talk to james nachtwey….




please post your questions for James Nachtwey here…i should be able to "go live" with Jim at about 2:30 this afternoon  New York time….

Jim will probably not answer all questions, so the most provocative and brief and intelligent will rise to the top…

i know Sunday afternoon is a tough time for many, but this is the best i can do…you now have a couple of hours to either think or ask away….

376 Responses to “talk to james nachtwey….”

  • You consider the photography as a tool. In what is it today a better tool than television, the writing or the cinema?


    To elicit the best response, maybe the kind of help that will save one life, do you think that nowadays, photos should reach the right persons rather than the right media, ie. a wider public?
    How do you proceed so the photo reaches the very people that can make a difference, and save a life? Different subect, different channel? Thanks

  • DAVID,

    I have 2/3 questions for JIM. I have been wondering when you are a war photographer like him, whether the horrors that he sees in every conflict have got to him to the point that this may impact his own way of living and enjoying life. I have listed to Jim in a few videos and he seems always so serious and so involved into the drama that he has witnessed that it makes you wonder whether he is able to leave things behind….

    Other question….I did read on his site the sentence : “I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”

    How does Jim feel about his influence if any to avoid that such events are repeated…The man seems to follow a noble purpose but there seems to be no end in sight with one unbearable event replacing anotehr in the news every other week/ month… Where does he find to force to carry on despite all this and does he see an end point for him on when he might stop being a war photographer?

    Final question, more light-hearted, what photographey or photographers does he like? Does he have any particular interest outside of war photography?


  • JAMES,

    When you are covering a conflict do you feel the need to cover both sides of the conflict equally? Is this possible?

  • James, can you reveal anything more about your TED project at this point? ETA?


  • James, what constitutes “hope” for you?


  • DAVID,

    Actually one last question: for all the aspiring photographers in this blog community, is being a war photogarpger compatible with having a rich private life and family or does one have to sacrifice raising a family?


  • When I met Jim and the first LA VII Seminar I offered to assist in any way possible to coordinate his coming to Santa Fe for a series of events…

    A museum show
    A public talk
    and whatever else we can come up with…
    charity fundraiser, etc…

    This would involve the participation of a number of local organizations, could take a few years to put together..

    He gave me his email address and I wrote but did not hear back from him.

    Is there anyone who James would suggest I speak to on his end to get the ball rolling? Should I contact him again???

  • DAVID: U R THE BEST! :)))

    ok, i am running to spend the day with Dima…here is my question


    HI JIM! :))

    It is a pleasure to speak to you (although, actually I am at the moment somewhere in Toronto walking with my son Dima, so I am actually not speaking with you: O, modern world and the web! :)) ). I am really happy that David and you have given us this opportunity, so I will make it brief.

    In May of 2004, my wife and I had the great opportunity to watch the film War Photographer (about you) as part of Toronto’s CONTACT Photography festival. It was the first time that I had seen you or heard your voice, though both of us were familiar with your work. One of the most profound and compelling parts of the documentary was the discussion of the events that took place during a riot where a young man was chased and slaughtered by machete by a young group of men. The photo was from Jakarta I believe. It is an extraordinary photograph and mind-haunting and it haunted me (as well as the sequence) for months…You were at the center of this event, having photographed the riots and then later in front of the attack and photographed the young man being killed. It left both my wife and me stunned and we spent the next week discussing this. It was a powerful moment and one that is very difficult to fathom. I do not envy that circumstances or the difficult and brave choice you made. David once told an wonderful anecdote of sitting in a cafe in Washington when a bus caught on fire and he aided the people in the bus, forgetting his camera, only to “miss the shot” but to save the lives of the people. I in no way compare these two events but I think it is an interesting and important discussion. The way you answered the questions about that even with the machete gang in Asia, was eloquent and impassioned. That incident and your answer has had a formative effect on my own thinking. So my question is this: given circumstances like this one, or other circumstances where you did the opposite (for example put your camera down to save/aide a life or throw your body over a friend/colleague to protect them from gunfire), how are you able to continue spiritually after such profound and difficult decisions. When do you think your involvement as a photographer, a witness, trumps intervention? (for example, had you intervened in the attack to which i refer, you easily could have been killed and no one would have known what had happened). When do y ou think your opportunity to help another, rather than shoot, trumps your responsibility as a photographer/reporter/witness. I know there are no black and white answers and each of us have to resolve this ourselves, and it works usually on the level of reaction instead of though. But how have you resolved this for yourself.

    And second question: who is a better dancer: You or Harvey?

    thanks so much. I’ll read your reply when i return tonight.

    All the best Jim,
    bob black

  • Jim,

    have you ever thought about/ or will be having a workshop in a war torn / humanitarian / social injustice area?

    Cheers and best of luck with your TED project; Share a vital story with the world. btw…is there a possibility of being part of this project?


  • JIM,

    One very final question….I promise….Maybe more provocative…

    Clearly, you have reached a certain fame beyond the photography world with the unbelievable movie “War Photographer” that Bob is refering to. Although this may not be at exactly the same time, you did leave MAGNUM before or soon after to fund VII agency. Did rthe fame and change of photo agency affect you or your photography in any way? As I am a huge fan of yours, I will share that I may not have liked your most recent work as much as some of the very powerful work that you did that led to the INFERNO book…On this forum here, some did even criticize a bit your Dalai Lama coverage in Times magazine…So, back to my question, do you find it more difficult today to continue to renew yourself and do the same impcatful work? Did your audience got so used to see the horrors from your inferno book that anything less than this is “disappointing” or less impactful? Just curious to see how you see yourself evolving if at all during those years?


  • OK, Mr Nachtwey…I asked this of Bill Allard, so it is only fair to lay it on you as well!

    Glenfiddich or Glenlivet?


    Can you think of a situation where you didn’t put down your camera (to help), but still wish you had?

  • Hello David,

    Thanks for the opportunity! and thanks to James for his time.

    My question:
    James, what personal experience has been one of the most important ones in deciding to become a photographer?

  • “And second question: who is a better dancer: You or Harvey?” – Bob

    Good question since we all know who is better dressed ;-)

  • James and David, thank you for giving us this opportunity to ask questions.

    James: Your work, and the attention it receives is well known around the globe. In politically charged locations do you ever find that your subjects “play up” to your camera, to make a statement, and if so how do you deal with that?

    Thanks again,


  • ok…

    let me interrupt… for a second…

    America is in trouble at this moment…

    please… take a sec.. RELEASE YOUR TENSION AND forget about “Big Jim” for a sec…
    visit my blog… 10 photos…WITH NO MUCH PEOPLE….included..

    click below, smell the reality… for a sec… and then back to “BIG JIM”!!!!

  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?


  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?


  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?


  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?


  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?


  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?


  • hi Jim,

    (i’m going to try a “clean” english)

    what do you feel when you are showing your story’s/photos and the “watchers” in the end only make questions about photography but not about the story’s you show?



  • 1. You occupy a place in photographic history, and art history. How important were your predecessors when you were starting out and how important are they to you today?

    2. Simon Norfolk has mentioned using deliberate aesthetics in his work to to extend, slightly, the attention of the viewer. Do you agree that the viewer must be seduced in some way, and if so why?

    3. The suffering, or the aftermath of suffering depicted in some of your photographs is beyond my ability to comprehend. Sometimes I think that we humans, as a species, are beyond hope. Are we?

    4. I mean this one seriously. If we lived in a time beyond war, what would you do?

  • photojournalism requires endless determination and passion and relationships and stability can be sacrificed and compromised along the way. mr. nachtwey, given your amazing success and enduring career, have you found a way to lead a balanced life or have you made sacrifices that you regret when you chose image making over x?

    this is something my husband and i have wondered about for several years as we have attempted to find our own balance.

    thanks, david, for organizing this!

    -becca young williams

  • ohhhh… sorry ,

    i forgot my “QUESTION” to JIM…!
    Mr. JIM N. can you PLEASE help me finish editing my
    VENICE beach photos….?

    Here is a Link with “DAH’s Rough Edit plus Leftovers”!!!….html

    oh, i also added couple more (“Boxing- NAVY Recruiting) photos here:….




    Isnt there a WAR in every activity, decision … even in the most peaceful of our activities…?
    Then.. if YOU CAN’T SAVE THE WORLD with the picture… what else except from SUCCESS are you seeking in the
    “WARZONE”…! what is the “PLEASURE” you are taking …
    Because there must be some kinda “pleasure”….

    Is “James Bond”, ever been your hero?
    Because it was my hero for a while….

  • Hello,

    James, how live you having seen so much horror?
    You photographed so many wars, conflicts, famines… how can we live after all it?

    Thank you,
    Kind regards,

  • James,

    We quickly met without talking in the toilets during a VII conference. How did you feel about such wonderful meeting.

    (sorry, couldn’t resist such a stupid joke)

  • Jim & David– Thanks for this Sunday chat…

    Jim: Of your Sept 11 experience, you described an instance of quantum physics — where time seemed to have slowed down and almost stood still, so that you could get yourself to a safe haven… an elevator shaft — as Tower 2 fell. In DAH’s “random” blog there are a few recollections shared by several of similar instances of highly charged moments that seemed to circumvent “real time.” Have you had any other experiences where “time shifted” in your highly charged work life? And has the “time standing still” Sept 11 experience influenced your life perspective or your photography?

    Question 2: While your work is humanitarian and anti-war bringing needed awareness to important social issues for all to see and hopefully do something positive about, is there any one picture or reportage you have made that has left you personally satisfied that you as the photographer indeed made a difference?

  • One more:

    By bearing witness and offering testimony what is the best case you hope for (awareness, political change, justice for victims, etc.?) and what is the best case you’ve seen? What are the limits of photography?

  • JAMES,

    Could you please describe your editing process….
    What are you looking for in your selected images?

    I am sure it has to be difficult…there must be so many great images to choose from each time you shoot.

  • james:

    i recently left the law to become a photographer, a career switch i wouldn’t wish upon my worse enemy. since i am so green, i tend to think about my photo career in realistic stages: first i’ll get some local work, then maybe a regional newspaper, then perhaps some magazine assignments, and so on.

    but part of me thinks that this approach is a waste of time. if i have a great story idea shouldn’t i just go take the pictures and worry about making something of them afterwards? if they are good and the story is important shouldnt everything just take care of itself later? but how can funding and access issues take care of themselves afterwards?

    to put my question in context, i have a story idea about the “arctic bridge” between murmansk, russia and churchill, canada that i really want to make work. unfortunately, i havent been unable to get funding or access for this project, probably because i am freelance and so new to photography.

    btw, i look through your chechnya work at least once a day :)

    dave root

  • david:

    i almost forgot to thank you for setting this up.

    you rock.

    dave root

  • Thanks so much David and Jim for this rare opportunity…my question is…

    In the context of your personal statement…”I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”…what do you consider to be your most significant accomplishment(s) thus far?

  • David, James, thanks for the opportunity.

    James, after all you have seen, do you have hope for Mankind?

    Do you find that publications want to publish your work or do they pick and choose according to their own agenda (i.e. is it easier to publish photos of Israeli suffering or Palestinian suffering)?

    Do you feel that publications print photographs to illustrate the words i.e. do they take photography seriously enough to print a photographic essay?

    Do publications “censor” what is shown the public i.e. photographs of dead or wounded U.S. troops or the more gruesome results of Man’s inhumanity to Man – particularly when the subject is close to home?

    Thanks, take care and please come back here again.

    Good light,



    If you were again to turn your camera inwards on America itself, where would you point?

    Thank you for your time.

  • James,

    If you had it to do all over again would you?
    Anything you would have done differently?

  • Jim, in person you seem to be a very serious person. How do you keep up your sense of humor?

  • “… The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”…
    JAMES N.

    “… Unfortunately those “events” will be forgotten and will be

    …. one of the reasons is that eventually the ones that view those great photos, are the ones that originally wouldn’t commit any serious crime… Now, the ones that commit those crimes , they do not usually look at this kind of pictures….

    …but, i’m not blaming James here for not being able to change or better this crazy world with his photos… no, not at all..

    All i’m tryind to do is to find his personal, internal MAI MOTIVE TO COVER SUCH EVENTS…
    What makes him sleep peacefully at nights after covering those horrors…

  • JAMES,

    Will we ever see different work than your doing now? maybe fashion, commercial, art or other kinds of photography? David mentioned you being interested in Crewdson’s work for example.


  • Hello,

    recently I found very interesting story almost 10 minutes to walk from my home.
    It was really shock to me…I felt no legs..and took only couple of photos..

    Here is my question..

    How photographer can stay calm, how to control adrenaline rush when you find yourself in situation when you want to help someone but you can`t?



    Now, I`m standing like I was standing in front of comrade Tito portrait. :D

  • Hi David and Jim, first of all thank you for the most grueling week of my life! had lots of ups and downs, grew tremendously, lost 5 kilos, no lunch, no dinner and there never was a breakfast! but David sure did enjoy the smoke breaks! found my direction, met truly wonderful people (hey all you out there, where are your questions!!! K, S, L, J, E, T, L etc etc) so Jim…. what I want to know is…would you do it again? I can’t stop myself from asking if you are bored and what kind of photography are you interested in right now???

  • jim

    once my daughter didn’t want to eat her spaghetti so i showed her
    your website with starving children photos.
    do you think i’m a bad parent?

  • yes GUIDO, you are…indeed

  • Panos, You’re assuming he sleeps peacefully at night. I wonder, Mr. Nachtwey, how do you sleep? Have you developed methods to aid your rest and recuperation?

  • I wish I had an intelligent question to pose here, but at the moment the only question I’d like answered is why are there so many people wearing strange hats in this building right now? Since no one here can help me with this, I will forego asking it.

  • Jean Sebastien…

    Photography happens to be the tool that I use. Whatever medium you have chosen, and in which you have expertise, is the one that will be the most powerful for you.

    I don’t think there is necessarily any one medium more powerful than another. It depends on how you use it.


    The mass media cast a wide net. I work for publications that have integrity and credibility. They have a broad readership, including both citizens and decision makers.

    If you are working for a publication with a narrower focus, but one that is targeted for concerned readers, you work can have just as much impact.

    Linda O

    Twice that day my perceptions transcended what are commonly thought of as “normal”. When the first tower fell the boiling cloud of dust, glass, and metal, that was rushing towards me seemed to float in slow motion. I thought I had all the time in the world to make the frame. At the last moment, reality clicked back into normal time and I realized I was about to be taken out. I ran to the lee side of a building and the debris passed over me.

    This is not the first time that has happened. During the overthrow of the military dictatorship in South Korea in the late 80’s, I was covering a riot and a large rock was heading directly for my head. It too went into slow motion. I could watch it spin and see every detail and contour of that rock. I had plenty of time to duck as the rock sped past. It was like the movie Matrix, but about ten years before the film was made.

    Neither incident changed the meaning of reality for me, but they both showed me there are different dimensions within reality, these moments triggered by basic survival instinct.

  • On a lighter note, Mr. Nachtwey, do you have an opinion on the scarf issue? Is it to protect the neck from strap burn, sun burn, dust? And why do so many photographers insist on wearing one in New York City on a warm spring day? Looks entirely daft to me.

  • JIM, are there moments where you would say “I enjoy my work”? What are these moments?

    Cheers, Guido

    IF YES… DO YOU BELONG IN THIS “elite”..?


    it’s easy to judge, i know…
    but do you think you “specialize” only in DRAMA…?
    BUT ISN’T DRAMA “easier” than COMEDY..???

  • Hi David and Jim, thanks for taking the time to do this.

    When you were in your early years as photojournalist, working in NM for a daily, did you always have in mind your goal of becoming a war photographer? If so, how did you stay focused on all the assignments editors gave you that made you feel frustrated and how did you prepare to make your goal a reality?

    Thanks again, stay safe.

  • Bob Black..

    You did not get the story about the lynching in Jakarta correctly. In fact I did try to intervene. Twice I managed to persaude the mob to stop. But they were so enraged they started up again. When the man was ready to have his throat cut I was on my knees begging for his life, and the man holding the knife let him go. Then they started in again. When I stepped in again, the mob turned on me, extremely angry. They were in my face shouting, and I felt that if one of them had landed a blow, the mob mentality would have kicked in, and I would have gone down. I have saved people from mobs a couple of other times, once in Haiti and once in South Africa. This time I couldn’t do it, but it was not for lack of trying.

    It’s not too difficult to know when to help. It’s when you’re the only one who can help, and your role as photographer becomes secondary. You might be able to find a way to make pictures in the interstices of the event, but your main role is to help save a life.

  • JIM:

    I can’t remember if I saw this in War Photographer or if I heard this about you from someone, but what I remember is that you were working at a daily somewhere until you felt you were ready. At that point you decided to move to New York and really go after your career.

    The questions thus is: how did you know when you were ready? And in what sense were you really ready?


  • james: what are your favorite b/w films- also when shooting film for example tri-x do you rate it normally and process accordingly ? Just curious as to any tricks of the trade from you old school film guys as far as exposing the silver..????

    what are your vices if any ?

    truly, robert

  • When photographing a subject, where do you draw the line between exploiting, reporting about or even helping a subject? Where do you see yourself during the different phases of your work, from the start until the end when you see your works effect?

  • Hello again !

  • Thanks to David & James for making this happen.

    My question:

    James, when I see some of your essays, in particular the one regarding the Alabama chain gang, I can’t help but wonder how in the world you got access to those folks? Is that something Time Mag takes care of for you?

    And are you the one who chooses where you want to go on your next assignment or does the editor usually decide? Perhaps it’s generally a collaborative decision? Have you ever been sent where you did not want to go? If so, how did it work out?

    Thanks so much for your time! As a longtime peace activist I greatly value your witness & testimony. You are making a difference.


  • Eric…

    nothing gets left behind. you live with it and try to carry the weight as gracefully as you can. having a purpose to what i do is what allows me to live with it.

    i witness people who are having their lives taken away from them. it has changed me. i don’t even know who i used to be. it has created an undeniable sadness and gravity in my life, and a degree of impatience for some of the small stuff of life , but it would be mistaken and dysfunctional for me to stop trying to have a life of my own. the point is to affirm life, not deny it.

  • james: when using range finder cameras do you compose through the viewfinder typically ? or is it more common to adjust focus through the focusing tabs ie.. by selecting the distance between self & subject either in meters or feet ?

    what are some places or stories that you think merit photo essays NOW today ? Yes, please what are some countries that you feel should be explored and documented ? specifics please> i love the work that luc delahaye did in Russia (Winterreise) what about countries like Ukraine-Moldova-Crimea-Turkeministan-Tajikastan-Uzbekistan ???? are there new avenues to explore in places such as these and if so how come we see nothing coming out of these regions in either foto essay-gallerie exhibitions-portfolios-books etc..

    is it possible that the reason we don’t see much work from these regions is that access is limited, dangerous, closed off, or forbidden ?

    theoretically speaking if tomorrow you were to go to S. America off the top of your head what are some places or projects that you would be so inclined to point your lens ??

    today what are the stories that need to be told that are not ?

  • james: if doubt was to be in the boxing ring with astonishment who would win ?

  • Mr. Nachtwey

    Maybe you should take your camera and try find more “life” in life. Maybe it could be good medicine for your sadness? I hear you don’t like take “everyday pictures”. But many times you repeat about your sadness, so maybe it is time to cut away your past life, and try to find “bright part of life”??
    Or maybe this “sadness” it was you need?
    I know it easy to say: forget about past, but your try be a witness of others sadness and you don’t try fight with your own.
    For me you always was like doctor, You watching death and paine, and you must work with it.
    This is great job, amazing job, but if you really feel so many sadness you should cut away from it.
    You are the same person like people you shooting… like them You have deserved for happiness and peaceful.
    but of course it is your choice… or maybe not??


  • JIM,

    I am sure that you feel for every cause, conflict that you have been witnessing…so this question may not have any meaning but is there a particular past event that above all has marked you and is there a particular cause today that you want to defend?


  • james : who are the top 5 under rated or for the most part unheard of photographers in your realm of vision ??

    **please i know time is of the essence for you so if you just throw out some names that would suffice.

    ++as marcin mentioned your vein of work deals with the darkest portals of humanity – so what do you make of marc ribouds work which is the antithesis to the way in which you approach the rectangle ??

  • James,

    No question, just a thank you. Your work has something to do with why there are two teenage kids in my house as I type, who came from East Africa almost 7 years ago. Maybe the world will keep repeating the same mistakes, but something changed in a few lives. I strongly suspect it’s just one ripple in the pond.

    Take care,


  • Now a question:
    It seems like some photographers can pass through an area relatively quickly while shooting an issue, others seem to almost live in a region and let the shooting develop over time. The former way might provide more energy from unknown situations, while the latter has more of a familiar, sustained rhythm. Which do you prefer, and why?


  • Jim:

    Thanks for the answer. Sorry I got the facts of the incident wrong and thanks for explaining the details that I had mis-remembered. Incidentally, my question was not a condemnation (far from it) but a question about decisive spiritual living after and in the face of the type of tragedy and horror that you have had to live with and have so humanely and eloquently spoken upon with your photographs. I used to argue with others that that moment in Jarkarta was one of the moments that incited my desire and hope that all of my work was compelled the need to speak and to witness. I recall your eloquent answer from the film and in no way was I suggesting you “chose” not to save/aide.

    I too have held a dying person in my arms, a stranger who leaped off the top of a building of my school where i teach and the decision to harness what we, the fortunate have been given, as a means to get people to help is what has compelled my life…it’s why i am here with David.

    Thank you for your reply. I trust you understood that my question wasn’t about judgment but was set as a guidance to all who shall come after you and must reconcile themselves to the onslaught of that profound and difficult but eloquent hope to waylay, at some point, the suffering of all with whom our lives have been met.

    Thanks for your time.

    off now for a few days.


  • david alan harvey


    Jim and i are still here…hang on…i was just doing a “real time” photo of Jim to publish in a few minutes….sunday afternoon fun…

    back soonest…

    cheers, david

  • what near death experiences take precedence in your mind and give you the most trouble with your r.e.m sleep at night ??

    how do you process all you seen, heard, and feel ?

    do you think psychoanalysis therapy is relevant or rather helpful for the line of work that your in ?

  • P.S. JIM:

    I’ve re-read all your answers to questions, and i wanted to leave you with a quote from Joseph Campbell…my wife is reading him at the moment (he was a hero of mine when i was younger)…forgive the paraphrase, ’cause i dont have the book in front of the computer, but it goes like this…

    in order to accept life one must understand that it is also defined by death, this must be accepted and swallowed, but as soon as the person accepts the power and importance of death they understand that this becomes, in truth, the affirmation of life…for what is the reason for living if not to affirm the living, to affirm the lives of whose to whom each of us are connected, defined by, hurt by and saved by, in our more than squalid living…by accepting that suffering is a mark and accepting your connection to all those others, who can and cannot speak out, or choose to or not to speak, one begins to affirm the living, for death does not exist without the living, just as the living cannot thrive without having loved those who are dead…

    those are my words, but it’s the sentiment that was passed on my Campbell and many others…to do our damnest to speak upon all that we have witnessed because we can, we shall and we must….

    my son breathes life into the shadows that bemark my bones, just as that woman who died in front of me forces me to speak up, just as the knowledge that I can sit here and type, unafraid, must be used to help those who are squashed by the famine of their difficult lives…

    it is why, though you are not a god, admire you and your work…


    p.s. now, can i know about the dancing…

  • last ps

    ….sorry, I realized that that statement of “god” might be misinterpreted…your god is like a god for me too ;)), i meant what I admire soo much about you is that you are not a god, but a person who has committed their life extraordinarily to help and to witness…that is what i admire about you profoundly….and this: i showed my son some of your pics once…and he said: dad, how come you and mom dont use color more ;))))…all the best jim :))

    DAVID: thank you so much for this great opportunity…dima and marina send love!


  • Mr. Nachtwey-

    How would you suggest that a photographer transition into covering conflict or humanitarian issues?

    There are fewer opportunities in the editorial market for those stories and, furthermore, stagnant day rates. A magazine isn’t going to send someone on an assignment who hasn’t covered such stories before (understandably). Unless you are a) a staff photographer b) independently wealthy or c) spend yourself into debt, a journalist interested in those issues can’t really self-finance a project and cover rent at the same time. Or so it seems to me. Suggestions?

    Thank you for you time.


  • james: do u think art-journalism academies are necessary to the career of an aspiring photographer ? what do u make of those picture makers that work in the trenches with no formal education ?

    do u believe in Autodidacts ??

  • Yes, David and Jim–

    WHO IS the better dancer AND what wine were you drinking the other night (and probably still drinking?) LOL!

    Also to both of you — thanks for the eloquent answers on this blog (and David on the “Random” blog.)

    My soul has been fed… for at least a week.

  • james: for someone whom travels the GLOBE constantly who or what are your anchors that keep you from escaping gravities forces ?

    How do u maintain keeping the real in reality ?

  • Hello!
    I have some questions:

    1. How do you perceive public interest to the kind of issues you photograph in comparison with the years you begun your career? There is more or less attention?
    2. How do you prepare in terms of information about the subject you are going to photograph?
    3. You ever think about retirement in the future or changing the kind of subjects you document?

    Thanks a lot!

  • Are you a sole proprietor/trader or are you a small limited company? Or does being a part of VII make it not matter? We’re getting off track a little with this question but it’s something I must consider as I endeavor to re-emerge into the professions after some time out parenting.

  • Nice shot of Jim David!


  • David,

    Nice photo of James.
    Is the girl in the background a neighbor?

  • How afects to your photography been at the high top of the business?. Do you feel some kind of plus pressure or responsibility? Do you ever wish been less “famous”?

  • impressive…great ( NO) GRAIN for 800 ISO…

    Great Jim N. portrait…

    bravo Nikon D300… f2.8…20mm…

    i wonder what the D3 can do in the 25.000ISO….
    little tech talk…

    James uses Canon gear… don’t you have anything to say to Jim??? :)

  • I wonder, David, which do you prefer, the D300 or the M8. Impressive image detail and fidelity.

  • TECH TALK , question..
    Does James uses the eos system because is SPONSORED to use it,
    is it a personal choice…?
    because i suspect that the D300 must belong to the DAH weaponry…


    “o.k. let me interrupt for a second…Release your tension and forget about , ” Big Jim ” for a sec… VISIT MY BLOG…. 10 PHOTOS…with no much people…”

    i truly feel that certain members have Histrionic Personalities that may inhibit others to SHARE information.. i mean who self promotes on a blog entry with a guest none other than James Nachtwey ? If we all pretend to be a little bit civilized than maybe Mr. Nachtwey will answer more ??’s.

  • Carlos,
    I already asked my “serious” question…
    “What kinda PLEASURE takes out of his work…
    what is his MAIN motivation…?
    especially if we all agree that ONE photograph CANNOT change
    this rotten world,,,”
    I hate repeating myself Carlos… it’s a waste of everyone’s time..

  • Paul, I agree…
    great detail…
    but between SLR or rangefinder … choose them BOTH…
    THEY “SEE” DIFFERENT…. try it…
    they give completely different results…
    What’s best…???…. i do have my opinion…!
    but honestly , who cares !!!!!
    have them both if you can…
    coz sometimes a fast car is good… but some other times …
    it’s that PICK UP truck that does the trick…

    but if you HAVE TO CHOOSE….
    if you really, really , really absolutely have to… then…

    … go rangefinder

    I totally agree… I explain to you in another place… just joking a bit about your aversion to canon… ;-)
    Un abrazo!

  • JN
    whats your fav thing to do when your not taking photos.
    whats Davids family photo series like, are you into it.
    he seems to be his own worst critic. whats the real story

    me too man, me too… im joking all day and all night long…
    DRAMA is nothing but COMEDY .. seen from a different angle…
    it’s easy to record pain.. but it’s beautiful to put some twist,
    some comedy in it some humor…
    but i hear you… how can this be possible in a WAR… in a conflict???
    I dont know..

  • Btw: where t.f. did harvey and nachtwey go???

  • Hello James, Hello David,

    Can you explain me why most of your subjects like Afghanistan, Romania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda (…) are in b&w whereas NYC September 11 is in color?

    Please, explain me. I have a doubt.
    Thanks. Julien

  • beautiful picture i like it a lot…

    i’ve read through the questions but so many good ones i can’t come up with another one…

    i wanted to ask something along the lines of: what you think about discovering a “talent” within yourself and how you “should” pursue it to the fullest, even if it is not something you necessarily “like” to do… or not??

    but i’m lost for words right now, the ability to express myself clearly, is inversely related to the amount of wine that has left the bottles here (much later over here in europe), so forgive me, i apologise…

    DAVID i wanted to say THANKS for making this moment work and letting us peek into jim’s head (and in a way, yours of course)… beautiful and oh so insightful as ever…


  • Carlos,
    I’m going to guess that DAH and JN had an early reservation at Peter Luger’s.

  • …James … probably left…
    Guess who ruined our night… again…
    Panos should be banned from this site..


    “…but i’m lost for words right now, the ability to express myself clearly, is inversely related to the amount of wine that has left the bottles here (much later over here in europe), so forgive me, i apologise…”

    Anton what do you mean ( much later in europe )…? never late for good wine, especially in europe… no ?

  • Mooncruiser…learn to enjoy a little humor and craziness. Nachtwey, I imagine, is perfectly capable of sifting through the “serious” and the “fun.” Nothing wrong with any of it.

  • oh .., i see now what Anton meant ( time difference … dahhhhhh !)

    hey Michael K…
    thank you… and
    it looks we will meet in C/Ville …
    Awesome… i can’t wait… !!!

  • PANOS yes yes that means i have a HEAD START for drinking EVERY time :))))

    btw LOVE your venice pictures…. but i have never worked with a rangefinder before… people tell me it’s quite unique once you get the hang of it… so i will definitely TRY IT…

    so meet you in c’ville for MORE WINE?


  • In reading through many of these comments I wonder how many people actually take photographs professionally?! I am no James Nachtwey, but many people sound a bit naive and maybe in love with the idea of being a photographer as opposed to actually taking pictures. If you go out and spend long periods of time with your subjects photographing, many of your questions will answer themselves.

  • Michael : sounds like you enjoy sifting through the sewage that occupies Panos stream of consciousness. Honestly, before the emerging photographers fund this place was a lot more intelligent. Most people edit there thoughts..gee..what a novel concept. Panos is a Virus that at first i had mistaken for SPAM !!

  • MIKE
    I had to google it… seems to be the place where people eats a half cow each…
    And no more brain for blogging…
    People forget about david and jim…

  • Michael: Panos is a piece of shit, if you know what i mean.
    Maybe he can shoot but he should keep his mouth shut.
    Please let us not go down to his level , ever again. Just a Virus. Not a SPAM!!

  • Whoa, mooncruiser. Not cool.

  • Panos is the spice of life. He ignites this blog. He delights and frustrates in equal measure. That’s precious stuff in a place like this.

    I guess Mr. Nachtwey is merely composing a response to Panos and we just have to wait and see what happens.

    Panos, you rock (most of the time).


    “…Nice photo of James.
    Is the girl in the background a neighbor?

    Posted by: cathy scholl | June 01, 2008 at 05:40 PM…”

    I have the same question…
    Was “SHE” his girlfriend..?


    first, thanks for what i detect as a note of concern. yes, i have made sacrifices, but i don’t want to make too much of that fact. there are many, many people in this world who have been up against much greater odds than i have ever faced and who have made much greater sacrifices.

    i started out with a goal and a lot of passion and determination. in pursuing my goals i have come up against my own limitations. i realized i could not pursue my work with the urgency i felt and have time and energy to give to a family. it was a conscious decision – a choice with consequences i have accepted.

    at the same time i do enjoy life. perhaps i have developed a certain perspective on things that are easy to take for granted unless you know the difference. i have close friends, who i don’t see that often, but when we do get together we pick right up where we left off. i love art and music and literature. i love the outdoors. life for me is culturally rich and interesting and by making the sacrifices i made and by pursuing my work, i have found meaning, which is more than i could have asked.

    and again…!
    What attracted you , in the first place, into photographing
    ALL that PAIN…???
    Most ” normal ” human beings they “look” away…!
    What made you go that “CLOSE”…???


  • houseoftherisingsun

    mooncruiser: please don’t flatter panos his pictures are less than average..

  • houseoftherisingsun

    mooncruiser: what’s worst is that his personality sucks too.
    Seems like a homeless guy from filthy venice beach anyways.

  • What’s going on here, folks?

    Mooncruiser and houseoftherisingsun, if you’re going to present yourselves here, then I challenge you to both SHOW YOURSELVES.

  • greek mythology is Absolute- however maybe his mother told him that he was a Planet and that the Sun revolved around his orbit..

    so Panos lets deconstruct the myth are you a Planet and does the Sun revolve around U ??

  • Dear Panos,

    Is war easy, safe and secure? On the most obvious level, the question is a contradiction in terms. I can’t think of another genre of photography that is more difficult to epxerience or more difficult to photograph. Safe and secure do not apply.

    In terms of career “success”, you only have to look at contemporary magazines to see that war is one of the least published subjects. Lifestyle, fashion, celebrity are the sure paths to success – if you have the talent and the drive to succeed, which are inside yourself, no matter which area of photography you pursue.

    “Save the world” are your words, not mine. I have much more modest expectations. I believe in the free flow of information. I want my work to become one of many elements in the process of change. Change does not happen overnight. It requires hard work, dedication and patience. It also requires faith in the process.

    “Pleasure” is also your word, not mine. I won’t attempt to define what you might mean by the word “pleasure”, but in relation to my work it is a word I would not use. I feel engaged with what is happening in our world. I try to make my work count for something. Not everyone is motivated by “pleasure”.

  • Paul! Didn’t you know?! Mooncruiser is Alex Majoli and houseoftherisingsun is Josef Koudleka. (Yes, he just finally picked up an Apple macbook–hist first computer!)

  • Paul Treacy: I would love to represent myself as i have nothing to hide. However if you read this blog in the past many of us responded to Panos in a concerned fashion. What we received in return was nothing short of stupid male testosterone run amuck..

    perhaps Michael Kircher could elaborate for us what happens when you challenge the elite Gladiator Panos Skoulidas ?? If i remember correctly he called him a Pachuko ?? Honestly, i have dinner to attend too Now. Sorry to stir the pot. Apparently, the zookeeper has hung themselves long ago..

    peace out..

  • Sorry for the jokes, but this whole thing seems like a spoof to me. GET OUT and SHOOT and you will answer your own questions. There is a huge difference between thinking and wondering about photography and actually doing it. With the risk of sounding a bit forward, the questions posed on this blog are not the kinds of questions that I entertain in conversation with my photographer friends. Many of us are not famous, just hard working photographers, but lots of these posts ring a bit hollow for the working pro. . .

  • californiaraisins

    David Ellicson- just another amateur elitist- u ?

  • JIM,

    This may sound like a weird question that has nothing to do with photography but reading your words that you have found meaning, I started to wonder if you are you a man of faith… With all the horrors you have had to witness, one could easily imagine that one could lose faith into a deeper good human essence but at the same this, I hope this does not seem awkward but you sometimes come across as if you were inhabited by a greater force, a far reaching humanity… There is something that seem so very human and deep about you JIM when you speak that, I have been wondering if faith has been guiding you in any way…. Faith or not, you are one of the very inspiring individuals out there JIM and it is a privilege to have you here tonight with us.


  • Wow, just came back to show dima and what a weird event…


    Frankly speaking, from one working photographer to another, I’d say that comment seems like a “spoof” to me. I am disappointed that is coming from you. Sorry, but since when does the vita of our profession carry the distinctive outline of qualification “condescension toward photographers”?…I trust, just as dissing Jessica’s work, was a frustration with the dialogue above.

    Sorry y’all for the interruption.

    David/Jim: i’ve enjoyed reading Jim’s responses (dima too)…


  • It’s DaviN Ellicson, but no, I’m no elitist, just reacting to what I read on this blog. . . the content doesn’t quite equate with my own experiences out shooting that’s all. . . I always feel that there is this big disconnect between what it’s like actually on the ground with one’s subjects shooting and the editorial/art world back at home. Of course there is a place for this type of blog. . . maybe I am in the wrong place.

  • I think I am incapable of properly communicating over email. I assure you that I could better explain myself in person over a drink.

  • Just got back from work. Thanks Anna for posting my question (2nd post!), and James for answering “in the order it was received”. I see you posted just a few minutes ago. But I have about 113 posts to go, my homework!

    If you read this, James, thanks for what you have been doing as a concerned human being and who you are, as a photographer. I am forever humbled by your accomplishments.

  • and you know what else? We can push him back to the garbage hole
    he belongs. Mike and Rafal were against that Virus from the day one.
    Let us show him he is isolated and alone. Let us kick him out from our productive club. We are humble and he is not. Out.

  • californiaraisins

    Ellicson – panos. Amateurs, amateurs. Elitists- u 2 ?

  • groundcontrolcaliforniaraisinsmooncruiser said: “We are humble and he is not.”

    Oh the irony.

  • Perhaps it would be best for all if this passionate energy could be focused towards serious questions about the work. For those of you who have not yet asked Jim something you feel is important, please chime in…

  • I hope that Mr. Nachtwey still feels that it has been worth his while to give of himself. I hugely appreciate his appearance.

    Back in ’93 I very nearly went to Bosnia. I decided against it. There were already many finer operators there and I was beginning to think that my relationship at the time might evolve into something special. I ended up marrying her and we have two kids. I stayed at home with them for some time and put my career on hold. I’m now preparing for a full-time return to professional shooting. I love my family. My kids are terrific. They’re the coolest people I’ve ever met. But I must say that I’m not entirely at peace with the decision I made. I’m equally committed to photography and to my family and the two are not easy friends.

    When you mentioned the sacrifice you made, the decision you made, it hit home to me. And since you’re older than I am, I hope that I too will someday feel better about these things.

    For now, I want to be able to show my youngsters that it’s possible to be available to them and have an interesting career at the same time. It’s going to be a tough few months.

    When you have to slow the pace, Mr. Nachtwey, I hope you will have easy access to those dear to you.

    Whatever the decisions I’ve made, at least I know that in this regard I’m covered.

  • HI THERE JAMES!!!!!!

    Not sure whether you are still there or not but I have just one question…

    I really loved the photos of the Dali Lama, beautiful intimate coverage. Did getting so up front and personal with him prompt you to look at your own spiritual values, try and make sense of the world from the perspective of the first Buddhist precept that ‘Life is suffering?’

    And I’d just like to say thanks for all the effort you and David put into us in Bangkok, I for one am still processing the experience which I think helped me define what it is I have been looking for for a while.

    Cheers and take care!

  • JAMES,
    thank you , thank you and thank you for your response…!

    and yes “PLEASURE” is my word… sorry to interrupt but i always
    thought that “pleasure-satisfaction” SHOULD BE INCLUDED in any
    form from ., at least . my work…!
    The more i hear and read your answers , the more mysterious you
    become… so “PLEASURE” is not really a big deal…
    but i still praise ” DIONYSUS”… instead of the “APPOLLONIAN” way of thinking …
    hmmm, thank you again… you opened another “door”… i didn’t even know it existed…

  • Hoping there’ll be more though it gets late. Switching between this and Dreamweaver as I finish my website, fueled by an aged Glenlivet over two big rocks of ice. Oh, the simple pleasures.

  • Hey friends, what happened here tonight? The Q&A with James was going along wonderfully–his answers were so honest & heartfelt–and then some flamers arrived & spoiled the party. Pretty damn embarrassing actually, especially for David who had gone out of his way to set this up, and for James who had been so gracious in giving us his time.

    I’ve not been here very long but have never even seen a hint of such nastiness before. Do those folks show up very often? Sure hope not!

    Even so, David, I thank you SO MUCH for arranging this meeting. James is not only a magnificent photographer but a true humanitarian.


  • Sorry I missed all the fun. Took a lazy drift down the river today. I have to catch up with my reading!

  • david alan harvey


    very strange comment coming from you…particularly strange that you and your evidently elitist “photography friends” would not find it interesting that one of my “photography friends” would humbly take the time out to talk to members of this forum, who are in fact out shooting all the obviously have not kept up..besides, dropping a comment like that, in the middle of a rare forum interview with Nachtwey, would be considered just plain rude in some circles…

    but, i do like your work….

  • Thanks to David and James for taking the time today. I’m very disappointed that my plans to attend Look3 have changed, I was really looking forward to James’ talk. It was great to get a glimpse tonight.


  • I have the greatest respect for people like yourself, David, and Nachtwey. What I was trying to get across cannot be said properly over the web. Many, many, apologies. What you are doing with this blog is great. I am silenced. I will keep my thoughts to myself. All I was trying to hint at is that I, too, had (and still do) many, many questions re: the photographic life and that they have best been answered by actually hitting the road shooting. Obviously, this was not the place to say this when you had a guest here to answer questions(!) Again, my sincere apologies and I will stay off the blog. I was trying to make a meta comment and it didn’t turn out so well. I just have returned from photographing amongst my peasant friends in northern Romania and there always seems to be a gap between me and the photo world. Some may take this as sounding elitist, but this is the opposite of how I feel or what I mean. I actually feel that the photo/art world is often elitist. Somehow, I feel that the photographs I take are very personal and are almost just meant for the people I have photographed. There seems to be a gap between my experience shooting with my subjects and the atmosphere of the photographic community. Am I making any sense?! What I am trying to say is that there is a gap between the photographer’s experience and the viewer’s experience of the photographs. And in my opinion it is the photographer’s experience that matters. I rest my case, I doubt anyone can understand what I am trying to say.

  • You gotta love people who take an opportunity like this to make it all about themselves…Davin, congrats. this went from being about James Nachtway to how much more of a real photographer you are than people who have asked questions. Self aggrandization at its worst.

    I wonder if Im too late….I’ll blame the time difference here for that.

    James, since you covered South Korea way back when, I wonder if you have ever been back to see how it has changed. Although it needn’t be South korea…do you ever go back to see how the places you have covered have turned out? In the case of S Korea in particular, from a dictatorship to a democracy.

  • countofmontecristo


  • Not sure what happened. James answered only a few questions, David, glad to read from you again, after the fiasco of this page #3 (the worse day for our little DAH community, and arrgh! on the day one of the greatest photographers alive lent his time to be here…Go figure!), I wondered if you just pulled the plug on this whole session gone awry.

    Davin, I kinda see some of your points (and I am no hard working photographer!), but the manner and your timing were off earlier, to say the least.

    Bob, Panos….???….for a while I thought you were the interviewees…. :-))))

  • david alan harvey


    apology accepted….

    i would not have been so upset with you had James not been in the middle of his very non-elitist answers to the questions presented by this audience…

    Jim did not think the questions banal…

    anyway amigo, i will cut you some slack for the net absolutely not being the best way to communicate…

    now i have a suggestion..if you want the conversations here to swing more in the relevant directions you want, why not pose a specific thread?? i throw out ideas, but everyone here has the option to “turn the tide” in any which way..and it happens all the time..

    many here are not working pros…many here are….most want to make a life where photography plays a significant role but i certainly do not lean everyone in the direction of “professionalism”…the world does not need another photo pro turned cynic….i do however try to get them to move in their own personal direction…think about galleries, exhibitions, books and yes, maybe some assignments…

    several photographers here have really grown right before our eyes…quite amazing and rewarding all around….

    i certainly remember myself at every stage of this art/craft/biz…ain’t far away….and i am sure you do you…so, why don’t you reach out and grab somebody?… somebody else will reach out for you..

    peace, david

  • DAVID,

    Thanks so much to both you and Jim for spending time answering our questions. I hope Jim wasn’t put off by all the “family” (I use that term in the loosest sense) bickering.

    It was really a treat having him here. Let’s see if we can get him back again.

  • david alan harvey


    James answered quite a few questions (twice as many as Allard) and he labored over the ones he answered…i typed the first two or three, but he wanted to type it…he then thought more..and then took quite awhile on each one…he is just in as much control over what he writes here as he is with everything..if you look at the time from his first post to his last you will see several hours pass…a lot of other stuff was going on at the same time and i had to keep pulling him back here!!! besides, some questions were repeats or similar to others…i think he covered quite a bit of ground considering the nature of this medium…and remember you were not getting a writers interpretation, you were getting the quotes directly as he thought about your questions….

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Thanks very much for setting up this q and a session, very interesting indeed.

    I ran across something tonight you (and others) might be interested in if you haven’t already heard it… an interview with Robert Frank about the Americans:
    (the link is in a post towards the bottom of the page)

    It was recorded a couple of weeks ago at Lincoln Center… it’s long and the interview was conducted by one Charlie LeDuff who has to be the absolute worst interviewer on the planet. Talk about bad questions to ask a photographer, and to Robert Frank no less. In any case, I listened to the whole thing, cringing occasionally, to hear what the man had to say about one of my favorite books…

  • Thanks David, truly I was flattered to be one he answered to, and I was not even here! Anna did something very classy, posting it.

    PS: Maybe Davin E. could be our next interviewed photographer….;-)

  • DAVID,

    Mate, I’m really sorry about the flamers. I’ve been out all day shooting and have been looking forward to getting back and seeing what James had to say.
    I have always been very impressed at his ability to verbalise his motivations and his way of working. There are so many great things you can learn when someone speaks about thier work. It seems rare to find people that can do this well.

  • countofmontecristo

    matthewnewton: you are generic …

  • countofmontecristo

    matthewnewton: you are generic …

  • Many thanks to David and James, it was very interesting.

  • Hey Patricia and Matthew, yes indeed where did all these ‘flamers’ come from and why here when James Nachtwey has so graciously lent his time to us?

    This is really a great place and I enjoy EVERYONE’s different personalities, points of view and levels of experience. You can learn from EVERYONE except people who have only bile to spew.

    I don’t really know who or why people behave like that, its so childish. I am glad Panos didn’t take the bait, shows that he is a much more mature person than someone that can only call themselves by a pseudonym.

    I hope these ‘flamers’ have suitably embarrassed themselves in front of all of us and that they will learn that there is enough stupidity in the world not to add anymore.

    Some great comments from James that I have had to think about as well. Cheers everyone!

  • Thank you David for getting us time with Jim. It was inspiring and his responses were well thought out and eloquently articulated. Thank you also for your equally articulated response earlier today on the “Random” blog. This was truly an exceptional day despite some of the silliness. Jim did state in his response to Eric, he has little patience for the small stuff in life. I take this to mean he will not focus on pettiness such as was exemplified on the blog today. Any of us who has covered war does not sweat the small stuff. It’s about the work. The banter got pretty nasty, but we’re all intact, no one died and hopefully we’re just moving foward to get our work done — be it at whatever level we are currently at.

    On a lighter note — We are all expecting to see who is the better dancer at LOOK3.


  • Good ol’ Jim! And of course cheers David, for hauling him in one more time!!

    Apologies for crashing in on the end of this important thread, but wanted to share this as I have been working on my edit for the cemetery project all afternoon and the internet caff is about to close…

    Here are some new links to the cemetery work as promised… Some images you will have seen on my previous (blog) posting already, but that was a rather random selection and related more to the text in the blog than the essay itself.

    The main concern with the work at that point was that there was no overall/opening shot to give a sense of scale and a sense of place, so I have put an edit together of the best I have (of this type) to hopefully fill this gap. This shot was a struggle due to the massive size of the cemetery and the fact that there was no high area or building to shoot from, so I’m not particularly enamored with any of these as single images, but it is important to the essay to use one of these. I would love to hear any favorites. These images can be viewed at…

    Next up is my first edit (17 Images). I would certainly like to cut this down. 13 or so would suit this work I think. This edit can be viewed at…

    Finally I have included an selection of around 30 images that didn’t make my personal cut. I may have made some terrible editing decisions(!!?) so these are the ones to choose from if that is the case. These can be viewed at

    I will also add these links to the link page for quick reference.

    Thanks as always,


  • Hello James Chance,

    I have just looked at your work, and I ask some questions: these persons live in a cemetery, it takes place in which country, which city? Why have – they chosen this place? How did they arrive there? Are they religious? Thank you.
    I find your really very interesting subject…
    Good continuation to you,
    Kind regards,

  • JAMES i like the series… and i must say looking at your edit and at your “extras”, i would have such a hard time killing my darlings as well… such great images… THANKS for sharing this…

    i’ve looked through the series, and my humble opinion for the edit would be 1 to 7, 10 to 13, and 15

    and then i started to look at the extras… i liked them ALL… and then i looked BACK at your edit… and then i thought how the h*ll can he edit this down to 13 or so… but you asked for real FAVORITE favorites, with an opinion… so here goes….

    i think for me the following images would be important, because (for me at least) they would strengthen the “family” and “social life” aspect/dimension of your series on living in the cemetery… which is, i’m guessing (but i’m not sure) an important part of the story…


    BUT i have no idea how you would edit these down to 13, i’m not experienced at all when it comes down to editing (i just tried to look past the individual images and tried to concentrate on the whole message that came across from the edit you made), but i would love to see how you go on this one…

    really love the work, i hope my humble contribution is useful to you…


  • hi james,

    thats an interesting project you’ve got going there. for what its worth i like 02 and 04 from the wider view shots. i like the basketball shot too, but i don’t think that it gives the over view that you are looking for. i just looked at you edit, i think it works nicely….images 02 and 03 i like especially.

    hi all,

    i just read through the postings related to james nachtwey’s visit. i wasn’t able to read them yesterday. i’ve seen interviews of his before, both written and moving image…i’ve always found his comments to be very insightful, thoughtful and honest; in the sense that he doesn’t fall into any self aggrandizement.

    i think it was a real shame that some people felt the need to turn what was for the most part a an interesting discussion into on the one hand a childish slagging match, and on the other a self opinionated, self aggrandizing attack an some of the people who asked questions.

    for those who decided to hide themselves in order to make attacks on people: grow up. i think people here a pretty honest in what they say and pretty good in accepting other peoples opinions, they know that its about being constructive in order to make the creative ‘better’. cowardly bullshit means nothing. i hope this blog isn’t going to fall into that sort of crap. if people want to get that personal do it somewhere else.

    on the the second issue: i think its worth remembering that everyone taking part on this blog use’s photography, are engaged with photography in different ways. none of them are more worthy than any other…each person does or should be doing what is right for them. lets not allow ourselves to fall into being judgmental about this sort of thing. james nachtwey uses photography to engage the issues he is interested, DAH with those he is interested in. two very different people interested in photographing very different subject: no right or wrong. just like the people who asked questions here: all have very different personalities, all come from different backgrounds, with different interests and different levels of photographic experience. there are no right or wrong questions: just curiosity. i think it’ll be a sad day when anyone here might feel inhibited when it comes to asking a question, for fear of being attacked in some way. now, apologies were made, which is great. but lets remember that we all learn things here…..lets leave leave the elitist/personal bullshit at the door.


  • david alan harvey


    many thanks for your questions to James…so so sorry he could not even begin to answer all of them…some very good questions were passed by…

    i have noted some of the best of your questions and will try to get him to answer when we are at Look3 week after next…actually, i know the answers to some of them, but will wait to see if we can get it “straight” from him…

    the idea of a “live interview” sounds good, but i have tried it twice now and i am not so sure…what would have really been interesting would have been if we could have gone “live video” for this…i mean the scene wrapped around this interview was so so hilarious…Sunday afternoon…i was supposed to be working on my New York essay commission…i was supposed to also be shooting on my family project..i was also trying to move my furniture, boxes, slides etc. from one apt to another…poor Mike Courvoisier ended up with this job…Jim was supposed to be doing many other things as well…neither of us had the time to do this interview…but it turned into a circus with about 6 people finally hanging around, drinking wine, getting a firsthand vision of me trying to move things forward so i could get out into the afternoon light to work, Jim on the phone and trying to be a good host to his guests, and then in the middle of chaos , Jim would sit down, read all the questions, pick one, and then proceed to “hunt and peck” type his way through it…going back over his writing with a “fine tooth comb”..very deliberate….anyway, i lucked out in the whole deal, because just as the light was getting perfect, i looked out on the roof deck and saw a picture situation that worked really well with Jim’s former assistant and his girlfriend….anyway, somehow we literally blew the whole afternoon with none of us doing what we said we were going to do …however, lots of laughs and a very good time….

    now i am not sure why Panos came under unidentified attack in the middle of an interview with Jim!!! very curious….

    there are some sides of human nature that i will never understand….sure i can understand why Panos might come under scrutiny…he was, after all, an “attacker” himself at the beginning and he does have a way of “setting himself up” for “critique”..but he was always identified, critiques himself harshly, always showed photographs, and has now produced some very very interesting work… and at the end of the day, he is out shooting all the time…period..

    sorry for the ramble…it is that kind of morning….in my new place…great window light and view…maybe this place is too nice i am thinking….one of those places you do not want to leave…never good when you are often supposed to be someplace else…hmmm, well i will take this problem!!!

    now i will post a note i wrote to Lindo O which may have gone unread since it was posted under “random” right before the Jim interview…i think it relates to much of this discussion….

    i will have minimal contact with you for the next couple of days…i am under a lot of pressure to produce your Look3 show , plus i have just a few more days to shoot New York…a primo commission, but falling right in the middle of so many other things…now that is the freelance life!!!

    running… scrambling…back here when possible….

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    i do not have “one” picture that “satisfies me” more than the others…unless, of course, it is the very simple snapshot of my mother getting into the car that i randomly took when i was 14 that will be the cover of the upcoming “Off For A Family Drive”…

    basically, my books have my “favorites”… although the kinds of photographs i chose for Divided Soul are quite different than the ones i chose for Living Proof…and i chose for different reasons…

    i have INTENT always….but, i do not “plan” any individual picture….i do put myself in situations where i instinctively “feel” something significant may come out of it, but serendipity rules in my case….

    i do not have the illusion that i might “make a difference” in any direct way…i am just as interested in world events as the photographers who cover world events…and i studied 500 years of history and art and literature wrapped around the incursion of the Spanish and Portugese culture into the Americas just to do one essay which took me almost 20 years….

    but, i am more interested in creating a SENSITIVITY rather than assuming that a picture of a specific conflict, for example, is somehow going to “stop conflict”…

    look closely and you will see that almost all of my bodies of work have been wrapped around “conflict” or “injustice”…

    but my pictures are not “of conflict” directly…Cuba, Vietnam,Va. Ghetto, Native Americans,Spanish Conquest,Rap etc. are all subjects where i was emotionally involved in the various injustices that led to my interest in the subjects i chose…history is totally a part of my motivation always always…. but i am surely looking and feeling the subtlety of the little slices of life that tell us something about the people who either conquered or became conquered….

    i literally covered conflict in Cambodia and Nicaragua (where i met Jim), but found the work for me just not me….besides i noticed how quickly people forget specific “news events” and the pictures of “horror” which may have led to “winning a contest” for example were so so not anything about the overall context of culture, that i just took my own sensitivities into a broader view…as in anything else in life, i left certain jobs to others who were motivated differently for whatever reasons…we are an animal of one of us can do much…most of us can do just one thing really well..but together there are no limits to what we can do…

    i was once with a young boy whose leg had just been blown off by a land mine while he was tending cattle in Cambodia…an “accident ” of war…there was little medical care…his father crawled into bed with him and stayed with him constantly for several days until he died…i was there the whole time….the picture was a double page spread in Natgeo along with a photo of mass graves below white puffy clouds, a result of the Khmer Rouge exterminations…did i reach anyone?? i do not know…but, from that point forward i decided it was more important, for me anyway, to show the humanity of a culture and perhaps the results of conflict in hopes that some government would not “drop a bomb” on the mother feeding her baby who is in my photograph just because she lives somewhere inside the “axis of evil” or because she lived someplace “under embargo”….maybe a congressman or two would see this picture, look into her eyes, and cast a vote in the right direction next time around….i am not sure her exhumed skull coming out of the muddy grave site in the jungle would have the same effect…but, who knows??

    frankly, i rarely go down this road of discussion…it feels very strange to me to tell people what they are supposed to be getting out of my work or even my intent….so these are a few of my deep down motivations, but what you “get out it” could be something else entirely…

    when Jim and i talk about world events etc., we share the same beliefs….we are totally on “the same page”….how we use our talents and our little cameras to perhaps “make a difference” , or perhaps not, is a personal choice based on our psychological makeup and our vision of the world as it comes roaring up to our front door…

    peace, david

    Posted by: david alan harvey | June 01, 2008 at 09:19 AM

  • nice post david…i couldn’t make it for the interview with jim but enjoyed reading the discussion and as always thanks for making it happen.

    ~ chris

  • THANK YOU DAVID for giving us this opportunity. THANK YOU JIM for your gracious presence and comments.

    Thank you too david for the 2 great posts above.


  • Hey James, (that’s james Chance, so many James lately here…)

    Tell me to bug off but I remembered your photos in….Color!!!

    About the edit, and IMO, on the “final” edit, really not crazy about #6, #12 (a repeat, in stance, of #13, which is a fine fine shot) and #15. I do not think they say much. I am also not sure about the old lady crying over the casket. Strong but a bit generic/predictable in a subject about a “cemetary”, maybe….

    In the “also ran”, please do rescue #16 and #19. In a lesser measure, I found #4 and 33 could make the cut as well.

    Worth repeating: IMO.

  • PANOS…

    Forgot to mention I am glad to see you’ll be in C’ville! Looking forward to a beer with you! And you get to meet my wife!

    This actually goes for everybody else as well. Should be fun.

    See you there!

  • Nice post David, thanks for sharing your thoughts. The best essays; for me, always show their subjects as human beings and go beyond the cliche images to show people who look just like my Mother, Father, Wife etc. Because they are: just the same.


  • FIRST, what Bob concisely (strange) said just above. Thank you David and James!

    Hey Chancey, what a wonderfully difficult challenge you have in the edit! Lots of really strong work … damn dude!

    In your final edit i would pick another opener .. maybe 5 or 12 from the “opening_image” group.

    And in your final edit, I’d drop 11 and 16.

    I agree with Herve on rescuing #16 in “more_images.” And I very much like 30 (second-guessed yourself here i think … could almost be an opener) and 31 … both good storytelling and sense of place. Good builders i think.

    All very difficult, lots of great tough choices, but wtf do i know, DAVID really needs to weigh in here.

    You the man James!

  • Hmmm, hey Herve I think that would be “bugger off” from James Chance the expat Brit ;)) Good comments, he is a man of great humor and i know he appreciates input. Personally, I really like the black and white … boils everything down well … but it would be interesting to see them in color as well.

  • ALL:
    Not sure what happened here. I can’t really make sense of it all. I guess I shouldn’t. In any event, I’m sorry IT happened.

    Good luck with the edit. I look forward to seeing it. Thanks to JN as well.


  • James Chance:

    VERY STRONG WORK on the cemetary. I do not envy you having to edit down from so many fine pictures. Anxious to see what David’s thoughts are though.

    Looking forward to meeting everyone in C’ville.

  • Re. JAMES NACHTWEY, I went back to Kozloff book, where he dedicated a chapter to Him and Alex Webb.

    OK, this was written over 15 years ago, and relates uniquely to the field of war photography. I do think that in the same sense that David just told us, James has done much less urgent work, PEACE photography if you will, where conflict, and tension are not overtly present, yet still underlining the subject (Dalai Lama, Thai AIDS hospice, etc…).

    But If that’s Ok, with you, I will share that Kozloff article, not for being authoritative (James’s moral/humanistic compass is given a shortshrift), but as food for thought:

    “…Where death is meted out at short notice during blood feuds and civil wars, where guerillas or anti-insurgents forces are active in the wilds, where firebombs are thrown by hooded youngsters and campesinos are interrogated by army patrols, where graves are dug, bodies uncovered, and families mourn-there N. is likely to be found…..With a clean view.

    He describes lives that are being threatened or have just been taken, and he excels in depicting the choreography of grief. His charnel spectacle, much of it unpresentable on TV, is Goya-esque in subject but not in the clear luminosity of its style.

    The effect sears as much as it chills. In the majority of his images, a nerve-racking intimacy with barbarous conduct or events is objectified by the photographer’s pictorial intelligence. We never find any blur in his work, or any sign of hurry. His deliberate, transparent, and selfless approach makes his images, centered yet radiantly detailed throughout, all the more harrowing for the viewer.

    Further still, their ringling, clinical manner of observance and the brutal scenes of action are at ferocious odds with each other. It is as if a Pre-Raphaelite had visited the slaughterhouse.

    A line by Graham Greene, describing a cockfight in “the lawless roads”, evokes the sensory presence of a N. photo: “it was a matter of seconds and then the beaten bird was lifted up and held downward, until blood came out of the beak, pouring in a thin black stream as if out of a funnel”. here the pitilessness of the contest is enhanced by the vigor and precision of the way it’s described. More than realism, however, is involved in this drive to visualize suffereing flesh. For in making us see as vividly as possible, it also causes us to refelect-on those who are sacrificed for reasons that the images alone can never fully explain.

    I use the word “sacrifice”, mindful of its religious aura, not only becasue G. Greene was reporting on the 1930s mexican repression of Catholics, but because N.’s photos sometimes recall certain motifs of Catholic iconography-the deposition from the Cross (embodied by a wounded contra) or, in another example, the Entombment of Christ (recalled by the funeral of a Tamil fisherman).

    This photographer has no trouble recasting his players according to his and our knowledge of sacred drama. But the significance of the torment is not clarified, only exalted by the spiritual reference. N. is ambiguous, indeed, when it comes to moral questions closer at hand. he takes pictures at the time of a rise in the blight of religious fundamentalism, and the appalling strife it causes is crystallized through his lens with a disturbingly neutral clarity….

    …. Whatever N’s politics, they are masked by a stringent professionalism. The vehemence and passion of battle, even the force of ideology, seem, in his eyes, to be the products of nature rather than society. For that reason, it is difficult to imagine him subscribing to Capa’s hope to be put out of business by the end of the war. Lacking stakes in any combat, N. wants only to render its efforts as brilliantly as he can (using the monumentality of W. Eugene Smith augmented with strong colors). He teaches that suffering is not so much cruel as indiscriminate and endless, a lesson that decreases it meaning. He can be accused of a narrow focus and an unreflective temper. Certainly, he is a secular artist who exploits spiritual metaphors, regardless of their pertinence-N.s awareness of what contras do does not stop him from giving them a noble mien at prayer.

    Yet, for all its calculated symbolism, he deals with actual tragedies ans profundly existential themese. A man in Belfast splashes a burning ruck with a pail of water. It is just a micro-second in which the sparkle and lace of the flung water is suspended against a pall of white smoke. But it is enough to see that he will wet himself more than the blaze-and that a protest against destruction is ludicrous.

    3 little Salvadorian girls shield theri faces from the dust kicked up by a helicopter evacuating wounded soldiery. The delicate pink and lilac of the girls Saint’s Day dresses contrasts with the vengeful insect of a machine. as the conecpt of innocence contrats with evil. N’s readings strike us not just in their simplicity but in the way simplicity epitomizes a continous discrepancy of forces…

    DEEDS OF WAR opens with…..and ultimately ends with the training of kids or young soldiers in warfare. this last section is remarkable. Only after his treatments of the effects of aggression does the photographer depict the its causes. yet even here the topic is thought of as more a natural than a social process. Everyone is braced or knocked down by the ideologies of hate, which are as irresistible as the force of the elements…”

    Max Kozloff in
    “lone visions-crowded frames-essays on photography”.

  • “and our vision of the world as it comes roaring up to our front door…” Wonderful.

  • David –

    A question about “deliberate” v. “loose”. They seem to contradict each other to me — but do they? You write much about getting loose, but one of the very striking things about Nachtwey’s work is its deliberation. It’s what rattles me the most, makes me look and look again and then look some more.

    As in the passage posted by Herve — “no blur”, “calculated” and “deliberate” — even “clinical” though I really disagree there, as I think of clinical as cold and the images are anything but.

    Are these two different animals, necessarily? What am I not getting?



    Mate, this is looking good!
    I can see your problem with finding an opener. It’s very difficult without an elevated vantage point. For my money #5 has strength with the central element of the guy on a bike. I like the whimsy in #12 (but dont ya just wish both his feet where off the ground). I don’t think its an opener though.
    In your final edit I agree with others that #5 is a bit obvious and a very similar image to #4 so maybe one of these could go.
    #14 is difficult, it’s a cool image although it doesn’t really tell me anything about the story. I can’t tell its in a cemetery, so maybe despite the fact its a good pic it could go.
    Man, editing is a killer


  • James Chance, there’s a book there. Yum!

  • david alan harvey


    please please e-mail Michael Courvoisier immediately

    we need your pictures….maybe 30??? only will use 8-10…take the edit i did and cut down a bit, then add your other favorites….then i will cut really tight, but run it by you before i lock it down so that you may approve or otherwise…..CHAT WITH MIKE BEFORE YOU SEND PICS

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey



    i just found out that you have not sent your work to Mike or your music choice….you evidently did not copy Mike the pictures that you sent to me…somehow , unkown to me til now, you and Mike have not been in touch…

    PLEASE PLEASE contact him now…

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    i had you in for BKK construction, but maybe you would prefer cemetery?? i not looked at cemetery as potential show yet, but i will if you prefer it to BKK…it does have the advantage also in having come from an assignment here, although any of my workshops are the same procedure as you well know..

    peace, david

  • david alan harvey


    street photography can be deliberate and an 8×10 landscape can be loose….but, generally it is the other way around….

    Jim does neither…but i would say he is extremely deliberate and controlled from an aesthetic stand point..and in his life as well..

    Jim is not loose..I am sure you can see that in his work and in his demeanor…

    Paolo Pellegrin is loose…same subjects, different approach…

    how do you like Paolo???

    cheers, david

  • David,

    I’m sorry, I had no idea I was meant to send them to Mike too! You only asked me to send them to you. Not a problem though. I’m on the net now and shall send the images through to him in the next hour.


  • ok… I just read the post…
    I will email mike as soon as I can..

  • DAVID, ALL..


    Here is a link to 19 pictures. That can change in the next days. I’m still shooting.

  • David,

    Okay, panic over! Have been in contact with Mike and have sent him the selection of my new images to him. He hasn’t confirmed he has received yet but I know it’s late over there in the States now. You may need to tell him which ones you want to include in the presentation.

    Music is on the way too.


  • david alan harvey


    please contact Michael soonest…

    you will need probably 20-30 to choose from…

    my question to you is this…your started “Hometown” in color…now you have gone to b&w…do you want to go only with black & white….or mix?? right now you seem to have way more b&w than color, so maybe it would not work..

    your thoughts…

    cheers, david

  • David,

    Well, Paolo…Amazing. It’s just such a different approach. Paolo writes on his Magnum page, “I’m more interested in a photography that is ‘unfinished’ – a photography that is suggestive and can trigger a conversation or dialogue. There are pictures that are closed, finished, to which there is no way in.”

    This is NOT what I get from Nachtwey’s work. I view his images as more “finished” — and at least as equally thought provoking, as they stop me in my tracks, and see more each time I look at them. Both have such impact.

    Nachtwey’s work – though I’ve read others refer to it as extremely composed and “finished” — still has “a way in.” My favorite images of his have some very universal, human, immediately recognizable element, that allows a way into into a foreign environment: a pillow propped up in such a familiar way, on a bed in a room where the fighter shoots from a window; or a wedding ring hanging from a chain around the neck of the person throwing the molotov cocktail. The touch of the father’s hand on the child, the mother’s gaze at her baby, the look of the ill person gazing out the window where the curtain flutters in the wind. While the overall scene may be very formal and not familiar, that one certain element is recognizable and universal.

    NOT loose. At least, it doesn’t strike me that way. But does “loose” play a part in getting him there? Or maybe not at all.

    It’s the difference between Monet in the years in which he was going blind, those bold wild strokes of impression, and the very controlled composition and color palette of Caravaggio. Both haunt me, for reasons that I probably cannot even articulate.


  • david alan harvey


    you have articulated very well….

    cheers, david

    “loose” as in shooting style, not behavior pattern..

  • david alan harvey

    Jean Sébastian…

    well, i know you are working very hard…and you have some nice “street shooting” going…

    but, i think you have to go deeper…you are shooting people of mixed heritage on the street, but we are not seeing any real interaction…you need to spend time with a couple for instance…just having mixed heritage people walking down the street or juxtaposed with architecture etc. will not give us any emotional value at all….

    now, for many subjects this might be enough as in Aleksander’s Bus Ride, but your essay is different..or, at least you presented it as different in your proposal…the first thing you mentioned was your own family’s mixed heritage…what about them?? or anyone with whom you may become “close”….think think

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    yes, my fault for not being more specific….

    thanks for the rally!!


    ok, good….

  • In contact with Mike…!
    Thanks to Mike and then to spotlight… i found “Fetch.dmg”..
    Little Fetch-doggie running as we speak…
    delivering photos … to N.Y.
    One of the happiest times of my life…
    trying to licence a song and then ,
    please, let’s meet in C’ville
    FIRST , we take Manhattan…
    then we take C/ville..
    tension over

  • … but i keep on shooting…
    i need to get jobs, survive…
    let’s not fool ourselves, we need to eat…

    but i keep shooting…
    i don’t want to lose Marcin… from being a fan…!
    I can’t wait to see your work MARCIN…
    after all … i still think you’re the MAN…!

    i keep shooting…
    and my friend Herve KEEPS TALKING !!!

  • Panos,

    Im really surprised at your metamorphosis..not the shooting thing but your personality..from attacker I couldnt stand to a good part of this little community.

    Cant wait to see the slideshow, when will Michael post it? RIGHT after its shown at Look3 or a bit later? I hope that includes the audio too:)

  • James Chance, hope you don’t mind me commenting on the links you put up. I just found this site yesterday. So, my opinion isn’t worth much. Anyway…

    Great work!

    This isn’t the type of work I do so I’m no expert but I think 14 and 15 are fantastic!!! WOW! Love the use of shadows.

    Overall I really like your edit.

    Perhaps it is just me but the use of the slight angle started to bother me at 10, 11 and, 12. Maybe it was the three of them in a row or perhaps it is just me.

    Anyway, great work.


  • Rafal,
    as you know… already ,
    David recognized me as an “O.A”… kinda like OG…
    but not really… ” original attacker”…!
    And HE is right…!
    And YOU were right…!
    And ” mooncruiserraisingmontechristosomethingmajor”
    which of course is “ONE” face, and we all know …
    IS right…

    I was an ( O.A )- ( original attacker )…
    BUT i’m happy that i chose to fight with YOU
    ( A REAL MAN ).. that kicked my ASS…

    because you were the VERY FIRST BY FAR to be asked for photos
    from DAH… you were RIGHT ON… BORN FOR THAT RACE…

    … i also chose to “fight” with MICHAEL K…!

    but with “monteanonymousboschcristos”…. i’m not
    wasting any more time…

    so, RAFAL…



  • and my friend Herve KEEPS TALKING !!!

    More like typing. It took me 30 minutes to type that Kozloff text. I hope some liked it… Otherwise, Mai pen rai!


  • Spoken like a gentlemen Panos. You annoyed the hell our of me at the beginning; I thought, “who is this guy taking over Mr. Harvey’s forum?” I come to learn and be inspired and your language and images did neither. But now the place just wouldn’t be the same without you. Plus your latest work does inspire; those of us who have watched your shooting style develop from your interaction with DAH can feel really that anything is possible if we just keep shooting and keep trying and keep believing in ourselves as much as Panos does.

  • Thank YOU ,

  • Yoe’re welcome. I think Tokyo would suit your energy. If you ever get here give me a call.

  • I’m looking through your pictures Damon…
    I will go to sleep…
    I will tell you in the morning,,, your afternoon..
    you’re ALWAYS ahead…
    aren’t YOU , Damon…!


    Thanks for you interest. The project was shot in Manila, Philippines. There are basically two types of people living in the cemetery: caretakers and squatters. The caretakers are paid to maintain a mausoleum (or group of). They keep the place clean and make sure that it is protected from vandals and thief’s. However they also utilize the space of the structure to make a home.

    The squatters live above stacked tombs which form the exterior walls of the cemetery. They have made their own homes and generally don’t live inside the mausoleums. They often make money by carrying coffins to the tombs. People are mainly living there due to poverty and overcrowding in the city. Yes, I would say most people are religious especially the caretakers who have more money and security than the squatters. I am currently working on a multimedia piece which will explain all this in more detail. I’ll let the group know when it is finished (hopefully in the next few days!).



    Thanks mate, appreciate you throwing a few suggestions out there. Yeah, there is a lot of stuff to go through, and of course we always get personally attached to certain images which aren’t necessarily the best, or right for the piece. This is why I always relish hearing the opinions of others. I do agree with you on 30 and 31 from the “extras” set, These were in the final edit right up to the last minute then got cut. I think 30 may have to go back as it illustrates well the situation that the squatters are living in well, right on top of the tombs! Jumping back to your thoughts on my main edit, I think it is important to keep the shot of the guy washing between the tombs. Its such a surreal shot and, at least to me, really says “living” there.

    Thanks again for your input, I hope to get this finished by the end of the week (yikes!) so we will see how things go.


    I agree with you for shot 2 from the overall/intro set. I think that one will stay. Still a bit frustrated I couldn’t get a better one though… Oh well! The basketball shot (not in the edit has been mentioned a couple of times. Do people feel this should make the cut??


    Yeah, Bugger off!! ;) No seriously. I do remember you bringing this one up before. I usually shoot colour, and went into this expecting to do so again. But the place is soo grey and muted, I just felt it couldn’t work. Another reason is that I had very few days with decent light. The rainy season came in early so almost all of the afternoons were overcast. Not sure if you were referring to this particular project “Tell me to bug off but I remembered your photos in….Color!!!” or my work in general , but this had been shot in b+w from day one. I guess I could show some in colour if folks are interested?…

    I think I could loose #12 from the edit, esp. as 13 is stronger. I do like the mirror shot though, I know the mirror can be a cliche, but a like the boys pose/stance. I feel it is important to have a funeral shot as there are up to 80 a day and it is such a part of the cemetery. Open to others suggestions on this though… 16&19: could definitely get 19 back in there, it was in the final cut for a long time. Kind of so-so on 16 though.

    Cheers for your comments Herve!!

    (Young) TOM:

    How are you my friend!? Cheers for you kind comments. I feel I need to stick with the opener as it is… This has been the real problem area for this essay. It is really important to try and show some of the size/density of the place, #5 or #12 just don’t do that. So you like 16 too huh?… hmmm I dunno, just seems like an easy shot to me, good emotion though I guess, and it is VERY important that I show some smiles and happiness in the cemetery as it really isn’t as desperate as it first sounds. Yes for 31, Anton brought this up too, I think it will go back in.


    Good to hear from you chap! Yep editing can be a real biatch! I have to say that I feel #5 to be strong in the fact that it illustrates well the folks living amongst the funerals… This funeral was right on this woman’s doorstep so she’s just hanging out as usual, while someone is buried and a family mourns beneath her. I love the way that the concrete divides the frame down the middle. Us and them kind of thing. You are right about 14, it says nothing “cemetery” but I do like the shot, its one of my faves in fact. With this whole project I have struggled a little bit with editing more loose, aesthetic images against needing to tell a story (more straight doco). I hope to find a happy combination of the two (if that works!!)


    Appreciate that comment, I do get a bit wonky sometimes… could split them up like you say, but may well loose 12 entirely.

    Finally…. DAVID

    In touch with Mike and have sent the files through. I had always thought you were talking about this (cemetery) project for Look3, BKK construction was never mentioned… Anyways, I think I would prefer to have this one used anyway. My only concern is that I don’t have the final, final edit yet. Of course I still want to show though!!! Perhaps it could be shown as a work in progress??

    I’m EST +11 right now and a ways from net so I gave Mike my cell # in case anything needs sorting out quickly, just send a text through. Your requested edit is in though, and awaits you on your server.



  • James Chance :))

    i left you a comment on cemetary a few posts back (random, stop, assignment, i cant remember)…it’s an extraordinarily strong and poignant story and for me it’s virtual and it’s compelling beauty (besides the strength of the photography) is that it (at least for me) is entirely new. though i’ve seen folk live among the dead and burried before, but somehow, somehow this all seems incredibly new to me…

    i won’t offer any comments about specific picture or editing (let the others weigh in on that), but i will offer this thought: as a viewer (not only as a photographer):

    there are also many gorgeous and compelling photographs in your “other 30”, and i think it wouldn’t hurt to reconsider them…for me, the mark of a brilliant and challenging story is not ONLY the pictures that tell me the context (cemetary life, graves, the dead, the squalor) but EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT that the pics do not always have to be specific to the cemetary but about the fullness of their lives…the sorrow/poverty, but their JOY of living too (odd as they may sound)…give us the “odd” photo(s) which seems less about the cemetary and more about the universality of living: and you’ve got those in your 30 too :))…above, always the specifics of a given context/place/circumstance, are all the details of the univeral human story: if you choose 15 great pics (put the idea of the cemetary out of your mind), which would you choose? ;)))))…it’s a great assignment/project and i look forward to seeing the final edit…

    all the best


  • UNCLE – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the work you produced in Cambodia it took a little finding ,but there it is
    I was thinking about a time when I was in Northern Pakistan , Peshawar on the Afghan border, it was November 2001 and the USAF had started making their bombing runs over the mountains that hid the remnants of the Taliban , we got word that the first civilian casualties were coming over the border to hospital , like good little journos we trotted down and waited, soon the ambulances came and we started to feed the machine – But there was this one guy , he and I were the same age , he was a farmer , his name was Reza , he didn’t even see the explosion that crippled him , all he heard was a loud bang on the other side of the valley and he ran out of his house to be cut down by a great big clod of earth – not a scratch on him but a bruise the size of a football at the base of his spine ,no movement in his legs , no feeling.
    “I am a farmer , and now I have no legs ” he said
    “What am I to do?”
    Guilty , shamed ,deadlines to meet , have to make the 2nd edition.
    What’s the point?
    I met the pilot of a B2 bomber a few years ago and told him this story , he volunteered that he was flying over Afghanistan at that time and really didn’t know how to deal with anything like that.
    What’s the point?
    Take pictures and try to piss someone off , move them , inspire , inform to do something!
    I met Jim N once and he gave me a very valuable lesson , I was cranky , pissed in a crowd of folks who were not so friendly and saw this shaved headed guy slipping into the space where I had just been after I got out for a breather ,I grabbed his shoulder and the guy turns and looks at me , eyeballs me and says” Whatever is going on in your head at the moment, I am not your problem”
    Hammer between the eyes! Talk about turning the lights on!

  • DAVID:

    I understand that you are busy, so if this is something that you can’t get to now, no worries, I’ll remind you after the Festival.

    When you commented on my site and the Living in the Shadows portfolio you mentioned that there were some “strong images,” but you didn’t specify which ones, so if you could share those with me, I’d appreciate it.

    Here’s the link to my archive, which has a slightly larger selection:


  • marcin łuczkowski

    Hi David

    I thought I have more time. I have to quickly made project of monument for my sick friend. It take me next 3 days, so I could go to my hometown for weekend and I could have more photos on monday 9. But it could be too late.
    Yes it could be only b&w.
    What you think? may I have time to monday?
    If not, I will send my photos tomorrow.
    Give me a note.

    peace (and freedom for tibet)

  • DAVID,

    I understand what you mean. I too often tend to believe that good stories are only made of oppositions, conflicts and contradictions. It is things that I find in the streets where most of the people lives separately. For that, I just have to go out.

    Maybe, it is time to go in, to be more personnaly involve. I’m going to oriente the next shots on my family (my two metis daughter, their white Grandparents, my black wife, and even me if I can). A little bit afraid. I’m usualy a distant guy who fights against himself. It will be a completely new thing for me, but also exciting. I’m starting today. I’m still learning. Thanks.

  • Jean, I’m also endeavoring to bring a little more personal intimacy into my work. Perhaps we should compare notes from time to time.

    Good luck. Be brave and go crazy. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. I certainly have.

  • david alan harvey


    you are under no pressure to make more photos for your assignment right now…i just wanted to see an edit to see if it worked for Look3…if it works it works, if not no problem…Look3 has nothing to do with your overall “Hometown” work for publication here…and all of the people who will be at Look3 will see your final edited version of “Hometown” anyway…

    so, if you have a tight edit of this work so far fine….if not, fine….your choice…

    Jean Sébastian…

    yes, this is totally a learning experience and is the exact learning scenario i give in my workshops…just slower!!!

    ok good, you have the right attitude and energy…

    we will all wait to see where you go with this….

    just remember…enjoy it…live it..breathe it….

    peace, david

  • david alan harvey


    i really cannot edit your work right now..i am in over my head ….please be patient and i will do it right after the workshop…stay on my case!!!!

    you should try to do it first anyway…what do you think are your 6 best???

    thanks for your patience…

    cheers, david

  • david alan harvey


    right on…perfect!!!

    i am sure you have noticed that i treat different photographers in different ways…prod some, let some go free, be specific with others….it all depends on who they ARE….

    cheers, david

  • david:

    james never answered my question, but you are equally capable of responding, and since it seems like you are responding to posts at this very moment………how about it? :)

    [original post excerpted below]


    i recently left the law to become a photographer, a career switch i wouldn’t wish upon my worse enemy. since i am so green, i tend to think about my photo career in realistic stages: first i’ll get some local work, then maybe a regional newspaper, then perhaps some magazine assignments, and so on.

    but part of me thinks that this approach is a waste of time. if i have a great story idea shouldn’t i just go take the pictures and worry about making something of them afterwards? if they are good and the story is important shouldnt everything just take care of itself later? but how can funding and access issues take care of themselves afterwards?

    to put my question in context, i have a story idea about the “arctic bridge” between murmansk, russia and churchill, canada that i really want to make work. unfortunately, i havent been unable to get funding or access for this project, probably because i am freelance and so new to photography.

    btw, i look through your chechnya work at least once a day :)

    dave root

  • James, I realize you & David are working together on your final edit for Look3, but just want to say how much this series means to me. It has stayed with me since looking at all 3 sets of images yesterday. I wanted to sit with it before giving my feedback. I wanted to see which images stuck with me. I’ve found the ones that showed the fullness of life are the ones I hold close. The woman sitting above looking down on the funeral, the boys playing basketball, all images with people carrying water containers (such a reality of life there!), the people playing bingo, the kids laughing, the man bathing, the little girl watching TV, even the man’s ID card with the address as the cemetery. I also relate to #12 that shows so well the multi-layered sense of life and death in this extraordinary place.

    You have found a very powerful story, one that needs to be told. These folks have been invisible for too long. My heartfelt gratitude & congratulations. And yes, I also see a book as this develops.


  • david alan harvey


    i have been looking at some of the links set up under “student work/workshops”…whoever came up with that idea came up with a good idea…it works…i will comment soonest on some of the new links and new photogs we have not seen before…

    for those of you who have not put your link into this “new space’, please do so…

    please please please do not be disappointed if you are not part of the Look3 show…some of my very best friends are not in the show, and some photogs i have never met are in the show…

    so it is not about who brought an apple for the teacher!!! i just have to make the most balanced and provocative show i can make…

    will it be perfect?? no…..will i have missed something? yes….

    i can only do the best i can under the most difficult of editing circumstances…putting together a slide show after one of my week long workshops is hard enough and takes mike and i all day, and that is with everyone right there in the same room to help and edit…doing it online is a bit crazy, but i will make it as strong as possible…

    for those of you not in this show , there will be others….what is happening here is the same thing that does happen in a the “last minute”, so many people have come in with amazing work..there is something to be said for a gentle “pressure”…

    speaking of pressure, i must go….i am shooting for two projects, moving, unpacking boxes, and trying to set up for Look3…but, i will “get by with a little help from my friends”..

    many many thanks to all of you…something special is happening…i hope you all feel it…

    abrazos, david

  • Oh we feel it alright. No doubt about it. Whatever you do, take care of your health and pace yourself. Don’t overdo it. I only met you once, David, but that was my first impression, that you are the type of man that just pushes and pushes. My dad is the same. In fact, I’m the same. Fast metabolism, always always going going. Just mind yourself, is all.

  • david alan harvey


    sorry , i forgot something….

    i will post soonest the names of all those who will be in the Look3 show…and also all of the names of those who are doing assignments right now…the original list has changed a bit due to the schedules of some photographers…

    again, Look3 has to be a priority for me right now..i have to focus to do a good job…but , in the long run we will move away from this temporary priority and all of us here will put our attentions elsewhere..perspective, perspective….

  • David,

    Michael should have everything from me now, music and photos. If there is anything else I can do to help out, just let me know. Good luck on preparing the show!

    Am really looking forward to Look3 and can’t wait to catch up.

    Have just finished watching a great video that I think you should all see. It is a presentation by the late, great Philip Jones Griffiths that he gave at the Frontline club in London before he sadly passed away. He, along with James Nachtwey, is one of the greats in war photography and should be an inspiration for all of us. Please enjoy.

  • david alan harvey


    thanks amigo…

    my mother just said the same thing to me on the phone!!! meanwhile , she is an 86 yr old ball of fire who does not stop!! takes one to know one…

    hey, i am having fun fun fun…the time of my life….all that is happening now are projects that i have created…

    this is the “positive stress” that is , i think, very healthy….

    cheers, david

  • david,

    i have been in and out this week working on projects. i would love to share what i am doing with you at look. anyways i read all the way through the threads and see what a conversation i missed… but i missed it because of shooting. thanks for inviting jim to this blog for live conversation. it was great. will you be having anyone else on for live discussion? i think its really effective.

    take care and don’t go too far into overdrive!

    special things are happening for sure!


  • Almost 2 hours, will get back to it, but Sean, thanks a damned lot for the PJG video…

    I read a comment or 2 on Charlie’s cemetary people. I do not think the subject is about poverty, or invisibility, ie wrteched life in the midst of misery. But,as I see it, life (joy, pain, bordeom, children playing, TV, old young, etc….), inside a place of death.

    It is not about people who had no choice but to work in such “depressing” environment to make a dire living, in a way that should grip us. That to me is again “1st world” ethno-centric commiseration towards the 3r world, a cultural industry that feeds on perceptions, rarely on experience.

    It is a cliche, but a true one, death in the asian psyche, is not separated from life, ie. not morbid (It is not an opinion, a thought, a realization arrived at individually, but part of the culture, the unspoken age-old philosophy of life).

    I would think that would be a wrong misreading of Charlie’s essay to think “having to work/live in a cemetary to eke a living, or have aplace to sleep, what a life!”.

    Likewise, starving and intense suffering do, but poverty has never been an impediment to enjoy your life and even celebrate it in any south east asian country I stayed in (never the Phillipines, so maybe Charlie, tell me if I err).

    They are just not “making do”, they can live as intensely, as meaningfully, if not more, as anyone fo us who think we have it all in the West.

    They are (joy, poverty) actually unrelated . Anyone who went to Burma can attest to that. In the west, joy is just a word, happy-happy, feeling good, laughing. In South east Asia, India too, I find it is often borne out of resilience and knowledge.

    There is a philosophical/cultural foundation to it, that pervades much of the waking hours and activities. And being pervasive, you realize it is not such an individual feeling,as we feel it in the West, but a very collective, esily shared one.

    What does it have to do with Charlie’s cememtary? Well, there is nothing substracted from these people he shot, not human beings with less hope, with less money, with less joy, but on the contray all additional. Out of death, out of poverty, came life, and more life, and more joy, and pain itself is followed by joy, and both are understood as being together, not contrary to each other.

    Prevert comes close to that life philosophy in his:


    Our Father who art in heaven
    Stay there
    And we’ll stay here on earth
    Which is sometimes so pretty
    With its mysteries of New York
    And its mysteries of Paris
    At least as good as that of the Trinity
    With its little canal at Ourcq
    Its great wall of China
    Its river at Morlaix
    Its candy canes
    With its Pacific Ocean
    And its two basins in the Tuileries
    With its good children and bad people
    With all the wonders of the world
    Which are here
    Simply on the earth
    Offered to everyone
    Strewn about
    Wondering at the wonder of themselves
    And daring not avow it
    As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself
    With the world’s outrageous misfortunes
    Which are legion
    With legionaries
    With torturers
    With the masters of this world
    The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops
    With the seasons
    With the years
    With the pretty girls and with the old bastards
    With the straw of misery rotting in the steel of cannons.

  • david alan harvey


    lance, where is your material??? do not know if i can use it or not, but want to take one more look….

    james, i would like to see bkk piece also..sorry for the trouble….

    marcin…mike says he waiting for you too….

    again, do not break your back over this….but, i just want to make sure i am not missing anything that you either want included or want to show me….

    cheers, david

  • marcin Łuczkowski


    I have crazy time now. Too many work in very short time. I will send my photos tomorrow. 100% sure tomorrow, for you middle of a day.


  • David–

    Yes we can feel it! One of the many reasons we are all here and excited to get to LOOK3.

    I had a looksie at the older posts so I don’t re-ask questions already covered and just wanted to offer a guest room if you need it here in California on your Road Trip.

    My self portrait is taking a life of its own… Two parts — a sort of ying and yang –East meets West set in BKK and West. Am still editing BKK and have been shooting West. Sound like what you were thinking?


  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Herve. It’s true, pity for the “poor, the downtrodden, the miserable” never accomplishes a thing, in fact it generally serves to screw things up royally. The most truly joy-filled persons I’ve ever known have been those whom “society” deems lesser than, poor and miserable. I’ve also known those who were made bitter by the experience.

    That being said, every one of those individuals, be they refugees from countries where they & those they loved had suffered war and/or torture–I used to work with such folks–or the poorest of the poor in inner city Detroit–I used to be like family to many such folks–I never met one who would not have chosen a different life for themselves and their families. Yes, people can make the most of impossible situations but that doesn’t mean we or they WANT to live that way.

    IMHO it is not a 1st world euro-centric attitude to want EVERYONE to have access to fresh clean water, live in homes that protect them from the elements, have work that is meaningful & satisfies their wants & needs, be able to send their kids to school so they can have the opportunities that they deserve, have access to good health care & proper sanitation, be able to eat good nutritious meals, etc. None of this has to look like what I as a Westerner would expect. Indigenous cultures have their own ways of doing things, often more human and earth friendly than ours.

    I’d be interested to hear what James has to say about this, since he’s the one who knows the cemetery dwellers personally. Particularly, I’d be interested to hear their answer to the question: If you could live elsewhere, in a way where you and your family didn’t have to struggle so much for day-to-day survival, would you want to do so?

    Thanks so opening up this discussion, Herve. It’s an important one. Especially for us photographers who might find ourselves doing photo essays on people like those in the cemetery where James is shooting. As we’ve so often said, nothing is objective and our attitudes will shape how we tell someone else’s story. Becoming AWARE of our attitudes is the first step to changing them.


    I have been battling through the red tape with my project, and as to your wise words, access has been difficult, but its slowly coming together. I have been working with the PR people and have submitted proposals and project over views for access to do ride alongs with the Baltimore Police, Shock Trauma (ER for gun/stab victims) and in the Baltimore Prinsons. None have yet to confirm access, but I am feeling positive. The Baltimore PD is the closest to finalizing, I just need final approval for my requested dates.

    I am also working on access into the communities that are most riddled with violence and gang activity, but I am taking this step slow. I have created an out line of what I want to cover and I really am just going down the list, chipping away, building contacts and knowledge.

    I think that this is a long term project and I am really putting my heart into this so I am confident to say that a month will not be sufficient time. I have taken the month of June off to dedicate to this and get the ball rolling. I have a big vision for this and I want it done right. If you would like to extend and “assignment” to someone else for this month feel free too. I will continue to work on this and put it together as this has seeped into my blood and will not go away until its finished, maybe not even then. If you have any questions let me know.


  • JAMES,

    I took a look at your edit and I was thinking about your opener…. I went looking for an image that could give the viewer, the who, what where if you will. The images from a higher vantage point, looking down on the cemetary with people randomly placed does not give me a sense that they live there. It just lets me know that there are people there, possibly visiting or passing through. So for now, I am thinking of image #11 from the first gallery you posted because it gives me a sense of what the story is about. Maybe an image from the high vantage point will serve better later in the story. Just my thoughts, I will revisit them though.

  • Hi David,

    Always is a pleasure reading your blog.
    Please say hi to Jim for me from his last intern.


  • James Chance, and Charlie, apologies a thousand times, for mixing up your names about the cemetary essay…

    Patricia, than you for your reply. I did not say they are content with what they have, but with each day that life brings, ie. independantly from their situation. of course, there are all kind of nuances we, even they, could bring into.

    And Just like in Thailand, I am sure that with economic progress, some of that soulfulness will be lost to material well-being and spirit of competitiveness, ie. individuation.

    On the side of this, i have been wondering lately if education always means westernization (ideas carried by/thru the West). I think so, save the usual exceotions to the rule.

    James, again, sorry for my hiatus.

  • David wrote: " 'loose' as in shooting style, not behavior pattern.."

    laughing….I wouldn't presume otherwise. At least not till we see you both dance.


  • David,
    sent a link to you and Michael some hours ago…hope you received it.

  • check this out, just hopping around the shere and stopped for a visit at, and read a really vexing post, who’s source came from wecantpaint blog.
    talk about photo snobbery, this takes the biscuit.
    an assault on street photography, whatever “street photography” actually is. supposedly wecantpait is a blog that JM gives credence to, but to me it just seems like mediocre filler that fits just fine within the scope of Jorge’s supercilious and condescending tone. I dont know how some of these douche bags get where they are with their trite hoity-toity attitudes.
    further more, wecantpaint ends on a giant big suck right up Soth’s butthole.
    “i hate street photography but I worship you Alec”
    fucking douche bag, hate street photography but love Soth.
    fucking clueless.
    I hate ass kissing brown nosers.
    must have a lot of time on your hands to try and stir the pot like that sunshine. somebody with the right connection should give our freind a bucket of paint and a brush and set him to work.
    funny though, after all his lame beef, dude comes out saying, “i must admit that I do love winogrand”
    anyway, just something for the homies to have a looksee at.
    few more black marks for wra from the photosnobs?
    hope so.

  • Is it W. Robert Angell? Followed the link to your blog and looked up the profile but didn’t find your name so I’m sorry if I didn’t get it right. I’m new here and have no life so am out surfing around myself.

    Thought you might enjoy the following link.


  • DAVID:

    The BKK work is up on your server as requested. Are you thinking about switching the stories for Look3? Personally i’m thinking I would prefer the Cemetery piece as it is newer, unseen and I believe better (maybe you disagree) I am also hoping to get good exposure for this work (even if not finally edited) as publication is the final part of the jigsaw.

    However, I would like to stress that I am honored to be a part of this and thoroughly trust your judgement. I know you have a shit load on right now, so don’t want to complicate things for you. Whatever you decide. Thanks for including me in this. I hope you will enjoy the week and find some time to relax.

    Cheers to you!


  • not to get on the bitch patrol, but I did try once making contact with Jorge, but I spelt his name wrong, (forgot the E) and I got a really short note back, like I was a fucking stupid “street photographer”.
    I now understand why some of these web/blog turkeys won’t let you post a comment.
    they won’t subject themselves to the common rabble.
    fucking douche bags.

  • click below, smell the reality… for a sec…

    I understand that the REST OF THE WORLD does not realize
    what i’m talking about..


  • Panos,
    you are quite an entertaining character !
    ( …would not have thought so weeks ago…)


    I want to reply to you all personally, but just have no time right now. I do want to say thanks though for your kind comments and opinions. I appreciate it. I will be back in a day or so after settling in a new location and will get back to you then with some replies, and also regarding the questions raised by Herve and Linda O. Not enough hours in the day damn it!!…

    Thanks again!


    and your WORK…

  • PANOS!!!…. But…..Think……:

    Does american suburbia know about the rest of the world? That is ze question!!!

    PS: How about Greece in the Euro (real football). will you be following that?

  • HERVE… gotta go to bed… but…
    you are right .. What does suburbia know??? cares about..?
    Walmart shit !


  • wrobertangell:

    couldnt agree with your MORE about the supercilious (and ironically, heroically narrow understanding about photogaphy and deutsch-centric) temper and tone of Jorge’s blog…I wrote long (go figga) about that blog here months ago too, and Jorge’s mell has been upped as an “interviewer” for Magnum Blog…he’s pointed and exposed lots of great photography, but still just a fraction of what existed, and also mostly slanted toward the painterly/conceptual gig (and im an ex-painter, so u’d think i’d dig it, ummm, not exactly)…

    but, having just returned from our tuesday night 2 1/2 hour meditation and talk with our ‘teacher’, equanimity (something i often fail at ;)) ) calms: empty blather, no need too worry :))

    and i thought i was the only one in the photo world who found much of that blog spurious and (the posts/writing of the blog owner) vapidly depressing…so much for my own equanimity ;))

    all disappears anyway ;))

    with you in strife about that blog..


  • JAMES:

    NO NEED, no worries. the work’s voice sits into my bones…that’s all the thanks/consideration i need…


    p.s. bkk construction is also wonderful (but i’ve told u that and the blog already: blue ghosts and ancestors on the wall, ashes of time, days of being wild ;)) )….


    Can’t wait to see the LOOK slideshow, perhaps it won’t be ‘perfect’ as you say David, but it will be a wonderful example of the beauty of your reach on our behalf..

    RE: Assignment – it’s been good for me to have some time when i haven’t been able to start shooting, as I can see the piece more clearly now..and am excited. Have been doing the groundwork, bought the big camera, and will start soon after the return from LOOK..

    for today, there is JURY DUTY.. pray for my release before LOOK!!!

  • hi folks,

    just been getting up to date on recent activities here… i see something of a romance in the offing…….is this to become the david alan harvey dating network……?!!!!! ;-)

    i guess only time will tell……

    peace to all,


  • WOW! Great work Kathrina!
    It’s amazing how many brilliant photographers I’ve discovered through this blog.


  • Panos, that’s what my story is about. Unemployment, foreclosures, repos, selling luxury item, yard sales, giving up sentimental items to pay bills, doing resourceful things for cash, etc. I’m in the middle of it!

  • “Does American suburbia know about the rest of the world?” That’s a silly question, Herve; of course all of us here in suburbia have heard of such strange and exotic places as Connecticut and New Jersey. I’ve even been to New Jersey a couple of times and liked it there, although there was that one time at the border where they told me my passport wasn’t in order. Once you get past the industrial dead zone along the Hudson, Jersey isnt such a bad place. And real football ended in January with the Patriots losing the Super Bowl to the New York Giants and blowing their perfect season, and yes, Patriot fans, I am rubbing it in big time.

    Erica, you want to get out of jury duty? Tell them you think jaywalkers ought to be executed, preferably in some manner involved piano wire and axle grease. That’ll get you on the list of people they will never, never ever call for jury duty again. It hasnt worked for me yet, but I havent given up hope.

  • I hope you don’t mind me asking a generic question about motivation on this board. It is kind of a long post and question and I hope I’m not being inappropriate in asking.

    I don’t do the type of photography you guys are doing. I did PJ in the far east in the early and mid 80s. Found it wasn’t for me (got too invested in my subjects). My work and passion is mainly controlled studio work. My current (5 years and still going) passion is photographing artists and other photographers.

    I was thinking about wrobertangell’s comment concerning Jorge’s blog. Lots of emotional passion in the comments.

    Over the past few days I’ve looked at a lot of the photography from you guys. WOW, some great work you guys have, and some work that I think shows passion. Probably why I keep coming back.

    I’m thinking about passion in photography a lot lately. Does the photographers passion translate to the viewer? I noticed, for me, some of the subjects in your guys work show an emotional passion. Even if the photographs aren’t technically perfect there is an energy and connectedness you get from looking at the work.

    Other work has what I would call an intellectual passion – the photographer wanted to be emotionally connected but for one reason the pictures never have the intimacy.

    That’s how I, as just one viewer, see the work anyway.

    So, my question is: When you pick subject matters for your personal work do you pick something you are emotional about? I mean down right in your gut emotional? Or, do you try to pick subjects you can relate to but don’t get personally attached to?

    Also, do you think that being too close, emotionally, to your subjects makes the photos better or worse? I can see where a photographer who cares deeply about a subject might actually make photographs that seem detached, or more voyeuristic, not connected because you are “protecting” the subject.

    Does raw emotion influence your subject matter and your photographs, for better or worse?

    It seems to me that Nachtwey’s work is full of emotional passion. From reading this entire q/a it seems like things hit him and it is reflected in the work.

    Again, perhaps this is off base and not following blog etiquette but I’d really like to know.

  • Lucas,

    am at jury duty with a limited connection so I can’t find it for you, but your question is a perfect one and has been discussed somewhat here already..look back at David’s posts, headlines, there is one about being close…

    all the best

  • Lucas, I am not sure if emotionally detached is the right word. It is just, I believe, that there is “work to be done” however you feel or not for the subject, and it acts for thinking clear, or at least making choices that do not always relate to your emotional closeness to the subject.

    I guess we can think of work done by doctors, but also, for example, musicians. They can’t let the music ovetake them, yet, there is rarely any doubt how much feeling the music pervades their playing or conducting.

    For me, it is obvious that James Nachtwey, while he has total empathy for the people in his subject, is nevertheless, very professional with the subject itself.

    There could be a big debate as to where the right inspiration and intuition (to produce the right images, ie. the best work that serves the subject) comes from, when you do the shooting, in the zone, as the expression goes. Rather from emotion, or observation?

    I think observation is best at the moments you click the shutter, the emotion 1 year, 1 month, 5 minutes before. IMO.

  • david alan harvey


    Internet is not connected in my new apartment yet…and I am off shooting families in New York today…no time to check new comments right now will check back in soonest

  • Lucas…

    You just have to be passionate about your photography. Your humanity will show through. Whether you are a PJ or studio photographer; a wildlife photographer or wedding photographer.

    Some people might think they need to go change the world and they then go learn how to be a photographer–I think this is pretense of the highest order. Others just cannot live without the art/craft/skill/vocation (whatever) that is “photography.” All the rest is who you are.

  • LUCAS,

    I don’t have any emotion to most subjects I shoot. I’m not that type of photographer. Sure, I might shoot stuff or people sometimes that I’m close too, but for my personal work not very often. I’m just drawn to certain subjects and sometimes I have an emotion that gets into my pictures or decides what I shoot, but that doesn’t mean I’m close to it.

    I had a look at your website and I think that the “Nudes Noir” series is really interesting. You also have a very unique way of mounting pictures instead of the old boring framing. How do you do it? I might drop an e-mail regarding that.


  • Bob and wrobertangell,

    It seems to me that Colberg’s blog is concerned with a certain fashion of photography popular with a certain “academic” clique… and fashions change…

    But “street” photography has been with us since Niepce made the daguerreotype of that guy getting his shoes shined… and right now, I think, is a great time to be working with the tradition… we have masters to look back on, a reevaluation of work that was done, and overlooked, in the 70’s and 80’s (Kalvar, Wessel, for instance) not to mention some brilliant photographers working right now…

    To dismiss, with a sweep, the universe of “street” photography (and its children, and its grandchildren) by stating “(it) only provide(s) answers instead of questions” simply defines the limit of his ability to understand, fundamentally, the essence of photography. And to glibly dismiss what you don’t understand is the pseudo-intellectual way.

    It would be interesting to see if he would, or even could, expand his opinion with rudimentary argument or actual thought… I don’t see that happening, though. These sorts of blogs are not about thinking photography, but about defining “us” versus “them,” photography is not much more than pretext.

    I’m not going to get too bent about it… I think I’ll just let the pseudos do their thing, and I’ll do mine…

  • BOB,

    Your “TEACHER?”
    Who? What?

    The meditation comment brings light to some previous comments you’ve made here…(can’t recall exactly what at the moment but quotes from Stephen Mitchell, etc…)

    A missing part of the puzzle! :))

  • PIECE of the puzzle is what I meant to say…

  • Bob– Just catching up with the blog and read you’re in Toronto and I’ll be there next week before LOOK3…

  • Hi Lucas
    I think its interesting to note Avedon’s In The American West philosophy, that I thought was so honest, where he states that all he was interested in was the surface. the story that was written on the surface.
    interesting though he did become very close to one of the folks that he photographed, a plain spoken farming dude who inherited his dads ranch and went through all kinds of ups and downs, and according to the book Avedon was deeply affected.

    Hi Mike
    man I would’nt get to bent out of shape over that shit either, but I was floored when I stumbled across it. I think maybe I was a little harsh, but now bob”s saying that colberg is involved with magnum….I mean not to take anything away from the guy, but…wtf what has magnum got to say about that.
    colbergs probably going to want my blood, but how can you back up a statement of, “I dont like street photography” and then , ( if its true, bob are you sure?) wind up conducting interviews for magnum.

  • Colberg involved with Magnum… it seems odd that he’d be invited, and it seems really odd that he’d accept, given his bias. Doesn’t sound like a good idea for him or Magnum.

  • CATHY: :)))

    our teacher is a buddhist teacher: Marina discovered him…..the ideas/thoughts/books/teaching have been with us for a long long time…and we’ve both (who hasn’t) been through some serious shit, beginning as a child, and well, it’s a part of us…she’s a much better student, ’cause i dont have great equanimity (well, actually in real life i do (MIKE B: want to verify? :)) )), but on blogs/web i often sound like an easily angered putz, but well…make sense when u look at my photography? ;)))))…

    LINDA O: tell me more…next week is hectic, but how long/what days…

    WROBERTANGELL: :))…i dont get angry at Jorge’s blog, but it has often made me wince and i find lots of it pretty empty and superficial and, well, dismissive, but others i guess think the same of me…anyway, i find the entire idea of ghettoized/defining photography pretty poor spirited and empty, so i dont go there at all, but occasionally to look at “new” photographers i didn’t know, but i never read what is written…here’s the connection to magnum: but, maybe they don’t know about the “street photography” philosophy…i just ignore, and try to find the good in the poor: the photographers:

    here is his interview for Magnum:

    (i left a comment…i love Branco!) :))

    ok, im now done with my allotted time for web…later y’all



  • hey all…

    sorry to be a bit off topic, but in the previous post i promised another “before” of “BEFORE & AFTER – what a DAH workshop will do to you” :)))

    this one i could name “waking up with Birgit”

    Birgit is the sweetest little girl who got diagnosed with diabetes type 1… incurable… needless to say, that very instant her life and that of her family got turned upside down…

    i tried to make an up close and intimate portrait of her… showing details of her waking up, getting dressed, having breakfast, riding the bike, playing, going to bed… like any other kid…

    the catch being that she has to check her blood sugar level 7 times a day… have an extremely rigid food diet… and self-administer an insuline injection 4 times every day… man she had to grow up fast… yet she is full of life, joy, happiness…

    comments, as always, are welcome…


  • Herve, Michael,Martin, and wrobertangell,

    Thanks for your thoughts. Being none of you thought being emotionally passionate about your subjects was all that important. I do have one follow-up question for anyone who wouldn’t mind answering it.

    How do you decide what to photograph?

    For me, I have to photograph some things, it is my job. I HAVE to photograph other things, it is my passion/obsession.

    So, when you start your projects, (Olympic torch, Photographs of DC, etc.) how are you deciding if not though pure emotion and passion?

    A side note: it doesn’t shock me that Avedon didn’t connect to any of the subjects in his American West series. That was a “commission” from the Amon Carter Museum. It really wasn’t a personal project in the true sense of the word. He was asked to do it, got paid his expenses and understood the museum would do a book and show.


    Sitting on the tarmac here at JFK for 90 minutes now waiting for weather to clear in D.C. and reading your blog on my iPhone.

    Honeymoon was excellent beyond words.

    I cannot remember if I asked or if you answered before I left, but now that I am thinking about Look3, I wanted to know if you want me to have the initial photos to show the workshop on a disk or will I just use my laptop. If on a disk, what size and format?

    Thanks again and see you soon.

  • oohhh..

    W Robert / Lucas

    I think it is entirely possible to be, and that Avedon was, emotionally connected/honestly engaged with the surface. I want to write something about this, but am spent at the moment.

  • Hi Lucas
    about Avedon, that makes sense, considering over a four year period he shot over 40,000 sheets of 8×10 and then after selecting the final edit, 700 images or so, destroyed the remaining sheets. I did the math on that, pretty large sum of money, just on the film alone.
    but going to your question, the ideal situation for me is when I can bring the style of photography that I am passionate about, to the particular assignment.
    although I did a small product shoot last week, (which I would’nt mind 2 or 3 of a month), I think of as a nescesary soucre of bread and butter.
    ultimately though, I have no problem turning down an assignment if it does’nt fit the scope of my strengths.
    as for deciding what to photograph, seems like for me its a progression of thought. I have gone through so many ups and downs in photography, I was shooting regularly at american apparel for a few years, doing all their colateral and catalogs, etc, but it fucked me up, Dov Charney had me boxed in pretty good and I got really fed up with photography, you could say I was depressed. did not want to look at a digital camera again. I was so sick of that shit.
    So I found myself for extended periods of time at the downtown library, going through the shelves, its just up the street, thank god. that depression was so important for me in a way. it helped me find what I now value so much in my own personal ideas with photography.
    I think if you ask anyone why they shoot what they do, or what the process is that one goes through in order to access that passion, its probably a different process for each individual, something to do with their life experience?
    anyway that question rests at a pretty deep place for sure.

  • Bob– I’ll be in Toronto next Tuesday thru Friday, then leave for Look3 for the weekend. Are you into films at all? Am there for a film festival…


  • Anton, those were beautifully felt moments you managed to photograph of Brigit. A lovely project. Beautiful, sad and delightful at the same time. She's a brave little girl. You demonstrate a keen awareness of children. I look forward to seeing more.

    Paul Treacy


    American Apparel…those ads and catalogs are quite (what’s the right word…iconic?? notable? famous?…actually don’t know what to call them but they certainly got a lot of press for the company…If you were involved with that, good work…even if you did burn out on it.


    Just got notice that you will be teaching at Julia Dean this Summer/Fall. So I guess you got in touch with them? I was hoping you would be there mid October or later so I could attend but it looks like it will be sooner??? Please give us a heads up…they release the new schedule on Friday. Thanks.

  • Anton,

    I like very much your portrait of this girl Brigit, so strong and so young, there is a lot of sweetness in your images… I wait impatiently for the continuation(suite)!

    I also a lot liked your approach in “Braakland”…


  • How do you decide what to photograph?

    Lucas, I am way behind all of you here. I have no idea what to photograph that would constitute what we called here, intent. For now, I just like to take pictures, and while that is simply not intent, i do not approach anything i shoot frivolously or gratuitously.

    On Avedon, I do not think that if it started as a command, he simply filled it for the money. Not anymore than Balzac’s novels were written merely to pay bills. And if Avedon was not close to his characters, he is hardly the only one. Lately, we mentionned Parr and Cartier-Bresson in that “crowd”. Can be quite conducive to great photography, I’d say! ;-)

  • Herve,

    Your answer to the question “how do you decide what to photograph” is very much like mine. And I agree with wrobertangell that it all is a process that happens in a deep place, different for each individual.

    I’m searching, stumbling…definitely a bit lost at the moment, but I keep looking, and listening here.

  • Hi Cathy
    I stopped shooting for them around three years ago. I have nothing to show for it. it was absolutely meaningless. at the time I thought it had some value, I mean it certainly put food on the table, but so does washing dishes. it was boring as hell, and Dov also is pretty mental.
    I would’nt tag that work with any decency. Dov is good at selling t shirts, and thats what its all about.
    forget loyalty or genuine good heartedness.

  • LUCAS,

    I don’t decide what to photograph very often. Sometimes I do, but not very often. Of course, for commissions I have to, but otherwise not very often. Guess I go out more a street photographer when I feel the urge, but the pics are not classic street pics, but a lot of them are shot in the street.
    So I know when I when I want to shoot, but not what to shoot. That comes to me when I have the camera and I usually shoot very little when I bring the camera, because I don’t like snapping away just because I have the camera. I need to see good pics too.


  • Herve,

    To answer your question How doh you decide what to photograph? I don’t know too much… my meetings, my family, my friends… at the moment, I photograph the persons who surround me… but I would love access my work on “intimist”… reports through a person, to tell the others…


  • Linda O:

    what film festival?…yes, we both are crazy about films…maybe films have meant more to me than photography, and that’s sort of how we see our work (my wife and I) as stilled films…we’ve both made shorts and my wife just did a remarkable short this past december…anyway, our schedule is mad for next couple of weeks, but tell me where you are staying (part of the city) and i’ll talk to Marina and maybe we can meet up for a drink…


  • Hello all,

    I am going to have a small selection of my series ” 15 mn ” (less than 10 images, exposed to the gallery SFR in Arles this summer, it isn’t much, but if you pass in the corner(place), I shall be July 8th there, David will you already be in Arles? Thank you


  • Linda O:

    just saw in NOW that the festival is the World Wide Short festival…are you screening a short? you know the great experimental filmmaker Mike Hoolboom?..he’s our friend, though when he screens his film in TO, there not usuallly a part of this particular festival, which is geared toward mainstream shorts…but it’s a great Fest…ok, as i said, next 2 weeks are very intense for us, but i’ll check…let me know ur schedule and i’ll talk to Marina…


  • Thanks to you both for the opportunity.

    My question:

    Your work eloquently shows the results of war and poverty but as far as i have seen you don’t choose to document the causes or origins of these outrages (as say Robert Fisk confronting missile manufacturers with shards of missile, or i’m also thinking of the juxtapositions of bomb planners with bomb craters in “Vietnam, Inc.”).

    Seeing you speak and reading your writing it seems this can hardly be an unconsidered omission and i’d love to know what your considerations are/were in this regard.


    thank you for the kind feedback… packing for the DAH workshop now, leaving tomorrow… getting close now!

    i will be trying to follow Birgit a lot more, expand the project more, but i might need some help/input on that one. at first i thought i’d expand by number, i.e. follow “seven seemingly perfectly normal little angels”

    “sept anges”

    but maybe this is not the way to go, maybe i should just stick to one (birgit) and dig deeper still…

    what do you think? i think the subject diabetes with children could be quite strong in itself… but on the other hand, i like the possibilities of “little angels” too….

    any of you coming to look3?

    audrey i saw the intimate portraits (your grandfather?) before, i looked at it again, so heartfelt and intimate… beautiful…

    paul i keep on going to your site… waiting for it to launch… almost there i see… you’re killing me :))))


  • Anton

    Birgit…exceptional work

    Looks like you’re really on to something. Terrible illness, but life goes on. Children can seem so fearless and adapt to hardship so quickly sometimes…better than adults. The quality that makes these photos “work” (IMO) is the initimacy.

    I look forward to meeting you in DAH’s workshop. I leave tomorrow as well…can’t wait.

  • ANTON: :))…

    wonderful, heart-felt and absolutely celebratory work (what else can one do when photographing children: their strength, and bravery and equanimity is also an inspiration to me), and it’s keen keen work and not the least bit pedantic, patronizing or sentimental, just celebrating her and her life…would love to see more..

    have fun n charlottesville…breath in deeply from that magnificent hill-country air :))



    On Avedon, In the American West; surface and emotion..

    To give some clarity on the idea that surface and emotion can be bed- mates…This way of working/feeling/being is very close to my heart and I hope that the following will shed some light about the possibility to be connected and emotionally engaged, even when working with the surface, and perhaps to some people’s estimation, somewhat superficially with regard to the amount of actual time/ involvement in another individual’s life.

    Avedon said “In portrait photography you can’t strip away the surface to see the real nature of a person. The surface is all you’ve got. You work with what’s there – what’s waiting to be discovered.”

    It was over 6 consecutive summers that Avedon worked with his assistants and with Laura Wilson to create the 123 photos that were exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum. He photographed 752 people (and some animals) in 17 states, and he used 17,000 sheets of film.

    When he was brought in to discuss the project he was 55, and already at the ‘top of his game’. This was not merely a commission of someone else’s goals, but rather an opportunity for Avedon to complete his “unfinished portrait of America” out of studio. He wanted to show that part of the strength of the nation came from the “hardworking and uncelebrated people”. This was a continuation of one vision, his “exploration of the human condition, its ambiguity and desperation”.

    Avedon was said to possess an acute ability to connect with the people he photographed, knowing the nature of a person intuitively. He favored working with 8×10 camera for this project in part because it allowed for the intimacy of eye contact with his subject, and the white backdrop was to “allow the thrill of the person to come forward”.

    Avedon said, “I’m looking for people who are surprising – heartbreaking – or beautiful in a terrifying way. Beautiful that might scare you to death until you acknowledge it as part of yourself.”

    Though a great number of people were photographed, Avedon connected with many of them personally, going to their homes at the end of a long day. After photographing the miners, he wanted to thank them, that they would know how much their cooperation had meant to him, so he created an exhibition for them of their portraits. This was the first time any of the work was exhibited.

    He worked to create the portrait of the man with the bees over a period of time, making 121 images, until he found what he was looking for, one that spoke to his “understanding of how to endure..”. About the series at large, he said “These are people without a voice. I wanted to learn what we had in common… I photographed what I feared – aging, death and the despair of living.”.

    The printing process took one and a half years, and Avedon rejected a great many of the prints, asking for reprints with directions that were rarely technical, but he spoke about using the printing to convey the intended emotional content.

    Avedon suffered from severe headaches while on the road, and he has said that they were important headaches, allowing him to work things through. “I was expressing my feelings in the only way I could, by taking pictures. It came from within from a desire to make the portraits crucial.”

  • Okay folks, just finished my portfolio. The pictures are big and load fast. Just one gallery. Simple. To the point, I hope. Direct. Would appreciate some feeback. Just a couple linked pages to finish, link and multimedia but otherwise I’m done with it. It’s designed to have a loose flow to it so please stick with it to the end. Like I said, should be nice and fast.

    Dear Cruise Director Harvey, if you’ve got a moment, or would like a quick break for all the heavy prep work for Look3 then please take a gander. I’d love to hear what you thing. It approximates closely with the folio I just submitted to Magnum. Not a chance in hell, most likely, but at least I’ve started.

    Cheers y’all.


  • Sorry about the typing errors. Just going way to fast. I need to go out and run around the block a few times, perhaps.

    Out to continue my project on boyhood shortly.

    I’ll link some pictures later.

  • Here’s the link…

    Anton, some shots of youngsters at my site too. Nothing quite so extraordinary as your sublime images of Brigit though.

  • BOB

    really glad you like them bro… was secretly hoping you would have the time to take a look :))) i have a lot more, my original edit is about 25 images… but i wanted to edit down to ten for david… if you want i can post the original edit, i did kill quite some darlings… i’d love a detailed critique from you… to be honest, this has been the first project that i have completely thrown everything overboard and just went with my gut while shooting… forgetting the camera, trying to connect one hundred percent with her… i don’t know if this is the way to go for an essay, people tell me keeping a distance is better, but my little “me” inside just won’t to give in to that somehow… so i’ve given up trying :))))


    thanks for your kind words… will be looking forward to meeting you at the workshop!!!!! yes it’s absolutely true that children often appear to deal with things in a more straightforward honest way… often unlike us adults… on the other hand, one day she sat me down an just out of the blue said: “anton, i don’t feel happy sometimes”

    man talk about fighting emotions right there and then…

    and five minutes later she’s jumping the trampoline with the kids on the block laughing her head off…


    finally you’re live!!! i so love the humor on your images… i mean… at the second image i was smiling from ear to ear already… i think this must be extraordinary difficult to achieve… respect man… i like them a lot… (speaking of kids, i love the little one pulling up her dress with the dog… and the feet… and the leaf in the dark… so real…)

    ok have to go now…

    packing… flying…

  • Erica, wrobertangell,Martin,Herve

    Thanks for the posts!

    wrobertangell – I’ve been there – the things we don’t do for money.

    I feel somewhat the same way when I’m shooting as what Erica mentioned in her post. It is impossible to get beyond the surface. I may be able to get someone to change the “mask” they are showing me but I work in a formal setting. So, they know they are being photographed. When I take their picture they aren’t living life, they are being photographed. Doesn’t mean I don’t get emotionally connected to some of the people I photograph but it really doesn’t have much to do with the photograph of them.

    Thought perhaps when you all picked subjects in more photo-essay type of work you might get deeper into the subject. They are living life and forgetting you are a photographer.

    That said, now comes the part about picking a subject. I read this post

    and it got me thinking about subject matter, and passion. Passion is a subject I think about often. I got into photography because of a passion to tell a story. Not in the photo-essay style but in my own way.

    I’ve always felt shooting with a purpose, a point-of-view, was important. For my personal work, a passion for the subject matter is important.

    In the Taking Aim post Mr. Harvey asked “do you think “great photographers” choose inherently “great subjects”??” – it was my thought that perhaps they were more passionate about the subjects, because I don’t think they inherently choose “great subjects” but now I’m not so sure.

    Hmmmm… Will have to think about this. Or, perhaps I think too much and should just shut up and shoot.

    Thanks again to all who commented.

  • LUCAS,

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, but I think you may not have understood what I was trying to say. I agree, it is impossible to get beyond surface..but what I am talking about, and /or what I was showing (what I believe) Avedon was talking about, is different from not being able to get BEYOND the surface. Photography is surface..even in images that are vulnerable and honest and exposed and connected and ‘truthful’. I don’t believe that any other way of working (essays, showing people living) will de facto bring you any closer to any “depth” in the subject. Now I’ve lost my train of thought..and I think we agree overall..

  • david alan harvey


    my apologies for not being around, but i am currently in internet hell….the only way i can get on the net is to come out into the hallway of my bldg., go down three flights of stairs and tap into a neighbor’s wifi signal…i now sit with my laptop in the stairway as i write now…believe me,this does not lead to creative thinking!!

    we drive down to Charlottesville, Va. tomorrow night and i am hoping for good internet connect there, but i really have no idea…i never would have imagined just a few years ago how dependent i would become on the net, but i suppose we all think the same thing…

    i am way way behind on your comments…but, i promise to get them all read and respond when appropriate..i do see smatterings of good chat, so keep it going please until i can get a new post up… probably by tomorrow….

    cheers et al, david

  • Good to hear from you DAVID,

    and I look forward to your thoughts on this Avedon/surface/emotion discussion, and you too BOB!!!

    LUCAS, what I mean to say is this: If I am understanding you, you talked about the possibility of one mask being exchanged for another, and the inability to move beyond that. What I am talking about is the idea that all masks can be taken down, and still, you are left with only surface.

  • Erica,

    Yes, that is what I thought he, and you, were saying and I agree. So, yes, I think we agree.

    When you put this line in:

    Avedon said “In portrait photography you can’t strip away the surface to see the real nature of a person. The surface is all you’ve got. You work with what’s there – what’s waiting to be discovered.”

    Guess, I thought that if you worked in a less formal situation you might be able to get inside, but the quote was perfect. You can never get inside – no matter how emotionally connected or intimate we are with the subjects.

  • Erica,

    I guess, I feel there is always a “mask”. But some masks are more superficial then others. I think we even wear internal masks for ourselves. But, I think we are just talking semantics, I say couch, you say sofa.

    My “mask” series is all about how it seems to be that if you put a mask on someones face they un-mask a part of themselves. Parts we don’t normally get to see. Anonymous to the world a different side of their personality gets un-masked. Take the physical mask other face and some virtual mask will go back on.

  • ANTON,

    In my opinion, I think you should dig deeper into her life. So far, we only see images of her, and one with other kids.. What is her family life like, her relationships with her parents or siblings? Does she get upset because she cant eat what the other kids eat? So far most of the images were from the same distance, maybe step back? Does she have to exercise? Are there special things she has to do at school, like see the nurse? What makes her life different, the same? From your edit, I think I would drop the last image, not sure what is going on and her face is really hard to see. Its not as strong as the others…

    keep shooting, the work is looking good.

  • Surface….Well, I think we are talking about all arts here. How you arrange things, words, notes, in a composition, a book or a frame, ie. surface work. the color of a wall behind a subject can lead us into the psychology of an individual or a situation better than trying to get something from their facial expressions.

    The connection does not have to be emotional, sympathetic to the subject to tell us a lot about it. Think Eisendstadt’s portrait of Goebbels clinching his chair like Nosferatu. At the same time, he shot another one a few seconds before or after, where G. smiles, unthreatening, not telling much of anything except Photo-Jourbalitic type “coverage”.
    So, between the 2, is the WORK of a supreme photographer i suspect, not much connected emotionally to the person or the surroundings, but quite aware of the events of the day (rise of nazism), that in itself provide all the emotional connection needed.

    Rafal’s family essays are, IMO, a very good example of surface appearances leading to unveiling intimacy (emotional connection). Which one, exactly, we need not know, it’s good enough in any art for the artist to ask a question, not answer it, lift a veil, and let the imagination do its job.

    That’s why Picasso is so relevant to photography. He never quite gave in to total abstraction, and for realizing that you can’t quite break behind the surface, the mask, distorted it or broke it in pieces. Very elemental struggle with the stubborn surface of things that we can all relate to as we aim our cameras.

    I think if we appreciate what the surface of things, any, can lead us into, that’s all the emotional connection to the world we need have. Picasso at some point in his life, used to draw an apple every morning until a friend (the pianist Rubinstein) asked why he bothered. he went into rage and told him, the apple is never the same, the clouds are never the same, this morning is not like yesterday’s, life never repeats…

    …Neither photography.


  • Anton,

    I am the same opinion as Jonathan, I think that it is necessary to continue your series on Brigit, she is so strong at her young age, I would like connaitre a little more its life I like very much your very tight approach…


    ps: yes, it was my grandfather…

  • ANTON :))…would be my pleasure to write a more detailed comment on the work :))…put up more pics, i’ll try to write something for you this weekend (no time today/tomorrow) :)))…would be a pleasure…

    ERICA, LUCAS AND ALL: very interesting discussion of Surface and enjoyed the discussion about Avedon…yes, will write something…ironically, before bed, i spent time with my beloved Christopher Wilmarth (my favorite contemporary american sculptor, who died ridiculously premature, at his own hands) and 2 of his books…he was also a poet and one of the most poetic and moving writers upon art and his own work i’ve ever encountered…he writes profoundly and provokingly about this issue: imagine, a sculptor using steel and etched glass to work at ideas that are invisible to the surface of things…much like photography: the surface is ALL we have, the Surface is all any of us have and from that we hope (or grope) deeper…so we think p;))…will write surely about this…it’s actually what im writing about with Bones of Time Essay…maybe it will have to wait until then ;))…

    running, no time, no time/


  • those not familiar with Christopher can read a review of his retrospective, 10 years ago, after he’d killed himself…but, if you are interested, i would recommend first looking at his work, sculpture painting and drawing…and if you can find on web, his writing….anyway, here is a review…



    just finished packing… ready to go… travelling light this time for some reason… only the pewtah which i’m writing on now is left to pack… hooked on DAH you might say… :))))

    yes i see what you guys mean… this is a very very “narrow” and “up close” series… it might be good indeed to broaden a little and include her little brother and sister, her parents, grandparents, friends, school, show the bigger picture… her yoga, her swimming, her diet, everyone around her… paint the bigger picture… OMG i realise now there is so much more!!! i’ll think about it!!!!

    in a sense i could view this as a starting point, an introduction to her, with more to come…

    BUT i think i should keep the “tight” intimate approach though, even when broadening the (contextual) horizon… it’s the only way i know how to tell this story…

    thanks for the feedback, this might be the opening i need to make….

    and i’ll see what David’s take is at the workshop :))))

    see you all soon!


  • BOB

    no rush… am on the plane to david’s workshop in a few hours anyway… i think i’ve got internet connection in the place i’m staying… hope so at least…

    here is a “broader” edit of 41… quite some overlapping images, and a firm bias towards “the morning”… i feel that sometimes i need a caption for some images… but i haven’t the time right now…

    following audrey and jonathan, i introduce her little brother (with the red tee), a bit of the living room, the hands of the mother… just a bit more info, but not too much just yet… still thinking…

    hope you enjoy :))))

    and now i REALLY have to get packing… will check in again when in c’ville…

    fly fly…


  • I think Anton has a very strong subject and strong photos.


    thats always the challenge, to from the surface to the depths…especially as the surface is all we have to photograph…I think that to get into the depths and past the surface it takes an investment of time..I dont think one single shot can really do that, but a massing of photographs can add up and reveal something more….the challenge is in editing…you want to show a lot but obviously too much isnt good either.

    With my own family essays obviously there had to be an edit of 10 or so shots for the Look3 show but I always felt that its stronger as a whole (its about 50 shots right now after a bit of an edit last week). Too much overlapping isnt good, its repetitious but I still think you need some repetition.

    Anton I think you could edit that down to 30 and have something really strong. I like the amount of stilllife’s you have of objects important to your daughter, theres a nice balance there between those and shots of her.

    Whats intersting to me is how you say you shot most in the morning….I made a certain choice, or rather it sort of evolved where most of the photos I shot for my Home Sweet Home series were shot at night…it allowed me to really make the flash Im using have a strong effect of giving everything a harsh look. Your light is beautiful, much more gentle than the harshness I was going for and then editing to enhance.

  • Anton– like the “up close” look at Brigit and look forward to seeing more about her life, family… she’s young, but the clenching portrait of her shooting her stomach with the needle was a powerful glimpse and beckons the question how she deals with her lot in life. Very intriguing piece with some well-captured essence of youth despite the struggle.

    Bob– Yes, it’s the Worldwide Short Film Festival. Don’t have a film there this year although have been invited for another purpose. Would like to see your films! Your photography has always made me think of what Stan Brakhage would shoot if he had been a photographer when he was alive.

    Lucas — ALL re: choosing a subject. I can’t imagine when you’re shooting a subject for personal work that anyone would choose something they were not really into. If you’re not into it, how can your work sing or even have a chance to sing? That magic that you can capture… That je ne sais quoi is what grabs the viewer and makes a good picture great. It’s an exchange between you and subject and drives you to keep going to greater levels. But emotion is one thing. Passion is another. Someone can be emotional and completely screw up the shot and that is where the professionalism must come into play. I once heard Jim Nachtwey answer the question on how he deals with emotion. He talked of an early assignment in Nicaragua and the image he needed to make was one of horror where this guy’s body was really… Well it was bad. He didn’t want to make the picture and wrestled with the idea, but then hunkered down, channeled all of his emotion into the frame and made the frame because that was his job and the reason for being there — to show what had happened to the best of his ability. He had such an intense expression when he spoke and repressed emotion in his voice that it was impossible to think he was detached. There is discussion of “surface” here. When I think of “surface” all I can think of is “it didn’t really scratch the surface” or that Hollywood is so “surface” translate shallow. I can’t do any personal projects without having passion. Why bother? There’s too much to do in so little time. No time to waste on things that don’t matter. And what makes it exciting when I’m shooting something that matters to me is the exchange that goes way beyond “surface.” It’s an exchange that can be magical and sometimes touch someone else with the same intensity. I have a picture of Afghan refugees I made years ago. I still remember that moment like it was now. There was nothing “surface” about making the picture or the imprint on my soul that still remains. I still remember the women’s voices, the children’s cries. It reminds me we are all connected whether we know it or not. Find something you are passionate about to shoot, that makes you excited about being alive. That charges you. It will be exciting to see what that is when you decide to post it here!

  • ALL– Need some advise re: website vs. services such as Digital Railroad or Lightstalkers. And if website – HTML or flash or both? Thanks!

  • Linda,
    I recently found JPG Magazine online and their image sharing service looks interesting, allowing viewers to vote on images for the magazine. Check out

    I also think it’s best to have your own site to showcase your work in a personal and professional way. I’d limit the use of Flash to really simple slideshows that are easy to navigate—just make sure navigation is easy and obvious.

  • I’ve added a new story to my very slow-moving essay, if anyone cares to see. See “Resourceful” at this link:

  • ANTON – Brigit’s dream world is delightful and strong and real. I’d love to see more of this or similar. Thank you for sharing.

  • David McG,
    i loved this one:

    not driving, Lakers peeping ..

  • Linda O. – Well, my shooting is so different than the shooting done here I won’t be posting anything. I do “formal” work. It was part of the reason for my initial question. Is it different for people who are interested in more photo-essay type of work. And how do you pick your personal projects. For me, I better be passionate about it because the project will take anywhere from months to years. If I don’t have passion I will run out of steam before finishing the project.

    For me, I have passion about my projects, but everyone knows they are being photographed. As I mentioned, it isn’t like they are living life and I’m there. My subjects are there to have their photograph taken.

    I think the discussion about masks and surface is almost a subset of the passion/emotion question. After thinking about it, I’m not sure there is a disconnect between the surface issue and the emotion one. Photography has it’s limits and one is that all you ever get as the viewer is the surface. Not, what the photographer was feeling or the subject. But at the end all we have is an image.

  • Panos – thanks – ultimately I’ll be editing down to a handful (maybe even just one portrait) per story, so it’s going to take a while for the series to come together. I feel like it has strong possibilities, but I’m not in full swing yet. Criticism welcome.


    thanks for your kind comments… really appreciate it, and in a way it helps me to look at the essay with a different “pair of eyes”… edit differently maybe make it stronger still… defintiely continue shooting making more images…

    just checked the flight into Washington DC and C’ville… everything ok… packing the portable… leaving now….

    …DAVID here i come :)))))

    RAFAL very interesting comments you made about shooting at a certain time of day… i’ll post more when i get the chance… i must admit i really was taken by your family essay… beautiful and very very intimate…

    gotta fly now


  • Anton, I can’t open but the first few ones in your 41 shots edit…


    I think there are many ways to be emotionally connnected, which may not necessarily mean wearing one’s heart on the sleeve for the subject at hand.

    I can’t recall if we started the discussion with surface, as meaning superficial, skin deep, but more like the matter, the elements one is confronted with, in order to produce a crafted object, or a work of Art, which will give meaning beyond… Surface interpretation.

    I think photography, like cinema, being quite a mechanical Art (every action/thought is supported by machinery, whereas one can paint, draw write with one brush/pen and compose without one instrument), even in its digital incarnation, one is bound to often question what is truly being achieved in a final image, in regards to the means employed (not all mechanical).

    Actually, I’d say critical assessment of Avedon’s work, especially the mid-western journey, but his father’s death “masks” too, is essentially grappling with that question, if I recall it well.

  • Hi David McGowan,

    I like very much your job the goods, it is so private, all these objects which were part of the life of these persons and that they are going to sell… I like Consignment so very much, perhaps some pictures are a bit repetitive ?(personally, I sell on ebay!)… Resourceful also a very nice plan within sight…


  • Lucas– Everyone should have passion when they start a personal project otherwise they will never finish… or it will suck! :)

    Does a viewer looking at a photograph ever really know for sure what the photographer was feeling or thinking. Hmmm. I believe there is a tone that come across that people can read. I saw a show recently in Stockhom and while the vibrant work was of beautiful people you could tell the photographer did not like his subjects because the pictures were really sarcastic in nature. It was the tone, subtle, but it was there. Some people didn’t really get it. Maybe awareness comes into play here. Does how aware one is in life dictate how much one can read in anything — even a photograph?

    When I was at the Vii seminar when Jim Nachtwey was talking (only bring this up because he was the subject of this blog post.) I had my camera and looked through my lens as he began his slideshow. I pulled the focus TIGHT. So close that for random moments I forgot I was looking at pictures and got lost… almost feeling there was no separation between me and these victims. Pretty powerful. I was mixed with so many emotions. Same as what Jim was feeling when he shot them? I don’t know.

    Even your models, photographers and landscapes that you show on your website. It would be interesting to see if the pictures we read that you liked taking are the ones that you did. To me it seems like there is always an exchange between subject and photographer. I can feel it when I’m shooting. I try to capture essence, whether it be person or animal or even place. Some people might say that a professional photographer will make all pictures good because that’s what professionals do, but it might look professional, but is it special? I really look for vibrance, something deep. Even a simple picture of your dog, who knows you are taking his picture… If that dog is smiling back one might suppose that the photographer was truly liked and liked back. I don’t think any photographer is that good to create essence. Just reads false.

    BTW–I like your shot of Lauren Greenfield.

  • Herve– Thanks for the clarity, but hopefully we know our tools well enough that we don’t get in the way of the magic no matter what the art form.

  • Linda, I wonder if you like Martin Parr. Just to name one who gives no inkling he emphasizes with his subjects? Where would you situate the emotional connection, and passion as you look at his work?


  • Thanks David McGowan for the info!

  • Hello Audrey—thanks—ultimately it’s a portraiture project about people giving up items in our poor economy, and at the heart of that being yard or garage sales. I’m keeping it kind of broad, and these aren’t tight edits, so yes, there’s going to be some repetitiveness.

    I don’t feel like I’m really nailing it yet, but it’s a good challenge for me since I’m not used to getting this close to people that I’m meeting on the spot. I also feel like I have to keep this fairly straightforward and palatable for my subjects, so I’m not indulging in obscure compositions, etc. Maybe I need to start pushing it.

    Anyway, I appreciate the opinions as they enable thought and direction for me. At some point I’d like to be pleased about what I’m shooting!

  • Ok, we are answering at the same time to previous posts, Linda. About the tools, I think in photography, it is not always just serving an intention, but lending their very own qualities (there is another word, but I can’t find it at the moment) to a photo. And our reading of one is often simply that of what these tools have delivered. A photograph of, rather than a photograph by… ie. Not always associated with the intent of the artist.

    So often, people will know a photograph, but rarely know or even wish to know the photographer behind the photo. Unlike many other arts, where it is common knowledge know or are curious who did it.

    just ad libbing…

  • Hi David,
    I’m Susetta (remember me?), I went back to Bangkok to do the story I wanted to do (but didn’t) during the workshop (Thai Child Boxing).
    I would appreciate a feedback from you. here is the link where you can see the pics:

    ciao susetta

  • marcin luczkowski

    Happy birthday David :)

  • Linda – Well, I’m sure everyone would agree with your first sentence; “Everyone should have passion when they start a personal project otherwise they will never finish… or it will suck! :)” HA!! That’s how it works for me but I’m not sure it works that way for everyone.

    When I asked the question the responses from Erica, wrobertangell, Martin, Herve said they didn’t have to be passionate or emotionally attached to the subjects, or subject matter. That doesn’t mean they aren’t, just that they don’t have to be.

    It maybe possible the difference is if you are a professional versus an amateur? Amateur’s get to shoot for pure joy all the time. I know for me, and a lot of my friends, we end up photographing things for money that I would never, NEVER, NEVER want to photograph. So, perhaps professionals need to be connected to their personal projects because
    we can all relate to wrobertangell American apparel experience.

    It seems to me, that for us professionals, the reason we got into photography may be extremely different from the photography we do to make a living. What we need to do to make a living can kill your passion. Personal projects are perhaps a way to keep that passion and excitement alive???

    I remember reading someplace that photography has more “professional amateurs” than any other activity. My thought is some amateurs are always emotionally attached to what they are shooting and just don’t know it. Just the act of photography is emotional for them. They haven’t been jaded by having to make money and having to take a job shooting dog crap (yes, I actually got paid once to shoot dog crap).


  • It always helps to have passion and Im sure it shows but you better be able to pull it off without passion. Take for example David who had to do a short thing on the TGV in France. Ask david if he has any passion about the TGV. yet as a professional he had to pull it off. So passion helps but it shouldnt be a requirement.


    I have a few quick question regarding portfolios, especially as it applies to web pages. If you can get to these great. If not, I’ll remind you later.

    I’m thinking of adding a portfolio, a best of images so to speak, to my site. This would be about 20 images. Then, I’ll have project or other photo reportages below.

    So here are my questions:
    1) Based on some of your comments here, my understanding is that the portfolio is like a quick gallery. It allows a PE, who has little time, to get a sense of one’s shooting style. That being the case I imagine that it should be the absolute best images even if some of those images may appear again in a story gallery. What’s your take? Is it okay then to repeat images in the portfolio and then in a reportage story?

    2) Is there any unwritten law of the land when it comes to mixing color and b&w images in a portfolio, web or book? Is it the wild west here? Can you mix and match color and B&W back and forth or is better to keep all the B&W’s in order and then the color images, so that there is not so much back and forth?

    3) If one has a portraits gallery on their site, can they repeat images there as well?


  • Lucas said: “Personal projects are perhaps a way to keep that passion and excitement alive???”

    I would agree with this. This is probably true for most. And again, I think it is really mostly about being passionate about photography. Not necessarily about a particular subject. If you’re still in love with the art or the craft of photography(or writing or painting or sculpting for that matter)…well all the rest flows from that.

  • Charlie, I just e-mailed Rafal about that. I think a portfolio may be the only thing a busy editor might look at on a site, or decide on its strength to look further. So, far from a quick gallery…

    It must show our strengths, and like any other job interview in a competitive field, why we should be considered over the zillion others with perfectly capable portfolios.

    Lucas, I don’t know about Linda, but for me, if I was given access to shoot a guy like Le Pen in France, or Cheney here, over a certain amount of time, no one to be passionate about, I’d be driven (read: passionate) about finding some angles, some telling, “drop your guard” moment, about the guys, as much as someone I dig.

    I hate to quote that Eisenstadt shot of Goebbels again, but holy cow, here, the hunted (jew) captured the hunter (nazi) for the ages:

    PS: Yet, I found out that when I use a camera, I am very much non-judgemental.

  • back finally…


    Appreciate the let off… but your comments were so spot on I have to nod.

    I mentioned in a previous post that I had struggled a bit with how to balance some stronger more aesthetic/creative images vs. the documentary, more informational shots. You are very absolutely right in that the whole human aspect, the poverty, but also, and more so! the joy! needs to be included. You mentioned “as odd as that sounds”… But it is not at all… There is a lot of happiness there. The smiles, laughter, the community…, the human spirit transcending what most would consider to be a desperate situation… It is… But (again) we see the strength of the this spirit rise above the difficulties of a certain hardship and this is very special. The cemetery is no exception.

    I do need to convey in this work that despite the surreal situation, the people living here are probably better off than those in the slums or on the street.


    Thank you for your kind and sincere words. Yes! The fullness of life as you mention vs. the reality of the location. I guess I can refer back to some of the comments shared with Bob previously… This is the heartbeat of the cemetery, beautiful!… and so ironic in what is normally considered a “dead” space! I appreciate your comments and reenforcing important aspects of this story with another pair of eyes/(heart/brain).


    Thanks! The problem here is that I need to convey the size of the place, #11 just doesn’t show that. Man! This is the trickiest single of the edit…. Just didn’t get that killer shot!


    Yes, you too my friend, spot on! You really hit the nail on the head with “borne out of resilience” The situation is that it is the choice of many to live (and work) there. Manila is a city of over 14 million. There is shelter and security in the cemetery which is difficult to obtain on the streets or slums. I was touched and overwhelmed buy the strength and resourcefulness of the community.

    The “hook” for the story will be the surreal of the situation (after all that is what brought me there) But the message needs to be the strength, resourcefulness and resilience of the community that have made it their home. In the words of one of our new friends “I’m not scared of the dead… no, its the thief’s and drug addicts that worry me.” One could almost look at this as a kind of gated community, even having security guards patrolling the premises. And back to…


    “If you could live elsewhere, in a way where you and your family didn’t have to struggle so much for day-to-day survival, would you want to do so?”… Yes, of course, who wouldn’t. But I feel with the limited opportunities available to the poor in Manila the cemetery has provided a slightly better option in an already difficult existence.

    Again, I would like to affirm that I hope my story will portray not so much the the desperation of poverty, but the resilience and resourcefulness and strength of a community that have made the best of what is available to them. I’m still working hard on the multimedia part of this project which affords me the time and resources to provide a larger picture of the community. Will be sure to let you all know when it goes live!!


    Been trying to check you work for a while (and that goes to others of the “ALL”). Slow internet has been a real problem… Got OK speed tonight, and with a little patience… so glad I took the time!! Fabulous! You have a superb body of work accumulating here. Superb, Katharina SUPERB!!!! Wonderful too see this grow from the early conception! The mood, hues, your use of light and the fame… very, VERY compelling! and there is still more to come!!!?? GO, GO, GO! Well done!!!

    Time for bed…


  • James, Thanks. What I learnt in South East Asia is that real poverty is lovelessness.

  • Lucas– I think the question of passion is a life choice. Yes, anybody can get a job done or live life without it, but IMO what’s the point if you’re not getting charged by what you’re doing and hopefully charging someone else in the process. Amateur vs. professional — don’t buy that. Just think you gotta figure out some way to keep the work fresh and/or life for that matter! I personally mix it up by shooting stills professonally, shooting docs professionally, shooting personal work and doing other work in film as well. I don’t know. Maybe I sound harsh, but I never had to film dog poop so maybe that’s why I still feel this way. I just want to make sure that when that point comes at the end of my life when I look back on it I feel I lived as fully as possible, did everything with passion and hoping also that every exchange I had was hopefully a positive one for all involved — whether it be a subject I was shooting or the barista at Starbucks.

    As for Herve’s comment re: Le Pen or Cheney. I’d be there as well to get an honest portrayal — although I would have to try really hard to be neutral with Cheney or Bush because every time I see them I want to spit! :) To me that would be like shooting dog poop!

  • Herve– “A photograph of, rather than a photograph by…” I’ve been thinking about the author’s voice in all art for a long time. In a movie when I hear a score I’ll recognize Rachel Portman or when I see the cinematography I’ll recognize Caleb Deschanel’s imprint. But with photography doesn’t it seem be an exchange… The subject shows you who they are and then in that last second you imprint your voice. Maybe I’m getting too esoteric here. Help me David!

    Martin Parr… When you ask “he emphasizes with his subjects? Where would you situate the emotional connection, and passion as you look at his work?”

    Do you mean empathizes with or emphasizes his subjects? I’m unclear what you are asking…

  • Linda – a few demographic questions,

    How old are you (a range is fine 20-25, 25-30, 30 – 35, or 36 and over)? Married? Kids? Pets?

    Just curious. I will write something about dog crap later. Kind of a funny story and it actually has something to do with passion.

  • Those are loaded questions Lucas. I hate the idea of limiting myself to a number, marital status… Is it really relevant?

  • Linda, is it relevant? Hmmmm..well, yes and no.

    We hate stereotypes but

    Under 40 –

    “paying our dues”
    “can’t believe I get paid to do what I LOVE”

    “yes, I can do it for less”

    40 and over

    “Oy, can’t believe I didn’t get job, and that new kid, Skippy, did”

    “everyone is giving their work away, I can’t make any money”

    The second there are kids regardless of your age –

    “Glad my quote works for you. Yes, I really looking forward to photographing your new Vice President of marketing.”

    “I know my portfolio was full of portraits but I’ve shot tons of product, it just isn’t something I show, In fact, I’m so pumped to think I get to photograph your new line of trashcans.”

    Married (spouse with a good job) versus Single –

    “I just found out I didn’t get that job. Where we going to eat tonight?”

    “I just found out I didn’t get that job. Wonder what’s cheaper, ramen noodles or spaghetti”.

  • Sorry Linda for the vocabulary mistake, i was definitely coming from your POV that you feel to have a strong connection for the people in your subjects, wish to tell their story, I think that’s what you were saying. So, it’s empathy I meant, not emphasis (about PARR).

    If I am passionate about a craft/media, I would welcome the challenge of shooting Cheney over a “good guy” even more, given good access. To be out of one’s comfort zone is a bit of an artistic credo. It is important to question what we do and feel as much as we can.

    Since photography is not just about recording facts, events and faces, Let’s say it would be akin to a novelist refusing to write about flawed characters. It’s how I read you. Maybe, I misunderstood you.

    And who knows if one’s honest, detached emotionally, coverage might not be the one people will remember first from you?…

  • DAVID and ALL…

    I realized yesterday, David, that you don’t have an article on wikipedia! How could that be?? So, I started one…

    If there are any other wikipedians out there, please add to it…

  • ps… or let me know what to add and I’ll add it…

  • David– I see a couple of “Happy Birthday wishes” to you so just want to say I am thrilled you were born and I’m sure everyone on this blog will concur that it’s wonderful and interesting having you on the planet! :)

  • Herve– Yes, life without love is poverty. Re: Martin Parr’s work. IMO he seems concerned with society being focused on the empty stuff, and his use of vibrant color and the fact that he uses non-pro film to me denotes he might be a multi-layered, dry humorist who secretly might take life more seriously than he lets on. His method of achieving this satirical look takes discipline, strong discipline to attract people to really look at the work and ultimately themselves. I’ve heard he’s controversial, but is it because people might not want to see themselves for who they are appearing to be? One of the reasons why I’m enjoying James Chance’s cemetery work is that we get to see his subjects without the veil. In abject physical poverty one doesn’t have the luxury of hiding, but now that I’m thinking about this who is really poorer — they because they are physically poor or us because we tend to live and hide behind the veil? Figuring out that balance is key. Perhaps looking through the lens gives us a chance to get glimpses of the real. So when I talk about shooting with passion– even if it would be to photograph a flawed character like Cheney – I’m talking about doing it without our veil as well. I’ve just been in Bangkok and I did an exercise while I was there… first shooting just to shoot – with no connection, then shooting later to really connect with people, the place – no Linda O. veil. When I did the latter there was an incredible difference — both in the experience and the work. I am still editing but will share to get feedback from the community soon.

    Lucas – I’m not married with a rich husband. LOL! But was delighted someone was thinking I could be possibly as young as 20-25! I guess when one calls our current administration “dog poop” this is immature and my apologies if I offended any Bush/Cheney lovers — if there are any left anywhere in the world…


    — Got to get back to the real world so this is probably the last post I’ll be doing. It was fun and if I ever get a few days again I may pop in, if you all don’t mind.

    Best and keep up the great work.

    The Dog Crap Project – inspiration can come from anywhere I guess.

    I’ve been working on this project, it all started with this job I took because it sounded so different. I needed to shoot dog crap for a lawsuit. Seems a neighbors dog kept coming on someones lawn and crapping on it. After complaining enough times a lawyer was called in and I was called to “document” the evidence.

    After that, no matter were I looked I saw dogs crapping or dog crap. So, I start this project of photographing dog crap, dogs crapping, people picking up dog crap, it’s amazing how much dog crap there is in the world. For awhile I was shooting all this dog crap.

    I was really inspired, no, I wasn’t emotionally, or passionately connected to the subject. But, I was connected to the idea of photographing something we walk by everyday and never think about.

    I’m kind of getting jazzed about the project just writing this. That’s what I like about photography, not just the technical aspects, but that we all have different visions of the world and if we were standing next to each other in a park, I might be shooting dog crap and you might be shooting flowers.

  • Linda O…
    thank you,
    because i was thinking to vote for Bush again…
    so, i got a little offended…
    There are a lot others Bush lovers ( just like me ),
    out there… trust me…
    long live G.W.B.

    I hope the rest of the world will someday understand,
    our democratic values and our freedom…
    So remember WE are here for YOU hungry third world!
    We are here to liberate YOU…

    either you want it or NOT…
    So people out there, please stay hungry, coz panos is
    coming with a big cannon canon eos-sveos and 14mm-1560mm
    extra WHITE – LOOKING lens….
    is coming to GET YOU…

  • now,


    answer below:


  • Panos! I’ve been wondering where you were?!

  • Lucas– LOL! Something tells me your DOG CRAP project could become a Hollywood Movie some day! :) Don’t be a stranger!

  • Sorry Linda..
    I’ve been collecting comedy material…
    because my ultimate dream was to be a comedian..
    then i met photography…
    Then i “cheated” on “comedy”…
    and since then,
    i dont have an ultimate dream anymore….

  • Herve,
    congrats on your new canon camera.
    what lens?
    anyways, please dont listen to me
    and show us soon more photos..

    you have it.
    if not, find it..
    you are going to France..
    cool.. Bring us some photos back..
    but before you do this..,
    announce here to ALL,
    use only one lens..
    and tell US which one..
    so we know your perspective in advance..
    Fair enough?

  • .. ONE LENS … But not the 14-1457mm
    white zoom..

  • … and since no one is around…
    ( i always enjoy, staying late, after everyone is gone.. and study some history… yes, i love history…! )

    take some “blues” history here…

    all N.Y. beef here, though…
    i dont wanna be accused as an L.Acentric..
    feel me?




    Uh. Yea. Uh. If you love something let it go, if it
    comes back to you it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.
    Hold me down baby

    Either let me fly, or give me death
    Let my soul rest, take my breath
    If I don’t fly I’ma die anyway, I’ma live on
    but I’ll be gone any day

    Hold me down, niggaz wanna know me now
    Didn’t want ta play wit’ me wanted to show me how
    No meow
    ‘Cause it’s all about the bark.
    Let the dog loose baby it’s about to spark
    Light up the night, like the 4th of July
    Niggaz know, when I let go, niggaz die
    wit’ this Y and you don’t know you slow like Baltimore
    If you ain’t tryin’ ta go ya blow
    I soak up all the pain and except it in silence
    When I let go it’s violence cause the wildest
    leaves the dog barkin’ up the tree for the cat
    in the fog but ya’ll niggaz see is the bat
    Flappin’ away wit’ em blind like Stevie
    Niggas don’t hear me, still tryin’ to see me
    Stop being greedy, ya heard what I said
    Let me go, let me flow on my bed


    I sold my soul to the devil, and the price was cheap
    And yo it’s cold on this level cause it’s twice as deep
    But you don’t hear me, ignorance is bliss, and so on
    Sometimes it’s better to be thought dumb…
    Shall I go on?
    YO, on the real, what the deal is a mystery
    How is it I can live and make history
    If you don’t see it, then it wasn’t meant for you to see
    If you wasn’t born wit’ it then, it wasn’t meant for you to be
    But you can’t blame me for not wantin’ to be held
    locked down in a cell where a soul cant dwell
    If this is hell, call me the devil and give me the key
    for it can’t be worse than the curse that was given ta me
    It’s what I live for, you take away that and I’m gone
    There’s a difference between, doin’ wrong and being wrong
    and that ain’t right
    Just keep it fair baby
    Put me in the air, and I’ll take it there baby


    I’m a flow regardless because I’m an artist until I’m trapped
    I’ma continue to hit he hardest whether I scrap or rap
    You give me dap but you ain’t my friend
    I see it in your eyes, you contemplate my end
    You waitin’ for that bend in the road, where you were told
    that you would go, when you were old
    and if you died young, it was cold
    Sold, but not for nearly, what it was worth
    Think back 26 years, be like what if his birth
    was a miscarriage and I never existed
    Have I given something that have been taken away you
    would of missed it
    Didn’t know,that I persisted ?
    It was the call of the wild
    i merely say what’s in my heart, and you call it a style
    Don’t put it in the cage, don’t mistreat it
    You say you hunger for knowledge, here it is eat it
    Another song completed is another thought captured
    Let me do my thing I got it locked wit’ this rap shit


    Or give me death, uh uh uh, or take my breath
    I’ma die anyway, but I’ll be gone any day …”

  • still… BLACK & WHITE..

    from L.A with love…

  • I LOVE “L.A”

    2Pac – To Live & Die In L.A.

  • Hey James,
    thanks a lot ! There’s more to come, but I take my time….
    The other day S. and I were checking out your new work from Manila and liked it a lot…… S said : this looks like James Chance…he he … ! How do you like Siem Reap ?

  • Hey Panos,
    Let’s sell our fancy Leicas and make our own cameras out of broken eyeglasses and trash, like this guy:

    and make some pictures like this:

    what do you think??

  • MIKE,
    you won’t believe this!
    Just the other day two good czech friends sent me a link…
    about Miroslav.
    you are absolutely right…
    I’m with you on this one…!

  • DAH was it your birthday? if so..I hope it was a day of good things..

  • Erica,
    how’s the new camera treating you?

  • DAH, is just another GEMINI, just like me and YOU , ERICA…!

  • Ahahah, Panos, no white lens, can’t afford them (anymore). The camera had to be bought because the last one is supposedly beyond its shutter time and the one before that did just that when I was in paris, 2 years ago and that was a bummer.

    Ok, I am going to Istanbul early July, as well, within the family visit in Paris. If anyone has tips, location wise, for photos, I will be grateful.

    lens? I love the range I get from my new 20mm, that’s 32mm on the digital sensor. I am like many of you, I like the idea of one camera, one lens, and just go. But Paris is a quirky city, things happen fast, closer, farther, sometimes you need that extra range a zoom provides. 20 for intent, 24-105 for vacation, OK Panos? Please… ;-)

  • ok, Herve,
    I’ll let you go this time!…

  • ????? I thought David’s Bday was a few months ago, I remember copying that Beatles song then….

    Linda, in many ways, Parr takes off the veil too, by keeping people within all the consumerist trappings we may consider they hide behind. He is definitely enphasis over empathy, by a mile! The controversy (which made him succesful too) is probably along the lines that he is neither negative, nor positive. I have read little about him, but It seems people really want to know what’s his take on the people he photographs.

    I am in disagreement about abject physical poverty for the cemetary people. That means misery, and there is quite a difference between misery and poverty. I think misery annihilates evrything, joy, love, hope (all things James talked about)…. Not so poverty.

  • Herve– Now maybe I as using the wrong words!? I am in agreement with you because when I wrote “abject physical poverty” I meant from the perspective of the West when someone looks to us as poor we project they must be miserable, desperate… but when we see James Chance’s pictures we see a brilliant spirit despite what we in the West would be considered unbearable. Do I make sense now?

  • Aboslutely, Linda.

    The “perspective of the West” is very basic ethno-centrism. Sometimes benign, sometimes less benign.

    It is interesting to see that even people whose passion is photography, or photo-journalism, people who debunk the myth of “reality” in photos, can actually interpretate so literally, so surely, the uncertain reality (by their own premises) shown in some photos…

  • david alan harvey


    ok, now i am WIRED!!! for the upcoming week or so i am in a very nice classic Virginia house with wifi and hot water!!

    i have story i want to post and i have many comments to read, but Mike and i drove down from New York in his Jeep Wrangler and it is 3am and i am beat to hell…

    i should be up early for a new post….

    cheers, david

  • Rock on, Mr. Harvey… I’m printing right now for the review I signed up for in C’ville… What are the odds I’ll have a chance to show my work to you next week?

  • HERVE…

    Remember, for good or for ill, I did Paris and Normandie with only a 20mm, 35mm, and 50mm. I was scared to death to be without my expensive zooms, but it really was freeing!

    And far be it for me to make suggestions to you about your city of birth…but Ile St-Louis and the Marais were my absolute faves!

  • Hello ALL!

    Just put a new post on my blog. Its a series of medium format portraits shot in the cemetery. Would love to hear what you think. In particular would like know personal favorites and which you prefer out of the two images of the couple.



  • James Chance…

    Nice series. I love the two little girls, the mom looking off page, the dude with the bandana, and I prefer the 2nd “couple” shot to the 1st.

    Also, if I may make a suggestion. And forgive me if you are already aware of this. But your images have that pixelated messy look about them. But not when you click on them to bring them up in another page. There they look just fine. It looks as if they are 500 X 500 pixels. But on the main page they are 600 X 600. Which seems to suggest your program is bumping them up too much. Is it possible to scan them in initially at 600 X 600? That way they’ll look just as nice on the main page as they do on the pop-up page. Just a suggestion.


  • James…nevermind! It appears to be an Internet Explorer problem. Looks fine on Safari! My bad…or I should say IE’s Bad!

  • Michael, yes, these are great corners of the city with still a feel of neighborood about them. I just hope the weather changes. It’s just been rain all over, lately.

  • Err, James, always the dissenter here, I guess, but not crazy about your use of space in these portraits. Some looked more like (sorry, sorry!) cropping and the same distances, roughly, and centering, which works so well with an uniform studio-like background, tend here to flatten the impact of the whole series that looks like a mere afterthought to your project.

    As usual: IMO only.

  • HERVE…

    Enjoy a crepe (or two) for me!

  • JAMES:

    I really loved your initial work on this story, but these portraits are not at the same level. Without knowing you, I hate to be so direct, but that’s my opinion. That being said, I generally do not like portraits, especially medium format or verticals with the subject dead on in the middle. It’s a type of photography that has never appealed to me, so take my comments with a grain of salt. The images I like more than others were the ones of the woman with the cross and the kids. The adults just look either uncomfortable, awkward or bored.

    Incidentally, I’d like your feedback on an edit I am working on. Would it be okay to email it to you? It’s your chance for revenge.


  • James– if you’d to include portraits, maybe pick a couple just to add another layer. The woman with the cross, the kids and the first man were most interesting to me…

  • Herve– Wonder if Martin Parr was doing self exploration / self portrait work when he discovered this style of his since he empathizes with his subjects yet emphasizes their flaws…

  • who is the asian-appearing woman in pink in the back of the photo of Nachtwey above. it is an interesting split image in what seems to be a domestic scene. what were you trying to show with that image? where was it taken and what was the context? is there a special relationship between the two of them you were trying to show?

  • David, I am interested in how you took the shot of Jim at the top of the link. What was your goal in shooting the picture, What was the locale–who was the Asian woman in pink, she seemed like a model, or even an everpresent anonymous call girl, What were you trying to show between the relationship of the two and her presence in the photo. It is a beautiful and thought provoking photo. I am trying to learn

  • An excited reader

    Hello Everyone,

    Where can we read Jim’s answers to some of these questions? I can’t seem to find a link to his answers.

    Thanks a bunch,

    An Excited Reader

  • I’m very happy to see everyone had a great time in C’ville (this blog crowd seems to make it even more exciting than last year)… Congrats to all for the show! BTW, first time in my life someone looks exactly the same as I imagined him (Panos)… thanks all for pictures.

    I am leaving for Sarajevo tonight, 2.5 months in the Old World/Life… Back here in September, hopefully with photographs to share, will try to log on from Sarajevo from time to time…

    Wish you all a GREAT summer.


  • Roberto Bianconi

    Hi do not understand to much about this world and don’t understand to much about people I don’t want to know what Mr. Nachtwey feel when shoot or when remember scenes of his pictures it is too personal I think that any one of us may feel the same or different sensations, but the important think it is that we are talking about one of the most important photographer in this land, same as Capa, Bresson, Smith, Majoli , Harvey and many many photographer that every days bring their lives in danger for the same or different reasons. I will be glad to this people because without their work and sacrifice we don’t can see the true. Our mass media, TV, News and other they pass to the people what they have to show and not all 100% real material. Thanks to this people that as a Russian roulette put their life in danger every days there are not money that can repay what they have been seen. People like those guys, especially in US where the true most of the times it is hidden or masked as here in Italy, must to have the full support and positive feed back to every one of us… before talking we have to know what we are talking about, we have to know history, geography, arts and religion. If I will says to you where are the Darfour region or what is the Rhodesian region. But more simple questions wher his located Cyprus ? and why they have to be separate in his own land ?

    I am one not famous photographer, maybe even not a very good photographer, but I would like to have 0,5 % of the talent and the know out of this people just to try to convince the rest of the word about
    injustice, suffering, poverty, desperation of these people. Human beings like us who lose the right to a decent life.

    in the next few month another conflict will be start in Iran, and this could be the last one if the sense of reason do not take over, I will try to be there even if will be dangerous and if I will see those photographer as James I would like just to be the honor to shake his hand for the important work that he does every days. Hoping that my English it is not so bad, I would like to thanks everybody on this Blog and Mr. David Harvey as well.

    Many thanks

    Roberto Bianconi

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