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Raul Touzon

Path To The Ring

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Blood and glory, for who, the bull or the “novillero”?

I met this troupe of young Mexican bullfighters one February afternoon in San Miguel de Allende. Their bravery and unparalleled commitment to the centuries old tradition of “Tauromaquia”, led me to explore the path they follow in hopes of fame and glory. A path restricted in the past to children, especially girls.

Paola, eleven at the time, represents Mexican childhood’s departure from normalcy as they step into a daily routine of training where cape and sword rule. In their altered world there are no video games or IPods. Just dreams, dreams of scarlet plazas in distant lands, dreams shattered not only by horn and hoof, but also by greed and pain.


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Raul Touzon


199 thoughts on “raul touzon – path to the ring”

  1. I think the opening image of the bulls head, is a good opening image, but it seems misleading in a way, not sure. I also think 3, 4, 12 and 18 are the strongest images for me. With 3 and 4 especially, I get the sense you’re actually using the environment more than in any of the other photographs, and they kind of seem out of place in your slideshow, which is a shame because they are the strongest and you don’t have enough of them or others similar to them. The other images seem to capture what is happening in front of you, but for the most part, the emotions, and expressions, have been cropped, and for that the essay suffers slightly with what you’ve set out to achieve.

  2. Raul,
    the strength of the essay moves from high to low, feeling kind of lost in the sequence, the dark sky and the bullring might be a stand alone shot…
    I like it, strong, sad, antique…

    Ole mataor!


  3. RAUL,

    You have some very strong images in this essay that I really enjoyed. I particularly like 3, 4, 5, 16, 18 (maybe 6, 11, 13) with 16 being my favourite. I am however not sure about 17 even if I understand what you wanted to show in this photograph… my question also is whether you are right to include 14 and 15. I think that 14 is a very nice closer portrait but somehow, the move from horizontal to vertical photographs has been bothering me. I am curiuous if any other feel the same way….

    But very nice work! I hope myself to work on bullfighting someday. Many are taking place in the area where my family is living in the South of France… It is indeed a barbaric sport for some but at the same time, also filed with tradition, rituals, courage that are fascinating… I understand why some will reject it (I have felt this way myself most of the time) but you have to sometimes get to know closer the tradition before being able to judge fully…



    By the way, unless I am mistaken, your name seems very familiar…. Are you based in Mexico and running workshops there?

  4. Jim, I’m sure you could have given more than that to the discussion, otherwise why bother? A lot of other things should be illegal but good photographs can come of it. I don’t really understand your reason behind posting if you have nothing to really contribute. Seems very much like a comment that just wants to be read.

  5. I said it doesn’t do anything for me. Others have posted similarly brief statements in other threads. I don’t recall you taking them to task.

    If I must say more, the images seem claustaphobic to me. Some seem superfluous to the story, included to fill space. It seems more a collection of stills then a coherent essay.

  6. That’s better, and don’t take it personally. If I haven’t taken the others to task it is because I never saw them in the first place and I’m new here, arriving only this week! :-)

  7. It is already late, so I better keep my answer short.
    I like the series, but it has it’s strength and weaknesses, I feel some images repeat like 15 and 16. Honestly I am not really 100 percent happy with this one, but I am too tired now – I guess I would start some stupid nagging…
    However the idea of the story about emerging bullfighters is wonderful. A very nice story!
    Unfortunately I am not familiar with Latin-America at all, but I remember the passionate words of my friend Martha from Valladolid in Spain, who once showed me images of bullfighters in her hometown. After that I had no more questions.
    Inevitably with this topic images from Ernst Haas come to my mind and I like to recommend a close look at the work of Giorgia Fiorio. Very interesting portraits of bullfighters are taken by the dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra.
    More tomorrow.

  8. Eric,

    On Raul’s website there is a section all about his workshops, and some of them are in Mexico…amazing opportunities await us. About the essay…I agree with you that it is the responsible action to make oneself more informed before making judgements and rendering ignorant opinions upon what is presented. In saying this, I am not claiming that anyone here is ignorant (quite the opposite, actually…BURN and its pool of intelligent commenters have really made me think); I am simply saying that it is the easier solution to say you don’t like something before really examining what it is all about (and we are all guilty of this as we are human). I don’t know anything about bullfighting except for images that I’ve seen…from what I gather, the culture behind it is wrought with deep tradition, respect, understanding, and the passion to conquer. I definitely get that from this essay…what I don’t get, however, is, in this machismo culture, when, where, and how did they start to let girls participate in this dangerous and male-dominated sport? That is something I would have liked to have more clarification on with more written or visual explanation. The topic fascinates me, and some of the imagery really is beautiful (2,4,5,6,12,15,16,18)…I also like how Raul engages the bullfighters for portraits while also taking the perspective of spectator and yet offering another, more intimate angle from behind-the-scenes.

    I also don’t know why there is a dead bull…is the goal in bullfighting to kill the bull? And the connection sometimes seems distant while other times it’s right in your face. Overall, I like the work, but I am left with questions.

  9. Raul mi amigo!! I had not seen this work of yours. There are some lovely wonderful images here. I personally like #7, 16, and 19. and have always loved your use of color. Nice job…

  10. i, too, am left with questions..
    I am so intrigued with little girl bullfiighters..
    would love to see more of that…
    I love the girls’ expression in #19
    so powerful..
    how old is she?
    where is her family?
    what’s her name?
    thats more of what I’d like to see..
    but I enjoyed your images…
    I want to explore little girl bullfighters…
    ….and compare with the ‘machismo’..
    love the story..

  11. I agree with some of the comments above- there are some strong singles, but I was not drawn in to a compelling series/essay. I also agree with Wendy that it would have been better to see more of the girl bullfighter “substory”.


  12. Hola Raul,
    me gustó mucho tu ensayo…no me pongo tan técnico como otras personas….prefiero llevarme un “feeling” overall de lo que veo…no cuadro a cuadro…se que vienes a Puerto Rico..nos veremos.

    Un abrazo.

  13. 3, 6 ( my favorite by far ), 8 ( something is still missing in this one though ), 10 shoulda coulda…
    16 yes, and 17 ( the best of the whole essay i admit… )

    but then again… anything NOT SHOT with a wide angle or 50mm at the most is “wrong” for me … or at least for “Pay” …( and that i understand , totally…)
    but then again, thats just me !!! i could always be wrong !

    but that number 17 photo…. loves it
    … and the 6… ( i started “feeling” and “coming close”, almost getting into the story…. )…
    and then all those telephoto portraits, distance, not passion, old school, natgeo-ish…

    i hope this essay evolves and the photog will let us closer to the families… girls matadors, boys …
    old/young… Really the bullfighting cliche photos… totally NOT interesting….
    i wanna see more of this essay soon, but closer to the families… maybe one family…
    maybe i dont know what im talking about… maybe i should go get a beer…
    good job Raul,
    peace y’all
    ( i just noticed that im getting older,softer, sad )

  14. Akaky,
    check this one…

    in greek “TAUROMAXIA”…
    which is two words combined in one..
    TAUROS in greek means BULL &
    MAXH in greek means FIGHT…
    ok.. going for a drink!

  15. CARRIE…

    yes, indeed, Raul has workshops you should strive for…he is a particularly great teacher for someone who needs to gain technical expertise and yet wants to move ahead in truly connecting with people…he has a very extensive program….how do i know this about Raul? well first, Raul was a student of mine back in Santa Fe, we stayed in touch, and he and i have been teaching together at various times for many years in Mexico….as a matter of fact, he and i just finished a class here in Oaxaca , Mexico today….i pushed the button on running this essay on BURN as a little goodbye present from me to him…everyone bonds so much at these workshops, it is really tough to say goodbye….lots of bonding in just a few days…and so much fun to work with old friends like Raul…

    oh by the way (and Raul will raise his eyes at your question!), yes the purpose of bullfighting is to kill the bull…

    cheers, david

  16. Interesting Raul, good to have an insight into another culture; which is the strength of this essay.

    My edit would be 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 (killer shot), 19, 20.

    I’m more interested in the preparation than the performance (as with ballet). Some of the compositions are not to my taste (but hey, you run the workshops, I don’t).

    I believe that a form of bullfighting involves the removal of ribbons from the horns of the bull and allows the bull to live. Much better: culture and tradition maintained, nobody dies. Usually. And if you get gored whilst removing ribbons from a rampaging bull well; it’s tradition isn’t it?

    Best wishes,


  17. I guess I’m still trying to figure out what an “emerging photographer” is, exactly. Do they teach workshops? Seriously, the “evolving magazine for emerging photographers” is kind of confusing. I visit a lot of photo websites and might be getting them mixed up, but it seems like we’ve seen here everything from new photographers to those with an extensive posting of tear sheets on their sites.

    I’ve started going to the photographers website first to see if the essay I’m going to view is from a newcomer or a pro, so I can put it into perspective.

  18. Good morning Mike, almost 7:00am in beautiful Oaxaca Mexico. Thanks very much for your comments. I guess I should have told everyone that I only had a week to shoot the story. I agree with you 100% the preparation is much more interesting than the event itself, but honestly, had no more time to shoot it.
    All the best

  19. Good morning Panos, we meet briefly at Charlottesville last summer. You know man, I agree, long lenses are not a good idea, as a matter of fact 90 percent of my pictures are shoot with a 17mm, but, when there is a bull in the ring…. there is no other option. Thanks so much for your comments… and I will take you up on the beer offer.

  20. Gina, thanks so much. Just last night David and I were having a beer…. or two and talking about that very famous workshop that you attended in San Miguel back in 2001. Lots of fun memories.

  21. Wendy, I was explaining Panos that I only had a week to shoot it…. so much more I wanted to do. Anyway, her name is Paola, she is 12 now. Image number 17 was shot at her house, and the woman with the cigarette in the photo is her mother Alma.The other two that appear in the photos are Lulu (Lourdes)(image 15), she is 16 years old and lives with her dad in Queretaro, Mexico, and the last one is Mari Paz, image 19 (shot with a long lens…sorry Panos). Thanks so much for your comments and questions

  22. Carrie, let me see if I can find a copy of the article in English. I was also the writer for the story, but because it was done for National Geographic Latin America, I wrote it in Spanish. The article answers a lot of the questions you ask. My best guess about girls in bullfighting…. like in every other aspect of life…. they have the right.
    Thanks for your comments, all the best

  23. Hi Raul, thanks for the reply. I’m impressed that you did so well in only one week! I think it is very important for people to have a sense of identity and to foster it. I suppose that it could be argued that this identity has been transplanted from Spain and that, in itself, is an interesting avenue to pursue. I’m sure that the indigenous population have made the practice uniquely Mexican.

    The only danger with protecting a culture is that it can promote Nationalism and a sense of everyone else being “other” and less worthy. I suppose what I am attempting to say is that being able to show the individuality of a culture whilst being able to show the common humanity that binds us all is the true measure of success. No pressure there then.

    David posted yesterday that Oaxaca has the best weather in the world and you obviously concur.

    It’s 13:32 here in the North of England and it’s cloudy ….. again.

    Enjoy the sunshine Raul!

    Best wishes,


  24. Some very nice shots here… Would love to see a tighter story and or edit about the young girl bullfighters and could do without the portraits as part of this story. They are very nice portraits but get in my way trying to feel the path to the ring.

  25. raul,
    you know how i feel about this one… i am glad i am able to see the rest of the pictures.
    kudos. your work will always be intense.

  26. Jim

    I do not know why ou are confusing about “emerging photographer” again. For me the Burn and David’s intention is clear and simple.
    And I have to say I do not understand most of your problems you have written about.
    And what about a newcomer and a pro?
    You mentioned about pro many times?
    This is not site only for, including or excuding pro or amatour photographers.
    What you mean pro?

    I think ou have problem with fact that many amatour photographers made better photos than your pro herd and maybe than you.
    This is your problem?
    I come from small town in Poland. There lived some old pro photographer. She whole her life made passport or id photos. something about 2 min for person, the same light and position always. 50 years and pro certificate on the wall.
    do you mean pro like this woman?
    or maybe like 5 000 000 sports photographers? Where signature is sole confirmation who did this or that photo?
    You mean this kind of pro?

    ehhh… I do not understand you Jim… we are here because we are photography lovers. This is not pro club where we will talking about how many photos of soccer player we sold this month.
    You mean this kind of pro?

    Ok, this all is not m business.
    Enjoy the life and photography Jim,


  27. Good point Jim, but it is early days for Burn. One of the best ways to develop your own photographic style is to look at other photographers work; not to copy but just to see the range of possibilities.

    With this in mind I’m happy to see established photographers here and hope to see other industry professionals such as magazine editors and photographers explaining the process of e.g. the editor receiving a proposal from the photographer for a story and following the process from start to finish. Did the story evolve from the initial proposal? Which photos made the cut and why. Did editor and photog agree with the choice of photographs published? That sort of interview would be useful.

    It is important for emerging photographers to see what is being produced by the leading photographers of the day. It sets a benchmark for them to aspire to and can only raise their game. I would encourage any emerging photographer to study the tearsheets that are posted on many photo agency websites (V11 and Noor come to mind). It’s a great way to see what’s being published and by whom and also allows you to study the layout of the essay; how photos are juxtaposed and used in different sizes for maximum effect.

    Good light,


  28. Jim,
    maybe it means “emerge” from another genre, “emerge” as a newcomer all together, emerge from old school thinking, emerge from another profession in a previous life ? Who knows ????? As Marcin said though am pretty sure it’s not related to pro versus amateur nor tearsheets.

  29. Marcin, I believe that Jim is coming from the point of view that if a photographer is “emerging” then he / she is looking for publication in some form or other. If this is the case then Jim knows that it is a hard business to enter. Hope I’m not putting words into your mouth, Jim.

    Of course you are perfectly correct, Marcin, about the often-confused terms pro and amateur.
    A pro earns money from his photography.
    An amateur pursues photography out of love for the craft.
    Neither term gives an indication of the talent of the photographer per se.

    It’s best to be a professional amateur. The holy Grail.

    Best wishes,


  30. To everyone,
    I have in a workshop with David and Raul, and I can not stress enough the fact that you guys should go and enroll in one, the enricher and broadened perspective of photography I did got with them worth it.

    Raul and David, Thank you for keep on sharing and bulding bonds among us, people who enjoy photography.

    Saludos a Zuki, Don Arturo, Cristina and everyone else.

    J Sors

  31. Mike,

    I am fan of photography, not a fan of professional or correct photography or advertising photography or medicine photography. Photography don’t have to be the best even. If I have to like only the best photography I should put my cameras to case (my photography is one big shit), buy salgado and Nachtwey’s books and thats all, do nothing more.
    If someone have problem with “burn” alwyas then sould buy this two books and maybe avedon’s and seat near fireplace with cup of tea.

  32. Thank you Juan, all the best and I hope to see you soon. David left this morning at 6:30am but Cristina is still around. Suki never made it as he is somewhere in San Francisco. I will pass on your “saludos” Un abrazo

  33. Why do I keep getting the feeling that our friend Jim Powers enjoys pushing our buttons? If you look back at the comments regarding the past several essays and selected photos, you’ll see lots of them directed to Jim. A devil’s advocate par excellence!

    Regarding his latest “button,” I’d ask Jim to look again at what is written at the top of BURN’s home page where it says, “an evolving journal FOR emerging photographers” not BY emerging photographers.

    And to be precise, a good number of our “emerging photographers” here on BURN are professionals, ie., they make their living taking photos. Not that it really matters. Does it? Aren’t we more interested in their photos and essays than in their line of work?


  34. Jim,
    why not let the images speak to YOU?
    as soon as you read a bio on someone, you are looking at their images in a box..
    with expectations,
    or not….
    For me, it doesn’t matter who pressed the shutter..
    it is about the photograph(s)
    I’ve seen beautiful imagery captured by children..
    its the photo that speaks to me,
    not where the person is in their career…
    Emerge: v, to rise or come into view: appear,
    definition from the Webster’s dictionary…

  35. ps
    I do, however, enjoy how you get things stirred up here…
    always makes for interesting dialogue..
    Don’t want you to feel that I am attacking YOU,
    as I’m sure many here read the info about photogs b4 viewing their work…
    you just put yourself out there,
    and I like it!!!

  36. We are all pieces of cosmic dust, meeting from opposite directions, some tagging along, some piggy back riding. Photography immortalizes a meeting of chance, supposedly, between photographer and his/her subjects. No matter how we think this dust is minuscule, what is inherent to it is something we can’t deny: it is cosmic and therefore driven by gravity and more than an ounce of magnetism.

    Thanks to all the mentors out there who have the courage and passion to share. We, your students will always be in debt.

  37. Raul, I find myself wondering why you chose to post such a grisly image as your cover photo? In my eyes it is not reflective of the essay as a whole. Thank god. And for any vegetarian/animal rights viewers, you took a good chance of losing us before we’d even clicked on the slideshow. Actually it wasn’t until a few minutes ago that I finally got up enough nerve to go there myself. I closed my eyes through image #1 and from then on all was well.

    You offer a most engaging view into an unseen part of the bullfighting: the training of children–especially girls–to take up the sport. Like many here, I would love to see an essay devoted to this one girl and her life both in and out of the ring. She has a story to tell.

    I truly admire your work, Raul. I went to your web site and got lost in the color, light, life and people. You have a unique POV and, like a magician, manage to drop us INSIDE a place and culture. Hope we meet at LOOK3 in June!


  38. Holly Cow, did i miss a lot last night…..

    call me hung-over (yes, true) but I totally do not comprehend many of the thoughts expressed above. Bewildering to say the least….

    First let me say that I think this essay is beautiful and brilliant. Why brilliant? To begin with Raul has told this story in reverse, which is quite a sly way of allowing the narrative to unfold in a remarkably unexpected way (like a Cortazar story). Opening with the slaughtered bull and following this image with a brilliant ‘action’ shot is ingenious because it actually acts as an inversion of typical narrative tension, whereby typically the story would be pics of matadors preparing, silence, enter the ring, and then culminating in the war with the bull and ending in death. Raul has done the exact opposite of this, beginning at the end so to speak and getting all the ‘action’ and ‘tension’ over with quickly, which allows for a quiet unfolding of the story, as the story progresses we grow increasingly interested and connected to these children, their life, their story and less interested in the ‘bull fighting’, the ‘spectacle’, the death and violence and by the end, we become focused on who these kids are (i want to know much more) and their world (that is the brilliance of photo 17 and why i think it is a critical necessity, even if it looks different from every other photograph, because it is that tension it creates, which shocks us and yet again takes out out of the ring, and Raul has decided to include only 1 of these ‘meta’ pictures…and that’s all the story needs, before the return to the ‘story’ of young bullfighters) and their family and the SILENCE around them….Raul, just fucking ingenious story telling…i mean, we’ve all seen 1,000,000 stories on bullfighting (and i have a friend whose prepared a book on bullfighting, Carlos Cazalis) and yet here is, albeit short and about the surface of things, a story that tries to counter the expectations of the viewers….

    on top of that the pictures are just beautiful, great use of color and empty space. clausterphobic? you have be fucking kidding me…..Raul uses space the way a poet uses pauses and lines to break up the speed and tension of the rhyme. I also love picture 16 and thing it is NECESSARy not only ’cause it’s vertical, and acts as a visual fulcrum but also it works as a kind of literary device (sorry for the over-extended writing metaphors) which removes us again from the world in the ring. The only picture that does not work for me is 15. I think 2 vertical pics feels odd, given all the horizontal and the visual language in all the pictures, and also, Raul has 2 great pics of this bullfighter with the same outfit (and of course other outfits) and this portrait just feels the least successful and doesnt feel as a part of the rest of the story (though, of course, it is a technically beautiful photograph). So, for me, a brilliant, intelligent, beautiful essay filled not only with technically great pics but emotionally intimate images too and a story that is told in a quiet interesting way….just, i didnt want 15 ;))), not here at least….

    as for the issue of ’emerging’ photographers. Good god, who the fuck cares. Let’s have a magazine that celebrates photography and itself is emerging by putting together both young/old emerging photographers (god damn, i hate this word) with young/old pros (a word i hate more). What is interesting is that a conversation about photography emerges from the tension described by seeing work by both sets of photographers (those who’ve achieved some professional recognition and those whose work is little known). My only wish for Burn is that it continue to EXPAND;;

    get other work, conceptual work, work that deals with questions about photography, photography about dissolution, created negatives, appropriated images, performance photography, contrived photography, digital-manipulation photography, etc etc etc…let’s get burn to showcase ALL the possibilities that are out there and not just ‘traditional’ documentary work or work that is still convention in it’s thinking and application….and I know David is doing this, hunting for work, hoping for work to come in that is different, …and im trying like hell to get people i know whose work is not like what we’ve seen mostly here at Burn…trying to get David to see the work and get them to submit….but, BURN is only 8 weeks ago….i mean Still-Dancing is like 2 years….diversity will come…and i think the fact that David has established photographers and non-established (how’s that instead of the lamentable emerging shit) published here is a great great think(g)! :))

    Ok, i have to go for now…sorry Raul for the Rant….

    I really LOVED this piece…and what a great cure for a hung-over boy ;)))

    great work Raul!Thanks so much for sharing! :))

    wobbling away for a few days

  39. THE DEAD BULL IS A BRILLIANT OPENING! :))))))….i think i explained why…:)))…it not only sets us up for opposite expectations (the story will not culminate in death) but also allows us to know that no matter what the sport is about this death and it forces us to reconcile ourselves to that but also allows us know that these children must come to terms with the death of these animals…right from the beginning…i think it’s the only place for the image, certainly not the ending, then the story wouldnt be about the children but about the death of the animal…and we need this in order for us to experience what these children must grapple with….


  40. Raul………..
    yes yes yes…C/Ville… beer…
    yes , that Raul name was so familiar…..
    my memory was so weak…. you are also a maestro..
    no wonder David has so much respect for you…
    again… good job man…
    you have a lot to offer…
    are we meeting again this year…
    ( beers on David….:))))))))))))))))))))……)

  41. Well, Bob, we each see things differently, don’t we? You believe the dead bull is a brilliant opening. I found it to be an incredible turn off. Neither is right; each is different. I’d still like to hear Raul speak to it…


  42. Hey Raul…
    you might be right about shooting the bull with a fish eye…
    peace y’all from cloudy LA

  43. I’d love to be able to talk about what this is, or isn’t, or wax poetic on the ruddy motes of stardust suspended still in the blistering heated slant of an equatorial sun, but suffice it to say in true curmudgeonly newsroom speak as I raise my glasses to the top of my head with nicotine-stained fingers, lean back in my creaking antique oak chair, squint, grunt and tease what passes as a smile out of the corner of my mouth, that I truly enjoyed this. That is the highest compliment I can give and it is why I am here everyday. Burn on brother.

  44. well, Patricia, what i am always confused by is how people take their own personal reactions toward content as often a refusal to get inside the skin of the photographer….i am not saying you’re doing that at all, but i, as a photographer and as a person who cherishes photography, are continually confounded by this reaction….

    and i’ve never criticized another photographer for my own peferences….it’s solipsitic….

    just as reminding me of a typing mistake…


  45. Bob

    My asking the photographer why he’d chosen a particular cover photo is, in my opinion, a respectful response to his work. And then sharing my personal reaction to the photo, I believe, is also respectful. I think we need to be mindful of sounding dismissive of other people’s views.


  46. I liked your perspective and the clarification you brought over the story, indeed a whole different approach.

    Thank you


  47. Raul, delightful stuff. Thankyou.

    I agree with many of the comments and suggestions. But it is what it is, and as it is, there are some very strong images. Being a portrait photographer I particularly like some of the portraits. 15 and 16 are beautiful, I agree that I love seeing the portraits in the mix, though I have to agree with comments about how they don’t really flow into the mix quite right.

    I’m finding it endlessly helpful and educational to hear others comments when forming opinions about the essays here on Burn. It is much like studying literature, especially poetry. Some of it is immediatly accessable, some requires more work to appreciate. However when you study it as a group, new perspectives emerge. Getting past the surface, there can be so much more.

    Not that I find this essay hard to get into, quite the opposite. But it does leave me wishing for more depth. Some of the images are perhaps a bit too obvious, 2 and 12 in particular. Bullfights would seem to be one of those situations that qualify for pretty “photo op” status. It is hard to find a fresh take on such an often photographed subject.
    Raul, “only” a week sounds like a long time. I’d love to see more from the shoot.

    Cheers Y’all

    Gordon L

  48. Hi Patricia, I think I chose that image for the same reason you mentioned…. it is very different from the others. …. but see…. I didn’t loose you. Thank you so very much for your comments. Speaking of dropping into a “place and culture” I am photographing a Zapotec wedding in a couple of hours. See you in LOOK3.

  49. Thank you Gordon. In the magazine world, a week is nothing. I was working around training schedules and wishing for bullfights that I don’t control. I wish I had three weeks. Vertical portraits in this story have a couple of reasons; 1. Give choices to my editor….. and 2. THE COVER.
    Trust me I would love to see more from the shoot, but I ran out of time
    All the best

  50. Patricia:

    i have never said, not once, that you were disrespectful of Raul or any other photographer and asking a question of the photographer is part of the critical importance of Burn or any relationship photography. My 2nd comment was not at all directed at you, and in fact, i didnt see your question about the bull picture until now and i responded to your reply to me, having just finished typing my 2 comments to Raul. and for the life of me i had no idea why you thought i was suggesting difference of opinions was somehow poor or boorish. i repeat, i find it incredibly frustrating that many photographers reaction to work is seen only through the prism of their own sensibility and often dismiss work because of this or fail to do the leg work in trying to ‘feel’ or understand the reasons behind certain photographic choices. I see it in almost every essay,/photo, and what is particularly bothersome is not that people dont like something but that in fact, people question the photographic decisions rather than ask questions. This is what i find tiresome and lamentable. And no, that is not about you or your question for Raul, which is an important one, since quite a few people were distrubed by both the photo and the choice to open with it. I thought it was a brilliant choice to open (as written) but does this mean my opinion is right, of course not, but I tend to side with the choices a photographer makes, because it is their work, their decision and i find the whole questioning of the legitimacy of a work or decision, based soley on one’s ideas/disagreements, incredibly narrow and, as i said, solipsistic. I did not think of your questions as an example of that at all, by the way.

    “I think we need to be mindful of sounding dismissive of other people’s views.”…

    sorry Patricia, that sounds pretty patronizing. though if you felt i was dismissive, i apologize for that. written comments are taken without the voice

    and i guess, i should refrain from ‘arguing’ about the merits of work. it is a distraction, and so i shall refrain from doing so.

    and please do not question whether i am mindful of others or not. That sounds, well, dismissive.


  51. Thanks, Raul. I appreciate your response. It’ll be great to connect with you in June. Enjoy the wedding! The people must respect you greatly.


    Bob, I’ve just sent you an email. We can discuss this privately ;=)


  52. the photography is delightful, there‘s not a shot in this set that i wish i didn‘t make myself. i’m certain i could learn loads about photographic composition from you Raul and i wouldn’t think twice about paying to attend any of your workshops, the fact that you did this in such a short period of time is really remarkable.

    i think introducing this contentious topic through the eyes of a child and more so, a girl, has the genius of Gun Nation by Zed Nelson, ironically i suspect your work didn‘t have a similar end goal. you’re quite the clever guy and also not just a spectator in this activity, so i wonder, did you ever wonder about the risk of pitching this topic this way?, in a way that it has such a ‘family’ future?

    since someone has already romanticised how important this event is, but didn’t even know the bull died at the end, maybe loads will continue to endorse this event through pure ignorance. These are the same viewers that learned about the British fox hunt through Disney. They don’t realise that until it was just recently banned in the country, in real life the fox is shredded to pieces by the teeth and claws of an angry pack of hounds.

    i guess some history and some tradition and some culture is less important than a fox getting shredded by some aristocrats… makes you wonder about a mob watching a drugged animal tormented, then slaughtered, for just a small entrance fee.

    that being said, i suspect history is still waiting to be written. but you Raul, you’re just a man on an assignment?, you don’t need to get tangled in the ethics of the topic, or do you? Have you got tangled before in the horns of an animal that you later killed?

    i’m still puzzled how cock fighting is evil, fox hunting just now became so and is illegal, but bull fighting is still beautiful? Patricia picked this very fact up already, but Bob, made it very difficult explore.

    it’s not that i’m some extreme animal right’s activist; when i turned eighteen i had my big game licence on the back of my hunting jacket and my Mossberg 12 gauge in the gun rack of my Dodge Ram. But as a hunter the concept a ‘tormented’ kill becoming a spectator sport, regardless of the resulting charity (poor people get the meat) or the economy it provides, well it makes me sad for human nature a bit.

    Again, the photographic compositions are enviable, but to deny the other dimensions of this topic would be criminal.

  53. I strongly believe that photography is a by product of an experience. With this a my “motto” I go out and try to do my job. As Dave Harvey would attest, as he was there, I have been in the ring, I have indeed been run over by a bull, yes I have felt it although I didn’t kill the bull. I don’t think I am fit to judge if bullfighting is right or wrong. It is a shame that I don’t have the translation of the article I wrote as most of what I concentrated on was this kids’ live rather than event it self.
    Thanks so much for your comments…… signing off, got to shoot

  54. Some might say..
    bullfighting is brutal..
    But how about fishing in a lake..
    Who wants to die with a fish hook
    attached in their mouth????

  55. I’m not talking about pros and amateurs. I know amateurs who are much better photographers than many pros. My understanding of “emerging” would be those who haven’t actually gotten much exposure. It is just so hard for a new photographer to get published, to show their work, that I suppose I assumed that was the goal here, of giving new (or emerging) photographers a place to show their work. I enjoy seeing kinds of stuff, but showcasing the work of already published photographers here is just confusing.

    It will be interesting to see where David is going with this.

  56. Isnt pininfarina an Italian breakfast food? I’m sorry, but this story is confusing me now. And did I bring up the organic hamburger thing here?

  57. Killing for sport is never ethical. Tell that to the bull; five will get you ten he feels pretty good about himself when he slips that horn right into the matador’s guts and tosses the guy over his head. Probably thinking to himself, hah, didnt expect that, did you, smartass?

  58. During this snowy day in Detroit, I found myself thinking about how and what we share here in our comments. My apologies to Raul if it feels like I’m hijacking his thread; that is not my intention.

    We each come to photography carrying all of our life experiences, both gifts and baggage. What we do ourselves with the medium and how we see and feel about how others use the medium reflects who we are and from whence we’ve come. For me, seeing the bloody head of a killed animal was incredibly painful. I have not been able to look at it without practically crying. This is why I eat no meat. This is deep in me. So my response to Raul’s essay was colored by my personal reaction to how it was presented.

    If we cherish photography as an expressive medium, are we not allowed to FEEL and express those feelings when responding to an essay or photograph? Or must our responses be devoid of any expression of feelings and personal reactions. Must we all write like the photography critic Vicki Goldberg in Aperture?

    I personally hope that BURN will be a place where we can share our feelings as well as our thoughts about the work we are seeing. And when we feel strongly about something, I hope what we say will be received with open minds and hearts. After all, it is our differences that make things interesting.


  59. ALL…

    i want to jump in here after reading so many interesting comments…but , i have been flying all day and also trying to adjust to a cold New York after a sunny warm Oaxaca…i must go grab a sandwich or something since i just realized i have not eaten all day, but will be back soonest to put in my two cents..thanks to Raul who seems to have come in here and answered most questions in the gentlemanly way he always exudes…

    cheers, david

  60. Well said Patricia.

    I think a photograph hasn’t really succeeded if it doesn’t invoke an emotional reaction, painful or pleasant, in a viewer. If we can’t discuss our reactions (constructively and respectfully, of course), then what’s the point?


  61. All, thanks so much for all your comments, I am still learning to use this wonderful tool. Just came back from shooting a Zapotec bride, lots of fun. I am about to face the light table to see if I did my job right.
    I don’t think I have written s much in one day.

  62. I really enjoyed this essay! I witnessed a bullfight in Ecuador during their Independence Day celebration some ten years ago, it really moved me…as with most traditions I am fortunate enough to experince first hand. I have not yet had the opportunity to read back through the comments here but I am looking forward to it! As for the photographs…Nicely Done!

    I especially like #4…..

    Cheers, Jeremy

  63. kathleen fonseca

    i looked at this essay. i let it percolate in my head for 24 hours, i read all the comments. all of them. and thought hard about all the issues that were discussed, those having to do with the essay that is. while it’s tempting to muck around in the button pushing and odd and assorted organic hamburger discussion, it distracts from “my” reason for clicking on the essay to begin with so i am biting my tongue. aargh i looked at the essay again. killing animals for sport is horrifying. would we want to be killed for sport? nut-uh! however, horrifying things need to be documented and explained and i’m in the “cover photo is brilliant” camp. It socks us in the gut and challenges us to face icky cultural traditions that are offensive to our values or finer sensibilities. not everything Mexican is baile folclorico and good pot. not everything Greek is ancient ruins and feta cheese. not everything French is escargot and the Louvre. not everything Alaskan is snow and, and, um, well, more snow? hell, some of Alaska is wolf hunting from helicoptors, some of Texas is fishing from hi-tech bass boats that do everything but stun the fish and vacuum them into the cooler for you.

    i like that Raul has captured the pride, tradition and spectacle of bullfighting without romanticizing the horror or resorting to gratuitous displays of brutality. We know from the cover that the point of the exercise is to kill the bull. get that out of the way straight up and then dig in for a heaping helping of ancient ritual and laborious training. Just the fact that his essay deals with a young girl learning the blood sport is enough to tilt us on our axis. Some photos in the essay are chillingly frightening, #7 with blood on her young hands followed by #8 with honor bestowed made me want to call youth and family services and have her put in a foster home. in spite of myself, by #19 i was sheepishly proud of her accomplishment. (other personal faves are 6, 13, 15, 16). there is no disputing the courage and beauty of these bullfighters and there is no getting around the unconscionable brutality of the tradition. But the photos were gorgeous, the trip was a good one and i am not the same person coming out of the essay that i was going in. a success by my definition.

    Thanks Raul..


  64. Thanks for the response Raul. i lived in San Bernardino until i was thirteen, on a ranch with horses and ponies, and yes, at one time, a bull. Double dare was alive and well during my childhood and i’ve got a scar you can still see today through my eye-brow to vouch for my experience with a calf that would become that bull.

    Anyway, I’m comfortable with Spanish, but i couldn’t find your article, i was keen to read it before i posted. if there is a way to read it, even if in spanish, i would surly be interested. Cheers.

  65. The bull doesn’t feel good or bad. He is defending himself against a guy with swords. The bull had nothing to do with the situation he finds himself in.

  66. Sidney, you make me blush..i enjoyed your Chinese fashion show. Your delight and pleasure shooting these women is palpable. What more can i ask from photography than to be able to feel the photographer’s passion, zeal and enjoyment of his subject matter? “in my spirit the years still weigh lightly”..how that made me smile!

  67. ALL…

    alas, travel fatigue is going to win out here, and i am going to sleep…i have several specific comments to make, but will save them for my morning coffee….

    however, just one quick comment on the horrors of bullfighting….

    i have photographed dozens of bullfights and can still recall my first where i almost literally got sick when i saw the slow, and assumed painful, death of the bull…the bull does not just die…the bull dies a tortured death that takes about 20 minutes…nobody would wish this on any living creature…in Spain there are many organizations trying to stop this “cultural tradition” and make it illegal…so, please know this is not a “national sport” by any means….soccer is a national sport…

    but, let me tell you how the bullfighters themselves see it…this is NOT MY OPINION…this is THEIR PHILOSOPHY…one you should know….and i write this after spending several weeks with one of the most famous matadors in Spain…so, i asked a lot of questions and observed….first, the matadors and all who help the bull “to glory” see the bovine family overall as a totally domesticated animal that exists on this planet for ONLY ONE REASON..food source (as are chickens and pigs)….from the moment they are born, they are here to die by the hand of man…they WILL die by the hand of man one way or another…they have only this one fate, bullfight or no bullfight…they do not exist as wild animals…

    fighting bulls are raised as such…..they are selected from the very finest stud bulls who,until their death in the ring spend their entire lives as studs…..THAT is all they do until the day they die…the ultimate macho life ….and the bullfighters see these fighting bulls as living lives of great privilege and honor…and LUCKY to be chosen to die in the “art of the ring” rather than by a bullet in the back of the head at a bloody slaughterhouse….

    bullfighters see themselves not in a sport at all , but in an art…matadors would identify much more with ballet dancers than with football players…this philosophy also kills about a dozen matadors per year….the bulls are losing by the numbers, but the matador is definitely at risk…one of the young men fighters in Raul’s essay was almost killed by a bull a few weeks ago..barely surviving the goring….

    i met all of the young fighters in Raul’s pictures about a year ago…and their doting families….the only word to describe the whole family attitude is , yes, PRIDE….yes, yes the parents are very proud, and the youngsters feel very privileged and very much a part of what they see as a very special way of living life….

    as we all know by now in discussing our work, there are so many ways of looking at the same thing…

    cheers, david

  68. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, David. It doesn’t change my feelings about what happens to the bull, but it does help me understand a bit better the attitudes that elevate what seems to me a barbaric sport into what matadors and bullfighting fans see as an art. I still hope it will be outlawed.


  69. David wrote:
    “…this is NOT MY OPINION…this is THEIR PHILOSOPHY…

    bullfighters see themselves not in a sport at all , but in an art…matadors would identify much more with ballet dancers …..
    yes, PRIDE….yes, yes the parents are very proud, and the youngsters feel very privileged and very much a part of what they see as a very special way of living life…
    .….yes, yes the parents are very proud….”

    Ernest Hemingway said:
    of it in his 1932 non-fiction book Death in the Afternoon: “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour.” Bullfighting is seen as a symbol of Spanish culture.

  70. so… BULLFIGHTING is an ART !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    and the MATADOR is an ARTIST !!!!!!!! ( who wound know ! )…
    but then again,
    who the f*** is that Ernest Hemingway guy anyways….
    ok, back to my beer !

  71. Crazy
    I have a feeling that I’ve seen these images before, maybe it was a book made during the 30’s, when people still thought that this shit was cool and unique, that bullfighting photos were special (a bit like in Italy during Benito Mussolini they couldn’t read so they looked photos like this, unfortunately nowadays they can read so I think even Italians think that these images are quite boring). Anyway. Colorful photos, a lot of colors in them, shadows, National Geographic, cliched compositions, unoriginality, etc. Like watching a child taking her/his first steps, which is usually interesting and funny, but in the end it’s really fucking boring unless the bull is your own.
    My suggestion (humble one) is that you learn your own photographic alphabets before posting more photos publicly (I guess that that sentence is also for the curator of this magazine and what I mean by this is that burnmagazine.org is rapidly coming a web mag curated by a great photographer showing mostly really fucking bad and unoriginal photography, which means that it is curated in a really bad way. Steve McCurry plus about 20 slideshows by not so good amateur photographers. The slideshows have mostly been bad and if there is criticism and people answer into it it becomes “a great conversation”. Come on. In every art, in every medium there exists Shit and there has been a lot of Shit in burn.) So please get some originality in here, please get some. Not just empty fucking love hotels (if you want to show love hotels why don’t you ask Araki, or some other japanese guys who have worked on that and in them for the last 40 years making the sickest and greatest photos possible (of hotels full of love and odors).
    and bullfighters, fucking bullfighters (bet that the next show is saturated photos of old cars in Cuba and graffitis of Che Guevara)… It seems like every photographer who is showing their photos in here is trying to write their shows in the language of some other photographer. It is simply boring and not good for this magazine which still has a great possibility to be a unique site (perhaps some curatorial help from Mr.Tin Parr would do dome good). I would like to see that you show guys like Hans Peter Feldmann, Geert Von Kesteren, Ilkka Uimonen, Alec Soothe, Michael Schmidt, Antoine d’Golgotha, Philip Blenkinsop, Anne Geddes, Paul Graham, or anybody who has the history of photography to back up their images, not only these amateurs, who think that their making some photographic artsy full of pain of this life and perhaps the next, saturation, and self awareness. Artsy backed by the bad books and images that they admire and like, but not by the images that they themselves have done and imagined..

    My Best
    Ricky Ant

  72. Pat,
    i totally understand… you dont eat meat,
    you dont kill animals… you dont abuse…
    that does make you a GREAT soul…. NOT A WEAK one , but a great soul…
    but, i have to admit i’m not like you… but i want to be in a way…
    i totally freak out in the view of a dead bull… but i was born in greece
    you know… a macho place..and spain is a neighbor…
    and i do see the ART in this violent world….
    but you know… even a tree or a plant are living beings in a way… so
    what is violence anyways… killing an animal, killing ( cutting ) a tree…
    “killing” a plant to just eat it ,… everything is alive in this earth…
    So is a LION ( have you ever watched that tv show called the “discovery channel”?)
    a “serial killer” in the jungle or should we let them extinct just because they are “too violent”?

  73. Thankyou for your insight Kathleen. Your comments made me go back and visit the photos once again. This time full screen without the distracting reflections of daylight coming in the windows. I did not see the blood in photo 7 before, a whole new photo.
    Now after another viewing, with your comments in my head, I have a new appreciation for the essay.

  74. my reaction to R.ANT ‘s comment is : hahahahaha . the intention of this website is quite honorable. maybe you should pack up your bags and make your own – and then you can call yourself great.

  75. R.ANT hey,
    it is awesome to have you here. Every opinion is important..
    its an open discussion anyways…
    question: it seems that you really watched all of the slideshows so far…
    which is great btw…so, is there any essay so far that “moved” you?
    Did you find anything cool … so far.. in BURN or was it all 100% s***???
    as u mentioned above…
    i mean really, was there anything that you really liked…?
    peace y’all

  76. ok… Robert Plant or RANT listen…
    i will take your “silence” as a NO…
    Nothing you liked here… from the first to the last…
    but you watched’em all slideshows…
    doesnt sound kinda freaky .?…y’all?
    ( either way i never liked the Led Zeppelin that much anyways…!
    but i loved your rant, R.ANT… laughing, i loved your rant, R.ANT,
    but R.ANT, hey R.Ant, before
    you rant think that these idiots here that have their essays already posted and the mighty ones that coming…
    already put a lot of WORK to start and FINISH that thing/essay that you are now so easily judging and so fast to write a critique or trash everything or whatever,,,)
    From your comfortable ANONYMOUS chair you call everything in here as sh*t…
    No positivity, like… at all ???
    how about… give us an example with your work ????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    if any ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
    Or are you HIDING behind ARAKI or Philip B.??????
    I mean, you totally confused me…??!!!!
    You accuse every photog in BURN as an imitator of a well known / iconic one…
    but you mention “iconics” to support your views and ideas too…!
    So, please show us where you differ ????????????

  77. I don’t usually call people stupid but this guy is stupid on so many levels, hes lie a caricature of stupidity.

    1. Assuming Ricky has seen all the slide shows, it would take a real moron not to catch onto the idea of what Burn is: a magazine for AMATEURS or emerging photographers. Calling for work from established photographers on Burn? Stupidity.

    2. Ricky Ant, let’s talk about learning photographic ABCs. You know, before throwing names around to sound smart, it would be smart to at least know the names. Who is Alec Soothe? Ok, typo? Who the HELL is Antoine d’Golgotha?:) Im sure thats not a typo, its stupidity and ignorance. Ricky, here’s a suggestion you stupid moron, why don’t YOU go learn the ABCs before you open your stupid trap and sound like an uneducated idiot?

    3. Strike 3 is for being anonymous and running your mouth off. Anonymous trolls are scum.

  78. yep, but you’ll be hard pressed to find fifteen uninterrupted acres of pasture land in Muscoy these days, it’s all under concrete now. the hi-light of my life used to be the orange county fair.

  79. I guess the bullfighters would, then, consider it an honor to spend a few years at stud and be slowly tortured to death in a ring for others amusement. What are we going to see celebrated in an essay next? Dogfighting? Cock fighting? Pretty young girls with meat saws….wait, we’ve already seen that.

  80. Raul, no doubt you are a real pro. You published these images and this is a great achievement and success plus you even wrote the text. A job well done!
    However I had some kind of an allergic reaction with image 12. A great and beautiful picture – a superb photograph! But I felt I had seen blurred by motion images of bullfighters so many times before. Haas and Fiorio come to my memory and even recently Medford Taylor had an image like this in his essay and my friend Martha showed me a picture of a blurred bullfighter years ago. I feel you don’t really need this image in your essay. Image 2 shows the fight and to my taste image 19 has got it all: the idea of a young girl becoming a bullfighter is very well expressed. Repetition dilutes a fine essence.
    To me burn offers the stage for the „voluntary exercise“ (I looked this up in a dictionary???) like in figure skating. Jobs and work is more like the 1st, the A part where you have your duty and obligations and the 2nd part, the B part is when you can go wild. Burn to me is definitetly the B-part!
    Raul, you are a fine photographer and with image 4 you showed me a vision of a bullfighter that I hadn’t seen before. That’s the part I cherish. Personally I like image 7 because it tells me so much about this young girl and this sport. I would love to see more of that!
    Thank you for sharing this fine work. Olé!

  81. Actually, it isn’t fair enough. Many people are vegetarians because of some wet-eyed sentimentality. It’s an ethical issue for me. I’m a Preference Utilitarian and believe that killing other sentient beings for food, when we don’t need to eat meat to live, is unethical. Killing them for sport is abhorrent.

  82. My Dear Mr ANT. Your tone sounds incredibly familiar. Seems I have heard it before (Sounds like me in another place and time actually). Thing is, to have any chance of NOT being jumped on collectively by The Readership here you really ought to do this kind of thing openly. I mean, anyone can talk a good fight from the bleachers right? If you Have the goods [ be it work or otherwise ] to back this up, and you put that up front, then I feel you would have a solid place from which to debate from. If you are invisible, people will just label you [UFO, troll, etc…] and your opinion, which may be quite valid, will be totally wasted. Up to you I guess. Though I think they shitcan UFO’s here.
    As someone who is not averse to lobbing in the odd shit grenade i welcome the presence of people who go against the grain[ as long as they do it with real conviction ], but you have to show yourself, the reason for your position, as it just dont work.



  83. Does anyone know how many animals are killed with machinery used in factory farming per acre? It’s really quite high. Just sayin’.

    As a newspaper person, what would be wrong with documenting the fact of cockfights or dogfights? Surely nothing. So I guess intent plays a large part here. Ad is always the case.

  84. Raul.

    I remember San Miguel de Allende and you bringing me to that flamenco dancer. thank you again.
    exciting work here. your use of color brings forth powerful ‘music’ with fond memories of Mexico and meeting you. made some long lasting friends that week. anne

  85. rant – i think you just missed the point somewhere along the line.. this is not a website magazine of established and successful photographers.. on the whole it is a learning application.. a school if you like.. and with improvement in mind it´s daft for the teacher to just show the best in the world..

    that´s hardly going to encourage anyone.

    i think that decent is quite acceptable here – from named people with links to work..

    it´s impossible to take you seriously.

  86. Strange
    I have a feeling that I’ve read sarcastic anonymous commentary about photography before, maybe it was a forum that was hot in 2002.

    Anonymous internet commenting, the last safe haven for those insecure about their opinions.

  87. I don’t comment here often, but I do enjoy popping by burn every day to look at the latest selected photographs and essays as well as to read the commentary. I’ve really enjoyed following the discussions even if I haven’t always been thrilled by the photographs themselves.

    However, I find these anonymous/pseudonym (yes, even them) posters really annoying. If you can’t post with your real name, I have trouble taking you seriously.

    I wouldn’t mind a simple rule of if-you-can’t-write-with-your-own-name-don’t-bother-at-all, or having a separate comments thread for those wishing to conceal their names.

  88. mr. Ricky Ant

    I try to find who you are at the google, I was thinking I will find a gallery where you and Araki or Parr are represented by.
    Because I suppose you are one of the most famous photographer who know what talking about, isn’t it?
    I didn’t find your name at wikipedia, or maybe is something wrong with my internet connection?

    When I read comment like your about someones work I always see an eunuch who know how to do the best art but never will do it.

    I wish you best dreams in your Best Photography Land


  89. Raul. have to make another comment. you’ve brought another culture to this forum. i, along with a lot of others, appreciate knowing, seeing, feeling. i’ve photographed bullfights in france, loved hemingway, cried to see such a strong animal killed, and put that aside to see your ‘authorship’ is presenting to burn.
    i commend you for that. your portraits are beautiful. respectful. you’re a strong, powerful guy. i respect your emphatic way of photographing and telling the story, despite the fact that i can’t stand to see the bull killed. again, thanks to david for giving all a chance to safely and honestly. the spirit of generosity giving and taking our opinions, critiques is exciting. damn, i’m learning a lot reading all your comments and seeing all these images. anne

  90. kathleen fonseca

    Whether founded or unfounded, anonymous or not, i like those who diss an essay because they force me to examine my own reaction and that’s important to me. But i prefer they say what and why they don’t like it. Comments like “It doesn’t do anything for me”, or “Boring voyeurism”, or whatever annoy the crap out of me because they leave me wanting. I want more than that. i want to hear the reasoning, the feelings, the frustration, the logic, the distress, the passion, the opposition. i much prefer R. Ant’s anonymous reaction to some 6 word toss-off from someone using their real name (who i don’t know from Adam anyway) that suggests the author made not the slightest effort to get past his/her own prejudices and narrow-minded selection process to even begin to “get” the photographer’s message. 30 0r 40 years in photography doesn’t qualify a person to junk an entire essay in 6 words, unless those 6 words happen to nail their logic with minimalist surgical precision. We’re always learning and anyone who thinks they know it all by virtue of the anniversary date of their first photo is going in the other direction on their photography continuum. For every photo or photographer they thoughtlessly disregard they are missing another opportunity to grow and glow in their own work.

    So bring on the wordy dissers who should have the confidence and cojones to use their real names but in the end, it’s what they say and not who they say they are that counts.

  91. Reimar, good morning, I am sitting outside my room in Oaxaca watching the beautiful sun come out. Thanks for sharing your perspective on my pictures, it is indeed a refreshing view after reading one particular point of view that was published this morning. Reimar, you are ABSOLUTELY right, #12 is a cliche that has been done… beautifully I might add by many photographers, including my good friend Dog Taylor. I guess we all strive to do our best, but less face it, influences are out there and somehow followed from time to time.
    All the best, and thanks again

  92. Hey Anne, how are you, haven’t seen you since the first Look3. I remember looking at your book that day. I also remember the Flamenco shoot…. and how badly you wanted me out of the room… hey girl I was just trying to help…. just kidding. Thanks for your comments, I guess its good that you have been down here as it helps you understand the culture a little better. I hope ours path cross again.

  93. RICKY ANT..

    man, did you sit on a tack or what?? ouch!!

    normally we delete comments from the unidentified, but in your rancor you bring up points which could/should be considered “issues” and you did take the time to actually write something, so i will write back in kind…dissent on what happens here is always welcomed and i am certainly never beyond reproach…i am an “emerging editor” to be sure with lots and lots to learn….and maybe what i learn is that editing an online magazine will not be finally of any value…so be it.

    however, may i give you my perspective??

    the photographers you mentioned that we SHOULD publish here (whose names you mostly spelled wrong) may indeed be published on BURN and we have done interviews already with Soth, Parr,Blenkinsop, and d’Agata and will do more of course…but, i am not sure that publishing only the work of already very established photographers is the point of BURN….i mean, we can already buy their books and see their shows and they are already EVERYWHERE..

    it did not take much research on your part to come up with this list of photographers that should , i agree, be known by the photographers who are the audience of BURN…there is definitely a lack of photographic education out there these days and one of my own mantra’s is for photographers to get this historic background…so on this point we agree…

    but, does that take away the spirit of looking for a new Paul Graham or Philip Blenkinsop??? should every aspiring photographer just hang up his/her hat in awe of the already acknowledged greats??? is the “work in progress” of a non-established photographer just not worth our time???

    i am sure you know that i could spend every day just having lunch with and absorbing the greatness of the greats you mentioned…most names you gave are colleagues of mine and i could easily just bask in this elevated relationship …and there are times when i do just that…i.e. i show Parr or d’Agata my work and vice versa…that is what i do at Magnum etc and this is a very important part of my life to be sure…

    however, i also very much see the worthiness in mentoring the now not as great as the greats, but with the potential to become, if not great, at least to make photography a very important part of their lives…and by doing this, albeit slowly, someone here will “break on through to the other side”..i am afraid that just publishing an anthology of established photographers would hardly make things unique here on BURN…

    i would also point out that curating from a daily mix of work sent in to BURN from the audience here is a quite different editorial experience than if i just sat down and pulled in work from all over the place and preached “ok gang, this is the best of the best”, your works sucks!!!…

    BURN is a daily piece created from what is submitted to me by this audience NOW…..and none of us will know the true manifestations of BURN for several more months….and, indeed, it may all be in the long run one big failure of editing and mentoring and exploring the online possibilities…

    yet, one of the things i totally believe is in taking a risk…putting it out there….going by my gut etc etc…for me, this often leads to disaster…bad ideas…projects not worthy….miserable miserable failure….

    OR, perhaps just as likely, in all of this scramble and mix of both good and bad, there will be one final big edit of text and pictures and we produce a book or journal that represents a relationship between all of us here and it becomes its own purity…its own object….as raw and original as any art form…

    one of the frustrations for me as an editor on BURN is that everyday whatever anyone sees so far is assumed to be a “wrap”…a done deal…movie finished…but ,how could that be?? the very nature of BURN is of a work in progress…a behind the scenes effort ..i do not see online as anything other than what it is…a place to build…i doubt that any computer screen will be soon mounted on the walls of MOMA…so in the spirit of production i move foreward…oh how i do LOVE the look of my apartment when i have a book going…i mean, the place is a mess!! paper all over the floor, pictures tacked to the wall, spilled coffee, “where is that type face i found an hour ago?”..apparent disaster….how could anything good come out of this mess??? hmmmmm, well maybe maybe something very good indeed…

    Now Ricky, just as you have asked the readers of BURN to put their work in context (and hang their heads in shame), you too should do the same in return..please do a little bit of research and background checking on what has transpired here for the last three years…track the archives…see what has happened and why it is happening…it is after all a diary…a journal…some days are better than others….

    the other quite obvious thing is this….you have now provided INSPIRATION…..one of these “amateur” photographers is just going to kick your arrogant anonymous butt…you are a weak unidentified person…THEY are out in the open…REAL PEOPLE….one of them will do a book that will be “up there” in the hallowed halls of greatness of which i doubt you are a part…

    if i am wrong about this, then i will kiss your ant….

    cheers, david

  94. Thanks David and good morning. I am sitting in the terrace outside the room… you miss it, right?
    Any way just wanted to add one more word to what you wrote …. “tradition” . A lot of these kids come from several generations of bullfighters, in the case of Paola, her grandfather and father were bullfighters.

  95. Raul. how funny that you knew i wanted you to go away. i was on fire there and you kept trying to teach me something. i appreciate it, and did learn. thank you. it’s great seeing your work here and i do understand the culture; i approached it using the flamenco passion to express my feelings about it.

    xo hope to see you at look this year.

  96. i just posted links to an interview with David Denby as well as an outline on his new book SNARK…in which he describes and discusses the web phenomenon of Snarky comments/commentators….dious and repellent writing that often defines blogs, websites, essays, etc….which sometimes comes up here too (R. Ant now, and often by others, including regular commentators here)….

    and Kathleen, in no way is dissing an essay brave or courageous, it’s just lazy, flat out lazy, period.

    ok, that’ll be all from me for a while…

    have fun

  97. Bravo David!

    The only point of yours that I disagree with is “one of them will do a book that will be ‘up there'”.

    Only one??? In the past month alone I’ve seen several mind-blowing works-in-progress, let alone the life of Road Trip/DAH blog and now BURN… All your regulars here know you will not be able to limit that outcome to just one!



  98. Raul,

    Cliche or not, I think it’s still perhaps “necessary” to include a shot like #12, to provide a kind of “bass line” or an anchor of sorts. Even the most experimental poetry will retain some fundamental grammatical structure, or risk falling apart.



  99. Hello? Yes, Hi!.. Mr. Pot, this is Mr. Kettle. Mr. Pot there’s no easy way for me to tell you this, so I’ll just spit it out: You’re Black… one last thing, you live in a glass house, so it might be prudent to put down those stones. Cool, see you later. ;-)

  100. RANT said:”
    … curatorial help from

    Mr.Tin Parr
    Alec Soothe,
    Antoine d’Golgotha
    , Anne Geddes,

    or anybody who
    has the history of photography to back up their images, not only these amateurs, who think…. ”

    ………… question ? who are those people?
    who is mr TIN ????
    who is mr SOOTHE ???
    who is mr GOLGOTHA ??? ( I thought that Golgotha was a hill that the Romans were crucifying their criminals )

    laughing………. oh ranty . ranty , you made everyone’s day…

  101. I agree with Pete – David your patience and openness knows no bounds. Good to talk with you last night… xo

  102. Joseph Campbell used to say that vegetarians are people who like their meat not running….

    Here in Thailand, as buddhists, people are not supposed to kill animals, monks even less. But as long as you don’t kill the animals, it’s ok to eat them once dead and cooked, since the karmic deed has been prepetrated by others (often, butchering is a muslim trade), so monks can eat butchered meat…. Thais are a pragmatic bunch, they have a way of working around the most insolvable contradictions, and they do it as to the manner born (which they are, actually) from dawn to dusk, and after, wondering what the fuss is all about.

  103. ;))))))))))….

    brother kettle, yea, hear u totally….no worries, leaving the glass house, let the stone nobblers continue, got some buckwheat to boil, ’cause all we got, is steam…my ass is way too rusty from steamin’…going off to dacha’s outdoor kitchen, they can have their stones and steam…maybe another window washer (Akaky) will come to the rescue, im off to my house of sticks ;))…brother Pot.

  104. “i doubt that any computer screen will be soon mounted on the walls of MOMA”

    I wonder if the on screen digital image will ever be considered a finished work of art? I for one do hope so…

  105. A good point Asher.

    I had written earlier that I thought this essay could do without those very familiar images, but I was not aware that the piece had been intended for publication and consumption by (I assume) the general public.

    Cliches become cliches because they work. Getting back to intent, and personal VS commercial stuff, every successful working photographer knows what sells.

    It is not a matter of “holding your nose”, it is a matter of communication, telling the story in a mutually understood language.

  106. ROBERT…

    oh, i am sure it will in some form…..by the way, i like much of your street photography…nice feel to much of it…as usual, a tighter edit would help, but overall you have some good work..

    cheers, david

  107. And what’s the matter with snark? Most of my personality is snark, except for the part that’s rampant paranoia. Remember, “…the Snark was a Boojum, you see…” whatever the hell that’s means.

  108. Ricky,…Anne Geddes? Don’t get me wrong, she’s brilliant and original at what she does, it is just curious seeing her mentioned in the same sentence as the others.

    Anyway, thanks for the rant.

    We need them here to pull us back down to the ground. I mean it is really great to have a love-in and be all supportive of each other, but the most interesting and thought provoking posts I have to admit have been responses to the rants.

    Perhaps many of us would like to rant a little, or be a little more blunt with our responses. However because we want to be supportive, and for fear of revealing our own ignorance we don’t really say what we would like to.

    However I would prefer that all our ranters, like our friend Jim, had the balls to let us know who they are. It would also let us know wether or not you had faith in your own point of view.

  109. JIM…

    i have been meaning to ask you….do you know Bill Allen, former editor of Natgeo?? he is the only other person i know from Tyler, Texas…

    your question about the term “emerging” is a fair one…i suppose there are gradations of “emerge”…i sure as hell see myself as emerging….and yes, emerging photographers like Raul can be great workshop teachers i think (i believe i told you that i was teaching at 23 while i was very very emerging)….where the line between emerging and established gets drawn is very subjective, as is everything about photography…but, for example, both Raul and Mike Brown (our last two essayists) have completed magazine assignments and earn their living as photographers, yet neither has a book nor has done an exhibition..so , in my mind at least, they have one more barrier to break…i think they would both agree….

    now Jim, you say you are all over the net seeing work…so, why can’t i put you to work??? you tell us you are an editor….but, instead of just “voting” for essays and singles as you do with a quick thumbs up or down, why not go find us someone??? if you see a photographer who you feel should be represented here, have them submit..or tell me to go have a look…this way, instead of having the image of grumbling newspaper editor(which you probably love), you could go out there and have some valuable input…now, i do not for one minute disparage your rapid fire one liners…as Patricia said, you push buttons that get everyone going…fine….but, why not put this to practice??..DO something…..you up for it???

    cheers, david

  110. GORDON…

    yes, i was surprised to see Anne’s Geddes name in with the others as well…i am sure she would too…

    i would hope that none of you would hold back on anything…say what you feel please please….and yes, sometimes the ranters do make for the best conversation….but, as you said, an identification makes it have a bit more cred…

    one thing i must tell you..and i think i have mentioned it before…i have been under major pressure from many of my colleagues and most of the readers at BURN as well, to eliminate all comments from published essays …most BURN readers just do not want comments….most BURN readers do not comment….period. many feel very strongly about this…their point is that what magazine allows it’s readers to comment on every little thing?? yes, letters to the editor, but not comments directed at the published stories in the way we do it now…something to consider….

    the case FOR commenting is of course that this is the way of the net…keeps us all engaged…..maybe there is a compromise position on this and i am up for trying out new ideas always…one of the problems for me would be that if we eliminated comments on the essays, then i would have to post a whole lot more stories under Dialogue to keep the conversation going…as i did on Road Trips…this would end up being a whole lot more work for me…because i would still be editing the same AND writing as before….hmmmmm

    anyway, we are still waiting to have enough stories which will go into “works in progress”…many say this should be the place for comments , yet leave the top of the page published essays alone…..

    your thoughts??

    cheers, david

  111. Hey Raul,
    When you say “Zapotec bride”, do you mean Sophie, the one we were shooting on Wednesday? The flower she made in the end was absolutely amazing! But back to commenting on the show, my mouth was open the whole time you showed the class this essay, akward i know, but its not everyday i get to see something like it. I cried a little on the way home on the plane, and was welcomed back to Ottawa with 10cm of snow. I would go back to Oaxaca in a heartbeat. Thanks again to both you and David for the great experience.

  112. David,

    I am teacher now and I am more than very very emerging photographer (I don’t see problem with that), and probably I will be quite good teacher… as long as photography will be my passion of course.
    I hope it will stand with my passion as long as you.



  113. I understand what you are saying David. I too am torn about the commenting. Sometimes it works and sometimes it becomes noise. Maybe give it more time and see how it evolves.

    By the way, I resent you that email from a few days ago. Did you get it? And I am not sure about that “prima donna artist” comment…. My creative moment was alcohol induced… Maybe thats what I need… Absinthe and a camera!

  114. David

    For the moment, I hope you leave the format as it is.

    I have found the comments, and the opportunity to comment, has been inspiring, thought provoking, educational, and very exciting. I walk around all day with images and comments and questions swirling around in my head. It has forced me to examine my own feelings and attitudes and points of view. Please don’t stop now. I’ve been craving this kind of contact and stimulus for a long time.

    I love being able to click on the name of a poster to see where they are coming from, follow their links and your links etc. My only complaint is that I am spending way too much time on the site. I do need to make a living, and have a life outside photography. (I’m always telling young photographers that photography is what we do and who we are, but cannot be all we are.)

    Anyway my fear is that you will not be able to keep up the pace, and that Burn will loose some of its’ intensity. It seems to have a great balance at the moment. Just hope you or it will not crash and burn. It’s a great ride so far.

  115. David,

    Concerning your musings on whether to keep or dump the comments section from the posted photo essays and selected photographs… I understand your dilemma, of course. Personally I would keep the comments for now… I think many of us recognize that a lot of the ongoing energy and interest comes from the banter in the comments section. (For example, I have only intermittent access to broadband, so it’s often several days or a week before I can see the essays in their entirety, but reading daily comments keeps my interest and attention up). And despite lapses, most of the comments are constructive in the broadest sense. I think you might want to poll the photographers whose work has been posted… do they find the comments interesting and helpful? Would they prefer not to have this feedback?
    I guess which way you jump depends partly on whether you see the work you post under Photo Essays and Selected Photos as being essentially ‘finished’, ready for prime time… or how sharp a distinction you want to make between that and “Work in Progress”… and that relates to where you envisioning putting the emphasis of BURN… it is part teaching seminar, part showcase, but where do you see the center of gravity falling between those two?
    I don’t quite fully understand the motivation of those who want so strongly to dump the comments that they are pressuring you to do so… after all, no one forces them to read the comments, do they? As for “…what other magazine does this?” I think that is a bogus argument being made by people who seem to be carrying over prejudices from the old print media. (Or do you mean that possible money donors are pressuring you???) The comments generate energy and attention… sometimes it is more heat than light, but it is still energy.
    There’s another consideration I’m sure you’ve pondered. Road Trips and Burn have both generated a community… true, it’s one based on an interest in photography, but the community goes beyond attention on particular pieces of work. As you say, to keep up that level of free-form interaction, either you personally would have to write more, as you did on Road Trips, or you need to keep the comments sections as open as possible. Do you really think it ideal to confine the party to one room (Dialogue) or two rooms (add Work In Progress)?
    David, I know that for you the deeply held mantra of many years has been “Magazine, Book, Exhibition” but I think maybe you’ve already transcended those categories here. Of course I look forward to a magazine coming out of BURN, but is that really all it’s about?

  116. Thank you Raul, I enjoyed your piece very much.

    Bullfighting is certainly about tradition. It’s interesting how in Spain too some of the top bullfighters today come from families of toreros or bull breeders. These are families with usually plenty of money, so these bullfighters are not risking their lives for the money. I think they indeed find it an honor to get in the ring with the bull. As David mentioned before, many bullfighters have paid with their lives trying to get there, and many also when they were at the top of the ranking. All bullfighters have their bodies cris-crossed with scars, almost carried as “medals of honor”.

    In the past, on the other hand, becoming a bullfighter was often a way out of poverty and misery. Many came from very humble origins and becoming a bullfighter was the equivalent scape from poverty to becoming a pro soccer player for a poor kid in Brazil, or an NBA star for a kid from a ghetto in the USA. A famous bullfighter was once asked how dared he get so close to the bull, wasn’t he afraid of being stabbed by the bull’s horns? His answer: “mas cornas da el hambre” or “hunger stabs you worse”. He ended up being killed by a bull while bullfighting in Madrid.

    Oh, and something I think has not been mentioned here. Bulls do have a way out of the ring alive. The bravest, those who will not stop fighting during the corrida will be pardoned, cured of the injuries and sent back to the fields to spend the rest of their lives as studs.

    Just my 2 cents on bullfighting…

  117. DAVID

    A printed magazine is static: I learn a finite amount from each issue.

    BURN is dynamic: I see no end to what I will continue to learn from the photographs and from many of the commenters. Eliminating the ability to comment would reduce BURN to just another photography site.



  118. i commend david’s pc-ness in addressing/defending the contents of burn when you (david) did not really have to. it is quite obvious. but you may need to save your post in a file as some other rash commentator might come along. i always foresee repetition in attention seeking diagnosable behavior.

    though i hope the comments still are welcomed in the future, i wish burn readers will have some sensitivity to the labor and time these photographers have put into the essays and think clearly each time we leave comments for them to read-whether they be positive or negative. i hope raul will just brush off R.ANT’s ignorant comments, plod on and stare at the oaxaca sun.

    as for content; once i spoke to nevada weir about her work, about how when i viewed her pictures, i felt she was photographing me. see, i came from that side of the fence and have lived that life. i felt that she truly appreciated my comment because to most here in this free country, everything, everyone in her pictures is exotic. but once you become like the subjects you photograph in a photojournalistic venture, you begin to understand and transcend the gory, the horrible, the unthinkable, the poverty — everyday happenings in another person’s life — and find peace and pride and the humanity beyond the daily struggle for survival.

    all effective photojournalistic work strive consciously or unconsciously to evoke emotion and certainly raul, whether he calls himself emerging has done it here. raul has socked us in the guts, gave the uppercut with the invisible skinned knuckles of his camera lens; not necessarily open our eyes to an issue but to show us the bullfighters have their own lives too.

    i have no clout to point out which pictures were more effective than others, the essay as a whole was incredible. and has left me with some unidentifiable emotion to make a difference… somehow.

  119. David, speaking as a regular visitor to BURN, I keep coming back as much to read the comments and enter into discussions with my peers as I do to see the photos and watch the slideshows. If the comments were eliminated from the essays and selected photos, I think many of us would only check back in once a day or every other day depending on when we thought you’d be posting a new essay or selected photo. As it is, I’m in and out of here several times a day…and loving the interaction, even when folks like R.Ant show up.

    Speaking as a photographer whose essay has been published here, I would have been terribly disappointed if there had been no opportunity for viewers to leave comments. I learned so much from their responses to my work.

    I can understand that potential sponsors, established Magnum-level photographers, editors, publishers and gallery owners might find the comments bothersome. It certainly keeps BURN from having a pristine appearance. And sometimes our discussioons get downright messy.

    I guess it’s up to you, David, to decide for whom you’ve created this venue, what you see as its primary purpose, and how much time you have to devote to it. Because, if you want this to continue being an interactive site, you will either need to retain the comments on photos/essays/work-in-progress, or go back to writing Dialogue threads with questions as you used to do on Road Trips. Personally, I don’t see where you’d find the time to do that. To be honest, I don’t see where you find the time to do all you’re doing now! But, hey, you’ve got more energy than any nine people I know.


  120. “Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.” Ye gods! Admit it, Sidney, you’ve been waiting for years to work that one into a conversation.

  121. Without the interactive component, I would not visit as often. I read all the comments on each story. Very interesting stuff. The web is interactive.

  122. Eduardo Sepúlveda

    I am with those here who don’t swallow this dead bull image easily. But i also think that all this very intense, interesting, passionate debate wouldn’t be possible without it. I have in my mind now those paleolithical bull hunting representations in caves that are used to be taught in history of art… thinking about magical shamanistic interpretations…
    Nothing fascinating on seeing a massacre. Is true. But much can be thought/felt and said from this, as seen. Somebody pointed out on machismo and power issue in the 30’s and well, this essay is much about young girls… about a culture, about Latin America, where all this is far from just being a minor aspect… Just above the bull head you can find her shoes… Only from this i think we’re not looking just a cliché, but a reflection… I really don’t think i perceive Raul is just taking the part of the bull killers at all.

    I have much to thank here. From the pictures to every comment. As a i read the first ones Bob Black did, i went back to the essay in a complete different way. And i want to go back to his own essay another time from this perspective.
    And at this point i think i have to say i am learning myself a lot through you people of BURN… i hate people being complaisant , and i hate thinking of myself appearing that way , but i must thank a lot every body here for putting skins and bones on this project. And much to the curator and editor for risking and for sharing. This ‘bridge’ to the other side, whatever everyone`s other side could be, is something not easy to find. I appreciate that.

    I listened a lot about Raul in Oaxaca, i have the access to his work now…


  123. JIM…

    or do you prefer James??

    ok, great….this will give you some real editor input which will be most appreciated…thanks.

    please send the link of the photographer you recommend right on to submissions here on BURN…and in the comment box just say the essay or single is coming from you…i think this the easiest way..then we can set up a dialogue with either you or the photographer or both….

    i want you to have fun with this…your salary for doing this is exactly the salary i pay myself for BURN…zero!! but, you will be making a real contribution and then YOU can catch all of the flak from someone else who just does not understand your choices!!

    cheers, david

  124. Akaky,

    Sorry to disappoint, it was just beginner’s luck I’m afraid. You are the Master, I but a bumbling novice. I badly need new glasses… when I first read Pete’s post, I actually thought it said “…Absence- and a camera!”


    thank you for your comments (yes, comments are read and do generate other comments!!)

    no matter what , i was never considering not having us interactive….we have always been interactive… and long long before i ever published one single picture from the readership here, our comment stream was off the charts…don’t you remember that we would have up to 700 comments per story on Road Trips???…and none of it was specific critique on readers photographs…as a matter of fact, we had way more comments than we do now..go back to the archive and take a look…..

    so, it seems pretty obvious to me that picture critique is not necessarily the only way to have a dialogue…for example Patricia, we could have put your essay into “work in progress”….you would have gotten exactly the same amount of feedback…you have already changed your lead picture since you were published as a “final” and i would imagine we will do some more tweaking before we take your essay to a publisher….Panos’ story is going to be re-edited a bit, as are several others..if all of the commenting on essays were in “work in progress”, then by the time it was locked down and absolutely “perfect”, then it would be presented as a finished essay…we would then categorize the story as “finished essay” or whatever we wanted to call it, put it at the top of the page, and it would be locked down..done…no comments necessary at that point…make sense?? we would have way fewer stories in this “done” category than we do now, but perhaps they would be much more unassailable…

    this would also encourage some photographers who are pretty high up on the “emerging” list who just are not interested in their stories receiving “public approval”…for example, a photographer as accomplished as Mike Brown might not want to be published on BURN because why would he want to have his story in effect “voted on”??…now, it turns out Mike is a good sport and everyone loved his essay, but not every photographer feels that way…so, some photographers want feedback…many do not…the ones who do could easily be placed in “work in progress” for constructive feedback…

    furthur proof of not necessarily needing picture critique to be interactive on BURN, is right here right now on this thread under Raul’s bullfighting story..i mean right now we have all hijacked this thread so many different ways..about 30% of the comments right this minute under this essay have absolutely nothing to do with Raul’s essay..sorry Raul!!! and this happens all the time with almost every essay..again, please go back and read….

    in any case, all of you have been so eloquent in pushing to keep things lively , interactive and having BURN be the place where you can be most expressive..believe me, i appreciate this more than anything…i always have, and i have always said so …..

    i think it is just a matter of when and where and how we do it….by the way, there is no pressure on me from Magnum or any potential sponsor…the pressure i am talking about is just a peer pressure of the kind to just make things more sophisticated and classy…the way that one photographer might talk another photographer friend out of running the wrong picture on the cover of his book…in fact, in the same way we all talk about essays and singles here…after all BURN is an essay…an essay of a different kind to be sure…a collaboration between thee and me…i just want it to be the best it can be….

    i know you feel the same…and i so so appreciate your input…any more thinking you have based on my new comment will be read very very carefully…see, we ARE interactive and always will be!!

    cheers, david

  126. Maybe the bull in the ring action isn’t important. I agree with Panos – the wide up close shots are so strong that anything else just collapses. Leave the “sports” shots out – we’ve all seen bullfighting matador action shots ad naseum and these don’t add anything. The thing here is the behind the scenes and training and the fact that they are youth. Keep it to the intimate shots and you have one heck of an essay. I understand the action shots are probably the most important ones for the kids involved (I’m sure when you show them the photos that’s what they gravitate towards the most, themselves in action) but not for audiences at large. #13 says it all when it comes to the actual fight and is one of my faves. #6 and 11 are fantastic as well. Good work – just don’t get sidetracked by what you think “has” to be in it.



  127. David,

    As I understand what you are saying now, it means expanding the “Work In Progress” section beyond what what was originally envisioned (I remember somewhere your writing that you would mentor 5 or 6 photographers towards a book through that channel). So more emerging photographers’ work would be shown there (both essays or parts of essays, and singles as well?), and the ‘Top of the Page’ would be reserved for finished, polished work with no comments…? Just trying to clarify exactly what you mean. And it would be between you (or whoever else might be acting as editor) and the photographer whether their work goes in the “comments yes” or “comments no” category?
    As you explained it, the problem now is photographers who you feel deserve a showing but who don’t want their work dissected or argued over publicly … not necessarily because they are thin-skinned, but because they prefer (and deserve) a ‘classy’ presentation and our noisy rants would be mostly a distraction. I have no personal problems with that, if it is the photographer’s choice. (Although I’m willing to predict that at least some comments and responses to their work will show up anyway, only on other threads, possibly ‘hijacking’ them a little. Don’t know how you can get around that entirely without heavy policing of the discussions).
    I never dreamed you’d scuttle or stifle ‘interactivity’ per se… of course not! My concern was that comments would not be invited for the same wide range of photos, both essays and singles, that we have seen up till now… yes, threads get hijacked somewhat, and some of the discussion could just as easily take place somewhere else… but a good deal of it is specific to the single photo or essay and from what I’ve read here I think at least some of the photographers, and many of the commenters, have benefited quite a bit from that.
    Here’s an idea in terms of mechanics… instead of bumping some photos and all comments to “Work in Progress”, how about keeping things more or less as they are now, but adding a new category, “Showcase”, which then becomes the ‘Top of the Page’?

    Incidentally, mi compadre, I never doubted that you read all the comments and think very carefully before responding…it always shows up in your responses.

    Cheers and Good Luck,


  128. It still seems all very schizophrenic, still confusing what it is you are trying to do with Burn. You can’t just shoot at a whole flock of ducks in the air in hopes of hitting one.

    A classy teaching site featuring everything from Magnum pros to “emerging” photographers, who might be anything from beginners to working professionals? Photographers who want to present their work but don’t want it commented upon? What value is that? To the community or the photographer? I know you want this site to appeal to a broad range of photographers, but maybe that’s not realistic.

    You’re a brave man, David!

  129. kathleen fonseca

    “and Kathleen, in no way is dissing an essay brave or courageous, it’s just lazy, flat out lazy, period.”

    I don’t know but i suspect you’re dissing my comment about dissers. I made a distinction between those who trash an essay with 1/2 liners consisting of 6 words and those who make an effort to articulate their dislike, disapproval, even disdain. With the former, i get nothing. No insight, no benefit of years of experience, no quirky, daring or provocative criticism, nada. With the latter i have an opportunity to learn something and broaden my own mind. i might disagree totally but i value their input. i would not say this type of diss is lazy, flat out or otherwise. And i personally don’t give a damn if they are anonymous. Lots of people on the web prefer not to expose their real names to the spying eyes of search engines. And while R. Ant is clearly a pseudonym, how do we know that other contributors’ names haven’t been photoshopped as well?

    Seems to me that what ruffled many a feather at Burn was R. Ant’s intense criticism of the magazine’s content. If he had written a paragraph of flowery praise i am sure his anon’ status and bad spelling would have raised nary an eyebrow.

  130. David….
    I think a body of work will always have a viewer wishing something was different,
    something added,
    something left out….
    I like the idea of works in progress for comments and finished essays, being just that, finished…
    I like the photog being able to choose how they want their work viewed on BuRN..
    I think its just as beneficial to see a ‘finished’ essay, with no comments
    as it is to engage in dialogue about images that are still being worked with..

  131. They have been photographed and documented many, many times. Although illegal, they continue to happen. Over the years I’ve photographed many raids on puppy mills, with hundreds of dogs packed into tiny, unsanitary cages, covered with sores and at the point of starvation. But publishing those photos has not reduced the incidence of puppy mills in the area. I refuse to shoot “still another puppy mill” anymore when alerted of a raid. Everyone gasps, “Oh, my god.” And nobody does anything.

  132. John Gladdy said:
    “…February 22, 2009 at 6:56 am
    My Dear Mr ANT. Your tone sounds incredibly familiar. Seems I have heard it before (Sounds like me in another place and time actually)…”

    … tell me about it, John…
    tell me,about it…

    you were right on about the OSCARS…
    your favorite movie “SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE” just got the ultimate award: an OSCAR…
    goodnight.. live from LOS ANGELES…
    SEAN PENN also got one…

  133. Jim said:
    “Oh, my god.” And nobody does anything.

    NOBODY EVER DOES ANYTHING JIM…its what YOU & me are doing, that counts Jim… not them!

  134. SIDNEY…

    thank you so much for your well thought out comment…and i will take it to heart…i got just a little confused at the end when you suggested i keep things more or less the same, focus a lot on work in progress and then have a new category Showcase…isn’t that contradictory?? that would mean there were sort of two works in progress… your idea of Showcase i agree with completely and isn’t it exactly the idea i presented??…or did i read you all wrong???


    damn man, you are just never going to GET what i am doing here!! what i am doing here is what i am doing here….yes, i like to mix it all up and yet ultimately take everybody down a very straight line…a line that hopefully leads to a photographer finding his or her own voice…i have my ways Jim of achieving that goal…i do it all the time in my classes and i suggest you come to one…as my guest of course…anytime…i know how to squeeze talent out of someone…push them…ask themselves what they really have to SAY…however, it takes a long time on line to get to the same point you could get to in a few hours in person…so, yes this is a tough way to go…

    in any case, i am not asking you to understand..at least not yet…but, i would ask you to think about it…and a very big by the way, i am not TRYING for any “wide audience”…or , trying for any audience…the audience i have here on line Jim, is exactly the same audience i had before i ever hit the keyboard…

    hey Jim, you never answered my question about Bill Allen???

    cheers, david

  135. WENDY…

    we agree…not so surprising!! yes, i just do not see anything to lose…there will still be lots of discussion…the same , or more, i would guess….in any case, wishing to see you soonest…


  136. David,

    Me again. Sorry if I muddied the waters and confused you… what (I think) I meant was, if you wanted to preserve “Work In Progress” for personal mentoring of a very limited number of photographers specifically towards books, going “all the way”, as originally envisioned (?), also wanted to continue posting single photos and essays of a broader spectrum that were fair game for comment (as you have done up till now, and as I and apparently at least some other commenters would prefer), but also wanted a new category that would be reserved for finished work without comments (i.e. Showcase) which would appear as the cover page of BURN… (maybe that is way too complicated?)… so yes, in a way, it would mean there are two slightly different types of “Work In Progress”… whether you call them that, or something else, doesn’t matter to me…
    But don’t let’s get hung up too much on the specific categories or their names… you have explained enough so that I am confident that however you work the mechanics out, your intentions are in line with many of our wishes and all will eventually be well.

    And another ‘incidentally’… I don’t know about Jim Powers, but I have a loose connection with Tyler, TX and Bill Allen…one of my closest friends in Japan, someone I ate lunch with and argued with for hours every Friday at a Thai restaurant for nearly 15 years, whenever we were both in town, grew up in Tyler next door to Bill Allen, they played ball together as kids, and still meet when he goes back to visit his parents. Once back in the mid 80s when Bill Allen was still a picture editor, my friend floated a story past him on one such visit, and sent him some of my photos… Bill Allen said he liked my pictures, but they decided not to pursue the story… too much coverage of Kyoto and the Kansai already in the magazine during that era was the excuse.

  137. David, I don’t live in the city Tyler, Texas. I live in Tyler County, Texas. So, Bill Allen and I are about 140 miles from each other.

  138. panos, after many years of shooting tragedy and misery, I spend my time shooting mostly upbeat stuff of people in the community. Nachtwey has shown people the horrors of dozens of wars (and Nachtwey is in my top five list of favorite photographers), and it hasn’t made a bit of difference. Since I’m at a point in my career when I choose what it is I want to shoot, I don’t bang my head against nearly as many brick walls. A camera is an incredible window on the world, but not a very effective weapon against its evils.

  139. Hi Jim,

    I hope that this does not make you feel beleaguered but I honestly can’t cop your last comment.

    So why does every photo have to make a difference on a grand scale?

    Why can’t a photo simply generate a personal response of pleasure for the viewer?

    And why does everything have to fall into a category of ’emerging’ or ‘established’?

    I have been around for a while and I consider I am only truly emerging into what I really do and say (visually) NOW -I still have a way to go before I really can do the book I want to… and I have worked editorially for too many years.

    Some things need nurture before they fully mature.

    I don’t agree with all of the choices on BURN and certainly I have disagreed with some of the photographic practices of some of the photographers but what is really great about BURN (sorry but I actually have never favoured the name either) is that you can see potential everywhere.

    I mean I would never have seen Michael Brown, Panos, Amanda Lucier, Mustafa Abulaziz and many others without BURN and while I consider that some of the photographers are more developed than others you can see where some of them are heading and thats really exciting!

    Its the new era of interactive, crowd sourcing, connectivity and you have to develop your own filters for swimming through all thats out there and working out what is good for you, but the net is never going to be anything but an evolving work in progress, not one thing will ever dominate it and create the Elvis Presley phenomenons of the past.

    It can’t- it simply is not designed that way.

    So while critique is useful, curmudgeonly about the state of the photography is really just an opinion as well so really why not just completely remove those static walls you have bashed your head against? Go with the flow…

    Its life Jim but not as we know it…

    (And yep I have waited a lifetime to use that one to make a point!)

  140. Kathleen I for one would like to say that if anyone was silly enough to try and adopt my name, well then they deserve the dissing of all!

    Can you imagine the nicknames I got labelled with when I was a kid?

    ‘Pigpen’, ‘Hogwash’, ‘Piglet’ (though I don’t mind that or ‘Hoggers’ and I was mainly known as ‘Hoggy’)

    Horrible though it was growing up with this moniker (and Dad Akaky I still blame you and those keilbasa merchants for separating me from my brother Bob Black and me ending up in a scientific experiment on the other side of the world from which I clearly derived my name- the scientific experiment I mean) I am somewhat proud of it and will always use it to defend my point of view in discussions and debate. Especially if I use swear words.

    One wonders why anyone would use the net if they are worried about search engines, its quite easy to trace where a user originates from so if anyone really wanted more than general statistics well I am sure they could be found more easily using other means.

    No not using your own identity on the internet is cowardice in my book.

    Unless of course its my Dad Akaky, but I know he has his reasons…

  141. trashing an essay does not provide insight Kathleen. Thoughtfully discussing ‘problems’ (and i use this work with reserve) or choices another photographer has made is an entirely different thing. My point has always been that if people approach work only through the immediacy of their personal feelings/points-of-view, well, god damn, we dont have much for the stature of photography do we? It means that we can’t even begin to appreciate or value work other than the work that clicks our personal knobs. I have never devalued the work of another nor have i dismissed another photographer/writer ’cause our opinions diverge. I wasn’t pissed at R.Ant because of his/her criticism of the content (I have been critical here as well, and continue to remain critical of how people talk or write about the work, maybe you’ve missed that?) and i dont think he misspelled names but instead played with the names…he’s being pretty ironic, and nothing wrong with that, though i found the ‘content’ of what he/she wrote not only labored but pretty empty, generally speaking.

    i guess you and i have completely different understanding of what ‘diss’ suggests….but, as Joe so eloquently suggested, Im a black pot….

  142. amigo:

    snark, as originally intended, is pretty damn funny…and you’re brilliant…and THE snark, was pretty damn funny, whatever you see, but that’s different from what constitutes irony or nonsense now….and while i think Denby’s a bit uptight about all it, he does have some points which make it increasingly tiring to chat on the net…..but i’ll take your bronx-bread paranoia over most of the stuff i read any damn yankee-day of the year ;))

  143. Well, Lisa, this is getting a little too philosophical for a thread on an essay on bullfighting, but I’ll respond. As for Burn, my opinions about it are just that. It’s Davids project, and he should certainly take it in any direction he chooses. He doesn’t need anyones permission or approval to do that, certainly not mine.

    It’s the part of your post where you talk about “so really why not just completely remove those static walls you have bashed your head against? Go with the flow…
    Its life Jim but not as we know it…” that interests me.

    The Internet is all that you describe. But it’s open to debate whether it is everything you describe. Once all things are possible, many things lose meaning, becoming diluted in an infinite wash of content. Photography is an immediate victim of that dilutiion, with literally billions of photos awash in a sea without end.

    As for me, James Taylor kind of captures it in “Bartenders Blues.”

    “But I need four walls around me to hold my life, to keep me from going astray.”

    I’m been online and participating in forums since the early 1980’s and Compuserve. My God, that’s almost 30 years, isn’t it! So, yeah, I guess I’m kind of curmudgeonly about this brave new online world and its promise for photography.

  144. I join the praise of Raul’s photography – beautiful essay, beautiful images and so unusual flow of the story, as Bob has already pointed out. Definitely it is one of my favorites on Burn.
    I also apologize for my rather dull and awkward language, I definitely can not keep up after beautiful passages by Bob, Joe and others.
    Still I wanted to say a couple of words regarding the harsh reaction of viewers towards the what seems to be a barbaric sport, or art as it has been correctly defined here. All of us have a right to our own emotions, reactions, life perception that is based on our culture and life experience. It’s just very important to remember that this is our subjective perception and it might be quite different from that of the photographer. While personally, I must say, I despise bull fighting it has nothing to do with the beauty of this story. I find fast acting and expressing opinion based on conscience to be very dangerous. This does not give time to understand the motives and cultural aspects behind other people’s deeds. I find that I trust Hemingway (in spite of the fact that I do not share his love to bullfighting) because I can feel that he knew what he was writing about, and knew and respected both matador and a bull.
    The judging attitude that is quite characteristic to many conscientious photographers makes me to recall the “progressor” series of novels by probably most famous and philosophical Russian science fiction writers – Arkadiy and Boris Strugatzki. It is interesting to read through these series to see the evolution of their ideology towards bringing the “good” into what seems to be retarded civilizations from total support to much more balanced and deep analysis of both sides of such relationships. Humanity is overloaded with the feeling of self guilt and trying to fix its own mistakes by helping out the “barbarian regimes” without their consent. At the same time it hates and fights the possible similar intrusion of the higher beings. What seems to be normal, noble to us may seem barbaric to somebody else.

  145. kathleen fonseca

    Hi Bob… yes, yes, i see now, it’s simply our difference in using the word Diss..to me it’s to disagree for you it’s dismiss. So forgive me for my part of the tangled communication. As for R.Ant..i am not defending his position at all. You found his input empty regardless of the meandering text. Good point. But if i have to put up with something, i will choose R. Ant’s rant to one line of cryptic disregard any day. And no, i haven’t been here very long so haven’t seen that much of your posting. Matter of fact, i came here when they featured your essay which i liked a lot btw..



  146. Bravo Raul. Very nice essay and your new website looks great. I still love #19…..it’s a classic little moment. I look forward to seeing this work as big prints on a wall and on the pages of a book. I am amused at how much bullshit your bullfight essay has engendered…..enough fertilizer to cover a small organic farm. Stay in the saddle mi amigo.

    Un fuerte abrazo,


  147. Kathleen: :))

    sorry for the confusion, yes, i believe it was related to web communication. No worries. that’s the unfortunate nature of communicating through posts/comments rather than conversations in person. Language, especially written, is a virus ;)

    all the best

  148. Thank you all, for some reason this is not allowing me to reply to each one individually but your comments, suggestions and compliments have been a great learning experience. Hope our paths cross soon.
    All the best

  149. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  150. Just wanted to say thanks for the great post ! Found your blog on Google and I’m happy I did. I’ll be reading you on a regular basis ! Thanks again :)

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