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James Chance

Living With The Dead: Manila’s North Cemetery

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In the middle of the bustling Philippine city of Manila, home to almost 11 million people, lies the North Cemetery. Founded in 1904, it is the final resting place for several Filipino Presidents, celebrities, and hundreds of thousands of the city’s Catholic dead. However, since the 1960’s a new, living population has grown.  In this surreal environment, people have formed a functioning society that is literally built on tombs. A community of approximately 3,000 people currently live and work within in the North Cemetery’s walls.


Multimedia: James Chance and Jessica Chance


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James Chance


74 thoughts on “james chance – the dead”

  1. Pingback: james chance - the dead at burn magazine | The Click

  2. James:

    it’s great to see your essay show up here, but I am very pleased that you and David have chosen to offer the MultiMedia version, as given the nature of the work, it offers us depth of coverage to listen to the residents speak of their life there. I see you’ve also found the ‘establishing’ pic that David longed for ;)…and several of the pics are new to my eye (especially toward the end) and really enjoyed it.

    What, above all, that I love about the nature of this essay and the pics is that is fully dimensional: doesn’t depict the residents or their life as completely squalor filled but instead, shows too the joy and celebration and the remarkable optimism of the human spirit, even amid the difficulties of the condition. An essay not born of pitty but one born of celebrating and documenting the strength and generosity that comes forth amid conditions that would seem to repress all expressions of joy. That’s the beauty and brilliant insight and effort you’ve achieved, and that comes from spending time with people rather than greating an agenda, pre-ordained, of people given the environment.

    Marvelous to see it here!

    thanks for sharing James!


  3. I really like this essay, it isn’t typical, not a story I’ve heard of before. Normally issues of over crowding deal with people’s right to be there, but the focus is on the social aspects and what it is like to live there, ironically in a cemetery. A very human story of survival. The images were very dramatic with a curious mix of of colour video. I liked the interviews, my only reservation is the heavy english accent that is used to narrate. I didn’t think it suited, sorry!

  4. dear james,

    i emailed you offsite and was wondering if you could email back. i think it is a great essay but it is a sad story. close to my heart.
    i think the english accent was all right considering that this is your narrative. your perspective which is totally different from your subjects’ own point of view about the whole thing.

  5. to DAH,

    i wish i could be a good photographer to document my laments. as i said in raul’s thread, this magazine’s intent is clear. honorable.

    thank you.

  6. ALL…

    you may notice that we now have comments set up chronologically…..tell me if you prefer this way, with most recent comments at the bottom, or the “old” way with a “reply” button under each comment….

    there just is no perfect way to do this…the advantage of “reply” under each comment is that you can easily reply to that particular comment…the disadvantage with the “old way” is that if you leave your computer for a few hours (which i highly recommend) then you are lost on the thread..it can take a lot of clicking and scrolling just because we have so many comments..this way, the chronological way, you see the comments in the order in which they came in and you can easily track a conversation…you do have to scroll to the bottom to reply, but perhaps this is easier overall..

    let me know…we can do whatever seems easiest for most…

    cheers, david

  7. Very good work James, congratulations. I very much enjoyed the mix of stills and video and the fact that the people interviewed also appear in the still photographs: it enhances the learning experience for the viewer.

    The mix of B&W still photographs and colour for the video was fine for me. I did find the mix of rectangle and square photographs a little jarring – but that’s probably because I love the 35mm frame so much.

    You obviously have great access to your subjects and also great empathy for them.

    The essay is a damming indictment of the Philippine government and a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. Thank you James. Is that you in the voice-over?

    Best wishes,


  8. Although I don’t have any stupid problems with mixing color and b&w, in this case I find the contrast of the b&w photography and color video to be jarring and therefore counter productive. If it were my piece, I’d turn the video into b&w as well.

  9. James,
    What an incredible expose’. Yesterday I was wondering about our economic situation in the US, and how it is making my own life harder. Now after looking at “Living with the Dead”, I feel uplifted, yet at the same time feeling for these people struggling in their everyday lives.
    I grew up in a military family. For a short time we were in the Philippines. It was the first time in my life that I had seen the third world, and how different the rest of the world is from our own “self-indulgent” lives in the states. It was an eye opener…. just like your remarkable and unique essay here today on BURN.

    Hello to you. This new format is just fine with me.

    Many thanks,

  10. This is an excellent essay. Takes us into a closed society and shows the faces of the people that live there. Apart from the essay, the photos are just good photography. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. i remember this essay when it was still just a set of stills. What i liked about it then, i still love about it now, it’s all about the story telling ‘decision’ that James took when he hit that social commentary fork in the road.

    every time we see ‘living’ conditions different than the ones we know personally it’s so easy to fall into the trap that the ‘human’ condition is different than the ones we possess. We sometimes feel sorry when we see different living conditions and then we pull out our camera to photograph this difference as if to show the world this difference will somehow change this person’s world. Nothing disgusts me more than this approach to social commentary; nine times out of ten the human condition of the photographed is far healthier than the human condition of the photographer, it’s just the photographer is blinded by the living conditions.

    James has created an image of persistence of the human condition despite the living conditions. For me he has turned the mirror on us and all of our creature-comforts to ask us what we are striving for. There are loads of notes in this song that suggest the striving is producing proud results and all this through a strong sense of human dignity.

    so again what i like most about this work is not necessarily the work, actually i like most the author’s response to what he saw. When James witnessed these living conditions, instead of looking like the other lemmings for poverty, he turned his camera entirely towards a subtle celebration of the human condition.

    We could learn loads from this approach to social commentary and the world could learn loads from people like this that are persistent, family oriented, striving and succeeding despite the inherent living conditions. With everything being relative, this is the best of the human condition.

    Well done James, i look forward to learning about other places through your eyes.

  12. Nicely Done! I’m glad to see this piece getting exposure. Very nicely shot, thought out and put together.
    Well suited for a multimedia piece.

  13. James, I am in awe of what you have created here. From its early days as a collection of photographs–excellent photos, in my opinion–you (with the help of Jessica) have created a multimedia essay that tells the story of community life in Manila’s North Cemetary in a believable, respectful, informative way. I am not surprised that it has been selected by Anthropographia for the photojournalism competition on human rights. It deserves such an honor.

    Are you considering expanding this work into a short documentary film? After watching the Academy Awards last night, I could definitely see the possibility. Of course it would mean showing day-to-day life in a more intentional way, perhaps by focusing on one family and telling their story. By the way, your use of b&w for the stills and color for the videos works very well for me. In some strange way it highlights the juxtaposition of life & death that is at the core of this work.

    Bravo, James!


  14. your images are beautiful…
    full of geometry..
    for me,
    the complexities in your photos
    demonstrate the complexities of the living situation…
    love your style
    and energy
    in your frames…
    the voice over, I feel,
    could be stronger..
    and more video would be nice too
    so many great single images,
    that read beautifully together..

  15. I love the juxtaposition of the color video and black and white photos. The video adds realism to what seems like something so unreal. It combines beauty and story … very well done.

  16. James, this story has come a long way, I love seeing this evolved version!! Bravo, fantastic work.. strong strong photography, you have gone back and really worked this. And the multimedia: I could really use your help! Can I meet you and pay you in prints or Lone Star beer? Great work James.


  17. David, chronologically-arranged comments do make it easier to keep up. But now when I click on a recent comment posted on Raul’s essay, I’m just taken to the cover photo rather than to the comment itself. Recent comments on James’ essay, on the other hand, direct me to that particular comment. Is this happening for others as well?


  18. Mr Chance… you are BURNed !

    Joe, i agree about the human conditions, “approach”..

    you are right…
    if you go away from the net for a day or so…
    and the “recent comments” go wild… then its nearly impossible to catch up,…
    the linear approach ( roadtrips style ) is way easier to follow….especially when there is 1000
    comments scattered everywhere….
    welcome “back”…….

  19. Co-incidentaly, I viewed this last night on James’ website just before I went to bed while randomly checking out sites.

    I was at once moved and intriqued by the story, as well as impressed by James and Jessicas skill and sensitivity.

    On the tech side, the story flows beautifully for me. I was not distracted at all by the mix of b/w and colour, or formats.It all seems appropriate. Many many great individual photos. I particularly loved the portraits of Rodolfo, the caretaker. I loved loved the multimedia aspect, the interviews and the commentary. I must learn how all that is done.

    I found the story uplifting and affirming. What struck me was the dignity, order, and calm apparent in what seems, from our perspective, to be a bizarre living situation. One of my first thoughts after viewing it last night was the contrast between these lives, and the lives of the poor here in the west where dignity and order often seems to be a lot harder to find.

    Finally I did not detect any feeling of intrusion. The story felt very much like it was being told from the inside rather than the outside looking in. The subjects appear completely at ease with Jim and Jessica . I am curious how long they spent there.

    Bravo Jim and Jessica. you are an inspiration.

  20. Pat…
    this happens because the reply button is gone…
    just navigate to the latest ( newest ) comment…
    in other words go all the way to the end of any essay to find the most recent one…
    thats all…

  21. One of the best essays on BURN so far. The beautiful black and white stills tied together through narration paired with color video offered the balance of ying and yang…a perfect marriage and insight into the lives of the alive and dead…I agree with Patricia about the juxtaposition of the cycle of life that this technique gives. The timing and rhythm to the piece, that of the stills going faster at certain points in accordance with the narration about a certain person/aspect (such as with the groundskeeper) felt like poetic cadence, achieving an almost iambic pentameter quality. Even if there was no video, the piece as stills felt like a video documentary because of the voice-over…no one has done that yet here, and I thought it was brilliant. The inclusion of the video, of course, I really enjoyed. I really appreciated James’ interaction with the people, and his connection to them really came through in the photographs. I also agree with many of the previous commenters that this was a look without pity or judgement into how these people live…like Joe said “a subtle celebration of the human condition” and as Bob Black said, “An essay not born of pity but one born of celebrating and documenting the strength and generosity that comes forth amid conditions that would seem to repress all expressions of joy.” Just amazing. And “Bravo!” to Jessica for her part in the multi-media.

    Chronologically seems to make sense.

  22. … it looks that without the reply button,
    things dont get that personal anymore….
    ( but then again if one wants to be personal,
    all One has to do is to mention “the” ( “a” ) name…

  23. James & Jessica,

    Nice piece, very nice. One of my favorite essays here on BURN. Great visuals, timing, and story line. IF the color footage is needed to add that element in completing the journey than I’m totally with you on that!


  24. Tinm ??? or Tim ???
    there is all kinda software out there to turn color footage into B&W ..
    do you think that would make any difference ?

  25. PAnos, I was testing out my Vietnamese pseudonym. :)

    I watched it a few times and came to the conclusion that its not such a bother. The video -I assume- was shot during a different session. Also the B&W images have that nice patina – contrast-clarity Combo. Can’t say if the moving footage could follow in this… I guess if the video was in B&W then this argument wouldn’t be happening.

    Thank James for that..

    DAH I like this response mechanism more user friendly

  26. kathleen fonseca

    a treat, a treasure, an honor..i haven’t time to say more. i just wish you could hear me clapping my appreciation.

  27. Mr. Chance – Thank you for sharing your experience with this insightful and well assembled essay. As stated previously, your depiction is not cliched with an overly glum portrayal of the people’s lives. I like your arrangement of images. When the security guard is telling us that he was blind to the hardships and your show the image of the boy covering his eyes I could tell you know your subjects back and forth and that I was viewing a story, not just a collection. Thanks for your time and thought.

    Mr. Harvey, though I do not regularly comment I do regularly view the images presented here on BURN and read the comments. I find the current arrangement easy to follow and would bemoan any changes. Thank you for asking our opinion. You are doing great work.

    John Huber

  28. Hello ALL,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on this work. First-up DAVID. Thanks again for publishing! Re. your question: Although it was nice to be able to reply personally to each post/comment I think this new (or rather old, as this was the original method) makes more sense. Things got complicated jumping back and forth, and stuff was more easily lost. Also big thanks to ANTON, who keeps this whole thing running!

    I’m most pleased that people have commented on the humanity of this piece. That is the nicest compliment of all. It was so important for us not to be lazy and let the surreal situation/environs of the residents become the only layer to this story. This would be unfair. We were overwhelmed almost instantly by the strength and courage of our friends in the cemetery and despite the obvious difficulty of living in such a place, in many cases we witnessed a strong, happy supportive community. We would often hear screams of laughter over games of bingo and basketball and as residents grouped in the evening sun to chat and joke. Yes, this is extreme poverty. But in many cases the situation here is a better option than living in the slums.

    The situation is complex. We did what we could to offer as much of an unbiased account and let the residents themselves offer their own opinion on their situation and the place as a whole. I feel that I have only started scratching the surface though at this point, and I do not consider this work to be complete. What you see is approx one month of shooting. This certainly provided enough time to start to build relationships there and I am very happy to call many of the people that feature in this piece my friends. On a critical note I do feel that the piece needs to portray more personality (maybe focusing for longer on one particular individual or family) and I certainly want to explore more into the complex social structure of this fascinating community. This was discussed with David after finishing the first part of this work and have tried to apply for funding to revisit the cemetery.

    Again thanks for the ALL the comments. Its hard to respond to everyone, so will try to pick some key points for now.

    Bob: Thanks, my friend. I’m pleased you liked the multimedia (as opposed to the essay) I was keen to show some variety. And I do love the power of multimedia to tell more of the story and make pieces even more personal to the subjects.

    JonathanJK: Sorry you didn’t like my dulcet tones. Would you prefer to hear an American accent, I could enlist my in-laws? ;))

    Gracie: Yes, I have your email, thank you. Will get back with you soon. I would love to keep in touch.

    SP: We deliberated for some time over the whole B+W vs colour for video. I saw advantages in both. In the end we could only make one choice and decided on colour. I kind of wanted to detach the interviews (and video) from the still images. Was a tricky one though.

    Wenkoff: Good to hear from you mate! How are you? Where are you?

    Patricia: I would be feeling, well, well out of my depth in producing a documentary film. I am still getting my head around video, which is one of the reasons that there is no video outside of the interviews on this piece. Best to work to ones strengths I always think. I know that the Nat Geo channel were there a while before us, haven’t seen what they produced though. But yes, I am trying to expand this project further and like you say focusing more on family or individual as well as the whole. A major theme working through my work now is “home” Obviously these piece is a big part of that and I look forward to producing more. I also look forward to producing new “home” works projects into the future.

    Wendy: As I said above, there will be more video in my multimedia as I get better at it. But some important advise that I took to heart when this project was being developed on Road Trips was from our friend Matt Newton (not sure if you are still out there Matt). Anyways he spoke about “breaking the spell” of a piece by changing stuff up too much. I wanted to let the still image sequences roll as long as I could to carry to pull the viewer in. As much as I am excited about integrating more video in future work. I think it is very important to keep this in mind.

    Lance my friend. You should know by now that I am always happy to work for beer! Yes, yes get in touch, Are you working on multimedia for True Grit? Good to hear from you!

    Thanks Gordon. Glad you liked the piece. I shot inside the cemetery on-and-off for about a month. The multimedia then took a while after that.

  29. Hi James,

    Nice work amigo! I remember this from the road trip days. I liked it then and I like it even more now. Thanks for not making it another sad story about squalor and misery. I like the colour video too. The whole thing is a really good piece of work. Keep on going!



  30. Hey James, please don’t swap your voice for an american one, keep yours if that is the only alternative! :-) I just think a regional neutral accent from the UK would have been better suited.

    I also want to state again that I think the photography and story are wonderful, I learnt something having watched it.

  31. Pingback: The 37th Frame - Celebrating the Best of Photojournalism » Living With the Dead by James Chance (Burn Magazine)

  32. James, this is it! A tremendous piece of work!
    So glad to finally hear a person speak, a narrator. As I understand it, it is your voice James, that I hear. You have a nice voice and you found good words as a narrator. Very well done! It is good to hear the people speak for themselves. This adds to the credibility of your work.
    A few weeks ago I finished my first multimedia piece about an aid convoy to Romania. So it was interesting to see my own reaction upon your work. The video part brought me somehow back to reality, maybe because it was in colour, perhaps because of the moving image. The bw has a bit of nostalgia to me, but nothing wrong with that and I think it works well.
    From my own experience I know now how difficult it is to work with video and photo. Like you James I came to the conclusion that my strength lies within the still image. However this line of work offers so many new opportunities and it is all doable nowadays.
    As other writers have pointed out, you show the extraordinary world of this cemetry which has become an ordinary home for many people. I like that you have portrayed the inhabitants in a very natural way.
    Thanks so much for this great piece of work!

  33. PANOS…

    now see i am replying directly to you…not right under your comment, but to you very specifically nevertheless…the problem with what we were doing was that if you were not sitting at your computer 24/7, then you could easily get lost in the thread, having to scroll back and forth to figure out who said what , when….i think??? as i said, there is no perfect way…let’s see how this goes down (after all, this is our original system)…if nobody likes it, we can always go back…

    cheers, david

  34. Oh man, you have seriously raised the bar with this one. It flowed really nice and I never got impatient (I find some of the other essays often too slow between images) and it was really easy to take in the info. Good work! I really liked the color of the video and it would have worked less for me if it was converted to b&w. Less successful I thought was the medium format portraits. They sort of took me out of the story – there’s not the same intimacy as the 35. Anyways, a fantastic and compelling story and a great job conveying it.


  35. DAH, yep!!!
    We can get “personal” if we want by addressing
    the comment to “someone”…
    I totally agree..
    Now I’m not stressed anymore to be checking
    the “RECENT COMMENTS” every five minutes..
    I lost ( or I came late ) lots of conversation
    that way….
    Linear is easier… coz we are too many now..
    ( at least it seems like it.. But like you said…
    Let’s give it a try and see what happens)..
    Ahhh it feels good.. Just like
    the ol’ROADTRIPS…days…
    peace y’all from the cloudy LA

  36. james,

    really nice to see this on here. i love this work. glad to see it well represented on this site! i have not experimented with multimedia but this has me thinking about it allot!

  37. Hi Charles

    You wrote

    “Less successful I thought was the medium format portraits. They sort of took me out of the story – there’s not the same intimacy as the 35. Anyways, a fantastic and compelling story and a great job conveying it.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. I love thier inclusion, they are my favourite part of the essay.

    Gordon L.

  38. Sorry but new thoughts just formed.

    The medium format (square) portraits, especially those of this genre, people presenting themselves directly to the camera, for me have far more intimacy than the candid snaps. What could be more intimate and personal than eye contact? There is no posing or pretention. For me the fact that a photograph can allow me to gaze into the eyes of another person without them being present (or even alive) is endlessly magic. Without these portraits, I might feel like a voyeur, just stealing a peek into someone elses’ surface reality. Looking into a persons eyes can perhaps reveal much more.

    The fact that they are medium format or square is really neither here nor there, though the square format seems appropriate here.

    Gordon L.

  39. Gordon,

    I don’t find the square format portraits to be any less skilled photographically or even with intent. And after thinking about it, I think if this essay were in book form they would work just fine (give them a separate page surrounded by lots of white, time to linger). But for me they take me out of the fluidness of the moving essay, I guess maybe it’s the introduction of the negative space, the sudden intrusion of a “frame” so to speak into this “reality” James is building for us (and I like the bold color differentiation of the video for that reason, though I wish the first time we see it was a tad bit longer).

    And, no they aren’t any less intimate in the traditional sense, but for me I often find that ability to catch an unguarded moment as a far deeper window into a person than when they are making eye contact because they were asked to or they feel it’s what’s expected of them (and of course there are always exceptions to that rule, and I have taken eye contact pics myself that belie that). Case in point is the portrait of the groundskeeper. The MF portrait is very striking, but the picture of him smoking is much more poignant and human, if you ask me (and possibly in part because of the posed picture proceeding it, so maybe the posed works in other ways, as a contrast perhaps?) and tells me a lot more about his personality and place in life. But you are right about how sometimes eye contact can convey a personal contact with the photographer, making it seem as if he is more a “part” of it vs just “stealing” glimpses (of course it can also have the opposite affect, sort of a deer in the headlights thing, if not careful). Just in this case I think the 35 docu style photos are so successful at being close the formal portraits were not really that necessary. My opinion only of course.



  40. Clap! Clap! Clap! I only remove the 8th photograph and change perhaps the movie parts to black and white. However I understand your intended choice between the stills in black and white and the videos in colours, it’s like a duality between life and death. Your comments and the videos gave a lot of life to this essay. Good job!

  41. Regarding the comments new system, I prefer the way where you can reply to a specific threat, but I only prefer this one because I subscribe the rss feed for comments, and this was my easy way to be updated about comments, and respond to the ones I wanted. Anton thanks for pointing me about these two options of feeds that are a little hide in the bottom of the site. I confess that sometimes I scroll them down in the rss reader because they are so many and duty calls! :)

  42. Hey Charles, Hope you are well (and getting some sleep!) ;) I think your comments regarding the MF ports are very fair. I personally see them as not as strong as the 35mm shots—basically because this just isn’t my forte. I wanted however to separate the personal introductions in some way, and wanted a more formal feel in this process as well as providing variety overall. I would certainly like to refine this further as a. I would like to shoot better MF portraits overall! and b. I like this concept and would like to use it in future work.

  43. Charles, Gordon, James,

    I like the change in rhythm that the “MF portraits” provide, for lack of a better term. However, aside from the square-ish format and longer focal length look, I had no clue that these were MF vs 35mm/DSLR plus a short tele lens, and so I think the apparent jolt will not be obvious to many people. The intense content and art of the series completely overshadowed the technical questions for me, even when I took another look with your comments in mind.



  44. as for the comments arrangement, was this not the original set up, personally i like this the best, works well with my linear mental process.
    btw, I am back after a long pause in online connectivity.
    just want to say hello to all!

  45. hi Marcin
    all is well, and I am extremely happy. I got your prints, thank you very much, that was real nice of you.
    they are great!!
    have you submitted any work to burn, hope to see sets by you up here.
    totally stoked on the magazine, its an incredible evolution of the original dah blog.
    congrats to dave for making it happen.

  46. Cery poignanr essay…. you had me on the first image…wanting to see and hear more…..beautiful work…and more importantly a story ive never heard…you gave it resonance

  47. what about an edit button.. lol…… i didnt think i hit submit and the reply was gone with all the early morning spelling errors…


    yes indeed, welcome back!! i was hoping to meet you when i was in L.A., but alas at about the time i was set to make that trip, you disappeared from view…in any case, please check in when you can….and i do have another west coast trip coming in April, so i do hope we will have the chance to meet…


    there is just no way to put in an edit button for readers…by the way, i DO have an edit button and i still have spelling errors!!

    cheers, david

  49. james – congrats.. sincerely – a great finished piece.
    it feels really polished now and the interviews just tip the balance and make it a really special story.. very engaging and intimately photographed.

    bueno bueno

  50. Young James, you know I’m a fan. Congrats on a well recognized success…and on your first multi-media piece! You and Jessica make a great team.

    If things continue as they do in photojournalism, you’re a natural as a television news journalist. Your BBC accent would just kill them stateside;-)

  51. Hi James,

    Yes, I got that was what you were doing with the MF portraits, as chapter beginnings. Maybe if you were to emphasize the “frame” even more, ie make the photo stand alone (smaller with more space around it) more to speak to it’s difference and intent.

    I have a long ongoing project photographing in Vietnam (just a general survey). I have made it difficult on myself by shooting in 35 b&w/color and 2 1/4 square b&w/color. It’s been a great challenge to figure out how to bring it all together cohesively, and/or scrap 2/3rd of the work and stick to one look. like I said it’s easier to deal with in book form than in a slide show.



    ps: it’s amazing how the body can adapt to waking up every two-three hours. So, yes I am getting some sleep. Thanks!

  52. James,

    Great work. I really enjoyed the multimedia aspect of the project. For the viewer it’s a great way to “get” the lives of these people. And I would suspect that it’s also a great way for you to get closer to your subjects. Well done.

    And congratulations on the Anthropographia contest nomination. It’s a home town organization!


  53. I would like to introduce my agent, Charlie Mahoney! ;)) Thanks Charlie! Yeah, Eric brought it up somewhere in the previous post. Things are a little more scattered on burn as opposed to Road Trips as there is so much more going on. I think the current linear posting set-up (like Road Trips of old) has helped a great deal though. Good luck in the Maldives my friend! Pleased to hear you have got hooked up with some logistical support. I look forward to seeing your work. Let me know how things go!

    Charles P. I strongly encourage you to keep shooting the way you are. It has been drummed into us for so long to keep things consistent in photography, or more particularly, photojournalism. I strongly encourage change in this respect! I enjoy the work of mixed-media fine artists, who have mixing stuff up for years. I have no issues with switching formats. I think is just a little jarring for most of us right now as we just aren’t used to it. But who is to say that is right!?… Don’t do it because its not traditional!!? Look at Blenkinsop. although no use of colour he often combines MF with 35mm and awesome MF “joiners”!! All great stuff! I think you are right in it playing easier in book form. But there is so much flexibility with digital that it offers new possibilities in creative presentation. A slideshow is the purest and simplest form of digital presentation, and has its place, but what excites me is what is beyond that. These are areas that I intend to explore further with my own work.


    this is the last time things will be so scattered..from now on , comments for the essays will be here on Dialogue so that nobody has to jump around to keep up..that way, i can keep your essays up longer as well..what happens now is that after 48 hours or so , readers here stop commenting on the essay and go off on all kinds of other subjects irrelevant to the essay…so i have to then pull the essay and put up another just to get the conversation back on track..anyway, we will at least find out if that system works…i think it will…i do look forward to running another one of your pieces soonest..

    cheers, david

  55. No, no I understand. As I said I do prefer this newer format. And it sound like this will change again slightly to focus the dialog in one area. Seems like a sensible move. It was kind of nice being able to reply to certain specific posts in the past, but this just created new threads all over the place and it was hard to keep track. There was always going to be a “beta” period while the best “fit” is felt out. I think everyone understands that.

  56. JAMES,

    I have very diappointed that after just couple of days, you have already dropped me as your agent to replace me with Charlie….tough business around here :):) but Charlie is a friend so I forgive you… :):)

    It is good to see your essay here James. I have been following your essays and progress since seeing the work you did with David during your Bangkok workshop. I am a fan of your work and I am so pleased to see you starting yo get some recognition and awards… Your new agent also got one of two that made me most happy. I also enjoyed seeing the MM piece with many new photographs that I liked. Your opening picture that was not new to me is a real classic. I absolutely love the light on the face. My only question overall is whether you were right to use color for the video and mix this with your B&W pictures. At times, I felt this was taking me away from the topic, as if I was all of a sudden in a wrong place, outside your cimetery…

    Anyway mate, I look forward to see more of your work… Hope we meet in Perpignan this year….



  57. James,

    You are absolutely right. Time to break out of those traditional restraints. Inspiring to go back and see what I can do with my VN work in slideshow format.



  58. Oh and James. I’m curious – I take it the 35 was shot on digital (correct me if I’m wrong). Seeing the vibrant colors in the video pieces, were you ever tempted to present this piece in color? I like the b&w, but the pull of the colors of SE Asia are a difficult temptation to resist.


  59. Heheh! Sorry about that Eric! I owe you one! ;)) I’m sorry we didn’t manage to meet up last year at Perps. And now i’m out of Ohio, so there’s little chance there either… Although I am likely flying back to shoot the Arnold Classic Bodybuilders (6th, 7th). Always a fun event if you can make it!!? I’ll have to check the ol’ bank balance nearer Sept time to see if Perp is a possibility again.

    Yes, Yes Charlie has being doing well this year too—an award in the Travel Photographer of the Year and the SOS Racism Photography Competition. He’s of to the Maldives (lucky bugger!) to shoot an assignment with funding from a ’07 contest in a week or so!

    The question has been raised a couple of times regarding the use of colour video. We did struggle over this choice. Some seem to prefer it others not. I’ll quote from a previous response to save time…

    “We deliberated for some time over the whole B+W vs colour for video. I saw advantages in both. In the end we could only make one choice and decided on colour. I kind of wanted to detach the interviews (and video) from the still images. Was a tricky one though.”

    Charles P: Yes the piece was shot in digital. I didn’t plan originally for the piece to be b+w. But after arrival this changed. There were two main reasons 1. There wasn’t much great light. Due to it being close to the rainy season 95% of the days were cloudy so, no nice pm light. 2. was that that added to this the cemetery is a pretty monotone place. Lots of concrete, lots of stone, there isn’t a huge amount of colour there. I guess it could have worked either way, but I made my choice at the time and stuck with it.

    Charlie M: Keep up the “Young James” like it!! Harvey busted me as a “thirty-something” earlier….. Barely a thirty-something, right!? ;))

  60. James,

    Those are the exact reasons I expected you to make that choice for b&w. I think it works well, esp considering the subject. Once again, well done. I remember seeing this a while back (on your website?) and thinking what great photographs and a moving (but actually hopeful) subject.

    Take care,


  61. James :))))

    thanks for getting back to me, sorry it took me 2 days to get back to you, Burn is busy…me too ;))))…yes, keep me appraised of Montreal…would love to see the show and you’re in great company there with the Anthropographia Awards…great great company :)))))))…

    and im happy that another photog is thinking out of the book…especially important i think for journalists, ’cause the stories need it as the the photographers ;)))…so pleased to see ur story here :))

    hellos from Berube! :))


  62. Great job, James. I have always seen small segments about these places on television and thought it was strange. Thank you for taking the time to actually talk to the people individually and show people like me what it is like for the people who actually live there. Now it doesn’t seem so strange. Great photographs also. My favorite had to be the caretaker smoking; very nice depth of field in that one.

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