how the west was won….



around 30,000 years ago the descendants of the Navajo and Apache tribes of New Mexico crossed the Bering Sea from Siberia and became nomadic tribes hunting freely in the fecund mountains and desert where the trendy town of Santa Fe now sits….

Europeans whose culture was far more "advanced" by the 16th century and were looking for "expansion", religious freedom and gold, rather quickly conquered with horses and guns… they killed and dispersed the indigenous tribes of the American West….precious few remain now on reservations and some sell "traditional" Indian handcrafts to the upscale tourists who now stroll the streets of Santa Fe…now Cowboy and Indian culture exist side by side happily trading with each other and both mostly forgetting the rather bloody and often sordid past…

Carlan Tapp (above right)  has not forgotten….he documents the current plight of the Navajo tribe with the modern day  incursion by the "white man" … this time  armed with oil and gas rigs and dynamite  often destroying the land and lives of modern day Native Americans …..Carlan is a Native American from the Wicomico tribe of Virginia, but has spent his life here in the Southwest using  his camera as a weapon to fight back….his powerful black and white imagery is a testament to the once dominant culture of this region…

every existing world culture today has, at one time or another, "replaced" another existing culture….it is the way of mankind…a part of human nature that has moved us all "forward" ….in the "big picture", war and conquering has given us tools and science and "advances" that would not have happened otherwise…but men and women like Carlan who write, paint, and photograph  also recognize the loss, the sadness and the poignant nature of what seem to be historical inevitabilities…

Carlan, Jerry Courvoisier (yes, Mike’s father) and i are now in Santa Fe teaching students how to think about photography…ways to use their cameras for something other than documenting their family vacation….photography as art, photography as reflection, and perhaps photography as a tool for social awareness….

i am curious where many of you "stand" with regard to photography as a "weapon"….there is a deep history in our craft of photographers who have devoted their lives to "saving the world"….what do you think??

since our species seems to move  forward  at a pace few of us can comprehend, does the work of Carlan and others have any effect, or are cultural events just pre-ordained and we all "saddle up and ride" ahead with no control of our fate??? 

368 Responses to “how the west was won….”

  • Hello David,

    Using photography as a weapon is how I try to use it.
    Not only to show the drepressing and aweful truth, but showing the change, the positive.
    I’ve been calles naive quiet a few times already for my thinking.
    And of course I know that my work won’t change the worlds thinking.
    But if it can touch just one person, makes one person think, makes them act or anything for that matter, it seems worth it to me.
    I’m off to Brazil in a few weeks and will try to do some work with street children and kids living in the favelas.
    I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to really work there yet, but I’m going to give it my all to try.
    I’d rather use my camera as a weapon and being called naive, then not care at all.

    Maby see you in Perpignan?

  • DAVID,

    When I first picked up a camera, I was chiefly excited because I could now share my vision with the world… I suppose that hasn’t changed, but my vision certainly has. Being present in the world means facing the hard truths, the uncomfortable ones that are a daily reality for most people of the world. Once I started learning about what’s going on in my world, I had to act… photography seems to be the most utilitarian approach to that, at least for me. Working for the Daily Texan brought me into contact with some amazing people (Joe Bug, for one, with whom I believe you’re well acquainted) who opened my eyes to the full potential of an image.

    I’m still clumsy with my weapon, but I’m starting to understand what it’s capable of. David, how do you personally make the tough choice of where to aim your weapon, what project to undertake? There are so many that are worthy. Is it mere opportunity and availability, convenience? Or something more…?


    Weapon is what all of us should use in the hands to defend, create or just to show. Thinking this way, everything must turn into a weapon ! Great story, and incredible picture. I am involved now sugar cane workers that i believe may show something to people think. Not just the bad side, as Wendy said… development, improvements.
    Good to hear about you !


    Be careful to use something as a weapon in Brazil ! I saw you are coming to Rio and Porto Seguro. if you come around São Paulo, and need help, or beer, contact me. Have a good time, Use your camera as a love weapon, make friends and you are at home. Kid loves foto !



  • Hi David

    I am reluctant to think of photography as a “weapon”.

    I view photography as a “diplomacy”, a conduit for communicating ideas, emotions, history, awareness.

    A weapon injures or kills. Photography rejuvenates, soothes, consoles, expands, elevates, inspires… even when engaged for the sole purpose of documenting a family vacation.




    GOT no time to write, but will come back later…so, i’ll leave y’all with a long quote from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian….essential reading y’all….about THIS VERY TOPIC (David’s story)…not photography….but, in the end, it’s the same….enjoy…



    “They entered the city in a gauntlet of flung offal, driven like cattle through the cobbled streets with shouts going up behind for the soldiery who smiled as became them and nodded among the flowers and proffered cups, herding the tattered fortune-seekers through the plaza where the water splashed in a fountain and idlers reclined on carven seats of white porphyry and past the governor’s palace and past the cathedral where vultures squatted along the dusty entablatures and among the niches in the carved facade hard by the figures of Christ and the apostles, the birds holding out their own dark vestments in postures of strange benevolence while about them flapped on the wind the dried scalps of slaughtered indians strung on cords, the long dull hair swinging like the filaments of certain seaforms and the dry hides clapping against the stones…..

    He watched the fire and if he saw portents there it was much the same to him He would live to look upon the western sea and he was equal to whatever might follow for he was complete at every hour. Whether his history should run concomitant with men and nations, whether it should cease. He’d long forsworn all weighing of consequence and allowing as he did that men’s destinies are ever given yet he usurped to contain within him all that he would ever be in the world and all that the world would be to him and be his charter written in the urstone itself he claimed agency and said so and he’d drive the remorseless sun on to its final endarkenment as if he’d ordered it all ages since, before there were paths anywhere, before there were men or suns to go upon them.”


  • David wrote: “…ways to use their cameras for something other than documenting their family vacation….photography as art, photography as reflection, and perhaps photography as a tool for social awareness….”

    Since I am not the kind of person who enjoys conversations about social awareness or politics (I lump them together)…
    I would prefer to use the camera for art, and reflection.

    If I was in this NM class now… my goal would be using a camera to cause a personal “reflection” that elicits a solemn emotional reaction in the viewer.

    Surprisingly, this may be the same reaction a photographer would like from their work on social awareness issues. Hmmm….

    So I guess I am more interested in capturing human emotion or compositions that show emotion rather than bring awareness to specific worldly issues.

  • A few years back I was at a gathering for something called Wesak, a spiritual celebration with origins in Buddhism..a time for many to focus on the end of suffering and the realization of both inner peace and world peace.

    A few nights before the festival, I had a dream in which I was climbing “the highest mountain there is”, and with me, leading me, was a man, with a backpack of tools to help our ascent. As we climbed higher, and the journey became more difficult, he we reach into the pack and find the right tool for the moment. I stumbled several times, but he was always there to lend a hand, and the journey continued, until he had used the last tool..and the top of the mountain was in reach.

    At the festival, I was invited as a guest to a special lunch for the speakers. I hadn’t shared my dream with anyone, but when the organizer of the festival stood up to welcome his guests, he was moved to share his dream that he had had the night before. It was the same dream I had had, but he told it speaking of climbing with a woman, and every detail was the same, including the words “the highest mountain there is” and the description of the final tool..

    My point in telling this so openly is that when I heard you acknowledge that the camera can be used as a weapon, I immediately thought of that backpack..filled with tools for different uses, each appropriate at the moment to aid in accomplishing the highest, for ourselves and for the world. Personally, I would rather use the camera as a mirror or as a light than as a weapon, but many feel that a weapon is a stronger tool, or maybe, just one they know how to wield for better outcome, and that is not mine to judge if their intention is pure.

  • David,

    Cultural, political, social, and environmental battles are fought, lost and sometimes won, on many fronts through the efforts of individuals with vision and heart.

    Photography at its best is part of that fight and if nothing else has the power to confront us with the truth, and to highlight the plight of many and the nobel efforts of others to make change.

    The key to any weapon is in the deployment of it, for images this is through the media in all forms including discussions like the ones you host here on your site. Photographers are often part of a grass roots movement, but the mass media means that images may become weapons of mass construction.

    Thank you for the ongoing inspiration and energy you put forward.


  • HISTORY, n.
    An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.

    A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. It is a little better than the work of an Apache, but not quite so good as that of a Cheyenne.

    Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.

    Of course, I may have misunderstood the question; I make no claims of omniscience; in which case I should say that I do have a Canon FTb that is all-metal and weighs three or four pounds and will knock five or six teeth out of the the mouth of any socioeconomically deprived miscreant who tries to take it from me. Put that thing on a bungee cord and you’ve got yourself one formidable weapon.

  • The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words” comes to mind in response to your question. A recent example of how photos can change my thinking and cause action on my part was the one in NG about Shell in Nigeria and how they obliterated the local fishing economy with their drilling.

    The words were telling but the photos were the most effective; the one of the woman having to purchase a fish skeleton with bits of meat to boil off because she couldn’t afford a whole fish made the biggest impression on me and told the whole story. Here was a community whose economic structure was built on fishing and Shell had totally destroyed their means to make a living and this woman was buying pieces of a fish–and expensive too.

    So yes photos can make a huge difference in our world. I no longer buy Shell gas; of course, now they want to build a wind mill farm on Maui and I am torn because that’s a good thing right?

    I’m not crazy about the word weapon either but in this case I feel it is appropriate to consider a photo a weapon in that it is used to defend the topic you are shooting. Using photos to tell a story that is less obvious, such as one that describes your own issues, is harder for me to understand and to achieve.

    Documentary photos are powerful in their impact. There are many, many folks in this world that do not read the articles, they look only at the photos and the captions. Those that can get their message out with photos are a valuable asset.



    once in my hometown, when i was just a child, while a big soccer fight was about to ruin the game… I saw a photographer did something like that you describe with a Nikon F2 in the keeper’s head, and finish the fight being the focus of why all shit happening. This is something that impressed me forever… Destination or not…. this F2 camera keeps with me now. with the spoiled back changed.

  • UGH I am about to consider using my photos as a trying to scan for the project/assignment, which is looking at the face of the old neighborhood as it is forced to deal with all the new influences that a changing hood must embrace or reject..and as I am trying to scan these people’s beautiful faces, the scanner is shaking form the incessant pounding of a giant drill working it’s way into the bedrock so one more luxury condo high rise can be built (on the former site of a gas station, so as they pound, evil fumes waft into the air)..on what is to be Brooklyn’s “Madison Avenue”..

  • i wonder if photography is more of a constructive tool than a destructive one..
    on the weapon side it can destroy propaganda, obliterate ignorance and vaporize doubt..
    as a constructive tool it can illuminate a population, bring awareness to those in power and educate more than words, in many cases.

    the visceral sensory link we have with photographs is also open to manipulation, of course.. ‘edward curtis’ and his project on native americans.. look into his funding and then his contemporary governments use of the work as propaganda.. to justify the ‘cowboy fighting the valiant foe’ image still belived by many, when the truth was the somewhat less palatable truth of ethnic cleansing.

    more power to your friends DAH.. i hope the documentation and use of the photographs do good, constructive work on illuminating a population further..

    ahh.. i want to delve further on this.. off for dinner with my future father in law..


  • Photography as a “weapon.” As someone who has been attempting for years to live non-violently in the world, I’m not comfortable with that particular way of describing it, but if you mean using photography as a tool for change, I would say yes, I definitely see value in holding that intention.

    Whenever I use my camera as an authentic extension of my mind and heart, as a medium for expressing what I see as important in the world–even something as simple as my view of the bathroom window while sitting on the toilet–I believe that image has the potential to touch others and change their outlook even in some small way. No, I’m not trying to “save the world,” but if I can impact it in a way that benefits the whole, I will consider my work to be worthwhile.

    I was an on-the-streets peace activist for many many years. Did I change the course of world events? Hardly. But I still believe what I did made a difference. If, in the summer of 2006, even one person’s attitude towards war shifted a millimeter after seeing this solitary white-haired woman in a mobility scooter holding her sign for weeks in front of the White House, then it was worth every bit of physical and emotional discomfort.

    I feel the same about my photography. I will certainly not change world events, nor will I ever know how or even if my images changed one mind or heart. But I do it because I MUST. I could not live with myself if I simply remained a silent observer of life.

    David, I suspect if you asked Carlan why he documents what he does, his answer would be that he does it because it is his to do. It is what he sees and must share with others. I doubt if he imagines his work will “save” his people or change the course of events. But he is changing minds and hearts image by image, and that is enough. I commend him for his dedication and vision. We need more like him in today’s world.


  • It looks like Bob Black is rubbing off on you David! With that “fancy” introduction of yours, I thought I was on the wrong blog for a minute!

    It’s a nice topic you’ve proposed. The camera and the pen can both be used as a weapon, but I’m not comfortable with the use of the word weapon as it relates to my work.

    I prefer JN’s use of the the camera as a witness. Document events as honestly as possible and let people make up their own minds.

  • More a shield than a weapon.

    I try to be upbeat with any message I have as doom and gloom wears thin very quickly. Apart form my family pics I always try to have point and a message. Do picture make a difference? I’d like to think so and on good days I do, then there are days when it’s all a waste of time.

    Also taking pictures is the most fun I can have with my cloths on but it’s nice to combine fun with something you think is important.


    i am doing some edition work, with single images that i want to send to as a photo context entry. This not an essay…. but single. I did edit until here, and now i keep lookin this images and can’t walk one more step. I need to find the best, impressive image that fits the “Brasilian Scene” theme. I am posting here the link to this images, and would appreciate so much if you give me your deepest opinions so i can put this selection down to one or two images at all. I will love some harsh comments.

  • I do not see the photography as a weapon, a weapon is by definition aggressive, I see the photography as a means of questioning, I show a reality (my vision of the world) and I just hope that the public will wonder, I also see in the photography, the history which joins, and a pleasant means to cross(spend) a good moment, I do not want to treat(handle) that hard subjects, but also simple, light and cheerful subjects…
    Kind Regards,

  • At this stage in history, I don’t think that photography can make a difference… any difference. Humans are numb to this form of visual stimuli and need other forms of media to be moved.

    Certainly it is and remains valid art form.

  • Yes the photography it is a weapon.
    weapon against us self.

  • Hmmmm…

    Does “photography/camera as a weapon” include bashing my D3 into the skull of my “editors”?

    Oh, sorry… I am better now.


  • David and All,

    The choice of the word “weapon” has certainly sparked some good conversation.

    By definition it is a confrontational word and is in some way perhaps appropriate when we consider the work being done by the many dedicated photographers working in the conflict zones of our world.

    That said, I do agree with many of your comments, and have made it a personal choice when speaking either with my subjects or with students, to choose my vocabulary around photography so as to remove the confrontational tone. Words like “take” and “shoot” are replaced with, “make”, and “photograph”.

    On the surface this may seem almost insignificant, but I am currently involved in two big documentary projects, one in the First Nations communities around British Columbia, Canada, and the other for the Victoria Hospitals Foundations, also in BC. Both projects require a significant investment of time with my subjects and the consideration around language and my efforts to make the process of collaboration. In both cases, my efforts to modify how I talk about photography have not gone unnoticed by my subjects and clients who all clearly seem to appreciate my approach.

    But regardless of the debate around semantics, photography used constructively as a voice of reflection, reason, and change is a powerful thing and we as photographers have a responsibility to respect that power.


  • dR,

    I agree that the general populace is numb to visual stimulus and I would go so far as to say other forms of media fail to hit the mark with many people.

    The main reason I rarely watch the news anymore is due to the canned and dramatized presentation. Watch any of the ABC/CBS/NBS nightly news shows and see how they each spin the same story and even in the same sequence. Watch CNN or Fox and try and endure the hours of inducements to stay tuned for some interesting story and endure hours of commercials and then another stay tuned or two before you ever see it (if you can stand it long enough to finally see it).

    That to me speaks of the continued need for documentary photographers that can present the story truthfully and with photos that keep my attention. Photos that give me more than sound bites and canned drama.

    Because life is not sound bites and canned drama. Life is full and interesting and eager to be shared by someone on the scene that is involved and interested in the story of life.


  • ALL…

    I haven’t forgotten about my offer to post those shots from David’s new book. After further discussion with him, I am not going to put them up at this time.

  • Hey, this is Jordan. I’m just sitting here in Santa Fe with David and Carlan discussing this newest blog post before heading out on a shoot. Some interesting views have been posted already in regards to photography as a weapon. I will take some time to reflect the topic and post my opinion later. Best.


    Check out the previous thread for blog trivia that includes you, me and Akaky.

    Sounds like it could be a song…you, me and Akaky. :))

  • Carlan Tapp is a great guy and a highly respected instructor at the workshops. Glad David is mentioning him here.

    When I think about “photography as a weapon” it’s not exactly in the way David is asking the question…More along the lines of Marcin’s answer, the question brings to my mind the way people can either use the camera to bring them closer to their subject or to keep a distance “personally.” It’s can be almost like having a gun hanging over your shoulder. I’ve witnessed this personally…photographers “gunning down” their subjects.

  • @erica mcdonald I know exactly where you are talking about!!!!!!!!!!

  • sorry about the bad link above here is the current one. for those that are interested sebastio salgado is part of this organization.

  • Obrigado Gui.
    I’ll keep your advice in mind. Although I’m not at all agressive in my photography.
    Sadly I don’t have the time to come to Sao Paulo as well. My time is too limited already. But if and when I return, I’ll try to visit your city and maby we can meet then.

    Maby like some people say the choice of the word ‘weapon’ is not totally right. I take it here as a tool. A way of showing the world what you see, what you care about, what makes you angry, …

    To me it’s the best way to get to know people that I would otherwise probably never meet. It’s something to help people get closer and get to know eachother. And that only happens when there is a level of trust and respect.

  • Lee,

    I agree with you and the further direction that you took the point that I was making about the esensitization of our culture and technology shifting our ability to care and respond.

    I just don’t have the optimism that you have on documentation and it’s potential effects in this area to reverse or go against this trend. I am pessimistic here… I think that the continued explosion in visual stimuli and the tidal wave shift in technology and communication will continue to erode the general populace’ senses.

    Thus the photograph (including “documentary”) now serving as an art form and incapable of serving as a vehicle for change…

    I think that vehicle has become extinct.

  • dR,

    If it is simply an art form do you not also see it as an avenue to change the perspectives of any one that sees your art? If all your art in the form of photos does is make for an enjoyable evening, what is the point? Art in whatever form–photos, sculpture, painting, cars planted in the desert–changes people and their perspective. How can you believe that we as a race have become so jaded that nothing can change our beliefs and thus our future? If nothing else it is a history of the inevitable.


  • Lee,

    I guess that my feeling is on photography specific and it’s ability to cause change – not on societies ability to change as a whole. I think that documentary photography is dying in favor of other mediums (primarily video) and that the “photograph” itself is becoming extinct as a vehicle to change. I think that if change is to occur, it is not a photograph(s) that will do it.

    Now, photography as an art form, I think that it is alive and well… perhaps even expanding. It may be morphing a bit from the classic definition but still going.

    ” If nothing else it is a history of the inevitable.”

    Yes, I think so. And with Flickr, the internet and the explosion of digital photography… a massive cultural history indeed. So massive as to become almost non-relevant. One big mass of visual eye candy.

  • Well… I always thought that a camera is a a very powerful ‘weapon’. It put images to some realities that otherwise people will not see. Sometimes even words are not as powerful as images.

    Btw David, and seeing that Wendy mention it… I’m going to Perpignan (Visa pour l’image) next september but I’m not sure about the best dates to be there (definitely when you are there are the best!). Profesional week is from sept 01st to 7th. I guess that week is the best time to go because it is then when you can present the portfolio to all the agencies… How long do you think it will take? Enough two or three days? I have a job on sept. 04th and was wondering if being in Perpignan from the 5th to the 7th is enough or not… What do you think?
    Hope to see you there!

  • OFF TOPIC ;))))

    Cathy, i first read DAH blog on February 28th, 2007….when told by Bruno Stevens at Ls..

    but, cant remember when i first wrote a comment (later), as i was a lurker for the first few months ;)))…maybe around late march/april?….



  • BOB…

    I wrote more to you on the last thread…check it out. :))

    I DEFINITELY did not intend to exclude anyone by my comment. I’m sure many of the regulars came at the beginning and never left…(why would anyone leave? where is there to go? :)) ) I just didn’t know how to find who came when.. other than by seeing names with comments.

    Akaky was not pleased to be called an “oldtimer” although I meant it as a compliment. :))

    more hugs.

  • Ha! I found my first comment. I think I was funnier a year ago than I am now:

    I think the idea of “camps” or “camps divided” is a common theme during early college years, in any school, in any study, closely examined in most bad coming-of-age films. If there are camps though, they are divided by a moon lit lake and it always sounds like there are frolicking girls on the other side—and I’m paddling like hell to get there.

    It’s an interesting topic for me because while I seek to maintain artistic integrity in the context of “I just happen to be shooting everything I’m doing,” I’d still like to be able to afford a range of insurance, a mortgage, utilities, and have enough left over for travel and beer.

    So while I’m still seeking my first paid assignment since going freelance, I’m pondering how to convey this idea to publications: the work that I like the best is the product of spontaneity and chance, far over anything contrived. It’s the great thing about not getting paid, though—you can shoot whatever and however you want—and if you end up with one shot that holds to your artistic standards, then lucky you. I think I need to see the camp counselor.

    Posted by:David McGowan | April 30, 2007 at 03:39 PM

  • Well, the idea of using photography as a weapon can be examined on many levels.

    I am not sure photography ought to be used as a weapon just because we have that ability.

    Weapons are destructive regardless of whether they are used offensively or defensively. So I don’t think anyone in this forum is really out to destroy things with it.

    On the other hand, I am keenly aware that certain ideaologies and philosophies are indeed destructive and deserve to be destroyed.

    So the question then becomes, is it wrong to use photography as a weapon in order to wage war against those whose aim is to be destructive?

    Think how photography was used as a weapon in the second world war by the Axis and Allies. Which side was using it in the right way? Was one completely right and the other totally wrong? Or was there some in-between? Speaking of the grey area, should photography be used to emphasize our differences or similarities in order to establish some common ground?

    It seems to me that as long as some people who will use photography as a kind of weapon for war against this or that, there will be others who will have no other moral choice but to pick up their weapon in opposition. Then there will be those who sit on the fence and get clobbered by both sides.

  • Im all for saving the world but Im more interested in photography that reveals the inner world. So I dont know if it could classify as a weapon, certainly PJ or WPP style docu photography could.

  • I like Wendy’s answer–“It’s something to help people get closer and to know each other.”
    In my attempts to do documentary photography, I feel that I have been changed–that I care more about the people and situations that I have photographed. I can only hope that the images have had positive impact on others also.
    I think of the phrase attributed to Hippocrates often used in the medical field–“First do no harm.” With cameras as our “instruments” not as our weapons, I believe photographers can make a difference.

  • What else can an artist yearn for if not to make a difference in someone else’s life, to touch and to move, to inspire and to hope, to laugh and cry, to live? This life alone inside, though quiet and often peaceful, is very small. It’s the moving outward, the giving, that enriches.

  • I like Wendy’s answer–“it’s something to help people get closer and to know each other.”
    In my attempts to do documentary photography, I feel that I have been changed–that I care more about the people that I have photographed. I hope the images have had a positive impact on others also.
    The quote , “First do no harm”, attributed to Hippocrates is often used in the medical field. I believe that if photographers use their cameras as “instruments”, not as weapons, they can make a difference–a good one.
    Marcin made me laugh, and that is a good thing also.

  • CATHY :)))

    no worries, no worries, :)))…I was just playin’ with ya :))))…i thought it was lovely investigation :)))…i just thought it was so cool that Akaky was here so early (i had no idea)..though, i “knew” him before at LS…ok…gonna leave a post “on topic” :))))


  • W. Eugene Smith started the discussion of the “concerned photographer”. He believed “the concerned photographer” focuses on issues that are important to them, harnessing the power of passion and persuasion. I dont know if I would consider photography a weapon, but a tool for someone concerned with what is happening in our world. I think its a means of expressing our ideals and values.

    Tell Carlan I said hi… I assisted him back in SF at the workshops, he is a wonderful person.

  • BOB…

    Good! :))

    I’m sure this will launch my career as an Investigative Journalist.

  • p.s. BOB…

    You saw the other comment in the previous thread, right?
    I think the “fear factor” aspect is interesting.

    Re: Akaky…I think his first comment on this blog might be his only words here that are totally serious!

  • ok, “ON TOPIC” ;)))…

    i’ve just come back from a night, with marina, of swallowing wine and gin and talking with friends beneath the lift of scattering kerosene lamp and tales of East Vancouver….on our porch, a substitute campfire, stories about division and time and gentrification and loss….so, okay, i thought, something for David’s post….

    I began this post with something from my beloved Cormac Mccarthy (from blood meridian, about the “how the west was won”…and now something, more appropriate to the conversation which has emerged)….

    to begin the being….Mccarthy…

    ““What does Caborca know of Huisiachepic, Huisiachepic of Caborca? They are different worlds, you must agree. Yet even so there is but one world and everything that is imaginable is necessary to it. For this world also which seems to us a thing of stone and flower and blood is not a thing at all but is a tale. And all in it is a tale and each tale the sum of all lesser tales and yet these also are the selfsame tale and contain as well all else within them. So everything is necessary. Every least thing. This is the hard lesson. Nothing can be dispensed with. Nothing despised. Because the seams are hid from us, you see. The joinery. The way in which the world is made. We have no way to know what could be taken away. What omitted. We have no way to tell what might stand and what might fall. And those seams that are hid from us are of course in the tale itself and the tale has no abode or place of being except in the telling only and there it lives and makes its home and therefore we can never be done with the telling. Of the telling there is no end. And whether in Caborca or in Huisiachepic or in whatever other place by whatever other name or by no name at all I say again all tales are one. Rightly heard all tales are one.”—Cormac McCarthy “THE CROSSING”

    that’s all we have, really, the tale, our tails, though shrunken to bone and clip of skin, defined by that clicking, our clicked by the need and necessity to speak upon our tales…what else is there to do but speak upon those things which pass, to speak upon those things which we see, to speak upon those things which innervate, which define, which give something too us that without we would feel forlorn….to speak up and out against the push of the rush of silence…..

    I photograph for a very simple reason. I photograph not for (i hope) heroic means, not for the delusion that it will countenance the way and day of our passing, not as weapon but as vestige of what has passed through me, and by extension, each other….photography as weapon, shiiit, not that, but as tool, as language, as drunken-gummed expression of that which i can only offer as a banter…I have lived, i have seen, i have forgotten, and some stupid and inimitable constitution (we, alive, humans) hungers for that: to speak, to attest, to witness, to call forth that which is inside and will not, refuses to remain, subterranean….

    let me begin with a story of a book, of an image….when i was 15, i stumbled across a photograph of a young Vietnamese girl and boy running along a road, stripped by time and fear and chemical burn, of clothes, and at that moment, the confused teenager that i was, was stunned…how was it that a young girl, whose life was so stripped bare by what was dropped upon her, what was befallen, could go so starved and excruciated into the moment of a day at the same time that i, clothed and tired and hungering for something more substantial, sat there at looked at her without fear, without the smallest modicum of doubt that my life was protected….that photo carved it’s howl upon me at 15, how (now as an adult) to reconcile that…later, i thumbed my way to a book (Vietnam, Inc) that cold-cocked by 20 year old optimistic, liberal hunger for justice and righting of that which was wrong…from those 2 moments, a small calculus was born….

    now, almost 20 years later, those images have not arrested the pain and sorrow that blight the lives of those who are beneath the weight of injustice, 20 years later, those images have done little to make a difference in the lives that i continually dream of being able to help….and yet, they have remained and marked my own life, the countenance of which has been to try, in the small dharma or my way, to make a small, not difference, but execution of a manner in which to live….

    photography cannot save. photography cannot arrest the ineloquence and injustice and pain and horror that we continually bequeath our children and others children. today, before coming home, i read through NG and the story on Congo and the apes slaughtered, and I think of my friend Marcus B who has spent his life now trying to speak about what has happened in Congo…6,000,000….and yet, the world is numb and neutered and blind……the apes, magnificent brothers and sisters, are slaughtered and given covers…and what about the girl, whose brother carried her on a small blank of woven bent wood, after she’d lost her legs to an attack…she is nowhere to be seen in those images….she is unknown, but i have seen her…marcus has spoken to her…the world remains blind….

    I admire those who believe that their photography speaks of that which has happened. I recognize that we are driven, that people are driven to not relent beneath the onslaught of our sloppy and ugly ways. That those photographers who refuse to yield to the blindness and the deafness, i stand in solidarity. But, it is not because i think photography changes anything. PHotography cannot change anything, nor does speak, nor does eloquence, nor does movement. However, what I believe is that each person must commit themselves to that of which they cannot do otherwise.

    Photography bares witness, and this witness must be, not judged by it’s efficiency to incite or convince or change, but must be considered by its refuse to remain mute. I do not think a single photographer will change anything, but i do believe that a photographer, just as any other, who believes that the value of their life is that they have no choice but continue to speak, even when the rest of the world remains deaf or dumb or swerved, it is because that is all we have.

    Nothing that Nactwey or JPG has photographed has arrested the slaughter that we have perpetrated upon one another…but, that they have refused to yield, that they have refuse to sow their mouths and eyes shut, is for me the only real testament….

    i am not so deluded that i think my work, or any photographer’s work, can change what is unchangeable by material representation, but I know that the management of our lives, the witnessing of the way we live, the unyielding acceptance is all that we can accomplish….that each person who, in the face of fact, continues against the grain to say a very simple and succinct fact, that if not I who then, speaks more….it is not about lending voice to others, but about speaking upon things, for we have nothing if we cannot attest, if we cannot breach the silence which remains…

    as photographers, we too often speak to the converted, the literate visulized community that suffers beneath the weight of images, beneath the benevolence of our hope to make things right…it doesnt change, but woebe the person that in the face of that stops their speaking….

    we each, each of us, have a very small measure in which to pour our lives, and i’ll be damned if i clout that spoonful with delusion or cnynicism….for, though i cannot hope to breach the destruction, i can know this: that it is by our lives that we measure and hope to pour things…..

    my own photography is meaningless, but my life has meaning because it is connected to all things, it is connected to those i love and to those i do not know and i do not distill my life with the delusion that my life can change anothers, but I do not that my life, my work, the measure of what i try to do with others, can connect…because i am connected to all things around, in living and in death….

    i have tried to live, as possible, with as much loving kindness and as much solidarity that i could, to harness those stupid wealth and gifts that i was given by stupid luck and fortune, in order to not give up the belief that if not without others, i am nothing…

    my photography is not a weapon…but my life is a blessing that rests upon it’s connection to all things living…

    drunken pretense?…..

    i dont give a fuck about photography, but i care about the living and if, at least for one life, for one person, for one young child for whom something I have or can do can bring light or food or shelter, i shall continue….

    i see, for example, all of our work as that….not cause photogaphy saves the world, but because we have an obligation to understand how we are connected to all things…even when we most often fail….

    nachtwey, for example, has not arrested war or famine or death, but he refuses to be buried because he he is apart of all that has entered….

    my son, my wife….

    to know, pointedly…we have nothing if we have not understood that simple thing….

    broken to sleep


  • “Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally un-related. In order to be ‘synchronistic’, the events must be related to one another temporally, and the chance that they would occur together by random chance must be very small.” (from Wikipedia)

    What would be the likelihood that I would hear Native American singer/songwriter/activist Buffy Sainte-Marie in concert on the same day that David posted this thread about Native American history, Navajo documentary photographer Carlan Tapp, and the use of art as a “weapon” to fight exploitation and lies?

    And who could have predicted she would introduce a song she played on the mouth bow harp by saying, “Throughout history people have found ways to make music on weapons!”?

    To see a photo I took of Buffy Sainte-Marie from my front row seat at this free concert, go to


  • I wanted to say something similar to Bob. Months ago I wrote that photography cant change anything. None of those powerful images change anything because the men in charge of creating all the pain and horror dont give a crap about anything but their own selves, and the pockets of the powerful backers. Wars are waged because of money or oil or hatred and ended because theres no more money to be made, the oil is already captured or noone left to hate. Sometimes wars are ended because even more powerful entities get involved to end them, but even they have the bottom line in mind. Nothing else. Why isnt anything done about Zimbabwe? Sudan? Why didnt anyone stop the genocide in Rwanda? Lets be realistic.

    Photography can only record what happened. It changed nothing. But its in good company. Art changes nothing practical. It may change us but we arent running the show.

  • My personal reasons for shooting then are strictly personal. Im not trying to change anything or save the world, Im not even trying to touch anyone or move them. All Im trying to do is simply show whats going on in my life.

    I have a lot of respect for those who put their lives on the line though, because they have fantastic intentions and do important work.

  • RAFAL,

    I do not agree with you, if photography can change the way of thinking of some people (obviously people like you and me, not the leaders) and bring some awareness to unaware people this means that a “change” has been done… You might not directly save people with photography that’s for sure, but at least you know what happens in the world… Being aware helps you when voting for instance, this is a small influence of the people on the governments, at least locally… We say that the medias manipulate the people, this includes text and images… Is it good or bad manipulation ? This is another question… Just imagine a world without images/information, not a single one ?

  • If you believe voting changes anything….I think policies get continued despite change of presidents….things dont really change…there have been wars, there will be wars, it dosnt matter if its a Republican or a Democrat in the White House, or whoever is the leader in other capitals. Small things do change, but big things dont really. If Obama gets in office you can bet there will be a continued showdown with iran, continued fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and probably new fronts (Pakistan?)…things wont change, Mugabe will be left to kill whoever he wants, the Sudan is still gonna have bashir in power … call me pessimistic but change wont really happen.

  • ASHER…

    sure i understand…semantics again tricky here…

    i was thinking of the word “weapon” in the context of say a sentence like “diplomacy may be a better weapon than a bomb to save the Iraqi people” …. or in the context like “the pen is mightier than the sword” i.e. inferring the pen to be possibly the ultimate weapon of weapons..

    weapons can be used just as much for defense of the innocent as for aggressive offense…

    your point is well taken, but i want you to know my intention….

    cheers, david


    i did not mean to infer that photography should be or was always a “weapon”…i used that rather strong word in the form of a question to all of you, and not written as my personal opinion…i.e. i do not use photography as a weapon at all…but i did not grow up in an environment where i needed a “weapon” for protection or for survival either…

    but, can’t you see how a man like Carlan may view it??

    dynamite shaking the earth blows a Navajo house in half so a power plant can be built…true story…perhaps Carlan may see his camera as his only weapon to use against such an “attack”…NOT as a weapon of aggressive destruction, but as a weapon of defense…

    what about one of the most CLASSIC photographer authored books of all time for personal and social change??

    “A CHOICE OF WEAPONS” by the late great multi talented most articulate writer/photographer/film maker/ pianist GORDON PARKS.

    i rest my case….

    hugs, david

  • Change might not come in a big way and won’t change the minds of the people and politicians in charge. That is very true
    But I’m just thinking about the initiative photographer Stephanie Sinclair took after photographing women burn victims in Pakistan.
    With her project ‘Operation Azra’ she is making a difference.
    By seeing her pictures, some of us, including me were moved enough to make a donation.
    And Stephanie in turn is using this money to get Azra reconstructive surgery, and other kind of help she might need in recovering from this ordeal.
    It might just be one life that has changed and helped, but that is enough in my eyes already.
    Our photographs won’t stop the wars, famine and violance in the world. Sadly the images don’t have that power. But sometimes just a tiny bit of difference goes a long way.

  • RAFAL,

    Would you have believed what happened in the camps in the early 40’s without images ? Did it change something I don’t know, but well…

  • in the cold of morning…in my late night drunken song last night (which is confusing as all hell probably), i only meant to say a simple thing, which is this:

    Photography cannot change things HOWEVER, PHOTOGRAPHY SPEAKS OF THINGS….and this is all we have and what me must never relinquish or give up doing…

    what cynical, lost world would we be, are we becoming, once we give into the forlorn silence of being numb….

    I am so happy that Wendy mentioned Operation Azra….Stephanie’s project speaks more eloquently to the testament of what i was trying to say and mangled badly….

    speak upon things and speak about what you have seen, …

    ok, going away for 3 days…

    see y’all monday…


  • I just wish I could listen to your workshop, David…

  • … I would like to know what you have to say.

  • Good early morning Bob

    peaceful joyful travels to you

  • In a society with great power, powerful tools and grand ideals, it is important that we tread lightly on our world. Journalism, the free press has the ability to pass the effects of our actions and inactions back to us. Good still images made of current events have the ability to engage the viewer and to transport them to a situation far from their understanding. A photo can be the crowbar that opens a closed mind for long enough for an idea to enter.

    The power of a photograph is an interesting topic of debate. Look at how the photographers are being restricted in Iraq, look at Bilal Hussein, signed forms from injured servicemen, bans on covering funerals even when the photographer was invited, is some of this a reaction to the power of a photograph? War is the easiest example, but photos on endangered animals, brutalized animals, calving ice-bergs, thick pollution all leave a mark and have an effect. Sure society has a huge inertia when it comes to change, but society is about compromises and choices.

    Rafal, I don’t agree, listen to Nachtwey’s TED speech. Change is possible and it seems lazy to say “its all about money or hate, nothing else matters”. More importantly, its no fun. Believing that I can change nothing is’nt going to get me out of bed in the morning. It is’nt going to make me happy. I might not be able to change much, but maybe if I set myself to something I can make it budge an inch. If not, at least I tried.

    I would say that cultural events are’nt preordained but change is difficult and its hard, but not impossible to change the “path of least resistance”. Some issues snowball (climate change, civil rights) and some issues (Zimbabwe, Burma, Sudan, Iraq) simmer. An interesting topic of debate.

  • MMMMM- Bob – photography as a weapon can only be effective if the defences of those who it is aimed at are low and from what I can gather the average punter these days has a pretty high resistance level to images of the obcenities as a species we manage to inflict on eachother.
    Having said that , we are in the middle of watershed time in Australia where the conditions of life in remote Australian Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory where the sheer weight of reporting on the conditions in these places in the press and through legal investigation prompted an intervention and mobilisation of resources on the scale of with that has’nt been seen scince WW2.
    Photography as a weapon? sure if you spray it around enough and make sure it reaches those who actually make decisions.

    not blowing any horns here but it’s just what we do.

  • I forgot to mention (the drunkeness) a story about another photographer about whom (for me) represents all that I had meant to suggestion in my long post from last night….

    John Vink…

    John and I became friends through photography. I discovered his work 3 years ago through LS…even though he, like David, is a Magnum member and a great and committed photographer, I’d never heard of him….more a testament to my ignornance then the remarkable quality and importance of his work. Anyway: JOHNS’ PICTURES CHANGED ME, EDUCATED AND INSPIRED ME.

    John has spent the last 10 years documenting the struggle for land in Cambodia, and for me, is one of the finest and most important long-term projects in documentary photography of the last 25 years…though it still is not as recognized or well known as other long term projects. His work and his stories opened my eyes to what has been happening and what continues to happen in cambodia and by association more succinctly to the divide of our world over land….I had the great honor to show part of his work this time last as part of my former projection project…people were stunned and silenced, and like me, had little idea…..john has continued this work, just as he hs continued to tell the story of the KR trials and I recommend that each of you who is not familiar with john’s work take a long: quiet, poetic, intense and remarkably beautiful in it’s refusal to give in to cyncism and ennui…..

    he changed me, or rather, i’ve learned from John, just as I have learned from my friendship with David (humanely and photographicall)…and i can tell you of at least 1 person that night (the night of my projection) that decided to work toward helping the people in cambodia: work to this day he still continues to do, here an abroad, for the Khemer community….

    the squalor still exists, but if not for john and is work, i would not be the same person today that i was 3 years ago: in otherwords, each morsel of change, revelation, can open a larger change, if even in only 1 person…

    I cannot imagine my own family’s life now without the friendship of david and because of his life and his work (divided soul stopped me in my tracks), my own life has tilted….each small creek tilts…and that tilt is the ache and sound of this living life…

    go see john’s work

    see what i mean…

    thanks erica :)))…going now..:))

    brother glenn: will get back to you next week…


  • GLENN! :)))

    ok, bastard, u r making me late! ;))))…Megan’s work is so brilliant and powerful….and god damn boy, do you have some magnificent photographs in your story…jeeeeeezzzzzuss….that’s some major goodies there…

    that’s what im talkin’ bout…now, gotta skidattle…

    hugs with red dust too :)))


  • GLENN…

    i am running this morn, but took a quick look at your links…i did not realize quite how much you had done with the aborigines…i would like to talk more with you at some point about this important work….important yes, and some very nice images, yes….

    i do look forward to the day when i get to Australia and we can meet…yes, of course, i will do a story about you!!!

    cheers, david

  • GLENN…

    i did not see Megan’s work…rushing and her site opening slow slow, so i had to leave…back soonest…

  • Good morning all,

    Great discussion. While cleaning and dancing this morning I thought of all the images I have seen and the changes they brought about in me, many of them instantaneously.

    From the obvious visions such as portrayed in Scribbling the Cat, where K is confessing the torturing of that young woman and her subsequent death, to a breathtaking moment of a smile captured on the beautiful, innocent face of my grandson Koa, and the young man with both his arms blown off in the beginning of the killing in Iraq. These images, through words and photos, change me. When I change people around me change. I have witnessed this personally and can testify that it is indeed fact.

    That is what it means to change the world. Start with your own sphere and work out. The world is smaller that way and more manageable.

    Love talking with all of you,



    Yes- I see your point of view: akin to “the pen is mightier than the sword”. In Carlan’s case it certainly fits the bill.

    Like several others here I am either a bit protective or perhaps not yet jaded enough to be willing to admit that our passion can indeed be a very powerful tool to battle adversaries.



  • Dear dR,

    Kick in the gut response. First, joy at seeing one of ours carrying out a child he sees only as a child in need.

    Then the pain at seeing the words he had killed himself.

    Then, wondering what horrendous things he witnessed in those lands, thought about dear john letters, and a flash on my own gun toting bachelor dealing with his patriotic yet hopeless feelings. Not knowing the why of his choice to end his life I can only look at that photo and feel what flowed through.

    Photos reflect what you know and have witnessed and many times take you to the next level of knowledge.


  • GLENN,

    Good onya, mate! Terrific work by both Megan and yourself. In your spread there are many images I really like, but #10 in particular grabs me and holds me. Other favorites are: 16,17,18,25,28,29,34,36,37,38
    I’ve lived in sun-baked, open, and sparsely populated country, and your pictures take me right there. I hope these are seen widely, and likewise Megan’s in which portrayal of human relationships and interaction is particularly strong. Thanks for offering up the link.


  • At least personnaly I can say that taking pictures brought me to places where I wouldn’t have been as a “usual” tourist/visitor and as a consequence changed my way of seing the world, the people, it helps a lot to understand differences, at least for me…

  • Lee,

    Yes, I think that you are right. I thought further about the images of 9/11 and the impact that made on me personally, the influence that those images made on the American populace. I don’t think that we are quite at a point of total numbness yet.

    After thinking beyond my first reaction to the questions poised by David, I think that there is some hope for photographic journalism and it’s overall ability to evoke reaction that in turn evokes action. The pure volume of imagery makes this more of a challenge than in previous generations but I think that the “right” event and the “right” portrayal can still cause change.

    That being said, the obvious downside in this era is the expansion of media (all forms) due to rapid technology change and volume of imagery leading to desensitization and numbness at the less unique events (Starving Africans vs American Terrorist attacks).

  • Glenn! Holy Smokes!

    The words describing the Mob story (after I saw the images) just finished off what came through in the photos.

    dB, one other way I saw change through photos was a series I did on my best friend. She did not know she had a facial tic–since seeing the series she took action and began exploring the emotional and physical roots of that tic. That in turn has affected her self esteem, her relationship, and her plans for the future.

    When I started the series on her I had no idea what would be seen, having never desired to share with her what I had witnessed for years. She was not the only one this experience changed–I had a few revelations on my own life as she made her discoveries.

    How else can one change the world except by seeing those things in ourselves that keep us from evolving. Everyone is on a different level in this process, thus the major reason this world is in chaos.

    Glenn, HOLY SMOKES!


  • Photography is a weapon that can be used for good or ill by both sides. The Abu Ghraib pictures of the torture of Iragi prisoners has emboldend those that stand against the war in the west, our morals are judged poorly in those snapshots; our reasoning held up weakly thus making the Iraq war`s continuation less likely. And yet, and most ironically, those same pictures act as a beacon, a rallying call, for those that stand against the war from the other side, those that are victims, or like to call themselves such, of the western powers that are fighting it, calling to them of the barbarity of those they should/must/are duty bound to oppose thereby, probably, prolonging the war.
    A sensitive photojournalist can make a difference with an image. True Rafel, those in power may not listen or shift position, but in this sensored press age the powers that be know how powerful an image unleashed can be, how it can expertly undo their spin and that is why they are controlling photographs and photographers more than ever. It is telling that the Abu Ghraib pictures were not controlled, they were after all private pictures by private sadists, and as such their effect has been stronger. Almost out of control. What photographers do and should do is find stories, less sensational than a war perhaps, that highlight and educate us on issues we should know about even if they are not part of the rolling news network programming. Look at John Vink, as Bob said, or our very own Sean Gallagher with his important work in China: all these images speak to us; we want to learn despite ourselves even, despite the background noise of other things clamouring for attention. Sometimes the emotion we feel at an image is too powerful for us to ignore. Weapon is a scary word for many of the very peaceful people here but a weapon has no essentially evil parts. It is just a machine designed to do a job. It becomes dangerous (evil/useful) when it is operated. Photos should be this “trigger”, they should make us feel something whether that be for or against what the photographer intended (for example Eddie Adams famous picture of the execution of a North Vietnamese prisoner by General Nguyan Ngoc Loan had quite the opposite effect on the American population that Adams, a war support by all accounts, intended). Anyway photos should trigger something in us, make us think,, feel an emotion of some worth and make us want to find out more. As Mr Harvey said before, I think I paraphrase, good photos always leave us asking questions. Those questions become opinions and those opinions can sometimes cause a action and those actions can change things. Small things to be true or small changes to larger events but as Erica said that is better than nothing at all. 
    bit druck excuse the soapboxing!!

  • Damon,

    Soapboxing not! Drunk or not. Good, good points. And you smiled! I love happy tippsies!


  • But Abu Gharaib fizzled out, heads rolled but it was low level soldiers and officers. Not a single big fish got punished. You still have images from Guantanamo Bay, videos and stills and we all know whats up, but Gitmo is up and running and even Obama wont shut it down. I still think the powers that be know our attention spans are short, we move on far too quickly. So, for example China (host of next month’s olympics) and Russia (host of an upcoming Olympics) just refused to back any sort of punishment on Mugabe and his henchmen. Both are opposed to the ICC going after al Bashir….how quickly did we forget the slaughter of monks and the criminal reaction to the cyclone in Burma? And what about Tibet?

    Im in Korea. We just had a month of anti US beef protests. A new issue arises (Dokdo/Liancourt Rocks/Takashima) and the same people who just fought street battles with police to try and topple the government here are now on to the new cause. ON A DIME. Beef is forgotten, now its Dokdo time….. This is the attention span of humans, and those in power know it.

    I may be cynical but I think little changes…the fundamentals never do, especially when it comes to money. Where you will see change is where wallets wont be hurt.

  • Im not saying things are hopless though and I do think its important to know whats going on, be informed and aware and photography is huge in that regard. I think though that the power of it is retrospective in that while it doesnt change the present it will change how we view history…and perhaps then it will change how we behave in the future.

  • Finally, I think we can change the world by getting involved in the political process. But I find it disheartening that young people tend to shun politics. Obama seems to be the kind of guy who can energize the younger generation, and we need young politicians who have a real interest to make this world a better place. Guys like Cheney who wont be around to see the hell they have unleashed really come to fruition couldnt give a crap about 10, 20, 30 years later. So you have criminal negligence vis a vis the environment because the government is all old men who have no reason to care. Obama is in his 40s, he will live with his decisions, mistakes or successes and we need people like that. Thats how we change the world.

  • But Rafal the BBC is banned from Zimbabwe but Mugabe knows of the power it has to influence the world against him; especially his “friends” in South Africa. China is slowly going to become greener 8albeit too late) but at some point market forces will demand it and China is now a capitalist country it will be dictated to by the markets as long as the population have the power to vote with their credit cards. These things take time, be patient. You`re in Korea, not that long ago it was a military dictatorship where anything against the military government line was crushed. Now they have riots that are fed by a sensationalist press against an America that supported and still supports the Korean military and government ina serious way. And it is allowed. Opinion in many new “democracies”i s almost a fad (I know I`m in Japan and it is very similar). Feelings change because they are not unfortunately held that deeply even by those that express them passionately. When the next “headline” comes along the great dumbing media machine will do it`s job of making sure that all are similarly outraged, supportive, scared or whatever the market feels is most expedient at that time. The governments are controlled more these days by the markets and they follow. In Britain where I`m originally from we have tha same thing with the right wing press scapegoating all foreigners for everything bad our own greed has caused us. But these people who react to news automatically rather than form their own ideas are stupid people, they are the ones that need to be educated, re-educated even because the society has made them this unthinking. Using pictures is the ideal way to do that as they are more immediately emotional than an essay or article which most will not bother to read. It is the happy ignorance of the masses that can and must be changed and diminished by photography. In fact probably only by photography these days. We just need to shift their gaze from celebrity mags to some publications or websites that make them think; make them feel less comfortable, less sure. Photos will always remain attractive to people it is making people take images seriously these days that has been lost.
    Still smiling though I think I argued myself around a blind corner there. Good wine though it has to be said:)

  • Rafal,

    Supporting Obama is definitely a big way. I agree. Glad you still believe things are not hopeless. When we give up and quit trying is when it ends. The other side of the young Obama is the machine that is already in place, of old men as you say. The ones that have nothing to lose are the ones that see no further than their own life span and pocket. We need more and more people in that see beyond their own life span and pocket. Old men die. The young become old. The young are being indoctrinated and it is the job of those that see to carry through to ensure the young see the truth of a global world.


  • You argued on Rafal, taking the words out of my mouth and I agree with all your later comments. Took me a while to type my piece, this carefully.

  • Simple example of photography making a difference:

    Bill Allard and the Peruvian boy:

    Also, photographer Brent Stirton (who took the photo of the murdered silverback that Bob mentioned) has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times. Quoting Richard Holbrooke, President, Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC):
    “… we use Brent’s images on our Website and in our communications vehicles to show why the private sector must get involved in HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.”

    SO, undoubtedly, photography can be used as a tool/”weapon” to make a big difference in others’ lives.

  • I think Glenn, Neil, and dR speak a good deal of sense on this issue.
    I understand Rafal’s frustrations with the ephemeral and ineffective nature of public furor over some issues but I see that as a problem of the media and mass societies in general, and not specifically a problem related to whether or not still photography itself continues to be an effective means for creating awareness and mobilizing opinion.

    Historically, I don’t think there’s any argument about the power of still phiotography. Without the photos of William Henry Jackson, we wouldn’t have the national park system we know in the US today. Without the photos of Lewis Hine and others, child welfare and labor laws would have been much later in coming. The photos of Maggy Bourke-White, George Rodger, etc. of the Nazi death camps were certainly important in creating support for the Nuremburg Trials. Still photos of Vietnam, especially three images in particular- the famous shots by Malcolm Brown, Nick Ut, and Eddie Adams- served to galvanize opposition to the US war policy both domestically and around the world.

    But what about now? I think it’s clear that the RELATIVE power of still photography, when compared to all the other forms of media bombardment, has diminished since the days when the masses got their primary view of the larger world from Life, Look, Stern, Paris Match, and AsahiGraph. It’s still a weapon, and a very useful one, but like all weapons it all depends on how, where, and when it is deployed. Glenn and some others speak to that…

    One spectacular individual image or set of images may be very gripping and mobilizing, but in most cases I think the effect of ‘concerned’ photography has to be gradual, minutely incremental… working away at informing people, and making strangers and distant places more real and immediate to them. I’ve spent time in Australia (though not way up north) and the problems of aborigenes are not new to me, but Glenn and Megan’s photos make these people much more real and appealing to me as individuals. Whether they wil have the same effect on Australian government policy workers, I can’t say, only hope.

    Presumably, the more we are aware, the more likely we are to make intelligent decisions… choose wiser leaders… reject unjust and destructive policies… though I suppose one could argue endlessly even on that subject!


  • I missed Asher’s latest post while I was writing. I think he’s right on in addressing the issue…



    I have kept strangely silent on this one for a topic that is dear to my heart.

    But please let me introduce you to one of my favorite living Aboriginal photographers

    Ricky and Carlan would get on extremely well I think if they don’t already know one another.

    My favorite unfortunately not with us any more Aboriginal photographer is

    Michael Riley is not only one of the most mesmerizing talents of the world of photography he was also a very lovely guy and my friend Aunty Barb’s cousin. He passed away at age 43. Three years older than my dear friend Alan Dargin the master of rock and roll yirdaki.

    All such great talents, two gone so young. I believe that Ricky, Alan and Michael have used their art to try to make people realize how fragile yet hypnotic it all is. Something Carlan Trapp seems to say with his work.

    These four men, well I think maybe everyone could learn that their greatest weapon is not photography or music but their comprehension of the lyricism of life and their utter, utter tranquility of having the knowledge of where they really come from and belong.

    If you have ancestors that date back to 60,000 years in the one spot you have a certainty about who you are. Not like anyone that is just a Johnny come lately from somewhere else. Whats 200 or so years when your mob have been around for that long, eh? The best weapon that Carlan Trapp has is knowledge, real comprehension.

    David Suzuki once said,

    ‘Aboriginal people are key because they have a different sense of where we belong and how we interact with nature’

  • IF photography is not going to change anything why do Nike, Rolex et al spend so much on it?

  • GLENN,

    You do have some very strong images… I only had few minutes at lunch break to look at your work (will look more extensively tonight) but very interesting work!


  • ERIC

    did you get my email week? going to cleve tomorrow..


    Also loved seeing your work..and had a problem with the load time on M’s work, which seemed really lovely, but it took too long for me to see more than a couple of images..can you get her on DR too?


    In my last post to you I used the word “jaded”, when what I really meant was that I think I am perhaps still too naive about photography to admit that it has the power to fight, contrary to what I know is true. Re-reading it, I did not mean to imply that you are jaded- I hope you didn’t take that the wrong way!



  • Megan just needs to optimize her images for web. They load like they’re at a high resolution.

  • Hello David and All
    Here’s the link of my essay about the recovery house “Don Giuseppe Puglisi” at Modica (Sicily). The house takes it’s name from a priest of Palermo who devoted his life to help street’s childrens that were recruited by Mafia. He was killed by the Mafia on September 15 of 1993.

    The house host mothers and childrens with psychological difficulties, try to reintegrate them into society.

    Womens guests of the house are given the opportunity to education, empowerment, working within the laboratory “home Don Puglisi” which produces sweets and the famous chocolate of Modica exported worldwide.
    (the proceeds from the sale, in fact serves to support ways of reintegration).

    I was welcomed inside the house for 3 days, I “lived” with them and breathed their experiences …
    with some of them I was able to enter into more intimate contact with other a little less, I was forbidden to photograph children or make them recognizable for privacy …
    I do not know if my essay is completely finished … was a hard and continuous work…

    tnx :-)

  • DAVID,

    It would be interesting for (my husband) Richard to meet Carlan. I will introduce them tonight. I first met Rich on the Zuni reservation where he owned a trading post, selling Indian goods to all the big stores and wholesalers throughout the world. He started selling turquoise, coral, silver, etc… to the Native Americans in college and knows the Zuni tribe intimately..lived in Gallup, NM for years…has great stories about life on the reservation.


    no offense taken….i am optimistic by nature….but, at the same time , who among us does not see us at “war” on so many fronts…

    we all must “fight” to get back our precious environment..

    we are all at “war” with mis-guided and corrupt governments as per Rafal suggests….

    we “battle” ignorance on every front…

    this is not being jaded, this is just being realistic… for any of us to have a chance to put a “brick in the wall” towards either enlightenment or exposing injustice gives our our educated eye the power of a certain type of “weapon”…

    to be passive is to lose our humanity…

    do all “weapons” cause destruction?? i suppose “yes” is the answer depending on your semantic interpretation….but is there anything wrong with the “destruction” of social injustice???

    for photographers and other artists who do not see themselves directly involved in “change” , i would submit that “art” plays just as important a role as “journalism” in the positive evolution of the human spirit..

    art brings out the best in humanity..our highest achievement…the best aspect of human intelligence…the one thing that really separates us from other species…

    once you have food, water, shelter, a family, and a functioning community..the basics..what does man produce next??? art, music, sculpture, books, poetry, etc etc…

    so , at the core of our “special place” in the “animal world” is art…only art lasts…so, perhaps good “documentary” can help fix the “basics” so we can finally , at the end of the “long day”, have the ability and luxury to write a poem…

    i think i way overanswered your question Asher…sorry about that, but it was on my mind!!

    cheers amigo, david

  • All;
    I think people do want to know what is going on in the world. I can only take my own limited recent experience as an example of this.

    I have been fortunate in that my last trip to Timor received a reasonable splash of publicity in the papers here. I have been amazed how many people have come up to me in the street and thanked me for the work I did, asked me to keep it going, and have said that these stories need to be told. These were people I didn’t know; they’d recognised my ugly mug from the paper….

    It embarrasses me to all hell, but it is gratifying nonetheless. Maybe I’m preaching to the converted, but I really think that people do care; it’s just that they often feel powerless.

    But the more people know about the world’s realities, then greater the chance that some of our mistakes may not be repeated. I’ve come to the conclusion that even if my work makes a little difference, it’s better than making no difference.

    I don’t think it’s imperative that every photographer uses their work for change, just as every writer doesn’t need to do that either, it’s a horses for courses basis.

    I’ve noticed that the Congo disaster is beginning to get some publicity and traction now. I’m sure that the work of Marcus Bleasdale et al has done a great deal to highlight that situation. Again, it’s someone with a camera opening the world’s eyes to a humanitarian disaster.

    My own principle is: if I fly to a location on a humanitarian photo trip, and if the final result hasn’t highlighted the problem enough to justify spending the money, then I’m better off donating that money to Red Cross. At least I know it’ll help someone, somewhere. If I continue a project (without adequate results) then I’m only doing it to bolster my own ego.

    Great stuff!! As an aside, a good friend of my sister is a nurse in Alice Springs Hospital emergency department. She’s been there for about 18 months; it has certainly been an eye opener for her…. Lot’s of revenge/payback injuries etc…..

    You said you were going back to Timor in October, ever been there at Xmas? I was thinking it would be an interesting place to be at that time of the year….

    I missed out on the sponsored trip back to Timor, but they’ve asked me if I want to spend a month in the refugee camps on the Thai/Myanmar border, so that looks promising too.


  • David;

    Thanks for the edit! those extra two photos are finally up on the page (they weren’t when you viewed it). My mate does my web work and was away at the time, I’m a complete ignoramus re web design!!!

    The two images are; soldier and daughter (colour), and the next image; 3 boys (B&W)



    i am late for class, but i took a quick look…absolutely brilliant mi amica!!! i do not think you are finished but your sensibility is , as usual, right on…

    back soonest…

    un abbraccio grande, david


    Thanks for your thoughts- I like the continuum that you painted: from “basics”/documentary to fulfillment/art. I would also add that a society that values its artists is less likely to revert back, less likely to suppress those basics, those life-essentials that are necessary to sustain fruitful, soul-supporting art. It’s another kind of “life cycle”.



  • Ross

    Excellent works! But too many children in short essay for me.


    I just wonder about photography as a weapon…
    Some time ago in australia have been closed exhibition of Bill Henson . Because there was some pictures of naked teenagers.

    of course in Poland (catholic country) many people was offended by the reason of children pornography. But we have many people who don’t see anything bad in that. I am one of this people.
    I don’t know too many teenagers or children. For me there are just part of environment, like cars or pets. Sometimes they scare me sometimes they make me laugh.
    I have the same when I look at this pictures. I just see young naked people. Nothing more. Nothing wrong.
    Some people says that this photos are too erotic. Hmmmmm… If I remember my self as a 13 years boy I had first sex in my head and my face all the time.
    I don’t know what relation was beetwen this guy and this childrens, but about that should worry judge.
    I think this is great photography.
    Of course I know we should protect our children before pedofils and if it could help even one of them they should close every exhibition with naked or dressed teenager at whole world.

    What do you think about that?

    for me first:
    people see what they want to see.
    For me even if i see some erotic situation it is like miki mouse’s wife. so what…
    we have big problem with children pornography, but shooting to pictures on walls nothing help.
    If we will censoring everything what naked and children’s we will destoy everything what natural between young and old. Now in europe many males afraid seaking with uknowing childrens even. Just talk or smile. Real fear.
    For fourth;
    pedophils have many ways to see children phornography, real children phornography. So, why they should looking for it at the art gallery?

    so, what you think about that?

    I don’t have children. For me children not exist. So maybe I’m wrong?

    Maybe photography it is weapon against Innocence?


  • Marcin;
    Thanks for the comments. This is a first “rough” edit that I will be cutting down to 10-12. I put them all up so David (& anyone) can give their views etc. I will also be putting up another page of extra images soon.

    I did focus quite heavily on the children though, as they seemed to me to be the most affected by the living conditions. I spent many days at the one camp and I noticed that the children relaxed and stopped showing off to me, their eyes seem to show their sadness. I have to admit I did wear my heart on my sleeve though….

    I’m not sure whether there will be any camps left by Xmas, because the repatriations were starting when I was last there. But I feel it will be an interesting project to document the festive season in the camps in this highly religious country (approx 90% Catholic). Even if they have left I will still return as part of a long term project.


  • David thanks!!!! to be always here.

    Do u think i need to improve it?
    how can i understand when an essay is done, help me to understand when an essay could be finished.
    i send u a link where u can have a look at all the photos for the right editing of it…

    kissess :-)

  • All – thanks for the comments , I have been avoiding putting out the homelands work ( of which you,ve seen a small Slice ) for reasons best left to myself – but I moved up to The Northern Territory to do this sort of work – It really is the only topic of consequence in Australia at the moment , It’s a story of race , belonging , land , loss and redemption – there will be no conclusion to the question Australians ask -Do I belong here or do I belong TO here?
    untill theres social progress made in the inland and Northern homelands.
    Most of the work you saw was shot on assignment or just after ( See Stay annother day ), I just make it my business to go to these places , shoot and publish – I try to find pictures of hope , resolve and dignity in places where there is’nt a lot of it going around as the usual ways of shooting wernt working Pictures stored under the metaphorical Bed are really of no use , they have to get out so I will try and get some more out there for you all to have a look at
    As for Megan – she’s an old friend of mine and her story is something is something she should tell, she’s a great person and great and passionate photographer, I’ve invited her to join, so It’s up to her.

    MARCIN – Children are essential to success , have enough of them and you have no choice but to be a success .

    DAH – Love to have you over Uncle – there’s a lot of shooters over here who could do with a dose of Yr Magic.

    BB – Thanks mate


    Everything you say about photographing children is rationale and logical.

    However, there is a wide variety of people everywhere, including a diverse range of parental attitudes towards this issue.

    Sally Mann creates beautiful works of art photographing her children, often nude. There were certainly those who criticized her for this, but see her work via the link in the right sidebar of this page and judge for yourself whether it’s art or pornography. Also, these are her children… if she had photographed someone else’s children, that would be a very different matter.

    While I understand the logic of your point of view, I know that if someone came up to my kids, ages 8 and 10, at (for example) a swimming pool and started photographing them in their swim suits, I would be right up in that person’s face FAST. If that person first approached me or my wife, I would have to have a long discussion and still might not permit them to photograph if I was not convinced that their intent was noble. Perhaps teens are better able to give consent/assent, hopefully with a parent’s approval.

    Regardless of all the logic you lay out, I think parental instincts will always dominate.



  • Christina, I think you created some wonderful images and just need to continue shooting there. It seems you are really early into the story and you just need to keep shooting. Thus far, I think the relationship you have created with your subjects is strong and tender and it shows. There is a closeness physically and more importantly emotionally that I see and I think you should keep running with it. The light is nice as well, soft like silk.

    I am not a fan of #4 and truthfully I am not sure about #9 which means that it did not impact me. The idea behind #11 is there but I wonder how much meaningful body language we are losing with the wall blocking her.

    Just my thoughts.. keep it up.

    What do you think? How do you feel the story is coming? What are you struggling with?

  • Sending happy 90th birthday wishes to Nelson Mandela with the words of DAH

    “I am optimistic by nature….but, at the same time , who among us does not see us at “war” on so many fronts…

    we all must “fight” to get back our precious environment..

    we are all at “war” with mis-guided and corrupt governments….

    we “battle” ignorance on every front…”

  • camera as a weapon? maybe a weapon of love.
    weapon is a tough word I think, got a lot of negative conotations.
    a camera as a tool to change the world, or our perceptions of it, that sounds Buddhist.
    I wonder if Buddha made some photographs, if they could change the world.

  • I wonder if Buddha made some photographs, if they could change the world.

    First: I have tried many times today, but am I the only one to not be able to open Cristina Faramo’s link?

    Talking about Buddha and strong language, I think it is quite adequate to use such word as weapon, when mentionning art and going against the grain of daily life. Such words should never be given the only design to be co-opted solely by wrong-headed, violent characters.

    And after all are to be found already in much non-violent literature and peace-seeking credos to make a point or define a struggle. Ie. Non-violence was a weapon for Gandhi.

    Yet, it is not so much to decide or define one’s weapon that makes the difference, it’s what you do with it, how you use it, and how sharp your aim.

    I guess every weapon comes with a target, but a weapon aimed wrongly at a target, or badly chosen for a target might as well be made of marshmallow. In many cases, a camera ends up a bit too much on the soft side to hit its target decisively enough to be called a weapon. Then you have also valuable work, docu, essay and whatnot, but that’s no weaponry, IMO.

    Back to Buddha, I always thought the Boddisatva vow fits the act photography so aptly: Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.

    All is said, no?

  • Herve, had the same problem with Christina’s link until I updated both my browser and flash player … there is such a wonderful lyrical quality to her work that I love …

    … Christina, sorry to talk as if you are not here because i know you are :)) You have much heart and soul in your work … shine on :))

  • there can be truth within a marshmallow.

  • Sorry everyone… I came to this thread late and just haven’t had time to read all of the posts, so I hope I’m not repeating something that’s already been said… My thought is that a camera is a tool, but just as hammers or screwdrivers can be, and so many times have been, used as weapons, so can the camera. If a tool is used to hurt someone, it is a weapon. Photographers can use their cameras as a tool to help a group of people against some injustice and at the same time they are using their cameras as weapons to hurt the people committing the injustice. So far my cameras have just been tools…


    Doesn’t look like I’m going to make it to Woodstock. I’m sure it would have been a great time, and it would have been lovely to meet you. Maybe someday. We are however going to take a day trip this Sunday to the Orange County Fair! Should be some good photo ops there. I hear they have the worlds smallest horse… Can’t wait to see what you come up with at the Ulster County Fair!

    Also, I think it’s some kind of Freudian Slip, but every single time I type the word “woodstock,” I start typing “weedstock!”

  • Spencer

    Sorry Wood(weed?)stock won’t work for you and Mike, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing the world’s smallest horse! We’ll meet another time..


  • Hello all been away for a few days, so catching up a bit… New work to share just putting it together…

    “Weapon”…. maybe “tool” is better suited (ooh! Matron!)…

    Anyways, a very powerful tool that CAN make (or help make) change… photography facilitating the growing protests against the Vietnam war for example. I understand Rafal’s disillusion, life is shit for most people out there, and this is simply because of corruption and greed. After spending some time in the Philippines I was staggered to understand that this is the second most dangerous country (outside of a war zone for a journalist). I believe 58 deaths since the the current administration took charge in 2001. This does tell us that the powers that be are concerned at the power of journalism. Secondly I was also going to comment of Nachtwey’s TED speech, but I see Neil already made this point.


    Really enjoyed looking at your work. What a sensitive feeling you create. Was a little unsure about #4 esp. with the image after it on the same theme. But really can’t fault the rest. Really beautiful stuff. Well done!

    Back soon!…..


    it is late and i must sleep….but, at some point i have to give you the full Cathy Scholl report…but, she can give her report first…

    anyway, in a nutshell, this was just one of the truly amazing things that has happened here…so many real time real life reunions with so many of you…it started with Rafal in Korea, Norway Mag event, went to Look3 and then Paris and so many other smaller meetings with so many of you…it is just flat out fun for all of us…

    ok, off to bed…

    cheers, david

  • …Hello Again!

    OK got it together to share some latest work…

    We spent some time in Macau a week back. I had planned to put together a short feature story on the place, as this Special Administrative Region of China (next to Hong Kong) is booming. Under Portuguese rule until Dec ’99, Macau is the only place in China where you can gamble, and has recently seen huge investment from the US in developing the “Cotai Strip” which will basically be the “Vegas of the East.”

    Anyways things went kind of tits up at the start. Was burnt out, tricky access and the weather was appalling. So decided to say fuck it! Turned it on its head and went out to shoot whatever with no plan, deadlines, fixed schedule etc… More “loosey goosey” as I once heard David say. (Never heard that before as a Brit! Did he make it up!?)…

    Had Floyd’s Comfortably Numb buzzing round my head as I wandered the streets so decided to put some of the the images down with this in soundslides for a bit of fun. Will eventually edit down to 10 or so, but enjoyed putting the images to the music… And hey you can always turn you monitor off and listen to a great track for a couple of mins!!!



    PS: Where do we stand with using copyrighted music on slideshows? It is an infringement. How seriously should we take this?

  • david,

    few weeks ago, before leaving for a vacation, i posted a link to some of my photographic work.
    do you have the chance to look at it and give some opinions?
    As i wrote before, it’s an essay on people from a home for the elderly, photos i took many years ago.
    here is the link




    I really respond to the sensitivity of #9, the image of the ball in the doorway..I’d love to see more photos of the physical shelter taken in this way to create another level of intimacy, the presence of the personal in a place which is only acting as home..

  • Cristina,

    I think only you can know when an essay is finished. Does it show what you wanted to show, does it close the story, does it fit the original plan you had for it?

  • James that is nice work from Macau see you have the DAH colour magic. I need to leqarn that. Good tune too.

  • ERICA,

    I just saw your e-mail last night. I have had to away from home for the past 3 days on business and found your mail when I got back. Although I would love to, this week-end will be tough to go to Cleveland as we have friends over this evening and we have about 15 kids coming over tomorrow for my son’s birthday….so I hope to see you in another occasion… Still thinking about the print… Might wait to see what your latest work will look like. Hope you have scanned and will share with us some initial direction when ready. I was hoping to shoot more this week than what I was able to do in light of this business trip. I plan to edit this morning some work I did the week before and see what others think. Have fun in Cleveland with the family I presume. Cheers,


  • James Chance

    Many interesting and evocative images in your Macao shoot. I was quite imprressed. And I will be curious to see how you distill them down into a tighter edit… what kind of slant and focus that will give them… although for the most part I like the set as it is, maybe I would drop a few… looks almost like the start of a book to me.

    Incidentally, I found your pictures much more interesting than the music. Do you ever listen to Cantopop? And as for borrowing music for slide shows… if you were a professional musician, you might feel just as protective of your creations as photographers do… and yet some musicians are deliberately disseminating their stuff free on the web. In my rather provincial small town, there has been a good deal of pressure on people who perform in clubs and in public venues, even just semi-pros, to pay royalties every time they do someone else’s song in a live performance.


  • DAVID and ALL,

    After David’s initial feedback on my boxing work couple of weeks ago, I have reflected upon what I wanted to show and say about boxing and went back to shoot to the gym, tried to get a bit more loose and instinctive… Who knows if you all will see this and appreciate the direction but anyway, let me share with you where this is going…. But, before that, let me tell you what attracted me to boxing… Initially, I had never been close to a ring, went to a boxing gym for the first time ever just over one month ago and rapidly, was fascinated by the atmosphere at the gym, the athletes, the sweat, the physicality, the combination of brutality and fraternity among the kids… You can watch them and they are really like wild animals, fast, “in your face”, always moving around…modern gladiators or tigers ready to jump…To visualize this aspect of boxing that initially attracted me, I have done one essay that I named “Eye of the Tiger”…obvious reference to a movie that we are all familiar with but it clearly captures what I had in mind….Now, after going a few more times to the gym and reflecting a bit more in depth, I did another essay that I called “crucifixion”… First, I found in boxing a clear connection to some deeper meaning, notion of sacrifice so present in all religions…there is the unbelievable pain, the brutality, the religious rituals when the athletes are about to go on the ring for the fight. There is also notion of sacrifice that these athletes go through simply to be fit, relentlessly train everyday of the week…Sadly, there is also the sacrifice of a generation as well…These kids are full of hope and rage but reality kicks in…the majority of them will not make it, end up in some jail for a period of time and live a tough life in a ghetto where this is little opportunity for them..,somehwta of a modern “Calvary” that they have to go through….wrong cards were delt to them from the get-go… This second “crucifixion” essay still needs work…I tried to use a more instinctive way of shooting, get real close so that the pain, the existential tiredness is more evident…I tried a few more symbolic pictures…need more of these but only had a few days to shoot so look at it as “work in progress”.

    Clearly David (and others), I am curious to see if this is heading into an interesting direction for you. The great things about this boxing work that I have started is that I see being able to shoot many different essays in the weeks/ months to come. Beyond what I have already shot, I have realized that there are a lot of interesting father and sons relationsships into boxing….many of these young boxers have come to boxing because their father was a boxer…most did not have a successful professional career but they have transfered the hope to their son….maybe “he” will succeed… I also still plan to get out of the gym and into their lives. It has been difficult to get this started and I am making some progress there so stay tuned…

    Anyay, long enough post for now… Hope some of you have a chance to look at the work and tell me what you think.



  • I was going to comment here, but got going a little so posted to my blog.

    In short, yes it is a natural reaction to want to use your photography as a “weapon” for change.

    How effective is it? well that is another question all together.

  • In another vein entirely, the following:

    is part of an idea I’ve had for a while. I havent really concentrated on it, but I’ve been adding to it slowly. I think some of you have seen it already, so dont be surprised by some of the same old same old. It is the same old, same old, but then again, most of life is the same old same old.

  • ERICA…

    will you be in New York towards the end of august??? i do hope we can meet soonest…i have some thoughts on book publishers for you…


    i am packing the car now for the drive from Santa Fe to Frisco, Colorado….i think Mike and i are looking at a 9 hour drive through some spectacular country…in any case, i will be “off” and not able to catch up with all the new links and work until tomorrow….

    i have my coffee in a “to go” cup, music turned up and we are rolling rolling….blue sky country…peaceful…wild wild west…gotta love it….

    back soonest…

    cheers, david

  • there can be truth within a marshmallow.

    Absolutely. As a suger freak, and without going too forrest Gumpy, I ‘d be the last to deny that…. :-)

    But really, in photography, my point at least, we find out if the camera was really a weapon after, not before. Hence, David’s allusion to Gordon Parks title, as the body of work was evident.


    Frisco? your birth town? As you told me you planned to be by month’s end? If I can help in anything, or/andI you have time for a cup or mug of something, my number is 415-6212177. I sure would love that, as you may guess.

  • TO ALL-

    Forgot to post the link to my new work. Go to Boxing and you will see the two essays there….



  • Christina,
    what a beautiful essay! And I partly agree with Jonathan: go ahead with it!!
    Maybe it is because just so few situations are pictured (no sleeping, no eating, no washing, …) , but we both seem to have the impression, looking at the images, that you just scratched the surface … For me it feels like sort of a teaser, not the whole thing. And I crave to see the whole thing! Yet another book I would buy right away…! I am filling up my shelves just by being in this blog :)

    Some of the images I feel like sticking out, a little alone. #3 for example. Either it needs another picture to go with or … hmmm …

    And another thing that came to my mind right away and I do not know if it is your intention:
    (I do not know what a Women’s recovery house is, but I THINK it is a place women can find refuge with their children when they do have trouble at home)
    The first and last picture seem to be chosen on purpose to illustrate the coming and going, the opening and closing of your essay.
    But… the woman is coming with a child and leaving alone. That is a pretty strong message. Is it the correct message?
    It was the first thing after “wow, what wonderful pictures!” that came to my mind, and I am just not sure if that is intentional. Maybe you can just fill me in here.


  • ALL…

    “Flat out fun” sums it up nicely for now.
    I’m off to shoot a rodeo and will write more about David in Santa Fe asap.

  • Hey, Cathy, you owe us a roDAHo report as well…. ;-)

    Eric, your firt close-up shot, majestic in its manliness, with the 2 boxers is a great entry into your essay, then I feel you back off a bit, distance wise, what gripped us, becomes more descriptive (we decipher more than we enter the image), yet lacking a narrative that situates both location and social settings. I certainly wished for the furtiveness of eye contacts, here and there, that draw us into the image, the story, the people, the soul of it all. Also, aren’t you a bit following a few of your influences too closely (Webb, David’s)?

  • Concerning David’s question…
    I’am trying to find a red string to answer – my head is a little chaotic today. Sorry.

    “i am curious where many of you “stand” with regard to photography as a “weapon”….there is a deep history in our craft of photographers who have devoted their lives to “saving the world”….what do you think??”

    I think that there are always people who do seek a deeper sense in what they do. Often this is not a matter of choice but of deep need – something where they do not feel like having a choice. These people will probably try to use the tools they know best to get the message out. And photographers will use the camera… Simply put.

    Adding to that I assume that there is a higher percentage of people aware of what it going on “outside” in the world among journalists and documentary photographers, due to the fact that … they are out there if they choose. Some choose beforehand, some choose as they see and some… do not choose.

    To put it shortly, I think that if you are young and idealistic and have the notion that if only people would see&understand they would act differently (= better), than the idea of becoming a journalist of words or of pictures is not all that way far off.

    If I think it works?
    Hmmm… yes, actually I do. Take a negative example: the 3rd Reich here in Germany. It was hugely a propaganda thing. Using pictures and words to evoce emotions and make actions follow. Of course there were other things going with it, but … If you took the images out, it would not have been that powerful.

    But you just have to switch on the tv or go through a magazine… Pictures work. They could therefore just as well work for the “right” thing.

    I believe that if you make pictures that masses understand and if you can make these masses move than you can achieve something.

    Another aspect:
    In December 2006 I was in Berlin to see an exhibition at the Newton-place (sorry, forgot the name). Apart from the Henry Newton exhibition, there were huge amounts of work from Nachtway and LaChapelle in an exhibition called “Men, War & Peace”. They probably needed this name to justify this photographer-combination …

    While walking through the rooms I overheard an angry man in his late 40s saying, that he could not stand these war-pictures any more, that they were everywhere and just making him sick, because there was no way of avoiding them. He then rushed out and probably did not notice the effect of his words, because it generated a huge discussion in the room, as if he deared to say something everybody else THOUGHT but would not mention. 5 minutes later the Nachtwey rooms were empty. I just wish I have had a video camera for this. It was amazing! But I think it shows what is happening at the moment. There is just this huge saturation of pictures of torment and it lies in the nature of people that they do not want to feel pain. Like moths they go to the place where there is light.

    What I want to say whith these clumsy words is that maybe we should go out there and put some extra-lights on?!

    Just a thought.


  • Sorry: Nachtwey, of course, not Nachtway…
    I have not slept – I should not write :)

  • Found a nice little corner to shoot something different. There’s a social club next to home I had never been to. I’ll be going to play bingo there in a bit. They have skittles alley and everything. It’s pretty old. People seem friendly to odd foreigners. The bar has more wood in it than anything I’ve ever seen in Cardiff. The place is massive, yet completely hidden.

  • Young Tom, updated my flashplayer, cleant my browzer files and cookies, and still no C. Faramo link. No problems with other links. Wassup, friends, can anyone help, beyond that? Thanks

  • Helmut Newton.

  • Herve

    You are not alone. I too would love to see Christina’s work, but numerous tries have failed to produce anything other than a dark blank page. I have the latest Flash plug-in, etc. But then, Lightstalkers has also been crashing my system right and left for the last several weeks, I’ve never been able to see any of Panos’s recent stuff… but James Chance’s Macao slide show comes through perfectly. I have the feeling some photographers are using net software that is so up-to-date and complicated that it requires constant system upgrades to access it. They may assume that since it works on their system, it’ll work on everybody’s… or at least everybody that matters. Now I suppose I’m a fossil and a has-been (or never-was?), but I’ve built a number of websites for people in the past, and I know it is possible to keep thing really simple and still do what they are supposed to do, if you want to. So I throw this out to folks in general, just as a suggestion… if you want a wide audience to see your work, then please try to put it in an easily accessible format that doesn’t require the very latest software to view or take forever to download. If you only want a very select audience to see it, then of course ignore this suggestion.


  • I don’t like to think of my camera as a weapon. I like to think of it as a camera. Sorry, but your idea reminds me of the recent Reza video I saw where for 55 minutes he blathers on about his camera being a weapon against those who perpetuate war. Give me a break! If I wanted a weapon, I would have joined the army. I like to take pictures, and if doing so can help people along the way, then so be it. If not, I’m still going to take pictures. I don’t know, but sometimes people just need to shut up and shoot (I mean that in the nicest way).

    As a point of interest, the “land bridge” crossing idea of the Navajo is merely a theory and has never been proven. It is an interesting theory though, because it in effect makes the Navajo mere settlers, instead of indigenous. Who knows, maybe they also displaced older, more ancient groups of people when they arrived from Siberia?

  • right then all.

    got ‘home’ and packed of beates dad.. lovely time was had.. an amazing man of such contentment that he is missed as if missing a heartbeat.

    anyway… i’ve been drinking**..

    and i have the chance to reply properly now..
    my first page post got me thinking deeper than i had time to express..
    edward curtis.. photographs and the use of photographs.. and so on .. and on.

    here is a metaphor.
    a photograph is a bullet.
    the method of delivery is the gun.. the weapon.

    a photograph left under a mattress in a shoe-box is not a weapon… it’s a bullet lost under the floorboards.

    stick a bullet in a gun and the damage it does can be directed – but only by the persons who hold the method of delivery.

    i have a great deal of admiration for people who choose to concentrate on suffering in their practice… it’s somewhere i have wandered before i decided to photograph people in celebration..
    i have even more admiration for people who control the use of the work they produce, since they are the altruistic ones who truly understand the power they hold in the humble bullets they create.

    people have already referred to nachtweys TED speech, and this is the point i would normally do so..
    or did i just do that?
    erm. okay.

    the reason i had a problem with the semantics, (photography.. weapon), is well covered now.. perhaps more eloquently by others than myself.
    i’ll say.. – photography is not a weapon, nor a changer of perceptions or a force which is causing this celebrity obsessed ‘west-on’ hemisphere to become ambivalent to the worlds woes…
    photography is photography.. the subjective pursuit of, (nowadays), most people to record what they care about.. what interests them.. what turns them on.. everyone like to ‘show their bag’ and photography does the job.

    and so a photograph is a humble bullet and i do not think it is a worthy weapon when compared to the vast ‘arsenal’ at the desposal of those power mongers whom humble snappers would have change… a photograph as the metaphorical stone which david (supposedly) threw at Goliath is not an impossible happening.. but it is EXTREMELY rare.

    in an age where political parties seem to ‘indoctrinate’ members and campaign trails have more in common with brainwashing programs than presenting policy, it’s important to concider just HOW photography is used for good and bad… the method of delivery being the weapon and the photograph being the humble bullet.

    my mentioning curtis and his native american work was not perhaps pertinant to the work DAH is introducing here.. more that i find it important in context of the war(s) which are now being faught.. the extent to which the media is being controlled is not only on the field of battle.. with restrictions.. it has also been used a political tool to present the good and the bad.. even the ugly.. the case for war… the case for prisoner abuse.. the case for withdrawl.

    interesting to note that in the case of prisoner abuse in iraq the perpetrators actually condemned themselves unknowingly with the ‘bullets’ they created… and i’ll warrant that no photographer in NYC on 9/11 would have wished their work to contribute to the feeling which bought about the current wars, (war?) being fought.

    T he
    W ar
    A gainst
    T errorism

    bullets of subjective truth bought about change in the indian famine of the 50’s.. the african famine of the 80’s.. turned the tide in vietnam..
    in bygone days where their calibre was not understood the authors of these works could relax in the knowledge the photos were used for good.

    unless, like curtis, your passion for the subject caused you too loose sight of the bigger picture.

    what is a more powerful weapon than a single photographers efforts today is PR.. those awful two letters which can conceal a wealth of corruption, hoodwinking and subterfuge. psudo-marketing which directs popular thought bland out problems, harden populations and even divisively gain support for (ahem) *illegal* wars.
    i have only had contact with music PR’s.. people who would sell any kind of music if it paid… and actually i could find one to sell the noise emitted from my arse as a ‘ring-tone’ if i gave them some cash.
    i can only imagine the kind of PR and marketing employed by political parties and the kind of ‘music’ they are selling to us.
    which is why i think intelligent photographers control their output.. direct it’s flow.. agencies are now plentiful and the work of the big un’s like vII and magnum, (‘classic’ is my favorite), has never been more important.

    photography is a powerful as ever.. fat little armor piercing bullets which can slam through even the heaviest oak doors of perception.

    of course people become hardened to photographs.. however everyone see’s their first shocking photo, everyone reads their first environmental essay and we all have an issue with which we empathize… recognize.. be it tibet, palastine, afghanistan.. n. ireland… for whatever reason – we care, we see our woes in well exhibited photographs and we change.. relate.. empathise.

    everyone see’s their first corpse photo.. be it a death caused by famine, war crime or natural causes.. it will always effect.. we do not collectively pass on our hardened views to our kids.. it will alway be of use to take such images… it is always of greater use to show them .. control them..

    images change perception.. still or moving.. whatever.. they are manipulated in delivery today, with the inter-web, more than ever..

    if you believe the 9/11 conspiracy film ‘loose change’ (check google video), then check out the bbc ‘conspiracy file – wtc7’ (check google video)
    the dialogue and interviews used in both could easily be text.
    same footage.. different story.
    fox news.
    al jazira.

    interesting to see buddhism mentioned.
    the best way to get want we want and need is to help others get what they want and need.. food.. peace.. coverage..
    the same religion also talks about the duality of all things..
    there cannot be injustice without justice.. pain without comfort.. love without hate.

    if in the end all we do is photograph our personal vision.. our little slice of generation x, y or whatever comes next, then that has a value far greater than we might realize.
    choose what caliber you want to shoot.. and don’t forget to choose your weapon.. as these days you have a better choice of delivery system than ever.

    cameras.. photography.. weapons?
    i don’t think so personally.
    it is the way it is delivered which can cause the devastating effect.. and we live in a time where that is as important as the photograph itself.

    the mind behind the use of a photo is the decider of it’s meaning,
    all we can do is take our little photos and build our little stories and try above all to control where and when the photos are used.. who’s words accompany them.. and what their brief might be.

    we’ll not stop photographing, and ‘they’ will not stop propagandizing if we let them.
    lets face it – we all care.. all want to help.. on this blog we’re here to offer that much and in doing so present ourselves.

    it has always been that way and if there has ever been a time to now show the full force of what we’re capable of it’s NOW.

    “Above all, I know that life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference”
    – Robert Frank

    (**red wine)

  • ERIC…

    Great work, both essays. I’ll write more when time allows.

    ps…I think I now know what you meant by telling DAH “be nice to Cathy.” :))

  • HERVE…

    I am posting about meeting DAH right now.
    I’ve been without internet during the time you two met so I may have missed it….
    I know you posted some photos but did you write about your experience with David? I’m interested…

  • ALL…

    DAH visits Santa Fe…(a brief report)

    The first words that come to mind…
    A GRACIOUS HOST who includes everyone and makes them feel comfortable.

    In Santa Fe the people who already knew David were thrilled to see him back in town and the ones who met him for the first time were blown away…(myself included.) As one of his students told me “I’m even more impressed with him as a person than as a photographer.”

    David’s certainly no slacker. He taught a weeklong workshop with 24 students, showed his work for the public, threw great parties, posted to the blog, shot a bit for his book, organized a slideshow for the workshops staff to show their work…which he critiqued…and that’s not half of it! Always thinking about the blog “family,” even in the midst of a party he’s coming up with ideas for his next blog post.

    In a nutshell…DAVID CARES.

    In case this is sounding too “kissass” for some (how could it be otherwise?) let me tell you one funny story…

    Last night David had a party after the Workshops final slide shows and banquet. Thomas, a lovely man who runs Eves Ranch, a Western movie set that is used for photo shoots presented David with a great “cowboy-ish” hat. David was wearing the hat, arm around Thomas, also talking to several of his students and at the same time I happen to have my camera and am photographing the new hat. Without taking his attention off ANYTHING else he is doing David is checking my exposure, which he is not happy with (no flash, one lamp in the room) and critiquing the photos I am taking of him as I’m shooting, working with me until he is satisfied!!! :)) …all the while enjoying the party.

    In otherwords…DAH is ALWAYS paying attention and no matter how much fun is being had he is ALWAYS serious about photography and helping photographers.

    WE are all fortunate to have found him, whether in person or online. Happy to have had a dose of “David live.” I highly recommend it!

    I’ll try to post a couple of those David and Thomas photos manana.


    I do agree, I think DAVID ALAN HARVEY is one of the most generous men around!!!!!!!

  • David – were all those words Franks or yours? either way theres truth there.

    BOB , SIDNEY, AUDREY – Thanks for your words and thoughts , made me have a little think about what I am doing here in my own little patch ( Not so Little if you saw my Fuel bill)
    Crying Baby – can’t stay long – but heres a link to more of the work I’ve been doing out in the homelands Past and Present

    Stella Margaret needs her Daddy , Bye all and thanks

  • glen..

    i’ll credit ‘red wine’ with most of what i wrote last night ..

    great work – you are shooting in serious volume.. would be interested to hear how you tackle editing it all down into a cohesive story.. what are your plans for the work?

  • DAVID – Mate I have no bloody Idea , Most of the pictures have been shot separately on news and feature stories,independant of each other so I don’t quite know how I would construct any sort of Narrative – if there is one it might be my own journey through the lands – but that would seem a bit naff – the reason I have most of the work at my fingertips at the moment is that I’m submitting to an Australian Photo journal just to road test it and then get my site up – If anything I’d see it as more a body of work than an essay.
    I suppose I go out to these places on such a regular basis is all ” If a Tree falls in the forest etc etc,” the communities are isolated and hard to get to,I’m fortunate to have a few edirors who are interested and suportive so it all goes a long way, I’m from a small desert town in and I suppose it;s all a part of me somehow.
    Love your pint photo BTW – Blokes holding beers is an unavoidable part of taking pictures in my part of the world.

  • * only the last line was franks..

  • all the more credit to ya son!

  • hey glen – sounds as if you have a fortunate situation ..

    for me bodies of work can be so much more interesting than stories. the time spent nurturing the work.. following leads.. commissioned or not, it’s a valuable contribution.
    crafting a body of work is a risk, time spent for possibly no return?.. although the faith put into a project shows in the dedication and focus over long periods of time… the multiple short-stories making one long story interests me. that might be a way to go?

    thanks for the kind words.
    i’ve been photographing music and youth culture as a ten year project.. it has produced work in volume.. i am trying to edit down.. so many photos.
    i know what i want to say.. show.. and am gradually editing out repeats.. 6 months into the process now.. probably 6 to go. i began with writing an essay to myself .. where i came from.. why i do what i do.. then linked it to the subject.. what is happening.. why.. that kind of thing.
    i worked on commission and had no idea the spread of youth culture would drag me around the world.. it only began because i shared a flat with a DJ.

    i’m *going* to produce the work into a book, and then move on into a more specific area – music festivals and event bringing people together after war.. toward that end i have been visiting N. ireland for 4 years.. (exhibited in derry last month) croatia and serbia for 2.. next stop israel.. palastine.

    my first long term project was taken over 6 years photographing a small tibetan refugee settlement in india.. over time it grew more permanent.. more westernized.. less concerned with tradition.. and there was the story revealing itself.
    i exhibited in london in 97.. soon as i get my negs over to norway (just emigrated) i shall stick them online.
    i only went there to teach english at 18 years old.. then things happened.. evolution..

    the great thing about where you are is the unique access.. the personal connection.. utterly genuine and the body must stand alone as something un-repeatable.
    you’re style is well developed and there seems to be the natural progression which bought you to the work.. natural evolution rather than choice perhaps?


  • GLENN,

    Of the Homelands 2 group that you just gave us th elink for, to me these images stand out as exceptionally powerful and iconic:nos. 1,2,4,5,21,22,27. Love them… especially 2 and 21. Just throwing out ideas here, but how about turning your ‘body of work’ into something like a book and travelling exhibition?
    If you don’t have your own narrative to accompany these and the previous set… do you know any writers who you could possibly work with on such a project? Another idea… sometimes you may not think you have a narrative, but if you start writing down bits and pieces of ideas, anecdotes, phrases and word images that come to mind… over a few days or weeks, and then shuffle the pack of cards, you may find a narrative emerging unexpectedly. That’s pretty much how Bruce Chatwin’s ‘The Songlines’ came together- it’s really just a cut-and-paste job of odds and sods, but in the end it works. Not suggesting you imitate that book, of course… but these images are precious jewels, and like jewels they need to have the appropriate setting.


  • CATHY,

    Glad to hear that David was nice to you :):)…I did not expect anything else really!!! Certainly, the man knows how to multi-task…. Great to know the two of you finally met and had so much fun…Now that we have the Cathy report on David, we are all eager to get the David report on Cathy :):)…

    Thanks for having a quick look at my “new” work.



  • David – you know ? I don’t have anything to say to that but thanks for the cosmic kick in the arse – I’ve been trying to do a lot in the last few years and it is time to have a look at this stuff , The B & W pictires were shot while I was working as a roadie – Photographer – gear Schlepper on a a tour of White Dancers ( We Do Jazz, Contemporary and Tap) and the Bujal Lardil Dancers from Mornington Island and the procces of finding a way of working in the communities was started there 10 years ago and found its current life here in the North.
    SIDNEY – I am working with a good friend of mine who’s spent a lot of time travelling with me on some text for an article on isolation, human rights , and the future of the inland …again this work is having a ressurection .. a lot of it has seen it’s first life in Newspapers and I’m going back for a second look , but one thhing is for sure , I do need a bloody good edit – I’m just to close to most of the work , Have high and probably unreasonable expectations.
    Funny you mention Bruce Chatwin , I first read songlines on a bus trip from Brisbane to Sydney – and returned Via Alice Springs.

  • HERVE,

    Thanks for your comments and your suggestion about including the “narrative that situates both location and social settings”. Ultimately, I will get to this and my intent is indeed to get into that aspects as well but will require some more time to do this…. By the way, while my first essay was certainly more descriptive in the “facts” about boxing, I tried to get more into emotions, pain and a few more symbolic pictures in the second. I am curious if you did you see the two as being different or not? Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts….By the way, if you think that I did follow here some of my influences too closely, I presume there must be some truth but was somewhat surprised by this comment as there was no intention of that and, at least I see Alex as not at all working so close and going more after complex visual compositions… you could say that the somewhat “looser” style that I used on some pictures could have been inspired by some of David’s pictures but again, my intent there was simply to shoot more instinctively, provide a sense of speed, etc in the movements… Will be great to get David’s own thoughts about the work.

    Thanks again.



  • ERIC

    Am here in the barrio, without a camera, a decision made in favor of quality time with my family but a very very difficult thing, this place is RICH…will have to come back to some shooting..might need a fixer though, seriously, depending on the idea if I ever get to it. One of the compliocations of trying to shoot and be present for others simultaneously. Make me feel selfish, all I want to do is journey out and explore and shoot, I wish the family would come along, that would make it SO much more real and Cleveland like..but alas..
    Your new work, onl;y had a second, will look again, but I think the flash/movement style is well suited to the expression in most cases. I would like to see more of the younger boys..the one in eye of the tiger, #8, is he still around? Your images look so..professional..does that make sense?


    Yes, NYC has its grips on me, hoping to keep shooting the assignment into September if I can afford it, I am really relying on the MF right now, and the 4×5 is only going to be an accent it seems.. Of course I would love to talk with you about publishers, I haven’t ever given it any serious thought, but I would very much value your insights and ideas. I am talking with a Brooklyn gallery now about having some work with them, select editioned pieces vs. having them be in charge of any/all sales for a year ..I need to talk to you about this territory for me. They are new/small/over the bridge, but have big heart big ideas and such..

    running, family life calls..90 year old Grandmother, mom, sister…

  • Sorry, was rushing too much, meant to say 2 things..


    Overall the work is so strong..


    Yes, August, I should be in NYC, except for a few days more toward mid month..looking forward to seeing your shining face again..

  • it was a curiosity about what is hidden behind a face, behind doors of homes, it was an anger about lives that were ending to death around me without being seen being known even hear in my land, they make me a photographer. I remember it was after 7-teen years old Russians movie, I was running in street, I was running in my mind too. what was my answer to a question about Khomeini when I was 7 years old and what was my answer when I was 14 years old ?? why no body asked me these questions??? I decided to find the answers myself, how much I was frightened. I loved photography but I was taking pictures in picnics and something like that, I wasn’t sure I could be an artist then I told myself I will be a documenter. you see it was completely depended on my childhood and the way I grow up. as so many of my friends who were studying photography in university looked at me like an old fashion! they were always talking about ART. how do I think about photography now? I think it’s still the same view, maybe because there are lots of projects I still must work on them yet,maybe my point of view change someday.
    it’s funny I was in vacation last week in a jungle camp in North of Iran and I talked about you (I mean ALL of you) with my friends-they are not photographers- about different kinds of photography are here some artistic some journalistic but all are so powerful jobs. everybody liked you DAVID ;))

  • Thanks for the round-up on meeting David, Cathy.

    I only met David in the context of the Magnum reunion party. A very social occasion that had us mingling, hanging out, and strolling around after the party, which did not allow anything close to WS, one on one, time. Anyone of my friends whom I told and tell about the night, could tell you how fortunate and happy I felt, being there, the reunion and meeting David.

    I am sure if I have not left too forgettable an impression on David, there will be oppportunities for us to meet again, and “talk”. That was not really the occasion, and he was quite busy with the magnum nomination meetings for us to possibly meet again that week-end, even more as accidents happened to a few members, that probably caused concern to the others.

    David Bowen… Buddhism. If I may, and I know this is exactly what you meant, but to be precise, the dualism you talk about in Buddhism is only that arrived from cause to effect, not from opposition. Hence the sound of one hand clapping and etc…..

  • ….

    having just returned from a 3 days journey….revelation….

    and all this talk of buddhism .:))))…im a buddhist, but a broken one, since i often am lapse in my practice: alcohol, untimely meals, grotesque mime, …it’s always interesting to read what folk write of/about buddhism :)))…even mistaken interpretations are, most likely, the way of the act itself ;)))…

    anyway, im tired, just read all since i left friday morning…so, ok, instead some beckett….

    my desire has disappeared, so to provide instead an offering…

    gone for the rest of the week…


    Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it’s me? Answer simply, someone answer simply. It’s the same old stranger as ever, for whom alone accusative I exist, in the pit of my inexistence, of his, of ours, there’s a simple answer. It’s not with thinking he’ll find me, but what is he to do, living and bewildered, yes, living, say what he may. Forget me, know me not, yes, that would be the wisest, none better able than he. Why this sudden affability after such desertion, it’s easy to understand, that’s what he says, but he doesn’t understand. I’m not in his head, nowhere in his old body, and yet I’m there, for him I’m there, with him, hence all the confusion. That should have been enough for him, to have found me absent, but it’s not, he wants me there, with a form and a world, like him, in spite of him, me who am everything, like him who is nothing. And when he feels me void of existence it’s of his he would have me void, and vice versa, mad, mad, he’s mad. The truth is he’s looking for me to kill me, to have me dead like him, dead like the living. He knows all that, but it’s no help his knowing it, I don’t know it, I know nothing. He protests he doesn’t reason and does nothing but reason, crooked, as if that could improve matters. He thinks words fail him, he thinks because words fail him he’s on his way to my speechlessness, to being speechless with my speechlessness, he would like it to be my fault that words fail him, of course words fail him. He tells his story every five minutes, saying it is not his, there’s cleverness for you. He would like it to be my fault that he has no story, of course he has no story, that’s no reason for trying to foist one on me. That’s how he reasons, wide of the mark, but wide of what mark, answer us that. He has me say things saying it’s not me, there’s profundity for you, he has me who say nothing say it’s not me. All that is truly crass. If at least he would dignify me with the third person, like his other figments, not he, he’ll be satisfied with nothing less than me, for his me. When he had me, when he was me, he couldn’t get rid of me quick enough, I didn’t exist, he couldn’t have that, that was no kind of life, of course I didn’t exist, any more than he did, of course it was no kind of life, now he has it, his kind of life, let him lose it, if he wants to be in peace, with a bit of luck. His life, what a mine, what a life, he can’t have that, you can’t fool him, ergo it’s not his, it’s not him, what a thought, treat him like that, like a vulgar Molloy, a common Malone, those mere mortals, happy mortals, have a heart, land him in that shit, who never stirred, who is none but me, all things considered, and what things, and how considered, he had only to keep out of it. That’s how he speaks, this evening, how he has me speak, how he speaks to himself, how I speak, there is only me, this evening, here, on earth, and a voice that makes no sound because it goes towards none, and a head strewn with arms laid down and corpses fighting fresh, and a body, I nearly forgot. This evening, I say this evening, perhaps it’s morning. And all these things, what things, all about me, I won’t deny them any more, there’s no sense in that any more. If it’s nature perhaps it’s trees and birds, they go together, water and air, so that all may go on, I don t need to know the details, perhaps I’m sitting under a palm. Or it’s a room, with furniture, all that’s required to make life comfortable, dark, because of the wall outside the window. What am I doing, talking, having my figments talk, it can only be me. Spells of silence too, when I listen, and hear the local sounds, the world sounds, see what an effort I make, to be reasonable. There’s my life, why not, it is one, if you like, if you must, I don’t say no, this evening. There has to be one, it seems, once there is speech, no need of a story, a story is not compulsory, just a life, that’s the mistake I made, one of the mistakes, to have wanted a story for myself, whereas life alone is enough. I’m making progress, it was time, I’ll learn to keep my foul mouth shut before I’m done, if nothing foreseen crops up. But he who somehow comes and goes, unaided from place to place, even though nothing happens to him, true, what of him? I stay here, sitting, if I’m sitting, often I feel sitting, sometimes standing, it’s one or the other, or lying down, there’s another possibility, often I feel lying down, it’s one of the three, or kneeling. What counts is to be in the world, the posture is immaterial, so long as one is on earth. To breathe is all that is required, there is no obligation to ramble, or receive company, you may even believe yourself dead on condition you make no bones about it, what more liberal regimen could be imagined, I don’t know, I don’t imagine. No pomt under such circumstances in saying I am somewhere else, someone else, such as I am I have all I need to hand, for to do what, I don’t know, all I have to do, there I am on my own again at last, what a relief that must be. Yes, there are moments, like this moment, when I seem almost restored to the feasible. Then it goes, all goes, and I’m far again, with a far story again, I wait for me afar for my story to begin, to end, and again this voice cannot be mine. That’s where I’d go, if I could go, that’s who I’d be, if I could be.


  • Pour sourire, ce Dimanche, Petit “moment à la sauvette” dans le Jardin Des Tuileries, à Paris:

  • herve

    quality snapshot..

    spot on.. cause and effect..


    broken buddhist?
    some of the tale i have from living with tibetans in india.. as simple explanation they say enlightenment is a few lifetimes away.
    live and learn.. think and change.. understand if we are able..

    unless we follow guru rinpoche’s example and sit in a cave for 7 years eating nettle soup in isolation, we all have an effect on our surroundings.. whether reactions to our presence are positive or negative is beyond our control i think.

  • BOB,

    Welcome back…we have been missing a few long posts from you…and where is hell is Panos? This place has almost been quiet without the two of you….


    Well Family first…shooting second so enjoy the time and YOU WILL BE BACK! Believe it or not, I have not yet been to Cleveland despite living in Ohio…You make it sound like it is a rather interesting place so will have to check it out…What attracts you to this place (beyobd the family) and what would you like to shoot there? Separately, yes this yound kid is still there…Over the past week or so, I actually wnet to another gym with older kids or yound adults. This is actually a rather interesting place as well but the kids were older. I will go back to the original place I started the essay next week to ask a few kids if I can follow them during a week-end outside the gym. Interestingly enough I have made a 20×30 large print of the one picture you liked #8 to bring it to this kid and put it up on their gym…It is funny, this will be the second time I bring large prints to these kids and these are all on the walls…they are actually proud that friends and others see it…It is quite interesting…there is a lot of history on the walls of these local gyms…past fighters, some local newpapers publications, some past trophy etc….I tried to take a few shots of this but somehow, seemed pretty flat as a picture but so interesting to look at and listen to the stories behind the pictures… I saw the e-mail of David regarding ideas for book publishing…Go for it Erica!



  • they say enlightenment is a few lifetimes away
    Oh no! I thought it was NOW!


    David B., I really enjoyed opening your link, (hope the tibetan section is really “coming soon” as promised) and will watch much more later, because that just made me pick up the camera and go out. I mean: Now! ;-)

  • Bob, who is to say who has done or not done what, or what photography has done or not done, what is changeable and what is not?

    Just because we cannot see what has not be done does not mean what could have been has not been undone … and still there is much horror done … but without memory, without history, without testament and witness, without the tale, without the telling, without just the trying itself, surely all would be lost.

    Ahh McCarthy … is this not what he is saying? The ballisters stand today on my stairs, carved and burnished by my hand, strong and secure but how, and how well? There is hope in the hidden joinery. As is said, our lives have hidden joinery within the tale … so too does photography.

    And I would bet Nachtwey has arrested more than one death, more than one life, plucked so many more strings of time than most that his ripples in the pool, his finger caught in the surface tension pushing through to plunge dark depths, will reverberate in the unseen continuum, through the folds of time, for infinity … one life can change the course of history, one drop of blood can spread through the pool to taint, or to purify. Is that not enough?
    To live is to struggle, to know peace is to know war, etc.
    Okay, I’ll give you that photography is just a tool, a reflection of unflinching conviction through some lenses, that it is nothing without the soul and eye behind it, but that does not mean it is nothing, or that the tool means nothing in itself … communication in all forms is the road to peace … your words mean something, so too does art, so too does photography.

    So Bob, i love your soul, but don’t give me this “my photography means nothing” shit ;-) Who is to say? There is much hope in the hidden joinery there too.

    My photography on the other hand ;-) …

  • Young Tom:

    how one lives is what matters, period. note whether they are a photographer or not. photography, for me, is simply another extension of my life, no more or no less important. photography, like ALL manners of living, “changes” things. In other words, photography is an instrument and the instrument of our lives are what conduct change, rather, transformation. that is what i wrote in that long drunken post. That photography does not (not ever) the end of suffering, the arresting of death, destruction, but it IS a vehicle by which people speak. And speech, like silence, is what one of the ways by which we negotiate, manage, reconcile, celebrate, educate, swallow the world. I love Jim and that is why i wrote what i wrote.

    I have saved a person, once along time ago. I have been unable to save a person, not so long ago. I do not destinquish between the 2, for both events and both people remain tremendous parts of my life. What I was suggesting by the 1st long post is that we are all connected, that we must speak, or rather, meditate upon things, join our compassion for others suffering as a way to live and to connect to the joinery of life, and the joinery of death.

    so what i meant by “photography doesnt mean shit,” i meant that when photography is promoted (and the photographers) as something heroic, placed upon a tower of brilliant recognition, alone as some heroic act, it fails. I wrote that Jim (and all the rest) who photography by an ethic of persuasion (to speak upon the suffering and the suffered), are committed to that because it is the way they have chosen to enact their lives, in the service of others. So too I, and this is the only “ethic” for me, but that’s part of my belief system.

    I blame my circuitous drinking and odd grammar for the misunderstanding of my feeble language….

    photography doesnt mean shit but the hope and the act and the belief that engines the photography can make a profound change in people’s life and yes, can save the life of a person and can speak upon things. That is all i was suggesting.

    I’ve already spoke too much ;)))))


  • by the way, if i couldnt photograph (or write), i would be totally lost….so you see, i’m still a hypocrite, …and still very much an imperfect and flawed yogi ;)))))))…

    so obviously, the photograph/shit is sort of metaphoric ;))))…


    running to write…


  • Bob, I do understand, i’m just naturally contrary, and i really do agree with much of what you say ;))

    But, but i still think you are making too much of a differentiation between the art and the artist … we are perhaps saying much the same from different angles. Pondering.

  • herve..

    coming soon..
    i’ve only really had a website for a few months, since i built this one in spring.. still thinking on it… developing.. devouring all on this forum to do the best possible job.

    soon being relative i can say it will be here soon.
    pickfords international removals will pick up my negs in england soon.

    yes.. soon.

    actually, inspired by some of the comments and websites here, i am planning to build a new website purely for photo-stories. that way i can divide up the work i have done properly.

    the tibetan village..
    100 people approx, and a monastery of 100 monks or so.
    the people are mostly of the kham, lingstan family of eastern tibet.. the most feared warriers.. the highest cast.. some of whom escorted the dalai lama out of the country in 59. ferocious as they are beautiful.. the culmination of 2000 years living the philosophy.. cause and effect.

    nehru gave the tibetan exiles remote pieces of land in india to nurture and continue practicing religion and tradition.. self governing.. under their own laws..
    this particular place illustrated social problems akin to the native americans.. alcohol abuse.. drugs.. violence.

    in the mid 90’s tibetan life and buddhism becomes famous, perhaps fashionable, through a flurry of films such as ‘kunden’ and ‘7 years in tibet’..
    the village, which made handicrafts for the dehli and katmandu tourists to supplement their ‘u.s. aid’ grain and subsistence farming, suddenly began exporting abroad.. making decent money.. building more permanent structures.. a new monastery..

    they began to buy tv’s en-mass.. running them with stolen electricity.. while the young people began saying ‘america is coming’.. believing a return to tibet may happen with the new interest..
    some of the villagers were extras as monks in ‘kunden’.. hanging out in bars.. first trips out of the village.. all seemed exciting.

    in 91 there was a single tv in the monastery for watching cricket and documentaries about tibet.
    by 97 most homes had them.
    with rupert murdochs empire spreading, oprah and the x-files were on the box there and the village took a change for the surreal..

    and so – story narrative – whilst the chinese have stolen the land and nomadic life from tibetans, westernization has begun to steal the charecter and traditions they have tried to preserve.
    the monthly full-moon comunity feast is gone.
    western symbols.. coke.. monopoly boards.. look out of place.

    the work was shot before i had any education in photography and when exhibited in 1998 i was only 24..
    i’d shot a great deal and although my editing was poor i managed to get the show funded..
    banging out application letters on an old typewriter.. living on benifits..
    all sorts of photo suppliers came through for the show and i found a gallery in london.. good press from BJP as well..

    now 11 years later, once i get my negatives over to norway, i’ll re-edit the village work i think.. sections.. thats the way.
    the work keeps cropping up again of late.. i have a couple digitized..
    here is one taken when i was 19.
    from tso pema, as the village make the journey to the 12 yearly festival for the dalai lamas blessing.. 1992

    and so an edit.
    perhaps four shorts to make the whole;
    1 – general life
    2 – a pilgrimage to tso pema
    3 – new year celebrations
    4 – a monks life.

    the villages story will unfold as it was.. changes becoming obvious.
    i’ll try to show it all.. tough place. natural law.. brutal as often as it was beautiful.

    i’ll show what i saw happening over 5 visits, living a year and a half with them between 91 and 97… minus the moments left without photos, (but nontheless burn’t into my head), as my camera arm was paralyzed at the sight of what was happening infront of me. :o/

    that was a ramble.

  • bob said
    ‘how one lives is what matters, period.’


    i think you and young tom do agree with each other .. and i agree with you both..

    it is the charecter which produces the work.. the work itself being a reflection of that charecter, ergo – the charecter is the important aspect.. if that is solid, then the work will be.
    if they understand asthetics, that is.
    and woship marshmellows.

  • I dont think I could worship a marshmallow, anymore than I could worship asparagus. I know that YumYum, the Indomalaypolymicromelamilkofmagnesian rutabaga goddess, has her devotees, some of whom are prepared to slaughter anyone who would defile a rutabaga by serving it with garlic, horseradish, or cheddar cheese, but this is an isolated instance, I think, and her devotees strike me as a sort of vegan cargo cult, which basically makes her adoration an expression of ethnogastronomic pride rather than a system of ethics a modern 21st century human being could organize their life around. No, if I had to worship any vegetable, it would have to be corn on the cob, the adoration of which puts me in the majority here in this our Great Republic, where millions upon millions of car owners also worship at the altar of corn and its divine essence, ethanol. What I’ve been wondering ever since they started putting the stuff into the gasoline though is this: if my gasoline is now 10% consumable alcohol and I get pulled over by a cop, can I argue that I am completely sober and that it is my car that is driving under the influence?

  • As to the question of whether or not photography can be used as a weapon, I havent a damn clue, as for the past few weeks I have been thinking about collective nouns, mostly on the advice of my doctor, who says that collective nouns are less stressful than fish puns and can clear up persistent acne in laboratory rats. I don’t have a laboratory rat of my own, let alone one in its teenage years, and so I will take the doctor’s word for it and be glad that I am spared having to listen to this pubescent rodent whine about its face breaking out and not getting a date with Cindy from the varsity cheerleading squad. But enough of this; let us return to the collective noun. And I do not mean the collective nouns that we are all familiar with, like a school of fish or a pack of cigarettes, but the odd ones like a murder of crows or a scurry of squirrels or a warren of wombats. My favorite, though, is a rumba of rattlesnakes, which seems to be just the sort of thing any suburban housewife would want in order to liven up a dull dinner party. To make the party especially lively our housewife could also invite a plena of pythons, a bomba of boomslangs, and a mambo of black mambas. One might not get away from such a party without requiring medical attention of one sort or another, but my guess is that our theoretical housewife has no problems with rats, teenage, laboratory, or otherwise.

  • young tom/david bowen:


    ok, i’ll try 1 more time ;)))), to make more clear what the dervish spin of my prose (that first long post) was meant to suggest…

    of course the girl i wrote about in that first post, the one who haunted my life (i used to write her imaginary letters as a teen and as a college students) was Phan Thị Kim Phúc…while writing about her (and Nick’s pic) i was suggesting that the image of her marked me at 15 (i saw the pic in a book my father had given me about ‘Nam), and burned a image inside my heart that to this day hasn’t left…ditto JPG’s book…and yet, since then, i have become friends with people from vietnam, and it’s played a significant part in my life (not important to discuss here), one of the things that made me the person i am…and yet, to this day, we know more about that photograph, remember the picture, than we do her life and her subsequent recovery and the work she had done…

    (incidentally, Nick also helped get the children to the hospital)…

    it’s not about art/artist for me…it’s about a simpler, much simpler thing….

    each of us (for me) has a responsibility to live a life (or should try) of compassion, understanding that we are connected to all things…and that it is NOT photography that changes the world, but the measure of the life lived…the great work of photographers does affect lives, does often change, moments, people, lives, and yet the cycle begins again…not out of futility, but out of something more basic…as i said, it is not the important to me, not at all, if people think photography changes/doesnt change the events/ideas/recognition/public opinion…what matters is that the photographers CONTINUE to do this, continue to speak, continue to document and witness and work…because we can do nothing else but to live a life of meditation and witness, a life that is born of the understanding of our connection to all living things and all people, our suffering and their’s are one and the same, and it is what compels my own life, the writing, the photographing, the bearing witness, the meditation, the hope to do good for others…and i do not photograph war (by choice), i do not photograph places and events of the news (by choice, though long ago, i once did by working for a newspaper), but for a much simpler idea….

    i love photography, it is one of the ways i live, but it is secondary to the hope (faith) as to the reason why i do it…it sounds pompous and arrogant, but it is one of the ways that i feel i can express this disappearing life…a breath of a syllable of a burst of letters…

    to acknowledge that we are nothing without one another, not to categorize people or moments or life as images, but as real parts of the joinery….

    suffering is not arrested, nor can it be, and nor does photography (in the end) change the nature of things, but when it is a took that we have harnessed as a wait to, if even for a moment, speak out against all that is swaying in front of us, the inhalation and exhalation of things, it is a fundamental necessity….

    maybe it’s the youthful iconoclast in me that twitters speaking about “shit” ;)), but what i mean to say is that, for me the pictures will disappear, that we are more deluded than we even dream, and yet it is our delusions, our actions, the waking walking of our lives that matter….

    the refusal to give into cynicism,…that’s why i care infinitely less about photography, and i mean it seriously, than i do for trying to do well by and for people…and, it is with words and with images and with act, that i’ve tried to do this…

    as i once wrote here, long ago, there will be a time when people like Nachtwey will put away his camera, but he will still be the person he is now, and it testament may take the form of a different nature (words, or foundation or teaching or mediation) than snapping pics, but it will still be about the same:

    to speak about all that was witnessed and all that happened as an attempt to get people, if even one lone person, to understand how the death of a single child is the death of each of us, and is our death eventually, and so we must not relinquish and we must care…much more than about photography…

    that’s what i was trying to say (i think? ;))) )…

    tired, silence for almost 3 days…im rambling….



  • and for my friends in CHINA or for whoever needs a full rez slideshow…
    check below…:

  • marshmallow, asparagus…its all made of the same stuff, just organised differently.


    There’s a danger in excessive worship of corn on the cob to the exclusion of other vegetable deities: PELLAGRA!

    My own choice of a vegetable to worship (with both adoration and moderaiton) is Bok Choy.

    Ümshik (Korean for “chow”, but I use it for “ciao”)


  • I would say photography means different things to different people. Its how you use it, but its probably just a tool in an aresenal anyway. A photograph wont change shit, but a photograph can be used within a larger campaign to try and change things. People change things, photographs may inform those people about what needs changing. Guys like Nachtwey fall into this category.

    But not every photographer wants to change things and a photograph isnt always a weapon anyway. For me its not a weapon in how I use it. For me its a tool to record personal moments, memories and to use them to tell a personal story. Thats all. No weapons, no fireworks.

  • bob.

    i like your style in thoughtful replies.. thanks
    4.40am here and i will have to reply tomorrow..


    norway too.. why does the first link not work i wonder?
    2 and 6 from this chunk for me.

    pea’s n chips.

  • for me bodies of work can be so much more interesting than stories. the time spent nurturing the work.. following leads.. commissioned or not, it’s a valuable contribution.
    crafting a body of work is a risk, time spent for possibly no return?.. although the faith put into a project shows in the dedication and focus over long periods of time… the multiple short-stories making one long story interests me. that might be a way to go?


    David Bowen,

    the secret I guess is to emerse yourself in a subject where even if the workj fails, you would never regret spendiong time on it. I think that shows through in the end, the best WORK is most likely one where theres a deep deep emotional investment on the part of the photog, where if you look at it, you can tell that it was more about the subject than the work itself. Its been brought up before bot Sobol’s “Sabine” to me is simply a story where that is so evident, where even if he had no camera and no work was made, Sobol would never regret the time he invested in Sabine.

  • rafal pruszynski:” multiple short stories or themes-random pairing of images” i totally agree – think cut and paste like writing. perfect example is lee friedlanders collection from his 2005 retrospective at moma in new york city. if you go to the library i highly recommend checking out this work, really exciting material.

    **a perfect example of random slivers all part of the same living tree. seriously the book weighs a ton.. also interesting to look a images side by side yet often times were taken years apart and many miles apart sometimes oceans away.. yet it’s all seamless now thats what i classify as fine art..

  • the best WORK is most likely one where theres a deep deep emotional investment on the part of the photog
    Sure can be, but I would not be so exclusive of work less emotionally involved or invested. It is also a matter of artistry and personality, or temperament.

    Surely, we can’t reduce the quality of essays, photo-journalism and the likes to always be function of one’s emotional identification to the subject treated

    I guess I want to say that one’s basic humanity, and natural empathy goes a long way to produce fine artistry too.

  • I suggest all bloggers here read, or read again if they already did, Susan Sontag’s “On photography”.

  • ALL….

    i am quite literally smack in the middle of everything all of you are writing about….i have read all of your comments….great writing from all of you…impressive….i am so in the very dead center middle of shooting something so so personal and filled with joy and anguish and time warp etc etc that i just will have to hold my comments for later…my energy must go now into the work and i know you understand…

    my camera now is definitely not a is more of a “reason”…or a vehicle for “remembrance” and honor…sentimental, not harsh….i wish i could describe to you how much i am learning from each and every family….please accept my absence on the forum now for what it is….

    however, i have not forgotten your assignments…i should be able to publish the best that has been done soonest…and get some others going as well…

    rolling, rolling….

    cheers, hugs etc david

  • ALL…

    oh yes, i almost forgot the Cathy Scholl report….

    well, our meeting was just superb and followed in kind with all of the other “real life” meetings i have had with so many of you here…

    of course, i was most interested in meeting Cathy’s husband Richard, who is indeed a patient man!!

    Richard is of course patient because Cathy is one very very BRIGHT LIGHT…so full of energy and enthusiasm and curiosity and kindness….a nicer couple than Cathy and Richard i cannot imagine…

    we only had a chance to meet the context of my class after hours gatherings and at the shows, but i do hope to spend some time with them “one on one” when i return to shoot in the fall…

    Cathy and i also discussed how she can best shoot her rodeo project….you may see some new results soonest….

    cheers, david

  • Good morning DAH

    beautiful; wishing you peaceful insight as you go..what special nectar you must be drinking now.

  • Guido- I might give “On Photography” a try, again, but to be honest I find Bob B’s philosophical writings and quotes, and many other posts here much more enlightening than anything I read in Sontag’s book. Perhaps that reflects that although Sontag was a gifted writer, she was not a photographer herself, but rather photographer Annie Leibovitz’ life-partner…


    It sounds like you are in that magical zone!

    Slightly off topic (re: in the zone, photography as a weapon). Which experience do you find more creatively rewarding: (a) searching, looking, hunting for, composing the photograph(s) that you want to express, or (b) actually shooting the frame + developing/processing/printing and seeing the final print ?

    For a many years I have assumed, almost by default, that I got my hit from the latter.

    But more recently, i.e. in the “post-digital era”, as I force myself to slow down again, I find increasingly more often that the hunt, looking looking looking, fine-tuning the composition, thinking about exposure, depth of field etc is as liberating and uplifting, and that the inevitable firing of the shutter is almost anti-climactic. This relates to the original topic of “photography as a weapon” in that I’m trying to get at the heart of the fundamental question “why do I photograph?”, and “what do I want my photographs to say?”



  • guido

    it probably is time i picked sontag of the shelf again. what i got most from her book first tim around was excerts on why people photograph.. tourists.. non-photographers.

    which leads to..


    i’ve tried to only ever photograph where i have more of a personal link than a simple photo tourist.. you’re right up to a point about having an emotional link. i think it is more important to have a fascination in the subject matter, even if while shooting you are not entirely sure why that fascination exhists in you.

    when a body of work is nearing completion and a serious wander back through what you have done begins, answers sometimes reveal themselves.
    i’m not advocationing the unknowing, or ignorant, photographer.. i mean to say that of course we all see ourselves in our work and the process of shooting a subject, editing it down and then showing others is a enlightening and endlessly curious past-time.

    i’ve always been poor.. i’ve never earn’t serious money and i could not be happier with the boxes of negatives i now have.. distilling them is fun.. takes a while.. costs a bit too.. but it’s satisfying to see work and understand the motivation better after time.
    i have luckily always found a way to tie my passion for photography to subject matter that will increase my interest in both the medium as a communicator and aa a ‘revealer’ of myself.. without diminishing or spoiling that passion…

    you know.. i’ve photographed a lot of food as well


  • bob

    utterly agree with you and fully see your perspective more clearly.. i take comfort from the idea that everyone is taking care of something.. positively.. no matter how brightly they shine, all contributions on a human level help achieve a balance which can alter the status-quo.. my local shopkeeper made an excellent contribution just yesterday by taking the time for a conversation..
    perhaps art can pull collective conscience in a particular direction or perhaps it is the other way around but what is important is everyones contributions to the ‘one’.


    brilliant.. sharing your real-timestate of mind.. exciting stuff.


  • asher

    good question.

    i buzz off taking the photos.. pressing the shutter release at the right moment and i love it when the photographs subject then notices what i have caught with a smile or a laugh.
    on looking for photos – i often walk around simply repeating a mantra in my head – ‘shapes, layers, moments’.. this has been especially true when nerves have kicked in.. if there is a difficult subject.. an air of danger, risk, or pressure, if the expense to get me to the shoot in the first place has been substantial..
    i always research thoroughly and this also gives pleasure.. learning about a countries recent history.. and how that might show in the subjects.

    i then buzz again when i see the work (using film always (nearly)).. and then the work is gone.. off to the magazine and i’m on to the next job..

    buzz three is when the magazine comes out.. this is not always a buzz since designers have a habit of editing the photo to pointlessness on occasion.. in music magazines, at least, editors can be ambivalent about the quality of photo depending upon how good looking the subjects themselves are.. it’s a constant disappointment to me when much of a magazines content is poor, although it has on occasion helped mine to shine..

    final buzz is over time.. years.. looking back and soaking it up.. this is where i am now.. distilling the results.. astonished at the volume of negatives.. surprising myself.

    anyway – thats how it was for the past decade at least..
    taking this year ‘off’ to edit, collect thoughts.. decide on my third long term project, was a great move for me..

    i still photo everyday (stavanger ‘european city of culture 2008’) although without deadline or fee’s this work is simply mumbling along.. drifting along nicely.

    now i have to look at lesson plans ready to teach in august.
    the buzz here will be seeing the students light up to snapping and then their results..
    i can see why DAH has this forum..

  • Am reading a book I casually picked up in C’ville at a used bookstore while waiting for the next Look 3 event–being not familiar with the author, it was chosen for it’s size (small enough to fit in my bag) and it’s title “Journal of a Solitude” by May Sarton.
    This quote regarding her writing seems to fit any art–
    “My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serous writer, as an instrument for experiencing. Life–all of it–flows through this instrument and is distilled through it into works of art. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as buman being and as artist, we have to know all we can about each other, and we have to be willing to go naked.”
    I agree that we should not hold back for fear of alienating–but definitely think we should hold back if harm might be caused–for example child pornography–artistic nudes are one thing–child porn quite another

  • ASHER:

    :)))…the question “why do i photograph”, for me lay at the center of things, and i havent resolved it either yet (and on bad days, i wish to stop, ’cause it seems like such a self-centered, narcissistic act (at least my kind of work), but i have resolved it this way (at least for now ;)) )…

    when i look at photographs (whether it’s documentary, or PJ or conceptual or “fine art”), i am most often stunned, reminded how mysterious and how strange and difficult and awe-inspiring our remarkably short lives are…photography (like books and poems and music and paintings/sculpture/performance, like the sound of someone’s voice, the touch of their hand, the taste of food, the scent of linden after rain) simply reminds me how strange and sad and magical this life is….filled with sorrow and joy….all the same difficulties that you experience daily in your personal life….

    that for me photography simply is an act (for me) of “celebration”: another thing that I can use to express how large, how strange, how remarkable things have been inside and around each of us…

    i photography for the same reason i love to listen to music, or eat delicious food (regardless of it’s nutritional value): it feeds my life, it helps me express all those things inside that often words fail at doing…i photography ’cause the mystery and joy of making pictures, still haunts and excited me: when i see a great or strange or mysterious pictures, somehow, it speaks to me on an almost preternatual level…the level of joy and spirit and weirdness….

    i guess, it’s a simple thing: i still love to see photographs, without having to “attain” or “achieve” anything more significantly than they butter me up….

    not to teach anyone anything, just to have fun and to enjoy….

    part of things…that’s all ;)))


  • ERIC:

    Will be great to get David’s own thoughts about the work.

    Apologies, Eric, I missed your reply yesterday in reply to my post to you.

    Yet, since I am trying an impossible task of reading much of what I missed from the blog when in France, I fell on David’s own nail-hitting words of expectancy (what can be next) about your work. They carry that special authority that I’d be a fool to try to emulate, and I reproduce quite a few here, because, in many ways, they talk to most of us here, not just you:

    “but now, i think, it is time for you to take your personal “next step”..and it is a big one and maybe the most important one…the one that will separate you from many…

    yes, yes you have the lighting, technique and graphics down down…you “know” how to do this…you have “learned” how to do this…but playing with light and shadow is not enough

    now i would like to see something more instinctive….behavior….interaction..representatinal…emotion…raison d’ete…

    get in there and sweat…show me something i have not seen before….you are ready for this move…i think you can do it…it now becomes more intellectual than technical for you…”

  • Since we have some down time on the blog, David being busy shooting, time to add a couple videos from ZE magnum ball, last month.
    That will be #4 and #5, this time Martin Parr in action. Funnily, he dances exactly as you’d expect so many of his subjects to (save parrking spaces…), his style seemingly but deceptively easy to imitate… There is only one Martin Parr!

    (watch in “high quality”, whatever Ytube means by that)

    yes, i prefer pictures qhere there is a physical presence ma i can tell you that in this case it has been really hard, no one want to get shoot, only 2 girls, inside the house and i have to find these little moment of what is appening…. there’s such a strange atmosphere, the air is not moving and the people look like ghost, they walk around absorbed in their mind and they don’t look to you, kids play by themselves and they look to you without saying a word

    the editing job is the most difficoult as you know and i don’t know if my editing is finished; the only thing i know is that my pictures don’t represent mine story.. i’m not sure about if i can make this and if they’ll allowe to me.. all these girl live togheter in a big house but it seems like they don’t know eachother, like invisible to the other room-mate, they are impenetrable, close inside their sad histories… i can state that more closer than what i did is impossible… should i get far away and shhot from distance?

    in the 4th photo i was looking for something that would make understand about these women makes cakes and all this stuff, my essay is a sequence of paricoular… i didn’t like to shoot at single action while they where working, eating etc… i wanted to find the essence of the moment with my shooting and i know it’s hard! in fact i’m not sure i achieved this. i’ll try again!
    thanks and i really enjoyed your work! awsome!

    it’s true it’s like we are looking from the keyhole of the door…
    the sequence of the n°1 and n°13 it’s right. in the 1st the woman comes inside the house with a child and there is somebody taht takes care of him, in 13th the woman, after a while, has to leave the house (in about a year) to try to get back in the society, she has to make difficult choices and i’m sure that she’ll do on her own, preserving the child from more sadness… and some of theme go away form there without their children..
    i would like to be more clear to explain my work but i don’t write in english but i’m learning so thanks for your patience, for your help and for appreciating my works…
    kiss Cristina

  • Hello David and all,

    Here is a project I would like to submit for the assignments. Please tell me what you think… This is a work in progress, so all critics are very welcome !

    Along the roads, in the countryside of Brittany, are placards announcing a motorcycle race, a trapshooting or a dog show. These events, many of which take place in a field nearby, are close to me geographically but I never took part in them and realized that I had preconceptions ; I wanted to see for myself.

    So, in March this year, I went to a motorcycle race and took many pictures all afternoon. I went back two times to these events with a friend of mine who collects sounds and testimonies. Each time, we entered a different world where people told us rules and anecdotes, welcomed us, invited us for supper.

    For the months to come, we will keep going to rural festivities, be they pagan or religious. We will continue to record these beautiful local ways of speaking, these gestures and habits which are part of the ritual. We would also like to go deeper into the interactions between pictures and sounds.

    Here is a link to a couple of pictures that I have taken so far :

    If you want to hear a sound extract from a previous work which we conducted in Spring for a festival, click

    For further informations, please contact me.

  • Hello David and all,

    Here is a project I would like to submit for the assignments. Please tell me what you think… This is a work in progress, so all critics are very welcome !

    Along the roads, in the countryside of Brittany, are placards announcing a motorcycle race, a trapshooting or a dog show. These events, many of which take place in a field nearby, are close to me geographically but I never took part in them and realized that I had preconceptions ; I wanted to see for myself.

    So, in March this year, I went to a motorcycle race and took many pictures all afternoon. I went back two times to these events with a friend of mine who collects sounds and testimonies. Each time, we entered a different world where people told us rules and anecdotes, welcomed us, invited us for supper.

    For the months to come, we will keep going to rural festivities, be they pagan or religious. We will continue to record these beautiful local ways of speaking, these gestures and habits which are part of the ritual. We would also like to go deeper into the interactions between pictures and sounds.

    Here is a link to a couple of pictures that I have taken so far :

    If you want to hear a sound extract from a previous work which we conducted in Spring for a festival, click

    For further informations, please contact me.

  • Hello David and all,

    Here is a project I would like to submit for the assignments. Please tell me what you think… This is a work in progress, so all critics are very welcome !

    Along the roads, in the countryside of Brittany, are placards announcing a motorcycle race, a trapshooting or a dog show. These events, many of which take place in a field nearby, are close to me geographically but I never took part in them and realized that I had preconceptions ; I wanted to see for myself.

    So, in March this year, I went to a motorcycle race and took many pictures all afternoon. I went back two times to these events with a friend of mine who collects sounds and testimonies. Each time, we entered a different world where people told us rules and anecdotes, welcomed us, invited us for supper.

    For the months to come, we will keep going to rural festivities, be they pagan or religious. We will continue to record these beautiful local ways of speaking, these gestures and habits which are part of the ritual. We would also like to go deeper into the interactions between pictures and sounds.

    Here is a link to a couple of pictures that I have taken so far :

    If you want to hear a sound extract from a previous work which we conducted in Spring for a festival, click

    For further informations, please contact me.

  • Sorry for the triple post… browser problem it seems… I didn’t want to be “cumbersome”

    Rafal :

    I had no time to write before but I thank you a lot for your insight on Jacob aue Sobol’s work !

    In fact, I had already read the articles which were on Sobol’s website when it was still online but I am sure what you wrote has been useful to others… you summarized the strenghth of his work very well : being fondly part of the story is what allowed him to tell a story.

    BTW, did you see his Bangkok work ? I have looked at it briefly on Magnum’s website (which is an imperfect way to judge a body of work) but it seems to me like it’s even stronger than his Tokyo work.

    What do you think ?

    Also, I agree with you, this is really stimulating work for Magnum !


  • David and All: i will be going to buenos aires, argentina for almost 9 months total. my plan is to cover as much ground with two film cameras nikon f3 and rolleiflex tlr. since these are both film cameras i have some concerns and questions for the community. firstly, i will be using kodak tri-x and t-max film approx. 100- 200 rolls. i prefer to buy grey market or import film as it’s half the price however after checking all of the wholesalers on the east and west coast the best price i could come up with is 4 dollars per roll through B and H New York. anyone know of where i can buy cheaper film ??

    the other concern is airport x-rays and film. should i just plan on buying the bulk of my film in buenos aires ? tried to find info on the net regarding availability of the films i want to use, unfortunately i was not able to find any reliable info. does anyone here on this forum have any experience with the issues that are in front of me ?

  • robert.

    can’t help with film

    flying into BA will be okay with x-ray machines .. i did so a year or two ago on commission without problem.. beautiful city.. loved it.
    all the films were fine although if you are really nervous about it i think you can ask for a hand search of the bag.

    good luck.
    nine months will be fun.
    it’s worth posting to lightstalkers about film.. never know, something may turn up.

    what you doing over there?

  • Pierre Yves,

    I havent seen his BKK work actually. Im kind of new to discovering Soboil to be honest, I saw his stuff first maybe a month and ahalf ago and Sabine was what captured me. I love the editing of Sabine to be honest as I try and edit my own work…what grabbed me was the looseness of the edit and sequence. Ill have a look at the BKK stuff but for the next 3 weeks I wont have much computer time. Things should get back to normal later in August for me.


    I thought of you this morning — I received a press release for The Seattle-Tehran Poster Show, an upcoming exhibition of 100 contemporary posters from the design communities in both Seattle + Tehran. The work shares cultural themes such as music, film, theater and contemporary art. The exhibition opens in Seattle in August 2008 and will travel to Tehran in 2009.

    Here’s the link:


    Anna B.


    First, I wanted to tell you that I was up in Gloucester over the weekend and it’s ripe for photographing- the fishing industry is really hurting, unfortunately. Also, we visited a really cool artist colony called Rocky Neck, right in Gloucester. So if you ever do that Northeast coastal project, definitely start there.

    Regarding film and x-rays, you should have no problem as long as you don’t check your film in your luggage. Certainly ask for hand checking, but if they refuse, don’t sweat it and definitely don’t argue…

    Here are 2 helpful sites with reassuring information and data:

    How Safe is film- Airport X-ray Scanners:

    Baggage xray scanning and film:

    Unfortunately I don’t know any place that sells reliable film stock less expensively than B&H…



  • BOB

    Yes! I see your inner Buddhist. I think mine is starting to emerge.

    For each of us, our experiences (music, photographs, tastes, smells, ,,,) congeal into the ongoing movie that tell our life story.



  • Asher, thank you for your question. It’s got me thinking. I’m in such a different place with my photography of late. I’m not sure I can put it into words, and even if I could I’m not sure what I’d say could be understood by others. As of now it’s beneath the surface of my own understanding; it’s more a matter of knowing.

    I used to get my greatest delight from: 1) conceptualizing a project; 2) manifesting it through the act of taking the photos; and 3) working with the photos and preparing the essay. And now? Yes, I still enjoy those three phases but something else has become more important to me, and here’s where words will probably fail me.

    What drives me, feeds me, humbles me is the honor I feel in simply being able to do this work, work that is opening my eyes and heart to the wonder of everyday life. And the people! For me, it is all about the people.

    In addition to my self portrait project, I’m currently working on a photographic essay of African-American elders here in Detroit. Oh my god. These people are not only brave and wonderful, but they are living repositories of a history filled with suffering and strength. I am also recording their stories on a digital recorder because their stories must not be lost. They are members of the last generation who has had direct ties with former slaves, in many cases their grand grandparents. This is important stuff. And I’m loving every minute I spend with them.

    Since mid-June I’ve spent two days a week at the Senior Learning Center where these folks are active in classes and such. The staff and participants have been most gracious and allow me to take photos of anyone and anything. I intend to continue working on this project for a long time. I’ve already been invited to mount an exhibition of photos from this project in March in the fine art gallery that is housed in their building.

    So, to answer Asher’s question, photography for me is no longer about doing; it is all about being. The simple honor of being able to witness and hopefully share the lives of people who must not be forgotten.


  • Cristina,
    you can write me in Italian, if you wish to do so. Spanish would be better, though

    I understand it quite well even though I’d answer you in a terrible portuguese-spanish mix with italian sprinkles… :)

    I keep mixing these languages up as they are too close for me. But adding hands, mimic and feet I usually manage make myself understood ;) The last part would be kind of difficult here…

    See, I really would like to understand better, what your essay is about.

    Um abraço,


    Words did NOT fail you! Your African-American elders project will be compelling, I’m certain! In addition to prints, are you going to present the photos + sound together a la Ken Burns? Thanks for taking the time to give a thoughtful response.


  • Holy cow, Anna B., that stuff is so cool!!

  • Asher, your question re: my creating a Ken Burns-type audio/visual presentation sends my mind whirling! Now I can SEE it. YES!!! That will be a far piece down the road but it helps to work towards it with intentionality. I see it as a collaborative effort between me and an experienced multi-media artist with technical skills, and I think I already know who that will be. Oh, this is SO EXCITING!!!


  • I once saw my inner Buddhist and it did me no good, because with his good karma, he called me while he was holding a full house (jacks over tens) whereas all I had was three sevens. Serves me right for being such a snot in a previous existence.

  • Robert

    I think you will have no problems with the x-ray. I just forgot some new films on my luggage two years ago and they went into the x-ray, then i used it, and it was ok. The majority of x-rays scans in the airports don’t damage films.
    Although everytime I ask for hand checking, no problems to have it, in Chile, Argentina or Brasil.

    Buying films here is the problem, I don’t know if Argentina is having the same problem that Brazil today, someone that lives there can tell you better how it is.. but since all the big named film industry closed the doors around here… films are expensive and not easy to find if you need something special.
    You will find two or three different types of everyday films, or imported and expensive pieces.


  • Just saw that browzing thru my local bookstore yesterday, and it’ s online as well. A focus on David as the mentor extraordinaire we all know, the blog and its readership of “young photographers” (that’s moi?), yet cruelly, no mention of Bob, Akaky or Panos… :-)

  • HERVE :)))…

    i saw that in American Photo last week and showed Mrs. Black :))…David got the longest write up :)))))…

    We’re still young (you and I and Arkaky and Panos) :)))))… least that’s what i keep trying to remind myself with all my buddha talk ;))))))…



  • Rob
    go to the FAA web site, federal aviation authority.
    navigate to travelling with film or what ever they call it.
    follow their guidlines.
    hand check all your film! do not put it on the check in luggage or you will be F.U.C.K.E.D.
    follow their info, its a no brainer.


    So that was you who I was helping then? And yes, I agree with everything you said.

  • ALL : thank you for the information regarding film transport. i’m well aware of the FAA however i had an encounter where i was flying from Newark, New Jersey to S. California and the authorities made me run my film through the x-ray and consequently some of my color slide film has weird light fractals through the emulsion. i think i will buy the lead bag and try to hand check to insure the best possible outcome.

    Bowen : my purpose for going to Buenos Aires is strictly for fotographie and cultural experiences other than my own. i really want to visit the Falkland Islands. peace-r

  • David McG

    the work coming out of seattle always makes me drool. having never seen work from tehran, i’m blown away by their typographic sensibility — they’ve created such intricate imagery using farsi. it’s cool b/c i cannot tell where the words/images begin and end… they’re woven together so beautifully.

    … wowzer!!

  • Dear David,

    I’ve sent you an e-mail.
    Please check it out.


  • robert

    not so sure it would be well advised to call them ‘the falklands’ in BA :o)
    will be interesting.. such a tiny community under the union jack and so far from the u.k.
    best of luck with it.

    david mc

    really enjoyed the personal stories in yard sales.. the 59 truck.. amanda and her dress.. heartbreaking stuff in places, where the items being sold are less than luxery.. the items which have strong stories and sentimental value are most powerful i think.
    there is a whole story in each of the lives of the people holding the yard sales..

    the photos i liked the best had people in them.. that may just be me.. people letting go of their lives or the people rummaging through them looking for a bargain.. unaware of the sentimental value of the items they are pondering over.
    i like the idea of a narration very much – it lends context and brings fresh meaning to the photographs, which otherwise could be lost.
    i wonder if it would be possible to have some of the audio taken from conversations with the people you talk to? maybe that is not so easy..
    good job.. watched a couple of times and will probably do so again. perhaps a tighter edit, towards the end of the project.. really good work though.
    it has me thinking – a fine way to illustrate the average struggle through a recession.

    nice 1

  • Bowen: okay, i would prefer to be politically correct so how shall i refer to this small chain of islands ??

  • Les illes Malvines is what the ‘locals’ on the mainland like to call it. (the malvines)

    it seems quite ridicules that they ‘belong’ to the u.k., and it’s said that for the cost of the war each family could have been rehoused in the u.k. and made multi-millionaires.
    it’s a handy place for tactical purposes and is close enough to the south pole ‘if’ the minerals there are ever mined.. hmm.. of course.. it was all about the colonies.. yes.

  • david bowen,
    Much appreciated, thanks. I do think the narrative helps a lot, especially since my shooting for this project is more straightforward and less artistic. And the personal stories do seem the best angle. I do like the shots of the unusual items though, almost feeling as though I’m providing the goods to my audience without the need to buy. This is just a springboard to the second half, now I really have to nail it the rest of the summer.

    I do plan on doing some field recordings, I’ve just been waiting to find the right environment—like a flea market or something like that. I think I get what I need when I cover Michigan’s Longest Garage Sale the first weekend of August.

    DAH was right saying this is going to be hard, but it feels like it’s coming together.

  • it doesn’t look like an easy task at all ..
    a brave project choice, perhaps.

    the audio stories really do turn the work into something quite meaningful, rather than simply being a, perhaps, kitsch study of what people sell.

    i think you have achieved some pretty creative shots – artistic if you like – especially with the people-parts included in frame. push that area i reckon.
    it must be a slow paced subject to snap and i guess it’s about positioning yourself and then taking the time, waiting for the photos to pop into place.

    considering you’re only 1/2 way through i think you’re getting to grips with it well..

  • Willy Clark: You’re out of touch! I’m still in demand. I’m still hot!

    Al Lewis: If this room was on fire you wouldn’t be hot.

    Neil Simon, The Sunshine Boys

    Yo yo yo, I’m still young, I’m still chillin’, I’m still hangin’ out here with the rest of the DAH posse, I’m still with it out there on the photographic cutting edge where the rubber meets the road, the pudding meets the proof, and the AARP application form got sent to my address by mistake. Because, like Seinfeld says, after fifty it’s just a sprint to the coffin, and after Saturday, I’m gonna have to get me some new Reeboks.


    Your project has come a long way! I like the narration with it, hearing the stories and background…looking at the earlier shots without the audio impacted me emtionally, but not as much as with the stories behind them…like the choice of music as well. Hearing the stories from the subjects themselves will be interesting as well, I think…

    The images that have the most impact on me are those that convey choosing to try and sell items that have much more sentimental value than intrinsic, and the effort of going through belongings (especially when it’s again and again) in order to perhaps find one or two more things that might help pay the bills or ease the financial burden…to me those convey that enduring human optimism, even if faint, that perhaps someone who stops by will have a need or a want for those dusty books or old games or ancient ice skates…

    Great topic…timely, true in so many different places, not just your part of the country…can’t wait to see more.

    Andrew B

  • “and the AARP application form got sent to my address by mistake…”

    ha! I’m glad it wasn’t just me…I figured they sent one to me because they know I procrastinate and it would take me a few years to get around to joining….

    every time I proof pudding it gets a funny skin on top and is all lumpy if you eat it….

  • David McG, great essay, as I wrote to you, you pulled it out and nailed what our american cultrure is much about. Much of the untild story of this country, not the History, is in its yard, or its stacks of both discarded and cherished objects. It’s all worth nothing, many times, and is a, almost national dare I say, treasure!

    I will try to be more critical on further viewing ;-)… I promise, but today a big Bravo from me.

    PS: watergate instructionkit….Qu’ est ce que c’ est!?!? :-))))

  • av. life expectancy..

    norway – 79.7 years

    ‘middleage’ here – 4 years either side of 39.85 years

    USA – 77.6 years

    ‘middle-age’ there – 4 years either side of 38.8 years.

    read ’em n weep.. i is daan wiv da yoof fo longa, innit..

  • my left knee just ceased up..


    well, i now have a good internet connection from my Motel 6 off of Interstate 25 in Denver and i am blessed with a spectacular view of the parking lot!!!

    let me get some breakfast and a coffee “to go” and i will be back soonest to go over all of your comments, links, etc etc…

    yes, free time!! laundry time!!! blog time while clothes are in the dryer!! does life get any better than this???


    may i please have your telephone again?? i know you left it for me way way back, but if you would be kind enough to pop it in here again, i would be most appreciative….or, you may call me 202 413-1137….i may be driving from Colorado to Iowa and across “middle America” and just might be in your neighborhood as well….

    back soonest…

    cheers, david

  • bowen, andrew, herve, etc.,

    Thanks for the comments—it’s certainly good to get a feel for what people are responding to—I can handle the criticism as well, or at least well said opinions on directions I might have missed. I have every intent of pushing myself much harder for the rest of the summer.

    We often talk about editing here (and of course, there’s plenty that I miss on this blog) but it seems like we’re never discussing editing to a particular purpose (ie slideshow, book, gallery opening, magazine article, etc.) Editing discussions from DAH tend to be about narrowing work down to about the 5 best shots in a strong sequence, which sounds like it has publication purposes. What about a 20 piece gallery showing, or a 50 page book? Different process?

    When shooting a project like mine, for some reason I tend to have the slideshow in mind first. Not sure if that affects my approach, but the music, words and pace are in my head when shooting.

    I may be wrong about this, but I almost want my editing for this project to be as cluttered as a garage sale itself, to convey the feel. Right or wrong?

    Anyway, is my camera a weapon? I’m not sure I’m fighting anything quite yet. Maybe it’s more like a conveyance, from one simple world to another.

    Herve, something was wrong with your link. Here you go:

  • Oh, the Watergate Instruction Kit was a game—so many things like that I wish I could pick up, but I have to force myself to refrain.

  • i want Michelle and her daughters plastic cow..

  • Ah, to be in Denver, the Mile High City, and to look out your window at the mighty American parking lot on a bright and sunny day where you can see past the foothills of Ford Tauruses and the headlands of Chevy Malibus all the way over to the purple mountains’ majesty of Burger King; is there anything in American life more wondrous than that? I don’t think so.


    yes, editing for different “presentations” sets up different choices…a slide show is one thing, a magazine another, a book another, archive another , etc etc….

    for example, when i do a slide show of a body of work, i rarely show more than about 20 pictures of any one subject… even if i worked on something for several years….depending on space of course, i think an exhibit would usually have from 20-50 photographs…a book no more than 100 and better probably at 50-75…there are no “rules” of course, but these are generally the parameters for me…

    this is why it takes “forever” to get those “best” down so so tight… i think you will find that the more you work on one subject, when you do “new work” it tends to “REPLACE” what you have already done rather than “ADD” to the overall total…

    so let’s say you had 25 good photographs of garages…then you go out and spend two weeks doing new garages…at the end of it all, you might have 30 good pictures, only actually adding 5 to the overall body because your new work just “knocked out” some of the old…

    i am sure you have probably already noticed this perhaps frustrating phenomenon…BUT, this is when it really starts getting good!!!

    i have what i call an “A”, “B” and “C” edit of any subject…

    the “C” edit is loose..has “everything” that i ever want to look at again for whatever reason…much of this “C” edit will be good for archive sales for example, but will not make the “final cut” for book , exhibit, magazine or whatever…

    the “B” edit includes what i may think are the best of the best even though i know that at some point this “B” edit is going to get cut in half at least!! from my “B” edit i could probably do a totally different “Cuba” book or “Divided Soul” book…these “B’s” should be just as “good” as what will become your “A” edit, but maybe just not as good for a unified “whole”..

    for example, one of my most popular collectors prints, one that commands the highest price for me, is actually in the “B” edit for Divided Soul..NOT in the book!! i like the picture, everyone seems to like the picture, but it just did not fit the book!!! it was a visual anomaly…just not “like” the other photographs in the book…not the same “style”…

    for me anyway, the “A” edit is a precious few…and it changes with time as per described above…for example, i showed at Look3 a few beginning “A” edit pictures for my family project…if i were to do an “A” edit slide show today of this very same project, maybe only two of the ten i showed would now be in the “A” edit…i have done a lot more work since, so things have changed….when i am about 75% finished with this project it will become increasingly difficult to add to this “A” edit even though right at this moment the “A” edit is building faster than it ever will again….

    all of this is naturally quite subjective…and perhaps what i do is not what others do…but, generally speaking, when i am helping my students edit, this is the way we work as well..

    i just got off the phone with Patricia…she is going to do what i suggest for all of you…make “hard copies”…prints…cheap 4×6 prints…so tactile and so helpful for final editing…

    perhaps we can meet again soonest for your garage sale edit and your other work as well…stay in touch…Mike and are are driving from Colorado back to New York and making various stops along the way….

    do not be dismayed by the editing process please…it is just flat out tough regardless of experience….the most iconic and/or experienced photographers have just as much trouble editing as do “emerging photographers”….this process of learning and choosing is never over!!! enjoy, enjoy!!!

    peace, david


    yes, i have your e-mail…i will write the forward for your book soonest….

    thank you for your patience and be of good cheer….

    best wishes always, david

  • David, seriously, thanks for that editing description. (I have to make sure my brother gets that.) I’m sure that process answers a lot of questions in people’s minds. My issue now is not really committing to narrowing shots down, but rather what makes one picture better / stronger / more important than another. Probably only I can answer that for the final cut.

    I hope to make it out to NYC this fall with a stack of 4x6s, since I have some new friends in the city now. Perhaps if you make it to see Patricia, I’ll see you in passing since you’ll be in the “neighborhood.” Stop by Grand Rapids if you’re inclined.

  • NASHA….

    i sincerely hope that i may meet you one day in Iran…this would make me very happy….i am one American who thinks it very unfortunate that the politics and policies of our respective countries makes it so difficult to carry on normal discourse and exchange…

    i have been around long enough to know that culture and politics are two different things…that political “friends” one day are political “enemies” the next and for reasons bewildering to the average citizen..

    please give your friends my warmest regards…my door is open as is the door of most of my countrymen…what you may read in the press or see on television is only a limited view of the realities and sensibilities of most educated Americans…

    ok, back to photography…a language for all of us….

    peace, david

  • David;

    Editing, do you think that sometimes if you edit too close to a shoot, and if the subject is really close to your heart, you can be too “attached” to your images/subject to do a good edit?

    Also, conversely, that the “real” stunners stay that way throughout your project.. In other words, your first impressions can be right?


  • David Mc,

    Love the piece and love the audio. I have to look again, but first viewing I really enjoyed it. And I had a Big Jim Camper that was sold in a yardsale!


  • David McGowan :))

    terrific. i really enjoyed it…and i just finished watching the slidepresentation WITHOUT MUSIC/SOUNDTRACK! :))…whatever music you have, i have no clue (i’ll re-watch it tonight when I get home!)…so, the only way for me to approach the work, is silently: just the pics and the sequence…

    DAMN, i really enjoyed it…FRANKLY, i enjoyed it MUCH MUCH MORE than i had when you’d shown previous bits. I’ll tell you why: this sequence (although long) makes sense in a way that the other “bits and parts” didnt. The variation and themes, the stories that run into against and away from each (the story of the young girl trying to get money from the consignment store, the man with the old truck, the sales of vehicles, the different families) begin to weave in and out of one another. The story is NOT linear (at least temporally) and it becomes more interesting (visually and narratively). Also, i like that the “things”, the objects for sale (as herve mentioned, a huge and significant power in this story) did not overwhelm me in this edit, as they often did people. It seems much more balance between “things” and “people” and i like that pivot between the two: our things are us, we are our things…but the story is not just about the objects that define us, place, generation, but our attachment to all things…that, for me, is the potency of the story…we define ourselves through accumulation and now many have to cut away just to survive…and oh, the shit we accumulate…(i also love that watergate piece)…there real emotional impact here, and it doesnt seem as Kitchy as earlier…not as “sentimental”, but someone more forlorn….part of this has to do with the image selection (for sure), much of this has to do with how your put the sequence together: collision, mixing stories, so instead of telling separate stories, you tell only 1 story, ….i also like how sadness starts to accumulate…

    as for editing…what to say?…david said it all…i can only offer my own experience, which is similar to david:

    i tend to “edit” too based on purpose: is it for an exhibition, is it for something short, whatever…i’m trying to edit Bones in my head now, even though i’ve only developed 2 of the 10 rolls…trying to imagine what will happen……i try to ask myself this:

    1) what do i want to suggest/ask?

    2) what is the ‘theme” (i mean visual theme, not just the theme of the work)

    3) if i only have enough money for a few pics (prints or my son’s allowance), what couldnt i live without?…

    and even then, it’s f*cked, cause editors see different, spouses, friends, children, strangers….and you see different depending on the pitch of the moon ;)))

    as written before, i like collision and often in a body of work, i really like “random” images…just to keep it (cue voice of jack nicholson): ‘interesting’ ;)))..

    but, really really enjoyed it David…

    can’t wait to see you put Harvey’s method (and TRUE, ABSOLUTELY TRUE) of using “new” images simply to REPLACE old, not to extend….that’s the way things seem to work :)))

    ok, running

  • DAH


    i’ve decided i will edit for a book as i would edit for a magazine.. only in larger volume..

    looking at ‘c’ edit – 4 or 500
    ‘b’ edit – 200 or thereabout
    ‘a’ edit – 75 or close-ish

    hope the shooting has been smooth.. and the families warm.

  • Bob — your work has so much impact that it means a lot to me that you are really “feeling” this. I’m totally excited for you to hear the audio now!! I think it adds a nice dimension to what’s occurring here.

  • Spencer, I loved that camper when I saw it at the sale. Hopefully I find the GI Joe stuff before I’m done shooting.


    For three hours yesterday morning, my photographer friend Ed, a man of many talents and wide experience in his mid seventies, looked over three different rough edits of slide shows I have been putting together, and we got into a heated and wide-ranging ‘discussion’ (at times a shouting match), which often happens when Ed and I get together. Aside from trotting out our respective prejudices for the kind of photography each one of us likes, we looked at a number of what one or both of us consider ‘problem’ pictures and talked about what was wrong with them, how they could be made better, or at least how they might have been taken better. In addition to being the most meticulous and accomplished maker of color prints I know, Ed used to be a painter. He was also in various incarnations a high school English teacher, a glaciologist, and a custom housebuilder. He loves to argue and he’s good at it… even to the point of vehemently maintaining some view which the next day he will reverse and argue just as strongly against. Our arguments often generate far more heat than light. But sometimes they spin off worthwhile or interesting ideas.

    After he described what he saw and how his eye moved in a number of my pictures, and what he thought was wrong or right in them, it became clearer than ever to me that we in fact actually have very different visual perception. I don’t mean different visual taste, or different reactions to subjects, I mean we literally see different things in a photograph. Ed loves to slip into what I call the ‘editorial you’. “The first thing your eye notices in this picture is….” At which point I protest, “No, that’s the first thing YOUR eye notices. MY eye notices this…. ” Or he likes to speak as an even higher authority: “When people look at a photograph, the first thing they notice is…” And I have to come back, “Maybe some people do, maybe even most people do, but not everyone…” After we had bashed at each other over a half dozen photos, it became clear to me that he was consistently noticing the same things in photos… usually the white areas or the highest values… whereas my eyes were instantly drawn to areas of saturated color, and I hardly noticed the whites or high values until they were pointed out to me. I’ve been looking at, editing, and in some cases ‘enhancing’ (mostly changing the gamma level or local contrast) these photos for the last couple of months, and I had quite literally NEVER noticed what he said was “the first thing people notice.” Quite astonishing, until I remember that in walking down the same street over and over again, one day I would notice something I had never seen before… even though it had been there for ages. Is it just me? Somehow I don’t think so. Some people may be more observant than others, but I think everybody has their own visual tendencies, and possibly blocks in their perception. Otherwise, we’d all take the same photos, right? We’re all tuned to slightly different ‘frequencies’ in the spectrum of the phenomenal world. Reality- the totality of the universe- pushes very different buttons in each one of us.

    That led to another discussion. I had three different slide show rough edits: one, of carefully composed landscape shots, the kind of photography I used to concentrate on and that is most like what Ed himself does; two, the Chinese New Year celebration in Vancouver, which is extremely crowded, chaotic, disorganized, noisy, fast moving, cluttered, and riotous with garish color; and three, a slide show of portraits (although technically most would be seen as ‘environmental portraits’ rather than classic formal ‘studio’ portraits), some of which were carefully composed with the subject’s approval and cooperation, and some of which were taken on the fly of strangers, where I might have had fleeting eye-contact or body language engagement leading to tacit consent, or even where the subject was oblivious to the camera. I mention this because for me they are very different styles of photography. The landscapes can be carefully framed, one can wait for the light or move around to a better vantage point, work out optimum exposure and depth of field at leisure, bracket extensively, even use a tripod (rare in my case), etc.. The festival crowd scene is moving fast, nobody waits, the action happens in an instant and is gone, one is shooting on the fly, people are elbowing you or getting in the way, it has to be instinctive and almost ‘automatic’ (I don’t mean with the camera settings on automatic, which Bob Black accused me of a while back). A lot may be going on that one barely notices even while framing and clicking the shutter. Afterwards, viewing and editing the frames, there are always surprises. Sometimes the surprises are the best part! As for the portraits… it’s a bit of both worlds, but it adds the dimension that personal interaction and engagement with the subject is more important, and it takes up a good part of one’s attention and energy. Some of what comes out of it is intentional, and some is serendipitous.

    I think everybody has a territory more or less staked out somewhere on the continuum from totally intentional to totally serendipitous… even just random… where they feel comfortable… some people may be control freaks, others love abandoning themselves to randomness. Maybe some of us go through moods from one extreme to the other. Does it show in the pictures we take? Surely it shows up in the edits!

    So taking pictures, especially of the street-shooter or photojournalistic kind, is I think a personal balance of these two tendencies. Just the act of having a camera, and then framing a ‘picture’ and clicking the shutter, reeks of intention. But we’re also involved in a dance, the world is not totally at our control, and despite the fact that we may have some idea of what is a ‘good picture’, sometimes we just can’t make it happen in front of the viewfinder as envisioned. Instead, something else may happen, subtly different… more interesting, maybe? Or, maybe not as good. But that judgment may have to come long afterwards. It may not be apparent right away.

    Now, this is getting long, and so I’m not gonna connect up all the dots to where I INTEND for this argument to go, except to say this: Up until about a year or so ago, I used to be fastidious about ‘eliminating everything unnecessary from the frame’, cropping out ‘distracting elements’, trying to make photographs be more ‘effective’ or have ‘more impact’ by using dramatic compositions, selective depth of field, and simplified backgrounds where possible. Maybe because years ago I used photography as a record-keeping and information-conveying tool in an academic setting, I developed a taste for ‘information dense’ pictures which might even be quite cluttered, long before I thought about attempting photography as an ‘art’ or even trying to make a living at it. But of course when I started ‘getting serious’ about photography some years back, I absorbed all the ‘common wisdom’ about what made for good photographs. But sometime last spring, early summer, I did some soul-searching, deciding that that wasn’t in fact the way I saw the world, and I deliberately decided to embrace chaos, clutter, no clear ‘center of attention’. Instead of ‘removing random or distracting elements’ or trying for simple dramatic compositions, I would try to open the wide angle frame up to as much of the unedited garish kaleidoscope of stuff I saw in front of me as I could. I wouldn’t abandon intentionality… but I would try to make visual sense of a much bigger and more complicated chunk of the pie, and let the ‘random elements’ do their own thing to a greater extent… which might be something I could perceive readily, but might be something I wouldn’t even notice until long, long after I clicked that shutter. I don’t mean to abandon intentionality and careful composition, only to try to see it in a very different way. I can’t claim to have ‘mastered’ this process, but that seems to be the direction I’ve been going in. Maybe it’ll prove to be a dead end, but I notice in mining through my archives I’m finding all kinds of pictures that in earlier edits I considered ‘throwaways’ but fortunately I didn’t throw away. Now, with a new way of seeing, I realize how much I didn’t see before. And maybe a year from now, I will see all kinds of things I can’t yet perceive. So the camera is a tool for discovery… but my own path of discovery may seem a little weird and counter-productive at times. And I may not even notice something that is obvious to everyone… then again, maybe I’m seeing something others don’t, or won’t. So be it…

    (Just so you don’t think I’m too stubborn and vain to learn from anyone else, after Ed pointed out the problem white areas in my pictures, I started noticing them all over the place…)


  • DAH

    Thanks a lot for the editing post ! it really clears my mind about editing while new work is coming over my desk. I am now editing an essay that I called Wooden King, but i am far far from the “A” or even the “B” or “C” edit. Let me say its the “L” edit… its just the beggining essay, I know that’s a lot of work to do but I would love some feedback of you and all the inestimable members of this blog before continue this story. Please check the link, and if you have some free time, let me know how you feel about it.

    Wooden King

  • Sidney :)))))))

    lovely treastie! :)))…and could i graciously ask to see the pics of you and big ed fighting! ;))))))…

    this will be quick :)))…

    first, just to set the record straight. I did NOT “accuse” you of shooting on automatic (by the way, many photographers shoot on A (including me from time to time), because it’s functional, but also sometimes it makes sense (for lots of reasons) to shoot as Aperature priority or Shutter Priority (meaning: one is A and you worry about the other, rather than both, which involves alot of work/thinking as a photographer)) :))…so, i didnt think you were shooting on Auto (as in autopilot) out of laziness or anything like that (you’re lots of things, but lazy aint one of them);)) )…i meant that the images all SEEMED to have the same apparent depth of field/shutterspeed/exposure ratio, so i was asking if you were using a point&shoot digi (nothing wrong with that either)…so, i hope (and trust) you didnt take that observation as something pejorative…:)))…anyway….

    that’s a great conclusion and IS TRUE…aesthetically, philosophically AND OPTICALLY…we DO SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY…i know that as, i’ve mentioned before, i am blind in one of my eyes (coates disease) and once dreamed of being an opthomologist and have read studies of experiments elucidating this….do a quick experiment: no 2 people see the same person in the same way…for sensorial experience is an amalgam of not only the “sensations” (the brain processing the information), but how the brain processes the info is an algebra of lots of variables (including biological, sociological, experiential, nerve-related, chemically, emotionally, etc)…

    yes, yes yes :)))))…we ALL see differently (minutely) and we somehow reconcile this “sight” as immutably the same (that’s why were’ fucked ;)) )….so yes, that’s part of the keys to understanding photography: but also criticism from others (especially when i offer an opinion ;)))) )….

    as i wrote, everyone looks at work differently because they ‘see’ it differently…imagine losing sight at 11 and then explaining to adult dr.s that blindness was like (to me) sleep without memories, dreasm…NOT DARK, but sleep sans reve….and they never understood this ;))))…

    can you provide us audio for your fight? :))))…i’d love to hear :)))

    and yea, dont throwaway…how the world (we?) change so much….remember those magnificent poems written at 16 next to the lovely lass/lad sitting at the adjacent desk, that proved you were the next shakespeare?…well, i had the excruciatingly misfortune to rediscover much of that foul shit i use to write (dont ask me why i kept it), when i moved to toronto and opened and went through my old writing boxes….god almight ;)))))))

    but, sometimes things bloom too rather than rot, with time :))))

    terrific post


  • BOB

    Unfortunately no pix were taken and no tape made of Ed and I shouting at each other… but it happens often enough, there may well be a chance to record such an event for sharing around…

    Here was one ‘throwaway’ line from yesterday’s exchange:

    “Don’t bludgeon me with your false sense of


  • DAVID,

    You seemed to have had a few good days of shooting and it was very interesting to see your editing suggestions…Like many I am sure, I am really intrigued to see how your new project is shaping. The few pictures you shared at Look3 did give a sense but not enough really….seems so different from what you did before that I continue to be very curious on how this will come together…I guess I will have to be somewhat patient… How easy is it to change style so much between your past work and what you seem to do now on this project? Do you already see the style of the overall body of work you want to do come together already after a few weeks or is this still too early and could go in many different directions?

    Separately, I finally got the book in my hands from Larry Fink…Very nice book indeed that certainly sets a high standard for any new boxing work… I also just found this evening, as I was checking out a few photo sites, a recent essay from a VII associated member on the Gleason Gym in Brooklyn…All B&W pictures (see below for those interested)….I sometimes wonder if this subject lends itself better to B&W. Curious to see what you all think of this work….Anyway, I am sticking to colours even if I find it tough sometimes in these gyms to capture these…. Migel Rio Branco did also do a great work indeed in colours so it is possible!!!!

    As far as my own essay is concerned, you probably did not get a chance yet to see the link that I posted for you earlier on this thread… It is far from final but I shared more specifically what I was trying to show…No rush but I am curious to know if you think this is heading into the right direction or not…especially the past I did on crucifixion…

    Anyway, hope you continue to have fun on the road…. Remember that you have a place to stay in Ohio if you ever come this way.



  • but I notice in mining through my archives I’m finding all kinds of pictures that in earlier edits I considered ‘throwaways’

    Sidney. Likewise, and unfortunately I probably threw too many. I realized that the first day I logged on the road trip blog, seeing David’s BKK entries (january 07?)…. really, I thought, immodestly I concur: shit! what did I do all these past years, throwing evrything loosely composed, broken framed, unsharp, blurred. Maybe, all my A edits for 3 years…. :-))))

    David, as usual you bring up something I connected with as you speak. Today, it’s Iran. I remembered our little conversation back in Paris, after the party, and back in SF, I picked from the Library a pretty good bio, just came out, on the President of Iran, “Ahmadinejad, the secret history of Iran’s radical leader” by Kasra Naji. Good stuff (the editor probably made up the catchy subtitle), no thesis, plenty of facts, pretty balanced, in depth coverage of the man and Iran.

  • but I notice in mining through my archives I’m finding all kinds of pictures that in earlier edits I considered ‘throwaways’

    On this subject, it really scares me, because I really want to clean house. I think in most cases there are things we know we will never use. But there are times I think some quirky editor could look at my stuff and put together sequences and images that I would never think of. But would that really be a fair representation of my work, if my intent wasn’t involved, just the shot was repurposed?

    I think shots of people should be kept, because regardless photo ascetics, you never know if it might serve some historical purpose. But anything that doesn’t show intent is game for the trash can.

  • Eric, not overwhelmed by the VII boxing essay. Anyway, on that subject you may be familiar with John Vink’s boxing essay from Cambodia

    and you had me looking up Larry Fink and that book on the net, which led to:


    so sorry it has taken me so long to view your boxing work…yes, yes, please always re-post your link if you think i missed it the first time around..

    you have some very strong boxing images here Eric…whether you stay with color or move to black & white is just your personal choice….Larry Fink chose b&w and it worked ….Miguel Rio Branco chose color and that worked too…you seem to shoot very well in color , so you probably will want to stick with it…

    you will eventually have to figure out exactly where you want to go with this…you seem to be concentrating on the action, either punching in the gym or training/running outside…i do not think you necessarily have to always have these men “doing something”…you could also think “muscles, sweat, pain, win, lose, hurt, blood ” without anything actually “happening” in the didactic sense….we all know what boxing “looks like”…maybe you should/could show us what it “feels like”…the “atmosphere” of the gym….the “reason” why men fight each other for sport…

    you have read many times i think where i see a good take by someone here, but see a lot of repetition in the work..a common problem…the same goes for you…for example, you have many good punching pictures, but it the long run, how many of those will you actually use??? in a body of work of boxing pictures, i can imagine 3 or 4 punching pictures…you will need to expand your horizons at some point….

    whenever you take on a project you must always think “where does this go..where does it take me…where can i take it????”

    most photographers get interested in something when they really cannot think past perhaps 5 or 6 situations….this is fine for a newspaper picture story or even a magazine spread, but is not enough if you are thinking book….OR, you could go “narrow” in terms of situations and go with a strong portraiture/details combo where the repetition IS the essay…but, you have to tell us soon whatever it is you want to tell us!!! i cannot do that for you.. you must SAY something…will you use satire, use lyricism, use pathos, use action, use poetry??? how do you see boxing Eric?? what does it really mean to you?? a cool photo subject or something deeper??? look again at Larry’s “reason”…see how Miguel sees the blood and poetry of boxing/bullfighting as part of his emphasis on sensuality….

    ok, much to think about…you certainly are off to a good start with just pure good imagery…but, you must go further…i am not sure what “further” is in your case…i have a feeling that surely you are thinking somewhat the same thing….

    please be encouraged by what you have done so far…and i am sure you realize that just making “cool images” is getting too easy for you…you know how to do that….your “next step” is to add context and meaning to your work….i have no doubt you will do it…

    cheers, david

  • ERIC…

    oh, i forgot your question about changing styles etc for my work with families…i am not really changing my style , but i am changing my approach…my methodology….i am using a camera that is much harder for me to use than my “normal” camera…this forces me to struggle..makes me “miss”…makes me more deliberate…makes me “back up” instead of “moving in”….what you saw at Look3 was still part of my “sketches”…and i am faced with all of the same things you are facing…my motive is obvious and strong…my way of doing it is still in development….i have learned to work very very hard and then perhaps stop and start all over again…this does not bother me..i do not feel failure or frustration…you probably have no idea how quickly i can throw away weeks of work….i just know it is all part of the learning process and the thinking by doing process…

    cheers, david

  • BTW, Eric, When I saw your work, it was simply clicking on the link, which delivered not one essay but many pix of different subjects. So I got your style more than your focussing on one subject.

    Now that David has spoken, I went back to look, wondering where was all the stuff (that could have been repetitive, for ex…), and dug it from the index. So, maybe you could link directly to the essay itself, rather than the intro page.

  • Eric,

    The VII boxing piece didn’t grab my attention either…glad to hear you are sticking with your use of colour . I like the way you are using it…it comes across thick and visceral…lends a lot to the images for me. Your use of the color is one thing I wanted to talk with you about if we are able to get together when I’m in Cincy…

    good journeys as you travel…and you also have a place here in the bluegrass of KY if you pass through. I’d be honored to be able to meet you in person and perhaps share a story and a beverage or three…

    I am slightly inspired this evening…just returned from viewing Casablanca, projected from 35mm film in a historic theater that even has an organist to entertain the patrons while waiting for the film to begin…some wonderful cinemetography, especially on a large screen like that…

    Then upon leaving, discovered that the (controversial) demolition of several buildings on a historic block had begun just before we walked out (late at night, perhaps to limit the impact to traffic, perhaps to get it done in the darkness of night and unobserved)….I parked the car and grabbed the camera and captured the demise as best I could…


    i have found the transport of film through the airport security systems easier than ever before….the security officers used to grumble a bit when we showed up with a lot of film for them to “hand inspect”…now, it is so rare , they seem to enjoy it!!! a break in their routine perhaps…anyway, no problems for me so far…


    nice essay my friend….your experience and your conclusions are good..”good” in the sense that you came to a conclusion!!!..and if it wasn’t Ed having you “rethink” , i am sure it would be someone else…

    just remember…”chaos” is just as hard to “control” as is super “intentional”…some chaos works and some does not, just as in the “deliberate” which can actually be chaotic in its own way…yes, we all do take different pictures…i think in this day and age where we have all seen so so much work, the way to go is “instinctive”….instinctive “balanced” or instinctive “chaotic”…balanced alone or chaos alone will not “do it” alone…

    cheers, david


    i do like your pictures of the motorcycle race and maybe there is something to this “weekend ritual” essay…on the other hand, what does it really mean to photograph weekend events?? yes, it happens , but is that enough for you?? i can see a newspaper doing picture features of such events, but why exactly do YOU feel compelled to do it??? i would like to see you do an assignment here, but would you rather do something a bit more esoteric??? or something with more “weight”?? more personal??? think about it…

    cheers, david

  • ALL….

    tomorrow i leave Colorado and drive across mid-America on my way back to New York…i have about a week or so to photograph some families…i will stop in Iowa and document a farm family…i also plan to stop and see Patricia and photograph her with husband Edward..and, of course, there will just be unplanned work with whatever fate sends my way…

    do any of you know anyone in Cheyenne, Wyoming or nearby who would be a good contact for families there?? what about Nebraska??? i will take the northern west to east route passing near Chicago etc., so if any of you live along this route, please let me know and perhaps we can meet..

    cheers, david

  • Finally am caught up here..trying to get back to NYC and have been stranded in the airport for almost 20 hours now, hopefully I am on my way home now.

    Thanks for the good reading materials and sanity while I tried to ignore the airport soundtrack all night long.


    firstly – i’m a fan of your work.. great stuff.

    just looking at your site – the link to ‘bits of silver’ just goes to a ‘blurb’ sign-in page right now… and not the book itself.
    i searched for your book in the shop and that linked to here
    from where i went to here
    maybe you were signed in when you copied the link for your site – one of the links above would work, since i don’t have a blurb account.
    soon as i have some money i’ll buy the book.

    also.. wondering – i have seen a couple of sites with an index template similar to yours down the left hand side..
    did you build the site yourself, and if so – how did you go about this template?
    i’m using slideshowpro on my site.. was it a feature supplied with a similar program?

    big thanks in advance for any help and hope the travels are at an end.
    airports.. terrible.. stanstead was my least fav with such bad connections to the n. of england that i must have slept there a dozen times…
    warmest thoughts


    thank you so much for letting me know about the link..I did it quickly and will correct if I ever get home..

    I am not on my way home as hoped, but am now waiting for a room to open up in a hotel, one more night it seems..I am exhausted, but managed 3 free round trip tickets and a hotel room, so I will try to be grateful. Am starving though, as middle of nowhere Ohio (am flying out of a small airport, no longer in Cleveland) doesn’t really understand non-dairy eating vegetarians.

    That would so nice if you actually bought a book..I never thought anyone would, but a couple of people have (and are shipping it to me to be signed..I think that’s so sweet that anyone would be interested, why the offer is open to do the same)..

    Can’t wait to get back to actually shooting the new stuff!


    what’s in Cleveland must be one of the most diverse cities around, is under incredible financial stress, and has many old world inhabitants, so time sort of stand still in parts of the city. Sad, beautiful, amazing, and frightening at times..

  • it’s pain in the proverbial when the journeys and delays in themselves could make a projectof their own..

    good luck

  • DAVID,
    Thanks for that :)
    back to photography I need your help with one of my project but I don’t want to put pics on may website, can I send them to your email address?


    since Mike and i are both out on the road , neither of us has had a chance to send you your book…but, we have not forgotten you!!! we will be “on the case” with getting off your book as per promised as soon as we arrive in New York…this is going to be in about a week i think…thanks for your patience….


    yes, please send to my e-mail…


    as i drive across the country, i find that even though it takes longer, the “speed” of flying is not missed!!! at the rate you are going, driving would have been faster!! see you soonest….


    i do not know how long i will stay in Iowa…well, i have not even gotten to Iowa yet!! still more than a day away….but, i will call you from there and see if i will be able to meet you before you leave on the 31st….

    cheers, david

  • MARCIN….

    are you working on Hometown?? i know several of our friends here sent you film, so i am assuming you are putting it to good use….if you need more film, i should have a few rolls left for you too….can you come to Italy next week to pick them up??? joking of course, but Tuscany is at least closer to you than Iowa!!!

    i do look forward to seeing your newest work….and my best wishes to your wife who i know keeps you on track…by the way, i do not know your wife’s name…i do not think you have ever written it….??????

    peace, david

  • DAH

    i have as yet to get a bookshelf over to norway anyway.. please don’t worry about it.

    would it be okay to take a j-peg of one of your cuba photos from the web for my blog?
    i’ll give you a name credit – unfortunately i have no budget though.. (hohoho)..

    big thanks and warm wishes

    pea’s n pie

  • DAVID et ALL,

    I have been a little absent the last week or so as I have been continuing the development of my violence story here in Baltimore. I am seeking some advice from anyone with long term project experience or anyone really…

    It seems that I have spent so much time hunting and putting together sources, submitting proposals for approval but little time shooting and I am wondering if this is something usual. I am a one man team, but I wonder how people who do this for Time or National Geo get around so many road blocks? Right now, I am in the final stages of approval for entrance into Baltimore City prisons to shoot and interview, I am in the final stages of approval for ride a-longs in the medical helicopter that picks sever gun shot victims up and transports them to Shock Trauma hospital and in the final stages of approval to shoot in Shock Trauma (ST).

    ST has a program as well that as soon as victims are stable, they approach them with an outreach program that gets them out of their lifestyle… I am hoping a family will agree for me to follow them through the emotional/physical recovery. My goal with this portion is to pick up a shooting victim via the chopper and follow the process all they way through their recovery and through the prevention/assistance program.

    I feel like I am at a point in this story where I have just arrived at an airport and I am waiting to get on a plane, dont know which one, but a plane that will begin the journey for the next part of the story… The lay over though, is killing me and feel almost useless without shooting.

  • David, I went to school in Iowa so if you need families, I maybe able to help you out… Actually, I have a great one in mind. The father/husband is major player in Democratic elections, he worked with Gore/Clinton as a campaign manager and then on Gores and then with Edwards, probably has big stakes in the current nominee. Works like a made man, has three kids, pretty home and a wonderful relationship with his wife… let me know.

  • ERIC E.

    I just want to chime in on encouraging you to stick with color for the boxing story. From the very beginning of my awareness of your workshop stuff, it was your rich handling of color that I found arresting. Of all the photo work I’ve seen by contributors to this forum, you seem to me to be one of the three or four true ‘heirs’ or ‘soulmates’ of DAH in this regard. And I think your color works perfectly with the boxing material.


  • jonathan

    your project sounds excellent – great that you are going to the effort to get the most complete coverage you can.. exciting stuff.. good luck.

    i can only really speak about working on commission fro magazines – for which i would spend 3 or 4 days a week planning, contacting possible funders for trips, trying to sell to magazines and researching possible new stories (all done 6 to 8 weeks before a proposed shoot).

    then i would get 2 or 3 days shooting a week.


  • for music and culture magazines i mean to say :o/

  • Dear David,

    I’ve sent you an e-mail again.
    Thank you so much. ^^



    no problem in using the Cuba photo for your blog…


    there is no way around being your own “fixer” for the work you are doing…one of the biggest jobs i have on assignment for any magazine, no matter how large the budget, is to “make things happen”…i do all of the research, all of the phone calls, all of the contacting of whoever needs to be contacted…lots and lots and lots of old fashioned footwork and public relations etc etc….there is an impression “out there” that someone does this for us at say Natgeo..nope…the photogs do it all…having said that, i do usually find someone “on the scene” who helps me…and , of course, i sometimes do need to hire an interpreter..but still, the job of “field producer” falls right on my shoulders…getting to the point where one can actually start shooting is perhaps the most formidable task for any documentary photographer….

    you are doing so well with this project Jonathan….please just keep going as best you can…that is just the way it is…

    thanks for your thoughts on Iowa, but i am pretty well connected there…i have uncles, cousins etc who are Iowa farmers….i mean the real thing…however, i may want to photograph your friends as well…i just might not be able to do it on this trip…in any case, if you want to send me their contact info by e-mail, please do so…

    cheers, david

  • Anton, Wrobertangell, Nick

    Guys I just send you e-mail. Please check it.


    I am not working on “hometown” right now. Still money problems. I will not work on it until end on august. But maybe this is ok. I have nerves time right now, and maybe august will be better time to work. But of course I will finish it. Soon.
    Now I am not working at all. Just some portraits and snapsots.
    My wife’s name is Aleksandra short Alex or Ola.
    Ola is pronounced the same as Hola in spanish. So when we were on Cuba people asked “Hola, what is your name” and my wife said “Ola”, and they “Okey Hola, Hola, but what is your name?”
    this was funny.

    Fore those who have time my wife’s paintings are here:


  • ALL…

    i will be off line for most of the day…that is until i get to my next “motel 6”..

    back as soon as possible…

    cheers, david

  • Marcin – Not much time to comment now, but those paintings are fantastic – thanks for sharing.

  • Gui, I went to your link:

    Yes, keep shooting, not too many so far, the square format is a difficult one, doesn’t lend itself as well as others to daily life tidbits of activities and simple tasks (maybe because square is confinement, and we also feel a moving subject, non-centrifugal, is just about to leave the frame, busy…Well, I don’t know, actually).

    So the “feel”, your feel, is missing a bit so far, play with the format a little bit more, I think your mono processing will lead you somewhere, “feeling” wise, very few neutral tones (greys). Get some wood, yes, in there, but also some psychology up close (people).

    I hope that was OK to forward this. Not advising, just my way to write, ideas….

  • all

    i don’t mean to talk politics here, but i just saw Obama’s speech in berlin… very powerful… blew me away… and for a moment there, just a fleeting second, i thought i was listening to the new president…

    peace, hope

  • Marcin…

    I enjoyed seeing the site for your wife. Thanks.
    Did you take the portrait of her? It’s very nice.

  • i thought i was listening to the new president…
    You probably were…. Mc Cain is starting to sound like Dole, and worse, look like as well. Old and tired is old and tired in politics.

    Anton, you did not get my mail?

  • Dear David,

    I hope to recieve the writing till 20th Aug.
    Thank you so much.

    Please take care of yourself.


  • To David

    Oh, i forgot …
    I don’t mind if it were short or long.

    Thanks a lot.


  • herve

    no i didn’t get any mail…. when?? maybe my spam filter caught it… try again? otherwise try too

    i’ll be catching up here tonight, so many interesting thoughts by everyone…

  • I’ve been catching up on this topic of “photography as weapon” and it’s really engaging. For me personally the idea of photography as witness to the world is extremely valuable. It can serve as a weapon against injustice or as a testament to the warmth and good and wonder that also exists. I think both hold equal value. Individuals, photographers, are drawn to different things and will by choice or nature or design contribute more in their chosen photography arenas… that may be fine art, humanitarian, cultural, war, etc. I don’t love the use of the language of war for photography, but can’t each genre is in it’s own way be a “weapon” against apathy and sterility of existence? I’m all-for anything that wakes us up in some way… except for the nightly news reporter that sensationalize the weather. They can go to…

    On another note, I’ve been working on a little project on competitive swimmers. I’ve put together a multimedia piece around what I’d done so far. You can find it here and of course feedback is welcome (works best in Safari) –
    This is an example of something that is not “important” per se, but it is close to my heart.


    Ed and I sure hope it will work out for you and Mike to spend a little time with us as you make your way towards home. Your futon awaits as does Mike’s Swedish camp cot! Now that our home phone has been repaired–four days out of order!–that is probably more likely to catch me than my cell phone. That # is 313-886-0967. By the way, we’ve got Coronas & white wine chilling in the fridge!!!


  • Kelly Lynn James is ready for the big time!! The only thing you need to do is slow down the text slides for us slow readers.

    I enjoyed it very much.

  • Kelly, love, love, love it. The video from poolside was a nice touch. My nephew was just up from Austin and the family loves to swim. They will really enjoy this. Thank you!

  • KELLY LYNN! :)))))))))

    i am so a sucker for SWIMMING pics/stories/film, period,….lay it down, sister! :))))…I LOVED IT! :)))))…i guess, it’s being an ex-swimmer :)))))…or rather, one who used to swim semi-competitively ;)))…and you know marina swims too :))))…

    I so loved the photographs…and the presentation…what i loved about the “film” part was the sly and silent laying down…anyone who has swum, know’s that view and recognizes it and instantly GETS IT!…laying down along the pool’s surface, watching the lanes, watching the movement of the water’s body shift and sift, LISTENing TO THE SOUND of the water lick and splash against the walls of it’s containment…who, who swims in a pool (indoor and out) has not lain prostate on the cement and listened…listened to the water blocked by the echo of the cement…and all these miraculous moments (video, like the swimmers cutting in front of the camera, off frame)…and all those gorgeous images….the underwater pics, all of them, are sublime and gorgeous…and just now, gave me a fever….uterus of our lives…..uterine, for those whove never dipped that world…

    the pics are gorgeous, the moments ditto, the voice (to be that 87 year old cowboy!)….

    and this: 2 of my cousins, olympic hopefuls, swam for Univ. of Texas….in the 80’s…were national champs and now are swim coaches (1 in texas (not the university) one in california)…a quiver, when i watch…

    good for you kelly…

    god, i got the fever now for beijing! :)))))

    aint ready, she’s there :)))


  • ps.

    obvious, but, you know Narelle’s work??????….

    she’s a genius, you know….even though her genius husband (love him too, of course) is well known, wish she’d been more well known….

    narelle, like you, understand that water and swimming is really our flight, born from our bones and blood and dna….


  • DAVID,

    Thanks for the encouragement/advice… I am still very motivated and passionate about the story, and will be at least until its done. I post on my blog about my thoughts etc if you are ever interested in reading. The hardest part is the time in between shooting when you are so hungry to do so… I will get you the info for the family via email. Thanks again.


  • DAVID,

    Thanks for your feedback… I am encouraged and will certainly carry on…I was indeed concentrating on the action in the gym initially. I think I know what I want to show… so I will keep working at it and hopefully little by little this will come together… After stopping for the past week (somehow, I had enough and needed a break), I went back to the gym tonight not really to shoot but to bring some pictures again to some of the kids. I tell you…if only for that feeling it is worth it…nothing more satisfying than to see the look of the younger kids going over the pictures… Anyway, while I have not shot much tonight, I found out that 6 or 7 of them will be going to Cleveland next week for a week long boxing tournament (Ohio State fair)…I cannot drop everything for a week but will go there for a day or two and try to get into a different setting, outside the current gym and follow these kids a bit… I also had a tchat with one of the young most promising kids and him amd I will spend some time together at his place in the coming week or two…I am curious to know more about his “story”, where he lives, meet whoever is part of his family etc…Might lead into something different but will see where that goes…I just enjoy seeing where this little work and story will take me…Will keep you posted.


    Well, I might eventually go to Cleveland the week after you have left presumably…This will be my chance to see what you said about the city…


    You are way too kind gentleman…I am not sure I deserce the ‘heirs’ or ‘soulmates’ of DAH but I will take this any time. Thanks for your continued encouragement…


    Looking forward to meet you this week-end…




    Very nice to look at your multimedia essays…I wish I could do something like this with music, still images, and video combined….If David is known to not be friend with computers, I am totally useless… I need to learn this, it is really cool and this adds a lot to the story…


  • Eric,
    Thanks, it’s fairly easy. There are a number of ways to do it. For strictly web based presentations, I use Soundslides. If you’re just going to add music to your slides, you’d be surprised how easy Soundslides is. For more detailed audio, like the narration I added, I use Garage Band to create a soundtrack. Garage Band is a Mac program.

  • Kelly, wonderful essay, well served by the multi-media installement. And IMO, if it’s close to your heart, it is important. Anyhting done with love and love of craft is important these days.

    Love your gallery too, some great singles there. The rodeo, Child’s NY, your color palette, etc… All inspiring.

  • ALL

    Do you ever get so “dippy” after working-working-working on a project that you just can’t SEE it anymore? I expect all of us have been there at one time or another. This week I’ve been trying to edit my portfolio of photos of the Detroit elders in preparation for Mary Ellen Mark’s workshop August 2-3. We’ve been asked to bring 10-20 prints for a portfolio review.

    I’ve just been all over the map with this. I’ve tried color; I’ve tried B&W. I’ve tried action shots; I’ve tried portraits. I’ve tried a combination of all of the above. But nothing seemed to hang together. Nothing tugged at my gut.

    So tonight I asked myself where my heart lay, what about this project touches me most deeply? After 12 visits and hundreds & hundreds of shots, what images are seared onto my brain? When I sat down with those questions, the answer became clear. It’s each individual person who has marked me for life. Not their activities, but their very being.

    So I went back through many of my photos–even ones I’d ignored before–until I found images that, to me, tapped into the unique humanity of each of these amazing elders. So far, I’ve only found 12 such images that speak to me.

    But now I don’t know if these images will speak to others, especially those who have never met these folks. So I’m asking for your honest feedback. Please. Do these portraits touch you? Do they work together? Which seem strongest? Which are weakest? Should I scrap this idea and try something else? Any help would be much appreciated.

    PASSWORD patricia



    i am dog tired from a long hot drive across Nebraska…Kelly i saw your show, but will comment tomorrow…and David, i missed your link you mind re-posting please please???

    cheers, david


    i just saw your comment..we must have posted simultaneous….will look at your link first thing in the morning…

    now Omaha…..Iowa farm families tomorrow and then off to see you….

    cheers, david

  • Patricia,

    I think the portraits alone will not do. Many of these portraits are shot as environmental, your angle tells us there is a narrative but we do not know which.

    Photographed as such, ie. singly but indirectly, even though we may be, simply being touched by their humanity will not do, or not enough. You did not shoot them as portraits really, but within a context, which is not just absent, but also missing in many shots.

    They do work perfectly as pictures, but yes, within a whole, my idea is that I think you should edit down a few and bring back some of the shots with activities or environment in them. The simplest ones, IMO, those we can read easily, or rather, simply. Simplicity is your game here, maybe.

    Like the 3 women sitting within a simple perspective. It is very metaphorical, visually, as if the perspective mirrors, 3-fold, the depth of their humanity. Depth of field becomes depth of feel?…..

  • Hi Patricia,

    I strongly believe in portraits alone as a way to tell a story, to make a reportage. But if you choose this path, my opinion is that you should go more “formal” (not sure it’s the right word) and take a lot of care about the light on the subject. Also the background should be part of the portrait/story or left neutral: in some of your shots it is just distracting. Wandering through your other galleries (photo-a-day), I saw some pictures similar to the ones you edited, but in colors: in some way it seems that color belongs to you better than b&w.

    Just my two (euro)cents.
    Keep on shooting your way through the project

  • DAVID,

    I am going to be shooting in my hometown during next week. I will work (normal work) but also shooting. The result should be visible after half of august. I am not staify what shot before, so many work before me. I have conception, now i have to realized it.
    Last two weeks I had bad time, now is even worst but I am angry and when I am angry I always find solution. We make some bad decision and now we paid for them. Now it is time to fix it all.
    So will be good. Now I have completly free weekend and I want shoots some stuff. Will be good.

    your famili essay sounds very interesting. I will wait until you will finish it. But it is whole century!

    peace for all

  • Dear David,

    I really thank you for your answer ; I’m really happy that you liked some of the pictures, and even more so that you would like to see me do an assignment !!

    Now, the discussions going on here really got me thinking about choosing a personal project. I think that, at the moment, I don’t have anything really intimate which I feel the need to show to people.

    On the contrary, I have a curiosity which makes me want know more about other people. I am curious to see what people that are close to me geographicaly are living like. But, on top of everything else, I really want to go over the preconceptions that I have concerning hunters, dog breeders, etc.

    Do you think that curiosity is not enough ?

    Maybe I should look for a link btw intimacy and the others…??

    What do you mean by “doing something a bit more esoteric ?”

    Do you mean that the subject is not precise enough ?

    Ok, so many questions in one short post… but I will keep thinking about what you wrote in your last post.

    Cheers and I hope to see you in september

    PS : I will probably not have internet access for the weeks to come…

  • Concerning editing :

    I have seen slideshows which had a broader edit because the link btw sound and images created something different ; maybe it was more a matter of rhythm than it was of showing a series of individual pictures.

    I am thinking about C. Anderson multimedia essay on Bolivia or maybe J. Vink’s on Thai Boxing.

    Don’t you think the edit can be really different if we want to give a more “cinematic” experience ?

    Isn’t it sometimes closer to screenshots than to photographs ?

  • grandma techno..

    hey hey.

    i really like ‘mary’ and ‘mr. freeman’, although i agree with herve and would love to see more.. work from the other trips.
    maybe i missed the link from before?

    i really empathize with where you are and have often felt i’m missing something.. could it be that after so much looking and feeling our way around we sometimes have difficulty finding the subtlety we need?
    i mean – it’s there for sure.. your portraits do have that connection.. maybe tired eyes is all?

  • kelly

    it’s all been said.. brilliant.. going to watch it again.. i used to hate the idea of going swimming.. that first rush of cold water.. once in the water though i never wanted to get out

    i’m the same about tidying the house.. hmm


    Your feedback was just what I needed! Thank you so much.


    Here is yet another edit of my Detroit Elders project. Again, I’m asking for honest critiques. Thanks in advance.


    Please don’t use your precious time on this. I’ll be seeing you soonest.

    PASSWORD patricia



    Oh yes, VERY tired eyes!!! Thanks for your feedback. Fresh eyes like yours are what I need right about now!


  • FUCK!…i just left a long note for you PATRICIA…and it’s disappeared…..:(((((…fucking typepad….;)))…

    ok, let me run to school and i’ll try to write it again….

  • LET ME TRY AGAIN ;))) way, will this be as cognent as i just wrote, but i hope it makes sense…im scrambling to catch the subway…

    PATRICIA :)))

    ok, i’ve looked at both sets of pictures and agree completely with what both Herve and Abele have written. I think the first and most fundamental question that you need to ask yourself is “why is MEM asking for 12 photographs?” I think Patricia that your, unjustly so, beating yourself up and undercutting your own work/value with you expectations and pressure to put together a small body of work that will showcase your work that meets the “expectations” of a workshop with MEM. Screw that shit! :)))

    ok, first let me suggest that the reason that MEM is asking for the work is that 1) she wants to see your technical abilities and 2) she wants to see what you’re about photographically: what is your vision, your intuition, your ideas, what drives you as a photographer. She needs this “information” in order to best exploit her talent and teaching in order to inspire and make you work and to unearth that latent talent and ideas that thrives beneath the surface of most photographers: the untapped black gold! so, what should you be doing?….

    The first series of B/W portraits, for me, doesnt showcase the strong points that I associate with you and your work. In other words, there are some lovely portraits but the work seems to be caught “in the middle” It is not enough to show photographs of people who inspire you if we as an audience don’t feel that “inspiration” or “connection.” In other words, the portraits seem to be of 2 varieties: 1) portraits that stand alone as a way to showcase their strenght/power/beauty/humanity (the ones i like the most) and 2) portraits that seem to be part of another story (African American senior citizens). As herve pointed out, they seemed to be “environmental” and yet we dont completely feel them, i mean I dont feel their lives in these environmental portraits per se, or the thing that inspired you: people working out, sitting around, working outside, etc. The drama and beauty that you lend to some of the more “formal” portraits shows that…and a few of the contextual pictures (the 3 women in profile for example) speak about another story too (the stories contained in their lives, as rememberers), but together both these things clash…does this make sense?

    The color set seems to be “closer” to a more cohesive presentation in that you’ve decided to go for a “story/project”: the African American seniors and their daily lives. I was a bit confused by the choice to convert some of these to color that had been b/w, but that is another question to ask yourself. Anyway, for me, this series might work better as work to show MEM cause it’s easier for me as a viewer to discuss it, to talk to you about the photographic and narrative ideas, cause i have a more keener understanding and handle on what you’re trying to “say.”….

    In other words Patricia, why not just make a decision to show either a project/story that means something to you and not worry about whether it works for MEM. I mean this: The approach to this portfolio submission (considering it is to consist of such a small number of photos) should be not one of trying to make the “right” choices of photographs, but to decide what kind of photographer are you? Who is Patricia. For me, frankly, you’ve always been a compassionate, empathetic and energetic story teller, a celebrator of life and lives. I can’t see your work in isolation (for example the way i see Erica’s portraits or Avedon’s). I see you as being a part of the people with whom you work, live photograph. That seems to be a big part of who you are. Therefore, for me, the work/projects of yours that made the most sense, impacted me the most offered me that: your relationship with the life and people with whom you were involved.

    Ok, you’ve got lots of projects (african americans, church, techno, school kids, poverty and your SELF=-PORTRAIT/DAILY LIFE series), so i would just pic 1 of those and pic 10 pics. I (it’s a personal decision) feel your self-portrait work the most, cause that speaks to me the most and seems to have the condition of your heart and your life negotiation at it’s best. Im not sure why you’re not considering to show MEM that. However, if you’re set on the African American series, than i would consider this: how about 10 pictures: 2 “portraits” (to begin and end the series) and the rest environmental. show us why you are drawn to them (it cant be just because they’re elders working out ;)) )…thing of how they related to each other, talk to each other…how about if this series is about not their lives in the old home but about how THEY TALK AND LISTEN TO EACH OTHER? :)))…and if it’s not completely storng work: DO NOT WORRY. It will be easier for MEM to work with this, to dig inside, to ask you what it is you are trying to do with this work…part (at least for me) of working on a project, is to understand what IS THE STORY?…

    i’ve been struggling with this with BONES…for me, it’s important to let things digest, settle…cause my original thought about bones changed midway through and that lead in another direction…often we’re caught up in the first impression and then later, with time, we see something else…what drew us, what inspired us…for me, if you want to use the african americans, i would ask you: what is their story: is it that they are old…or is it that they carry with them and share with each other stories….?……if this work isnt your best, let it be, and before you think about pictures/orders/sequences/choices, i think the idea should be: what am i trying to express, what inspired me, and which pictures….ask your husband….ask david….

    for something like this, it isnt about the best 10 pictures…it is about what you do and how you see that speaks about the reason you'[ve chosen to photograph….

    does this make sense?…i was so much more coherent in my first post that disappeared…



    MARCIN: :)))…LOVE YOUR WIFE STUFF…will write you this weekend :)))





    why aren’t you just showing MEM your best from the project you are doing here?? much more personal..besides, she will be caring more about what you do in her workshop than what you have in your portfolio…anyway, yes, we will be meeting in person in the next two days or so, so i will get you all set up for thinking about MEM, what to expect, etc etc…

    cheers, david

  • Herve

    Thanks a lot for seeing it. I really apprecitte it.

    well, as I said, I am on the “L” (Learning) edit, or just in the beggining of this. I should have said that, this pictures just made me want to do an essay with King. But no, this is not the final essay, this is not the final scan, maybe I keep with the square, maybe not… I do not know yet. This is one of the medium goodies, I can decide later, or keep it how it is. The neutral tone problem you told me… a higher scan will really help, but I don’t have medium format scan, so I’ll keep with these proves for a while, until finish the essay and have a well formed decision, not just a test. These problems are all screaming to me, be seccured about that.

    But I really want to hear about theme, subject, intention, story, ideas… do you think this should work as a story ? what do you have to say about this ?

    thanks one more time


  • Oh my god, what would I do without you wonderful folks here in DAHland???

    Bob, you not only helped me see a way out of my dilemma regarding the portfolio of 10-20 prints for MEM–which had me literally chasing my tail!–but held up a mirror so I could see my strengths not just as a photographer but as a human being. I’d been feeling so overwhelmed with my own agenda of pulling together not one but TWO projects–one for David & one for MEM–that I’d forgotten who I am and why I’m doing what I do.

    Now, let me take three deep breaths and settle down…

    David, somehow I’d gotten it in my mind that it would be disrespectful to you if I asked for MEM’s opinion on the same series on which you’re mentoring me. Shows how much I know! Yes, I’ll take prints from the self portrait project to MEM’S workshop and let things go where they will.

    The problem was that the African American elders work isn’t ready to be pulled together yet, not even for a first edit. At this point it’s just a series of disparate photos taken at the same place and of the same people. But that alone does not make a photo essay, not by a long shot. Now I need to do as Bob suggests and decide what particular aspect of these wonderful folks I want to highlight. I plan to be there for a long time so there is no rush.

    Thank you to all! And now I can focus on one project, my self portraits. Never was much good at multi-tasking.


  • PATRICIA :)))

    DO WHAT DAVID SAID (and what i was hinting at when i wrote about your self-portrait work above):

    show MEM the self-portrait/dail life work…


    thing of Towell: all his early work was about his family and his life on his farm and the surrounding area…before the amish, central america stuff…

    what your represent comes out in photographs…it’s weird how it works, but it often does…

    sit down with david :))))



    I agree with BRUZ BOB and UNCIE DAH!

    I reckon in the end you will have a large body of work on aging and believe me that’s a really BIG issue for western countries. God knows in Australia how we are going to pay for the Baby Boomers as they start retiring, which is not so far off, its a very big question about economy and facilities.

    I reckon though that the assignment you are doing here is really poignant, the other just seems a little removed at the moment and its probably that way ‘cos you are looking so intensely at yourself as subject and you probably need a break.

    (I often get so bored with myself I have to take myself off to the pub to get over me! hehehe…) But I reckon that the both stories are part of that wider body of work and eventually you will find they all meld together, just you are a little further ahead with the one about you. When you start seeing all the stuff you feel, in other people then you know that the mind meld has begun.

    I have a colleague Neale Duckworth who assisted MEM and said she is the most gentle person, that he never even saw her lifting her camera because she was always engaging with her subject, but she was always shooting regardless. You are just about to meet two of the greats of American photography which has such an incredible tradition and I know you are really gonna get kicked into high gear.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about what you show MEM or DAH (what goes on with these names? Do I have to have three letters to make an impact with my photography? hehehehe…OMG I just realized Patricia you are PLD, there- you’ll fit right in!) Its the work you can do while they are there guiding in a really hands on way, sometimes its less about the image and more about the people and what you can learn from that.

    Anyway good luck with the edit, I have to do a broad edit for forty images for something and I don’t think I have forty images let alone forty on the one subject. I am not sure how to approach it except maybe to take on board DAH’s slideshow, exhibition, book post. And then its about sequencing . In the end I just sometimes should just stay at the pub!

  • BTW, friends, more and more, we meet, and meet some of the greats we admire. I think some of us love to document the meetings, take snaps, and some may think it too corny, but I propose that we all document these meetings, because, someday, it may translate as a book, or document of some sorts. Don’t let time swallow the very physicality of togeherness. Everytime one of you meets David, or MEM or Nachtwey, it’s all of us, a bit who are ther with you.

    Gui, my neutral tones comments was positive, not deploring their absence. Much drama comes from it, still lives or portraits. yet, i cannot answer your final question. Get going, do the plunge, besides you are talking to someone who has not had the faintest idea of an essay so far (one that sticks, that is), i’d be hard pressed to tell you what…

  • er this strange symbol at the bottom is actually me…

    Don’t know how that happened

  • Marcin–

    I love your wifes paintings. They are very strange! I can’t tell if they are painful and disturbing or funny. Or maybe a little of both.


    ok, i have looked at both of your av shows twice….many comments to make , but no time to make them now…i must be on a specific farm by this afternoon (the one where i learned how to milk cows, tie hay bales, clean the chicken house and managed to set my grandmother’s car on fire, but that story later)..

    in any case, good on both of you for taking the jump into our “new” medium so exciting to many of us….

    David, maybe i will see you in person soonest…not sure yet…

    ok,motel checkout time..must disconnect …

    back soonest…

    abrazos, david

  • Herve, can’t do YouTube-type stuff but promise to take stills of both DAH and MEM and share them here. Yes, where one of us goes, we ALL go!

    Thanks again to Herve, Abele, David B, Bob B, Lisa and DAH for your help when I needed it most. And thanks to all who took the time to look at my photos. I feel your good vibes…


  • ALL…..

    When grant money is awarded can that be used to purchase equipment needed for the story??

    What kind of expenses does it cover?? Food, housing, gas?

  • Herve

    Yes, i agree but I think it can be quite better.
    I am a little bit confused to run two different essays almost at the same time, and unfortunally this came as a second (what does not mean powerless) in my head. To confuse me more, i began this as first in line for a combinations of geographic reasons… that’s why i am a little bit confused about. Thanks a lot for your time, words and ideas, i really appreciate it !


    all just have a look at this Treasures:

    David, All,

    We made something special here. I am your all debtor. I hope I will have capability for feedback soon.

    Now like David said is time to put it to good use.


  • Thanks David – my cell is 616 799 1034 if you’re in the area. Not sure I should impose on your party with Patricia (nor am I sure I could even afford gas to make it to that side of the state!) But you’ll probably be passing through Kalamazoo or very southern Michigan.

  • Patricia,

    I totally understand your questioning, “what is the story ABOUT?” I’ve been covering one story all year, and have found that whatever I think it’s about one month changes the next month, as I get to know more of the people and the history, and events unfold. It’s become more of a question, “why am I doing this?” — what is driving me back again and again? Maybe more about me than them, but it’s the story seems to occupy the place where we intersect.

    Jonathan –

    I’ve wondered that about grants as well. Good luck with the upcoming angles on your story, I hope you meet a willing family. And I have the print! Looks beautiful, thank you.



    Your piece is a really solid foray into the swimmer’s world..have you done mm before? Did you have help? You seem to have this new world of mm under your was all so seamless and fluid :)

    ..Your shooting is so very free, and I was shaking my head at times in a wow kind of way..I can feel you/hear your voice through your work. For me, some of the images were totally stand alone gorgeous, and others I saw more as part of the storytelling gestalt..As a whole it really does show that you not only are interested in this world, but that you get it; some of the perspectives I think could only come from someone who really understands this world. Brava!

  • DAH

    yes, I think I could have walked faster..but I am home at last, only a little worse for the wear. I hate driving on highways and in cities, flat out wont in fact, but I love driving in small towns and on frontage roads..maybe because I got my license on the Big island of Hawaii..learned to drive with Joni Mitchell and sunshine and lots of peaceful road..

  • Joan and Bob B, what you have to say about a project either changing its focus in mid-stream or refusing to focus at all is a great comfort to me. I’d imagined that after 600 pics I’d have a handle on what I was doing; instead I’m more uncertain than ever. Ah well, creativity has its own timetable so I might as well relax and just keep keepin’ on.


  • Erica, I’m glad you’re home! What a terrific sport you are, my friend. I would be whining to anyone who’d listen if I’d had to endure what you did.

    And I think I neglected to thank you for y our most helpful and informative story about you and Mary Ellen Mark. Very powerful indeed. I sure am glad you came back where you belonged. It would have been a great loss to the world if you hadn’t pursued your gift as a photographer.


  • David, if you’re passing through Chicago this weekend, Venetian Night is Saturday, where they light up the boats and parade in the river, and I’d also recommend the Wicker Park festival going on all weekend. Both might be good family photo opps.


    It’s pretty easy not to whine when you witness other people doing it :) and there were plenty of unhappy people on my flight. I actually felt privileged, as I had had a biz class seat (mom had booked the ticket for me) which landed me a couch and a blanket in the biz lounge. A flight was grounded after mine, and in the a.m. I discovered there were people with kids sleeping on the cold I had nothing to complain about.

    You are kind about the eventual MEM reaction/outcome..I never intended to leave photography behind, but I am a slow slow slow digester, and I think on things for a long time. I once had an art teacher who had a strong disdain for me because I would actually stare at my own work and get lost in it, trying to see/feel/understand..and he wanted me to just keep working; he thought I was completely narcissistic. I learned a lot about my ‘way’ from him, because I thought he was just as in error as he thought I was…With MEM I needed time to catch up to where she was coming from, even though and perhaps because it was a positive place.

    RE: you and your uncertainty..a little angst is good for the work, I think, embrace it.

    WHERE IS EVERYONE? Shooting?

  • Since this thread began with a discussion of the camera as a weapon, I think it relevant to point out what I think is an important article in the July 26 online New York Times titled “4,000 U.S. Combat Deaths, and Just a Handful of Images” about increasingly tight control and censorship of visual media by the US military in Iraq:

    The reporters Michael Kamber and Tim Arango point out that:

    ” If the conflict in Vietnam was notable for open access given to journalists — too much, many critics said, as the war played out nightly in bloody newscasts — the Iraq war may mark an opposite extreme: after five years and more than 4,000 American combat deaths, searches and interviews turned up fewer than a half-dozen graphic photographs of dead American soldiers.”

    They discuss this complex issue from a number of points of view, and in the online version there is an accompanying slide show.

    I won’t say ‘enjoy!’ but do give it a read.

  • DAH–

    A friend of mine today told me about an old coal mining town in PA that might have some interesting families. The town is named Centralia. There has been a mine fire burning there since the 60’s and almost everybody has been relocated, but there were a few families that refused to leave. Here’s the story on,_Pennsylvania

    It sounds like there should be a pretty interesting story there.


  • “WHERE IS EVERYONE? Shooting? ”

    in a hotel room…Pulp Fiction on the TV, sorting through the shots from the tennis tournament today….

  • Erica,
    I have just made one week of laboratory (always my project on my parents, my father hospitalized 10 days for an ablation of the prostate) I have to choose still the images and to scan…
    Kind regards,

  • hi ERICA / and ALL

    i’m still here too… busy busy putting my projects into words… gathering images for a mood board… only the beginning, feels very difficult, frustrating but ultimately rewarding i hope… first feedback is very positive and open (from the people that are part of the story i want to tell), which surprises me (in a good way)… but MUCH more preparation necessary… i want to get good results once i (hoepfully) actually can start shooting in september… not much time to comment, but still reading everything here… so many thoughts… will write some more soon… have lots of questions how to “prepare” for a project… it’s the first time for me on this “scale”…

    but i must say… VERY exciting, my heart is racing, my eyes are wide open, lots of research, i see opportunities everywhere, really getting into the subject, finding out A LOT of unexpected things… the project is opening up to me for the first time… i hope the people involved will to and that i will be able to capture the story…

    off writing/researching some more… you all taught me that preparation is everything, and i’m taking it seriously :)))


  • oh and DAVID B

    your long post a while back stuck with me.. about photography as a weapon an the analogy with the bullet and where it strikes…

    to add add to that analogy.. add another element: we should calculate a difference between where the photographer aims his gun, and where the photograph/bullet actually hits… so many photographers ‘misfire’ because they don’t know where to aim (and i don’t mean “aim” the camera, i mean “aim” the PICTURE that is already taken) and to whom/where to deliver to get the impact they want to achieve…

    i believe that there are lots of great photographs/photographers out there that never see the ‘light of day’ because the photographer does not know where or how to aim…

    i think it is a different talent alltogether, but a necessary one, being able to aim efficiently so the photographs you have made will have the “maximum possible effect for your story to be told”

    i mean, i can imagine that you wouldn’t necessarily aim directly at your target for maximum impact of your story getting told… aim at a branch in order to make it drop on a bucket of water which then tilts over and makes the floor wet which in turn makes the person you want to reach, come and clean the floor and notice the ‘bullet’ (or the branch :) …

    how does one use the art/gallery/publishing/media channels efficiently to get one’s work out there? i guess most of us out there would like to master this particular craft of “marksmanship” as well …

    (not that i am worrying about that right now, i will (have to) deal with it if i ever get into that situation, but i just thought it would be an interesting addition to your analogy)


  • Sidney – V disturbing – the Australian Military , try tohave an even tighter control over over coverage of troops in conflict zones – even to the point of stageing events/meetings /briefings while operations are in progress to try and take Journalists off the scent , attendance at these mock ups are compulsory and non attendance is deemed as permission to revoke accreditation and assistance.
    The funny thing is when you manage to get around the obstacles the soldiers are keen to have you around and keener sill to get pictures sent to them and their mates.
    I got this e-mail from the mother of a soldier I photographed in East Timor,

    My name is Kerri Lowien and i have just recently seen a photo that you took of my son Private Luke Lowien who is serving in East Timor, as i speak. The image of Luke sitting on the side of the road with these little children took my breath away. He has not yet seen this photo but when i decribed it to him i was reduced to tears. This photo has not only captured the essence of my son, but has managed to project the trust and faith that these people have in our wonderful soldiers. I cant wait to share it with my family,its a beautiful photo on amy levels. I would love to see the images you have managed to capture of East Timor. Do you have and image gallery that we can go too or if possible could you send them via my email. I have statrted an album for Luke, documenting the trials and tribulations of this deployment so any photos that i can add to it would be brilliant. I very much look forward to hearing from you if possible.

    Thanks from a grateful mum.

    That photo of George Strock’s has sat in my mind for most of my life as a warning , a double check a reason to think twice and the audience and readers are being denied the truth and the soldiers are being denied heroism.


    I had a big discussion with someone tonight about what is actually happening within the media as well. Its not only the military who are censoring what is going out, most of the mainstream media are being toothless tigers and have lost that spirit that used to drive newspapers and magazines, to inform the public.

    More and more and more I am seeing editors concerning themselves more with what might happen to them legally if they publish certain stories, this is not the way the legitimate press should operate.

    In fact I think that there is a a current crop of very conservative people in control of editorial policy that has never been so nervous. I guess that the old ‘ Publish and be damned’ belongs to an era when people actually had moral strength and stood up for their ideals and the venal and mewling sycophants were treated with the distain they deserved.


    Bring back the real press…One wonders if the Watergate scandal would have been reported at all in this day and age?


    do any of you ever go look at the links posted by forum readers under “student work/workshops”???

    there are a lot of photographers here who never write, but who do have some very interesting work…right now there are about 175 links…please check them out…

    for those of you who have posted links, please be assured that I DO LOOK….it is from this “pool” of work, as well as photographers on assignment here, that i am looking for photographers to fund with the Emerging Photographer Fund this fall….

    my only problem with some of your links posted is that there is no contact information for some of you…i cannot review the work of all of you, but when i see someone with very interesting work, i would like to make contact…

    maybe what i should do is look at all links and then post the names of photographers with whom i would either like to see more or make contact…make sense??? just as an example, i randomly clicked on the link of Sofia Quintas and saw some Polaroids of hers that were very very interesting and nothing like the work she had submitted for the EPF last fall..but, i have no way to contact her…

    yes, yes, i am very busy shooting…and i hope all of you are as well..but, i do pay attention to what is happening here … because i am doing my own work it does mean there are “lapses” in my posting here, but this forum has taken on a life of its own, and i do not intend to let it slide away…..

    only a very small percentage of what is going on in my head ends up in print on this forum, but do not for a nanosecond think that i am not aware of your work…

    I KNOW WHO IS DOING WHAT…but, if you think i have missed something of yours , please tell me so….

    i cannot review every link nor edit all of you…but, i will see your work and remember your work and “bookmark” your work.. i want to make sure that all of the best will have a very fair and equal chance at being considered for my jury this fall…

    in the next month or so i want to have a very clear head about all of the amazing work that is being produced by readers of this forum…there is a lot going on and it is sometimes difficult for all of us to keep up..but, i intend to keep up….and i will…

    right now, i am waiting for assignments to be finished from Bob,Cristina, Marcin, Erica, Jonathan, Kyunghee Lee, Audrey,Panos, Sébastian, Eric, David M, and Patricia… as far as i know, i think only James is finished…this is right off the top of my head, so please correct me if i am wrong or have missed someone who is shooting right now on assignment…

    i will clear a space under Emerging Photographers on this site to publish your essays when they are complete…and , of course, i am ready to make new assignments when appropriate…

    it is basically from these assignments that the EPF jury will choose photographers for funding this fall….a photographer who posts a link under “student work/workshops” will also be totally eligible, but naturally photographers who are developing here before my “eyes” are just going to have a better chance i think…

    please do not think of this EPF as a contest….a contest is a one time award for a good picture or essay..goodbye…

    do you not think i am still tracking very carefully the China essay of Sean Gallagher, last year’s recipient of the EPF???

    our forum and EPF is about LONG TERM development and RELATIONSHIP…think of this more like a relationship with a traditional print magazine where photographers present their work and editors decide “who will do what” based on the work and the editor’s judgment on who is capable of completing any particular essay…subjective yes, but it will all happen right in front of you as it has in the past..

    yes, we are traveling together into totally new territory…the “old territories” are either gone or going away….fast…so, what have we got to lose??? nothing that i can see…

    your ideas, thoughts and most importantly YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS have a place right here…A HOME….there are no “bosses”…this is just me driving down the highway, taking my own pictures , looking at yours, and having a jolly good time doing both….

    peace, david

  • Well, Glenn, Sidney

    I think it goes beyond the war of the moment, and media (self-)control. Our modern societies do have a big problem with the concrete face of death and suffering, I mean within our midst (It’s Ok to show pictures of african or cambodian barbarous killings, for ex… ). It’s nothing new, media wise, and may I venture that even for the Vietnam war, we do not see that many pix of dead or agonizing GIs (I stand to be correced, though)

    Certainly, the Irak was has been one of the most written about, argued about wars, since the Vietnam quagmire. All opinions have been forwarded more than once.

    Not saying medias do not have a problem, but just on the subject of showing “our” dead publicly, I think it goes beyond the media. I just read Lewis HIne pictures of disformed WW1 warriors were published in 1937 only. And Bill Clinton was the re-instigator of the “no coffin on TV at 8pm” policy.


    now it would be interesting to hear about the stumbling blocks that keeps so many from finishing theirs. i thought David picked them up because their synopsis was ready, and that at a rythm of 10 to 12 upcoming every month or so (not holding a chronometer), the timing for creative juices was around 4 to 6 weeks. I think that was the idea of it all, readiness.

    Wassup, friends, tell us, the difficulties are part of what we all try to achieve, share and learn from, here.

  • Patricia –

    Following one group for many months has really taught that whatever I assume is about to happen, probably isn’t, so just keep an open mind and an open eye. As the subjects change their paths, my feelings about them change and the story takes a different shape.

    I put an arbitrary time frame of one year on it going in, but if the struggle for the church isn’t resolved by then, I’ll stay on. As things are turning out, the church will definitely split. This is the last year that THIS group will be united, quite a year.


  • HERVE…

    good point….

    one of the “weaknesses” for all of us is FINISHING what we start…who among us does not have this problem??? i sure do…

    the other reality here is just time…time to do the work…the most “likely to succeed” will of course find the time…just figure it out…the other factor is when photogs realize just how hard it really is to do a body of work, some just simply fall away…stop…i see this all the time and even from some extremely talented photographers…

    if any of this was “easy” than there would be a million photogs doing great work…there are many many “in the middle” and few who really have the gumption to “go all the way”….since the financial rewards are few, it takes a very very special and committed person to push push push just for the WORK itself…

    it is , of course, these “special people” i want to develop here….and for those who have less “lofty goals” there is a warm place too….to use photography in their personal lives in a way that makes perfectly good sense to them…i try to set “the bar” just as high for them as for those who want to make some kind of “mark” in our craft….

    cheers, david

  • hey herve, david

    i have a question, but not so much a stumbling block (i think): right now i’m researching a story i want to tell… and it all started with a ‘feeling’ that i had, something i saw, something i want to tell…

    because my knowledge about it is so limited i research as much as i possibly can, and network with the people involved as much as i can. but that means ‘describing’ to them what i want to do, what story i want to tell, in order to get their approval…

    but i’m soo sure that my story will adjust “as i go along”, latching on to interesting “sub-plots” along the way, or maybe even turning entirely in a different direction in the middle of it all…

    it’s like you ‘build in’ a certain amount of ‘uncertainty’, or ‘gut-following’, or well, at least it seems like a good thing to do…

    should i try to stick to the “original plan”, or do the “gut-following” thing without any plan at all, or should i look for a balance in between the two… i’m wondering how one can ‘keep focused’ while shooting a story, if there are soo many “other ways” to tell the same story, AND you only first see them while you are actually shooting. follow the gut or stick to the plan?

    (i think i would be a gut-follower)


  • So everyone here in our happy little burg is reminding me that it’s my birthday and saying congratulations and trying to get me out the funk I’ve been in about this damn number thing, and there’s even some that are telling me that your fifties are probably the best time of your life: you’re not a kid anymore and when you have something to say people just assume that you have the life experience to back up what you’re saying. So I know that turning fifty shouldn’t bother me; it just does, though. Being fifty is like being on the top of a steep hill in a gold 1958 Cadillac convertible: you see the great view, you can see where you’ve been and where you’re going, you can feel the wind in your hair (or what’s left of it), you can feel sunshine warm upon your face. The trouble here is that the Cadillac is starting to inch down from the top of the hill, slowly picking up speed as it goes, and on this particular 1958 model Cadillac, there’s no seatbelts and the brakes are shot. Somehow or other, I dont think this does not bode well for the future.

  • AKAKY… happy birthday…

    the secret is to open the door and put your foot down on the ground before the cadillac gains too much speed. that way, foot on the ground, in the caddilac, on top of the hill forever :-)

    well i’m still on my way up that hill so better not listen to me.

    enjoy today


  • AKAKY….

    as a way of wishing you HAPPY BIRTHDAY, i will only remind you of a physics truism: as your old Cadillac, with no seat
    belts and no brakes heads “DOWNHILL” , you will pick up speed!!! yeeeeeha!!!

    cheers, david


    i am low on film…i am heading in your direction…any camera shops in your area selling 220 film??? if you could pick up from 5 to 10 rolls of either b&w or color 220 i would be most appreciative and i would pay you immediately…the weekend is the problem…

    if i can make it until monday , i can have Magnum fedex me some, so this is just a small “emergency” request….

    i will call you today in any case…my cell is 202 413-1137

    cheers, david

  • HERVE/ALL :))))

    ABOUT THE ASSIGNMENT :))))…I HAVE FINISHED SHOOTING IT! :)))….i’ve shot 10 rolls + 1 roll in NC (what prompted the idea) and 1 roll from Prince Edward county (of which i will use 1 picture)…im still in the middle of writing the essay (which sad to say is gonna be long)…

    as i have written, i adhered to david’s framework of 4-6 weeks. Here is the breakdown of my shooting schedule:

    1) April 6th (beginning in the morning): i shot 1 roll of film with Lomo camera. 3 of the images i posted here in May as a tease

    2) I shot 9 rolls of film in June over a 3 week period: my son’s graduation, my son getting a haircut and the rest in the History Museum: with my son, other people, students, myself, etc. (35mm camera, Lomo and Holga)

    3) 2 weeks later i shot 1 roll of film (water and museum and swans) with pinhole camera.

    I developed 1 roll and then RAN OUT OF MONEY. (im not shittin’ you all, i’ve got a son who returned from florida, had to drive/rent a car etc twice and drive to buffalo to pick him up and Monday he leaves for Russia): As much as this project means to me (and i stopped the other 2 photo projects i was working on (korean students and water/toronto), when u use film and have a family, all that takes priority. But, i am finished the shooting.

    Also, as I wrote Patricia, by week #2, i’d realized that my project was not only about my father/my son/time (bones/museums) but about something else, and this changed the idea of what and how i was shooting. It came as a revelation as my son was away and i was shooting a student in front of a stuffed tiger…i realized that while there will be ALOT OF PICTURES of bones, as part of it’s repetitive beat, i realized that what i was trying to express, or felt in NC (my father) and about my son and the passage of time, was really something else…this came as i was reading another book….so, i’ve had to go back and re-write…and now, i’m thinking about the editing and what i want to show…either way, i will develop the rest of the film in 2 weeks (when I get paid)….basically, i’ll have everything done by the end of August: as i’d promised David…

    in fact, David and I (fingers crossed) and Marina will finally have our final face-to-face :)))…anyway…..

    i have aheared to david’s “assignment” (4-6 weeks on a theme). It was thrilling AND FRUSTRATING…cause as soon as i understood what i was really “hunting for”, i’d run out of money and i’d run out of time…but, i realize that this is just part of all the work i do anyway, the bigger “theme” probably of all my work…but, i wanted, above all, to prove to myself, that i could shoot an “assignment” in a short period of time (without the time for reflection and work) that puts my own pointofview/reaction to something…

    Like Erica, i too am a slow slow digester….I love to think and stare. when i was a painter, i did the same…long thoughts, long silence, long stares…(imagine when i get my fingers on a corn pipe ;)) )…and then things burst for me (i write the same)…i am never satisfied with my work (writing or photography), but i love to look at it and think about it and fight with it and then, i shoot in a state of fever, like a more feverish meditation…i tend to walk alot (we both do) and think and look and “shoot” without my camera…same is when im looking at people or listening to what people say, etc…

    but, my assignment is (at least the 1st stage) complete: now comes the final part: the edit, the development, the exposure…my hope is that i will take a cd to David and sit down with him (not right away, but after a day of drinking/talking etc) and see what he things…if not, i will send him the pics via ftp and figure it out…i actually LOVE editing…though im not very tough ;))…

    ok, that’s all of what has happened to me and how i have tackled this…just to let you know HOW SERIOUS i was/am about David’s assignment: Marina and I went on a road trip to “photograph” and I ended up not shooting, instead being her “assistant” (but i got ideas for next time we go back to that town), because i didnt want to shoot anything else ($$) until i finished the Bones ofTime shit…that’s for real…

    ok, hope all that has shed some insight into how i worked/thought during june/july….

    SIDNEY :)))…

    heart-=breaking depressing story….Ironically, yesterday i just started reading THE FATHER OF ALL THINGS, Tom Bissel’s remarkable book about Vietnam and his father…MUST reading…as i’ve said before many times here and at LS, vietnam has been a personal obsession of mine since childhood (have read alot alot) and even started a photo project last year (then stopped)…and the lessons of ‘Nam are very interesting vis-a-vis Iraq….in other words, we’ve learned absolutely nothing…both governmentally and societally…here’s a personal example:

    Bush invaded Iraq the DAY I WAS MARRIED. The day before my wedding, i was scared that I wouldn’t be able to fly from Florida to Toronto (the discussion was that air traffic would be haulted). Good fortune rained (for that day), i flew. Next day: wedding, watched the news before our wedding: invasion…..3 months later: in iraq, ABC reported that 2 soldiers had been killed in 15 civilians…1 hr later, BBC reported same story: 10 soldiers killed and more than 60 civilians…i was stunned (gullible me)…you canNOT imagine the amount of (forget censorship) false reporting that the american public has had access too…also had a person friend (russian wpp winner photographer sergie maximishin) tell me about what was happening there (prior to the invasion): again, his reality was remakably different than what i’d read about in the states….

    though, in this day and age it is shameful for anyone to plead ignornance or subtefuge on the behalf of media…there is enough places to get info…

    but, the “handling” of the war (words and pictures) is sadly depressing…i do not hold the writers/photographers responsibile (there are plenty of pics to see), i also blame the editors and the organizations….

    re-reading about Vietnam, especially the role of the media, it isnt always so heroic: many of the photographers and writers there too were NOT as heroic as we believe….

    war is a mess, a blight and a debasement and incurs the debasement of all of us, including the way often some of our heroes behave….

    it is still sad to me that most of the states’ citizenry views the iraq quagmire as “our grief” (the dying soldiers) instead of “their grief”…the families and lives in Iraq who have suffered death and loss and dismantlement by a factor of 100 fold, 1000 fold compared to our losses…

    we, the fortune ones, have much to be ashamed of….

    thanks sidney for the link…


  • AKAKY!

    HAPPY FUCKING BIRTHDAY DAD! :)))))))))))))))))….


    You are only 50 once! ;)))))))

    we love you you big young swilling cowboy!


  • From anything I read, Anton, the art comes from the UNbalance between the 2, plan and not planning. Both need to exist, and then, it’s all idiosyncracy (you) and serendipity (you and others). Photographic essays are a cake with as many recipes as cooks! To sum up:

    you are on your own, Anton :-)))

    David, I read your reply. but surely, when you went to shoot the TGV story, you did not take 6 weeks.

    ASSIGNMENT, you said, not just essay. And you said too that the path of evry photographer, great and less great is filled with excuses. Ultimately, most successes are accomplished, when excuses are not made anymore. Failing is part of the ultimate successes. Especially taking pictures!

    This is no complaint I made, but a little poking to have the other story in the assignement: the failing or stumbling, fumbling, back-stepping, or whatnot. It’s as interesting as the final result, as long as we see it as part of the process of being a photographer, not just excusing away.

  • Bob, I had no idea you were doing an assignment. I thought you asked to be given one later…

    And Akaky, Emperor Akaky (just for the sound of it), Happy Birthday, indeed, to you.

  • Norman Camera in Kalamazoo (on Westnedge Street) has 220 color in 160 and 400 speeds. They’re open until 6pm. If you’re coming as far as Grand Rapids, their store here has the same.

    I can pick that up if you like. My cell is 616 799 1034.

  • HERVE :))

    I gave myself an assignment after David announced his “call for ideas”…originally, i was going to photograph a photographer (chris anderson) giving a workshop at CONTACT THIS YEAR…and then all that changed when i went to see my father….

    I didn’t CARE about my work being shown in the first round, or second or third or whatever, of assignments…but i told david (and the blog) that i would shoot the assignment…i just didnt care about being “published” first or second or whatever….it was totally fine to give anyone who WANTED to publish/do an assignment first shot….

    but I am ALWAYS shooting, always at work on a project (before David’s announcement, 3: my cities project (toronto/moscow/lisbo), Koreans (begun last year for EPF), Faces and a new one with Tamara V on Water)…

    the thing was to tell David if you had an idea and then shoot it (which i did)…now, as for when he shows it (september, december, next year), I totally dont care :)))))…

    ok, running :)))



    Sending much love & happy birthday wishes. No, I won’t say that my life began in earnest after turning 50 (although it did). I won’t say that hitting that half century mark isn’t significant & a bit unsettling (because it is). I won’t say that I look back now and wonder why it took me so long to get my act together (because I do).

    What I will say is that life is a flat out adventure with more twists in the road than you can ever imagine. Does chronological age matter? Only if you let it.


  • herve

    spot on description… yes, i am on my own… it’s strange feeling, that ‘making my own recipe’, but i’m loving it :)))


  • anton said

    ‘how does one use the art/gallery/publishing/media channels efficiently to get one’s work out there? i guess most of us out there would like to master this particular craft of “marksmanship” as well …’

    i’m still thinking on this camera-to-do-good theme..
    anton.. i think it depends upon what you are trying to achieve.
    when i photographed the tibetan family over time i could not find a publisher for the work.. westernization was not something newspaper supplements were up for showing in the mid 90’s.. and i had good feedback from the guardian, times, independent and so on.. but the story of the village being a rough place.. of tibetan culture in india dissipating due to western and indian influences was not of interest at the time.. in the mid 90’s it’s not what people wanted to hear.. the best i could do to show the work was exhibit it in london.

    on the other hand, with music work i have found it relatively easy to make changes to peoples perception – particularly when giving coverage to places which have recently suffered a war..
    outsiders have a problem getting-over the negative coverage a place receives during a war, and most journalists move on once the war is over, leaving a population of youth who are just like us.. like the same music.. want to put on festivals.. want to forget the war and what has gone before.
    weapon might not be the right word for this kind of work.. it’s more like a shoe horn perhaps.. easing people into viewing a place differently.
    experiences in northern ireland, serbia, croatia.. the youth of these counties are always more ready to move on than people elsewhere give credit, and these places are safe to visit and enjoy.
    the same was true of eastern europe in the early 90’s, where records were so expensive that people would DJ with tape to tape machines.. they still do in places (estonia, bulgaria.. and on)
    the work of giving these places positive coverage is really easy to get published – and not just from music mags – because i think this is one area the media can be clear about and editors want to help out.. it’s easy to direct these bullets, as it were, and the effects can be astonishing.. helping a single event, a single musician.. in tern giving tourists a unique experience.. and a diffrent perception.

    funny.. i have bought people over.. friends and more.. to places mentioned above..
    in the case of croatia my coverage directly led to some people from my city in the u.k. visiting.. many of them DIDN”T EVEN KNOW THERE HAD BEEN A WAR THERE> they may be very ignorant, but even so.. it is easy to see this work having positive results..
    after 4 years covering the recovery of derry ireland, into a thriving a beautiful city full of musical talent and passionate souls the mayor, lynn flemming, invited me to the council houses for afternoon whiskies..

    i’ve now hooked up some derry musicians with promoters in croatia and serbia.. since the derry youth is a long way ahead of the balkans youth in heeling after war.. the derry family will help the serbian family.. and teh croatian family.. good things spinning around everywhere and while it is initiated on the back of a photo commission the positive effects can be far reaching and genuinely stable.
    doing the photographs and getting them published is only a small part of how the media needs to help.

    endlessly rewarding, as this work is, it is also entirely positive.. there are people who need help who cannot simply be helped by photographing the cause (war) or the symptoms (poverty, unemployment.. suffering high rates of youth suicide.. drugs and alcohol abuse..)
    sometimes pointing our camera at the most obvious problems might be interesting photographically, and for the gallery and book buying public to mull over, but it may well NOT be the best way of actually helping the people at the heart of the story..

    sometimes looking away from the problem and towards the positive ‘whats being done’ story can genuinely bring about perceivable result, can be easier to publish and can lead to free whiskey.

    i think a photographers motives have to be critically viewed.. since it is the motives which will in tern lead to a client.
    i think too often photographers think the only way to cut-their-teeth is buy seeing tough things.. proving themselves on the metaphorical battlefield is not necessary though, and might be doing harm.. you know.. there are still photographers visiting derry looking for wars and trouble.. a ‘my first war’ attitude is not welcome and does not see the problem through to the solution in this case. i’m sure the same is true of palastine and israel.. although there is trouble, it is not the only story.. and might not help the best.

    so.. is a photographer working to genuinely help people or is a photographer working on a more selfish bent.

    partying in the bogside for me, a protestant englishman, was hardly the safest place, nonetheless it worked out okay.. i have good contacts with both sides of ‘the troubles’ and i’m allowed to work unhindered.. sometimes shielded from those who react badly to my presence.
    the work gets published everywhere and my friends.. their friends.. their friends friends.. want to visit once they see the coverage.. and then they support the place.. and so on.. good work is done.

    this is all personal experiance.. of course there are obvious instances where photographing the causes and symptoms of a problem are needed..
    still i would say – from the news reports it would seem afghanistan is awash with war in every corner.. but the fact is that the country is not.. it’s just that many of the photographers and journalists only go there looking for the war.. and so all we see is war..

    rambling on a sunday.
    i love sundays.

    i exhibited some of my derry and belfast work at the void gallery in derry last month..
    here it is now..

  • Akaky,
    Happy birthday! I hit the decade mark in December, but for some reason the year before that one is the bigger deal to me. The “0” year is a beginning — a whole new decade to start. Go for it.


  • bob said

    ‘you canNOT imagine the amount of (forget censorship) false reporting that the american public has had access too…’

    that is a fact, although i have to add that the u.k, although marginally better, is still lagging way behind much of europe. it’s right to say that there is always a way of getting information – it is out there, even if it can be a balancing act of reading right wing and then liberal reports to find some balance.


    thats was an interesting read.. i had been following zoriah’s blog regarding his own expulsion from the in-bed system.. i had no idea how common an occurrence what he experienced has become..

    i shared emails with a photographer working iraq through lightstalkers once.. he believed that journalists outside the green zone in bagdad without protection had around 15 – 20 minuets before they would be kidnapped.

    what this means for reporters is that they depend upon the army for any kind of access.. and the bias in the mind of the resistance groups in iraq becomes clear.. the reporters seem to work for the soldiers.. so the reporters become targets.. and so back to embeds.. the cyclic thing..

    so, much of the reporting is done from hotel rooms – using footage and stills shot by fixers and iraqis hired for the purpose.. not only do these people have an extremely short life expectancy, (and little thanks for the task), they are also not trained journalists..
    therefore even reports showing up on bbc news.. with footage.. are not dependable in their accuracy, since the accounts of events do not quote from witness experience of the journos..

    the reluctance of the u.s. to want it’s population to see the mess which it’s colonial pursuits are causing is totally understandable, and it’s not the first time a population has been misled by government in these circumstances..

    the british empire was built on the hard work and lives of englands working class, who were consistently lied to, misled and ill-informed of the real nature of our colonies, the purposes of them and the people we slaughtered maintaining them.

    what i find more worrying than the lack of traditional reporting this time, is that most intelligent people know we were lied to.. know the case for war was false.. know the history of the u.s. in the region.. know it’s about the u.s. economy, colonialism… oil pipeline in afghan.. oil fields in iraq.. money..

    there is now so much irrefutable evidence of what is going on that zoriah, snapping away at body parts, is hardly needed.

    the daily slaughter is now common knowledge.. and what worries me is the precedent it sets.. politicians no long seem to care whether they are covering their tracks or not..
    they know 24hour news is at the expense of depth of reporting.. and they know that if they lie to us.. kill 4000 u.s. soldiers.. more than 100 000 iraqi civilians (‘human rights watch’).. no one will be held accountable.
    in fact i believe blair and bush had an arrangement with the hague in which they could NOT be bought in for war crimes should the invasion it self prove the case for war was flawed.

    while youtube shares war crimes caught on camera by soldiers or helicopter fixed cameras, (gunship killing farmers, tank running over a car for fun), and the absolute slaughter of civilians goes on and on… (dozens in afghanistan last week when 3 bombs were dropped on.. a wedding party.. crossing the hill into the next valley), how can this be ignored?

    it cannot – and we don’t even need zoriahs photos of body parts to know the truth of it.. it is there.. in our faces.. the numbers on the news.. the words in the newspapers..


    how to stop it?

    individually perhaps we cannot.. collectively we can.
    and that leads to another post entirely… concerning the struggle promoters now have putting on interesting, non-commercial gatherings.

    at youth events, dance parties and raves people talk.. exchange idea’s.. organize for protest and share information about what is going on..
    in the u.s. you now have anti-rave laws.. there are tight restrictions on the gathering of young people, which are now also in force in england under the name, the ‘criminal justice bill’..
    which states that any gathering of more than 4 people listening to music ‘characterized by a repetitive beats’, can be broken up by the police and equipment seized and impounded…
    in short it is a sweeping-up bill which authorizes the dissolving of any gathering, for any reason.

    it is not just the media which is being suffocated anymore.. it is our civil liberties and basic rights.. rights which could lead to change much more than the organized, commercial gatherings which are permitted.

    what to do.. what to do..

    have another cigarette,
    and curse sir walter raleigh
    for being such a stupid git.

    i’m so tired

  • maybe it’s because i’m partial to photography but i’m inclined to agree – like your adventure into a Satmar Hasidic wedding, photographers often possess both the happy relationship with chance and the willingness to stick a lens in someone’s face (and, too, the skill to do it without actually being obtrusive) to reveal serious truths – truths people may never see otherwise. i do believe…

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