“Having a story to tell and willingness to tell it, is nothing – a total zero… ability to do it is much more important and valuable…”

this is just a part of a very provocative, and soon to be very controversial  comment, by one of our readers , Anthony RZ , under our most recent  multimedia essay  by Kerry Payne…so provocative, that i felt it should be right out here for general discussion…why?  because it is one of the most important discussions in photography today in my view…..this topic has been discussed a bit before here on Burn and on my previous Road Trips blog, but i do not think it can ever be thought about enough…..please read the entire comment by Anthony…it will definitely make you jump one way or the other….

the discussion here should not be to single out Kerry who obviously has a heartfelt story to tell and who will most likely be moved to tears by the comment of Anthony….any form of diplomacy/sensitivity was clearly not his intent…however, he was honestly direct…..i do not want to fuel that fire for its own sake, yet at the same time with passions now raw among us and  surely on full alert, this seems like a good time for more of a  general discussion about content and form …about stories to tell….about the ability to tell them….about storytelling and storytellers….and clearly about the medium itself…and even about the purity of  still photography  and  it’s morphing into multimedia….

obviously we all want a great story, brilliantly told…but, the question here put forth by Anthony  is of priorities….

so, what do you think?

what is most important for you as a viewer:  the story or the ability to tell it ?

2,566 thoughts on “ability to tell….”

  1. My cousin died by suicide at the age of 35. We were the same age. We were very close, like brothers. I have always wondered over the years what I could have done. This helps. Thanks Kerry.

  2. Both the story and the ability to tell are a must in order to transcend.
    Kerry’s story is one full of emotion and pain. Touches our sensitivity very deeply, as it speaks about death of the loved ones. It’s a difficult subject to document, and I think that being a part of it, as Kerry is, might be a problem for her, as a photographic essay requires not only a good story but the ability to make aesthetic decisions that are easier to make when you are emotionally detached of the subject.
    I value her work from other perspective, from the courage of taking the decision to do it, for the effort and emotional commitment that must have been making all those interviews and taking all those pictures.
    An example of good, striking story which is (in my point of view) brilliantly presented and that connects you with strong emotions is this one, about Narcolepsy: http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/2010/07/uwe_h_martin/.
    In any case, I think Anthony RZ has a point, but I would never justify his manners…

  3. The ability to tell the story has to come first, although the story is important. But we all know from reading great literature that even the simplest story can be lifted up from the mundane by a great storyteller. As photographers, we have to find a way to tell the story, whatever the story.

    The reality is, though, that we can never fully develop our storytelling skills unless we find stories that have personal meaning. I’d be interested to hear from David if he can think of his top 20 personal projects over the years, and how many of those were stories that had no personal meaning for him — I’m guessing none. Our passion for the story is what propels us forward and upward, and what forces us to improve our ability to tell that story.

  4. what comes out at the end, is the key.

    I do understand Anthony’s comment in the way that if you take weak photographs and mix some sound, voice to it, it still is a weak result. However, people may say they like it because they are distracted from the photographs by the sound.

    If there are strong photographs, telling a story of its own, the sound etc is not necessary BUT this then can give the essay a even stronger thing.

    However, if the pictures speak for themselfs, one could keep them separate from the sound. The viewer can use their own speed in looking at the pictures.

    Looking at a multimedia environment like burn, why not experimenting and see the outcome? Finally, it is a matter of the chosen medium. Here I appreciate the way Anton takes with his Yakuza project – presenting the work in different forms.

    Basis for all are the story told by the pictures. So the ability to tell the story is as important as the story itself.

  5. Anthony obviously contributed something that provokes us into discussing something important, and that is helpful. I hope we get a link from him of a photographic essay(s), with sound (and without sound), that he thinks really works. If you look at literature, there are just so many ways to tell a story, from David Alan Harvey’s favorite Latin American writers, to Raymond Carver’s America, to Kafka’s stories, to Nigerian Amos Tutola’s unconventional and ungrammatical novella written by a real amateur. Can’t there be many kinds of photography that are all equally provocative, and great? Can’t an untrained amateur tell a good story with bad shot photos? This is theoretical: badly shot photos that are brilliantly put together because of the strong sense of narrative of the amateur that moves his/her audience? Not possible? I don’t want to start a debate on a particular photographer, but I have read reactions to Nan Goldin’s photos, from those who find them weak on ability, while others find her personal narrative very compelling. On a bigger scale, isn’t this also a debate between ability and story?

  6. “Having a story to tell and willingness to tell it, is nothing – a total zero… ability to do it is much more important and valuable…”

    Absolutely, and I can understand Anthony RZs point of view the storyteller MUST be able to use his or her chosen medium to communicate the desired message. I personally am excited by what is termed multimedia although it’s not really something new; we have had collage, joiners, hand coloured photos etc. but the genres are specialised, niche. Will multimedia in the form of mixed DSLR video and still photography become niche? Probably too early to tell. With the new hardware that we as storytellers have at our fingertips (internet, iPad etc.) there has never been a better time to tell a story. There is going to be a flood of DSLR videos (already is) and much of it is going to leave something to be desired but we also must remember that these people are learning their craft: we are all, hopefully, still learning our craft.

    Have you ever watched one of those TV shows that show todays stars in the early days of their career? They were learning their craft. Now they can move us to laughter or tears and it’s all because they had the opportunity to learn and grow and we should allow today’s photographers the same opportunity.

    Besides, we don’t want to limit ourselves or box ourselves in here. The special, incredible, unique aspect of photography is that it can stop a moment in time and allow us to see and examine that moment – a moment that is unique and will never come again – and from this perspective Anthony is correct, but some people, will be able to make what we call multimedia sing.


  7. I think Anthony’s point that still photography is about the moment is a good one. It’s just that what we’re referring to as multimedia is not still photography and it’s not necessarily relevant to judge it as such. Multimedia is moving images. They are moving at 29.97 or some such frames per second in a timeline whether they appear to be moving or not. And this is nothing new. Moving images, or “movies” for short, have been around for a long time. As has adding motion to still images, which is now pretty much universally known as the “Ken Burns effect.” And when you add audio to still (looking) and moving images and put it into a journalistic framework, it’s known as a broadcast news story. None of this is the least bit new. What’s new is our ability to create these multimedia stories on a reasonable budget of both time and money.

    So the challenge, imo, is to tell a story with moving images and audio in such a way that emphasizes what is great about still photography and subtly enhances it with the advantages of audio and motion. I haven’t seen very many of what I consider good examples. Hopefully, this dialogue will produce a lot of links to good ones. So far though, this one by Franco Pagetti of VII strikes me as a very good way to go. The story is sophisticated, the still images support the (nominal) story while telling important, sophisticated stories on their own, and the audio and video enhance, but do not overwhelm the stills.

    The story or the ability to tell it? Nice koan. Kinda like the tree/forest thing.

  8. Is there really something like a ‘bad’ story? A story not worth to be told?

    For the photographer I think the ‘why’ is the most important thing, the motivation, what keeps you going on. For the viewer the ‘why’ is less important, the ‘how’ becomes more important, vital, to keep looking til the end.

  9. Having the ability to tell a story is nothing, a total zero, without a compelling story to tell.

    There is truth in both statements, no? What is one without the other? Perhaps I am missing the point and need more coffee but it seems silly to try to subordinate one to the other, to set up a hierarchy of what is more important, what is “better,” when both are important. However, I do think having a good story to tell, either your own or others, or just a solid concept, is more difficult than would seem on the face of it and at the same time, all concept does little for me, as does all ability with no strong thread. But then, no story CAN be good if it is just a feeling, or a color, or …? … ??? … On the road, need more coffee, confused … signing out.

  10. … Ah, just thought, no one has brought up Soth’s latest work in this discussion …:))
    Where is the F#$@ing coffee? Sorry about that. Out.

  11. YOUNG TOM..

    do not be confused…and, yes, get more coffee…as i said in my statement there SHOULD NOT be a hierarchy…we all want a great story , brilliantly told…yet, with all of Hollywood’s billions and talent, and all the publishers out there, and all the talented writers and photographers, how often do we get that story that somehow has both? it most obviously is hard to come by otherwise we would surely see more of it…so, i do think it fair, since perfection is oftentimes elusive, to prioritize…and it is also THE discussion going on in our business right now…the importance of storytellers is in danger if you read most of the media press on themselves…my cry for authorship could go by the way to hear some tell it…anyway, you know my view…the storyteller most important….a good teller can have you in the palm of his/her hand with just the telling….a great story poorly told falls flatter than not so great story eloquently presented…however, sure does not hurt to have some grist for the mill…

    cheers, david

  12. a civilian-mass audience

    yeap…the chicken or the egg…???

    I will go with the chicken…
    cause the chicken has the ability to make the egg…
    …the egg is just the story
    therefore…I will go with ~~~the ability to tell the story~~~

    ohhh,well…where is the coffee???:)))

  13. It has to be the story first. Any monkey can take a good picture. Very few people have something worth saying. There must also be something said for having a go. I’m playing with audio slide shows and most of them are shit but how else are you suppose to learn?

    I think the exact opposite of this at the same time as writing this.

  14. Between two nightshifts, maybe I need a coffee too, but I thought it was obvious that one needs a great story AND the ability to tell it to really shine, to emerge…
    Pretty much the same with comments / communication: it’s not only about WHAT you say, it is also about HOW you say it…

  15. Multimedia intrigues me and I found Kerry’s piece very good. It was a very moving piece that told a story that touched my heart and made me aware of my hard heartedness at my friend’s statement. That is what art is all about. When we get so entrenched in the need for everyone that does art to be the best in the field we miss out on the opportunity to learn what a piece is teaching us, and hearing the artist’s message. Plus, it is impossible to grow in a field unless the work is displayed to be viewed, dissected, embraced or spit out by the viewers.

    Having done a very personal essay myself I know just how hard it is to convey “your” story in an essay; there will always be those that see it and go “HUH?”

    Regarding the nature of photography vs multimedia, the use of photoshop to enhance vs the true capture, or as some like to view it keeping it pure: it is all emerging and the best will last and the ones that are not will fall by the wayside as happens in art throughout the centuries. The nature of humanity is to find a new, better, more exciting way to produce/view our art and there are many out there waiting to sell us just the right camera, video system, software to make that happen. My cousin who is an artist told me the other day, “The greatest compliment that can be paid to your art is when someone loves it enough to pay you their hard earned money for it.”

    I won’t forget Kerry’s piece and most importantly I won’t forget the lesson she shed on my own personal life on this subject. That is what emerging is all about. I bet the next multimedia piece Kerry does will blow even NZ’s socks off; because she will have learned so much just from having the balls to put it out there. We can’t see the full nature of our work until it is seen through the eyes of the viewer.

  16. Unfortunately, I find the Tuvalu piece more exemplary of what can go wrong with multimedia. First, it’s pretty much a typical piece of broadcast journalism with mostly still images replacing video. But even if we accept that as a desirable form, I found many of the transitions to be irritating. The blinking, particularly the blinking between differently sized copies of the same image, hurts my eyes. In my own work, I’m finding I spend much more time and effort on those kinds of timing and transition issues than I do on putting together the story. It’s great that multimedia software gives us such control over presentation, but with that positive power comes great opportunity to do it badly as well, and in an infinite number of ways. It’s not like throwing a slideshow together and setting the length to five seconds and the transition to cross-dissolve. You gotta have pace.

  17. “You gotta have pace.”

    Nonononono.. you gott have CONTENT. If you have that then whatever..

    Uff, ok, outta here, I’m a dinosaur looking at prints and books.. ;)

  18. Harry wrote,
    “This is a quality piece of Multimedia

    The story is something that is of interest to me and the images were also to my personal
    sensibilities but the the way they worked together, somehow, didn’t compel me to watch it to its
    conclusion. As soon as the second round ‘typing’ text effect came up I left

    That, perhaps, superficial way of viewing content is probably one of the problems that multimedia
    and, I guess, storytelling in general faces now.
    We’re bombarded with choice and if the hook isn’t set, quickly, them viewers leave.

  19. jenny lynn walker

    Thank you for this thread David. And thank you to Kerry for telling a story that has the potential to heal a great deal of pain and suffering and potentially save lives. I know of very few things that are as ‘important and valuable’.

    If we take some time to think about Anthony RZs comment, we can see that it basically denies the rights of people to tell their stories and, renders their suffering or experience (the story) to ‘a total zero’. This seems to me a way of thinking that could permit great injustice to continue in this world.

  20. So Edgar Degas decided that being a painter and sculptor was not enough for him, he wanted to be a poet as well. So he tried to write a sonnet and quickly became frustrated at the slow pace of it. He complained to his friend, Stephane Mallarme, that he did not know why writing this sonnet should be so difficult; he had, after all, lots of ideas. Mallarme nodded and pointed out to his friend that having ideas was all well and good, but sonnets are not made from ideas, they are made from words. Having a story to tell is one thing; all combat veterans have a deeply interesting story to tell, but there are only a few Erich Maria Remarques or James Jones or Norman Mailers to tell them.

  21. jenny lynn walker

    The ability to tell is a total zero without a story but a story cannot be heard without the ability to tell.

  22. I like a lot of what Ed Kashi (www.edkashi.com ) has done in some of his multimedia pieces.

    The “Sandwich Generation” ( http://www.mediastorm.com/publication/the-sandwich-generation ) worked well for me-good story,easy pace to the telling of the story, and not all ‘tricked out’ with effects.

    Another one of his pieces, Iraqi Kurdistan Flipbook, from a couple of years ago really divided
    opinion on a host of forums after release.
    I, personally, disliked it for a long time feeling that his individual stills were much more
    powerful and effective in telling the story but after hearing him defend the chosen visual style
    I came to appreciate it. In essence, he said that he felt that the newer generation of visual
    consumers ( not photographers or photog-groupies) neeeded to be entertained as part of the
    process to engage them in a story that they might not otherwise consider.

  23. Sidney Atkins

    “You gotta have pace.” No kiddin’…!

    Getting away for a minute from the slogan “what is most important for you as a viewer:  the story or the ability to tell it ?” (which I think is a fairly absurd dichotomy, really) but trying to get to the heart of what this dialogue seems (?) to be really about, which I think is the relative importance of technical mastery and subtlety in mixing still images with motion and sound in multimedia presentations… (or am I wrong again?)…

    In some ways audio slide shows are an already well-established form for story telling… (I’ve been doing slide shows with music and spoken commentary for some years now… aside from that, the genre I ‘m most familiar with are the audio slide shows that have appeared online on the New York Times over the last 5 or 6 years)… what seems to be new are three elements: 1. Because modern DSLRs allow motion photography, the temptation is strong to use it; 2. Because of advances in equipment and software, one person can now (theoretically) do (and is expected to do!) what used to require a whole crew of sound recorders, engineers, film editors, scriptwriters, etc., and 3. (As a corollary to 2), because of the Web and broadband, almost anybody can throw it up somewhere online, to be noticed or not. Now, ordinarily I’m not a reductionist, but I think because this topic is so huge, it makes sense to break it down into manageable segments just to think about it intelligently.

    No doubt these three new elements change a lot of the landscape, even if they do not quite ‘change everything.’ It is very early days for this kind of multi-media storytelling. I’m sympathetic to the view ROBBY expressed that there are many ways to tell stories, and we should celebrate variety and experimentation and not look too soon for codification…

    That said, the reality is that multimedia as a VIEWING EXPERIENCE is closer to cinema and TV news broadcasting than it is to traditional still photography, whether in gallery, book, or magazine context… and in considering the viewer (yes, the original question was, “which is more important to the viewer?”) we have to remember a more-than-hundred-year-legacy of evolved audience perceptions and tastes regarding motion pictures. And the quality and consistency of the visual images are only one element of that experience. Remember, most movies start with a script and words, not with visual images. Aside from the spoken word, sound in itself is almost as important, and certainly as complicated, an element. Musical sound tracks make that even more complex. And yes, pacing… (Oh, the stories I could tell about cultural and generational differences in pacing…!).

    In my own feeble and primitive efforts, I often feel there is considerable hubris in believing that any one person (particularly me!) can master enough of this to actually produce something that anyone (other than a close relative or another photographer) would want to experience, when the average run-of-the-mill feature film has a roll of technical credits that takes five minutes to scroll across the screen.

    On the other hand, since this seems to be where we are, let’s see what we can come up with… I suspect that length, pacing, number of images, types of sound, etc. will evolve as audience tastes and experience evolve, there won’t be any one formula that will work… nor should there be. The nature of the story, and the nature of the storyteller (and the new nature of the potential audience) should, hopefully, create whole new possibilities and suggest new directions. Back in the 1950s and early 60s, because of commercial radio and jukeboxes, it became ‘the law’ for pop songs to run for no more than 3 and half minutes… let’s hope the equivalent doesn’t become true for multimedia pieces.

    In case the kernel message above is too subtle… what I’m trying to say is, our ideas of what works and what doesn’t will change as we try more, see more, experiment and fail, and occasionally get lucky. But try to keep in perspective just how daunting and ambitious a transition this represents for someone coming from a still photography background…

  24. yup … prefer the ability than the story ………. would rather be known as a good wedding photographer than a lame conceptual one …………. the reason why i love russel peters …. the guy says the dumbest stuff ever but cracks me up in 30 secs …….the situation aint matter but the photograph does ……. Picasso was a kool painter …. paining isnt kool coz Picasso did it ……..

  25. mtomalty, “he said that he felt that the newer generation of visual
    consumers ( not photographers or photog-groupies) neeeded to be entertained as part of the
    process to engage them in a story that they might not otherwise consider.”

    this is a very good point; we here should remember that much work is meant to communicate with the general public rather that other photographers. I do wonder, however, if Ed has evidence to back up his statement that the newer generation “need” to be entertained etc. or if this is just a perception – rather like “the new generation only have a short attention span” and because of this perception we have to endure TV programs which cut to the next scene every one or two seconds and drive me crazy! I so hope he (Ed) is wrong.

    DAHs interest, like many (i hope I’m not putting words in your mouth here David) is in no small measure due to photographers having to find a new business plan after the collapse of the traditional publishing model that used to hire photogs to produce work for newspapers and magazines. I think the new model will have to be that the photographer produces the completed work and then attempts to sell it. Obviously, if the works includes video the photog has a broader range of opportunities to sell. It doesn’t have to be multimedia: it can be stills in a magazine, video on TV and multimedia on the web. The thinking seems to be that the if you are multi-skilled you will be more able to survive the transition from the old publishing model.

    Of course it’s not as easy as that. Still and video require a different mindset and you might miss a great still photo because you are thinking video and vice versa. The June issue of the relaunched and excellent British Journal of Photography was devoted to DSLR video and multimedia and I’d urge you to check out the magazines website. Incidentally, the magazine has gone monthly as it’s old business model of bringing news weekly was outdated. by the time the news was in print, we had all seen it via the internet.


  26. i´d say..

    “Having a story to tell and willingness to tell it is nothing WITHOUT the ability to do it¨

    the sentence can exist better without the negative.

    to say that having a story and having motivation is a total zero – outshone by ability is wrong..
    A.RZ is presenting a black and white, either / or.

    all three.. an idea, motivation and the ability to show it.. stand shoulder to shoulder.
    arguing which is the greater of ingredients is like asking if the pancake, lemon juice or sugar made my dinner more tasty..
    as one dear friend of mine would have said, the statement is ¨splitting the hairs on a gnats arse¨.

    development of photography and moving forward is certainly worth discussing.. and as with my pancake earlier tonight, the inclusion of all ingredients will push things forward better than homespun arrogance parading as wisdom.

  27. For me, in all art the first thing I look for or try to get a sense of is honesty. It doesn’t matter if the presentation has mistakes, in fact I find “mistakes” to make art a little more honest. Kerry’s story is extremely personal and honest, these are raw emotions, and you can’t deny that you don’t feel something looking through her images. If you don’t feel anything looking at an image of a mother crying for her lost son, you are obviously jaded, bitter, and disconnected from what makes this world such a fantastic place.

    With that said, I don’t think it really matters if you have a great “ability” to tell a story. All of us are born with the ability to tell a story, we do it everyday. While some of us progress at “editing” our stories, to be a good story teller is to be, in my eyes, a good liar. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but people like me can always point it out when we look at art. We see that a person is over exaggerating particular points they are trying to make to give their work more impact. Beating you over the head with a message and insisting upon its own importance.

    The story is always there in front of you, picking a story that you identify with is of pinnacle importance. Either you are passionate to tell the story, or you have a personal identification with the people or subject matter you are covering. The story is the most important thing, if we all waited for the “ability” to tell a story, I would not have seen so much amazing work in my lifetime. Yea its not perfect, yea the artist may have some “growing” to do, but you can’t fake honesty. It shines through in your work, and those that are attuned to it, see it right away.

  28. yes very interesting question david…

    the ability to tell the story correctly in relation to the “product” you want to put out there (slideshow, multimedia, print, magazine, book,…) is absolutely crucial. Which story you want to tell is in my eyes totally irrelevant. How you tell it, related to the medium, is the key.

    A mismatch between “way of telling” and “medium” indeed will always stand out… all the pieces must find and also be of highest quality… and many forget that after “taking the picture” there is still a whole other mountain to climb which involves just as much energy and creativity and work…

    Compare it with a feature film: a great director and a perfect DOP will be nothing without a genius screenplay/scenario… and vice versa…

    great discussion…

  29. Harry. “Any monkey can take a good picture”…what utter horseshit. In fact very very few people can take a good picture. That statement is itself a big part of the problem ,as many many people believe they can, and do. And the ability to make a good picture(and know one) stands head and shoulders above everything else.
    Without that ability you are always leaning on other elements to prop you up.
    remember ‘you cannot polish a turd’.(not sure what the american translation is, but you get my drift).

    I do not pretend to be a wordsmith, so I stay away from using words to paint with.
    I do not pretend to be a musician, so I stay away from using song.
    I AM a photographer; so I tell my little stories with a picture; and the stories ARE the pictures. And they are complete within themselves.

    And yes…i do believe that EVERYONE has a story worth telling…but the ability,or the knowledge of which medium tells it best? …probly not in most cases.

  30. go lots to say on this one (no shit ;)), but no time…about to take Dima to see a film (that’s another story)…will try to write something tonight…


  31. actually,
    ¨“Having a story to tell, willingness to tell it and the ability to do it are all important and valuable…”
    where is my cup of tea?

  32. HARRY…

    i cannot tell if you are joking tongue in cheek or serious with your comment and your example..if you are serious, then i could not disagree with you more….do you not see the multi media pieces on Media Storm , VII and Magnum in Motion?…..hmmmmm, curious…any monkey can take a good picture? maybe that is true…strange that very few humans can….

    cheers, david

  33. John any one can take a good picture.(my 5 year old daughter does this every other month or so). To consistently take great pictures on demand is one of the highest forms of craft (art).

  34. SIDNEY…

    not quite the discussion i was trying to set up…multimedia was only a part of it….but in that sense i think you have a handle on it….however, the dichotomy which you think is absurd is at the very core of our disagreements about what photography IS or ISN’T for the last three years…i will never get you to look at a picture as something beyond a representation of an object or place or person….nor of a photographer whose voice just might change the very perceptual nature of the subject represented…

    cheers, david

  35. mtomalty, thank you so much for posting the link to Ed Kashi and Julie Winokur’s “The Sandwich Generation.” I cannot imagine a more effective example of blending audio, motion and still photos to tell a story, an important although everyday kind of story. Of course, the fact that it was co-created by a professional filmmaker and photographer who were telling their own story places it head and shoulders over the multimedia work of those of us who are just learning to add audio and video to our work as still photographers.

    I personally believe that multimedia is here to stay and that photojournalists, especially those we would characterize as emerging, would do well to develop the techniques needed to add audio and video to their more traditional expertise with still photography. In recent years Detroit’s local newspaper, the Detroit Free Press, has made a name for itself because of its talented videographers and their work.

    As a still photographer myself, I thought I would be getting into multimedia. That is until I discovered through trial and mostly error how physically demanding it is to accomplish. For a gal whose hands have trouble even holding my camera and successfully clicking the shutter release button every time I want, dealing with the special needs of video is a bit over the top. But that’s OK, I’m loving the quality of images I get with my new Canon 7D and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Regarding the story and how it is told, technique — be it still photos or multimedia — is merely a tool: the story is the thing. But that story must be told in a way that respects its integrity, pushes it beyond the commonplace, and engages the viewer on a gut level. And that takes a photographer who is one with the story he/she is telling. Even if the photographer chooses to present the story from a detached point of view, she/he must be engaged with it on a deep level. Superficiality is not the same as conscious detachment. You’ve got to be willing to dig in and get your feet wet, muddy actually. You’ve got to be changed more than your viewers.

    For me, that’s why Kerry Payne’s essay works. She’s at the heart of it and it shows. This is her story and it is not easy to tell. That’s its power. As she pursues this work — as I hope she will — it will grow and deepen because she will grow and deepen into it. And technically it will mature as her photographic skills mature. This story must be told and Kerry is the one to tell it. And she will.


    P.S. Anthony R.Z. may have had an important point to make but I found his way of expressing himself to be insensitive and unnecessarily harsh. How we express ourselves here on Burn is every bit as important as how we tell a story with our camera.

  36. John you sort of have the (or at least my) problem down. I can sort tell a story with photos. Now I’m trying to add sound which I have no idea about. A lot of the multi media I’ve been seeing looks like people like me having ago with something new. It’s not great, but in a few years time it might be. I should really find a sound man and a film guy to do it right but the last thing in the world I want to be is a director producer.

    I think if the story is good the people (the public not professionals) will let other things slides.

  37. MIKE R…

    i was not really thinking in terms of a new business plan for the future, although i suppose by now it is pretty obvious that many will indeed have to make this adjustment…most of the changes actually give us opportunities way beyond anything in the old model which was truly restrictive in terms of storytelling…only a very small part of the experience could be told because of space limitations…what i am talking about is the “way” a story is told in terms of visual acuity , not so much in tech expertise…it will be interesting to see which model works out in the long run…will the picture viewing public want to buy the “story” told by almost anyone because the content is just so damned important or will the quality and finesse of the teller be so compelling that the viewer/public will buy the “style” instead of the “road map” …my gut tells me style will win out, it always has, but there may be a long long road and a lot of bad examples of storytelling before the dust settles and the new young masters are able to rise from the abyss…

    cheers, david

  38. Harry. yes of course I see your point now. the pictures my parents took of me and my brothers when we were young make me smile, and remember..and also feel sad. And so are good. The pictures that children make in innocence and joy, also are good. The magic there is in our connection to the subject, and the memory vault it unlocks….Making a universal key with your picture,for everyones vault, now…thats a rare thing indeed.

    Patricia. We are not all given to spiritual dispositions, nor are we all gifted at diplomacy, and I, for one find blunt honesty far more palatable than sugared platitudes.

  39. Read Anthony’s other comments on essays etc and you will see that he is not interested in the essays, he states that the only photography that takes the traditional course should be called photography. References to his statement are a dud in this “ability to tell…” context.

    Multimedia is a non term that was created to describe anything that didn’t have it’s own category/box to live in. It is the junkyard of the arts.

    In the end you are either doing or just jaw grinding about communication.

  40. Ok guys… first of all, Burn is not a place for condolences or sharing personal life problems, or losses… this is the place where photographers share their successful work… at least I come here for this… that’s why my initial comment on the recent essay wasn’t about sharing the pain with Kerry, but rather my impression of the photo project that has been published on a highly respectable online photography magazine…

    Not even everybody is able to tell stories properly and coherently to friends at the table with beer… OK, this would be quite easy for the most because it isn’t art, and for the most part doesn’t require any talent or skill, just the ability to speak… would be much more challenging to do the same in public or on TV… Here we are telling and reading stories on two dimensional surface, no words, no nothing… I am talking about photography here, not the video, not the writing or music… they could complement each other in multimedia, but not compensate for each other… OK, just an image story on a peace of flat paper/screen – it’s almost impossible… well, it’s possible but just for some and not right away… Now, the working photographer has to forget for a while about the sensitivity, romantic excitment, three dimensional impressions… because these are your enemies. Street photography, photojournalism requires very high but different concentration, that’s why when you see well seasoned photographers like Bresson or Harvey working, they are basically dancing in a trance around the subject and the place… How to make an image that would really tell a story beyond the proper composition, form, color, line, shape???… man, nobody can teach you this… it’s still a mystery for the most part… there has to be the story first, of course… but stories are everywhere, strong stories are somewhere… few find them, even fewer can tell them by using the medium of photography…

  41. Often I go into a project with little or no idea what story I will ultimately tell, but with total confidence that the situation will be rife with great stories and all I have to do is recognize them. But I realize that’s just a useful trick I play on myself. Stories do not exist independently of our animal awareness. Our brains are wired to discern them from the stimulus overload provided by our senses. It’s how we arrange our world and communicate with others.

    Clearly, some people are better at discerning stories than others and a small subset of that group excels at communicating the stories they discern to others. It’s all — all — about the skill of the storyteller, without whom there is no such thing as a story. And I think David AH’s last point is one of the key things that separates the great storytellers from the masses — the ability to change the very perceptual nature of the subject represented.

    So in this discussion, I’m much more interested in the mechanics of telling a good, still photography based story with the multimedia tools available. And I’m not so sure how far one can get from the traditional slideshow without it becoming something else altogether. The MediaStorm story about caring for the aging parent that mtomalty linked to above is another example. The way I see it, that is just a traditional broadcast news piece, or at least news magazine. The still photography is entirely lost in all the AV.

    So how to do it? Is it even possible? I know John Gladdy is right for John Gladdy, but he may just be right with a capital R. Well, not quite. I’ll always love well-put together sequences of images with appropriate soundtracks, but I’m not sure how much further we can go technically without doing something that’s not really still photography. But I do see a few multi-media innovations that can work. For example, innovations that allow us to better pace our stories (sorry Eva, but pacing matters, always has, always will). And then there’s always room to discern/tell more sophisticated stories, or to present them in a more sophisticated manner. I’m pretty sure that when all the technical mumbo jumbo is said or done, that will be the ticket. Same as it ever was.

  42. Sidney Atkins

    Dear DAVID

    “…not quite the discussion i was trying to set up…”
    Not surprised to hear you say this!… chronic problem of mine, isn’t it, whether we’re talking apples and oranges, or kumquats and kiwis..??!! However, this time I really misunderstood… thought the larger question was to be considered in the context of multimedia in this particualr case.

    “…i will never get you to look at a picture as something beyond a representation of an object or place or person….nor of a photographer whose voice just might change the very perceptual nature of the subject represented…” Oh, David, you greatly underestimate the impact and influence you have had on me over the last few years! That particular message has gotten through again and again.. don’t want to distract this particular thread by going into all the gory details, but despite what you may think my position and understanding are, you have expanded my horizons considerably.

    “…the dichotomy which you think is absurd is at the very core of our disagreements about what photography IS or ISN’T…”
    OK, I apologize, ‘absurd’ was a very poor choice of words and I can understand now that you may feel affronted by it… believe it or not, that was not my intention… maybe ‘unresolvable’ would be better? At least, to me, unresolvable as an abstract discussion without getting down to cases and details… it would very much depend on the story, and the storyteller…

    Forgive me if I state that I don’t think we really disagree about “what photography IS” so much… but we certainly have different spectra of taste. I forgave you for this long ago… will you forgive me?
    (And I continue to applaud your enormous efforts on behalf of BURN and the larger photographic community, ‘natch).

  43. Isn’t the construction of a good multimedia piece virtually the same as a “standard” photo story?

    Is the story one of interest to others?
    Can the photos stand on their own without text (in this case audio)?
    Can the text (audio) stand on it’s own without the images?
    Is there something new?
    Is it presented in a way that holds the viewers’ attention?

    While I may not care for this piece, I cannot agree with the assessment that Anthony makes “nothing but a mess and nonsense without any impact”. I am not a writer. I have no illusions about that. But even those among us who are writers, even people like Bob who can spit out a captivating paragraph as easily as I breathe, cannot capture the subtle nuances, the emotions or the spirit the same as a person telling their own stories.

    As I sit here and look/listen to the essay again, I find myself asking if this essay covers the five baseline questions outlined above. Is the story of interest to others? Absolutely. Can the photos stand on their own? Some can. There was some repetitiveness in the images and some stronger compositions would help. Can the audio stand on it’s own? Probably. Is there something new? I didn’t think so. That’s not all that damning. At this point, what really is new anyway? Did it hold my attention? I can’t say that it did. One part melted into another. Perhaps if it was a more in depth portrayal of one set of survivors…I don’t know.

    Although this story didn’t work for me, there are plenty that do.

    Anthony, isn’t it possible to venture into new mediums losing sight of the storytelling glory of old-school photography?

  44. “…a great story , brilliantly told…” is of course the goal…

    If I had to choose one over the other though, the story would be it.

    A great, meaningful, touching story badly told will stick with me longer than a non story brilliantly, amazingly, exquisitely told…

    That said, my conscious efforts for the (relatively) longest time have been to learn the craft part of our medium, in order to (hopefully) be ready to brilliantly tell the great story when time comes…


  45. “The Nude” published by Pantheon Photo Library & translated into English in 1986, introduction (quoted below) by Bernard Noel:

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Photography–now well past the middle of its second century–should have taught us that long ago, but, under the force of an even older illusion, we still confuse object and subject. The subject is always the photographer, the photographer’s vision of an object. This suffices to invert the position of the image, which can no longer be a simple view once one perceives a repetition ad infinitum in the act of taking it–an act that the photo alternately hides and reveals in a tremor that contains the passage of time, the circulation of sense and the beginning of thought.”

    When the photographer takes the photos (after perceiving a story in the act of taking them) and strings them together in a sequence, in their mind at least they told a story. Someone either buys it or doesn’t and a magazine/newspaper/blog either publishes it or doesn’t, depending upon the eye of the viewer. It is out of the photographer’s hands once they release it to either of these entities. And the publishers and viewers of the published work will see the story through their own personal filters. As is evidenced daily on this blog. These filters consist of skills, experience, knowledge and personal life experience. As with all art there are those that like it and those that don’t but hopefully in the discourse we all come away with something and the published artist grows.

  46. And on another lighter and more fun note, want to come to Maui and check out a photo festival? I have not attended this yet (only second year) but think I will since I am here this year. Anyone up for a trip to Maui?


  47. Photographers here are concerned about photographs and making money out of their chosen careers ………………………………….storytellers tell stories and their concern is the story not the individual telling the story.

  48. “Ok guys… first of all, Burn is not a place for condolences or sharing personal life problems, or losses… this is the place where photographers share their successful work” -Anthony NZ

    Pull you head out of your ass Anthony, look at the right hand column of this page, you see that top sentence ? ” burn is an evolving journal
    for emerging photographers. ”

    Keyword is emerging in that sentence is emerging, dipshit.

    Let me ask you, do you have any work online that we can look at ? Where are you images ? As the old saying goes, those that can…do, those who can’t….criticize…

    Sorry for the inappropriate language and name calling DAH, this is why I rarely comment on anything, because I can’t stand the circle jerk of what is and isn’t good photography.

  49. mw time to stop hiding and confront what you wrote in the past……………….. the sripes are still there, no spots are appearing

  50. Sidney Atkins


    Speaking directly to the point I think you are making:

    “what i am talking about is the “way” a story is told in terms of visual acuity , not so much in tech expertise…it will be interesting to see which model works out in the long run…will the picture viewing public want to buy the “story” told by almost anyone because the content is just so damned important or will the quality and finesse of the teller be so compelling that the viewer/public will buy the “style” instead of the “road map” …my gut tells me style will win out, it always has, but there may be a long long road and a lot of bad examples of storytelling before the dust settles and the new young masters are able to rise from the abyss…

    My thought here is that at least in the near and medium term, as (if?) multimedia becomes a widespread or dominant channel for storytelling, then the RELATIVE importance of sophisticated ‘visual acuity’ is likely to be diminished in relation to the increasing importance of sound, words, music, editing, pacing, and so-called ‘technical’ (they’re all technical) production values working together… in other words, as long as the visuals are “OK”, the seemliness and seamlessness of the total package… words, sound, music, pacing, still images, video.. working together… will be more important to most viewers than whether the visual acuity in particular is at a higher level… we might wish otherwise, but I think that is likely to be the case.

  51. Sidney Atkins

    OOPS! Should have closed the quotation marks on the first paragraph, which is Harvey’s and not mine…

    And just to add this line: …while the storyteller’s ability will still be crucial, it will be more the ability to put images, words, and sounds together well and in interesting and original ways that is important, and the quality of the individual still photographs may be less important, relatively, in terms of the whole package (so long as they meet an ‘acceptable standard’, of course, which will be a moving target, just as it has been).

  52. Imants, I have no idea what you are talking about. Lordy knows I write all kinds of shite. Regarding the nickname change, I’m only hiding, and then only a little bit, from Google. There are plenty here who don’t use their full name, probably for similar reasons. Ask EMCD. You all are welcome to keep calling me Michael, or Michael Webster if you prefer. I’m not hiding from you.

    So what do you think about that Franco Pagetti multimedia piece I think is so great? I know I come at these things more from a literary perspective whereas you see things more from the art world, but I see the difference in storytelling sophistication between that kind of approach and the more common broadcast news magazine style like the difference between an Italo Calvino novel and page 14b in the New York Times.

  53. im always going to be finicky coz im a woman.

    if there is a good joke to be told and you are not delivering the punchline, well, no one would get it.

    so a good story has to be there but if you dont know what youre doing and cannot see the difference between an f stop and the bus stop, the story wont hold its value.

    so id say both: good story and know how

  54. Imants, not true. I don’t hide from the things I write, I just like a degree of separation when it comes to things written about me. Until using my full name on Burn, I had always stayed one small step removed from easy identification. It’s because of the nature of the personal attacks that are all too commonly a part of online interaction. I don’t mind attacks on my ideas or my work, enjoy them actually, but I prefer not to have a Google search come up with with attacks, very unfair attacks, on my integrity, particularly by prominent people in my field. Believe me, I’m quite used to dealing with the embarrassment that all too often results from my poor writing skills and consider it akin to cod liver oil or some other bitter medicine. Unpleasant but ultimately healthy.

    But enough about me. Why do you keep evading the multimedia question I’ve raised concerning higher arts vs. broadcast journalism? What do you think about Pagetti’s approach? I’d use you as an example too, had I bookmarked your little seven minute project from awhile back. I thought that was very skillfully done.

  55. Pagetti approach……..the images of the soldiers are unhurried,safe and composed. The images of the locals feel hurried and lack connection.

  56. Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Anthony, I dont expect you to embrace this perspective because you seem so determined to have work and to view work only in the way you want it and only in the way you want to view it. None-the-less, even as Kerry’s “multimedia” (I really dont like that term at all) piece was an imperfect work, I will hazard a guess that (and David is certainly capable to respond to this himself) Mr. Alan Harvey found in it – as I think many other viewers have as well – something that touched a human chord, a note, a common note; one that Kerry experienced and responded to in her own work and thought enough to make something of to share.

    There is something in the directness and in the honesty of Kerry’s work that – I believe – overcomes and transcends the imperfections of the perfectly crafted story or a tightly composed frame or the “moment” that you seem to insist photography, GOOD photography, be about. I dont need to love it all to love it. How can any of us live with an ethic which leaves no room for imperfection? I am perfectly bored with perfection and would welcome a sloppy excellence anytime.

    The history of photography – and art – is rife with work that is imperfect, anti-moment, and at the same time evocative, provocative, subtle, excellent and human.

    The wonderful thing about this site is that your dogmatic (and somewhat insensitively expressed) view is welcomed and even championed (as witnessed in this specially created dialog); how boring not to be able to step partly outside ourselves and see merit and value where we thought there might be none – to learn from it even.

  57. “You don’t “take” pictures, you make pictures; you make them well and use them to communicate, to help the people and the situation. Many times the suffering people in the Sahel would see me working and they would ask me to come and photograph them or a loved one as a way of helping to solve the problem. In time they come to your camera like they would come to a microphone, they come to speak through your lens.” –– Sebastiao Salgado

    For me it is the ability to tell a story that holds the greatest worth. Because occasionally as a photographer/storyteller you can, as Sebastiao puts it “help the people and the situation”

  58. “what is most important for you as a viewer: the story or the ability to tell it ?”

    This is something I struggle with. As photographers, we are drawn to strong images, wheras I find non-photographers will respond much more to content.

    To tell the story, do we concentrate on covering the bases, capturing the important information and moments, even if the composition or lighting is not great, or do we try to make the most appealing/creative/clever images within the situation, with hard information a secondary concern? Certainly the answer is a firm “it depends”.

    Does a set of beautifully composed, very artistic images that don’t really contain much information tell a story better than a set of straighforward and very informative photographs. Depends on the story. Depends on accompanying text, or lack of it. Depends wether it is in a mass magazine, trying to snag readers attention, or in a powerpoint presentation being presented to a captive audience in a dark room.

    Ability to recognise and tell the story I believe is paramount, whatever the approach.

  59. What is more important, the story or the ability to tell it?

    If you can’t tell it there isn’t much of a story so I say the ability to tell it.

  60. The story is the seed that when planted, watered, nurtured grows up to be a tall tale. For so many years, more people than i can count have told me to stop trying to express myself visually and for heaven’s sake, WRITE! I do not write because i have nothing to say. No story. No amount of eloquence, wordsmithing and creative word play is going to matter without the story. Likewise with photography. The best camera, the skills, the MFA, the connections, the money to ship off to some exotic locale to shoot someone else’s reality is going to guarantee you the story. i am so visually impressionable that i will forgive a multitude of technical and artistic sins for a good story.


    “Now, the working photographer has to forget for a while about the sensitivity, romantic excitment, three dimensional impressions… because these are your enemies. Street photography, photojournalism requires very high but different concentration”

    Ok, i’m not HCB or DAH (far from it) but this i know something about. I’ve been shooting the street for about gosh, 6 years now It’s one of two projects that i invest enormous amounts of time and energy to. And doing it the old-fashioned way. Fully manual, using primarily one camera, one lens with film and mainly from the hip. I don’t turn into a zombie without sensitivity, romantic excitement or three dimensional impressions when i’m out there. I might be in a sort of trance, forget about food, water, rest and time. But if i forgot the rest of the mix you mention, i would not, could not possibly see my stories, let alone tell them.


  61. “(sorry Eva, but pacing matters, always has, always will)”

    Michael, first you gotta have something to pace.. I’m with John Gladdy all the way here..

    Kathleen, if Anthony RZ means to leave out all that during the edit of the work, then I agree with him, being emotionally involved makes editing much harder.

  62. emotional attachment is like propaganda…….. very useful when creating a story.

    Editing is taking away, I for one prefer to create

  63. Eva, Imants

    Interesting perspectives from both of you. So, a question. When looking through images to use, do you have an emotional, intellectual, subjective, objective, visceral reaction to the “rightness” of one particular photo/image over another? What tells you, “THIS ONE!!!” One approach or the other or all of the above?

    Eva, what i took away from what Anthony said is that these elements are the enemy of a working photographer (as opposed to a photographer at play? hmmm, whatever) while he/she is shooting which is why he mentioned HCB (RIP) and DAH being in a trance while they’re working. Which you know, it’s crazy to think of that trance being devoid of emotional, passionate and excited connection to their subject matter. Creating art is a mind/mood altering experience. That’s where the trance comes from for heaven’s sake. That’s why artists make art and photographers make photos, unless they’re like shooting baby pictures at Sears and, who knows, maybe even then…

  64. Kathleen, that’s why I wrote ‘during the edit of the work’.. and I’m pretty sure even Imants does some sort of editing.. besides that, I don’t consider him a straight photographer, but a visual artist..

    Shooting something so close to yourelf like what Kerry has done, is doing, makes it very hard to detach the emotions from the pictures themselves, and it’s more likely that weaker pictures slip into the body of work than if it was somebody else editing, or if you were less attached. And some of the viewers probably are more forgiving if it happens than others, because of the emotions (their own, empathy towards the photographer, etc.) involved.

  65. unless they’re like shooting baby pictures at Sears and, who knows,

    I personally love to stare at photos shot in Sears or at the local mall..i dont know why…but i do love them..i find them real plus is something genuine about them..:)

  66. James Rhodes:

    I found your work with the Rohingya Refugees to be seriously some of the most beautiful, elegant photography that i have ever seen. I am looking at it all again right this moment. Your eye is so gentle, careful, respectful, dare i say, loving? Your colors like jewels. Not a single contrivance..these gentle, moving, gorgeous little photographs..oh my.. thank you for letting me find this gallery tonight.

    Best, truly

  67. As far as Kerry’s essay is concerned, I think the importance of the content is more important to me as a viewer than her competency as a photographer; actually, I think we forget sometimes that an important character for this sort of photography is for an individual to be able to gain the trust, and be intimate enough with those people to allow them to open up.
    But when I think of Kate Stones essay, it was it’s style and execution that worked for me conjuring up impressions in my imagination, that were activated by the images themselves, devoid of preconception as far as content went, as I never read the essay’s before I view them. The strength of Kerry’s essay is that we are made aware that they are real people and its that connection for me that made it work; the truthfulness in its content.

    I know its a bit of a post modern view but..”It all depends”

  68. evolutionary……..if they can abide by the concept and the other images/text can cope it is in…….. until the image gets a straight eviction. But I just put books together for the last 2 odd years plus quirky slide shows where the images are transitory.

  69. I think the obvious: both are important. Fifty-fifty. Story and willingness without ability goes nowhere, and the opposite is also true.

    There are sometimes stories with very little content (except to its author, of course) very beautifully executed. Well, I think they will be nowhere to be found some years down the line, however controversial they might seem now. The same rules that have applied to art for centuries still apply in the Internet era: time will tell whether your much-appreciated (and even paid) artwork becomes a classic, but all classics in history have the precise mix of form and content, and excel in both.

    By the way, I also think that not, it does not depend. Photography continues to have rules of composition, exposure, etc., even though they might evolve with the times just as people’s tastes evolve. Same with literature, sculpture, journalism, etc. When the point is not communication but ‘breaking the rules’ and innovation just for the sake of it, then the only way is suicide, as it has happened to painting.

  70. Eva

    Sorry, just saw your post..

    of course Imants edits or else he’d have a big mess on his hands instead of the highly meditative flow in his work that he achieves (sorry Imants if i my take is all wrong..it’s what i see in your work)..whatever word he wants to use to define his selection process, he’s still choosing this versus that. And it makes no difference to me if you are editing photos and he is editing found image material. You still have to make these vital choices. So i was curious as to what kicks in when you just know a photo is right.

    With regard to Kerry’s work. I think the fact that this was almost autobiographical for her, regardless of the other subjects portrayed, means that the content is going to be more raw and unpolished than if she was presenting an essay on the consequences of global warming on the Inuits. The roughness around the edges actually works to enhance Kerry’s essay whereas it might detract from another. There is no way she could have edited with surgical precision considering her emotional connection and no way she could have done the essay without the emotional connection. Actually i very much liked her photographs.

    Regardless, i agree with you that emotional attachment to ones photographs makes it difficult to edit, but Anthony was speaking of the shooting process which is what i was addressing.


  71. Imants

    ahh..in Spanish we call some relationships, “pasajeros”..where two people are passengers for a time. I like that approach to your work then. Some stays, some stays a long time, some stays possibly forever..like water, perhaps..some gathers in eddies, whirling and twirling in the same place for a great while, some spills over and over itself in a vicious current, some flows by, some drifts by and some sits and dries in a puddle in the sun, rising into the air to come down as rain once again somewhere else.


    off the wall, i am, no doubt.

    Ok, i have gone off-subject long enough..it’s 2 am, time to sleep..

    goodnight all

  72. Imants, with the Pagetti piece, or your multimedia work for that matter, I am not talking about the content of the photos, but the structure of the story (good observations though). My concern in this discussion is how multimedia techniques can be used to tell stories that feature still images. How to create a better slideshow, in short. So part of that, the nuts and bolts so to speak, means working with pacing, transitions, zooms and pans — that sort of thing, all of which are at the service of the story. And part of that, the part we are more concerned with here, is the story itself. I don’t mean to denigrate the traditional broadcast journalism, 60 minutes style model. I recognize that there will, and should, always be a place for that. It’s just that possibilities exist to tell stories in other, more sophisticated ways. In the Pagetti example, the story is obviously about the American military occupation of Afghanistan, but it is structured around the idea of a photographer’s desire to be invisible. That kind of misdirection adds a dramatic tension that is much less likely to exist in straightforward, earnest type journalism. It’s the difference between writing and transcription, between images from a surveillance camera vs. those from an accomplished photographer. Same thing with your work. Wish I’d bookmarked it.

    Unfortunately, I don’t spend as much time looking at other people’s work as I probably should, so I am no doubt unaware of some vast library of great multimedia work. Please, anybody, provide some links to what you think is good. Although I’m working on several things at the moment, I am a ways (long or short? Don’t know yet) from figuring it out myself. Mastering the necessary software (and audio) skills is challenging. Understanding what to do with them much more so.

  73. DAH “what i am talking about is the “way” a story is told in terms of visual acuity , not so much in tech expertise…it will be interesting to see which model works out in the long run…will the picture viewing public want to buy the “story” told by almost anyone because the content is just so damned important or will the quality and finesse of the teller be so compelling that the viewer/public will buy the “style” instead of the “road map” “.

    I’m still not sure what you mean by visual acuity. I suppose yes, if a compelling story is being told with less-than-perfect tech expertise then people are going watch despite any technical flaws. So content is king.

    However, you talk about will the viewing public BUY such work: well, will they have an opportunity to buy ?Or will the old published model, where magazines etc. decided what to print and we, the public, read/saw the results with no real choice, be replaced by an Internet equivalent? If it is, and they have to satisfy advertisers, then technical quality will be a requirement.

    Could you also be more specific about what you want to discuss here? I know that the points raised by Anthony prompted your post here but I presume you want to discuss more than “content or quality of result”.

    Not being awkward here David, just want to understand fully.


  74. DAH, isn’t ‘style’ what makes of content THE story, instead of just having a bunch of pictures?

  75. jenny lynn walker

    John Vink wrote: “Having a story to tell and willingness to tell it, is nothing – a total zero”… without people ready to listen…” Yes. I guess we have to find a way to MAKE people listen as well? So we have:

    1) A Story

    2) The Ability to Tell

    3) The ‘Nouse and Nohow’ to Break it to the Whole World

    John Gladdy: Sugared platitudes get my goat too, as do sycophants. Wish there was a way to filter all of that out along with all the endless rambling on unrelated matter.

  76. The other thing, besides story, that I like about the Pagetti piece is that it’s technically doable by one person — simple, mood setting video, a soundtrack one can create with Garageband, a simple voiceover, supporting a few very high quality still photos. I agree that Driftless is very well done, but it took somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 people to create it.

  77. ‘Driftless’ is first of all great photography, it would be so even without all the whistles and bells of video, slideshows and so on, just figure to look at the photographs, either prints or a book, and listen to the voices or reading the text. So once you have that, great photography, you can take it wherever.

    Simple, everyday stories, made in the backyard, seen through an eye that has the gift of seeing.

  78. jenny lynn walker

    Imants/mw: Please could you put up a link to the Pagetti piece you are referring to. Thanks.

  79. Yes. That really works, it has great strength. I feel I’m able to take my time, make my own connections, I don’t feel like it’s staged or too manipulated or overdone. It’s about photography and putting you there.
    It’s real and it has an impact.It assumes the viewer is intelligent and thinking.
    I love the simplicity.
    Too much chatter and video mixed with stills just lessens it for me, I feel it’s too easy for the message to get lost in the busy-ness.

  80. I hope I’m not too late to this party — just back in NY and finally online again.

    I am immensely grateful to everybody who has taken the time to view this essay and share with me your feelings about it. I will address those more specifically in the Left Behind thread after I’ve re-read and considered all comments one more time.

    David, I’m so pleased you started this dialog. The energy flowing from the discussion here gets right to the heart of all that is special about Burn Magazine and why it is such a valuable resource for the photographic community.

    Is story or the ability to tell it well more important? In my own experience as a new entrant into the photo world, I was shooting around the edges of this subject, getting nowhere, really, until DAH gave me the push I needed to dive right into it. His advice at the time, ‘you gotta have something to say’… well, I had something to say and I am grateful to him for helping me make the leap from shooting subway musicians to something that can, and will, make a difference.

    Can the photography improve? Yes. Can the construction of the essay be more polished? Yes. Does this essay in its current format make an impact on the people it is targeting? Yes. That much I know from the heartfelt comments I’ve received from so many who’ve been touched by suicide and have viewed it in all it’s rough-around-the-edges glory.

    So for me, the story leads, and the way it is told will continue to improve with time and experience.

    I’m not so sure I wanted to tell this story, but it needed to be told and I didn’t want to wait until it was perfect – whatever that might look like. My purpose was and is to raise awareness of this issue, to get people talking about suicide and hopefully to reduce the stigma and collateral damage it leaves behind year after year.

    To that end, I am hungry to learn how to do justice to the courageous people who are willing to open their hearts and share their stories with us. This dialog and the essay feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly) is fuel for my fire as I continue my work on this project and to grow as a photographer.

    Thank you.

    p.s. David, no, I was not moved to tears by Anthony RZ’s comments – although I do fully expect him to buy the first round should we ever meet in real life. ;-)

  81. As to question of priorities, the story or the ability to tell it, my personal answer would nearly always be the ability to translate the story with the aforementioned visual acuity. My exception is along the lines of the mission of WITNESS and the dissemination of visual media by civilians (Civi that’s you!) against human rights abuses, or of Community Video Units, when the story must take absolute precedence, but certainly in these instances I am looking for information alone and the lack of authorship is ‘forgiven.’

    Apples and oranges though, that way. So using the food metaphor, I think the larger question of what the public wants can’t be reduced to one answer; to me it’s the same scenario as exists with food, sustenance. There are plenty, most, who are satisfied with filling their hunger with whatever is in front of them without regard to quality or actual value, either because they have not been exposed to the other options, or because it actually suits their palate, or because they haven’t the means to acquire anything else. And there are others who wish to consume not only that which is wholesome, but that which was prepared and presented with a level of artistry. The latter group will sometimes be put in a position to take in lesser foods / (any given ill presented story as a method of sustenance), but they will always be aware of the lack they are experiencing and will most likely lament it. Then there are those who would rather go hungry than subject themselves to what is on the menu at the rest stop.

  82. Kerry,

    My dearest and darling… despite my honest opinion about this particular essay, now I have a feeling that you are very close to me… You are a really strong and great person… the way you react to the criticism shows you have a great potential to grow as an artist… we all need cold showers from time to time even if they aren’t always entirely fair… Yes, Kerry, I would very much like to meet with you in person, especially after I looked at your picture:))… I have something as a present to you… I am going to travel around the world, so either New York or Australia are very likely places for us to meet… I am too shy to write you a private message though:)… with love and respect…

  83. now there’s a burn moment! (re: anthony’s message to kerry)


    (wish we could have Marshall McLuhan at our roundtable discussion, the one who coined the phrase ‘the medium is the message’ – meaning “that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. The phrase was introduced in his most widely known book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.[1] McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. He said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.” http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=4693

    a youtube version of his thinking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3ApZGGY9RU

  84. a civilian-mass audience

    “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.”
    —Maya Angelou

    YOU Photographers…you are blessed and cursed…
    …and yeap…some of you be prepared to buy …many rounds…
    oime…I am the proudest civilian

    Universe Thank you…what have I done to deserve that ???
    BURN is the place to be…
    Go out BURNIANS…if you can’t do it…then who…

    P.S Since I am in a remote area (I am drinking ouzo with ANTHONYRZ-big heart…and I can’t read many of the comments…don’t tell me that I have missed BOBBYB…:)))

  85. hhhhmmm the story or the ability to tell it?

    both do, and must have their place, both are interwoven. but what we have to accept is that that place is rapidly changing. what’s in the story? does it have to be about the other, can an individual step into a situation/event/culture/life/experience that they would normally not be a part of and tell the story of those who are really living it? for me NO, that false objectivity, to which many have and many still are aspiring to has fallen by the wayside. photography, for me, is about experience, the experience of whom? the photographer, and only the photographer. that is the only reality photography shows. that is the only subject or story that a photographer can author.

    how the story is told has slowly changed since photography’s creation, and will do so for as long as we make technological advancements. lets not forget that photography is a technological medium. prints, books, galleries and now LCD screens all have their place in how we convey the stories we choose to tell, and will continue to do so. i can’t see how multi media pieces will make photography die a horrible death. its just the latest in a long line of technological advancements. this will excite some and challenge them to embrace it, to explore new possibilities and add the growing visual language. however it will frighten and anger others – who see it as a bastardisation of their beloved medium. they represent the conservative, who fear any change, for me the surest way of ensuring a horrible death.

    in all things there are the good and the bad, but then, that is another subjective statement isn’t it. what’s good for me may not be for someone else, and vica-versa. this of course applies to the story that is being told and the way it is being told too. how bored am i of seeing pictures of dusty soldiers in iraq or afghanistan? very. but thats just me. the viewer. that doesn’t mean that the work is bad, the mode of conveying it wrong, or the story boring. it means that i’m not interested.
    subjectivity, subjectivity, subjectivity!

    i don’t think that there is a big controversial issue in what stories are chosen or how they are shown. multi media work is here to stay, and for me is a fantastic innovation. just look at magnum in motion for example, alex majoli’s requiem in samba and libra me, trente park’s minutes to midnight, are for me all outstanding.

  86. Jamie Lynn Walker

    A dry leaf does not burn without other crucial elements added to the mix. Burn burns because of the mix, not in spite of it. You are simply the latest to muse wistfully about how nice Burn would be without the extraneous chit-chat, sugared platitudes, sycophants and whatever other content displeases you. I have read most/all (?) your comments and found them to be considered, thoughtful and articulately expressed. I do not always agree with you but am always stimulated by what you have to say. How unfortunate that you would choose to filter out the voices of others whose style of expression, viewing reactions, discussion points rankle you.

    Make no mistake about John Gladdy, a man of few words though he may be, he is also tolerant, thoughtful, kind and respectful to all comers. There was a self-portrait published once. To my mind it was iredeemably awful. And i said so. Short and sweet. John, on the other hand, went to great lengths over several posts to understand why the photo was not working. He gave the photographer every benefit of the doubt pondering whether it was the processing, camera, scanning or relative inexperience of the photographer before concluding that perhaps the photograph simply failed. I learned a lot from/about him that day.

    And lest you think that nary a non-essential bit of text escapes his lips, he once posted this poem he wrote about photography that was so universal in its angst, self-doubts, self-deprecating wit that i printed it out and still find it inspirational. So, from the man who said this yesterday ¨I do not pretend to be a wordsmith, so I stay away from using words to paint with.¨, consider this:

    My pictures suck,
    My Pictures are fantastic
    I am a great photographer.
    I cannot take a pciture at all.

    The high from a picture lasts about a day.
    The low from missing lasts weeks.

    My best pictures are works of art.
    My best pictures are flukes.
    pure luck

    The bar is too high.
    aim lower?
    Give up?
    Get back on the horse?
    …i don´t have a horse!
    I have a camera.
    But i don´t know how to make it work.

    I am a hunter of light
    Laying silver traps,
    That are nearly always empty.
    or worse: Average.
    not bad

    My pictures suck.
    My pictures are fantastic.
    I am a great photograopher.
    I cannot take a picture at all.


  87. as a photographer in progress, this conversation is something that i stand to learn much from. of course, utopia speaking, to have both a willingness to tell a story, as well as the tools available to make that story as effectively illustrated as possible, is what any photographer probably should strive for. a photographer with the greatest techniques, but no personal investment; i imagine their work to come across as detached and aloof. aesthetic ability at best can explain the what, the why, the where, the how, these aspects of a story. But the feeling of a story, that ‘extra’ that motivated the photographer to choose THIS story over an infinite amount of other stories that are out there. This I imagine to be less of a learned technique, and more reflective of the photographer as a person. To this end, I find personability, charisma, compassion and other likeminded personal traits to be just as important as any ability one can have. Of course, objectivity is important so we don’t get swallowed up in a story and lose a sense of perspective, but so is subjectivity – the ability to tell a story from the perspective of someone inside the story itself.
    Presently, I teach photography to some of the kids in my neighborhood here in Panama City. Casco Viejo. A world heritage site, incredible architecture in all states of repair/disrepair, ongoing gentrification/restorations/economic revivals mean that the neighborhood is in a constant state of flux. One street will be identical to any street you might find in Old San Juan, another is more or less a no go zone. An able photographer might portray an eloquent story at a macro-level, giving spot-treatment to all sides involved, and illustrate how they interrelate with one another, within an area that takes five minutes to walk from one side to the other. My students tend to return with very micro-level stories, normally based around, ‘this is important to me’. The stories these kids come back with aren’t necessarily ‘ably constructed’, they haven’t had the benefit of years of practice/instruction/mentorship. But are they ‘a total zero’? Personally, I prefer that connection, that intimacy that they return with.
    Forgive the rambling, these are just my thoughts [as jay-z famously said]. Of course, Burn is a magazine which, whether or not it explicitly stated, is dedicated to furthering photography as an art while it explores its storytelling capacity. Sometimes these two priorities intersect, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they clash with one another. However, if we prioritize one over the other, or if we prioritize seamless fusions of the two, don’t we risk excluding something that we very well might be interested in seeing? If an audience refused to hear a story from one of my children because it was somehow not ‘ably’ constructed enough so as to please our eyes, would that say more about the abilities of that child, or about the priorities of the viewer? Without turning Burn or another such venue into a completely democratic forum like Flickr, where everyone can tell whatever they want to the point that it is impossible to hear anything over the cacophony, a photographer’s dedication to a story should be evaluated when considering its worth as a body of work, and no, I don’t think that this extra addition to the criteria would necessarily diminish the quality of work available. After all, isn’t passion a prerequisite to art?

  88. Kathleen, thanks for John’s poem. Yes, absolutely.

    Kerry, good to hear your comments. It sounds as if you have a pretty good take on the work, and the comments. Your essay is very powerful, and speaks so loudly to those of us who have been touched by suicide. It has clearly makes a difference.

    This essay makes a good case to illustrate how in some instances, the story is so powerful that it overpowers any shortcomings the delivery might have. Despite being “rough around the edges”, it has a huge impact. Perhaps the roughness even underscores the rawness of the emotions being expressed and adds to the power of the piece.

    Congratulations for taking this (and us) on.

  89. SIDNEY…

    i sure hope you are wrong, but you might be right…you surely might be right from a mass media standpoint, which in all honesty has never been the shining star for excellence anyway…..i guess i will be like Erica’s mythical roadside traveler who would rather go hungry than eat from the fast food menu….

    cheers, david

  90. David/Sidney

    “in other words, as long as the visuals are “OK”, the seemliness and seamlessness of the total package… words, sound, music, pacing, still images, video.. working together… will be more important to most viewers than whether the visual acuity in particular is at a higher level… we might wish otherwise, but I think that is likely to be the case.”

    So is effective communication the goal here or is the goal artistic expression? I know one is not exlusive of the other, but photographs, like words, are merely the tools of the storyteller. As photographers, we adore the image, and want every one to be a gem. However the “OK” photographs may be critical components of the whole piece. Every sentence does not have to be poetry or clever metaphor. I’ll happily wash down a Big Mac with a coke now and then.

    Panos reminds us of the un-pretentious power of department store and school photographs. Many of the most powerful and moving photographs I’ve ever viwed are snapshots.

    I’m not suggesting that we all settle down to make “OK, good enough” photographs, only that perhaps we need to examine our motivations and decide exactly what it is we are trying to achieve. Are we truly trying to tell a story about something we are passionate about, or are we just passionate about making cool photographs, and the story is just a convenient excuse for making them.

  91. “p.s. David, no, I was not moved to tears by Anthony RZ’s comments – although I do fully expect him to buy the first round should we ever meet in real life. ;-)”

    Wow, that’s about my definition of elegance. Way to go Kerry.

  92. Anthony – thank you, tho if you had ever dined with me you would know it wasn’t much of a challenge to come up with the metaphor !

    and DAH – you just made me realize that my mythical roadside traveler has another side; rather than go hungry, from experience (s)he is able to speculate on the territory ahead and goes to lengths to be sure there is a feast on board, so no one need go hungry due to their discernment. I think here in this metaphor you are driving and I’m just riding shotgun…but at least we’re in the same car :)

  93. Sidney Atkins


    Actually, I would rather be wrong… I was speaking in the short-to-medium term… in the long run, I think high quality visuals will reassert themselves… Don’t know, of course… actually, I think the food analogies like Erica’s are good ones (I don’t mean my kumquats and kiwis)… There will always be a market for really inspiring cuisine somewhere… the question is, how many chefs can realistically support themselves by only catering to the high end market? And can the compilers and purveyors of media content really afford to turn up their noses at all but the very best visuals when they have other production values to juggle?

    Aside from my gut feelings about what ‘the masses’ expect of photography and the media these days, I was reasoning a bit by analogy with the revolution brought about in the movie industry by the introduction of ‘talkies’ circa 1930… suddenly silent films became passé overnight… all the interest was in sound movies, even Chaplin couldn’t make a silent film that was profitable, but most of the early talkies were far inferior in visual qualities to the films of the last decade of the silent era, and except for the sound, not as good in story-telling qualities either… it took a good 7 or 8 years before the visual craftsmanship and storytelling of the late silent era reasserted itself in Hollywood films. Don’t just take my word for it, see Kenneth Brownlow’s book “The Parade’s Gone By.”

    None of these, of course, are reasons for any of us not to aspire to the very highest level of quality and authorship. I mentioned seeing Alex Webb’s photos in the “Iron Silk Road” article in the August National Geographic on the now moribund “Trees and Dreams” thread… When I look at photography like that, I think, ‘…if this is what can be done, how could anyone settle for visual hamburgers?’

  94. Rough percentage of importance, I think:

    The story: 80%
    The way you tell it: 20%

    I’m struggling with both…and I guess you can get by without an initial story because a story will just eventually make itself after you take enough pictures and try to put some together to show someone what the heck you have been doing all the time…but having the story in the first place focuses you, and makes things much easier…I’m only learning this now…need to keep learning to stay alive…

  95. I re-read David’s question:

    “what is most important for you as a viewer: the story or the ability to tell it ?”

    And I must admit my answer right now is: the ability to tell it…even though I may not like the story.

  96. OK, besides everything else, I consider myself being a starting independent photographer… and at the moment, to me it’s much more relevant to find ways how to gain access to the places where the great global stories are… I live in a little, quiet and peaceful country – plenty of little stories… but I am interested in much more, more extreme, more dynamic, more global, more dangerous… to me, looking for a photo-story and working on it, isn’t only about the story itself, but also about my personal way of living… I know, I am not the only photographer having such desires and problems… I have a feeling, I am yet to make a really interesting photo-story… I have done some wedding photo-stories in the past and I feel confident of my abilities to take decent images continuously… the problem, honestly, I am not really interested in any local story… there are other, my personal problems to this as well… and recently, I have just been catching separate moments in the city’s daily life… only for my personal archive – that’s great, but not enough for me…

  97. jenny lynn walker

    Kerry: Good for you! Wonderful!

    Erica: I’m fascinated why you would introduce “what the public wants” as vital to the question.

  98. “I live in a little, quiet and peaceful country – plenty of little stories… but I am interested in much more, more extreme, more dynamic, more global, more dangerous… to me, looking for a photo-story and working on it, isn’t only about the story itself, but also about my personal way of living…”

    Anthony; I think that’s the trap many fall into. If you can’t find challenging stories in your own neck of the woods, then you aren’t looking hard enough! :-)

  99. jenny lynn walker

    By the way, I don’t really believe in ‘the story’ as such – or rather I agree with Henri-Cartier Bresson on creating ‘a visual diary’. To me it makes sense and fits with my life philosophy. The story is where you are or where you go and what happens along the way ie. the story of one’s life. However, I see that this approach is not serving me too well because my images have so little violence in them. For instance, when I was in Bangkok during the Red Shirt protest, I didn’t take any pictures of injured people. But that was because for the 2 months of the protest, I only saw ‘conflict’ on one evening. It was not that I was avoiding it, it was simply that I was not ‘looking for it’. I have been told that I need to incorporate more ‘violence’ in my images but if I don’t see any, should I go looking for it in order to ‘make a story’?


  100. jenny lynn walker

    NB No sorry, I do have a couple of images of injured people on April 10 now I recall – being treated on the street but that is all.

  101. Spent day in Malibu today.. Day well spent..
    Not going to Venice yet… I’m too emotional for that…
    Reuniting with old friends…
    I haven’t sounded as happy since the last kibbutz party
    Haven’t I?
    Big hug
    Surf is up

  102. Avoiding to photograph “violence” doest mean that “violence” is eliminated…
    It is always out there either we ignored it or not..
    Either shoot it or not…
    Nachtwey photographs it and he explained it numerous times:
    “not to be repeated”…

  103. But “violence” is not just part of human nature..
    It IS human nature…
    That does not mean that we should keep robbing and killing each other .. That’s why we should keep photographing it..
    To reminds us that pain will always be part of our existence..
    Pain is part of us.. Pain is “necessary”..
    We are “designed” to feel pain..
    But we shouldn’t be so generous while inflicting it…:)

  104. “What does Caborca know of Huisiachepic, Huisiaachepic 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”

    Jesus, i can’t believe i’m foolish enough (hubris?) to try and write something after having quoted McCarthy and to what is for me the near apotheosis on the truth of both story telling and the world and it’s union, indivisible…..but screw it, this IS Burn and so i’ll wade it….

    but before that, let me just say that I haven’t had the opportunity to read the comments following David’s posting and so probably much of what i’ll write is not only redundant to what others have probably written but may even be mute at this point….one thing that I am please to hear (someone sent me an email after i wrote my long comment earlier this evening under Kerry’s piece) is that Anthony and Kerry have had a connecting and supportive conversation…that is wonderful to hear/see….one of the all-too-comment elements of the web is that it depersonalizes to the point that folk malign and mistreat and all the condescension i interpreted in anthony’s post seems to have been another point of miscommunication rather than enmity or contempt….that’s terrific to hear….anyway, so i won’t write anything specifically about the comment about clueless and amateurish and useless etc….

    so, story telling…

    To begin with, we are all story tellers, each and every one of us and it is our ineluctable nature to listen and lantern and inhabit stories. We ring out against the darkness and the fading of all things by shuttling our lives and selves inside and out of stories. In the beginning was the word, indeed and we use this as our songline to navigate the land and the meaning of the land at first and later to navigate the loss and meaning of the loss of what it means to live and to vanish. We are not mute creatures but filled with aching song and celebrating psalms. We carve out from the mute meaning of things a preaching sermon of what it means to gather and to loose. There isn’t a single one of us, regardless of walk of life or flight of nation that hasn’t been defined by the soul of tale. In fact, the world lives and dies through the passing of that, the world is given shape by the placing into shape sounds and sights and meaning. The world, itself, is a story, refracted and innumerable, threadbare and unasailable. And frankly, it is the only thing we have that gives our life it’s thrust and meaning and breath, whether that story be one of loss or levitation, philosophy or artistry, occupational or spiritual. From our mother’s bossom to our father’s leaving cradle, we are committed to and born along the path of story. And stories, of all shapes and sizes, walks and wilkels, are what join us to one another and those that came before us and will scatter us when we are gone.

    The odd thing to me about all this questioning of what constitutes a story is that it seems, frankly, a bit overly academic and sometimes pointless. What is more important the story itself or the way it is told? I am not sure I understand that question at all. For some, the story is the subject and the meaning of that subject (it’s narrative). For some, the way someone tells a story is the story itself (it’s form and conception). Comedians tell stories differently than photographers who tell stories different from writers who tell stories different from teachers who tell stories diffferent from parents who tell stories different from conceptualists who tell stories different from strangers sitting across from one another on the TTC (toronto public transportation). For me, i dont care frankly which is more important, it’s not a question for me, never has been because the answer is always the same:

    does it work, in whatever form or shape it takes.

    But, as I wrote under Kerry’s piece, what is important, above all in telling a story, in the ability to tell a story, is something more fundamental. The ability to tell a story, to create something and to share it with others begins, above all, with the ABILITY TO LISTEN TO ANOTHER PERSON TELL THE STORY FIRST. It’s obvious and we know this innately, as long before we could speak or write or draw or compose we could listen and listen we did; we watched the world around us and made notes, we scratched and sniffed and jokeyed and jostled trying to figuring it out and shit all of us, or at least most of the folk i know, are still doing just that….listening….watching, trying to figure it out….

    As a photographer who is also a writer and a writer who also is a photographer, it’s always been an interesting question as i seldom make photographs and photographic stories without the shadow and background of words and i almost never write anything without visual ideas in my head, including the shape and look of words. I parse and place them together in almost everything i’ve ever made, at least with every photographic essay or exhibition i’ve put together: their complementary and antagonistic and I like it that way. One thing that photography, still photography still does remarkably well is spell out the world through silence in remarkable ways. Photographs, not has truth, but as alchemy, as wands and conjuring moves. Photography, in it’s ambiguity and poetry, somehow takes the quotidian markings of the world and shift-shapes it. I love, always have, the beautiful and haunting silence of photographs and the haunting silence of photogrpahy essays and photography books. Within their extraordinary silence, my head and heart and body and rhyming hum are free to shuttle and think and sing. they communicate, the way the wind moving in the distance through the canopy of trees, communicates not only distance and movement but memory and loss and time. Within the silence of pictures, we are given a vista to imagine and stakeout and reinvent. This cavern, temple really, of silence is really about the endless beauty of our imagination and our memory. The power of still photography lay squarely there: the power of SILENCE. the visual metaphor, the quotidian re-seen through a different perspective. The collision of the pictures to reinvent the real and our interpretations and by extension us through it. Not amount of transformation and technological intervention has, can and will change that. The power of the image will last because we are still visual creatures who communicate with a cosmos of meaning: words, sounds, images. People still write songs and that hasn’t stopped because video came along or youtube. Still photography thrives and will not be burried asunder the panolply of multimedia. There is a place for still photography and that place is more important and more necessary now that ever before.

    More people make and develop and print and post and share photographs, still photographs, then ever before. Shit, every single one of my students has a camera and makes 1,000’s of pictures and shares them with everyone and maybe only 1 or 2 % of all the students i’ve ever taught is a ‘photogrpaher’ or wants to be a ‘photographer.’ Sometimes yes, they incorporate text and video and share them and create films but most of the time they’re simply sharing, it’s democratic and thank god for that. and guess what, i love, insanely love, looking at all those damn images….why…i dont know why except that they haunt me and that they somehow connect me to all these people, or rather, they remind me of why i still make stupid, long, pretentious, overly-indulgent art shit photo stories….because it is a way for me to communicate something, something deep and personal that has to do with how i fit into this work and try and navigate my way through it…

    photographs, still photographs, are here to stay….

    but multimedia is also important and exciting. shit, my hero Chris Marker (who is one of the major inspirations for my photo story Oxen of the Sun) made multimedia projects and films long before we even used that word, in the 50’s and 60’s: with text and video and stills and animation, by himself and with a great polish illustrator. and of course, his magnificent film La Jetee is comprised of all still images, some text, voice narration and then one beautiful, heartbreaking piece of moving image……add to this all the great video artists and documentary filmmakers of the 60’s and 70’s and viola, we realize there is nothing new with this new heroic ‘multimedia’….for me, actually, sometimes i get depressed when i hear photographers/photo world talking about multimedia as if it were the new holy grail, it aint. I love film (have made them too) and love multimedia but i think it is very important that we see it for it’s value. Simply putting together photographs and some video or pictures and text and jumbling doesn’t necessary make it more interesting or more revealing. However, the form of multimedia can be interesting, because, stories are still also about the form of story telling and that form itself can be just as beautiful and just as important a type of story.

    the other important consideration is that, obviously, stories fit for different folk. Shit, i’m still reading long-ass 19th century novels while cramming in modern work. I still have the patiences to read and to also devour photographic content. And i always try to see inside the word of the author to see what is the story driving their story. In other words, there is not calculus for success. Each story is determined not by a forumula (which is more important what is being told/shown or how something is told/shown). For me as a ‘modernist’ photographer obsessed with ideas of conceptual questions, i’m much more interested in telling stories that are internal, stories as physical expressions of bodiless things: ideas, emotions, memory, etc. I dont even like to make ‘pretty’ pictures any more but i want to see how much the pictures and the pictures in union with one another and with other ideas (writing for example) can hold up as expressions of what it is I am trying, and failing, to express. Take bones of time for example. when David published it here last year some liked it some hated it. i was called a ‘bad photographer’ by a few, some even pointed out dust and scratches on the images, even though i’d scratched some of the negatives on purpose and threw dirt on my diana when doing some portraits. when i saw bones first here, i was kind of horrified because somehow when i scaled the size of the pictures to meet the burn standards, something when wrong and in some of my pictures got this weird pixelization, like dots and it looked horrible…Lassal told me the technical word, which sometimes happens when converting scanned negatives into digital files and then re-sizing later…whatever it was, many of the pictures look different from the real ones in my home…and does this mean the story is bad…the technique bad?….maybe…well, i am an idiot when it comes to digital processing my scans, that is for sure or with using photoshop…

    the point being that to me, what matters is the totality,not the division. Generally, it seems to me, the commentators at burn and many of the photographers, tend to be traditionalists or documentary traditionalists. I respect and love this, as i consider myself a documentary photographer but i think it is important that one remembers that when deciding to tell stories what is important is the questions the author themselves must make…..i think, it’s always the SAME story, no matter what story….and that is about the living of this life….

    and like john vink mentioned, i know many great great stories that have been told to me by folk who didnt know they could tell stories or didnt consider themselves story tellers, let alone photographers or writers or multimediaists…..

    some of these questions about multimedia too seem a bit, well, surface. i agree that what is exciting about multimedia is much of the same things that make films and video art and conceptual/installation art exciting: use of music and text and contrapuntal ideas and it is NOT just about pans and edits (i hate ken burns effect), but about exploring, endless, the boundaries of what stories are….and guess what, we’ll never satisfy everyone…and what matters, to me, or rather, the stories that I best respond to, are the ones in which the speaker/author/photographer/writer has invested some real and authentic and risky part of themselves and has offered it up to others for inspection, examination and possible rejection…for we share ourselves to twine the world, that is it…..

    there is a reason i love Alec Soth’s Little Brown Mushroom project so much is that because he still believes in the power of the story in the power of the book….that in this age of digitalization where ebooks sell more than analog books, there is still a place and a real need for books that are comprised of silence…..silence of pictures….silence of words….

    the silence for your own private space in which to wonder and in which to partake of this world….

    and that IS our ability to tell….

    our beautiful, mad, broken hope to partake of this world and to speak of that to ourselves and others until our dying breath vanquishes us in that small space inside….

    and that ability, even then, shall never leave us


  105. Jenny – like DAH said “it is one of the most important discussions in photography today” and though I first offered my personal point of view, I think a global discussion of the issue requires more than a personal perspective. The question is not just about content and delivery, but about if and how that content and delivery is communicated, digested, understood and used by others.

  106. jenny lynn walker

    Erica: So, if you view the question in that way, it follows that you therefore consider “what the public wants” when creating your stories – is this correct?

  107. jenny lynn walker

    Ross: Moments, yes. But not necessarily ‘random’ and not part of a story other than the author’s ‘life’ or ‘journey’.

  108. jenny lynn walker

    It is very strange that not all of these comments are appearing in time order… at this moment, a comment that Ross wrote at 6:09 is appearing after comments that I wrote at 11.45… or they are on my screen… wierd… they are making that one comment appear as ‘a random moment in time’! ; )

  109. Jenny ,Ross possess powers out of this world..
    He can stretch or bend “time”..
    Einstein first and Akaky later proved it is possible…
    About the laughs? Ah I know it’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it;)

  110. ANTHONY RZ,

    If I responded to every ridiculously fatuous pronouncement I read on BURN, it would be a full-time job and then some. Besides, I figure, I was young once too, and probably just as fatuous… a little tolerance and forbearance are called for, people usually need to learn things for themselves, and they need the space for that to happen. But this particular line caught in my craw and I couldn’t let it pass unanswered:

    “The purpose of art is to touch otherwise indifferent people…”

    Oh, really??? And here, all these years I’ve been thinking that “the purpose of art” was to keep amused and out of trouble chimpanzees and some other large primates, too clever for their own good and with lots of time on their hands, in ways that were relatively harmless to themselves and others! Thanks for setting me straight…
    The rest of that post affirms that you have a young person’s self-assurance, willingness to be intolerant and doctrinaire, and little self consciousness about how your words and behavior impact the world around you. Fair enough, you’re certainly not alone.

    “I live in a little, quiet and peaceful country – plenty of little stories… but I am interested in much more, more extreme, more dynamic, more global, more dangerous… ”

    At first I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this, but since you seem sincere and have already been adequately (and justifiably) boxed around the ears by numerous other commentors for your earlier ill-mannered remarks to Kerry, I will attempt a sincere response.

    (I’m just guessing here… might that “little, quiet and peaceful country” possibly be an island city-state in Southeast Asia? If so, then the big, “dynamic, global, dangerous” stories also exist there… but they are ones you don’t even dare think about because the clamps of authority will crush you before you even get started).

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s not that particular ‘small, peaceful country’, but I guaran-fucking-tee you that there are big, important stories that affect the globe that are to be found there, where you are, wherever ‘there’ is, because that’s what ‘global’ has come to mean these days. Are they easy stories to tell in photographs? Maybe not, but they are important, and if photography is your chosen medium, then you have to try. If you succeed, you will probably become a great photographer in the process.

    Here are some examples of big 21st century stories that are unfolding everywhere right now, even in ‘small peaceful countries’ and need to be told:

    1. Energy… where it comes from, who controls it, how it shapes a society and people’s behavior, what alternatives exist… including just using less.
    2. Wealth… where it comes from, who controls it, who doesn’t have it, how is it used, the inequalities it creates, the power it buys, where it disappears to. Corruption in government, in business, and in the police.
    3. Environment… there is no modern society on earth that lives in any kind of equilibrium with the natural environment… what and how much do people consume, what is being destroyed forever, how are people adapting or not adapting to to the environment, what are the consequences of people’s lifestyles, where is progress being made, why are so many companies (and governments) spending more on advertising how ‘green’ they are than on actually doing anything positive about the environment… Where does your water come from, how is it distributed, what does it cost, how much do you consume and how?
    4. The Justice system… who benefits from it, who is victimized by it, where are its inefficiencies and problems, how is it abused?
    5. Health and medicine… an infinity of topics here, including the business of health, scientific research, preventive medicine, epidemiology, health care delivery
    6. Education… how, for what, for who?
    7. Race and ethnicity… language, multiculturalism, intermarriage, inequalities, discrimination, quotas, immigration
    8. Religion… expressions of faith, politics and religion, conflicts between religions and conflicts within religious organizations
    9. Media… how people get information, what they believe and why, the myths and untruths that are easy to create but so hard to disprove, the change in media dominance and the huge media empires
    10. Technology’s impact on people’s daily lives.
    11. What we called the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ back in the 50s and today is usually referred to as ‘Gender Issues’… not just gays, lesbians, and transsexuals, but even among so-called ‘straight people’… how do we interact? How should we interact? What does ‘family’ mean?
    12. Generation gaps, parenting, children’s issues, old people

    I could go on… but if you haven’t gotten the point by now, what hope is there?

    The fundamental questions we all must grapple with, and they never change, and they exist in all ages and in all countries, are “How can we live? How should we live? What is wrong, and how can we change it? What is right, and how can we learn from it? How do I get along with the people around me? What are we missing that is in front of our noses?”
    If photography really is a tool for change, it must be adaptable in some way to telling these stories, or at least in helping to tell these stories.

    As you can tell from my big talk, as compared to the paltry photographic output I have made available to BURN readers, I am a coward and a lazy bastard and a hypocritical old blowhard. I abdicated my responsibility for dealing with most of these issues (at least photographically) long ago. But, heed what I say… if you really want to make a difference, find a way to tell these kinds of stories with photographs… trust me, it will have far more impact than yet another batch of images of dusty G.I.’s in Afghanistan or earthquake aftermath in Haiti.


    (Hey, Bob Black, my post is still shorter than yours…!)

  111. And an interesting thing about photography is it can tell a story in so many ways. A photo is one of the best ways to forward a lie, to make something from nothing into something. CNN does it all the time, as I discovered just recently. I took a photo the first day I was in Grand Isle after the spill first hit the shores of Louisiana and it was of two fish a fisherman had tossed on the shore–trash fish I guess. That night viewing a montage of photos on CNN there were those same fish used to show how bad the oil was and the devastation it was wreaking. I had taken a photo of them and it was exactly the same fish. Not saying that the oil did not kill thousands of fish and it is one of the worst environmental disasters ever, but it proved to me again that a photo is worth a thousand words and a photo can tell a story that isn’t even there–it says something different to every single person that views it. That is one of the most intriguing aspects of photography for me.

    I read a story recently about a woman (in Chile in the late 1800’s) that was really into photography and took photos of her new family (of course miles from her family out in the middle of nowhere). When she showed the photos to a friend the friend said, “…what an interesting relationship your husband has with his sister-in-law.” Then she began to look at the photos and realized the moments she had caught held the clues to a relationship between her husband and her husband’s brother’s wife. There are layers upon layers in a photo just as there are so many layers in a story. Check out Rumi’s stories sometime and begin to see the layers.

    Bob, you astound me with the amount of words you write. It makes me dizzy sometimes. LOL.

    Somewhere in the discussion on one or the other of the new posts someone said we don’t have to go anywhere to find a story worthy to tell. I agree; however, as residents of an area we tend to glaze over and don’t see the stories right in front of our face. It made me realize, again, that there is much to shoot in my own backyard, stories that need to be told. Somehow I can’t get interested, again, in my own back yard.

    Although, my neighbor’s alpaca just gave birth to the cutest little baby alpaca. An hour after it’s birth he was jumping and falling and running into the fence and falling. Amazing. I did take photos of that.

    Where are you Civi? What country are you in now?

  112. Jenny, I finally figured out that the time stated on my posts was actually NY time. I posted my last one at 8:21 p.m. on Wednesday and it shows as 2:21 a.m. which is NY time. I am confused by Ross’ post time as it says 6:09 a.m. which is where? I just forget about it and realize there is a night and day shift here and many late nighters.

  113. Education, and what the masses want.

    How does that fit into the equation here? Isn’t Burn a tool to educate people that junk food isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially in the long run, and not the only way to nurture oneselves?

  114. KERRY. So Sorry. Your email got buried under a ton of spam and I missed it. My Bad. Beers are on me next time im in the apple….hopefully mid septemberish.


  115. Lee

    Loved that story of the woman in Chile!


    Damn, it’s good to see you back..


    I agree with Ross. That comment about adding more violence rings awfully hollow to me. Gratuitous violence can’t possibly make work more meaningful/significant/compelling/important. And if it does then it would seem the photography was lacking some very essential qualities from the get-go. Violence shouldn’t be a given. It’s an aberration in a civilized society. Yet you talk about it like you’re wondering if you should add some oregano to your tomato sauce. I live where violent endings are not unusual. Yet it would never occur to me to wonder if a dead body or two would spice up my work. And i cannot imagine giving credence to anyone who made that suggestion to me.



  116. Being only a few weeks removed from seeing the massive HCB exhibit at MOMA, I’m comfortable saying that he was one of the greatest photographic storytellers of all time. Those moments in time weren’t random, you know. They were decisive.

  117. And don’t forget the portraits. He was a master at telling other people’s stories. Or the assignments. Dude made a living.

  118. “what is most important for you as a viewer: the story or the ability to tell it ?”

    As a viewer who cares about the condition of the world, and given that the story told claims to tell the truth: BOTH the story and the ability to tell it are important to me.

    Can the two be separated?

    Does a show of light and geometry (and moving images and sound if you wish) make the world a better place if it is used in an advert in a military trade magazine to sell weapons?

    Say there is a story about diminishing water somewhere, likely to cause a war… Would viewers be interested in looking at the story if the pictures are not visually interesting?

  119. GORDON…

    you ask if communication is the goal OR artistic expression?? hmmmm, why would the two be mutually exclusive?? there is often the assumption that “art” does not communicate and that “mass communication” contains no artistic expression…i have often used here the example of Ernest Hemingway “covering” the Spanish Civil War…as a reporter for the Kansas City Star and as the author of For Whom The Bell Tolls…which “report” has lasted and which reporting that he did is the TRUTH about the war?? the event, the war, is the same…in other words, the so called journalistic “story” is the same either way…the telling is what is different..even by the same person…one a presentation of the “facts” and one a love story enmeshed in these “facts”….in which Hemingway “telling” is the communication best about the horrors and feeling of war and in which presentation is the artistic expression the best as well??

    cheers, david

  120. Sidney Atkins,

    Thanks for your valuable time – I think quite fair criticism:))… but of course, everything is much more complex than you have just written and concluded… I do have my themes, and I do know where they are… seems you read only what you want to read, and you don’t even try to read between the lines… it’s fine… Actually, I found nothing new that I wasn’t aware of in your proposed examples… there are much more than two approaches, ways or philosophies of what, where, why and how to photograph… and how to live… thanks for sharing yours… Moreover, I absolutely don’t believe in that myth that photography makes a difference – it does not in the short time, and even more so in the long run… but we don’t necessarily have to tell it every time, and to a non-photographers crowd… Acting, for example, like James Nachtwey does about the importance of photo-stories is just a much more productive and logical marketing step… And Sidney, stop hating me:)), I am not that bad guy in real life… it’s just my opinion that majority seems not to like:))…

  121. My 2ps worth.

    For me I have to go back to basics so things are simple for my uncomplicated mind.

    Story/willingness to tell/ability to tell.

    There are many great stories weather in your backyard or anywhere. Some stories more complex than others. That is a given.

    See,feel,hear a story recognize the viable narrative.

    Get Access

    Start shooting with your vision (I call it a golden thread) in mind. Allow flexibility as stories always change. Also you can’t be in all places at all times, shoot what is around you.

    Edit into tangible story. Juggling those hero shots with narrative shots.

    Naturally, as we are talking photography here, all of the above is overlayed with composition,style,technical skills, vision and general nounce to get the job done.

    There are always variations, the story could be so great, but the photography mediocre yet it makes a powerfull piece and vice versa

    Zeitgeist is an issue, do you respond to this?

    This is my very simplistic view.

    I have distilled this from a project I am working on at the moment, quite a complex story, that kept throwing other lines of investigation my way, I had to keep hauling myself back to the original story, even during the editing. There are some hero shots but they don’t clearly illustrate the story so they must stand as individuals.

    Overall, all parts are key to sucesfull storytelling. The story, the willingness to tell it and the ability to tell it.

    Remember everyone has a story.

    Anyway clear as mud.



  122. ROSS…

    i cannot imagine anyone of repute telling any photographer that they need to incorporate more violence in their pictures…nor can i imagine any photographer believing such a statement even if somebody did say it…

    and yes, i agree , HCB did not photograph “stories” per se in the classic sense of “picture story” as did his contemporary W. Eugene Smith…two great photographers to think about when discussing this subject…however , both did interpret events going on around them in their individual styles…so, in this sense they are both “tellers”…the word “story” is often mis-used i think…many think “story” is something with a beginning, middle, and end…when in fact a representation or essay can simply be a series of impressions and leave us with a feeling rather than with a didactic “message”….

    cheers, david

  123. David,

    Thank you for the Hemingway example…

    I also remember something about there being only a small number of stories to tell…how one tells them is what makes them timeless, or not…

  124. David, the Hemingway analogy is apropos. That’s what I’ve been trying to get at in the context of multimedia, comparing and contrasting the story structure in the Pagetti piece, which is more akin to For Whom the Bell Tolls, vs the numerous examples of what I’ve been calling broadcast news stories, which are the more like the newspaper journalism of old. Both are valid forms, but the literary-styled efforts have the potential to be more powerful and long lasting. I don’t know what the equivalent photography term for “literary” would be? It must be like comparing Salgado’s Otras Americas to assignment work he did along the way. One eternal, the other mostly lost to collective memory. Of course on the other hand, Hemingway’s journalism had an immediate real world impact while Bell was essentially about a bunch of ghosts. But these days, particularly with photography, that time lag is not so much an issue.

  125. KATHLEEN…

    yes, we have some tech problem…the sequence of postings is just not lining up correctly…if you look at the time of posting, you can see they are often not in sequence…who knows where this will end up?? i will check with tech support and try to get this fixed soonest…thanks for your patience…

    cheers, david

  126. “I have been told that I need to incorporate more ‘violence’ in my images”

    Jenny; I think you need to seek out better advice! As for HCB, I never feel like he shot “stories” as such anyway; to me they always seem like a series of random moments in time.

    Cheers :-)

  127. Stories are everywhere… but OK, what about the fact that in order to tell it by using a camera, and maintaining high artistic and aesthetic standards, the story has to be photogenic by itself???… to me seems, that’s why photographers tend to walk and travel a lot in order to find those photogenic moments or stories… well, a lot depends on the photographer’s ability to notice things… but I would still be interested in what you think about that…

  128. “that’s why photographers tend to walk and travel a lot in order to find those photogenic moments or stories…”

    Photographers from Germany travel to Mexico, Mexican photographers travel to India, Indian photgraphers travel to New York, those to the North Pole.. then luckily photographers go extinct.. ;)


    yes, this is the issue..or, at least one of the main issues…well, most of us who have earned our living doing at least some mass media work, the photographs we make most usually have two lives…as did HCB , Smith , etc as well…we make our work for a particular magazine and a particular story and then LATER in our own books etc do we then give new life and the overall meaning for the work…i am sure in much the same way Ernest used his press credentials from the Kansas City Star to “get to the story” even though is greatest story came much later…i often “use” magazines to get to the place or story or whatever…they also use me to get what they need…a fair exchange…nobody at Natgeo DECIDED that i should spend the better part of 25 years studying the Spanish diaspora..that was my personal decision…they did not even realize it was happening nor even had happened until i published a book saying so…i took those commissions one at a time and for specific reasons at the time, yet knowing in the back of my mind that i was doing a body of work and not simply a singular assignment…not in conflict with NG at all, but in addition to their more immediate use….

    i am sure Hemingway “used” the KC Star to get to the war…and i am also quite sure that he never saw the newspaper as his only outlet for the greater message or “story” he had to tell..HCB might have done it less because he came into this world well funded so to speak..but for those of us who need to earn a living and survive, most use magazine and other commissions to finance their work , yet few see the mass publication of their work as the final resting place for this work or even the whole story…one of the great things about the net and about what you are doing specifically is that we can do it all…there may be no need to separate in the very near future….

    i am not fully engaged in all the chat here of late for two reasons..first, i have two magazine commissions going…one on Rio , one on the Outer Banks…both for mass consumption at some point, both personal book ideas that i would do anyway or with a grant or just somehow…the other most important “personal project” involves the essays/work of readers here…BURN 01 which is a full time job now for several of us in and of itself…i think when you hold BURN 01 in your hands, you will see at least a small part of what online can become other than simply online chatter…the further manifestation will be when we fully are able to incorporate the at least sometime use of some multimedia interplay of which you are most interested……all of this is exciting exhilarating stuff…i guess my point is that if anyone really does have anything to “say” there is no shortage of outlets to say it…and the best, as usual, will rise….there will always be the cream no matter what the quantities…i am counting on you to play an important part…

    cheers, david

  130. It would probably be a very different tone here if there was a bunch of 18/19/20 year olds contributing on this thread………. I am sure I would learn a lot more from them about the state of thinking than those who are here…… no disrespect meant to those here on my part (maybe a bit, better keep myself honest)

  131. “…try and translate personal experience into a collective one, it is very possible and I think the key quest of any art form…” (Donovan Wylie)

    I’d suggest, dare I mention art and journalism in the same breath, can be applied to the journalist/didactic too. Surely any and all modes of expression should be explored and be valid too, if they allow people to comprehend the world around them. I like the Spanish civil war example, and would most certainly throw Picasso’s Guernica into the mix, another version of the “story”, but equally valid.

  132. ANTHONY RZ..

    i have taken airplanes to the other side of the planet to make photographs for magazines and the last picture i took for publication , i took from my bicycle about a 100 yards or so from my home…either way a challenge , either way fascinating , either way an education, and either way one of the most pleasant ways of going through life i can imagine…basically , i think travel is irrelevant from the creative standpoint…some do need to move in order to be stimulated, while others prefer the comforts of familiar surroundings….no matter….you know i think the reality is this…when we are “in the mood” we are capable of the most amazing things…either in the sciences or in the arts…getting “in the mood” could be survival itself or writing the last line of a sonnet when in love…either way man reacts to whatever is going on around him….to capture any aspect of this life either with pen, or brush or camera in any symbolic gesture is a treasure…and the pursuit of this treasure is for sure its own reward….


    yes, i often think of Guernica in this context as well

    cheers, david

  133. IMANTS…

    laughing…agreed…well, some of the writers here are in that age category like Jason who just posted…but, we could always use more..the basic age demographic for Burn is 18-35….ironically most of the commentators are older than the mean demographic…..

    “in the mood” results of course totally involves persistence, sheer grit, and hard work to make things happen…but nobody does anything unless “in the mood” first….

  134. re Hemmingway – I have had a collection of his journalism in my camera bag for nearly a decade – Hemmingway – Byline ! that and David Hurns how to be a photographer…together they both weigh more than that third camera body I never seem to get around to getting, but infinitely more valuble.

    I have to admit I was pretty steamed about Anthony RZ’s initial critique of Kerrys essay , but figure that she is a big girl and can fight her own battles…my gut instinct was ..how do you criticize a work that is so unflinchingly honest? There’s not a lot of it about!

  135. david alan harvey,

    Seems I understood what you exactly meant, and I share the same point of view… You know David, my recent dream is to have a cup of coffee with you, somewhere in New York :)))… cheers…

  136. Anthony RZ

    See below a quote from Kertesz, he did a whole load of pictures either from his window or at his window to his aprtment.

    “Everything that surrounds you can give you something. Last summer I stayed in my room most of the time and I began playing around with things. Years ago I was given a little primitive Polaroid camera and I didn’t like it–it was for snapshots. But one day I took it out. I had discovered, in the window of a shop, a little glass bust, and I was very moved because it resembled my wife–the shoulder and the neck were Elizabeth. For months and months I looked at the bust in the window and I finally bought it. The lady in the shop said, ‘It’s a beautiful bust, sir.’ ‘I know,’ I said. And I took it home, put it in my window, and began shooting and shooting with the Polaroid camera–in the morning, in the afternoon, in different lights. Something came out of this little incident, this little object. They made a book of all the pictures I took. It is dedicated to my wife. Look how the face of the bust is always changing: a shadow, which is the shadow of the curtain, then a passing cloud.

    The sky and its reflection give it the expression. I didn’t arrange this thing–it was “there”. Photography cannot make nature more beautiful. Nature is the most beautiful thing in the world. You can show the beauty, illustrate it, but it is never the real beauty–very far from it. We don’t know how beautiful nature really is. We can only guess. I am always saying the best photographs are those I never took.”

    A few years ago some old b/w prints turned up in a street market. They were pictures of vegetables on a white background. Anything from onions to leaks to carrots to potatoes. It turned out they were the taken by the head gardener at a country house, he just wanted to document all his produce. The extraordinary thing, they were all taken with daylight, beautifully composed (bear in mind this is in the days of glass plates) and are totally exquisite. The series of prints has been sold through Sotherby’s.

    All he wanted to do was document his produce but he actually produced a beautiful story and an historical document.



  137. Absolutely… you know, my experience is – the more I walk with the camera, concentrate, look for the pictures, people, lifestyles… the more I find them… it doesn’t happen right away… quite often, after a while I grows into a one or another photo-story… but I tend to lose that keen interest in them quite quickly as well… but then I come back later… constant movement…

  138. Anthony RZ…

    Working to commission I am often given assignments that on the face of it are an up hill struggle eg. make this businessman look like a rockstar. You have to get on with the job, the client has hired you to tell the story in a photo. As a visually literate person you have to find the interest or create the interest with use of light or backgrounds etc. Throw all your photographic knowledge arsenal to create interest.

  139. aitken,

    OK, fortunately, I can afford to work just on my own, and to do what I want to do, and how I want it to do… to me, the interest, and light with backgrounds are absolutely different and detached things… The process of taking single photographs is just interesting enough occupation for me itself…

  140. jenny lynn walker

    DAH wrote: “…getting “in the mood” could be survival itself or writing the last line of a sonnet when in love… either way man reacts to whatever is going on around him…. to capture any aspect of this life either with pen, or brush or camera in any symbolic gesture is a treasure… and the pursuit of this treasure is for sure its own reward….”
    These words themselves are treasure! : )

  141. Wow! its been a while since I was in that age bracket. Do i come across as an 18/19/20 year old!

    All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. (Picasso again!), so, perhaps its a good thing. (not that 18/19/20 year olds are children of course, but you know what i mean, right?)


  142. ANTHONY RZ…

    i will not be in new york until late august and september, but of course we can have coffee any time you are around…do you live in new york or visit often?? you are of course invited to come up and check out our student workshop slide show and fiesta following…just stay in touch and i will keep you abreast of whatever is going on in the loft etc etc….


    please do not think you need violence in your work…that is definitely not YOU….


    yes, i guess you are a little older, but not by much, at least not by my standards…in any case, your youthful countenance is most valued!!

    ok, out for the rest of the day…long drive, boat ride, maybe pics at the other end…maybe not..again, will sure enjoy myself trying…

    cheers, david

  143. Pingback: The Burning question – tanya workman | notebook

  144. Thanks Vicky, I was working on a pro bon project for a seaside town. What struck me about it was the old fashioned nature of the town, it is a place where kids can run relativly free, there are amusement arcades, crazy golf, icecream,great beach, fresh caught crabs. I tried to represent this in the style of the pics and also the colour treatment.



  145. David thank you very much… well, at the moment I live faraway from New York… in a little country in eastern Europe… I don’t come to New York often, but I used to live there for a while, seven years ago… and now I am trying to find a way how to solve the US visa problems so I can make my move to the Big Apple… from the middle of september I am going to travel around the world anyway… cheers

  146. Kind of agree with Imants, though I’d bump the age range up to something more like 22 to 30. I’m around a lot of high school kids, both from the best schools in nyc and the worst, and what little thinking they do about art mostly ends when the bell rings (though it’s true they may do some interesting thinking up to that point). And of course I’m aware that anyone’s personal experience, most importantly my own, is ridiculously limited and one shouldn’t apply it too broadly. We’ll see how it plays when they get older, but based on high school I’d put my money on the less privileged kids.

    My daughter, for example, went to an art school where she studied still photography and filmmaking (among many other subjects). In both areas, they used actual film in the beginning classes. They learned to develop and dodge and burn and edit the old fashioned way and they studied classic works by the masters. It was only in the advanced classes that they got to digital. The work they produced, for the most part, looked very familiar. My daughter’s senior video project was based on a story by Melville, the camera was steady at all times, the zooms and pans elegantly done and the whole thing was perfectly white balanced throughout. Don’t get me wrong, it was very impressive — not at all what you would expect from an 18 year old. But is “not what you’d expect from an 18 year old really a good thing? The less privileged kids, on the other hand, all take thousands and thousands of photos on their phones and digital cameras and the style they go for is consistent with the flashy stuff wee see on tv and in the movies. What will happen when they get a little education and access to more advanced tool? It’ll be interesting to see which group, if either, proves to be more innovative as time goes on. Will the well educated use that solid base to build on or will the self-taught with infinitely more practice leave those versed in the old ways in the dust? It will be interesting to see how they come together in college.

    Anyway, to some extent I think the difference between those with a video/motion perspective vs. those from a still photography centric background will prove to be more important than raw age. Video people think quite differently and in many ways they are far beyond us in terms of multimedia. The question, as I see it, is can we use those tools to enhance the presentation of still photography or will those youngsters Imants is so enthused about use the same tools to bury us?

  147. No Jenny, I wouldn’t say it follows that I consider the public when creating (shooting) a body of work.

    Rather that one needs to be open to understanding the role the properties different media play in the transmission / distribution of the work, once created. We make choices about if we are shooting film, if the work is to be in color, there are many considerations we have had all along as photographers before the work is finished and then after, is this work best shown in a white walled gallery or in a book, or magazine, small prints or large, as a projection, etc. and now we have multimedia in the mix…

    When I responded to DAH’s question in my first post I was thinking about the ongoing discussions of the effect that mm has on the way people take in and distribute still photography, and how still photogs are expected to work in mm, and about photographers ability or inability to use mm despite the demand, or perceived demand.

  148. Terry Gilliam, David Lynch and Ken Burns know a thing or two about using motion to enhance the presentation of still photography, as did the late Stanley Kubrik…but I’m not sure I would call their work still photography anymore…great work nonetheless…

  149. “The question, as I see it, is can we use those tools to enhance the presentation of still photography or will those youngsters Imants is so enthused about use the same tools to bury us?”…….. I hope they do

  150. meaning, Jenny, that I may have introduced the element of the public here in this thread, but I did not introduce them into the larger, ongoing discussion. I made an assumption in my response that people were already midstream into this larger story vs. storytelling and multimedia discussion – and was just addressing an existing issue. Apologies for assumption.

  151. that is the way things are supposed to go…the order of things….but, we have one more bit to do…cheers……….. yep they still depend on us for all sorts of reasons

  152. I have a 4 day workshop coming up with 10, 11 and 12 year olds, first stop is the zoo, they will probably feed me to the aardvarks, saves on the burial I guess

  153. a civilian-mass audience

    ANTONYRZ, Antoni…Eastern Europe…oime…where are you mate…

    IMANTS…no worries…Emergency funding can do miracles…:)))

    BURN is The place to Be…
    going to buy cream…

  154. jenny lynn walker

    ALL: Unfortunately I can’t find the source of the discussion on Hemingway (one ‘n’). It could be that the process by which he created his fictional works could be transposed to create multimedia pieces. His ‘ice-berg theory’ fits with imagery too – that the power of the whole is far greater than the sum of individual parts (sequences of words, images or video) – and what you see is less than what you feel beneath the surface – that raw power that can hit and resonates within you without your fully understanding it. Hemingway achieved it through a very specific process that he developed involving meticulous honing and did not stop until he had reached perfection.

    The reason I brought up Henri Cartier-Bresson is that the approach to ‘telling’ clearly has a major impact on what is produced. The approach itself relates to a way of perceiving the world and our place within it and results in a broader ‘perspective’ than alternative approaches that are more common nowadays – when it comes to news in particular. Other approaches have become the norm but this is a pity because they more readily (by the very nature of the documentation process) result in ‘sensationalism’. Cartier-Bresson was concerned with capturing the moments – the photographic process – and the stories that were made of those moments were part of one story which was his life/journey/visual diary. The stories were made in hand with others as I understand it. This approach, when you think of it, is quite different than selecting a story and conceiving of the form it should take based on a pre-conceived idea of the story itself. You are more in control of ‘directing the story’ before the story has actually ‘surfaced’. I am sorry if I am not explaining this too well.

    I must go now… perhaps more later if anybody feels it is relevant. I believe it largely accounts for the reason why there is less ‘violence’ to be seen in my work when I have been in places that have hit the news (Mumbai, Bangkok etc).

  155. jenny lynn walker

    Erica: No problem at all but you have not answered a very direct and clear question! Yes/No would be great.

  156. Maybe reread Jenny, I answered in 2 responses. Not every question has a simple yes or no answer. But if you look, my answer began with, “No, Jenny…” so that should satisfy if you want a reduction.

  157. jenny lynn walker

    ie the HBC approach means that you are NOT directing the story or are directing it to a lesser extent… in case that was confusing! ; )

  158. jenny lynn walker

    Erica wrote: “Not every question has a simple yes or no answer.” This is true. But that one did by the way that I asked it. Thanks a million!

  159. But I pretty much of gave you one anyway…

    “No Jenny, I wouldn’t say it follows that I consider the public when creating (shooting) a body of work.”

    But as to me it wasn’t entirely a straightforward issue, I answered (no) and then expounded on my thought, as there were things I thought might help you understand.

    What’s your point here?

  160. Terry Gilliam, David Lynch and Ken Burns know a thing or two about using motion to enhance the presentation of still photography, as did the late Stanley Kubrik…

    The list is long. For me it’s Tarkovsky. But back to the question of tools and burials, note the hype for last week’s mega-blockbuster at the multiplex. The PR compared its director favorably with Kubrick. Not exactly still photography, “Inception.”

  161. Tarkovsky is great…watched Solaris, Stalker (also a great computer game)…and read Roadside Picnic, upon which the film and game is based…been thinking about games a lot lately…there are some good ones, with deeper themes coming out now and again…perhaps that is the place where the next ‘media revolution’ will come from…especially the independent scene…check out http://www.molleindustria.org/en/home Had not heard of Inception, but i hope the hype is true…

  162. jenny lynn walker

    I am looking at this on a 10 inch screen and it’s a little tricky to find individual comments. laughing. only 220+ comments, is that it? So it should be easy but still i find myself going up, down, up, down looking for the comments. Maybe it would be better to attack it from the other end or perhaps copy the whole thing into a word document? I might get to find a comment or an answer split into two parts from Erica, who knows? I think I spotted one from Lee. LoL. ok. diving into it now… wish me luck!

  163. Please forgive me for hijacking the conversation for just a bit. I was putting together a portfolio Blurb book for my trip to New York the first week in August, when I realized that it was five years ago that I took my first photography class. “Introduction to Photography” was the first class I took at a community college. I used film, worked in the dark room and got my hands dirty. Seems like forever ago. Looking through old photos brings me instantly back to that time, place and even the state of mind of that moment.

    Anyway, that thought got me excited, so I put together a version for public consumption (and purchasing).


    And now we return to our regularly scheduled discussion.

  164. Like Tarkovsky’s other films, Stalker relies on long takes with slow, subtle movement of camera, rejecting the conventional use of rapid montage. Almost all of the shots that aren’t set in the zone are in a high contrast brown monochrome. The film contains not more than 142 shots in 163 minutes with an average shot length of almost one minute and many shots lasting for more than four minutes.

    Now I’m going to watch that and it’ll set back my multimedia prospects by who knows how many years. Just kidding… kind of. I’m sure there will always be a place for slow. Just not at the top of the charts.

  165. Hi everyone! Uhmm “ability to tell” or rather “ability to FEEL” the story, “ability to being ENGAGED” in the story. I think that is the only way to do a mark in whatever art branch: photography, painting, drawing, writing, etc,…

    I’ve just finished seeing the MediaStorm web site, and the multimedia of Iowa, DRIFTLESS. The Photog, said that best stories are around the corner… so you can go back and shoot at any time and connect to the people that are like you and you’ll become part of the scenario. To fade into the scenario.

    I can’t imagine David shooting in a cold country… I can’t imagine Bruce Gilden shooting in the desert. They have a style, an engagement, feeling with that kind of people or places.

    So, what about this order: 1. to feel, 2. to be engaged in the story, 3. to tell, and finally to shoot. Editing is the thoughest part at the end of every single day…


  166. Officials at Goskino were critical of the film[16], on being told that the film should be faster and more dynamic, Tarkovksy replied: “the film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts.”

    The Goskino representative then explained that he was trying to give the point of view of the audience. Tarkovsky supposedly retorted: “I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.”

    So you see, even a giant like Tarkovsky recognizes the importance of considering an audience. Just not the.

  167. Brian, don’t know if you saw my comment to you some time ago re your trip to NYC and desire to meet up with people – said i am unsure of my plans am a bit all over the map these days, but if you are interested, pls send a private email and if am here will see if we can sched.

  168. HELP!!! PLEASE!!!

    Yesterday, I started shooting with a Sandisk Extreme 32 gb CF card in my Canon 1Ds M II, but forgot to format it and then filled up the remaining space. So – or so I thought – I proceeded to erase images from the previous day’s take off the card but had some kind of brain fart and instead erased the last few pictures that I had taken – which included the single most important image of the day.

    Once I realized what I had done, I immediately removed the disk from my camera and put no more information on it in the hope that I might recover those images. I know there is software that is supposed to allow one to make such a recovery.

    Any recommendations? For Canon, Sandisk and Mac?

    Sorry to intrude this way in this conversation, which I have not had a chance to follow, but it appears this thread has become the new catch-all dialogue.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  169. Erica – I did see that. Wonderful. Just sent you a message.

    FrostFrog – Sandisk usually includes their disc recovery program with their cards. I’ve used it several times, and it works pretty well. Good luck.

  170. Frost Frog. You need Rescuepro. You should have a disk with the card or a link to download it. It’s worked for friends of mine who have done the same.

  171. MW. If you an an artist you can do what you want. If you are photojournalist surely you want to make contact with a mass audience or a least a very important but big audience. I think DAH has said that he only shoots for a handful of people, it’s not something I understand.

  172. Michael webster. if you want a real visual treat see if you can get a copy of SOY CUBA. The story is typical soviet propoganda…but the cinematography is truly epic.

    Bill. ouch! only happened once to me and the little disk that came with the card pretty much bailed me out. hope it works out for you too.


  173. I’ve been thinking about how we express ourselves here in Burn and what distinquishes good blunt truthtelling from what Jenny Lynn Walker calls being a “sycophant” annd John Gladdy describes as “sugared platitudes.”

    On Kerry’s essay, Bob Black recently wrote:

    “I’ve been called a sap or sycophant cause of my positive support for almost all work here and i can live with whatever people think. However, what is often lost on the web is that people cower behind anonymityh and enmity.”

    Yes, it seems that those of us who encourage rather than deflate others with our comments are apt to appear to be sucking up or kissing a*s. Both Bob B and I are definitely of the “encourage” school of thought, but both of us are also totally honest in our assessments of the work of our colleagues. And there have been times when we have offered critiques, though of the constructive not destructive kind.

    Now, I can’t speak for Bob, but my positive outlook on life permeates everything I say and do. It is an essential part of my world view. I make no excuses for it. Over the years I have taught classes and facilitated workshops on subjects as diverse as art and troubleshooting communication issues among members of a group that must work together. In every case I have found that people learn and grow more effectively when they are encouraged to pursue what is working rather than hammering on what is not. Yes, what is not working must be openly discussed but if you stay there you run the risk of leaving the student/participant in a state of discouragement. They can easily lose confidence in themselves. Calling someone names is never helpful.

    So, I hope we can be a bit more respectful of our unique ways of communicating. There is a place here for all. But please do not demean Bob B or me by implying our positive comments are made to suck up to anyone. We are simply being true to our nature.


  174. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I guess I should pay more attention to these cards and what comes with them when I first get them, instead of just throwing them into the camera and reformatting them.

    I went online and found Rescuepro, apparently free with the disk but $40 for a one-year lease and Card Rescue, 39.95 for permanent ownership, so I purchased it and it is pulling photos off the disk right now. I had hoped it would only pull off the deleted ones but it is pulling everything off and it is long process- been at it for 25 minutes – 40 minutes still to go.

  175. David Alan

    “you ask if communication is the goal OR artistic expression”

    Actually, I did not mean to suggest that these were mutually exlusive, and said so in the second sentence of the post you are responding to.
    Re-worded, is making an accurate record of a situation the primary goal, or is the primary goal to create artistic photographs that create an impression and leave the viewer with a feeling?

    As and example, two years ago, my much younger (25,years) sister got married. Not wanting to saddle me with the job, she hired a great wedding photographer from Calgary. He did a super job. Beautiful and unusaul compositions, gestures, details, etc. I took a lot of snaps too of course, and wanted her to have as complete a record of the event as possible. I photographed everything, tables full of people, the food, the toasters, lots of happy people mugging for the camera, the venue, the table decorations, the food, etc etc etc.

    So Barb and Dan have two very different albums. One which is very edgy, romantic and artistic, another one which takes a much more documentary approach and is much more descriptive. They love both albums. It would be interesting to ask them in 20 years which album they’ve looked at more often, and which one has the most meaning.

    Getting back to mutual exclusivity, it is obviously preferable to achieve both goals. However we cannot overlook the value and the power of the simple un-pretentious record shot. Sometimes a photograph is too much about the photographer and not enough about the subject.

  176. Harry,of course if I am working for an editor or targeting a publication for my work, I consider, first and foremost, the audience. But ideally, I think one works for oneself and that is pretty much all I am doing right now. The Tarkovsky quote about his audience is spot on, imo. And I recently watched a documentary about Pixar in which they said the only audience they considered was themselves. Steve Jobs and Apple are another/related example of throwing audience research out the window. And I think the most successful people are like that. Get it right for yourself and if you have something worthwhile to say and are good at saying it, the audience will come.

    Thanks John, I think that’s the second time you’ve mentioned Soy Cuba. I’ll definitely look it up. I practically worship Solaris, so Simon’s mention of the Tartovsky film got me all excited. It’s been a long time since I really wanted to see a movie, so I went out at lunch and bought it. Stopped off and got a bottle of wine on the way home and am about to slow things way down and enjoy (hopefully) a nice, long, visual experience.

  177. mw: If you like to slow things down, and if you haven’t already seen them, be sure to watch the movies by the Taiwanese director Ming-liang Tsai. Am enjoying this discussion and thinking. Be well, all.

  178. jenny lynn walker

    The way we express ourselves:
    I made a comment on here that a few people believe was directed at them which was interesting because it was not directed at anyone – just a general comment. So anyone that thought the comment was directed at them may have a tendency to see criticism put out there as being leveled at them (I know I have a tendency to do this myself). I too am concerned by harsh comments attacking people directly and this I believe I have never done. If I have on this thread, please point it out to me as I would never wish to do it again. Thank you.

    Now back MM:
    33,500 words on here so far and what an amazing discussion it is. Wow! I feel truly honoured to be taking part in it and to be spending time with you all on here. It was a magical experience and just knowing you are all out there – I’m not sure where – reading comments, tapping at the keys, drinking your coffees, teas, getting all hot under the collar, laughing out loud, getting my goat or uplifting me with your thoughts and ideas. It IS beautiful – no doubt about it! Thank you all.

    There is just so much to take in on this topic. These are some of my favourite comments:

    “it is NOT just about pans and edits… but about exploring, endless, the boundaries of what stories are….” Bob

    “Even if the photographer chooses to present the story from a detached point of view, she/he must be engaged with it on a deep level.” Patricia

    ¨For me, in all art the first thing I look for or try to get a sense of is honesty.¨ James

    “A photo is one of the best ways to forward a lie, to make something from nothing into something. CNN does it all the time…” Lee

    “How often do we get that story that somehow has both – a great story, brilliantly told… a good teller can have you in the palm of his her hand with just the telling!” DAH

    “…there may be a long long road and a lot of bad examples of storytelling before the dust settles and the new young masters are able to rise from the abyss…” DAH

    “Maybe I’m missing the point and need more coffee!” Tom

    Sidney Atkins: That sory List was just great!!! And sorry to say it, I agree. All those stories “WILL have far more impact than yet another batch of images of dusty G.I.’s in Afghanistan or earthquake aftermath in Haiti.”

    I checked out the Pagnetti piece and really liked that you can take or leave the multimedia – see it as a picture essay and choose your own pace to view or, just leave it on ‘play’ – most definately preferable to an mm piece I saw on the oil spill recently (also by VII). BUT, what exactly does it say? I think it says: watch a ‘slice of history’ and I don’t know why but that whole concept leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    I am interested in that old adage of ‘the medium is the message’ in as much as that it is exactly why multimedia has the potential to become hollow ‘info-tainment’, sorry to say it. A world where content has ‘no value’ offers great potential for feeding propaganda to the masses – akin to so much of programming on tv. Of course, I pray it doesn’t happen. No disrespect to the idea intended and who knows, I may not have understood it – this is my interpretation of it.

    I am wondering left wondering if we are getting a little hung up on mm? I would love to hear some thoughts from younger people. Where do we find them?!!! On the plus side for mm, I did enjoy DAHs Hiphop piece on Magnum In Motion among many others (pretty amazing work on there) and I am also very impressed by the latest VII work made for MSF too ‘Starved for Attention’. Anyway, it’s time to get some zzzzzzzz….

    Thanks a million! : )

    Kathleen: You have so much to say (meant in a good way) and such a vibrant way of expressing yourself. If you would start a diary, I think it would be a wonderful.

    Aitken: You wrote “Nature is the most beautiful thing in the world. You can show the beauty, illustrate it, but it is never the real beauty – very far from it. We don’t know how beautiful nature really is.” I so agree. It’s ravishingly beautiful and I see it in everything including people!

    “our beautiful, mad, broken hope to partake of this world and to speak of that to ourselves and others until our dying breath vanquishes us in that small space inside….” Bob. Wow!

    Hugs to all (and thanks for all the emotions) x

  179. I don’t think photographers wrestle enough with the idea of what constitutes a story. A collection of images somehow related to each other, often referred to as a photo essay, might not be a story at all. In fact, it’s rare to find a photographer who works in an explicitly narrative mode, while nearly everyone who shoots seriously will describe him or herself as a storyteller.

    Eugene Richards, Lauren Greenfield, and Sebastiao Salgado (just to cite three examples) are narrative photographers. They explore grand themes and characters. There is tension and conflict in the circumstances, and in a sequence of photos (or a book) the viewer gets the sense that he has traveled from one place to another. They create photos as literature.

    Plenty of great photographers do not create narratives. Alex Webb does not. Constantine Manos does not (in his new book “American Color II” he writes that the subject of the photos is the photos themselves). Christopher Anderson’s highly acclaimed “Capitolio” is not narrative but impression. Antonin Kratochvil cultivates idiosyncrasy instead of story.

    Henri Cartier Bresson found little narratives in each frame, some human moment, striking or gentle. But he didn’t “tell stories.” Some photographers, like David Alan Harvey, are more interested in lyricism than narration. David is more poet than storyteller.

    There is the pervasive, and in my view wrong, idea that photographers have some inner vision, some “story to tell,” and thus go out into the world shooting frames to express themselves – like the old trope of the Midwestern girl with a song in her heart who tries to make it on Broadway.

    It’s not “having a story to tell” that matters. There are only five stories in the world. Photography and storytelling are not synonymous; nor is photography a matter of personal expression. It’s a craft. Some people are more enthusiastic than skilled, and some are more skilled than inspired.

  180. Sidney Atkins


    Once again I am heartily impressed by your clear thinking, your sagacity, and the lucidity with which you express yourself. Sir, you are a gem.

  181. If you can’t photograph your backyard for the last 30 years what makes u believe that u can photograph well somebody elses back yard on your time limited travel???

  182. Preston: “There are only five stories in the world.” Interesting comment. A while back it hit me that there are only ten templates in humanity’s story. We all fit into one of those templates and usually overlap into others. What are the 5 stories you mention? The ten templates I thought of were the stories of lives and ten was a number to represent a number that cannot truly be counted but to point out that stories go round and round and we all seem to bump into them at different times in our lives.

    Loved your reflection Jenny on your favorite quotes; the most amazing part of it is that you supposedly are doing it on an iPhone with its tiny screen. Very good copying and pasting job.

    DAH a poet instead of a story teller? Think I have to disagree on that one. He is definitely a collector of moments and an excellent editor that brings forth great stories to tell. But a poet? Humm. He is an excellent writer even if his punctuation is all …. and no capitalization.

  183. Panos: There is only One story actually..
    “human behavior” that is:)
    Everything else is LAZY EXCUSES

    Uh. I have to disagree; our stories are what manifest as human behavior.

  184. here are only five stories in the world.” there are only ten templates in humanity’s story .. this is the boring type of thinking usually reserved for those that have already made their funeral arrangements

    Very good copying and pasting job. ………. now that is funny, it is like very good at walking

  185. This is true. I agree that we can only tell a story from our point of view. However, that doesn’t mean there is only one story. Unless we take this down to the absolute point that there is no point of view but our own…

  186. I saw some chickens hatching from their eggs a couple of days ago ………….. they looked very happy not to be in a container.

    They were quite chirpy about it

  187. I saw a baby alpaca yesterday jumping in joy an hour after his birth and he ran into a fence, the first bump of his life. Symbolic or just a baby hitting his first fence? anal thinking? No just humor. Maybe bad humor. Think I will close on this. Getting a bit out of the realm of what we have been discussing. I am still interested in the five stories so will check back in to see if Preston posts them. Good night Imants.

  188. No placing things into boxes is important , it is the way many here cope with photography. Give something a placea neat pigeon hole and we can all live happily ever after.

  189. No placing things into boxes is important , it is the way many here cope with photography. Give something a place in a neat pigeon hole and we can all live happily ever after…..too bad for those that think in that manner they still have a box to contend with.

  190. a civilian-mass audience

    If I didn’t know that you are a Photophilosopher…I would have called you out as my twin Civilian
    Soul…quoting the BURNING cream…!!!

    IMANTS…chickens…like my baby chickens…oime

    I love you ALL

    the bar has been raised…can you feel it???
    Your quidnunc

  191. a civilian-mass audience

    baby alpacas… will be there…don’t delete the evidence

    may the spirits of Photosurvival are with you…

    BURN is like a box of chocolates
    you never know …what you will see next…

    I will be back…hmmm…

  192. I agree that we can only tell a story from our point of view.

    Sorry, I hate to be disagreeable with such fine folk, but it’s a poor storyteller that can only tell a story from his or her point of view.

  193. Michael, what other point of view could we have than our own?

    Sure, we hope we tell someone else’s story as truthfully and respectfully as possible but only the person her or himself can tell it as they see it. Whenever we put our camera to our eye we are choosing to focus on only part of what we see before us, and it is that choice that determines how the viewers of our photos will see the scene or story. It may be someone else’s story but it will always be seen through our eyes.

    To claim objectivity is a myth. Every photo we take is, to some degree, a self portrait. It is the world as we see it. This can be tested by sending two photographers to the same place at the same time and ask them to document the same event. The story that each tells will be unique. Perhaps there will be some similar images but the mood and flow of the story will surely differ in subtle or not-so-subtle ways. If it looked the same then one was copying the other.

    It is our unique point of view that makes photography interesting.


  194. henever we put our camera to our eye we are choosing to focus on only part of what we see before us, and it is that choice that determines how the viewers of our photos will see the scene or story….No the audience shall make up it’s own mind what it wants to see and interpret their own story

  195. M certain of one thing …..there are only 2 types of cameras in this world ……… digital and film ……………….. choose one …………. or both …………..

  196. Ross most people in industries that are dying out accept the situation and move on photographers/PJs just keep on complaining, whining and have become serial pests on the internet.

  197. Ross….. Mr Harvey has re-trained himself into “The Photoblogging Wunderling” and gets us underlings to da all this site leg work for free as he sits in his beach house counting his money.
    You know that Burn stands for Billionaire Under u’Re Nose

    See what happens if you transcend photography

  198. Oh Imants. For Heaven’s Sake. You sound so young. What have you done? What have any of us done? When you put yourself out there for dissecting by the public it brings out the worst in some and the best in others. As a student of DAH I have been on the receiving end of praise and “I hate this.” He is a true teacher and I don’t like it when he is attacked. Please stop.

    Tonight I realized what a wild ride my life has been, again, and asked for forgiveness again. Between the tequila and the Richard Gere & Diana Lane movie “Unfaithful” I am a mess. But tomorrow I will flow better because I have been forgiven again and there are more photos to take. There are stories to tell, from my eye to the eye of the viewer. That is all there is, relating to others as fellow human beings, seeing their pain, their happiness, their lives, and telling a story that hopefully touches someone that changes their life. Like the movie “Unfaithful.” And yes it will be their story but through your/my eyes.

    There is this weird thing happening on my island. The government has decided that stores cannot put signs out to advertise sales and help promote their business due to the “unsightliness” of them. Yet, during this election year every corner and every lot has these stupid political signs with people’s names on them that represent ineptness. Why do they get to put their signs up when a business person struggling with a down economy gets fined and has to deal with a dumb ass bureaucrat because of a “one day sale” in their window? Fuck. Tomorrow I start taking photos of this bogus crap! Yep, I think I am drunk. Pardon me. Doesn’t happen often but when it does I do it right. Only the best tequila will do for these fine moments. I may regret this post tomorrow but so what.

  199. As a student of DAH I have been on the receiving end of praise and “I hate this.” He is a true teacher and I don’t like it when he is attacked. Please stop. ………. next time you skype him you may get a glimpse of all his elves slaving away in the background, though at the moment you are probably in the pixies and faries department.

  200. and it is no use protecting that Harvey fellow they too will hunt you down and reposess your square foot of prime beach frontage real estate

  201. “next time you skype him you may get a glimpse of all his elves slaving away in the background, though at the moment you are probably in the pixies and faries department”

    Aaah; so that’s how he does it. You got some magic fairy dust for me Imants? Don’t try and pass off that red Aussie dust as the real thing either! :-)

    As for me? Accepting the situation and moving on as we speak!

    Cheers :-)

  202. Plenty of “bull dust” here Ross we export it along with coal dust, yellow cake you name we got it political freedom to rape the environment………. though keeping some of the gold dust.

  203. jenny lynn walker

    By the way, does anybody care that we may be among the last few generations on Earth? That the way we are living on this planet is destroying the future for our kind and denying the rights to life for millions of other species at the same time? Feeling this makes it a little difficult for me to think about anything else – to look at essays that examine love and life when the truth is we are playing Mozart aboard a sinking Titanic.

    Maybe I should stop creating records that say ‘goodbye beautiful world’ and ‘let’s try to live together in peace and harmony’ and start to create some stories or do something that would directly help? How can I continue to look myself in the mirror if I have not accomplished something that in some way contributes to ‘the global effort’? A part of me says ‘it is too late’, the problem is just too big: a world filled with people skipping to the tune of capitalism.

  204. jenny. If that were indeed the case, what else would you have us do? Stand around and wring our collective hands..or live every day to the full…Life is NOT a read through.
    If the plane is going to crash and I cant stop it, then I want to see the menu and the wine list NOW!!



  205. RE: Five stories in the world —

    It’s a common theme in literary criticism that there are five, or seven, or maybe ten archetypal plots that most literature adheres to. British critic Christopher Booker wrote a book outlining his seven, which got lots of attention —


    But the notion that there are a handful of ideas endlessly recycled comes out of the work of Carl Jung, Joseph Campell, and other critics and scholars of myth.

  206. Preston :))…

    can we exchange posts ;)))….that was kind of what i wanted to say, but you did it infinitely more concisely and with great elan….but….poetry is still story telling my friend just as lyricism (good call on david’s work!) is story telling too, just the narrative is of a different form…what is Celan’s work if not stories, let alone the Song of Solomon or Psalms ;)……and though there are a handful of linear narrative architectures, there is still but one story, ever (see again McCarthey or Cambell’s mentor Zimmer….even with that seemingly infinitie Indian cosmology, there was but a singular point around which the wheel spun…..

    the story of color and it’s permutations is just as rich a tale as that of telling the Hero Conquest tale….the evoke the same essence: our way and orientation and reaction to this dark-wooded world…

    the forms of that story or mutable….glad to see Campell come up here :))…and i highly recommend Jung’s Liber Novus…..a friend has it…it’s out of my price range, but Xmas is coming….



  207. Preston: i meant your first post, where you dissected narrative…as Sydney wrote, you are a gem, polished and cleanly cut :))


  208. jenny lynn walker

    John Gladdy: This ‘Titanic’ has begun to fill with water and will sink if nothing is done. I am just talking out loud. It is on my conscience, not yours.

  209. jenny lynn walker

    Patricia: Just checked into Kerry’s essay again to read that message by Chris Rand-Reynolds. It is so inspiring to read. Thanks for alerting us!

  210. Jenny, I just viewed your pictures but can’t see where I can comment or email so here will have to do..

    They are lovely, there’s a gentleness in your observations and that really shines through in your images…you really understand colour and light and what makes an appealing picture and it’s like being transported back to the slides my grandparents took on their travels.
    Just beautifully refreshing and pleasurable photographs…I hope you stay strong in your approach because it really works.

  211. jenny lynn walker

    Vicky: If you are referring to me, thanks a million for for such beautiful compliments. I have a feeling you may be looking at work I put up about 8-10 years ago. I have not put much up – there is a little on Photoshelter and a lot that needs sorting out. I hope it will find its way onto a website and a book or two at some not too distant point. Anyway, thank you for the encouragement. Much appreciated! : )

  212. jenny lynn walker

    Vicky: Funnily enough, it was my grandmother who got me into photography – she gave me my first camera which had been hers – and i used to sit by her side to watch her slideshow when she returned from her travels! How funny is that?!

  213. Michael, what other point of view could we have than our own?

    To answer a question with a question: what are the limits of our imaginations? The best example I can think of is Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I’m currently reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell who also shows mastery of multiple points of view. Never thought about it in terms of other people’s photography but I regularly try to employ the technique in my own. Though I shouldn’t have said it’s a poor storyteller that can only tell stories from his or her point of view. There are plenty of examples of great first person narrative. But I think most of the greats manage to see things from a more expansive view.

    Sorry to go all Monty Python on your ass Preston, you make great points and present them very well. It’s just that every time I hear the “there only x ways to do y, I think of the Spanish Inquisition. But I am aware of Jung et. al. and that kind of thinking. And I agree, there’s really only one story. Boy meets girl and falls in love or dumps her for better girl. Sorry, you see, there are only two stories: boy meets girl and falls in love or dumps her for better girl or stalks her and her friends at summer camp and murders them gruesomely. No, see, there are only four stories. All of the preceding and the narrative where the underdog overcomes great odds to win in the end and also the one where mismatched partners that somehow manage to work together and solve the crime. Aggghhhh. You see, you’re right, there are only five stories… Sorry, but with respect to all the noted academics who say otherwise, I’ll answer the question of how many stories there are with a question: What are the limits of our imaginations?

  214. Was the question not: how many ways are there to tell the story? Instead of how many stories are there?

  215. Regarding Tarkovsky’s Stalker, thank you Simon. It’s way too deep to say much about after one viewing. But regarding the conversation about multimedia, I found it’s just what I needed. The Wikipedia quote where it said there were only something like 140 shots in 160 minutes and that some of them lasted up to 4 minutes is no doubt accurate but gives one the wrong idea. Few, if any, of those shots are motionless. I’ve been struggling mightily with how best to move a camera around a still scene. Nice to see someone who’s mastered it. Makes me wonder how much influence Solaris has had on my subconscious. Anyway, fantastic film. Fantastic film for photographers.

  216. AKAKY: I really hated that movie.

    AKAKY IRL: Me too.

    AKAKY: A rare moment of agreement in a sea of discord.

    AKAKY IRL: Don’t go all soft and fuzzy on me, guy.

  217. a civilian-mass audience

    300 …was reserved…for Greeks BUT you are such a IRL…
    credit when credit is due…
    Can I laugh my way out……….:))))))))))))))))))))))))

    KATIE…love comes back to you …like the unexpected rain that hits my little tent…
    somewhere in the Mediterranean sea…

    BURNIANS…the BURNING question (TANYA wrote)…
    BUT for me the BURNING question is…:
    ARE You Happy with You…???

    Don’t BURN le messager
    BURN the story

  218. Thanks Preston for that update. Found it very interesting. On the Red Book, not so sure I would read that one Bob.

  219. a civilian-mass audience

    So many gems in one place…
    Aquamarines, Diamonds, Opals, Pearl, Ruby, Sapphires, Spinels, Topaz…

    LEE…don’t loose the alpacas

  220. mw,

    “Regarding Tarkovsky’s Stalker, thank you Simon.”

    Thank you for letting me know about (Robert) Bresson-the-film-director. Have to see some of his movies to see what he’s about!

  221. By the way, just got back from seeing William Klein’s exhibition in the Mercati di Traiano/Museo dei Fori Imperiali in Rome. I like the way he tells stories… There is a series of vertical pictures of driver/passenger on motorini’s scooting by…excellent!

  222. 10am here..
    Approaching Venice Beach…
    Jim’s ghost always by my side..
    Any Burnians want to meet? Come at Bistro after 4pm
    Till then , shooting, reuniting with
    my hommies, reconnecting..
    Can u feel my excitement?
    I’m nervous.. It’s been 8 months..

  223. aitken wrote,

    “A few years ago some old b/w prints turned up in a street market. They were pictures of vegetables on a white background. Anything from onions to leaks to carrots to potatoes. It turned out they were the taken by the head gardener at a country house, he just wanted to document all his produce. The extraordinary thing, they were all taken with daylight, beautifully composed (bear in mind this is in the days of glass plates) and are totally exquisite. The series of prints has been sold through Sotherby’s.

    All he wanted to do was document his produce but he actually produced a beautiful story and an historical document.”


    that story brought tears to my eyes, aitken. thank you for sharing.
    i’ll bet it’s because he loved his vegetables so much
    and that tender reverence came through in the photos.
    i would love to see them.

    i remember DAH once saying something like “Be in love w your subject”
    and i am in utter agreement w that. when a photographer is in love
    w subject, you can just feeeel it in the photos. Ineffably.

  224. katia and ian – thanks for the story.. missed your original post ian.

    love the idea of that – a market exists for every honest snap and anything convincingly produced will eventually find the right person to value it as much as it´s creator did.


  225. I can’t for the life of me remeber where I saw the story and the pictures, it might have been in the BJP or somesuch, years ago.

    I remember being totally struck by the images, then I read the story… bam what a combination



  226. jenny lynn walker

    Harry: Thanks for the link – I love TED talks. His wacky presentation style was great but I question the logic behind his conclusions – beautiful though they are. I need to look deeper into how population growth falls with rising income. Interesting topic. Thanks a lot.

  227. it’s not too late as long as it is not just talk………… I have managed to reduce my footprint another 20 odd percent. Halved my power costs despite a rise in rates this will be further reduced with the installation of a solar unit and will meet about 95% of my home power needs. Reduced my water costs with four fifths now consisting of compulsory council/govt service bills. Garbage has been reduced by atleast 75%( the bin is usually close to empty on pick up days). Recycling is down as I no longer buy heaps of packaged goods, don’t frequent takeaways, wastage is between 40-60 percent in these type of food outlets, restaurants are similar in their waste . Then again the only time I went to Maccas was to use the toilet, so no reduction there ………….dunno what the food tastes like.

    Ride a electric scooter to work whenever possible, use public transport, overseas travel maximised activity wise etc. My lifestyle has not suffered. Sure I understand that not everyone is in a position to reduce their footprint to this degree but every little bit helps, so no need to despair and give up Jenny and no need to say fuckit I’ll celebrate as the ship sinks which what John implied.

    Further reductions are most artwork is produced for the net, large exhibition prints, frame consumables are replaced by limited edition books and small prints. Don’t buy new cameras or computer equipment etc.

    So there is no need just to talk about what we are “gunna do” just do a bit at a time

    ps I grow some vegetables, bake my own bread but spend too much time on a computer, but it is work.

    pss I borrowed the soap box and am passing it on……….

  228. ppsss supermarket shopping is kept o a minimum farmers markets, direct warehouses etc……… clothes well recycled though few believe my wife when she says that almost all her wardrobe( yes she does buy label stuff) is from op shops

  229. jenny lynn walker

    Imants: Once again, I will now put into action my legendary copy and paste skills to record those great words as they are such an inspiration. You’re covering more bases there than was suggested in a list I distributed from Greenpeace and I’m way behind. Best you keep the soap box. Thank you!

  230. jenny lynn walker

    Talk about off topic! We are ‘on-a-different-continent’ off topic – maybe in a parallel universe. Where did DAH go? The captain of the spaceship has gone walkabout! DAH come home!

  231. “though few believe my wife when she says that almost all her wardrobe( yes she does buy label stuff) is from op shops”

    When I lived in Perth a friend of mine would always go to the charity shops in more upmarket places, because there were still people who would only wear clothes once and then take them to the op shops. Man; she got some bargains.

    It’s also a case of when you have an unexpected drop in income you realise how much stuff you don’t (and never did) need!

  232. Once again Jenny you are just a load of hot air,I am going to do crap is all you write nothing happens……….. another list how exciting it will change nothing.

  233. jenny lynn walker

    Imants: Whatever you say. Would you like your words back?

    0. I have managed to reduce my footprint another 20 odd percent.
    0. Halved my power costs despite a rise in rates this will be further reduced with the installation of a solar unit and will meet about 95% of my home power needs.
    0. Reduced my water costs with four fifths now consisting of compulsory council/govt service bills. Garbage has been reduced by atleast 75%( the bin is usually close to empty on pick up days).
    0. Recycling is down as I no longer buy heaps of packaged goods, don’t frequent takeaways, wastage is between 40-60 percent in these type of food outlets, restaurants are similar in their waste . Then again the only time I went to Maccas was to use the toilet, so no reduction there….dunno what the food tastes like.
    0. Ride a electric scooter to work whenever possible, use public transport, overseas travel maximised activity wise etc. My lifestyle has not suffered. Sure I understand that not everyone is in a position to reduce their footprint to this degree but every little bit helps, so no need to despair and give up Jenny and no need to say fuckit I’ll celebrate as the ship sinks which what John implied.
    0. Further reductions are most artwork is produced for the net, large exhibition prints, frame consumables are replaced by limited edition books and small prints. Don’t buy new cameras or computer equipment etc.
    0. So there is no need just to talk about what we are “gunna do” just do a bit at a time
    0. ps I grow some vegetables, bake my own bread but spend too much time on a computer, but it is work.
    0. pss I borrowed the soap box and am passing it on……….
    0. ppsss supermarket shopping is kept o a minimum farmers markets, direct warehouses etc……… clothes well recycled though few believe my wife when she says that almost all her wardrobe( yes she does buy label stuff) is from op shops

  234. It is a story we all can get on the net Jenny agency VII is not new to the posters here. Do something instead of showing someone else’s work as repeats

  235. Hey Imants , they also recycle vehicles as well ?, I think that that one is a Ex Brisvegas council bus , just most of my gear comes from Op shops, found a awesome jacket , brogues amd flat cap for 25 bucks today the only new things I buy are Bonds black T’s.
    -my footprint is through the roof but compensate by riding a bike I found at the dump when not carrying gear or family.
    -it rains half the year , so water not an issue.
    – am growing bananas
    – try to get by with my rolleicord but professional circumstances demand something a bit more modern.
    – my dad slaughters a bullock twice a year for us , but keeping the freezer running is expensive , plus with regular from flying foxes swingingfrom powerlines causing regular blackouts we had 12 hours to cook or give away half a beast last year.
    – only wear shoes for half the year so my boots last twice as long.

  236. a civilian-mass audience

    -and chickens
    -and growing grapes,tomatoes,cucumbers,eggplants…

    you don’t wanna see my footprint…:)))

  237. Put on one more piece of cloth instead of turning up your heating system. Use warm water only when really needed, and even then, keep the temperature as low as possible. Shut off all lights, even the TV standby when not used.

    To pick up drinking water, wine, soap and detergents in general, milk, and in some stores fresh stuff like cheese and ham etc. bring your own package, bottles.

  238. I have reduced my footprint by 50 percent … but keep falling over.

    Panos! Welcome home! What tattoo did you get and where is it? Looking forward to more venice posts.


  239. jenny lynn walker

    Imants: I congratulated you on your efforts to reduce your footprint. It seems like you’ve been working hard to think of every possible way you can reduce it and that is impressive. I don’t know what exactly you feel I am not speaking straight about. Please let me know and I will do my best to explain it. Thank you.

    Re: The multimedia link to ‘Starved for Attention’. We’ve seen a few links added on here to this discussion and I’ve enjoyed listening to people’s thoughts about them and contributing my own thoughts as well. The reason I put this particular link up is that the story concerns a global issue and individual stories were made in different locations around the world and then presented as a whole for a campaign. I have not seen something quite like it before myself and would be very interested to hear people’s thoughts on it.

  240. Collect the water you wash your veggies with in a bucket and water your plants with it..

    Not so sure I want to see WHERE Panos’ tattoo is.. ;))

  241. a civilian-mass audience

    the wind is shifting…
    that’s all I feel…
    my eyes are BURNING…
    it’s time to leave

    the wind has shifted
    the earth is BURNING
    we waist our future
    we lost our land

    we have a footprint
    we make tattoo’s
    we think we are green
    but…I can’t see it
    I am further back…

    I love you BURNIANS
    you give me strength
    to see the world
    through different lens

    you have a vision
    you might succeed
    is it the story???
    is it the ability to tell???
    I don’t really care
    as long as I have you

    hiii…blame the wind…
    out and about

  242. a civilian-mass audience

    I don’t really care
    as long as I BURN…

    different closing…hiiiii…

    I will be back calling out names

  243. Glen have to swap some road kill recipes though my cooking times are based on the Subaru Brumby manifold, the troopie may take a bit less time, an overcooked skip just ain’t the same

  244. Just spent a couple of hours looking at pictures on Burn and reading through comments….very interesting (and often amusing) reading and I barely touched the surface!

    Happy saturday, chaps :)

  245. IMANTS….

    thanks for all the free legwork…every little bit helps… yup, sitting here at the beach counting my money and feeding my elves…..since that did not really take very long, i am jumping in my old fossil fuel guzzling truck (too far to take my bike but i did cancel two Euro flights reducing fuel consumption and feelings of guilt) and having a look this morn at the always complaining fishermen…those guys are worse than photographers in the shoulda been here ten years ago department….actually they may run out of fish even faster than we are going to run out of venues…hmmm, now there’s a story..

  246. yea and no matter what the fish size it is held at arm’s length towards the camera ……..small is big, big is bigger.

  247. SIMON…

    Tolstoy does suggest that history as it is written is certainly up for interpretation…wars are won or lost unfairly from the point of view of often millions for sure and the clear personal realities of a life lost or living in a town suddenly under a new regime suggests that interpreting history is definitely a luxury for those who are least affected….


    sounds to me like you are definitely doing your bit….we have gotten ourselves into a bind here mate, and i have a hard time trying to imagine how we can actually go backwards in our own evolution…..i do what i can as well, and then turn right around and become the worst consumer possible…i am full of contradictions regarding the environment….not on purpose of course…it is just that my lifestyle is destructive to the environment…travel is the excess that we all justify for our own educations or communications, yet nothing burns more fuel ..at the same time , if we shut down our consumptions, the economy will put us all out there foraging…what to do??

  248. DAVID,

    “Tolstoy does suggest that history as it is written is certainly up for interpretation … … … interpreting history is definitely a luxury for those who are least affected….”

    I agree…and:

    “It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.” —Carl T. Rowan

  249. SIMON..

    ahhh yes…and righteous indignation is most espoused by those most guilty …


    well i tried here at first to help photographers get work , but now i think it best if i do the opposite….clean em out…start over later….

  250. jenny lynn walker

    DAH: Thank God you are back! We’ve been raising the bar on ‘off-topic’. Re. the environment. All that is needed is for a whole new way of thinking and operating to be taken up around the world that puts the planet and it’s protection at the center. For every country to adopt a new economic model that has already been developed – a model that means that everything we consume will be priced according to it’s impact, and of course, shifting the entire world to renewable energy… but we need to do it quite quickly obviously! ; )

  251. jenny lynn walker

    ps the new way of thinking and operating is not ‘going back’ – it is going forward to a new ’21st century consciousness’.

  252. Imants – Nothing pre tenderises hopping protein like the bull bar of a 100 series …yes I have upgraded …the troopie is no more…needed more doors.

    A good camp oven and plenty of time are all that’s needed , just hit and quarter the roo , put the haunches and tail on the roof rack and cover with a eucalyptus bough for taste…leave sitting for at least 3 hours.

    DAH – I wrestle with the same…I am a man with distance on my mind and in photography have found the perfect vehicle for covering great distances and being useful at the same time.

  253. Speaking of roadkill, I finally got around to doing a final draft of the horse movie. Normally I’d follow Imants example and delete the thing, but for whatever reason, I’m trying to get away from that model.

    If you’ve already seen it, there’s probably no reason to see it again. I bring it up again because it is relevant in the context of this conversation about multimedia. Though mostly just a series of exercises in technique, there is a story and it’s structure is consistent with the things I’ve been talking about in relation to “Invisible” and storytelling in general. The changes in this version are very minor. The struggle has been how to smooth out the pans and zooms. The camera movement is still not exactly where I’d like it to be, but time to move on. Bigger fish to fry, so to speak.

    Grasping the concept of time has been very difficult for me in the context of multimedia presentations. I’ve spent many hours trying to figure out how to slow the camera down appropriately. Of course the answer is obvious. Just stretch out the time between keyframes. There’s nothing you can do with the curve to make two seconds last longer than two seconds. Damn thing needs to be 10 seconds. But then we run into questions of aesthetics. Of attention span. Modern audiences want their motion fast. Historically, still photography, by definition, is motionless. Where is the happy medium? What works without turning still photography into something else entirely? Without turning it into video?

    It’s in that context that I was re-acquainted with the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, the Russian film director most widely known for Solaris. Like with the time thing, I’ve been kind of slow on the uptake for influences as well. But in retrospect, it’s obvious that I should look to the work of filmmakers who have mastered the art of slow camera movement. In that respect. Tarkovsky’s Stalker is unquestionably a masterpiece.

    For an interesting contrast, I watched Avatar the day after watching Stalker. The most popular movie in history after one that very few people have ever seen. I’m not going to go into it here, but it’s interesting to compare and contrast the different storytelling strategies — the popular vs. the high art — and try to understand the appeal, albeit to different folk, of them both.

  254. As for footprints, I have the same problem as Mike R. Although I think it’s useful to conserve energy in order to blunt any charges of hypocrisy when we advocate for change, but in reality the only way we can possibly make a difference is to work for widespread education and democracy. Cause as long most people don’t vote and all too many who do equate science with belief, our fate will remain in the hands of corporate and military sociopaths. Whether we drive to work, swim, or take a jumbo jet, our individual energy usage doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the big picture and even if it did, voluntary reduction by isolated individuals just doesn’t matter when it comes to saving the earth. Nope, collective action is what’s needed and that’s what’s being ever more effectively disallowed.

  255. jenny lynn walker

    mn: I hope you also compared and contrasted the actual stories or ‘story concepts’ in the two movies vis-a-vis what was happening in the world at the time they were released – it could be that the ‘telling’ was not as important a factor in their appeal as the timing of the specific story to hit the screen. ; )

    Of course a change in individual energy usage makes a difference when you are talking about several hundred million or even billions of people but the situation obviously requires both – both individual and collective action.

    Anyway, the fact is that environmental economics is now being discussed at the highest levels and even this week the heads of 10 nations got together in Washington to discuss the shift to renewable energy after the second big oil spill. Nobody had heard about climate change when I left college, now everyone has and at least it’s being discussed. It is coming, just at the pace of a snail…

    DAH: You don’t sound too convinced. It seems to me that nothing is ever perfect or ideal but I guess we should not give up believing in it or trying to create it.

  256. jenny lynn walker

    i’d like a solar-powered jet pack so I can fly – and migrate each year like birds do.

  257. I have Venice updates… Photos.. Story..
    But my laptop is in the emergency room..
    It had a stroke and now recovering in Ryans hospital…
    Question to All…!!
    Should I follow Antons lulu example and print a
    Magazine? On demand? Let’s say twice a year print?
    Update every six months? Or just post links here??
    Hmmm thinking, thinking!!!!

  258. it could be that the ‘telling’ was not as important a factor in their appeal as the timing of the specific story to hit the screen.

    Nah. Humans haven’t changed in 30 years. We still react to the same storytelling techniques in the same ways. The same contrast of approaches has been evident for as long as there’s been literature, and certainly as long as there’s been science fiction. Space opera, you know, vs. the the visionary think piece. The war movie vs the movie about war. The former manipulate our emotions in such a way as to make us feel secure in or moral universe, the latter to question it. The resulting gulf in popularity is not surprising. What I find interesting is how images are used to achieve those ends. And more to the point, in my tiny world these days, camera movement and editing.

  259. Hmmm… I think “both” is the answer

    Yea maybe, but why not consider making a beautiful hi-res DVD or Blu-Ray and target people with giant flat screen tv’s? Something like that costs much less to produce — in both time and money — and the potential market is much, much larger. Get a prestigious gallery show and maybe get your agency to feature some of the work so you’ll have a nice blurb or two for the advertising?

  260. JENNY…

    you wrote : “DAH , you do not sound too convinced”….hmmm, i wrote that i have had the same philosophy my whole adult life on the environment…so, exactly how could i possibly sound any more “convinced” ??

  261. Sidney Atkins

    You gotta love Ozzies:

    “Nothing pre tenderises hopping protein like the bull bar of a 100 series…”

    Glenn, since we’re swapping roadkill stories, back in the early 70’s I worked for an old Idaho pioneer who had an organic orchard and garden, a chicken hatchery, a butchering business, and a taxidermy shop… yup, old Carl could do it all (although, having worked once in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, I gotta say his taxidermy was not what I would call “museum quality”… still, the local hunters liked it)… I did all kinds of odd jobs for Carl and lived for free in an old trailer in the orchard, but mostly I helped with the butchering of fowl… chooks, ducks, geese, turkeys… and then hunters brought us game in the fall to be skinned, butchered up into freezer packages, and have the hides tanned… bears, deer, elk, the occasional moose or cariboo. Often as not, we were paid in meat and hides rather than cash. But the best part was an arrangement we had with the state Fish and Game dept. and the state prison system. In Idaho, all roadkill legally belongs to the state, and if the Fish and Game guy could get there while it was still fresh enough, he always brought it to us. We kept the hide and half the meat… the other half was used to feed prisoners in jail. For the two years or so I lived and worked for Carl, I never bought meat or eggs, rarely bought vegetables or fruit… after you’ve lived off wild game for a while, store-bought beef tastes gross, greasy, and rancid. Venison is good, cariboo is good, bear meat is very, very rich and a little goes a long way, but the finest wild meat I’ve ever eaten is elk… it is lean, tender, the flavor is delicate, it is full of vitamins, you can do anything with it that a French chef can do with beef and it will taste better. I was fed roo meat several times in Oz in the 90s, gotta say I wasn’t too impressed. But maybe it wasn’t pre-tenderized properly??

  262. Panos, I’d go for download for a fee. You have minimum outlay, no discs to burn, no paper to print. Good for you and your footprint. How’s the tattoo?


  263. jenny lynn walker

    DAH: It was not a comment on what you said about the environment! It was acknowledging that you probably also feel that things are moving way too slowly – you were just sounding pragmatic back there. Sorry for any confusion! You mentioned ideals – we so need them – they are the only thing that can remain constant and true in this world it seems to me and it’s so easy to become cynical.

    So here’s one re. animals – that we should treat them with as much gentleness, kindness and respect is possible. I am a little disturbed by these comments on road kills that I’m reading. Do you think it would be more or less painful than being killed in a commercial abbatoir to be hit by a car? I’m not sure but I bet many, many animals die a very painful death being hit by vehicles and as they have feelings and nerve endings throughout their bodies just as we do, to laugh about them being hit on the road seems exceptionally cruel.

    And it brings to mind, the respect that I saw last year when I attended Gadhimai Mela (the world’s largest animal sacrifice). Contrary to international news coverage, it was not conducted in a blood-thirsty way at all. There were 1-4 million witnesses to make sure it was done correctly and I was standing right next to the head priest in the temple for the first of the temple rituals. In fact, the killing is conducted with a single blow with a knife that severs the head from the body in one go (de-capitation). I only saw it performed on about 20 animals which was enough to get the picture – and I know it was then conducted on several thousand. It was certainly no less humane than anything I have seen in images of abbatoirs – the difference only being the number in one location. But then if we were able to see all the animals around the world on any single day in one place, imagine how much blood and gore there would be. The cruelty must have been in the transportation of may of them long-distance which, like commercial abbatoirs, attenedees at the festival did not get to see.

  264. jenny lynn walker

    That last but one sentence came out wrong…

    If we were able to see ALL the animals around the world being slaughtered in one place on any day, imagine how much blood and gore there would be. In fact, if we were to see ALL the animals in any one country being slaughtered in one place on any one day, it would be absolutely horrific.

    This is not a nice topic for a Saturday!

    DAH: I sent you an email.

  265. “… but the finest wild meat I’ve ever eaten is elk …”

    Without a doubt Sidney, without a doubt. God bless my neighbors.

  266. Since we’re taking a break from story telling and delving into animals and

    Squirrels make havoc on my electric wiring, chipmunks undermine my land
    and snakes enter my basement to shed their skins. I’ve talk with all
    of them about this and the squirrells say no sweat, I’m faster than you.
    The chipmunks don’t give a shit and the snakes are gone before we can
    work things out.

    Man/woman have always been at odds with nature… it’s natural. Squirrel
    tail fur is great for tying flies.

    The ability to tell is in our hearts, we just have to connect it with our

    Love, Cheers and Rock n’ Roll

  267. DAH, I found your brief comment on the fishermen in the OBX hitting close to home. As you know I have been photographing the Watermen up here in Maryland for the last few months, without a doubt the most common quote I hear is “back in the day”. I usually hear that comment within just a few minuets of meeting a Watermen, and I think it has as much do do with their fading lifestyle as it has to their dwindling catches. I here that phrase so often it is one of the names I am kicking around for my Watermen project.

  268. The thing in NZ is that we have to air drop 1080 poison into the forest to save it from the possums. Environmentalists complain we shouldn’t because it is “not humane”, yet most environmentalists here won’t get off their organic arses to go and knock a few possums off! Complain and do nothing… Oh well; their status quo persists…

    And each night the possums consume another 21,000 tonnes of vegetation (300 g wet weight per possum x 70 million possums). Each possum killed saves 109.5kgs of vegetation annually.

    Swerve the car to miss a possum? Not likely!

  269. We seem to have gone from saving the planet to eating it!

    Back to the post: I’d rather see a brilliant story wonderfully told but the story, the content comes first. The term Primitive Artist comes to mind.


  270. jenny lynn walker

    pomara: You wrote: ‘man has always been at odds with nature’. I disagree. Man is simply forgotten that he/she is an animal and I cannot really see why we should have any more rights than a chipmonk! ; ) They have as much right to be here as we do. Unfortunately, not only are their habitats under threat around the world by the activities of what is widely said to be ‘the most intelligent’ of the animals (the only one that can speak incidentally) but there is nothing any other animal can do to stop it. And they can’t even complain when, for example, someone comes in with a digger and destroys their house. Not even having the courtesy to tell them in advance or help them re-locate. Who was on that land you live on first – you or the chipmonk?!

    “What is most important for you as a viewer: the story or the ability to tell it?” That is what DAH asked… are we getting any closer to answering it?

  271. There are no “real” or “important” stories..
    It’s all in the mind!
    It’s all in the mind of the story teller..
    It’s all in our imagination..
    Nothing is real..
    It’s all a reflection of our perception..
    Therefore the question is with no answer..
    Even Bob Dylan the greatest “protest songwriter”
    openly admitted that he was never a “protest” singer..
    I totally believe him.. but most of his “followers”

  272. There are no “real” or “important” stories..
    It’s all in the mind!
    It’s all in the mind of the story teller..
    It’s all in our imagination..
    Nothing is real..
    It’s all a reflection of our perception..
    Therefore the question is with no answer..
    Even Bob Dylan the greatest “protest songwriter”
    openly admitted that he was never a “protest” singer..
    I totally believe him.. but most of his “followers” disagree..
    That’s a Paradox! But it proves that “reality and objectivity”
    exist only in the courtrooms and not in everyday life..

  273. Should humans eat animals?
    Well put it this way..
    Have u ever watched a NatGeo documentary about lions?
    When I was a kid I was always thinking:
    Why on earth the photographer doesn’t do
    anything to save the poor gazelle from the lion’s teeth..???
    Why the lions are not vegetarians?
    Why so much “violence”..??
    Why animals are so brutal and violent???

  274. jenny lynn walker

    Panos: Are you sure that wasn’t just because Bob Dylan didn’t want to be categorized? Did he share any thoughts on something else he was happy being seen as other than a ‘protest’ singer?

  275. jenny lynn walker

    Panos: That is not a very good argument against the most intelligent animal – the one with the ability to think, the one with a conscience, the one with the ability to control their thoughts, actions and behaviours – should not refrain from eating other animals. I didn’t see anyone saying we shouldn’t eat meat on here though – not yet anyway.

    Hi to Venice B!

  276. Am I confusing anyone?
    Who sets the “rules”..
    Is it right? Is it wrong?
    Is there god? Afterlife?
    Who are right? The Marines? Or the Taliban?
    Is eating meat a crime?
    Is there a religion out there more righteous than the other?
    Who can define/DECIDE which “story” is important and which story is not?
    the newspaper guy?you? Me? The propaganda guy?

  277. jenny lynn walker

    “There are no “real” or “important” stories,” Panos writes… hmmmmmm? Maybe if we answer this question first – whether or not there are ‘important stories’ – it will help answer the bigger question that DAH has put to us?

  278. I therefore believe in the STORYTELLER only..
    Funny thing is that I don’t believe or care about his/her stories..
    Take Venice beach for example.. If anyone sees my Venice story
    through my photos.. Do u think they can get the “idea”??
    Is Venice really represented “truthfully” through my “objective eyes”??? Is Cuba what DAH recorded or felt or seen??
    I bet u that if most people visit Venice tomorrow they will be
    somehow disappointed.. Coz this “Venice” exists only in my head..
    This is “my” Venice.. That was DAH’s Cuba etc..
    Nothing more than perceptions.. Fragments of our imagination..

  279. jenny lynn walker

    DAH: You mentioned you cancelled two tickets to Europe? Why did you do that? Is that because you are too busy? Is everything okay?

  280. jenny lynn walker

    Fragments of our imagination? Well I think the story of Venice Beach would have looked very different if you sent two people out – one free to document everything that happens on the beach, the other locked away a very dark cupboard (let’s say in a restaurant on the beach) as a for instance. One would be filled with all the activity on the beach, the other just black frames. Is what is recorded simply imagination?

  281. jenny lynn walker

    i have seen your story by the way an i know there is a lot more to it but just interested in this idea of what is recorded being ‘imagination’…

  282. A story is nothing without the ability to tell it. People would get it wrong, they would even misuse it.
    It has to be personal and objective in the same way – to tell it like it is.

  283. I always suspect folks that want to save the world..
    Christian missionaries..
    Went to Africa , saved them from cannibalism..
    Saved the world from their SINS..
    they were on a mission..
    Trying to stop the wars, preaching.. Tame the beast..
    Civilize the uncivilized..
    Oh please …
    Humans now are so civilized..
    They do yoga and become vegans..
    I’m so tired of the hypocrisy of modern photojournalists..
    They travel around to “save China” or “stop the War”..
    Hmmm yeah right..
    The only thing that I believe that separate humans from animals
    Is the ability to crate ART..
    nothing else.
    I need GOOD ART.. I don’t need a good story..
    THAT he/she got a great story..
    Gimme Art.. I don’t need morality..
    I don’t believe in good causes and great intentions..
    Be honest, gimme Art..
    That’s the only thing a human
    can produce..
    CAVEN were honest .. Their art was pure..

  284. jenny lynn walker

    David’s ‘Cuba’ and your ‘Venice Beach’ certainly comprise ‘fragments’ that is for sure – fragments of the whole of reality – moments plucked out from the march of the moment onward, and you did not only select the ‘moment’ you wanted to record, but where you were when you recorded it, and how you chose to record it. So yes, the result is totally a reflection of ‘you’ and your choices of which fragments of the whole of reality and its movement through time that you capture when you press the shutter release.

  285. jenny lynn walker

    on the other hand, we have to question whether we have ‘free choice’. i do not believe that i freely decide where i am in any moment. ; )

  286. Oh.. One more thing is as important as ART.. and that is philosophy..
    The rest ( righteous , saving the world stuff ) is propaganda and fear.. Fear and disability of understanding human nature…
    “I’m your friend until I get hungry”
    That’s something we always forget..:)

  287. jenny lynn walker

    Panos: I think what we ALL need is LIFE. And that is increasingly under threat unfortunately – life on Earth in the future. Who will there be to appreciate ‘art’ when the planet is a lifeless dustbowl?

  288. Remember the painter BASQUIAT..
    remember Andy Warhol ..
    Think of Lou Reed’s song Heroin..
    Think of Leonard Cohen..
    They were the Greatest Storytellers..
    As Trent Parke or DAH or Jules Vern..
    If you (any you) are not able to be Nietzsche
    then you better be Picasso or Parke..
    Coz if you are just a McCurry or Koudelka then
    Sorry.. That’s not enough for me..
    I need imagination, not preaching!
    ( I can call Jesus if I
    need to be saved..

  289. okay. Heres a little excercise to get us back on track.
    Go back to kerry’s essay and just LISTEN to it…no visuals at all. how did you experience that?

    Now just watch the visuals with NO SOUND…..how did that work? (even knowing, because you cant un-know, that it has an accompanying audio track)
    finally watch the whole thing again.
    what conclusions do you reach about this piece?
    FOR ME:
    AUDIO ONLY Truncated, the audio testimonials are very powerful, the story is imediately apparent and moving.
    it has the ability to stand alone as a document. I felt empathy towards the people I was hearing, even not knowing anything much about them.

    odd disjointed imagery, some with hints of distress, but mainly vague. No idea what they are trying to say. Treatment of images somewhat bland.(a very ordinary digital greyscale) overall no feelings of connection or puzzlement..no curiosity aroused. presented this way I would not have a second look, or wish to view them as a book or prints.

    The story is made apparent. The subtitles provide information to back up the testimonials, and the pictures put faces to voices. The subtitles have added a documentary layer to the piece and told me this is a STORY, by adding context and fact. But I am less moved than when I could just hear it.

    The audio tells me that the story is very emotive, and i feel that. The subtitles add to the narrative and provide additional information on statistics etc.. The pictures, although ‘fitting’ the story, do nothing for me in increasing its power; in fact they dilute it. They are most definately the weak point.
    as they lean on the other elements in the presentation to prop them up.

    Which gets us back to ‘the story or the telling?’
    The story here is obviously important. it is an important story.
    but the telling of the story does not do the story itself full justice, and so loses impact through that. In this case, I believe, all the elements need to fully compliment each other and be on a par, quality wise, otherwise the ‘story’ is made less.
    So in this instance the ‘stroytelling’ was the important thing to get right as the ‘story’ itself is solid.

    Agree, disagree?



  290. jenny lynn walker

    John: Agree 100%

    Your diagnosis is close to my original comment. I think the audio would make an excellent piece for radio. It would be exceptionally valuable, could potentially be translated into other languages as well and distributed widely. This is a very important story and one that can be extremely helpful to others. Alternatively, more powerful imagery needed and work on sequencing which will no doubt come as this is a work in progress… this would have the possibility of using the medium to its greatest potential and fulfilling the idea of the story to its greatest potential. That’s my 2c…

  291. John…
    Very interesting..
    But u know my answer…
    I’d rather have a great Storyteller talking to me about a mundane subject(story),
    Than Zoriah telling( with photos) me about the importance of tuberculosis in Namimbia..

  292. jenny lynn walker

    no, i did not mean ‘alternatively’, i meant ‘in addition’… more powerful/emotional/narrative imagery needed etc…

  293. jenny lynn walker

    Panos: So would I. And while I am listening and enjoying the story, many people are at the same time dying of tuburculosis. So long as we are all aware of this.

  294. Panos. I dont think its an either or deal. I think it is dependent on the ‘story’ to be told, as much as it is about the ‘storytelling’. Each one has many cases where one would take precedent over the other.
    In this case, I believe the ‘story’ needed no validation, but the telling of it needed to be strong right across the board(or perhaps a different type of approach).


  295. jenny lynn walker

    Panos: by the way, why the either/or? we need both don’t we? i think both are equally important. i believe the purpose of our existence is to create and that as life is so precious that we must celebrate it! but at the same time, there are those that are not in a position to do that and need all the help they can get. is that okay?

  296. Again.. I don’t care if it’s TB or a lovestory..
    I just need someone to tell it “right”..
    I care about the MESSENGER not the MESSAGE.
    otherwise I would newspapers or TIME mag..
    But I chose BURN instead..
    Why? Coz I care to see and breath Art..
    And the best artists are “here”.. Not in NY times nor LA times nor NatGeo..
    Burn is the official home of Artists
    when it comes to photography..
    Big hug
    2:35am here
    Gotta sleep

  297. John, This sort of multi media IS illustrated radio. The audio is more important than anything else. Obviously you want every thing to be good but the best pictures will not carry bad sound.

  298. About this whole multimedia phenomenon, we got to evolve along with it, but we must not forget our main purpose as photographers. Music and text are great ways to enhance stories and create more compelling visual experiences. Multimedia is definitely opening new roads, but the photography should be telling a powerful story by itself, it must create the impact that is going to be remembered long after the presentation. The image should never lose its power to the text or the music (something very difficult to accomplish, in my opinion).

    In this aspect I think the multimedia essay by Dhiraj Singh, “My name is Dechen”, is an example of a multimedia presentation that creates a perfect balance between the powerful impact of the images, the music and the text. They enhance each other perfectly well and tell with ability a very powerful story which creates an imapct in all of its levels.

    About Anthony RZ’s statement on the importance of ability, I totally agree with him. We all have interesting stories to tell, but without the ability to tell them, it becomes extremely difficult to create an authentic interest than transaltes into an impact on the viewer. It is like charisma on a public speaker: everything.

  299. Ledenav makes an important point. People shouldn’t think of multimedia as something they need to do because it’s the next big thing. People should think about how they want to best present their work and then use multimedia options if necessary to realize that vision. You can have multimedia with no still photography at all. So as still photographers we need to figure out how to use multimedia to enhance our still photography. Not turn it into broadcast tv, or even motion pictures (though a little motion can, I think, be a good thing).

  300. In this case, I believe, all the elements need to fully compliment each other and be on a par, quality wise…>

    I like your approach to critiquing multimedia and agree with what you write about essays like Kerry’s (if not Kerry’s itself), in which the different multimedia elements are balanced. But in many other cases, and I think this is important for still photographers, the elements are not, nor should they be balanced. The audio and motion pictures serve as complimentary elements, not equal. In those cases, the complimentary elements need to be of adequate quality to enhance — definitely not detract from — the main element, but they do not need to stand on their own.


    i do agree with you that the actual photography is the weakest part of this essay….take the pictures out of this context and you would not know what you were seeing or what to think…i also think this brings up a tough nut to crack and almost another whole thread…that is: what do photographers do when faced with illustrating a text? which is basically the self assignment given here…Kerry was almost literally trying to make pictures to go with a text (in this case a voice over) or concept…she was faced with trying to make portraits of those left behind long after they were left behind…the photographs were of people not directly part of an action or moment in time that could possibly be directly related to the story being told…this happens everyday to newspaper and magazine photographers who are given assignments to photograph important people who are part of a great “word story”, but there is no way to show in pictures exactly the emotion garnered by the text…so actually Kerry did not do a bad job of portraiture, she was simply up against the almost impossible task of creating retro emotion if there is such a term….this is a very different “assignment” than one involving direct action…i.e. war breaks out in Iraq and photographer shows dead bodies in the street from a bomb dropped that morning….context is everything….i.e. photographs of celebrities are only “good” if we know who it is being photographed…..i.e. is Annie L really a great photographer or are we mesmerized by the “who” in her pictures….it is the same conundrum that Kerry has here and the problem with 90% of all media photography……all of us need to know “who” these people are and their circumstance before any value can be attached to them…it is the marriage of words (or voice , or music) and pictures that makes the story complete…i think Kerry knows this and knew it when she took it on as an essay…i do not think she ever saw these photographs as art for the wall in someone’s home….nor as stand alone imagery at all…for her i think it was always the whole package…not to be separated out…..and with a life catharsis perhaps as the most important aspect and hopefully touching a few of us along the way…

    cheers, david

  302. Note to admins, if you want to fix my italics tags above, feel free, and while you’re at it, by “right” I mean “write”, right?

  303. DAVID,

    This is helpful perspective on Kerry’s essay. There are stories that are very difficult to photograph and for these indeed, words, voices can matter even more than the photographs themselves. Kerry was up to a tough challenge here… While different, it reminds me a bit of the challenge that Eugene Richards faced when he decided to photograph families of soldiers who were wounded in Irak… If I recall, this project was called “war is personal”… I am a big fan of Eugene and his “Cocain” book is one of the very best, but somehow, some of the photographs of that project were of course moving but all in all, I felt the work was not as stellar… out of context, the work on these families touched by this drama back home in their normal everyday environment was not “photographically” as interesting….yet, I was fortunate with many others to listen to the stories of these families and soldiers told by Eugene and his wife in Charlottesville and then it touched me deeply to listen to the words,…it did become personal at that stage… I think Kerry’s essay is in the same vein…Photographically I have seen more interesting work for sure, yet emotionaly, it is still a moving piece of work. I hardly know Kerry but when I first saw it, was late at night one day back from vacations and especially when Kerry spoke at the very end I had tears in my eyes….


  304. This is one photo to which I’ve applied some multimedia technique. I made it this morning to kind of illustrate what I was talking about above. I throw it out there in case anyone is interested in discussing these kinds of nuts and bolts questions concerning storytelling with multimedia.

    Basically what’s going on is that I’m using camera movements to direct the viewers attention to different parts of the photo in a linear fashion, thus revealing the story a piece at a time and developing some dramatic tension, as is done in books and movies.

    The story told by the still photo itself, on the other hand, is in no way linear. It’s presented as a totality and the viewer is left to his or her own devices to figure out what story it tells, if any.

    So does this method make the still photo something else entirely, or does it retain its still-photoness and possibly enhance it for at least some potential viewers?

    I’m not sure, though I lean towards hating it. To give you an example of one possible critique, I’ll paraphrase Tarkovsky:

    Trying to adapt the features of other art forms to the still photo will always deprive the still photo of what is distinctively photography, and make it harder to handle the material in a way that makes use of the powerful resources of still photography as an art in its own right. But above all such a procedure sets up a barrier between the author of the photo and life. Methods established by the newer art forms interpose themselves. It specifically prevents life from being recreated in the still photo as a person feels it and sees it, in other words, authentically.

    Or does it just depend on the creator and his or her artistic integrity? On why someone would choose a particular method much more than the method itself?

  305. My problem with it is I don’t like being told how to look…just give me the whole picture and let me decide how to view it and decide which parts warrant my attention…I just found the camera movements annoying and somewhat patronizing even though that obviously wasn’t your intended response.
    And I’m not sure what the purpose of sound was in this, it didn’t tell us anything more than the picture….maybe it was just too obvious for me.
    Interesting experiment though.

  306. DAVID, your analysis was spot on — thank you.

    Is there a rule on captioning for a piece like this one? For example, some of the images in this essay take on a different level of meaning when you know what they represent —

    The image of the choppy water in Chris Reynold’s piece is the lake where they spread his fathers ashes, — Chris was angry because it was such a beautiful send off and he felt his father did not deserve it. The image with STOP is the car park where his brother took his life. The cardboard box behind Chris in his car has his brothers blood on it and he keeps it because it makes him feel closer to him, etc. You can see more of the captions in the Left Behind album here:

    I’m not sure how to tell that through the use of images alone… or even if it’s necessary to? I have all of this in audio, so perhaps I need to keep shooting and create a series of smaller pieces that go into more detail for each person. Or is it ok to rely on captioning for some explanation?

    This week I’ve received dozens of notes from people who this essay is touching, so I am especially grateful to everybody here for your considered feedback and suggestions on how to make it stronger.

    Yesterday I received an email from a woman who said she had seriously considered suicide many times recently, but after watching this and seeing the pain it causes she knows now she never would. I’ve never been more motivated in my life to create something of worth.

  307. all:

    just a quick note as i’m returning from a trip and now running out for another….and wrote enough under Kerry’s essay and this thread, but i just want to iterate that this entire question about, quoting Leadav’s allusion to Anthony RZ with regard to ability ” ..totally agree with him. We all have interesting stories to tell, but without the ability to tell them, it becomes extremely difficult to create an authentic interest than transaltes into an impact on the viewer…”

    i’d just like to remind folk, again, that the interpretation and reaction to ‘ability to tell them..’ is an entirely subjective and personal (the reader’s) reaction….this is not a standard with any universality, even when we discuss (as it should) photography as a craft, that craft and it’s effect on an audience differs wildly from viewer to viewer…..tarkovsky’s films, since he keeps coming up, were seen as headache inducing, addling tomes of illogical and ponderous nonsense by the many of the soviet filmgoing (see his words in Sculpting in Time, a book by the way, i think Michael you would enjoy, and is diaries, which i do not believe are still in print in translation)…..Tarkosky (a personal hero of mine as well) also could be incredibly conservative and restrictive about what constitutes art and film….just as late tolstoy’s ‘what is art’ is one of the most frustrating i’ve even nearly choked on (and i love tolstoy)…..

    by the way, for me, Solaris IS the movie Inception is trying to be….and while i like Zona (Stalker in English), Zerkalo (the mirror) is THE movie that applies best to multimedia….i’m not sure i agree at all with what tarkovsky had to say about photography, actually, or even poetry….but it doesn’t matter at all what his ideas were (some of which i agree with, many of which i do not), the fact is that in the end, the created 7 of the greatest works of art i know on the spiritual story of living and dying and struggling with all of what that means that i know….and it’s short film violin and steamroller aint half bad too ;))

    in order to understand craft and to attempt to critique craft, regardless of the deconstructionists felt, i do think it is important to see what the work itself to the creator, what it’s essential aim was, and as i wrote under Kerry’s essay, the photos themselves (at least before the last chapter about kerry) were more akin to visual acts of witness, as markers that grounded (for good or ill to the viewer’s aesthetic discernment) the narrative of the families’ who were speaking of their loss…so that the sound track and testimony was not disembodied, but extant……

    sometimes, like music in film, photos and/or text can be contrapuntal, sometimes replicating, sometimes disconnected….i think looking at the work for it’s aeshetic payoff (at least the beginning) is misreading the piece….

    but, hey, that’s only me ;))…


    literally running off for the day with mrs. black…


  308. jenny lynn walker

    Kerry: All the little details you just explained are vital to the viewers’ understanding of the photographs so there needs to be a way to incorporate them. How about having a slideshow in parallel with the multimedia piece or to construct the whole in such a way that there is an option to look at the images without the audio? It would give the potential to engage viewers more deeply in the images without the sound afterwards – to look at them at their own pace and read the captions. This was done with the Pagetti piece we discussed earlier on this thread.

  309. a civilian-mass audience

    Can I say you are BURNING my BURNIANS…!!!

    whatever works for you…it will show best in your work…
    keep evolving…keep rolling…
    if you own it…then we will believe you …

    if you put your soul out there …then this energy will come back to you…
    even the sky is not the limit…
    what are you afraid of…???
    you are not civilians afterall…:)))

    LOVE to ALL

  310. a civilian-mass audience

    JENNY…oime for sure…

    Tonight I will drink to our BURNIAN ladies…
    is that ok with you mates???:)))


  311. DAH, interesting points on Kerry’s work and on word stories in general.

    Kerry, thank you for the extra caption information it really makes a difference to reading the photographs. One way of imparting the information to the viewer would be to keep the multimedia piece and then show each photograph again: briefly; with the caption information displayed either underneath or superimposed on the photographs. Something along those lines, I’m thinking here of how some photographic books have thumbnails at the end of the book with descriptive captions.


  312. I’m not a big watcher of YouTube but remember seeing on TV news the couple who performed the “I’ve had the time of my life” song from the film Dirty Dancing at their wedding, and posted the video to great acclaim. An excellent example of how the story, the content, is most important.


  313. Bob I agree..
    About Kerry’s essay, removing the sound theory etc?
    Well imagine the movie “The Wall” by Pink Floyd with the sound off or removed!!! Would it make any sense?

  314. Panos. first if you read roger waters you willl find out what he thinks of the film of the wall. It was after all originally conceived as a stage piece, a theatrical set to accompany the music.
    Second . The film is an interpretation of a concept piece and as such I would be suprised if it made much sense without the thing that gives it its reason to be….saying that however the cinematography is really very good and there are some lovely lit scenes throughout.

  315. Hi everyone. About ability to tell… last year at the VISA in Perpignan, a french photographer, Samuel Bollendorf, present a “web documentary”.
    The presentation was really great.
    He spoke mainly about the great stuff about multimedia, technology, sound, and editing with computer, that nowadays it is important to become ACTIVE and not anymore PASSIVE looking at pictures/stories.
    For whose that were born in early ’80, this reminds me a awesome PC game: Monkey Island!! You’re ACTIVE in the story.

    If you have at least ten minutes, below is the link (in french as well as English). The story is about obesity in America and France.

    Enjoy, Patricio


  316. “Oh.. One more thing is as important as ART.. and that is philosophy..
    The rest ( righteous , saving the world stuff ) is propaganda and fear”

    Philosophy is propaganda
    art is propaganda
    photography is propaganda
    life is propaganda
    life is propaganda of art, photography and philosophy
    any words are propaganda

  317. Storytelling ability versus the story?

    I suppose the ability to tell a “seemingly” mundane story sorts the (photography) wheat from the chaff. We tend to forget how many writers are able to tell a spellbinding story about everyday events, why shouldn’t photographers be able to do the same?

    That’s probably why so many photographers seek out the exotic, the dirty, the marginal; it makes the storytelling easier because those aspects can help “pad out” the visuals. Maybe they make up (a bit, or a lot!), for the photographer’s limited ability to story-tell?

  318. Hey Bob, I too would love to discuss Tarkovsky more, and will as time goes by. I picked up “Sculpting” yesterday, btw. I’ve always been attracted to that kind of absolutism in regard to artistic integrity schtick. Fall into that trap myself, though with significantly less notable results. It’s strange. Normally when I find an artist I care about I ingest all of his or her work as rapidly as possible, but as I mentioned, I practically worshiped “Solaris” yet never sought out anything else by Tarkovsky. That’s probably for the best because I don’t think I was ready for it then and now it’s exactly what I need. I’d really like to talk about “Stalker,” but it’s way too deep to approach haphazardly. Anyway, it’s unfortunate I never made a note of your email address because I probably should not cop to this publicly, but I think you’ll find it interesting, particularly if you’ve read Paul Auster (and what haven’t you read?). This is a book review of “New York Stories” I wrote many, many years ago during the time I was obsessively watching “Solaris,” which plays a prominent role in the review. Funny how the photo I used to illustrate it is so Tarkovskyan, eh.

  319. jenny lynn walker

    Panos: I also don’t think it would be a good idea to remove the sound from the piece. To my mind, the audio is the best part. But to give viewers the option to see a slide show of very moving images without sound at the end of a multimedia presentation could be very powerful: the contrast. In this case, the loss of the sound when you look at the images may remind the viewer, subconsciously, of ‘the loss’ experienced by the survivors. Just an idea…

  320. Art is truth? Art is propaganda? It can be both and used for both! Anyway; whatever art you pursue is only your own perceived view. So you have filtered it or maybe even distorted it through your own mind.

  321. MW

    link not working for me…i mean technically…pasa nada


    i think you are quite right in general , although great material in the hands/eye of of great photographer can yield greatness

  322. MW…MARCIN

    there are some truths…like the affects of gravity on either rising or falling objects…and like the temperature required to boil water at various altitudes…..most of the rest of the stuff is up for grabs…

  323. I think the “ability” to tell a story only fails when the ability to “hear” a story is absent. Anyone can tell a story, and there are many stories that need to be told. Sometimes the best stories come from the least likely of places. Some people are more entertaining than others – Robert Capa being a great example. His use of embellished and exciting stories to sell himself and his work did wonders for him. But what’s truly most important? The need to be entertained or the will to learn? What is your motivation when hearing another’s story? Did you ask to hear it or did you just stumble into it?

  324. hmmmm… or maybe that way:

    philosophy is propaganda, politic and business
    art is propaganda, politic and business
    photography is propaganda, politic and business
    life is is propaganda, politic and business

    enjoy your life, enjoy the propaganda, the politic and the business


  325. Imants, what was that? I have to say, if the music had not been there I would not have stayed. And then I didn’t know why I was staying after seeing the three images. Can you fill me in? Did I miss something in my absence of 24 or whatever hours? I am surprised you posted this based upon your comments over the past few days. They were three very nice images though.

  326. a civilian-mass audience

    I see soul…
    and when I see soul
    there is beauty
    and beauty is coming from within

    I am sending silents IMANTS…
    I see soul


  327. David. “photographs of celebrities are only “good” if we know who it is being photographed…..i.e. is Annie L really a great photographer or are we mesmerized by the “who” in her pictures”

    firstly. Absolutely NOT true. A photo is only good if the photo is good..who the celebrity is, is only of value to picture editors and the general public. Surely the aim is to try and make great shots of whoever the subject matter is.
    Take this little selection for example
    Quite a few celebrities, at least one rock and roll legend(maybe more :)), maybe a famous hollywood film director thrown in for good measure, with some people nobody has ever, or probably will ever hear of. Which is which? who cares? I think all can stand as ‘good’ without needing a name attached to them
    If the pictures hold up, then isnt that the point? Which is why they are all untitled, and shown together, to get away from this ‘cult of celebrity’ thing.

    BTW. I think annie L has/had a hell of a lot of talent and her early b/w work is fantastic. ‘Named’ celebrity vanity pieces do sort of suck though.


  328. David, hmmmm, the link works for me, but all in all it appears I wasn’t at my HTML best yesterday. You don’t want to read my old book reviews anyway. And if you haven’t read Auster, you wouldn’t get the joke. Mainly just thought Bob would be interested. It was just a shut in Sunday. Read and watched Tarkovsky, worked on stuff, sweated buckets. New York is so charming in the heat. Shoulda got out.

    Regarding the art and truth thing, I was just parroting old Andrey. I tend to joke when told in an authoritative voice that x = y now, then, and always. Everything is propaganda? Well, maybe. Maybe Imants’ little thing was nothing but shameless propaganda. Looks like Art to me though. Looks like Truth. Maybe old Andrey was right. And even if not, even if I missed the joke, why not live as though art is truth? That’s a choice we, as artists, can make.

  329. ‘The purpose of all art is to cause a deep and emotion, also one that is entertaining or pleasing.
    Out of the depth and entertainment comes value.’
    — W. Eugene Smith


  330. a civilian-mass audience

    LEE…I can’t log in my other account…
    change of plans …you are free to roam …
    Maui will probably not see civilian…
    BUT my friend …we will meet…

  331. jenny lynn walker

    Soul – Truth – Eternity – Art
    in a single image set to music
    you almost broke my heart
    thank you Imants
    an ocean
    of love


    sorry mate, but those look like celebrity or performer shots to me…i would say “ok” or “fine” to these pictures, yet without knowing who they are would not choose as a “good” or compelling photograph beyond immediate press use…do agree Annie was/is a talented photographer and yes her early b&w was terrific..still, it was the Stones after all…i am not saying she could not have made great photographs of non-celebrity folks, but she didn’t….i can only go by what actually happened and by the books of photographs of celebrities…as a celebrity photographer she is certainly the best or one of them at least…but, no matter what, that is her fate….which of course has made her a celebrity and wealthy etc etc…so by most American so called success standards Annie is a full blown success story…

    cheers, david

  333. jenny lynn walker

    DAVID… and ALL Burnians:

    ‎”May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows. And may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.”
    ~ a Cherokee blessing

  334. I’m a little uncomfortable critiquing someone’s requiem piece, but since my thoughts are entirely positive and it is linked to in a discussion of multimedia, I’ll hazard the chance.

    In the context of this discussion, I like it very much for two reasons. One, the largely non-linnear nature of the presentation. A tough act in this medium. Two, the use of poetic relationships to tell the story rather than straightforward narrative, an approach I think we don’t see enough of in photo essays. And three (looks up, half expecting the Spanish Inquisition (but they never come when you expect them, only when you don’t)), okay, there’s no three. Once again though, condolences…

  335. sorry to be a bit pedantic david, but the stones pics were good because they were good pictures, not just because the stones were the subject. In fifty years time, people who have no idea who the stones are/were should still be appreciating those shots. And that was my whole point. The ‘who is this?’ is just an aside.
    The Anton corbjin shot of don van vliet for the cover of ice cream for crow is a killer shot despite the fact that most people have no idea who captain beefheart is.
    mapplethorpes shot of patti smith for horses..same deal.
    penni smiths shot of paul simonon smashing his bass.
    Who these people are, and who photographed them, and what they are for, are totally irelevent in my view.
    I admit that rock and roll photography is an aquired taste, and maybe its not ‘poetic storytelling’ whatever the hell that is, but as a genre of photography, done well, I would pick it most days above much of the offerings that are popular with magazine editors and ‘photo-artists’.
    ironically, the music photo that is supposed, by some, to be the greatest iconic music picture of all time; the picture of johnny cash flipping the bird, I think is decidedly average..if it wasnt johnny cash it would be a non picture…go figure.

    Always nice to disagree with such an agreeable person :)


  336. Annie Leibowitz sucks..
    I’m from LA.. Celebrity town..
    I know I “should” like her but gotta be honest..
    11:45am in LA… Not too many celebrities out
    in the streets yet.. Nevermind I’ll wait ;)

  337. of all the well known musicians and dj’s i’ve snapped i think there are 2 or 3 i have online.. just not that interesting, although of course i’ll cash them in.

    strangely though – i earn more from resales of general people and rare venues / festivals than i do from the ‘names’.. times, and youth culture, has changed.

    the formula for snapping musicians, dj’s and the like is just too easy once you’ve nailed it.. repetitive.. formulaic.. just as the mags / pr’s / festivals want…

    so many agency snappers are sent ot only get these shots that these days they are really common.. john cash flipping the bird and so on.

    a good photograph of a rarely caught moment in the crowd bakes my buns much more.
    such a shame some of the 50’s and 60’s snappers neglected this angle.. or at least exhibits don’t show it.


  338. Damn… Wait a minute… Who’s that guy in that Benz yelling and swearing and shouting??
    Wow.. Looks exactly like Mel Gibson but I’m not putting my hand on the bible for this;)
    Big hug
    May good mood prevails;)

  339. david bowen. I guess a lot of it comes down to individual taste and motive. I dont think I have ever taken a picture I didnt want to take just to make money(does that make me lucky, or naive?), and most of the music pictures I take, I take just for myself. Even commissions i will only do if i think there is a shot that I want. I remember doing a show for a promoter and not taking a single picture of the headline band…they were, to me, photographiclly boring. he went apeshit, I didnt get paid, but i got a great shot of a drunk at the bar and a girl from one of the support groups.

  340. jenny lynn walker

    How excitement-packed June 26 turned out to be! One minute watching Julian Assange LIVE in London discussing the war reports he leaked, the next, the White House’s response to it LIVE from the White House.
    And in less than a month, this world wide web has shaken me up and turned my world inside out and upside down. But, more importantly:

    I have a mind to confuse things,
    unite them,
    bring them to birth,
    mix them up, undress them,
    the light of the world has the oneness
    of the ocean…

  341. The piece is the first concerted attempt to achieve a better translation of the books I have put together as usual linear stuff didn’t work. I figured five books for the year was enough at the moment and didn’t want to dig a visual hole for myself and I have free time to play.
    At this stage it is just about the simple slide tools available either at a minimum cost or freeware. But I figured I may run the animation /flash direction and eventually translate into a html structure/ ipad though I reckon Jobs is a bit on the greed side as flash is a pretty creative application that has great stoy telling potential.
    I intentionally am opting out of using moving pictures and going down that path as it is a different way of thinking ……….. a trailer for “etrouko the animated book” is in progress though a few months in the future.

    For those that viewed the piece, thanks for the comments and it was meant as a quiet esoteric piece and the first step to giving the viewer a distinct multiple paths. The piece is really about memory and the music is a Latvian piece “Where do you go to my brother”

    I don’t have that much to say about the dialogue topic and will leave it to others……….

  342. ….. love the leaks about Afghanistan especially when the head leak honcho stated that nobody will be compromised or harmed because the leaks are being published.

  343. JOHN G and DAH,

    Aaah, the ol’ rock and roll celebrity vs compelling photo on it’s own conundrum… glad I’ve never had to deal with that! :) :)

    The best compliment I’ve ever received was from an 80 year old something woman who was on the board at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, VA when I had my Touch Me show there. She said she knew nothing about rock and roll but was totally captivated by the photos and could imagine what it was like to partake in it. Mission accomplished.

    Part of it is telling the whole story. John G, if I may, what I think is lacking with your very fine music photos is the glue that holds them together, makes them an entity unto themselves, and not just a random assemblage of bands and musicians. I think this is what DAH is referring (?). Like you, I will disagree with DAH that celebrity somehow renders the photos less compelling on their own – it’s just a matter of context and intention I believe. So find a scene and document the ins and out outs of it. Make it a story that even an 80 year old can get excited over. Then it doesn’t matter who the fuck it is.

    Tomorrow I start teaching a group of nine high schoolers in a rock photography camp at EMP. They will be shooting the other band camps in classroom settings – not really the Stones at Madison Square Garden! :)
    So what I am going to emphasize with them is composition (x3) above all else – moments come with experience and if they can’t dynamically compose when those moments appear then alas all is lost. Since lighting will be tricky, and no minimum camera requirements, I will have them all shoot in b&w to level the playing field. Should be fun!

  344. Charles; I showed some of my Indie music pics to a “seniors” group a while ago. After seeing them one chap said; “I wish i was 17 again!” To which a lady replied “You mean you wish you were 70 again!” :-)

  345. I am back home, with my fast internet connection and a desire to see what this discussion is all about. Yet, having just dropped in and still feeling that exhausted feeling that you have when you come in from the field having had too little sleep I can’t bring myself to focus on 500 comments.

    But I did see DAH’s twitter about having finished Burn in print, so congratulations on that and I look forward to seeing it.

    As for me, after two experiments at doing so – the General Assembly of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Greenland and the Gwich’in Gathering in Fort Yukon, especially with a painfully slow and often non-functional internet connection, I have concluded that day to day event photo-blogging-with-words is not practical and is counter-productive.

    On this trip, I gave the idea up early and just decided to blog the Gathering this week. Maybe even that is impossible to do what I want to do, but, starting tomorrow, I am going to start trying and I will find out.

  346. Jenny:

    I have a mind to confuse things,
    unite them,
    bring them to birth,
    mix them up, undress them,
    the light of the world has the oneness
    of the ocean…

    jenny lynn walker
    July 26, 2010 at 5:20 pm
    sorry for going off-topic…

    just when i thought you were doing so well, you turn around and apologize..don’t sop now, Jenny…off topic sounds quite nearly exactly right…


  347. a civilian-mass audience

    Welcome back …
    you will definitely need your reading glasses

    please …don’t dish our appointment…not yet…
    when there is a vision
    there is a way…

    I am south of Italy …I am approaching France …by the end of July …
    I will call my French people…

    I will try to e-mail…BUT I have baby problem:)))

    KATIE…we need update…LOVE YOU…stay strong
    I can’t loose My Street Fighter…

    BURNIANS…each one of you…YOU are all in my heart

  348. a civilian-mass audience

    damnit …
    I believe in the energy…thousand miles away…
    energy is energy
    it comes back to rock you…
    all you need is MYGRACIE’S ice-cream, GORDON’S “I love my life”
    DAVISB’S roockandrolla, PANO’S tell it as it is,BOBBY’S energizing wordfalls,
    OURPATRICIA’S white Eagle’s vision…
    you are so many…
    I am counting free minutes…

  349. a civilian-mass audience

    ohhh…before I go…

    THANK YOU ALLLLLL of you that you are helping behind the scenes and we don’t know your names…(not yet)
    …I forgot my little purple book at home…

    THANK YOU from my Civilian heart…for the vision…!!!
    BURN is in our heart…and I know I am addicted…
    and you are always on my side…hmmm…like PANO’S tattoo…


  350. Jenny – It appears to me that this thread has evolved into the all-purpose thread – which means it is just the right place for off-topic.

    And I always enjoy the way you use words.

    I’m glad you’re off-topic.

  351. Bill. have you thought about using an offline blog editor? Make now-upload at leisure kind of thing.
    havent used one myself but I know they exist, and are for exactly the situations you describe.

  352. John – Yes, I have thought about it and I did experiment with a couple but they did not work. The experiment ate up so much time that I have been reluctant to try again, but, if I were to find one that would work…

  353. jenny lynn walker

    Civi: The question was simply where are you now? I know you’re on the road but that is all. I hope you’re enjoying yourself! : )

    Imants: Yes. Assange has a brilliant mind and will be disliked, not only for the leaked documents but because he comes across so well in interviews. His answers to every question are as cool and collected as any President and equally, if not more, articulate and intelligent. I am praying for him.
    “The most dangerous men are those who are in charge of war. And they need to be stopped. If that makes me dangerous in their eyes, so be it.” Julian Assange

    Kathleen: It was a snippet of the last words in a poem from one my favourite poets: Pablo Neruda.
    And another snippet:

    “I know only the skin of the Earth and I know it has no name.” ie there is no need for individual countries because we are ‘one people’.

    How is the debate going? Has anyone been convinced to change their original point of view?

  354. jenny lynn walker

    DAVID – I would love to send something special into Burn but I’m not certain what to send. I have an essay produced in a way that breaks photographic rules and will no doubt be ridiculed, or simply dismissed, and be regarded as pontification or omphaloskepsis (just found that word and its perfect!). An ‘Art’ piece. Or, an essay created to spread a little positive news about a place and people that I grew to love. More ‘Documentary’. But tell me, should I try to get it all up on a website first so you can choose as there’s lots to choose from? Some of the pieces are more about prompting thought on how the world is, and how we are as people, rather than telling stories with a strong narrative. Actually, there is no narrative because I am just recording ‘moments’. I am feeling culture-shocked being back home after so long away and would appreciate your advice.

  355. jenny lynn walker

    ie… because he did not hold onto the documents which appear to catalogue war crimes… he gave them to YOU and to ME and, to every single person in the world with access to a computer screen…

  356. a civilian-mass audience

    I would suggest to have some ouzo…

    “ompaloskepsis”=From the Greek: omphalos (navel) + skepsis (act of looking, examination), it refers to excessive introspection, self-absorption, or concentration on a single issue.

    LOVE you JENNY…you are Greek too:))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  357. You know, we all consider ourselves being photographers, don’t we?… our abilities to take strong pictures or stories vary greatly, don’t they?… great photographers are able to speak the visual language that is understood by almost everyone and everywhere, aren’t they?… It isn’t our photographers’ business to contemplate ability vs willingness… we do because we do, because it’s our mission, because we don’t want to do anything else… – the audience, galleries, editors… and the time will judge our work, and decide…

  358. jenny lynn walker

    Civi: Perhaps just some ‘time out’ – I want to feel refreshed rather than wasted or ‘out of it’. Thanks tho!

    Thomas: I know that link. Thanks. I’m in a chicken-and-egg-fix.

    850,000 people now working in secret service and counter-intelligence in the USA since 9/11 according to ‘Top Secret America” – 2-year investigation by the Washington Post… its all too much.

  359. So, would an omphaloskeptic be someone who doesnt believe in the existence of the navel? Is there a name for those who do not believe in the existence of the kumquat or the tangerine, or perhaps even the Valencia? I am having a very hard time imagining why anyone would choose to disbelieve in the existence of citrus fruits, but I don’t get around much.

  360. a civilian-mass audience

    EURIPIDES: But I’ve no time.
    DICAEOPOLIS: Well, let them wheel you round.
    EURIPIDES: It cannot be.
    DICAEOPOLIS: It must.
    EURIPIDES: Well, I’ll allow them
    To wheel me round, but I can’t leave my couch.

    Citruskeptics…hmmm…AKAKY…I try

    Medidation….that’s what I need…THANK YOU JENNY !!!

  361. a civilian-mass audience

    and back to our regular program…

    LOVE YOU ALLL…France I am almost there!!!

  362. Civi and all who wished me well during my earlier crisis

    I had a further slump health-wise but am extremely optimistic that things will be back to normal in just a few more days. Just here to say that Gracie gave me the equivalent of her ice cream and it was super therapeutic..as were the best wishes of the Burn community..so thanks ALL! And the good news is that i never stopped working on my photos not even for one night while all this was going on..ok, ok, just one night and that was because of a party.


    i have a major crush on Julian Assange. The man is awesome in every way that i can see. What presence, what calm, what conviction what a brain..i thought when i voted for the current president that the world would finally start to see relief but i know now he’s trying to turn a huge bus around in heavy traffic. Assange just hops, skips, jumps, slides, oozes. slithers and squirms his way past these unwieldy, top heavy, cumbersome, hulking governments as if he was a skinny street kid on a skateboard. I am in awe of Wikileaks and believe there could not have been a better time for this to happen. I do worry about Brad Manning and feel nothing but loathing for the hacker (a frigging hacker no less who suddenly decided to stop playing his own dirty tricks and start loving good old fashioned law and order..funny, who would you rather trust in this story?).

    Anyway, thanks for the source to those words and the additional text by Neruda. I still think you were/are on a roll however, so make off topic the topic..


  363. jenny lynn walker

    Kathleen: I also have a major crush on Julian Assange. Thanks to Julian and the internet I now have 90,000 secret files on this latest war in the Middle East on my own desktop. I’m not quite sure what to do with it all mind, I’m just keeping an eye on developments at this point. I also have pictures of both his left and right sides! So many thanks to the photographers who so quickly uploaded their pics onto twitter from when he was outside of the Frontline Club. Why? Because I’ve never seen so much idealism, intelligence and courage wrapped up in one man, not so close up (figuratively speaking). I’ve never seen such a brilliance and yes, what perfect timing to have someone enter the world stage in this DIGIGAL AGE as: an ‘INFORMATION ACTIVIST’!!!

  364. jenny lynn walker

    Kathleen: I forgot to say, I’m sorry to hear your health has not been at all good lately. I’m sending you healing thoughts – to your body, your mind, and to your heart – through the airwaves from my mind as well as through the wires that runs across the oceans, and connects us all… with love, x

  365. JARED..

    i received your email…thanks…will respond soonest…or, at least after my family vacation for the next 10 days or so…basically Circus has been on hold while we produced BURN 01….now that is done, or at least mostly done…we will move on Circus this fall…you should be in touch with Marie Arago most of all..she is the picture editor for Circus and has been working on the content for several months…

  366. THODORIS..

    we went with traditional printing for BURN 01…more work for all of us, but we think it will be worth it in the long run…..best quality and at most reasonable price to consumer…..being printed in Italy….TODAY!!

  367. JENNY…

    it is always best to simply submit as per normal through our submissions system….honestly, there is no other practical way…once i choose a particular essay for consideration, i then work with the photographer for the best way to present…in the context of submissions for Burn, i do require that an essay be more or less complete…..there is always a mountain of work to do even with stories which seem apparently done…however, i do also get involved with stories which may be good ideas, but not yet complete…that totally depends obviously on the extent to which my interest is piqued by either the story and/or the photographer’s passion and the ubiquitous “ability to tell”….and i do look at all links posted here in Dialogue if the photographer asks me to look….linking here is usually a very good way also to get feedback from your colleagues…always of value

  368. jenny lynn walker

    DAVID – Thank you. I must give the whole thing more thought – on what is the best way forward. I am surely an artist-type and control freak when it comes to my work and didn’t enjoy sending work down the line onto ‘a system’ not knowing who would have access to it and wondering where it might end up. But, I will think what might raise your interest and consider whether sharing work through a link on here would FEEL right. Because there are certainly so many knowledgeable and wonderful photographers on here and, Burn would be my first choice of on-line venues to be seen on. Thanks so much! I must also continue with the website

    Congratulations on BURN 01 by the way – I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing it!

  369. DAH – a question –

    how do you / other photogs working at your level that you know feel about taking newspaper assignments? not for the magazine section, but something you might work on for several days and see run in the regular paper. it seems like not too many of the folks at magnum do this. is it because of the day rate or ?

    thanks and happy family time

  370. a civilian-mass audience

    Best wine in Italy…and many friends…:)))

    AUDREY …I will be in Paris on 1st…
    I will contact…

    LOVE BURNIANS…I will come back with names…



    COME ON BURNIANS..partyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  371. A quick note to say thanks again to everybody for your considered critique and thoughtful feedback on my essay. With so much dialog here and in the ‘Left Behind’ thread, I have much to work with as I continue this project.

    I am both grateful and inspired — a fine state to be in!


  372. DAH,

    Per your recent twitter – I will be interested to see what you can do with the GF-1. I picked one up myself but just haven’t clicked with it (no pun intended). Probably going to sell it soon. For the size I find myself just grabbing the M9 instead. Hopefully someday we’ll have the digital equivalent of the Olympus XA, Contax T, etc.



  373. OK – My trip to NY is finalized. I will be arriving Saturday and leaving Thursday. Any Burnians want to get together for a drink? Erica and I have been in preliminary discussions about getting together Tuesday night.

    DAH – Are you back in town? I’d love to see Casa de Burn.

  374. CIVI,

    Kisses and hugs going his way! I think for true navel gazing it might be time to move on to the retsina…. Spent a summer month in Greece when I was 20 – 26 years ago! Very fond memories of retsina hangovers on Crete beaches….



  375. a civilian-mass audience

    retsina…oime you are hardrock…or hard core …something like that…

    VIVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA…to the dreamers…GFI’s and EFI’s and Mediums…

  376. DAH – I am eager to see the printed product. I am confident you will sell enough copies to justify the upfront costs of traditional printing.

    Now I have a question for and usually when I pose a question for you its somehow gets passed over and never answered and most of the time I just shrug it off as you being too busy to pick up on everything and it didn’t really matter, anyway, but I hope you will see this and will answer.

    The first of two special issues of Uiñiq magazine – the publication that I created in 1985 to document Iñupiat life on the Arctic Slope, did regularly for 11 years but now just do every two, three or four years, came out awhile back. I was going to send it to you but never did but still would like to. The only thing is I have this fear that you are flooded with so much material that it will just disappear into the pile and you will never actually see it.

    I kind of hate to burden you, too – but if it will reach you, and you will not feel overburdened, then I want to send it.

  377. DAH,

    maybe I am just too blind to see. But .. how can I order Burn01?
    I mean – is there an URL or a Form, where I can leave my address .. and find details on how to pay for it,
    or will this be somewhere in some time?
    You know .. I just can’t wait :)

  378. DAH,

    “…..being printed in Italy….TODAY!!”

    that’s a great news: looking forward to buying my copy…
    may I ask who is the printer and where she is located in Italy? (of course, only if you want to disclose such details…)

  379. jenny lynn walker

    I’m too tired to put a comment up on the new essay right now but couldn’t resist reading a few comments. I was laughing so hard when I read this one that I thought I’d stop right there for the day. I love ‘randomness’ so it is also a laugh at myself. And, every time I read it I will laugh:

    mw “it’s like if I printed all my favorite photos, put them on the wall, threw twenty darts and called the results “America.”

    Wishing ALL Burnians sweet dreams and laughter tonight.

  380. a civilian-mass audience

    “you know…I just can’t wait”

    THOMAS…the soul of a true BURNIAN…:)))

    yeap…Venice is in my agenda…first we take Italy,then France…then we take Venice…
    ahhhh…Maui…well, life is weird…full of surprises…

    keep shooting…stories are unfolding in front of you…you got the ability…
    BURN it:)))


  381. @ ALL
    “Ansel Adams’ heirs skeptical over $200M lost negatives claim”


    I don’t know if this is true or false. I’m also skeptical…but, but, if is TRUE, I do not be the man who sold this negative ten years ago.
    Yep, Shit happens…

    By the way (for every photographer), this is a really good news. Remembers me when Magnum announced that they’ve found “The lost negatives of Capa”.


  382. a civilian-mass audience

    i will be near the Saint Germain area…for 4 days…
    my e-mail is civilianma@yahoo.com
    I have yours…I will be looking for internet cafes…
    hiii…I am gonna hold a baby chicken…:)))

  383. a civilian-mass audience

    noonoo…I am gonna hold the BURN magazine…or I will have the BURN mask…
    BUT if you can’t make it…no worries

    I will be back …September

  384. DAH

    Regarding your recent tweet about using the GF-1 I, like Charles, am also a bit curious.
    Since you’re shooting it, I can only assume that Nat Geo sees no technical issues with
    reproducing files from this camera.

  385. MTOMALTY….

    i asked Natgeo about the quality issue , if any, with the GF1…none whatsoever they say…..


    i am both shooting and on vacation…many have asked me by email why i have reported both family activity and shooting ….well, both are true…my family are guests at my home and my home is the subject of my current commission for Natgeo, part of a Magnum book, and a continuous personal project since i was a kid…yup, getting paid to be on vacation….i feel i deserve it at this point…i have been busting it up until about 15 minutes ago solving the last crises on the printing of Burn 01…and simply exhausted from all that went into it…and yes Anton too and yes Diego Orlando too and yes Anna Maria Barry Jester too…all of us went to the wall to gather all the material, do layout, tweak everything, contact all photographers, and check out all the production process…a never ending jobs..anyway timing perfect for some time off with my family, who i will also be shooting..when they let me that is…i will be a bit scarce here except for story editing…but i will try to pop in from time to time….

    cheers, david


    we will post something soonest so that interested people can order Burn 01…this new book/magazine will not be a money maker, but it could be a money loser if we do not sell any….but, i will take that chance…i am taking that chance….Burn 01 will be some kind of landmark no matter what …a serious book from an online blog audience…might be a first…i do not know…

    cheers, david

  387. DAH,

    Sounds like a first to me. Also, I will be very curious to know how the the GF1 performs for you.

    As to the unanswered part of my question, I will take a chance and will go ahead and send you a copy of the Uiñiq, hope that it makes it to you and that it reaches you when you have time to look at it. We miscalculated how many we would need and came up short, so I have few copies to spare, but I would like you to see it. If you have not seen my book, Gift of the Whale, I could put that in the package, too.

    The only mailing address that I have so far found for you is the general Magnum address on 25th street. I hope that will do the job.

  388. DAVID,

    Many of us will be waiting to get ourselves a copy…. Cannot wait! Good to see Diego’s name popping up….Was wondering if the two of you were still in touch…. Heading to Rome myself in about 2 weeks for a long week-end…. Sure will have lots of great memories coming back… like desperately chasing pictures in the afternoon hoping you like one the next morning :):):)

    Hope you are well and can relax a bit with family.


  389. jenny lynn walker

    My heart is aching this morning having seen the cover of Time magazine that has to be the most powerful piece of propaganda to continue the war in Afghanistan I have ever seen. We can always expect such tactics in the gutter press where standards of journalism are often at the lowest but how Time can say it remains impartial with such a cover is just a joke. I hope that anyone who looks at that cover and whose heart is breaking like mine to see that woman on the cover being used in that way – not only for the horrific crime against her but, for the total lack of impartiality on the part of Time, a supposedly a quality publication, can understand why we so desperately need the Julian Assange’s of the world to break government control and propaganda in journalism.


    Please watch the video in the Huffington Post. ‘Brave New Films argues that the idea of Afghan women being free after the toppling of the Taliban is a “false perception,” and that “war won’t liberate Afghan women.” People interviewed in the video maintain that the advancement of women’s rights has been “cosmetic,” and that the actual quality of life for women has not improved since the occupation. In some cases, they argue, the treatment of women has worsened due to an extremely fundamentalist judiciary and the radicalization of a population currently engaged in what risks becoming a state of perpetual war’.

  390. Hi DAH,
    You made this comment under MCB’s essay on China. Perhaps you could elaborate…I think myself and others would be interested in hearing about what this “big step” could be. I don’t know about others here on Burn, but I feel that Michael’s work can definitely stand with some of the best color photographers in Magnum. Is it this idea of becoming an “author”? Again, sometimes this term really confuses me because it seems that so often it is used regarding certain photographers whose work that is already clearly heavily influenced by others, even members of Magnum who are all supposedly distinctly different and unique “authors”. Perhaps this is a point of discussion and would love to hear what others on Burn think as well…..

    “he knows what he wants and who he thinks he should be, but he also knows that he has a step to go..a big step….this should be interesting for all of you…to see where Mike goes from here….i have watched Mike since college days…always thought he just might make it…Mike is at the swing point….let’s hope he knocks the ball out of the park…”

  391. jenny lynn walker

    My heart also goes out to ALL photographers around the world whose great work is all too often used by newspapers and magazines in the creation of propaganda.

  392. @ DAH

    “but it could be a money loser if we do not sell any…. ”

    jeje, k-mon David!!,
    I think that one week after the release of the BURN 01 Magazine (is correct to call a Mag of 330 pages ;-)) you are gonna to call the printer and say to him/her that every single mag was sold…and need 2nd edition, per favore.
    I’m on the list to purchase one…
    Sun is shining here in southern France :-)


  393. Internet here at Mom’s near Paris, is a bit unnerving when it comes to speed, regarding photos and essays (same as in Thailand pretty much), I am too used to instant download in SF, and also, my web presence takes a thankful beating, when travelling.
    I hope you are all well, will make sure to check when BURN zine in print is out….

    Civi, I am off Sunday to the Northeast of France, Picardie, for 2 weeks, how long will you be in Paris?

  394. jenny lynn walker

    What is on the cover of National Geographic this month and what is the headline? omg! Not propaganda on the Geographic too I hope. Please tell me NO!

  395. Jenny, don’t you think you’re a little too quick with the propaganda charge? Uhhhm, are these not valid issues, i.e. women’s rights within the context of a negotiated withdrawl? As for National Geographic, what is the propaganda with Bahamian Blue Holes? Quagmire issues?

  396. Damn, I just took the bait didn’t I? I really should know better …

    Yea, I was thinking the same thing. But what a lot of people don’t know, or don’t think about , and this is a very important point, is that the U.S. is doing nothing for women’s rights in the areas we control. Those very same atrocities committed against women by the Taliban are committed right in front of our faces by our allies and our soldiers’ orders are to ignore them, to respect the local culture, as long as the local culture doesn’t take up arms against us. So yes, the Time piece is the very worst kind of propaganda because of its staggering combination of evil, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in the service of a brutal war that serves the interests of no decent people anywhere.

  397. jenny lynn walker

    mw: thanks a million for saving me from having to answer that question. it was a perfect answer. and there are so many – including the total decimation of something i also value highly: good journalism.

  398. Looks like Assange’s dream has come true……..The Taliban has warned that it is hunting down Afghans whose names might appear on the leaked Afghanistan war logs on grounds that they were informers for the Nato-led coalition.

    ……..special edition for those that worship him, the best part is in an interview he stated the White House forced him to publish by not filtering the list for him. What a total dickhead

  399. Thanks for sharing your adventures there, Akaky. You found some good stuff there in Times Square. I hate to say it, but the one that is lingering longest in my memory is the one just before Spiderman, although I found Spidey himself to be pretty memorable.

    Crazy place.

    If you want to see the opposite, where heavy traffic can mean encountering one other boat on a two-and-half hour drive up the Yukon, please drop in on my latest series:


  400. MW (Michael), a well-reasoned answer but I have only read the web-abstract, so I shouldn’t say too much more before I get the hard copy. Citing an article for “its staggering combination of evil, hypocrisy, and dishonesty” is pretty hard core. Evil, really?

    I was only addressing the article, not the war itself btw. If I understand you correctly then, in your opinion the TIME piece may be factually accurate insofar as it goes but commits the sin of omission in not addressing the current state of affairs (except it is, isn’t it?) and, as you imply, the lack of any improvement for women’s rights since occupation, and the (wrong?) implication that things will get worse following withdrawal, and, worst of all, the use of women’s rights as justification for continued US/NATO involvement in Afghanistan. Isn’t the question TIME asks on the cover a valid one, though? I assume then your issue is with the reporting, the angle and the spin? I am not trying to put words in your mouth, only attempting to clarify what your opinion is and the logical premise on the TIME article and cover photo. What do you think would have been an appropriate approach to the issues? (Running into town to get a copy soon)

    I am always interested in people’s perception of the media having myself been accused of all sorts of horrible things, and often simultaneously by opposing camps, in my newspaper days and I really do think the propaganda charge gets thrown around a little too quickly for print media. But hey, a level-headed reasoned discussion is always interesting and I often learn quite a bit. Also, I am soon welcoming back a friend who just returned from that theater after a year on the policy side of things and am interested in her perspective on this issue.

    JENNY, I’m still confused by the NatGeo reference. Given that the host of this forum is who he is, it’s kind of uncool to do a drive by shooting without any frame of reference don’t you think? Maybe you were joking, or I haven’t seen the latest issue, or …???