part is the fact that i am trying to do a “private” review, which for tech reasons just takes longer than if someone just puts up a link here and i go public…but most do not want their critique out here in the “open”…i also noticed recently that some people were writing to me on blogquestions.com which is something i never never see…that site is strictly for my tech guru Michael Courvoisier….


    now there is an idea!!! i get all of you that can possibly make it over to my place for a real creative “jam session”…if , and when, i get my so so sweet loft back , the first thing i will do of course is to have a big party…in other words, if i had a place, all of you would be invited over immediately!!!! i am sure this will happen soonest…spring is almost here… with spring comes good things….


    you came fireballing onto this forum with guns blazing, sparks flying, burning rubber in third gear….you created quite the sensation! as has been pointed out, nobody writes like Bob, well nobody writes like you do either….all of you have your “niche”, but there is no niche like the Panos niche….when you go “silent” we all just sit here holding our breath waiting for a Panos lightning bolt strike!!! and then and then and then , you sometimes come through the door like a kitten…even quite sentimental at times, if you do not mind me saying so….and you give us an incredible amount of material to digest….i never even really looked at UTube much until you showed up….so, just as we have all agreed that Marcin should not change his style, nor should you….nor should anyone….i honestly look forward to the day when we meet in Los Angeles….sure, i am a little bit scared (who wouldn’t be), but i am looking forward to it nevertheless!!! Viva Greek mythology…you are our new Homer…no i am not stoned!! just wish i was!!!


    well, you brought up food and that made me realize i am hungry too..so, this will be short….

    i have always always loved loved the idea of disposable cameras…i have never done it , and i do not know why, but a workshop with disposables only would be great in my opinion…

    you do not want to do anything that i did in Santo Domingo….i mean, i did not even write about it here, but i did absolutely everything wrong wrong wrong…went alone..good…had no plan….good….had no friends to rely on..good….made all my own decisions….bad….i made all the wrong ones….ended up in a Disneyland style tourist hotel by total accident and had paid in advance…stupid….came back to New York a day early just because i could not take it anymore after telling the 25th prostitute in a row in Boca Chica that i really just wanted to be alone… well, it just gets exhausting…i mean, the only thing i did “right” was to cruise the colonial section of Sto Domingo where you really cannot go wrong…unless it is after 11pm, and then you should just go tuck yourself in for the night…

    the good news is this…the people are terrific…and i know there are amazing places to see , most particularly on the north coast…my sons tell me Cabarete is very nice…but, i did not see any of this…Bob Black did put me on to Jon Anderson, terrific photographer who lives in the DR..unfortunately, i never met him….you should….and then both of you can discuss how i totally blew it and did it all wrong!!!

    hmmmm,now i am about to go walk the streets of Sao Paulo alone in search of a ham and cheese sandwich or whatever….i need help!!!

    cheers, david

    “…Bob hurts my mind!!! But I love his words!!…. and this pain!!!
    let’s words fly away to the sky!!!
    ok. I have some work and I need sleep… sleep? what is it? I almost forgott…”

    NOW , WHO CAN or wants to TRANSLATE THIS…?

    what “HURT” means according to Marcin…?

    This is the “MAGIC” of this blog… That’s why i love it…
    Because i have the “freedom” to interpret
    Marcin’s “HURT” anyway I LIKE IT…
    for shizzle…

    (((For other uses, see Interpretation (disambiguation).
    Language interpreting or interpretation is the intellectual activity of facilitating oral and sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between two, or among three or more, speakers who neither speak nor sign the same source language. )))

    i can even make my own “meanings” or interpretations….

    “,,,im not for “perfection”: not in my photographs (that’s clear by now), not in my poems, not in my essays and not in my rants here ;)))…”

    RIGHT ON BOB, right on…
    all my respect and love to you….
    and yes i need to check the latest Nick Cave…
    i need to catch up with my soul…

  • DAVID’s in the room!!!!!..


    This is L.A… you know…
    I used to go to the movies alot… you have to.. this is Hollywood..
    premieres every day…

    … but since i started “writing” here… i had not enough time to continue my movie- habit…
    Awesome… thank god… i kicked the habit…

    … and fuck Hollywood… and anything else that consider itself..

    laughing… peace

  • “are some subjects just “visually loaded”?? how important is this to you? where and how do you want to “take aim”?? ”

    This question or post comes at an interesting time. I am working on my first picture story for publication and I was throwing around these ideas with a friend. I have been overwhelmingly excited because the project has both, visual elements and a real story with human interest. In researching projects I have found great stories, but those stories, I think, can be better represented through other mediums, like writing or video and not a picture story. I think photography requires a certain amount of visual graphicness that is needed to keep the viewer interested or to grab their attention. If the story is lacking it, even though it maybe important, it wont do it justice. Photographers choose their subject matter because of what their interests and passions are. As they enter a broad area, for example, Latin America, they begin to narrow it down to the important aspects that can be “visually” represented. I think these smaller stories can then grow into the larger bodies of work over time.

    I do think the great photographers are smarter, or at least smarter at what they do, because they know how to get the images, the research, the preparation, work with the people….

    Also, other photographers I have spoken with have said that its like an addiction with extreme highs and lows. Some days of shooting I know I run around an idiot and others I am dead on. What makes a great photographer is not only powerful imagery, but consistency.

  • david alan harvey


    my oh my dude, how do you find this stuff??? well, i just wish Johnny, Elvis and Frank were still around, but they surely all had their “bad days” shall we say…

    but, yes , at least the SEX was hot!!

    now, let me tell you a sad sad story….i just got in off the bad ass streets of Sao Paulo…makes Compton look like Palm Springs…back in my room, just me and this computer (a brand new MacBook after smashing my old MB) and a can of Coke and a can of Pringles and a 16″ tv….doesn’t get any better than this!!

    now, your Hollywood actually has produced some decent films over the years…a solid 10% are really good…but, none of them are coming through right now on this tv and i accidentally left my copy of No Country for Old Men, just like the movie (one of the 10%), back at the hotel, a nice one that somebody else was paying for,that i left this morning…

    last night at this time, i was receiving applause…smiles, handshakes, pats on the back..oh how the mighty do fall…speaking of that,hmmm, still thinking of Johnny Cash….well, i have nothing better to do, so i think i will watch that again…see, i told you this was a sad story…

    peace, david

  • This is still why i love Panos soooo much…even when he said: “kill teachers” ;))))))…’cause, as i told him and others that first week he drove his ’67 frickin Impala into this blog, he really CARES, really needs to care and sometimes, he cares so much, that his heart AND HIS MOUTH gets ALL SLOPPY ;))…I KNOW…i’m really not that different, only now its usually my son that kicks my ass…


    DAVID, PLEASE DO NOT THINK ABOUT THIS BLOG-BOOK THINK UNTIL YOU AT LEAST GET YOUR ASS IN THAT CAR AND START YOUR NEW PHOTO PROJECT….the blog will go own, we’ll still write…most of us havent stopped making pictures (scanning as i talk) or changed just ’cause of what’s happened:

    listen: get that photo project underway 1st…you deserve that and that’s food for us too…

    and yea, u get a place, im coming down, like immediately….

    i’ll write u about Va when i return from Charlotte next week…

    and your sad story david: let me tell u this:

    sometimes a cold laptop, a warm soda and wet pringles, an empty room aint so sad, ’cause u know, u gotta be one of the most thought of and cared about dudes i know…often the applause is just bullshit, but u know, i know people who care about u, personally, deeply:

    u forget I’ve drunk with both Chris A and Mike B…those boys (ok, chris aint a boy ;) ) care…and so do i…

    now, gotta finish pics and get to bed..


  • david alan harvey


    i think you have it about right…the only thing you said that i might disagree with, or at least question, is when you said that great photographers not only had powerful images, but were “consistent”…i am not so sure about that one…the most consistent “big time” magazine photographer i ever knew was really really good all of the time, but was never never “great”…i know a lot of “greats” who routinely “bomb”….

    consistency is certainly a professional attribute…but, i think the truly “great” absolutely “need” to go “out on a limb”…doing this will either lead to something really special or a possible “fall”…in any case, this sounds like a good post topic for the future…

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    do not worry amigo, but thanks for worrying amigo…. i have no intention of taking anything forward with a printed version of our forum until i am totally finished with my upcoming adventure…i merely rattled on a bit this morning having just read , and being so impressed, with what i was reading from all of you…

    i always have things on the “front burner”, things on the “back burner”, and a couple of “dishes” i may or may not ever “cook”…this publishing of a forum book definitely falls into the latter category…my eyes are glued on the “front burner” right now…

    many thanks for caring…wanna ride shotgun???


  • david:

    last word, then to finish the pics (promised Marina i’d finish before midnight and go to bed):

    i would love to be shotgun…but i also know u gotta do this alone, but let me say this…for some of the journey, i’d do it, yes for sure…i’d love it…u get ur ass started, and i’ll get my ass finishing other shit, and i promise u, our asses could definitely meet on a seat…i aint talking about the meeting long awaited, we’re talking an adventure after…

    ok, running


  • Hi David, Hi all,

    once again I awake from my nights sleep to find i’ve missed another great thread, anything i would have said has been said…
    (more or less).

    outside it’s bright & fresh, autumn is here and the light is shifting, softer, lower in the sky. australia is good for me.

    now whilst i really want to sit here a write and fall into a morning at my desk, i’ve promised to spend the morning with our 3 year old.

    David, i have some burning questions for you, but i guess they’ll have to wait…

    SERENDIPITY indeed…


  • Hold on, hold on. hold on,… and hold on…

    “…many thanks for caring…wanna ride shotgun???


    Posted by: david alan harvey | April 03, 2008 at 11:24 PM…

    I’m fucking envy, jealous and ENVY TOO…

    When does the “marathon” starts….

    WELL, according to Cathy… “I’m Panos the limo driver”..

    … but thats ok… “limo driver” it is!!!!!!!!!!


    “…David, i have some burning questions for you, but i guess they’ll have to wait…

    SERENDIPITY indeed…


    Posted by: Sam Harris | April 03, 2008 at 11:35 PM…”

    dont only speak to DAH …!!!!
    dont ditch us….!
    maybe WE , can answer….
    play with us…. and dont forget to “GET NAKED”….!

  • David,

    This is the most wonderful thread. Did I miss the BIG reveal of your upcoming project?

  • David;

    I’ve always beieved that you can find great photos anywhere, the challenge much of the time is believing it. Larry Towell’s “The World From My Front Porch” shows that.

    You’ve just got to go out there and do it. I find it’s too easy for me to use my location as a convenient excuse to procrastinate.

    I’ve decided to work on an idea (coincidentally, just yesterday)that I’ve been mulling over for a while, and follow a story on a rugby competition in my area. This competition is in its 101st year and is between 3 (Strathmore, Whangamomona & Toko) remote backcountry region teams.

    This small competition is so far removed from the hype of professional rugby that you’d need a telescope to see it!

    There, the players take off their work boots from the sheep stations and don their rugby boots. The wives & girl friends still provide the food etc… Real heartland NZ stuff, and it’ll be interesting to look behind the scenes for the meaningful stories & images.

    You mentioned Allard earlier in the post; you know my view of his work, he’s an inspiration. But… the Thai elephant piece was his only story that i felt he didn’t have his heart in… But it also may have been the editing too.

    As for putting Bill in a mall to shoot “consumerism/mall culture etc” I think he could do work that would blow your socks off… Different to Parr, but if Bill was into the story I think it would be great….

    Sometimes what you think may potentially be boring can turn out the complete opposite. I’ve just finished attending a seminar I’m covering for a weekly paper. I thought it was going to be dull (with a capital D). I mean to say, it was a “Large Dairy Herds Association Summit”!!

    It turned out they had a great range of speakers, from all walks of life and was mostly about building business, strategies, risk assesment. I learnt more about business in 1 day than I ever thought possible. And thank God they were all fantastic communicators!

    So not only will I get paid for the words and pics, but I learnt a huge amount of business info from people of the ilk of the ex-head of Global Vodafone & NZ’s top negotiater at the WTO office etc.

    Cheers everyone

  • Hi David,

    I hope that you are enjoying Brazil…


    Hallo. I really liked your page! The Heimatland project seems pretty interesting, specially the fact of feeling a stranger in your own country…. I feel that too!!… Its definitely a long term project!

    Ich werde in zwei Wochen nach Deutschland fliegen… vielleicht konne wir uns irgendwo treffen und ein Kaffe trinken…


  • All…
    i see why you don’t want to leave this place (“taking aim…”)… but if you’re just a little curious about the 2008 Visão Photojournalism Awards go to the next topic (“threads…”). The winner, best photos in each categories and maybe… maybe a surprise.
    take care and… um forte abraço para todos,
    Carlos Filipe

  • ‘We are bruised’

    Indeed we are.

    Bob Black you made me cry with your words that are redolent with love and loss, earth and ashes…

    I have not read much beyond that in this thread, but if David will publish a book with Bob Black’s writing I will order a copy now.

    The only way to answer David’s question I believe is to ontemplate Bob’s elegant, eloquent writings and say that we are the lucky ones because we are driven by our hearts until we find a way to express our souls.

    Bob’s evocation of childhood imagery is what I believe is smart and if that was my assignment then I would strive to somehow replicate the smells and tastes and touches in my photographs.

    That is what is visually loaded for me, what something feels like inside my head.

  • To Bob, Panos and all others,
    After my week of vacations in Guatemala, I have been traveling again this past week but this time for my “day job”, long flight to Japan, long endless meeting every day, tough business discussions, lots of tension among business leaders arguing about what to do, what projects to cut etc… I sometimes wonder where I get the energy to still be part of this kind of stuff and I came out of this exhausted. In this context, I cannot tell you how much, every day of this “depressing week”, I was looking forward to escape, get a break from my business meetings and rapidly go to the blog to check out where the discussions were heading….This thread has indeed been one of the best and most captivating debate…. (Bob, you are an inspiring writer AND photographer…). Unfortunately, I really did not have time this week to join in the discussions and, as it happens often, by the time I looked at the comments, I felt that everything had been already been said more eloquently than I could ever do…Let me tell you though that you ALL have and continue to be a great source of inspiration and strength, Bob the poet as well as Panos the straight-shooter or best Panos the “LIMO-DRIVER”. It is so rare to find a place like what David and you all have created here, a place full of smart passionate individuals debating, sharing their experience, their thoughts and feeling about photography that is so close to our hearts. Like many I am sure, this blog and the writers have now become an integral part of my life… Thanks to all!!!! Keep on writing, whether this leads to a book or not!!!! Cheers, Eric..

    On to a flight in the morning back to the US….Hopefully, next time I reconnect, we all will know about David’s project as I seem to remember a commitment to let us know by the end of this week….Come on David…. Time has come….


    sorry dude, i was just to busy to get into a morning by the computer…
    like now, i should be in the kitchen making sushi for dinner while my other half baths the kids…

    hopefully later or tomorrow i can sneak some time, I REALLY WANT TO JOIN IN…


  • david alan harvey


    why have you missed “another thread”?? this is the current thread…the post “threads” is just more of an “info” post (or so i thought), so there is not as much of a thread under the heading “threads” as the thread right here so please “thread the needle” and ask away!!!


    i am laughing!!

    out loud really…

    because i just KNEW you were going to read that note to Bob and think “hey , wait a f__king minute, i am the DRIVER in this rock band!!!!”

    yes, i asked Bob to ride shotgun, but i did NOT SAY WHO would be DRIVING!!! for sure, i will end up in the back seat…FINE, OK….i need to be looking out the window for pictures anyway…

    just pull over at the next rest stop please….i love rest stops…..they are so bad, they are good…especially the ones on the New Jersey Turnpike…wow, now that is AMERICA!!!

    do not worry, because right after i check to see if you really have a valid drivers license, make sure you are not too stoned to drive (whatever that means), and tell my mother i might be home late, you my CALIFORNIA HUNTER S. THOMPSON WANNABE will be behind the wheel!!!

    oh shit, did i really say that???


    you asked a question way way back there about why, if “emotion” was so important, was so much photography coming out of the so called “Yale school” so forcefully lacking in emotion..i believe that is what you asked…right?? there is surely an attempt, a very successful attempt, to devoid this work of any obvious emotion….

    i cannot answer this question, but i am curious to have it answered….i THINK, but i am NOT SURE, that for the photographers in this “school”, which includes so many iconic photographers like Wall, Gursky, R,Adams,Simon,Crewdson, etc etc (the very highest collector’s print price photographers), that “obvious blatant emotion” is considered trite and way way “too photojournalistic”…ever since Edward Steichen curated “Family of Man” (in 1955 i think) at MOMA, there has been an artistic “backlash” against being emotional or too too sentimental or too photojournalistic…

    will somebody else please jump in and answer Erica’s question…sounds like a whole new thread to me….


    well, i respectully disagree with almost everything you said in your first few graphs!! almost….

    first, i see Larry Towell’s “From My Front Porch” as being totally “visually loaded”… i do not think “visually loaded” is a negative at all..quite the contrary…but photographing his own family in that environment was “loaded”..at least for Larry..i love this work of his most of all…

    Allard in a shopping mall? No way….Bill’s best work is the West, slaughter houses, bars, horses, hats,landscape or Peru, slaughter houses, hats,sheep,landscape,bars,…i am exaggerating a bit to make a point, but of all the photographers i know personally, Bill needs SUBJECT…you are right about one thing and it makes my point perfectly, Thai elephants was not it..when i say “subject” i of course mean personal favorite subject…Thai elephants is a great subject in my opinion, but Bill was totally out of his “element”..i saw Bill once in Hawaii..on the beach…in his cowboys boots!! he could not wait to get out of there!! Martin Parr, on the other hand, would have gone nuts!!! Martin Parr, on the other hand, would not do so well in a bar in Montana…probably get run out of town!!

    again, i do not see “needing the right subject” as a negative…..it is a positive….i do see “professional versatility” as a potential negative…

    someone else mentioned (not you) or rather complained, that there are no longer “renaissance men”…that everyone now becomes too “specialized”….to me, that is a bit of an oversimplification…there is a big difference between being multi-talented and firing off in too many directions…ok, another post later on this one!!

    now, i do realize you have the “professional attitude”….i know it well…at some point, i believed (for a short time) what you believe…i was sort of “taught” to believe it because of my work on newspapers and at Natgeo…it is a good thing to believe if you are being paid to shoot assignments…fair enough…

    but, what i was talking about was the really great work of the photographers whose names come up here whose work is really “admired”…names that all of you have brought up…

    i personally cannot think of a single “iconic great” who YOU admire, that i would consider either particularly “professional” or “versatile” i.e. be able to do GREAT work anytime, anywhere…if you can think of someone , please tell me….


    yes, i always enjoy Brazil….i enjoy trying to figure it out!! i was originally supposed to fly home yesterday, but extended my stay to do some street shooting…however, all of my friends here give me advice on how not to get robbed..actually, the only place where i have been robbed was here..but, i love the street life, music, sensuality, and the people are just the best…unless they are behind the wheel of a car (or, trying to get my cameras)!!!


    so nice to hear from you…your words sum it up…perfect…

    how is your health? i was so so worried about you in BKK….

    new work??

    peace, david

  • how important is it with what you choose to photograph in the first place? do you think “great photographers” choose inherently “great subjects”??

    I am first of all a ‘reader’, and am fascinated with how much time and devotion most of the regulars have to write and I admire that! I don’t consider myself a ‘lurker’ just because I ‘read’. I find you guys (and gals) to be brilliant, funny, annoying and inspiring. If you don’t want readers that don’t always write, then perhaps you could make this private. ( guess you can tell that that comment about being a lurker struck me personally!) hey! it’s not easy keeping up with you all! but david, you have created something amazing here, and you certainly know that!

    But back to your original question. Yes, I think it helps to have ‘great subjects’ but not always does greatness happen even with those subjects. I think that it’s more about what happens when everything ‘clicks’ and the magic of the moment happens. The light is right, the mood is right, the ‘magic’ is there and the shot or shot connects with the opening of the shutter. We all know when that magical moment happens and it’s almost like we stop breathing trying to hold on to that ‘ah ha’ ‘don’t let this moment end’ moment.

    So, where ever I am or whatever I am shooting, whether it is exciting, historical, environmental or whatever, I think it’s the connection between the photographer and the moment as well as the technology we use. So, I don’t think it’s the ‘great subjects’ because we don’t ever see the bad photos of the ‘great subjects’ they shoot, only the great photos of the great subjects of whom we will recognize.

    When any photographer can capture an image of anything that evokes a second look and cause the viewer to be sucked in to explore the image, then that is what makes a ‘great image’ with a great subject.

    hope that makes sense.

    David, enjoy Brazil and hold on to your stuff!

  • david alan harvey


    my mother always told me to apologize when i was wrong…so i give you my apology…period..

    you are 100% right…the word “lurker” is even worse than the word “blog”…i hate both…i did not invent either, but i have used both…

    from now on i will use neither….

    thank you for being a reader..if, at times, you are in the right mood to write, then we all very much appreciate that too….

    i do love the word “magic”…i am so pleased you used it..and whatever it takes to make “magic” for you, then that is by definition the “right” subject…

    cheers, david

  • David you are amazing! Where you find the energy to reply to everyone is beyond my dreaming!

    Health is fine, just a stupid old kidney stone caught in my kidney and thats all gone now.

    Its been a tough year already though I lost a dear friend of mine a month ago


    and I was working with him on doing a doco of stuff (the pic dates back to 94 so we were old mates and I have a lot of material) and I was meant to be writing press releases for the release of his album, but instead I was writing his obituary.

    The stuff I have been doing with the people on ‘The Block’ has really run its course, but ‘cos of the way things are with the ‘Mob’ I want to continue with other stuff, same culture. Its a tough one to penetrate with authority, its a gently gently approach. I want to expand it as well to other areas across the world but its finding the funds to do stuff. Been working on that side more than taking pictures I think.

    Would just love to go somewhere new for a coupla weeks and just lose myself in work, unfortunately I think I came back from Bangers with an attitude where I just don’t want to shoot chimps and their babies anymore so I am also trying to work out a way of paying the rent whilst shooting only what I want and its not that easy! I am doing a new website as well…

    So enough about me I am really not v interesting…

    I am dying to know what your new project is! I just don’t know how you manage to keep it all going, I thought I had loads of spare energy- David you’re the “Energizer Bunny’!

  • LISA:

    :))).thanks so much sister :)))…everything that, indeed, has made me the weirdo i am came from all that stuff in childhood, the good stuff and the horrible stuff (and yea, it’s a true story: as a kid, i used to try to curl under the cast iron radiators for warmth and to listen to the house hum)…u coming to visit us with Tamara??…please ;)))..


    I’ll take a crack at the “anti-emotion” stuff as often represented by the Yale MFA school, but also by the major influence of the Dusseldof Art School…shit, just look at Jörg M. Colberg’s BLOG Conscientious, which is quite often a celebration of this aesthetic, particularly has in infiltrates young German photographers and young art school photography students (http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/)…which is a huge blog on photo (i used to go there often, but found myself often depressed by some of his “insights” and comments, though he is smart and totally generous about his dedication to photography (i see he blogs for Magnum now too), but i also think his own photographic perspective is often incredibly narrow, but at least he trys to show a broad range of photographers), …this mentality is partly a reaction to the Family of Man exhibition and the “legitimacy” of Photojournalism, but also a reaction born of the art world’s historical relationship to “photography”. Generally, photography has always been viewed as an ugly ducking, a impoverished brother to painting or sculpture or even conceptual/performance art. However, as photography has bloomed these idiotic categorizations began to alter: in fact, now Photo-based art and video-art seem to have completely replaced painting and sculpture as the de rigeur media to tackle artistic intent. partly it’s the newness of the media (vis-a-vis fine art) but also the flexibility of the media (it’s why i love photo-based stuff soooo much).

    The irony is that “anti-emotion” is in fact very much an emotional response, no matter what the art instructors promulgate. In fact, i often love the work (when it’s great, like wall or gursky or ruff or the bechers or or struth or lux or you fill in the blank), but again, i see it as just as emotion: irony is an emotional response: a response of contrast. I dont get the “fear” of emotionalism, cause the truth is anti-emotionalism is absolutely no less: its an expression of fear and ennui and exhaustion and laughter and irony and denudering and reluctance and doubt and all that, all very much human emotional expressions. The other think is that “coldness” appears “cool” My friend chris anderson got his ass attacked at the Magnum blog for his Siberia and Primary work because of his “distant and cold” approach (though, i think those 2 bodies of work are absolutely brilliant, as I argued at the Magnum block a few months ago). The fact is that it is a response and an engagement. Often the anti-emotion movement is really not about “emotion” per se at all, but about the “craft”…theyre almost always meta-pictures: trying to remvoe the “human” or “living” element to ask questions about the craft, which in fact are also asking questions about life…so, i actually dont think that photographs have to be “emotional” to be great (just ’cause im an emotional photographer, although i’ve been told my pictures are cold), i think maybe it’s just here at the the blog, the majority of photographers are oriented to a more traditional expression of photography…

    i think only this: does the picture move me in some way: emotionally, intellectually (the cold stuff, the conceptual stuff), humanely: ’cause intellectual ideas are just as emotional: cause emotions come from where: our brains ;))))))…

    now, why are young photographers in art schools so often afraid to be labeled as “documentary photogs” or “human” or “emotional”…i think that’s another interesting questions…funny: pj world and art world rarely sit down at the same dinner and that has always depressed me…

    its just stupid photography anyway ;))))..


  • david alan harvey


    oh, i forgot to say something on your comment about Marcin and his work being your favorite….

    if memory serves me correct, and i think Marcin will concur, at some point we all realized that the work Marcin submitted for the EPF was not all shot within the given time frame we had set up…i only found this out when Marcin himself told me…an honest error based on my poor communication…well, at that time the “rules” were spread out over 5 different posts…a little confusing for some..but, to be fair to the others, we had to eliminate several of his best photographs…honestly, i do not know right now if what we have up on the site includes those or not?? Marcin???

    my instincts then, and my instincts now, are to help Marcin any way i can…i think, after several private e-mails, and good discussions with Marcin, that he would benefit from funding more than many just because of the economic scene in Poland (although the rest of us are catching up fast!!)…in any case, all i can say is that i am working on it!! by the way, the parameters for submission will be different next time…my efforts will obviously not be just for Marcin (his name just popped up in your note), but for several others who i think would benefit and surely for someone who i do not even know yet…and obviously, i want to help as many as i can simply live up to their potential….having said this, i can only put a “brick in the wall”…i just want to “do my bit”..thanks for bringing it up..

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    well, simply put, if i am going to do something, than i am going to do it!! but, there are many days when i cannot be here at all…and then , honestly, sometimes i am here when i am supposed to be doing something else…like right now, i should be preparing my taxes….but, where am i? so it is not all altruism, it is often escapism!!!

    i have not read your friends obit yet, but i will now…i am so so sorry…two things always amaze us in our “cycle”…when a baby is born and when someone dies…both concepts, the most scientifically routine of life’s events, totally grab us by the heart and we are “surprised”…i cannot get a handle on either one for sure…

    in any case, i am pleaed your health is fine…take good care….

    hugs, david


    well, i think we might want to broaden our posts here somewhat….because i do think the so called “two worlds” must merge and are merging more and more…i do understand the “art world” disdain for much of photojournalism….i am totally bored with most of it myself…but, no more than i can be totally bored with most of what i see in the so called art world either…let’s face it, the best of both are extremely compelling…and the best of both “cross over” this imaginary line all the time….

    when i saw the Andreas Gursky show at MOMA i was totally blown away…same with Jeff Wall…it is certainly partly due to the PRINTS…you have to see their shows…as in painting…. i mean, you cannot judge either artist by the work in magazines or books…i just saw Gursky’s latest book just before i came on this trip…but all i could think was, “well the SHOW must be terrific”..some amazing pictures in there for sure….and yet, some look for all the world like carbon copies of routine Natgeo work in the 60’s…i mean literally!!! take a look…of course, no recent artist proves this point more than Luc Delahaye, who decided to “re-invent” himself and took along a medium format camera to Afghanistan where he was shooting news photojournalism for Newsweek…he took some of the same pictures with the med format as he took with his 35…the now famous dead Afghan soldier which was published in Newsweek as a 4″ by 3″ inch picture and only slightly memorable, was later presented in gallery form 15 feet wide and the prints selling for $15,000. each in a limited edition of i think 8 or 10…Luc, has now locked himself down in the art world and no longer even speaks of photojournalism at all even though his actual pictures are clearly “photojournalism”…..

    i think the German school and the Yale school revere the more DELIBERATE nature of what they do…photojournalism to them just seems to almost be an “accident”, “unplanned”…painting is, after all, DELIBERATE…

    HCB prints go for much less than Crewdson prints…Crewdson is deliberate…and yet, i still wish that the “decisive moment” had a stronger place..i mean, there is only ONE moment like an HCB MOMENT..never to happen again…pretty hard to copy an HCB…and , for me, HCB was quite DELIBERATE also, but in a very different way…

    anyway, this could go on forever….and i must now go out and do some shooting for myself the next few days here in Brazil…i must do what i must do…this discussion is interesting, but i (and many others) cannot “re-invent” ourselves for the “market”…THAT really would be selling out..and if a photographer “tries” to follow the current “trend” they will “die” for sure…best to just do what you do and let the art /legacy/ gallery “chips fall where they may”….

    ok, running to shoot….deliberately!!!

    cheers, david

  • My apologies for the following; I realize that most of you don’t care about this sort of thing, but I have an opinion to offer, an opinion that in no way has a damn thing to do with what everyone else here is talking about. I find that my ability to form opinions having little to do with the matter under discussion has gotten stronger as I’ve gotten older, leading to the occasional social gaffe, as when I brought up the theological implications of long underwear in a forum devoted to civil service reform, which is a phrase containing three untruths in as many words; I think that’s some kind of record, myself.

    You may not have noticed this, but most people spend a good-sized chunk of their lives doing things that are fairly pointless. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a little pointlessness every so often; it goes well with French philosophy, especially the existential meat dishes, and there’s nothing better than a tasty bit of pointlessness with a good red French wine, but too much of anything is not good for the digestion and with a diet that rich you should not be surprised if you come down with the gout if you overindulge. And while monotony has its comforts, after all, the truth of the matter is that over an extended period of time monotony can slip inexorably from the comfortably numb to the excruciatingly mind-numbing, taking a large part of our sanity with it. In these circumstances, people will do almost anything to break the daily tide of tediousness, or, at the very least, reduce the tide to manageable proportions. Some people will take up a hobby like collecting stamps, coins, or eighteen year blondes named Bambi, while others trapped in the iron jaws of ennui will travel to some part of the world they’ve never been to before in order to take pictures of foreigners scream at each other in a strange language and then start taking potshots at one another for reasons that not immediately discernible to the naked eye. In any quarrel, it’s usually best not to think too much about the reasons for the quarrel; most quarrels do not stand up well under close examination and, as the great Irish philosopher Sir Lucius O’Trigger once explained, most people like their quarrels as they are; trying to explain the quarrel rationally would only serve to ruin it. All of these hobbies have at least some small merit—they will break up the general monotony of life, especially that bit with Bambi after your spouse and her lawyer find out—but I find that there nothing that will break the stifling monotony and purposelessness of daily existence quite as well as training a parrot to do root canal.

    I know what a good many of you are thinking to yourselves right now—what possible advantage could anyone derive from training a bird, any bird, much less a parrot, in the subtleties of root canal? I do not have a good answer to this question at the moment; I am sure an answer, and a very good answer it will be when it finally arrives, will come to me shortly, just after it picks up its luggage and goes through security and gets its passport stamped, but at the moment, I fear, you will have to do without an answer or your lemon danish. I’m not sure how lemon danish figures in all of this; it’s almost certain that you can’t have any with your French philosophy and I don’t even want to think about what’ll happen if you ask for a bottle of ketchup.

    Obviously, for those of you who may want to take up this hobby, there are a few problems to overcome. I know that I had a whole slew of obstacles in my way, the first of these being that I don’t really know anything about how to do root canal work. I’ve had root canal done, in my case by a woman dentist who did her best to put me at ease about the procedure between running out to smoke Camels and calling her bookie to put bets on Philly’s Folly in the sixth up in Saratoga, but sitting in the cheap seats at Yankee Stadium does not mean you get to hit in the clean-up spot, and so I began my career in avian education with no small degree of trepidation granted by a degree mill in the state of denial. However, ignorance of the subject matter is the last refuge of the intellectually callow and, frankly, a flimsy excuse not to do something. Christopher Columbus, for example, didn’t know where the hell he was going in 1492 and still managed to arrive in the Bahamas before the tourist season began and to have the capital of Ohio named after himself before Donald Trump fired him for not staying at a Trump hotel, as Columbus’ contract with the Donald required. All Charles Goodyear wanted to do was to perfect a whoopee cushion that smelled as bad as it sounded. He spent years trying to perfect the thing, mixing the raw rubber with hair, onions, dirty sneakers, a teenager’s unwashed laundry, used car salesmen, and finally sulfur. Goodyear tossed a handful of the stuff into the pot, having no idea that he was about to unleash the miracle of vulcanization and its logical consequence, the automobile tire, which will help you get a girl alone, and the condom, which helps the girl you got alone stay alone. Goodyear’s dream of the olfactory as well as the audibly disgusting whoopee cushion, however, had to wait another hundred years or so for someone whose name is escaping me now to invent. These men and thousands like them had no damn idea what in the hell they were doing and their names have gone down in history, while tens of thousands of men who did know what they were doing have vanished, their names unknown to posterity, after they did the sensible thing and wound up spending their lives peddling life insurance to the easily duped. That’s what listening to your parents will get you and don’t you ever forget it, buster.

    There are, in the periodontal training of parrots, a number of problems you will need to address right away. The first of these is the parrot’s basic lack of sympathy for human dental problems. Parrots do not have dental problems, as they do not have teeth; they have a powerful beak, which is a sensible two-piece system capable of cracking open any seed you care to think of and which the bird can also use to pop the cap off of any brand of bottled beer sold in the United States, either foreign or domestic. In the past, parrots could also open cans of beer with alacrity in the absence of a can opener; however, the invention of, and the now near ubiquity of, the pop-top can has rendered this service unnecessary, if not completely obsolete in our more modern age. Being clever enough to open our own beer cans, parrots cannot, as a rule, see any reason why we should need their assistance to perform root canal. Parrots understand that the human beak, as they think of it, is an internal rather than an external organ, but they fail to grasp how any species that considers itself the paragon of animal evolution could get stuck with such an unwieldy thirty-two piece dining room set and with no means of returning the set for a refund. Getting the bird to understand that there is, in fact, a vital need for his /her services is the first step to successfully training your parrot. The parrot will not sympathize with the human dental plight, but they are willing to go along for the ride, particularly if there’s a free meal involved somewhere along the line.

    The next great hurdle for the hobbyist to overcome is the parrot’s willful lack of an opposable thumb. Parrots do not have thumbs, as they regard thumbs, opposable or not, as unnecessary as well as unsightly. Parrots do have wings, which are often brightly colored and help parrots fly up to the telephone wire directly above your freshly washed and waxed car, the better to crap all over your roof, but wings, brightly colored or not, are a poor substitute for a thumb. The ability to fly under one’s own power is not really a required skill in almost any branch of dentistry you can think of, except for hovering, which eliminates the need to have the patient turn their head this way or the other. Parrots, however, cannot hover; only hummingbirds can hover and hummingbirds are essentially untrainable, except for some specialized fields such as computer science and tuna fishing, where they excel. Parrots prefer to use their beaks and feet for any operation that requires them to hold on to something, so when the trained bird actually performs the root canal on a patient, the patient will need a general anesthesia during the operation and some first aid afterwards in order to staunch the facial bleeding. Parrots find it difficult to operate from a perch while operating and prefer to stand on the patient’s shoulders or face during the procedure, digging their claws into the patient to make sure they don’t fall off.

    The last great problem, the one that is greater than the parrot’s lack of reading skills or their inability to add past the number seven and one that I would ordinarily not bring up in such an open forum, is their constant need to take hits off the nitrous oxide. In any scenario involving a parrot and dentistry, a human must handle the anesthesia. This is a given. If allowed to have their own way, no parrot would ever see a patient. They would lock themselves in a room with ten or twelve or twenty of their closest friends, open the valve on the laughing gas all the way, and fly around the room at top speed singing dirty songs until they started bouncing off the walls. Nitrous oxide addiction has ruined the careers of thousands of promising psittacine periodontists and taken a terrible toll on their families. If you decide to take up avian periodontics, you must, must, must keep your parrot away from the nitrous oxide. If you do not believe you can do this, then I advise you to take up some other form of recreation; avian dentistry is clearly not for you.

    But for all of its difficulties, training your parrot to do root canal can be a great deal of fun and incredibly lucrative as well. There are millions of people who have no dental coverage in their insurance plans and who wouldn’t mind having an otherwise very expensive operation performed for literally peanuts, which the patients will have to buy from you at hugely inflated prices. The American Dental Association, of course, hates the very idea of parrots performing root canal, but they would, wouldn’t they? Their psittacine loathing hasn’t stopped them from investing in Ritz Crackers or Planter’s Peanuts, has it? No, it hasn’t, not by a long shot. Hate the birds or no, the ADA knows that parrots will be dominating root canal work in ten years or so and they are getting ready for the changeover. The parrots, of course, are looking to move on up in the world. Today the teeth, tomorrow the tonsils, and finally, the world! Well, maybe not…

  • “…while others trapped in the iron jaws of ennui will travel to some part of the world they’ve never been to before in order to take pictures of foreigners scream at each other in a strange language and then start taking potshots at one another for reasons that not immediately discernible to the naked eye….”

    my apologies yet again, but this should read:

    “take pictures of foreigners screaming at each other in a strange language before they start taking potshots at one another…”

    Marcin has an excuse; I don’t. Sorry

  • Hi David,

    With Bob’s writings only we could print the encyclopedia of photography :) (i love his thoughts by the way)….

    Did you have a chance to look at Peter Turnley stories in Harper magazine and what do you think of his work/the way he depicts story.

    Thanks and have a great day…

    Arie (from beautiful and sunny Bermuda)…

  • david alan harvey


    we all posted simultaneous i guess…you will have to go back up to read my most recent comment, which i thought would be the last one….in any case, i am running now, but will be back to comment on your comments..i can see that the Akaky treatise will take some time, but i am looking forward to it….Arie, i have some thoughts on this, but will get back to you soonest…

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Another question I wanted to ask you for a long time: you seem almost obsessed with the idea of publishing a book: a book on this, a book on that. Why is that? Does an artist have to present the results of his work/effort? Why? and to what end? Is it to justify our own existence? or…?

    Appreciate you comments as always,



  • DAVID,

    Oh man I know that doing it all wrong feeling! Anyway I’ll be with a UNICEF crew so will get to see some of the remoter parts of the DR (along with Haiti) with 5:30 am call times so I may just want to crawl into bed in the evenings. But I’ll be sure to check out the colonial part of town.

    Okay, I put off shooting with the disposable yesterday despite good weather – got some office work done and then just had a nasty headache. Of course it’s raining and dark today and I need to hand the camera off tomorrow. But as you well know, often the mark of a good (great?) is the ability to work with what your handed (light, subject, weather, etc). To make “magic” out of any given situation is the mark of a true magician. Maybe “conjurer” is a better metaphor. One who conjures light, subject, moment into a 2 dimensional form.

    I do agree about what you write about different subjects being correct for different personalities though I don’t think it always corresponds to the quality of work made. There are some who can mingle in all spheres and make great work but those persons are few. There will always be situations in which I am uncomfortable but making good work, some sits where uncomfortable and not making good work, other situations in which I am comfortable making great work, and lastly some sits where perfectly in my comfort zone but making lousy pics. Funny thing is that I’m actually more comfortable hanging out with Hmong farmers in North Vietnam than I am with most rock/hip hop etc stars. Not what one thinks of when one thinks of Charles Peterson, “grunge photographer.” But one does change throughout their life (or at least one would hope so) so what was important to me 10-20 years ago is no longer so much. Now it’s just a matter of making my new work as relevant to the world as my old. Being pigeonholed – there’s a whole ‘nother subject for a thread.

    Anyway, David, if you happen to come Seattle way on your trip please look me up. I’ll take you and your “driver” out for some killer Vietnamese food. In my opinion we have some of the best anywhere including VN itself.



  • david alan harvey


    your newest question just popped up and it is easy to answer…

    my grandmother exposed me to books books and more books when i was hospitalized with polio at age 6….i grew up loving books…my source of energy, inspiration and a “window” to the world..i always felt that books somehow were the ultimate artistic contribution one could make, even though later i saw there were many other ways…but, still books books and more books stuck stuck and stuck in my head…

    how would we “know” about anything had Gutenberg not invented the printing press? isn’t a book the logical conclusion for anyone who has something to “say” or even thinks they do??

    yes, i am obsessed with books…and , yes, to justify my own existence!!!

    peace, david

  • DAVID: COULDNT AGREE WITH YOU MORE ! :)))))…about all that stuff :))))..

    AKAKY, AKAKY, AKAKY:! :))))))))))



    I think akaky should ALWAYS have the last word! :)))))))))…fucking demented brilliance! :)) i love u and ur writing soooo much


    this will be my last post for 4 days…

    happy shooting all…

    and akaky: i want pics of that damn parrot and you under the knife! :)))


  • Book and more books! I couldn’t agree more. Personally I see no other reason for myself to be a photographer than to work towards books. Shows are alright but… are usually a pain in the ass (not that making books aren’t!). And books are not/never much of a money maker in and of themselves but can lead toward other more lucrative prospects. And unlike a magazine article, or record cover, or even a gallery show (where you often wan/need to show the most saleable prints) with a book one has a lot of freedom in showing your work and letting it unravel in ways you could never accomplish otherwise.

    Anyway, must get out of my bathrobe and into the world! Just couldn’t resist one of my favorite topics/things in this world – books!


  • David,

    Do you see the art/photojournalism animosity working the other way too? It seems to me that the pj crowd can be pretty dismissive and disdainful of their arty cousins, looking down from their ivory towers spouting pretentious theory and perpetrating irrelevant photos…

    In every community, big and small, there are the us-es and the them-s, the insiders and the outsiders. The insiders fight to maintain the group (and fight for dominance within it)… outsiders, trying to become insiders, are viewed with hostility, as a threat. Maybe we humans have not evolved so much from our baboon ancestors…

    In every group, too, there is a demand, subtle or explicit, to toe a line, to drink the kool-aid, to engage in groupthink… which, by definition, is exclusionary and limiting.

    I don’t hold out much hope that human group dynamics will change any time soon. The pjs and the artsies will, I’ll bet, perpetually give each other the stink eye…

    But maybe, just maybe, they can agree… to equally despise anyone who hasn’t chosen sides!

  • Dear David,

    You asked:

    “how would we “know” about anything had Gutenberg not invented the printing press? isn’t a book the logical conclusion for anyone who has something to “say” or even thinks they do??”

    My answer to your question is that there are a large number of cultures (african cultures for example)for which knowledge has been passed on, for hundred of years, orally (actually you treated this topic in your NG story on rap). So I think that the book as a tool to share/spread ideas is linked to our cultural background.


  • Dear David,

    You asked:

    “how would we “know” about anything had Gutenberg not invented the printing press? isn’t a book the logical conclusion for anyone who has something to “say” or even thinks they do??”

    My answer to your question is that there are a large number of cultures (african cultures for example)for which knowledge has been passed on, for hundred of years, orally (actually you treated this topic in your NG story on rap). So I think that the book as a tool to share/spread ideas is linked to our cultural background.


  • BOB
    ….i think only this: does the picture move me in some way…

    That reply where you wrote that, Bob, was for me one of your very best ones. More facts, less helium, less fat, more thoughts… My abyssmal lack of appreciation for poetry makes me definitely a minority here, but still I am unanimous in that opinion!


    going back to the excerpt, I am wondering if a photography does not just get/impress on us before we “ask” it a question, though. There is definitely an immediacy to the act of looking at a photo which is very close, or maybe responding, to the immdediacy (mechanical or “decisive”) of taking it.

    And unlike others arts, the instant physicality (there is not other art where the perception of the outside world is less symbolic. cinema is close enough, but not instantaneous) and visceralness of this relationship is what makes photography ever potent, be it art or journalism. Even in hyper abstract photography, the eye, by reflex will try to decipher reality.

    …Then, we ask questions (oh yesss!)

    PS: Maybe I am wrong.


    I just read your comment to Jason.
    I’m not sure my translate is correct… but….
    all pictures I send you for the EPF was shot in “right” frames time, but I send you a few days after deadline time. First because I was on cuba when time was over. Second I had many “real” problems in one time so I could not send you my “proper” essay i made on films (developed mostly last month) like I said you in e-mails.
    In this “catastropy” time my computer was in the fire and I can’t sand you nothing more what I shot in right time yours assignment. I send you what I had mostly from my empty laptop from all pictures I made it this “right” time, because I thought (and think) you doing amazing stuff and it was honor doing something for you even if I was in shame because I send you so ordinary pictures.
    I feel awful that I failed your assignent and I didn’t send my best work and you had to send me a e-mail with ask for more pictures from “hometown”. I should DO my best work and send in RIGHT time, but I always confess when I failed. I had no exciuse. But life is life and somethimes we must agree with it.
    I am full of respect for you… you know that.
    You must belive me I choose pictures I shot in frames time ONLY!
    There was only one pictures with wrong data but I just not changed data in my brand new nikon D200.
    I hope it is only my lost in translation.
    please respond if i’m wrong.

  • Hi David!!

    It seems that shooting in Brazil involves some kind of unexpected but totally enjoyable risk…somehow it sounds familiar…

    I believe two very interesting topics have emerged in this forum: (1) the “lack” of renaissance men and over specialization in our times… and (2) the photo and the art world. I have always wonder where does all that disdain towards photog come from? Why such a long and hard fight for photog to be acknowledge as a branch of art? For me it’s really frustrating and irrational… I think it somehow reflects the struggle and division of humanistic and social sciences vrs exact sciences and at it the end its trying to split and categorize human nature and actions…

    David, thanks for being such an inspiration and for taking the time to take out the best of everybody!

    Please take care,


    PD I just wanted to let you know that I sent a follow-up email to your comments… Just let me know what your thoughts are when you have the chance…

  • david alan harvey


    well, i do not think there is really quite the animosity that some think…sure, there is some and from BOTH sides as you correctly point out…

    one of the things that appealed to me when i was a university art student about Magnum, was that here was a group of primarily documentary photographers (bearing witness) whose photographs appeared in magazines and yet found their way to the walls of the Biblioteque Nacional and MOMA as well…i liked that then, i like that now…we have both straight photojournalists as well as more interpretive essayists, but both “camps” “bearing witness”..all of us provide prints for serious collectors…we do not, however, have anyone who goes in the “fiction” direction of say Gregory Crewdson..will we someday???..by the way, i love most of Gregory’s work..i find it very very stimulating…his “essay” is all in one image..


    you are quite correct…oral history was the way of Africa and of Native Americans as well, just to name two cultures…

    you asked about me personally, so i gave my answer based just on your specificity…yes, Gutenberg only influenced the culture from which i grew….


    i would just like to be in the room with you when one of these ideas pops into your head…is anybody “around” when this “happens” or are you alone? where else do you write? Bob is right, we must get you a book deal and i mentioned New Yorker for you long ago…well, i suppose it does not matter…you have chosen this forum to lay out some very provacative work..again, many thanks….i await with anticipation your next “burst” of, you had to have eaten some shrooms at some point in your life, prose….


    maybe there is a little bit of lost in translation…but, not your fault…mine!!!
    the way that whole project came down was so “organic” that the “plan” was confusing to some…not only you…


    a combo of miscommunication from me and the errant metadata on the new camera etc etc, left me with not as many pictures from you as i thought…but, you did not make any mistakes and you totally wrote to me and told be what happened anyway…

    listen Marcin…we were experimenting…all of us….we were going into new territory….it was not set up perfectly, so there was some confusion all around…do not think about it any more….

    we all love you and your work….i hope that is enough…well, your wife will give you the rest!!!

    Wielki uścisk …david

  • DAVID…

    I was confused na surprised and probably I take it all wrong… for me everything is more than ok. I’m thankful for all what you did and do. For me this is enought.
    sorry for mess…

    Jeszcze większy uścisk (przyjacielski:)

  • NEW

    i’m back again… with one more candy. the (new) backstage video from this week Visão Photojournalism Awards 2008 is now online. i guess you already saw the photos… now go see the jury choosing from 6848 photos in two days and talking about it – what it takes to be a good photojournalist and what is a good photo, at http://premiofotojornalismo.visao.pt/2008/04/04/8-premio-2008/
    featuring Jean-François Leroy, Yuri Kozyrev, Noël Quidu, Susan Smith and Philip Blenkinsop in less than six minutes. enjoy.
    i’ll be back… tomorrow (with more…)
    um forte abraço para todos,
    Carlos Filipe

    PS. have you seen the photos? what do you think? some feedback, please…


    really, last comment from me (i know, thank god ;)) for 4 or 5 days travel. I just wanted to briefly mention GREGORY CREWSON again, since David mentioned how much he loved his work. I also really love his work, and each picture is a “essay” story/novel in itself. And i believe he also teaches ;)). But I wanted to let folks know, incase they weren’t aware, that Gregory also made an EXTRAORDINARY AND BEAUTIFUL EMOTIONAL series of photographs about fireflies! :)))

    I saw the essay and the photos in BLINDSPOT last year (yes, that is a brilliant photo magazine)…here is the work: very very different from the usual Crewson stuff: this goes out for David:


    some pics:


    the pics are now a book:




    actually, I can write (and often do) a pretty simple sentence without all that bluster shit. I just get worked up here…but also, well, i guess there are lots of different types of writing, so…no worries..

    running now



    Here is the essay:

  • david alan harvey


    yes, Gregory Crewdson teaches at Yale….i assume you have also seen “Twilight”..if not, check it out…


  • DAVID:

    OK, i lied…im fucking trying to finish my poem (part of which i posted at the beginning of this thread), and i have to send to some editors tonight (’cause i want it out of my head and house before i step on that plane), so do me a favor:


    cause im using a DAH quote for the epigram (along with a Duane Michaels quote)…

    will return to internet in 20 minutes…

    this is the real deal: u gave us Look 3, im giving your words in my poem, that’s for posterity amigo…


  • DAVID:


    he’s a genius, no doubt…and he has such a beautiful, tender, sad face…


  • sorry, that is a naked girl by the car…i always think of my father with that photograph, always (i’ll tell u the story someday David, in person), so that’s why i write “naked guy”…now say something and i can return to my edit ;))


  • ok, she’s not naked (i just re looked at the picture), she’s wearing bra and underwear…but it still reminds me (the girl/teenager) of my dad one terrible and lonely day in my life when i was 15….and we had a car just like that…and i often too sat outside of empty grocery stories looking at sky, talking to friends or girls or books or myself…anyway…

    im becoming like Panos ;)) (wife and son are out and i have to finish this poem and send it and then pack and leave)…

    quo vidas…


  • david:

    ok…check ur email…i spent the last 30 minutes finalizing prose-poem (u;ll see pics another time).., and also, looking through this blog for ur words…

    check, u’ll see the words i used…hope u dont get upset ;))…that’s for posterity now ;))

    ok, 1 hr to pack and leave…

    talk to u all next week…b

  • I love it , Bob…
    your new style i mean..!
    breathtaking!…. breaking it down…
    like a Brian De Palma… movie editing…
    not like mine… i sound more like a cheap local commercial…
    … laughing… but i know you won’t last long…

  • ohhhhh, by the way,

    WE need to buy Bob an iPhone,…
    so he can write to us from anywhere…!
    even the bathroom..

    p.s.: I told ya i sound like a cheap local commercial that
    “grows” in your tube like bad weed…!!!!!

  • Hi Everyone,

    David, what i meant was that i felt out of sync rather than missing the entire post. First time i checked this post there were so many entries i felt i’d ‘missed the bus’ but i guess i’ll try anyhow.

    Your mentioning the sad side of life in Brazil took me back to an experience i had a few years ago……………..

    In 2001 i shot an assignment in Brazil: i was invited to photograph some endangered tribes in a remote region as part of the ‘Amazon Co-op’ a worthy project started by Anita & Gordon Roddick. I was excited, in my minds eye (a romantic place) i pictured nobel warriors with bright coloured feathers, face paint…. it was a dream assignment… and for me as a photographer switching fields from rock’n’roll portraits to documentary work, who could ask for more…

    what i found depressed and confused me: destitute tribes, ill and on the verge of extinction or absorption into the outside world. what was i doing there? was i a voyeur, an opportunist bringing more ‘outside influence’ into their fast shrinking world? or a passionate journalist passing on a desperate message? I felt confused, it wasn’t romantic or glamourous, just shity. It seemed they were damned anyhow.

    I did my best to capture what i saw in the little time I was given.
    I came home with some quite strong work, mostly portraits, but did london want to see them?

    I got back to london and took an edit to few weekend magazines i worked with for a ‘reaction’, the photo editors were impressed with the images BUT the politics of editorial was saying ‘Iraq and anything Saddam is what we want, the Amazon rain forest is old news anyhow’…

    Geographical magazine published the work, but the edit they made (in my absence) was so tame I wondered what the point was, the magazine spread look nothing like the work I handed over, it was family friendly, diluted…

    All this did help me though, it pushed me closer to my own truths and my personal work, it made me think twice about ‘journalism’ and it helped me to quit london to travel, to follow my heart and work on my own project and to forget about the trends of the london magazines, (and to ALWAYS be more involved with the final edit)…

    which brings some QUESTIONS:

    Editing can, no doubt, change the face and heart of a project.
    It can also totally change the message within a project and it’s
    value. If I can use an analogy – the shoot is like weaving a cloth,
    the edit is like the cutting of the cloth. The edit defines, (sharpens) the work and it’s message.

    I’ve always wondered what the contact sheets of other photographers look like. I’d love to see HCB’s, all the ‘indecisive moments’ (assuming there must have been at least a few) and more so how many per roll etc. i believe it would be very educational. To see the ‘PROCESS’ the ‘search’ as well as the ‘shot’.

    I wonder David, have you ever seen em? or could you? and if so?
    (thinking about what you said about great photographers versus good photographers) but that’s not my question for you:

    1. How revealing do you think a photographers ‘contact sheets’ are?
    are yours always ‘tight as’ or do you have times (especially with digital) were you get a bit slack and shoot a gig or two of ‘ok, but nothing to flip over’ ? and if so, does that influence your next period of shooting?
    (like a top sports team that have a bad patch but learn from it and come bouncing back).

    I had other questions relating to editing but while writing this they’ve slipped my mind… darn my short term memory…

    Perhaps it’s best to save em for another time.

    Oh, one more thing. Photographers and their styles. I think some are more flexible than others and comfort zone probably has a lot to do with it. Avedon comes to mind as a great photographer that in my mind did better ‘street work’ than many and i loved all his South West Portraits way more than any of his ‘high fashion’ which for me is for the most part quite boring.

    Surely it’s more about developing your ‘niche’ and sticking to it.

    Have a good day, or night…


  • http://web.mac.com/innerspacecowpanos/Site/Movie.html

    allow 10sec to download….
    I’m photographing a GHOST TOWN that hasn’t born yet…

    literally, the first GHOST TOWN with NO GHOSTS…

  • Ghost town? I thought this about a guy in love with his girl friend…Wonderful, but….Hmmm….I wonder who that could be?

    Sam, I can’t recall, but wasn’t “SCRAPBOOK” showing some of the “shots around The shot”, regarding HCB?

    I think too the genesis of a shot, or a simple contact sheet is sometimes fascinating to look at. I wonder if David can tell us how many of his “iconic” shots were the result of shooting his way towards the “icon”, vs the one and only “DAHcisive” moment.

  • Herve,

    i once glanced at ‘scrapebook’ but it’s not really what i mean.

    i think it would be fascinating to a full set of contacts that include many classic shots, to see what came before and after.
    now theres a book…

    I would also love to see contacts which have nothing ‘classic’ at all, it could almost be like seeing into the mind of the shooter,
    or at least into the method…

    btw. i feel a bit pissed off that my post didn’t conclude where i wanted it too, with those questions… it’s bugging me no end. I had clear questions in mind but somehow i lost them (mostly) while writing about the amazon.

    oh well, they’ll probably come back to me at some moment when i’m driving or unable to do much about it – i need a dictaphone…

    have a good one

  • david alan harvey


    it is 4:25am and i have been out all night shooting…no hotel room blues…..and not much energy to write….crashing crashing….

    will check my email tomorrow…

    peace, david

  • david alan harvey


    what are you doing up so early??


  • david alan harvey


    1944 !!! World War II … no MTV….damn!!!

    thanks, david

  • david alan harvey


    Morocco??? really?? 1944 tour??? way way before you were born, and even before i was born too….barely…. exactly one month to the day before the Americans landed at Normandy…D-Day…and my birthday!!!


  • more from Visão Photojournalism Awards 2008…

    regarding the photo that won the first prize, Carlos Manuel Martins (another Carlos, another Carlos Manuel…) yesterday in his blog http://largodacamera.blogspot.com/2008/04/8-prmio-visobes-fotojornalismo.html wrote
    “the first time I saw this photo, reminded me of another with a few years that was rewarded in worldpressphoto. It’s just me who thinks that the photos are similar or the jury also found that?”

    and now seeing both photos side by side – life and death – reminded me what David wrote also yesterday about something else (now i look like Panos…)
    “two things always amaze us in our “cycle”…when a baby is born and when someone dies…both concepts, the most scientifically routine of life’s events, totally grab us by the heart and we are “surprised”…i cannot get a handle on either one for sure…”

    so, what makes them so special? and what makes an iconic image?

    Now, for the conference (let’s see if i can get someone here to talk with you… wait and see)
    um forte abraço para todos,
    Carlos Filipe

  • David

    You were born 6 july?
    Yes one week in marocco :)))
    my mind is full of images…
    I started buying films…
    films, films… many films…
    reisefieber…. reisefieber!!!
    why “1944 tour”?
    When I will see your photos from brazil???

  • david alan harvey


    now i AM getting confused…didn’t the caption under that movie say 1944? did’t YOU say may 6 in Morocco?? how did you come up with that???…are we “lost in translation”?? laughing…

    anyway, when the Americans were swarming on to the beaches of Normandy, it was June 6, 1944… when that was quite literally happening, my mother was giving birth….but, she/we were in San Franscisco (9 hrs or so later by the clock)…i was born on the night of june 5th , but it was june 6th in France…same time, different dates..


    Magnum has an exhibition traveling around showing everybody’s contact sheets….contact sheets used to be one of the pre-requisite “showings” of a photographer’s portfolio before membership into the agency…i show my students either contact sheets or the whole cf card on any given shoot of mine in my classes…students always tell me this is very very helpful..in the contact sheet exhibit, you will see some photographers “develop” into the scene and “THE PICTURE” and others do not…Koudelka , for example, just every once in awhile takes a “great picture” immediately following a “nothing picture”….Alex Webb’s complex work yields many many “misses” as you may imagine..the ones that do not work, really do not work…usually my work “evolves” with many “near frames”…i like to flow with the scene …but i do shoot fewer frames than most photogs i know either in film or digi…i guess my point is that everyone works differently, so there cannot possibly really be any contact sheet criteria…no right or wrong to it…

    when looking at student work, it is helpful for me to see their whole take…at least on the first day….i can better direct their thinking process if i can see how they are thinking… this can only be done by seeing the whole sequence…

    cheers, david

  • Ha ha ha ha….

    David I was in hurry… I just want to share with good news (for me)… ha ha
    it mean I’m going to morocco 6 may…
    I was too busy last time my engish geting worst…
    peace (i’m going learn some english)

  • David asked:

    what are you doing up so early??


    Posted by: david alan harvey | April 05, 2008 at 08:45 AM…”

    I haven’t gone to bed yet…. I fell asleep on the laptop…
    then woke up… listened to one more song… then back to sleep on the laptop again….
    now , that’s a sad story….

  • david alan harvey


    now, i am really laughing…that is really funny!!

    i thought you were talking about the blues band playing in Morocco, May 6, 1944…

    your English was perfect, my interpretation was based on what i had said about Panos’ blues band YouTube video link just on the above post…and it came in at exactly, by coincidence, at that time!!

    let’s just hope nobody reads anything we have both said in the last couple of hours…some people might think we are both crazy!!! and it might be true!!

    can we please get back to photography discussion??

    and , of course, i am very happy that you are going to be shooting in Morocco on May 6, 2008…be at peace


  • DAVID and ALL

    yes we should push farther our photography discussion… i’m waiting for that but today is late and I’m realy tired. But you have midlle of a day… So I have idea!… keep going photo discussion and I will have some comments to read when I wake up tomorrow morning!!

    ok… maybe i will find some time and thoughts to write some “more inteligent” comment when i wake up.

    you sleep with your laptop? Where is your girlfriend? :)

    I still waiting to see your new works!


  • david alan harvey


    maybe i will post one or two Brazil pictures here by tomorrow….but, i must take them first!!

  • David, Bob Black, Panos, Michael K, etc…

    (David…), i gave PB a print of your message and he sends his love, too.
    (all…) he has asked me to let everyone know that he thanks you all for your comments and promises to drop a line (or two) to answer your questions…
    Susan Smith also says hi (she’s a reader here) and maybe she’ll write something…


    this saturday afternoon the Visão Photojournalism Awards 2008 conference put an end to this week “festivities”, with more photos than words.
    we had the opportunity to see four slideshows where Susan Smith (National Geographic) showed “vintage” images and more recent work from Nat Geo. we saw the Ibiza soap suds party from DAH (“there were a lot of things going on… at least it was higienic”, and it was the first moment of laugh in the room…), Yuri Kozyrev (Noor) with Chechenia and Beslan school, Afghanistan and Iraq, Noel Quidu (Gamma) with Haiti and Liberia, and Philip Blenkinsop (Noor) – an UFO, in Jean-François Leroy definition – with Hmong veterans in Laos and a selection of his own (hardcore/daily life) “asian theater”.
    they were introduced by JF Leroy, “photojournalists are my eyes to see the world”.
    sadly, there wasn’t much talk – what would you asked after seeing such powerful images/stories? PB asked Yuri “how many underwear sets do you pack for a story like this?” in the second moment of laugh.

    A few quotes from…
    JF Leroy, “never, never believe in a magazine when they say they don’t have money to send a photojournalist somewhere in the world (cause they have money to pay for photos of tv/movie stars)”
    PB, why he doesn’t have a book about the Laos secret war “i don’t want to make a book to glorify an obituary” and why photojournalists must be persistent, “because maybe one day you’ll have a break… or maybe you don’t”
    Noel Quidu, “it’s not about money or celebrity, this job isn’t easy, it’s hard work”

    that’s all folks. it was great to be with you all…
    um forte abraço para todos,
    Carlos Filipe

    PS. i chat a little with JF Leroy and, with regard to the two photos side-by-side (see comment, today 09:24 AM), he said that he was also at the WPP jury that choosed that photo and he doesn’t find similarities. he said it’s another subject (birth and death)… it’s another place… it’s another story…

  • 1)JF Leroy, “never, never believe in a magazine when they say they don’t have money to send a photojournalist somewhere in the world (cause they have money to pay for photos

    2)PB, why he doesn’t have a book about the Laos secret war “i don’t want to make a book to glorify an obituary”

    thank you

    you sleep with your laptop? Where is your girlfriend? :)..”

    i noticed that you noticed….
    All of my life… all of my relationships were always envy at my
    passion for photography… or if i reverse it…
    I’m responsible for neglecting and ruining every relationship so far…
    in my life… promises i cannot keep….
    forgotten randez vous,
    i was a hypocrit… i was lazy and i was blaming “art” or
    “photography”… for that…
    but how can you tell a girlfriend… that sometimes i prefer to travel alone, or be alone, or shoot alone,
    or smoke a joint before i go hung in the streets….
    how can i explain that i am “obliged” to drink when i shoot
    at the filthy bars and pubs down in venice beach…
    How can you convince a girl… that sometimes you cant make it home on time or , at all…….???????????
    How can you explain that the strippers and the transvestites…
    are not really “her” competition???

    David , rejected 25 prostitutes in a row the other night…
    same here…
    ahhhh, im not lucky in love but, what’s worst… i’m not good in
    gambling either… god damn it!!!!

  • david alan harvey



    what you just wrote could be a “key” for a whole new post…who among us has not had some version of what you said be a part of what they DO????

    too bad Bob Black is not here (gone for few days) to comment on this one, since he has a very close relationship with Marina and Dima…but, just a couple of hours ago he wrote me a private email from the airport…he was traveling alone, which he said he had not done in three years…feeling the pain…

    i have tried very hard not to have let the “work” interfere with my personal life…took my ex wife Sue and my sons, Bryan and Erin, with me everywhere etc etc etc…but, i am divorced!! and my relationships after marriage have so far remained “girlfriends” and i have faced exactly the same questions you ask yourself….

    ok, it is saturday night….and now i must go shoot…and now i will face the very things of which you speak….

    hmmmmm, is there an answer???

    hugs, david

    p.s. i am more interested in the answer from a woman here on this forum….i KNOW what the guys think!!

  • … just come back from the “Festival Internazionale della Fotografia of Rome” party. Too drunk to answer such a easy but complex question… tommorrow I promise. I’ve also been in an exhilarating and enthusiastic Martin Parr lecture.
    Tomorrow if I have enought time I’ll also share some shot taken at the lecture, before going out again to prepare my exhibition of monday (by the way if anyone of you is in Rome I’ll wait for you for the opening monday at 18:00 :
    http://www.fotografiafestival.it/circuito_detail.asp?id=181 )

  • p.s. i am more interested in the answer from a woman here on this forum….i KNOW what the guys think!!

    Posted by: david alan harvey | April 05, 2008 at 06:06 PM

    Yes, a woman please…. an opinion…
    You see ,
    the guy next door… is so perfect… always has time for the family,
    always plays with the kids… two cars and a boat…
    even has enough time to do the lawn and do the necessary sunday appearance at the local church…
    vever missed a credit payment… and already bought tickets for the family vacations… 3 summers from now…
    and i,
    the drunk and the stoner,
    I spend all of my time in my weird little world she says…
    You losing your relationship she says…
    you choose ideas over real people, she says…
    you are selfish… she says…
    you dont care about DAH or anybody else in the forum… she says
    You do all this for your personal recognition and attention, she says…
    You neglect me , she says…
    we dont go out like we used to ,she says…
    you talk to the blog more than you talk to me , she says…
    you sleep with the camera…or passing out on the laptop…
    reading BobB’s , Herve’s and Akaky’s , endless comments but never listen to me … she says..

    David, thank you for your opinion expressed above…
    i just want to see if what im going through is so “unique”…?
    or …
    IS eventually PHOTOGRAPHY MUSIC OR ARTs in general , a “field” that attracts , “unstable, selfish, self absorbed, drunks- drug addicts, egomaniac, attention freaks, …

    maybe my neighbors role model life is ” right”!!!!!!

    Think of Picasso’s( or Kurt Cobain’s ) love and personal life… A MESS…

    but on the other side think of

    but then again think of all that mess between
    FRIDA and DIEGO RIVERA… mess, mess, mess…

    I dont know… I’m lost in this one……



    David rejected 25 prostitutes in a row the other night…
    same here…


    Panos, you’re lucky I had JUST swallowed the water I was drinking when I read that… THAT made me laugh so hard.

    A woman’s perspective. I think about this every day. When consumed in a project, whether it be designing a book or editing my pictures, I CANNOT see beyond it. I go into hyper-focus-mode… food + sleep, distant memories. Difficult to be around people when I’m in this mode… can’t hold a conversation… intuition on overdrive. I’m tapping into a space deep inside. Either I’m in this creative cave or outside it… challenging for me to quickly toggle between both worlds. Will this artistic drive always supersede…?

    The thought of having a spouse and children scares the bejeebers out of me… I’m concerned I would (using Panos’ word, though it’s really my own!) NEGLECT them… concerned that the compromises will pull me out of my creative zone… that I’ll lose my ability to see.

    I would love to talk to a WOMAN who has traveled for assignments with her family in tow. Could you recommend any, David? A week ago, Allard told us that his family enhanced these very experiences. You’ve repeatedly shared this as well. But you guys had the wife… !

    Eating cappuccino ice cream while running to watch a performance of La La La Human Steps…

  • ok, tomorrow I will not have enough time, I already know it.
    The answer for me is very simple: I never have the time… I can’t mantein myself only with the photographic work, so I’m doing a full time job as an employee (to pay debit, photographic bill and photographic travel, camera and lenses I always broke..).
    So I have no more time to start a serious relation, I can hardly manage with all my friends (they are my family), I use my spare time (and also the busy time very often)
    with them and I try to involve them or “the supposed past relation” in my life that since 2003 is totally dedicated to photography.
    I travel with them, bring them wherever I can and of course I always try find the time, energy and attention to dedicate to them.
    About a relationship for a girl it’s, may be, a little bit more difficult.
    You have to find the time. And loose concentration. And have stress.
    Guys usually don’t like to be bring around following their girlfriends.
    Friends somethimes do.
    I’m not victimizing. It’s realism.
    I’m totally confident about my choice, always happy about it and I enjoy a lot.
    And If it wasn’t the photography may be it was Music or writing (not in english, don’t worry)
    I’ll go on. May be tomorrow I’ll change idea, it’s so human. But I think I won’t until I enjoy so much.
    It’s my life, I’ve chosen I try to live it at the best(anyway in an enthusiastic way) also if this means that i’m “unstable, selfish, self absorbed, drunks- drug addicts, egomaniac” (don’t think so, I’m a kind, unselfish, stable… ok stable it’s not the right description ;) ).
    And I have no regrets.

    Love and Buonanotte

  • Anna I’ve seen La La La Human Steps performance in november. I really liked it but my friend didn’t. I would like to have your opinion when you come back.



  • david alan harvey


    there are three women photographers i know who have routinely taken their children with them on assignments…Annie Griffiths Belt, Sisse Brimburg, and Karen Kasmauski..of course, there is Sally Mann who never left home and made her children primary subjects…but the list of women i know who either did not get married, or have children, in order to allow their photographic careers to move forward is a much much longer list…

    where did you read that Allard took his family along with him?? i never knew that to be the case with him..quite the contrary…i know his personal life pretty well..

    however difficult men think they have it in this biz, the women have it 10 times tougher…i am talking about the photo career women…not the girlfriends or wives of photographers who may be in another profession..but i do not think they have it easy either…just because Panos and i are “crying in our beer” does not mean that life on the other side of this whole equation is a piece of cake..it is just flat out hard as nails all way around, and i do not think any of us (men) are, for even one nanosecond, “blaming” the woman in our lives…we blame ourselves…we can see it…we get it…relationships are hard work for doctors and lawyers and truck drivers and accountants too, but anyone in the so called “creative arts” is a real “project” for sure…

    i totally give my ex-wife all of the credit for making the family travel “happen” when i was on assignment, at least when the boys were very young…i thrived with everybody there, but she got ’em “there”!!

    over the years, i have always taken the women with whom i was having a serious relationship(3) with me on my assignments whenever they could go…2 were designers and could relate totally to what i do and the other a photographer herself….perfect…nevertheless, some of the things Panos mentioned, (not the drugs and alcohol), still got in the way from time to time..

    peace, david



  • HERVE,
    thank you! I was laughing, perfect video, just wake up. This is the italian answer for one, I’m sorry you can’t understand http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL2krf_N-IM.

    thank you, agree, it’s not a cliche, I know women from both the “list”. The one with serious and “successful” family are definitely less and also with small children the give up, at least for a few.
    (except for advertising, wedding of course but I think we are talking of something different)
    And the one that go on usually have “some economic security”.
    … but this is another topic too…


  • David;

    Thanks for the lengthy reply to my post, & sorry for taking so long to reply… Have been away shooting a “Free Tibet” protest.. Not a paid job, but it’s a good cause. The Free Tibet movement can use the pics for free.. One of those “for the soul” jobs..

    I get what you mean about Towells’ book, you can’t be much more “into” a subject than your own family…

    I think in some ways it validates the choice many of us have taken. To not work as a newspaper staffer, & also lose that financial security, to freelance and shoot the subjects we’re interested in. It’s surely a delicate balance though!!

    Do you think that those who specialise produce consistantly better work??


  • Ok… I seee… we are going to the personal open sea….
    David this is good one… I think you should write a whole new post about “relationship” in photographer’s life.
    I have no idea who are reading what we are writing here… should we uncover our selfs?
    ok… I will wait for a new post… and then I will write obout my “relationship” in my photography life…

  • Hey Panos… it looks like I’m going to be in LA later this month… are you up for a mai-tai at the tiki ti? Anyone else?…

  • david alan harvey


    i think there is a bit of confusion, a semantic confusion perhaps, about the words “specializing” and being “committed”…there is a difference i think…”specializing” by being a sports photog, for example, is different than someone who takes on certain kinds of stories or essays and with a particular “style” or creates a particular mood…

    certainly , the pro photogs i have known over the years who became a “jack of all trades”, “versatile” etc etc earned a good living in photography..perhaps even very popular at the time with their editors…they got the job done..hence more jobs….

    however, i cannot think of one of them in this “category” who also became respected beyond the “good job joe” pat on the back…

    ALL of the photographers who get mentioned here on this forum and seem to be “admired” most by readers here (and you all brought it up), tend to be “professional renegades” to one degree or another…not as “utilitarian” for editors all the time, but “brilliant” in their life work and in their “contribution”…

    this is all very very subjective stuff my friend…but if you start looking at it as i allude, i believe you will see what i mean…surely, it is true in all of the arts…

    certainly this creates THE DILEMMA…how to put your kids through college and yet retain a modicum of respect and fulfill your dreams…

    i think what most photogs must do, have to do, is to earn their living in the best possible way..shoot weddings, passport photos, or whatever to pay the rent….BUT, in your “spare time” (and start making spare time THE TIME) photograph only what you deem to be important…of course, get the best pro assignments and work you can get…yes, yes…you would be crazy not to…

    nevertheless, always know that ANY paid job is not ever the same as your personal project..some paid jobs are better than others and can be a RESOURCE for gathering some visual “nuggets”, but working on your own will yield the real YOU….

    now all of this is assuming that you do have something “on your mind” and have “something to say”…

    this cannot be taken for granted as i see with my students all the time…some totally “panic” when given the freedom to do “what they want”…this has to be faced first….

    KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT is just as hard, or harder, to figure out than just going out and doing “a good job” for someone else…this is the REAL CHALLENGE….YOU (WE) are the enemy!!!

    sorry, i think i “over answered” your question!!! or, did i even answer your question???

    peace, david

  • david alan harvey


    yes, i agree…i was thinking the same thing..

  • Hi David,

    Not sure if you recall the question I asked you about Peter Turnley and his picture essys that have been published in the Harper magazine. Not sure if you had the chance to look at one of them. Maybe you could say few words about the photographer and these essays and how they are perceived by other photographers.



  • Oh my… Oh my goddnes!
    What was happen here??
    all day without comment???
    In DAH blog???
    this is something new!!
    This is…. this is….
    everybody shooting!!!!

    peace (for shooters)

  • David,

    Tried again on that email …

    tom the younger

  • Marcin, exact same time on last posts! … Hmmm, I think perhaps it’s time David came out of the closet on his new project with a new post … he’s been teasing for how long now? Of course it won’t be ready until he’s ready, ’til all the planets are in alignment … but I am as tortured as you! :))

  • PANOS,

    This is for your girl; I’m sure she agrees with everything Billie has to say, so you best take care you hang on to her ;-)

  • david alan harvey


    i have been very pleased with what i have seen Peter Turnley do with his Harper’s commission…most importantly, he created it…prior to his essays, Harper’s really did not do much with pictures… i never cared about this, because i always loved the magazine for its words..one of my favorite magazines…in any case, Peter launched himself into new territory with this commission…

    the Turnley twins, David and Peter, are a resourceful duo…charming and pleasantly aggressive “deal cutters”, they have managed to pull of some really interesting projects…David made a truly nice b&w film in Cuba, “Tropicale”…he never got it distributed , which was too too bad…

    both David and Peter are friends of mine and they are always good company for sure…just nice guys…honestly, photographically, they get mixed reviews among their more “aesthetic oriented” peers.. but i think Peter has pushed himself very far with his Harper’s essays…his best work by far…

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    i am not trying to be mysterious…there is one part of this that needs to be worked out..the whole thing could collapse…like everything…nothing happens until it happens…not one single project in my whole life ever ever ever, just went “smooth” and “clean” …do you know what i mean??


  • DAVID,

    I understand and am sympathetic to the situation you and Panos describe. It’s a whole different can of worms than the picture Laura and I paint. Different, albeit challenging just the same. My heart goes out to you guys.

    And, thank you… I totally appreciate the names you shared.

    To clear Allard’s record, his words (you’d typed) were simply, “i have had a great support from my wives and kids…they have given me much more than i have ever given back to them.” My memory extrapolated this sentiment to include travel!!


    I saw La La La Human Steps at an outdoor theater in Barcelona in 1988! It was incredible… I was concerned that last night’s performance would not live up to this memory. That said, last night was amazing.

    There was one scene (for lack of a better word) that I interpreted as insects flickering around a lightbulb. The live music stopped… the dancers danced to a recording full of static… hard cold light was projected from the back of the room, creating shadows that climbed the angle from floor to wall. I could have stared at that all day. In another scene, there was a spiderweb-like projection on the floor… two couples danced… their movements appeared to mirror one another, though at times their symmetry was broken. If I’d walked in during this scene, I would have thought that there was a mirror on stage… and only one couple dancing. Sound familiar? I’m wondering if we saw the same performance.

    p.s. I lived on the hill right above Trastevere for several months in 2005. I miss being there so much!!!

    Lots of love,


  • David;

    I think I read somewhere that one of the Nat Geo editors said that if they gave every type of story to Allard that they would lose their hair overnight!! He said they “cherry picked” assignments especially for him.

    I’m trying to spend as much time as possible on personal work. For example; the Timor trip is probably the worst financial decision I can make at the moment, but I feel that I must do it. I’m trying to use my home work to piggy back my own projects, hopefully it’ll work out…

    One of the seminal moments that made me decide to freelance and pursue more documentary type work was talking to a photographer from our local daily paper. He said he envied me because i can spend time on stories.

    Even spending a couple of days on a story is better than he could do. He said he often had only 30 minutes to shoot a story before going off to the next job. He hated that he often had to shoot up to 5 or 6 stories a day.

    I decided that I wouldn’t go the newspaper route (& the reliable paycheck) so I could work on stories that interest me. Sure, they aren’t for Time or Nat Geo (have done some for NZ Geo..) but I am grateful that nearly every magazine story focusses on somebody doing good work in the community. Especially in the sustainability fields…

    What is frustrating though is that you can’t really “let yourself rip” (except for NZ Geo) when it comes to photographic style. That’s where the long term projects come in, this is where I can better fulful the artistic intent.

    Hopefully this balances the commercial versus personal work dillema. I did shoot a wedding once and absolutely hated it!!!!

    And David; don’t ever worry about “over answering” a question, all food for thought is good!!!

  • David made a truly nice b&w film in Cuba, “Tropicale”
    Definitely makes us want to see more:

    I like the Turnley bros, when you mentionned sitting longer at a CAFE table in paris, shooting with one Hand, David, I thought of Peter’s Les Parisiens. Half the book is shot in CAFES, with a wonderful shot of Boubat and maybe, his brother David and kid, I am not sure, across one table.

    We were talking of Peace and War P., well, “In Times of Peace and War” by the duo has been available at Amazon.com USA for a peanut, literally. I recommend it wholeheartedly, if you don’t know already:


  • Anna, don’t know if you’ll read this but “Yes!”, it was the same performance and for me it was the first time of La La La..so you can imagine

    Trastevere is the right place where to be. Rome’ll wait for you to come back.

  • Sam,

    Concerning contact sheets, there is a series of sorth fims produced by the french TV channel Arte, which you might find useful :

    it’s called “Contacts” and is in French/English.

    I can tell you more if ou want.


    never heard of the magnum exhibit on contact sheets.

    could you tell me more ?

    Are those contact sheets available online (ie magnum website) ?

    Now, I found it very interesting the way you describe the way you work in the post about taking pictures in cafés… so different from what I have read from D. Hurn.

    Concerning the importance of subjetct matter,

    I think it was Robert Adams who said that the history of photography is the history of subject matters… i really found that interesting

    what a great discussion this was !!!


  • David, you don’t know me. Not yet anyway. But I’m going to be in your “Photographic Essay” workshop in Charlottesville. Yesterday (Wednesday) I started reading this blog and found myself intrigued. What a fascinating group of friends/readers and what marvelously free-ranging discussions you have.

    Regarding your question about subject matter, I’d like to share a gallery of photos I just posted on PBase.com. It probably gives my perspective better than any words I could write here. The URL is


    Patricia in Detroit

  • David, Sam Harris, pierre yves…

    there’s a exhibition of contact sheets by the photographers of Contact Press Images. you can read about and see the images from “Contact/s: The Art of Photojournalism” at http://www.contactpressimages.com/exhibitions/contact/exhibitions.html
    acccording to the site the exhibition was in Pingyao (China, 2006), Perpignan (France, 2006), Dhaka (Bangladesh, 2006) and Sydney (Australia, 2007).
    um forte abraço para todos,
    Carlos Filipe

  • update to “Contact/s: The Art of Photojournalism”…

    you can follow the previous link for overall information concerning the exhibition, but you should better look at http://www.contactpressimages.com/artop/index.html
    to see photos and contact sheets in detail.
    Carlos Filipe

  • I should be editing some shots from today, but it has been weeks since I have been able to spend a little bit of time here…simply, there is no other place that offers what can be found here. I think I will pour a glass of red wine and play lurker’s catchup….

  • pierre yves racine

    thanks carlos for the link

    much appreciated !

  • I see this thread is long over but after reading all the responses I still wanted to comment for some reason.

    You asked the question; “do you think “great photographers” choose inherently “great subjects”??”

    It is the “great photographers” part that I found missing in the discussion. You mention, Salgado, Adams, Nachtwey, Leibovitz, etc.. From my work photographing artists and some “great photographers” They were the same artists prior to what I call “the break”, as they are after. “The break” is recognition by the “right” people and all of a sudden they are “great photographers”

    Most of the successful artists and photographers I’ve talked to about how they got successful can point to one instance where it all came together – “the break”

    I find the break needs a confluence of events. The artist being ready is perhaps the most important element. The “right” people seeing and advancing the artists work, and the public being receptive to the work. This results in the artist going from unknown to known.

    Most great photographers were picking great subjects prior to becoming known. But, there are a million great photographers out there shooting great subjects and doing great work. We will just never hear about them because they never got “The break”.

    I’m not saying the “great artists” aren’t good at what they do. Just that they were in the right place in their life to see, pursue, and grab onto opportunity when it came. I have talked to artists who saw “the break” coming and decided to pass. The one had a show at a MAJOR NY gallery. The gallery wanted her to spend more time in NY, do some interviews, take time to do the business side of art. She had 2 small kids at the time and didn’t want to. She does alright now but, when her break came she said no.

    So, I guess I would say, yes great photographers pick great subjects. But the photographers we think of as “great” should probably be thought of as “known”. And, the “known” photographers don’t always pick the best subjects. A “known” photographer will get more attention for photographing “interesting” subjects than a great unknown photographer who has picked a GREAT subject.

    Might not be fair but fame and marketing make a difference.

    My favorite example of the fame versus talent making a difference.


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