EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHER GRANT RECIPIENT

EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHER GRANT RECIPIENT


The recipient of the Emerging Photographer Grant 2009 is


Alejandro Chaskielberg

The High Tide


More details will follow soon.


The Judges:
Maggie Steber – Photographer
James Nachtwey – Photographer VII
Carol Naggar & Fred Ritchen – Historians-Authors-Analysts
Eugene Richards – Photographer
John Gossage – Curator
Scott Thode – Director of Photography Fortune Magazine
Gilles Peress – Photographer Magnum
David Griffin – Director of Photography National Geographic Magazine
Martin Parr – Photographer Magnum

191 Responses to “EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHER GRANT RECIPIENT”


  • Congratulations ! What a contest and beautiful winner ;o)

  • Congratulations, Alejandro!
    Bravissimo!!!!!

  • Bravo
    congratulazioni, fantastico!!!!!!!

  • Hearty Congratulations Alejandro!!! Your project deserves every penny of this grant.

    You must be on the top of the moon now! :)

    Wish you ALL THE BEST & GOOD LUCK with your project in the coming future…it has just got the $10000 push, so we now expect the best from you…and I am sure you’ll make us proud!

    BTW, to be judged by those guys above (I think) is a big honour in itself…

    Congratulations to all the FINALISTS…

    last but not the least…

    Thanks DAH for making it happen…you deserve the BEST too…hopefully, you’ll take some much needed rest now…

    wish we were spared of some of the cat fights amongst some of us…but again…BURN needs some heat to burn…so everything will be okay i suppose…

    Regards to ALL…

    bodo

  • A new genre. Fantasy Documentary.

  • pushing the boundaries~
    documentary work…
    congratulations alejandro!!!
    bravo bravo!!
    **

  • I agree with jim, photo-illustrators have done this for years. However now we can only say congratulations alejandro.

  • john gossage is a curator now??

  • Alejandro…:))))
    YOU DA MAN!!!

  • Fantastic.

    The future is pregnant both with this endorsement of approach to documentary and also with the funding of this talent.

    Congratulations Alejandro!

  • Whatever one’s personal taste or ‘druthers, it is very hard to argue with the credibility and gravitas of that amazing board of judges that David put together. So I say, congratulations Alejandro!, but also doff my hat to David for his stewardship of this EPF project from the beginning to the end, and for calling in his chits bigtime to assemble an impeccable posse of judges. And thanks to the judges, who I’m sure took their task as seriously as anyone could ask. Very much looking forward to seeing where Alejandro goes from here.

  • The future is having twins? I’ll bet the astrologers didnt foresee that.

    Alejandro, congratulations, and depsite what I said earlier, dont blow the money in Vegas; it makes everyone look bad.

  • The most original, challenging to our conception of photography, project. Good decision from the judges and congrats, Alejandro!

    PS: kinda feel stupid having gone thru all these pains for 5 or 6 weeks, when in the end the first installment was it. I wonder if the best solution is not to comment on David’s and finalists and the grantee, after it’s all over.

  • If there’s an EPF next year, art photography would be the thing to submit, I guess.

  • You must be on the top of the moon now!
    ————————————-

    Already? That’s fast! But I hope the money will be better used…. Back to the delta, Alejandro! :-)))

  • Jim in full form, this morning! ahahah…

  • Big hugs and huge Congratulations to Alejandro! Bravo Bravo!

  • Jim Powers
    June 13, 2009 at 11:49 am
    If there’s an EPF next year, art photography would be the thing to submit, I guess

    If there’s an EPF next year,porn photography would be the thing to submit, I guess
    ( but it has to be straight & slightly overexposed )

    On a serious side Jim… why do you think that James Nachtwey
    (the straightest of all straight PJ’s in this universe )
    voted for Alejandro?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • panos, I have no clue. Maybe he thought everything else was so bad Fantasy Documentary was the only choice?

  • Jim, what rafal said yesterday is true, except it’s not about EPF vs BURN entries (commenting on). It’s about Jim Powers. What difference is there between Jim commenting on EPF finalists/grantee, and Jim commenting on BURN submissions? :-)))))

    BTW, from my collected words, this wasmy critique for Alejandro. Absolutely visionnary, ahahha… No, really!:

    “Alejandro, cool stuff, throwing us off in the best possible way. Curious as to see if the next 9 installements will rather privilege new ways of dealing with images and subjects, opposed to good old docu style.

    The technique is totally different, as well as the effect intended probably (I do not sense any irony), but the choreography with which you install people within your frames, as much objects as flesh and bones, do make me think of Martin Parr.”

  • Jim,
    ok, all of my stoopid jokes aside…
    WHY ARE YOU ACTING SO HURT?????????????????
    did you submit and you are living in a “self hate” mode??????????

  • Hurt? Why do you think I’m hurt? It’s just sad to me that we’re now engaging in Fantasy Documentary.

  • Who says that Nachtwey voted for Alejandro?
    I’m sure there were many votes cast for various projects.
    It would be interesting to know what the vote count was…if it was close or not.

    Who did Nachtwey vote for? Hmmm….

  • I vote for Panos. At least his photography doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t.

  • At least, we could be relieved the judges did not vote for…. Ahmedinajad (exact spelling optional)! :-)

    PS: THE SPELL IS OUT! WE… WE….. WE JUST BROKE THE ONE COMMENT RULE. THE EP-FORTRESS HAS BEEN ASSAULTED AND CONQUERED. THE KING FLED TO C.VILLE AND WE ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE AGAIN, LOOTING, SHOOTING ANYTHING THAT MOVES… (er… Only Jim, Panos and me)

  • panos for (EPF) president then!

  • Herve, this thread isn’t under a photo or essay. Just another thread like Buzz.

  • Congratulations to all the finalist for making it, and to Alejandro for wining this one.
    Best of luck for the conclusion of his project.

    Cheers to all,

    Armando

  • Thanks Jim, I will tell Panos we broke in the wrong place and to put back the M8s where he found them…

    :-((((

  • Wow congratulations Alejandro,

    Of the 11 finalists the essay that least looks like a conventional photo essay won. There is a lesson here for all of us.

  • Congratulations Alejandro and to all of the finalists.

    Mike.

  • Luzz, Jim, Herve……….
    :))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
    love it today……… nice and relaxed….
    no more uptight comments… no more rules..
    back to our regular programming…..
    Life doesnt end or start with awards..
    Are We Here for the LONG HAUL?????? or what,,…….????????
    All, please be light, happy… go to the beach,
    call a friend……
    make love to your girl…..
    life goes on…..
    :)))))))))))

  • $10,000 is a small price to pay to imagine Jim spitting his cheerios all over his kitchen table this morning. :)

    There were a couple of essays that I liked slightly more than Alejandro’s, but I can’t fault the selection. In reality, PJ’s pose portraits all the time, this is not much different on the surface — but it is much different in the result.

    We all know how hard it is to complete something with no funding, worried about the day-to-day expenses, let alone the future. Can’t wait to to see what he can pull off with some time and peace of mind at his disposal.

  • My stupid vote would not have gone this way but congratulations to everyone who made it possible and participated. And may the grant money turn into great work.

  • great jury!

    bravo

  • Congratulations Alejandro!!

    (Please guys, give him a few minutes of limelight will you?
    He’s going to have to go back to work soon..)

  • marcin luczkowski

    Alejandro,

    Congratulations!!! You are big winner!

    David and The Judges,

    Excellent choice. Great idea. I hope it will be one of the biggest and prestigious award in photography world soon.

    best regards from poland

  • Wonderful! Congratulations, Alejandro! And bravo to David and the judges… a choice that augurs well for both Burn and the EPF.

  • well done to all 11..

    alejandro.
    i love what you are trying to do and the way in which you are doing it – truely exploring the medium and towards an end which creats such striking illustrative documentary photography.
    my hat is off to you, and the other ten.. looking forward to the books :ø)

    DOWN with elevator music.. and upwards and onwards for you all..

    pea’s, chip and a hearty slab of cod
    david

  • and big ups to the look3 massv
    d

  • Congratulations Alejandro!

  • Bravo Alejandro,
    An innovative new look!
    Alberto

  • Bravo Alejandro! Be unique. That will take you there.

  • It would be dynamite if we rename Panos to Pandro Skoulidez and then only vote. It is a strategic move to get votes from Little Salvador. At least.
    Pandro for President !!!

    Where is DAH? Only LOOKin?
    Can someone post some mug shots of LOOKers?

  • Congratulations……………………….great to see technique override content for once

  • I know we are way past the point of critiquing Alejandro’s work…he won, it’s over.

    BUT…can someone please explain what is so great looking about his lighting technique?
    I don’t even own a flash, am not a lover of artificial lighting but I am seriously wanting to understand…
    To me this work looks severely overlit. I know he is trying to create an “unreal and mysterious” look but there are photographers like Gregory Crewdson who accomplish the same thing without having it look so over the top. I get it…it’s NOT REAL…but does it have to scream NOT REAL?
    Obviously this is his intention, obviously the judges liked it.
    I’d just like to know WHY? (Regarding the lighting)

  • ……….global warming or a flash in the pan .Your choice

  • Congratulations again Alejandro. It will be great to see where you take this.

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    I JUST TALKED TO ALEJANDRO’S and he said that it’s ok with him…

    VIVA , all the drinks on Alejio today !!!
    THANK YOU !!!
    The bar has been raised again !!!

    P.S JUNE 13th IS MY BEST DAY EVER !!!
    Let’s dance like DAH…I LOVE YOU ALLLLLLL
    JIM …will you accept my key ?

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    DEAREST MR.HARVEY …thank you for everything

    To the BURN Team…thank YOU…all !!!

    and from all the BURNIANS a BIG thank you to all
    The Judges:
    Maggie Steber – Photographer
    James Nachtwey – Photographer VII
    Carol Naggar & Fred Ritchen – Historians-Authors-Analysts
    Eugene Richards – Photographer
    John Gossage – Curator
    Scott Thode – Director of Photography Fortune Magazine
    Gilles Peress – Photographer Magnum
    David Griffin – Director of Photography National Geographic Magazine
    Martin Parr – Photographer Magnum

    HAVE A BEAUTIFUL ENERGY…wherever you are !!!

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    What NOT To LOVE !!!

    ANTIO

  • Well done Alejandro! To reach the top eleven then take out the award is an accomplishment that you can always be proud of, especially considering the esteemed judges.

    I think that in many ways this choice offers a new direction to Burn and documentary photography in general. This is a positive thing and Alejandro will be able to utilise the money to go even further and explore the underbelly of that region. One could only predict but perhaps Alejandro’s style will be the next big thing in documentary photography. This new outlook could be what is needed in giving the larger public a fresh look at enviromentally sensitive areas.

    JJ

  • Ale, it was a really pleasure that a compatriot recieved this amazinf prize, the EPF, with DAH at the head of this story!!

    I’ve never ever seen the “Delta del Tigre” is the way you did… What a wonderful place near Buenos Aires!! I remembered winter nights besides the fire…

    Bueno, no digo mas, solo que disfrutes del premio. Espero poder hablar contigo el proximo verano.

    Patricio

  • Looking at this work (which I like) and then reading some of the comments (which I also like, both the positive and negative ones) I am reminded of W. Eugene Smith’s comment that “photography is a great liar because it looks so real.” I think it’s great that a photographer is taking us away from the “same old same old” straight documentary photography that has numbed us. I have seen so many black & white grainy documentary or slow shutter color photographs in my life that I practically ignore the subject matter now. Whereas, this work causes me to wonder, “What is this about?” It forced me to look into the subject matter, his intentions, and his ultimate goal. It caused me to “think” in other words, something that photography rarely does anymore (the cold, boring, lame Obama-McCain photography that springs to mind). Photography really needs this right now, otherwise it risks becoming a relic of the past, as motion pictures take over and draw more attention than still images, as they are not bound by the same stupid old “rules of reality” as documentary photography. Hope I make sense…

  • Cathy says: “BUT…can someone please explain what is so great looking about his lighting technique?”

    It’s a desperate effort to be “different.” An evolutionary dead end. The number of photographers who will do documentary work in the middle of the night with posed photos and a large format camera will be able to be counted on one hand.

    I wonder if the judges knew this was supposed to be documentary photography? I would guess they saw nothing but the photos.

  • So much awesome work here… watching the EPF Finalist come in has been very inspiring! With such tremendous diversity in each essay as well! I say congratulations to all for making it happen…!

    Cheers, Jeremy

  • Congratulations!!! Alejandro.
    And Thank you, Mr.David Alan Harvey and all judges.
    We all celeberate this day!

    love,
    Kyunghee

  • Alejandro Chaskielberg

    As you can imagine, I am really happy for being selected as the recipient for the EPF grant! what a jury! just incredible.

    I would like to thank all of you for the comments and ideas you posted here.You are amazing!

    David, thank you for being the heart running Burn and for the tremendous selection of finalists you made.

    Last month I have decided to move to live in the Delta next July, in order to finish The High Tide project. Today the grant encourages me to keep going and gives me an ideal boost to finish it.

    Thank you so much. Big day!

    cheers,

    Alejandro

  • good on ya Alejandro and enjoy!!

  • Congratulations Alejandro!

    Congratulations to all those who were finalists in EPF, the jury and DAH, to make this dream started on Road Trip happen.

  • Alejandro, that’s wonderful to hear and I hope you will keep the Burn crowd in the loop as your project progresses :))

  • big congratulations Alejandro. Interesting, unique vision…who cares what it’s meant to be if it works. good luck going forward

  • I will begin with this:
    Congratulations Alejandro! Of all the entries yours is the only one that I come back to and wish I had done. Some visually stunning work. I would not emphasize the documentary aspect of it; I rather see this as a work inspired by the region and the people. You are trying to capture an essence which is conveyed well and I expect that with time this ability will mature and give us some deeper insight into the subjects rather than the slightly otherworldly cardboard feeling of the people in these shots. I’ll be out at the next full moon playing with your style, sorry! It’s good to see someone outside of D.A.H’s inner circle seems to have won.

    David it does not look good on you when many of the final 11 are either participants in your paid workshops, assistants, friends or magnum interns (Sean Gallagher, last year’s winner). You undoubtedly have a lot of weight in the field and have managed to create something great in this EPG but you have abused your position in my opinion and this is evident in the fact those in the final 11 that are close to you do not hold up well to my personal critical analysis as the others.
    Responding to this criticism rather than deflecting it would be nice. The fact that you state you don’t make the final decision and that a jury of peers do so is worth no salt. You have handpicked a selection and refused others that would have had a chance to compete in the final 11. Your reply to me in this respect reads as an admission of guilt. I don’t know you personally and am sorry for that as what I say may sound harsh but comparing work that you are familiar with, mentored, lived and nurtured is obviously going to resound deeper in you than fresh unfamiliar work.
    I have great difficulty assessing the merit of friend’s work which is why I tend not to do it. Maybe you are not the right person to be making the final cut in a competition where some of the entries are very personal friends (or at least have a larger pool or first round judges) It assume that this decision making is all the harder because you and the other judges are not in a room discussing the merits and arguing over the merits of one work over the other due to the fact that this is an online digital submission.
    It would be interesting to know whether there was any discussion about the final winner or whether it was simply a vote. I would like to imagine that the final decision was made in a room with “twelve angry men”. The future or a young man’s life cast by an elected jury of photographic peers battling out the frustrations, pettiness and failures of society and those who represent it. Would be nice to see some statements from you and the judges (probably to come I guess)

  • It is now after 4 a.m. Sunday morning here in Charlottesville–big party at DAH’s tonight (no surprise!)–but I do not want to go to bed without personally congratulating Alejandro on his magnificent accomplishment! Yes, Alejandro, the judges were prestigious but your work is to be celebrated…and continued. You should have heard the enthusiastic applause when your name was announced!

    And to all the finalists, your work looked spectacular up on the big screen at the Paramount Theater here in C’ville. We are SO proud of you all! I was most fortunate to be here as it happened and then to share a drink and supper this evening with dear Eric Espinosa and another finalist, Marco Improta, who had come with his beloved Nathalie from Paris for the festival. Lance Rosenfield was also in C’ville for the week, assisting Larry Fink in his workshop.

    The other Burnians I spent time with were Carrie Roseman and Kerry Payne who were with me all week in David’s and Jim Nachtwey’s workshop. I also joined Andrew B for a couple of meals and saw Erica McD, Andrew Sullivan, Mike Courvoisier–without whom our workshop could never have happened–and the fellow who posts using the name Mike, Cary Conover whose essay on New York’s homeless was published on Burn awhile ago, and last but never least, the famous Anton!

    A good time was had by all, but an absolutely transformative time by those of us fortunate enough to be in David’s and Jim’s workshop. I will never see the world or the frame in my viewfinder the same again. It’s going to take a goodly amount of time to assimilate all that I learned from these iconic photographers but I am already seeing evidence of a paradigm shift in my world view. Such a gift! Not an easy gift, mind, but one that is absolutely priceless.

    And now to bed for tomorrow–today, actually!–I must start the long drive back home to Detroit. I’ll have SO MUCH to mull over on the way…

    Again, Alejandro, BIG congratulations to you!!!

    Patricia

  • Hi David Bowen,

    please keep blogging from that scarred and dear land. I had been a couple of time in Bosnia and local people showed always a wonderful hospitality. About how the war is still fresh, I can remember a group of houses near Srebrenica, on the road to Potocari memorial, with huge laundry hanging outside and a black sprayed writing on the wall: “Svi smomi Mladici” (We all are for Mladic). It was 2006…

  • Congrats Alejandro you deserve it, your work was the best.

    Happy for you, Valery Rizzo

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    DavidB…

    keep it rolling…tell me about internet connections…
    just tell me…
    LOVE

  • YES. By far my favorite submission and a bold piece of work. A magnificent result. I wish all the finalists bold futures and have no doubt all will be heard from again in the future. But Alejandro, you have received a rare gift here. Use it well, tell your story. Tell it well. I love this work. It’s important politically and critically; a rare combination of cultural document and fine art. Keep it up; take it somewhere and take us on your journey.

    Congratulations.

  • Big congratulations to you Alejandro! Beautiful, compelling and original work. Contrary to the confusion that seemed to have come about from my second comment about the technique, of all the essays chosen your project is the one that I loved best aesthetically, conceptually and vision-wise, which is why i was so upset that many commentators were solely concentrating on the technique, for the ‘look’ of the images was only a small part of what made the work so visually and conceptually so exciting, but it was the imaginative admiration for the lives of the people along this river and for the celebration of narrative imagination, that won me from the moment i first looked.

    Though my heart was with my brother Lance, Alejandro’s selection removed some of the disappointment i’d felt with the entire process. However, all that is past and what needs to happen and the only thing that matters is for the celebration of work, not celebrity, the commitment to story and vision and connection to this waking life in which ever way that manifests itself. When all the Sturm und Drang of this competition and the unveiling of the names and all the arguments and complaining and disappointment have long faded into the hills and backwoods, all that shall remain is the work and all that people will be left with is the work. I eagerly look forward to the work that Alejandro will continue and broaden as a result of this gift but I also look forward to a time when none of is blinded by the trumpets of competition.

    Congratulations to all those whose work was chosen and more importantly to all those whose work was not chosen for it is the work that remains unheralded and obscured for which I have the greatest affection. All those who submitted or did not, all those who prefer to simply struggle with that which they were committed to uphold and remain focused and driven by, the fuse of their lives: to speak about the world through but the glass darkly of the photographic telling of things.

    all the best for all

    bob

  • LEO….

    first of all, thank you for writing under your name and for not being a net “troll”….i totally appreciate your honesty….and furthermore, i can imagine how you could come to your conclusions… i would also hope that this is more of a thinking process on your part and not quite yet a final assessment of a process designed to get funding into the hands of a photographer who may need help in finishing a worthwhile project…

    integrity in our trade has always been something i have fought for….and i too have questioned the fairness of various competitions….as both an entrant over the years and also as a juror, i know that decisions made for the recipients for any award always carry the burden of subjectivity….in fact the very nature of CHOOSING one picture over another or one photographer over another is indeed quite subjective and the very nature of the act of selection….i cannot imagine any way to “objectify” the choices made in any aspect of photography at all…personal taste, bias, etc etc will always play a part in the selection process from any juror…

    i have been working and mentoring young photographers since i was 23…this has been a lifetime avocation that began when i was a graduate student and has followed me all along….yes, i do workshops for many where there is a tuition paid for my time….i am assuming most of the teachers in your life were at least paid minimally…..however, most of my mentoring/teaching i do gratis….only a few times per year is my time guaranteed to a student by setting up an organized workshop…however, many an astute photographer here on Burn or otherwise will i am sure tell you that the door to my studio is open at all times for those who seek help…most of the mentoring i do here on Burn by critiquing portfolios etc by skype etc..is gratis and it is my nature to help when i can…

    since i am very active in our craft for and spend hundreds of hours per year scouring the planet for new talent and participate in almost every photo festival in the world and am in charge of the whole Magnum education initiative, i think it would be nearly impossible for me not to know some of the finalists who submitted to the EPF….

    about a third of the finalists i know or have met…two of the finalists are photographers with whom i have been a close mentor….most of my students with whom i have worked MOST CLOSELY and whose careers i hope to help advance were NOT chosen….

    it is quite easy for me to separate pictures from friendships….and of course how does one identify “friend”?…is it someone that i meet in a seminar and look at their work a “friend” for whom i would somehow decide to promote???

    i think if you would do just a bit of homework Leo, you would find as much objectivity as is humanly possible…i think if you do just a bit of asking around and minimal research , you will most certainly modify your major premise….i am quite confident that if you do this, you will think differently….

    i do not know Alejandro, but even if i did, it would not change anything….when i saw his work i just knew he should be a finalist….i had no idea of anything else about him…just imagine me having to go through over 1000 entries….a literally backbreaking assignment in and of itself that was taken on by me and Anton Kusters…..since i raised the funding for the EPF and created this whole new model for publishing and rewarding at least some photographers, i felt that is was my responsibility to actually look at everyone’s work rather than to pass this task on to interns or hired “screeners”….i am sure you must have noted that entering the EPF was free….so all of the hundreds of hours of work by Anton and by me represented a major financial loss to both of us since we created for ourselves the largest unpaid job in the world….

    i knew of course that no matter how well meaning i felt in this creation of the EPF, that surely i would come under some kind of scrutiny….i am totally prepared for scrutiny…i welcome scrutiny…..i scrutinize everything myself…i am being criticized by you for some kind of impropriety for the very funding distribution that i created…fair enough i suppose…all i ask, is that your do your homework please……every dollar that i have raised from generous donors, has gone right into the hands of an emerging photographer with not a penny taken out even for administration purposes…dollar in , dollar out…actually, this is crazy on my part……anyone in their right business mind would have had a small fee for submissions to at least pay for some pretty obvious infrastructural expenses….

    Leo, if you or anyone can up with a more objective way to choose both finalists and final recipient, i will go with it…promise…this is all just way way too too much work for me….any way i can get out of it, i will welcome believe me…….

    i think the jury for EPF is beyond reproach and surely must be as impressive a jury as has judged any award …just go look…again, a little homework on your part would be appreciated….also Leo , please please try to imagine what my motive could possibly be for selecting one candidate over another….also please think conversely…..if someone has a great body of work , should they be disqualified because we somehow “know each other” from a seminar or workshop or here onl

  • I can’t let Jim Powers’ dropping stupidly stand. He said: It’s a desperate effort to be “different.” Fact is, Jim’s so-called “photography” is a desperate effort: http://www.39thframe.com
    Anyone making useless visual pollution like that has no right to knock anyone else’s genuine, hard work efforts!

  • Stupid, obviously you don’t have to be a photographer at all to comment here.

    What’s my photography got to do with it?

  • ALL…

    i owe you a new post….both Anton and i and some others are headed for my home in Carolina to discuss all of the ways we can improve Burn….i will be driving the rest of the day, but can post tonight or in the morning…as you well know, i read and listen to your suggestions….please give me a chance to “recover” from Look3 and i will give you a full report….

    more importantly, we will post the show we did for Burn at the festival…

    many thanks…stay tuned….new stuff coming…

    cheers, david

  • At least I post under my real name.

  • Thanks for finally stooping down to my level, Jim. First time you ever responded to one of my stupid posts. I’m honored! Now, if I were to come here and knock down dominoes like you do, day in day out, I’d post under my real name. When you do that – throw the first stone at someone else’s work, I have no problem tossing a bolder at yours. Because I’m here only to make some stupid observations, hoping to be helpful and never to be hurtful to the photographers or their work presented here, I see no problem with being anonymous. Now, please start contributing constructive criticism about the work, instead of the steady diet of bummer you’ve been feeding us up to now. Thanks in advance!

  • Stupid, I don’t take anonymous posters seriously. Hiding behind a pseudonym and lobbing rocks at someone seems a little cowardly to me. Sorry.

  • For a long, long time, you did not link your name to your site. For months you were therefore anonymous. Clear your mind and think again! I may be stupid, but my anonymity is not dumb! And rest assured DUGH and Anton know exactly who I am. If anyone other than you had a problem with me, I, know about it by now. So, let’s get back on message, shall we? Thanks!

  • I’ll be glad to play, Stupid. As soon as you come out in the open. But you aren’t going to do that, are you?

  • I’m not stupid enough to let you know who I am. Those who matter know, that’s all that matters. Now, unless you have something constructive to add to this, I’ll just shut up.

  • Boys, boys…now stop your fighting :))

    Her work has been shown here before but while we’re on the subject of “fantasy documentary”
    take a look at the great essay double life by Kelli Connell:

    http://www.kelliconnell.com/

  • Where’d my comment go?

    Trying again…

    Boys, boys…now stop your fighting. :))
    While we’re on the subject of “fantasy documentary”
    take a look at the wonderful essay Double Life by Kelli Connell. I believe it’s been shown here previously.
    http://www.kelliconnell.com/

  • Welcome back Bob,

    Best,

    Sigmund

  • Alejandro, felicidades It took the decision by the judges to remind me how unique your project and visual style is and how, with 11 wonderful finalists, the judges saw that.

    La buena suerte en su viaje visual. To the other ten: Rich and rewarding projects await you all. Just making the final cut is a win.

    As our beloved Civi says: Dance!!!

  • The comment of Patricia show us that some non-anonymous visitors still think they are in the festival de Cannes and not speaking about photography at all.

    Also nice to see that you work for free and open the doors of your loft in NYC. It’s super to have a loft in NYC, in London or Paris too. It’s super nice!

    But at the end it ‘s not the same…

    Silence and passing our way is the best thing to do probably when we read your justification. It is honnest what you say but it does not justify the result, that’s it, mean if you know them, and if you like it, it have a better chance than someone who don’t know you.

    Honnestly this is really not a serious way to make a pre-selection, that’s all and that ‘s why I will stay anonymous…The fact it was free and only from interne tgive chance to others people thant festival or workshop runners. I am anynimous, not american and not italian but I think I am an honnest man, and that is the most important.

    ps:

    I feel bad to see that Natchwey was in your jury. Since I saw the making off of his moovie I take real distance with that kind of photographers…

  • Congratulations again Alejandro, your essay kept me looking for a long time. Magic realism meets documentary photography… quite an accomplishment! Your work moved beyond considerations of style and explored a difficult, obtuse subject in a highly conceptual way. DAH, thank you for making this all happen.

  • And thank you for your paragraphs and change of hearts
    Best

  • well done man, enjoy! treat yourself to a lens or two :)

  • Congratulations Alejandro. I have no qualifications to act as critic apart from being an emerging photogtapher and lover of images myself. I have to say when I saw your essay I was taken aback and inspired to continue to push the boundries of photography while maintaing information and beauty in images. Again no expert here but I think when we produce technically excellent images, convey a novel perspective and capture real emotion then we end up with oustanding photography. We use our whole brain, right and left to percive and interpret and this brings us to a new higher plane. I think you accomplished this very well.

    All the best,

    Frank

  • Well done, Alejandro! This is a lovely push on the boundaries of what is real, what is fact and what is fantasy. As photographers we always choose our ‘version’ of the truth and you make that often overlooked aspect of our work very clear.

    Thanks to DAH and all the other contributors to Burn. I look forward to more images and dialogues….!

    Steve

  • George de La Jungle

    I have a loft too and make free party all time!!

    What do people wait here?

    To be part of this world? I mean this photo-world?

    David…Photoshelter tool was also a deal between you and other ..this connection make the contest possible… But you was not a really objectliv pre-selectioner…As you recognize..so this is only very local things..and as you know you can make this 10000 dollards in a day or less…so it’s a joke

    ciao

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    THIS IA CIVILIAN
    and
    THIS IS OUR COLUMN
    and
    I WANT RESPECT… I have written over a 500 posts in the last few months
    and I am just a dyslexic, ESL, NON-photographer BURNIAN !!! Help me

    I am traveling , with no good internet access …and when I come Home …LOOK what I see…:(

    I HAVE FAITH on you, ALL of you, I love mikes and flies and roaches and sons…cause You are new souls
    BUT we need RESPECT…as simple as that…and I WILL stand my ground and I will fight for…

    LOVE and PEACE and SMILES and RED CROSS and OXFAM and SAVE THE PLANET and SAVE THE KIDS…
    OUZO on ME !!!!!!!!!!!!
    please,please,please …I know WE can DO BETTER …I really LOVE you ALLLLLL

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    MY APOLOGIES…

    the above post has to be deleted from this thread…ASAP.
    This is NOT my column …
    Thank you ANTON

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    VIVA PHOTOGRAPHIA

  • Congratulations to Alejandro!
    At the first moment I was not convinced about his work but after seeing all the finalists I realized that this was the one who I remembered more clearly, even of the works I really liked as a first impression.
    It is the most original, and probably the one that deserve and need more the money to be continued… I am really curios to see how it will develope!!!
    I am sorry for some projects that I really liked, for exemple Lance Rosenfield and Micheal Cristopher, but I can see that they are already “almost there” and I am sure they will be complited and succesful also without those money.
    Thank you David to have invented this grant! Oportunities like this are very important to make young photographers going on!
    The only thing that in my opinion was a pity it was that on more than 1000 entries just 11 was shown at look3, if I am not wrong last year there was a lot more finalists…

    P.S.: Sorry (as usual) for language mistakes if there are any ;-)

  • Some man (or woman) has taken my identity.

    Sigmund

  • Cathy Scholl, thanks for the link. I was un-aware of her work. Absolutely brilliant stuff.

  • Alejandro,

    Congratulations! Your work will be remember. The limit that you are working in, documentary and ‘art’, I think is possible by your own sight, and that is why now you are here. I mean, that the production you realized is an excelent ‘mix’, between your technical knowledge and teh power you have to document the ‘reality’.
    I applause this work for ‘open mind’ of editors that always we work with, especially in the latin american media, where I work in. We have to realized that we are in new times and we have to think like we are so brand new.

    Greetings from Ecuador / Saludos desde Ecuador.

    ar

  • Nevermind.
    I found my lost iD. It has hiding under my antidepressants .!
    Hahahaha

  • "FLY'S WIFE TO HER SON"

    Sorry son but daddy feels a little confused, worried, upset and depressed this morning.
    It’s that MPG or EPF thing. Stop crying and I will unlock the door and take away those handcuffs.
    Daddy is a little rough but he loves you.

  • Now I’m upset. You people are making fun of me.
    All I was trying to do is liberate you and save you from your blindness.
    Stay blind I don’t care . I can find another Burn anytime. Nothing intellectual here.
    I wonder what the judges would say if they could see MY work. But somebody kept it hidden.
    I’m going back to Magnum blog because nobody loves me here.

  • ALEJANDRO – congratulations!! your work looked amazing on friday night at LOOK3 and during the EPF announcement. i am excited to see where this work goes. great job!!!

    DAH – i am sorry i almost killed you (a few times) in my car – you all were driving me CRAZY! i can promise we all would have wrote lovely things about your here on BURN… ha ha. thanks for the fun times once again. xox

    JIM – you honestly frustrate the shit out of me with your comments. can’t you just congratulate alejandro and not make the “fantasy” comment. he was also chosen to be projected at LOOK3 – obviously people like and respect his work.

    LEO – i have to say, i was surprised by your comment and entry here today. however, i think DAH replied with such honesty – and i hope you feel differently about his intentions now. like he said earlier… he did not even choose his girlfriend as a finalist. i do trust david’s objectivity 100%.

    ALL THOSE AT LOOK3 – THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE FESTIVAL. IT WAS ANOTHER AMAZING YEAR. I WANT TO APOLOGIZE FOR NOT HAVING ANY TIME TO HANG OUT AND REALLY TALK WHILE I WAS THERE. AS YOU SAW… I AM RUNNING AROUND NON-STOP WITH MY HEAD CUT OFF (eric can attest – he saw me many times) … IT IS EXHAUSTING, FUN, PAINFUL, INSPIRING, FRUSTRATING ALL ROLLED INTO ONE FOR ME… BUT I LOVE IT. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU!

  • Your technique is so effective with this subject matter. I think most would agree that it is a wonderful experience to look through your essay.
    Look forward in seeing more Alejandro.

  • gina, I hope he becomes a rich and famous photographer.

  • Congratulations Alejandro, I wish you all the best for the future direction of your work.

  • JIM – how about a happy and respected photographer…

  • OZ,

    if you were honest you wouldnt be anonymous. Your anonymity makes you a coward. Own up to your accussations and use your real name. You are attacking the integrity of David and Nachtwey, while hiding like a coward behind two letters.

  • Congratulations to all who entered, were selected and to Alejandro on winning. Although it was not my favorite of the group, there is no question that there was a great deal of care and effort put forth, and the results are a beautiful set of images. Continue with your work, and I hope to see more in the future.

    Jim, I know that SP doesn’t need me to speak on his behalf, but I think I’m going to any way. His methods may be blunt, but almost always dead on the mark, and always in the spirit of bettering the photography community. Multiple spirited debates with him have shown that to be true. When SP made reference to your photography, the inference was that a better photographer would be better able to make the criticisms that you have been making. This is going to be one of those times. Some of the comments you have made have seemed intentionally spiteful, which does not help anyone, and is not beneficial—no matter what level of a photographer you are.

  • Congrats! It’s a fresh vision and even if it’s not your “cup of tea,” it’s the fresh visioneers (like pioneers!) that open the doors to the future for all of us.

  • hi all.. another quick stop off from a shabby internet connection…

    in croatia – parts 1, 2 and 3 are here..
    http://bophoto.co.uk/blog/blog.htm

    week one down and 4 to go.. the photography so far has been from a certain distance as i’m easing into it gently.. not wanting to ruffle feathers or get beaten up.. also because i will be working with NGO’s over here and i want to learn far more from them before i get in any closer.

    enjoy..
    d

  • ALEJANDRO,

    Congatulations!!! Gina is right… I watched your essay twice on a very big screen and your images certainly had that “something” special. So well done and it also seems from your message that you will be able yo make good use of the money. I look forward to see where you will go with your work. Please please continue to stay in touch with the BURN crowd.

    TO ALL-

    I came back yesterday after a 9 hours drive from Charlotteville and I am about to go completely dark for about 8 weeks as all my stuff is being packed as of this morning and then shipped across the ocean…. I am ending up my stay in Cincinnati in the best possible way, after an exciting LOOK3 during which I have seen many friends again and actually met new ones. It was also an amazing and humbling experience to see my own essay on the BIG screen, where so many masters have shown their work this week. I was sitting next to Marco (another finalist) during the EPF/ BURN show and we could hardly believe it…. I have met Marco for the first time ever this week and he and Nathalie his girlfriend have become friends. Hope we see each other in Brussels in September. This is also the magic of Burn. It was also very special to spend time with Pat (my agent as of today :), Erica (get this book out please!!!), Lance the cowboy, Chris the surfer, Kelly, Hillary, Rosemary and others I am sure I am forgeting… Really great to see all of you. I had to cut the night short last evenning and get some rest because of my long drive and unfortunately missed saying GOODBYE to many… Hope to see you all very soon… The three I won’t forget to mention are David, Anton and Mike. Let me tell you that they have put on an amazing show overall for BURN and EPF. The 3 minutes BURN commercial that was shown using many many of the images shared on the site over the past 6 months was absolutely great and would have made all of you that have contributed very proud. I hope that Anton shares a link for all to see later. Finally, thanks David for all you do for the young photographers… Seeing you even for few minutes is always a great source of inspiration… I am recharged with my head buzzing with ideas after this Look3…

    Cheers to all and I will be in touch on the other side of the ocean hopefully very soon!

    Eric

  • Brian, my problem with Stupid Photographer is not that he references my photography, but that the criticizes it while hiding behind a pseudonym. I’m aware that he is afraid his posts here and his choices on his blog could affect his stature in the photography world and his business, but it is cowardly to attack others when you don’t have the courage to put yourself on the line.

  • ALEJANDRO
    congratulations !!! Not just for the BURN grant, but also, as I just read, for being projected by LOOK3!
    That is so cool and such a huge chance! Use it wisely :-)
    I hope to see you and your essay in 2011 at LOOK – I will try to be there.

    By the way, I have to admitt something and to thank you for it. Because by winning the grant, you are actually helping me out with my very own project too … Because … I usually do not bet at all, but this time I did bet on you getting the grant :-)))))). And now I myself “won” a camera I had my eyes on for a while. You cannot imagine how happy I am about this.
    So thanks again :-)))))))))))))))

    I wish you all possible luck for the future.

    GINA
    congratulations for a super successfull LOOK3!!!
    You did a wonderful job, as I have heard.
    I really hope to be there next time (2011?)
    So next I’ll see you here for the book fair, I suppose :-)

    JIM, GINA,
    “gina, I hope he becomes a rich and famous photographer.”
    “JIM – how about a happy and respected photographer…”

    I think these two sentences just nailed the different perspectives. Thanks for that.

  • ERIC
    great to hear from you & thanks for the feedback.
    I wish you a good transfer and … see you soon in Brussels?!?!?
    Really soon, ok?
    Tell me when you get there and caught your breath.
    A big, big hug!!!
    Lassal

  • Jim you have to admit your photography is pretty appalling considering how long you’ve been at it professionally: you said it yourself, you’re a hack at best.

    and since you have such strong opinions on what good photography is and isn’t then people are naturally going to wonder about the audacity of your comments, comments constantly criticising the images that end up on Burn when in a lifetime you’ve not been able to produce anything worthy of Burn?

    Most photographers, like me, would start off with a healthy dose of respect verses the bucket of venom that you bring to the party.

    It’s purely incidental that Stoop has a persona Jim and targets you Jimbo, most everyone thinks what Stoop thinks.

  • Joe, let me see if I have this straight. Had I, like Stupid, created a phony name and not posted any photography, you would have considered my comments more worthy of consideration? Or, would you have been blasting me for expressing such strong opinions while hiding behind a pseudonym? I could just as easily done that.

    Stupid Photographer is a coward. He is afraid that attacking people under his real name will hurt his business, so he hides in the shadows and launches spitballs at folks.

  • It is really a shame that there is so much bickering here.

    This is a great forum and I have undoubtably learnt from it and it has helped me have confidence in the direction I want to take my work.

    I know David and Anton have done this to some extent to try and remove cat fights from discussion on images or stories, maybe now we can set up a specific zone for cat fights to take place, so all purile activity can be removed from the discussions in hand. Healthy discourse and debate is key to this site and one of the major attractions for me, as they are extremly thoughtful and worthy.

    These spats have caused people to leave, even the thoughtful, generous, encouraging (verbose) Bob Black seems to have been shooed away due to a series of (possibly misunderstood) critisims. This is a crying shame and a great loss to this community.

    There seems to be one intent voice in the name of Jim Powers, who sometimes brings up valid points but also causes a maelstrom of venom to appear on this list, maybe this is his intention. In fact he is probably sitting smugly at his keyboard right now relishing the fact he is being written about again. He does seem to take up an inordinate amount of energy, the amount of time David AH has generously had to patiently explain points to him and to quell the vitriol he has produced is really quite disquieting. Sure he is allowed his point of view.

    It seems to be Jim’s raison d’etre (for whatever reason) to poke the stick in and be an agitator, he has certainly found fertile ground in this cabal, who believe passionately and care about Burn, perhaps that is why we take so much umbridge at his comments. At the end of the day I believe in Burn, and Burn is bigger than Jim. Sure there are things that need strightening out, but look how far it has come in such a short time, truely increadible.

  • ian, I post my opinions. But I’m not the ones responding to them. I’m really surprised anyone is interested in what I say, since most think I’m a hack troll. I’m certainly surprised they spend so much time engaging me. But that’s out of my control. If folks consider my opinions worthless, then the simple solution is not to respond to them.

  • But, here you are, devoting another post to me.

  • Congratulations Alejandro and all finalists ! Hope to go at Look3 in 2010 !

  • Well done Alejandro. Make the best of it. i look forward to the results

    Ian

  • Just a little consideration cause before I haven’t read all the posts…
    I saw that there are peolple complaining or surprised cause a huge percent of the finalists are former students or assistents of David workshops, readers of this blog, people who attens festivals, ecc…
    Come on! Din’t you think that this is normal cause most probably also a huge percent of the entrants belong to the same crowd?
    This grant is new, so the reason why there are not African or Asian photographers in the finalists is cause probably not so many of tham are already aware of this oportunity so they did not partecipated… Spread the news also to them and you will see that years after years they will be in the finalists too!
    In my opinion it wuoldn’t have been nice nor onest to put in the finalists someone from Africa just because he was the only partecipant from there to do “geopolitic”…
    I agree that there should be more grants open just to photographers from developing countries but if a grant is not like this, winners have to be choosen from the quality and doesn’t matter if they all come from the same nation… to do the opposite will be hypocrite…

  • Congrats to nominees and Alejandro.

  • ¡Congratulations Alejandro!

  • bickering, bickering..
    and such a beautiful day..
    DAVID ALAN HARVEY is magnum featured photographer this week.. big up’s to the man that can..

    alejandro.. looking forward to seeing more.. much more.. evolution.. development.. onwards..

    the cherries are falling.. time to harvest..
    david

  • LONDON CALLING.

    joe, david, antonTG, lassal.. lets plan..
    david@bophoto.co.uk
    dx

  • and congratulation to david Ahhhhh for the obvious – EPF success !

  • ..and.. follow in croatia..
    http://bophoto-mumblings.blogspot.com/
    new post later.. good day shooting..
    d

  • ^¨why isn’t your hair shorter?¨^
    ^because it’s longer^
    ^^well, it SHOULD be shorter^
    ^^yeah.. but i like it longer^^
    ^^shorter^^
    ^^longer^^
    ^^shi..^^
    blaaaaah

  • well done Alejandro. look forward to seeing more from you. congratulations.

  • Alejandro,
    lots of congratulations for your future work. Hope to see some more soon.

    To David, Anton, Tom and Mike…thanks guys for making this possible. it was great to be part of the festival.

    To Eric, was great to have met you. hope you wont disappear.

    M

  • By far the best work gets finally to win.
    Congratulations to Alejandro!!!!
    Best of luck
    Mimi

  • Congratulations Alejandro. Seems like money well spent as it will take quite a while to carry this on location.

  • Congratulations, Alejandro! What a beautiful and original essay. It looked great projected up on the big screen at LOOK3 during the shots pavilion and again during the EPF announcement.

    Anton- Great job with the Burn reel that showed prior to the EPF announcement! It was so nice to finally meet you in person!

    Gina- Great job at LOOK3. It was so nice to finally meet you. What an amazing event and familial community. I feel blessed and privileged to be a part of it. I look forward to the next festival!

    All- I am so glad to have met so many of my Burn companions at DAH and James Nachtwey’s workshop and then at the LOOK3 festival. This type of community and extended family is rare, and I am so glad that this is the type of place that looks to lift each other up, help each other out, and make us better artists and people. This is just the beginning of some fantastic partnerships, and I look forward to seeing where we all go, together and separately.

    DAH and Jim- Thank you so much for teaching me about the power of photography. I now know what a photograph is and am embarking on my journey to create photographs. There are stories I need to tell, and now I have the proper tools and knowledge so that I can tell them in an artful and meaningful way. I haven’t the proper words to express the depth of my gratitude. Thank you.

  • Not sure where to post these..but here are my notes from Sylvia’s presentation..big congrats to Alejandro, thank you to all (Gina!) who made LOOK rock again, thanks to DAH for the time and good words on the book project, hugs to my comrades for the food and conversation and encouragement, and as always, please know that some of what I write below may not be exactly right, cause i am just

    scribbling notes in the dark, on Plachy

    The 66 year old Hungarian born photographer Sylvia Plachy spoke with ease and humor during her LOOK3 presentation, showing photos taken over a number of years including the 30 she was a staff photographer at The Village Voice. Showing one of her images, that of a tired horse struggling nervously through the forceful water, Sylvia says that that is her self portrait, because she too is overworked and skittish. Author of several books, her work has been published by Aperture and in numerous magazines and is known for being a very ‘human’ photographer who records the character of NYC and sources imagery from her personal life as well as the wide world around her.

    Sylvia began photographing at the age of 21, when she took a course at Pratt with teacher Arthur Freed. She said she never wanted to be a photographer, she had been studying art initially. After the encounter with the enthusiastic teacher, she knew this is what she wanted to do. She approached photographer Kertesz with whom she soon forged a 20 year long friendship.She says that she learned from him how to be a photographer, but specifically one thing he taught her was to never go after images that you already know you can get. Additionally, she remarked on him saying that you had to wait for the picture. Sometimes you can find the right place and light and circumstance, but then you still need to wait for the picture to happen when composition and poetry come together.

    Additionally, she was inspired by the words of mixed media artist Rauschenberg: “I think you’re born an artist or not. I couldn’t have learned it. And I hope I never do because knowing more only encourages your limitations.” Sylvia accounts for some of her in born artistry because she “sees things no one else sees.” She says it is important to her to be able to feel her pictures. The motion that is often present in her work comes when she “can’t catch” what she wants to – and that you have to learn to love who you are. Still, she likes accidents in pictures, and puts herself in the position to have accidents happen.

    Asked if she considered herself to be a surrealist, she says that she is neither that nor a ‘decisive moment’ photographer. Her images are usually made “after the moment” from a perspective that the world is a strange place. She considers herself to be a shy person, and in fact in Czech her surname means shy, but being a street photographer often means being rude. When working shooting on the street, her method is to take the images she wants, but if someone because upset, she stops, saying “okay, okay, I’m not taking anymore” and she moves on.

    One day while Sylvia was staff at the Voice, the editor was standing by her desk and asked the room if anyone would be willing to take on a weekly assignment column..Slyvia said that before he could even finish asking she exclaimed “I’ll do it!” She said that as a photographer you have to be ready to take the opportunities that come your way. This was to become the 8 year long series in which a photos a week of hers was published on top of the contents page, usually under the name “Unguided Tour” which made her, in her own words “famous.” To this day, many tell her that it was that series that inspired them to be a photographer. Myself, I remember clipping them out many weeks and thinking that she really had something special happening there.

    For Guy Trebay’s column in the Voice, she and journalist James Ridgeway collaborated on a piece about sex workers, which came together as the book Red Light. Sylvia said that working on it was very hard for her and somewhat against her nature, partly because she is a day person, but also because the piece wasn’t her idea, it came about because one of Ridgeway’s interns was also a sex worker and helped them gain access. There have been times when she simply wasn’t up for making certain photos, and Ridgeway would push her into action by saying “Arbus would do it.” Sylvia herself is very aware how much she hates having her image taken, and has compassion that others may feel the same.

    Sylvia comments that many of her images are taken from behind a person, in fact she had an exhibit of just backs. “My father often walked ahead alone, deep in thought, his state of mind one could only guess at. I, on the other hand, have always liked to linger and watch unseen, to take my pictures without confrontation, to look at backs and imagine what’s inside.” She says she is trying to see and feel thoughts this way, but also, that it was important to be able to use her shyness. She recognizes that “failure is a constant companion” and regardless of one’s success, there is a great deal of pressure to constantly produce at a high level. Her way of handling this is “to try not to fail.” To Sylvia, failing is not getting the picture that she sees, and so she always keeps her camera set and ready, she jumps on the light, and does her best to catch the miracle that she sees.

  • ERICA:

    Wonderful!! More, more,…..please!

  • Erica, thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  • thanks for this nice article

  • scribbling notes in the dark – on Toledano

    40 year old London born, NYC dwelling, son of French Moroccan mother photographer Phillip Toledano presented a piece called Phonesex, Bankruptcy and Other Odd Topics in an accent that just won’t quit. For ten years Phillip worked in advertising as an art director, and is well known in that field as the man who came up with the “Blue” in Jet Blue.

    Self-taught as a photographer, he is a person of ideas and his experience in the field taught him how to hone these ideas. As an art director, Phillip says, you have to not only have ideas, but you have to know how to shepherd them. For Phillip, photographic ideas come and often stay around in his head, clamoring away for some 4 or 5 months. Often it is only when he decides to discuss them out loud that he discovers – usually half way through the discussion – if the ideas are in fact interesting enough to pursue.

    One such idea was to photograph some of the individuals who work as phone sex operators. He had been thinking about the things in society that are in plain view, but remain hidden. Phillip decided to place an ad on craigslist, offering $100 for the released permission, the time and opportunity to photograph phone sex workers at home, often in the rooms where they worked. Weeks of email correspondence usually passed before the day of the shoot. Always, Phillip was upfront about his reasons for photographing and his desire to create a book of the images. He says that when people believe in the integrity of what you are doing, they will help you. The people in the photos wrote briefly about themselves, allowing the viewer to have a little more insight into this exploration.

    During the making of the series, (http://phonesexthebook.com) Phillip was surprised to learn that many of the workers felt like their job was a mutually beneficial experience, that they believed that it helped the caller, but also that it allowed the worker to discover many things about him or herself. A job that attracts people from all walks of life, sometimes when Phillip arrived, a very Norman rockwell form of existence was taking place around the home.

    Stylistically the images from Bankruptcy are quiet and empty, and differ from those in Phonesex. Phillip says that he allows the project to inform the style in which the piece is shot. By giving the superintendents of buildings that had been home to offices that had gone bankrupt after the dotcom failures, Phillip gained short-term access to the spaces that he wanted to show. Here Phillip could explore the office remains and graveyards, the piles of books, chairs, and personal affects left behind when an office closed. Often these items were there just briefly, cleaned up and disappeared when another company took over. What he found were what he calls “signs of life, interrupted.” (http://www.philliptoledano.net/main.php?setId=1)

    In the bankruptcy series, we see a photo of 2 pencils stuck into the soft acoustic material of a drop ceiling, and Phillip says he thinks of this as a more of a portrait of the person who threw the pencils than if he could have photographed the person himself. He feels the worker’s frustration, his disdain for the job, his anger. We see a photo of 3 women tacked to a bulletin board, and Phillip muses that it was left as a statement, sort of a ‘Kilroy was here.’ We see a single sock, revealed from the furniture’s removal, and he imagines that maybe that was the sock of the man who went to the gym everyday during lunch, and that the day the sock went missing was the day everything started to fail in the office.

    Phillip’s “America The Gift Shop” (http://www.americathegiftshop.com) is his collection of souvenirs that he thinks American foreign policy in the Bush regime would sell if they had a giftshop. These items vary from a snowglobe (Cheney shredding secret documents) to t-shirts (I WAS RENDERED TO A SECRET PRISON AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT) to a Choc and Awe chocolate bar. Phillip says “…all my work is socio-political in nature. I’m interested in what’s right in front of us (or me), and I think everything I work on is personal — it’s just different levels of “personal…”

  • A Civilian- mass audience

    ERICA is

    Shooting straight from the “PHOTOZONE”…
    Keep rolling PLEASE !

    P.S I read slowly but I love it :)

  • I’m home after my 600 mile/965 km drive from C’ville. On the way I realized that in my earlier post I’d forgotten to mention a number of wonderful Burnians I’d met up with during the workshops and the festival…Hillary, Leigh, Rosemary, Kelly, Chris, Michael and Gina to name a few. I’m sure I’m still forgetting someone, but, if so, please forgive me.

    Regarding Look3, this was my first shooting workshop and my first photo festival. What I experienced without exception for ten solid days was how everyone wanted the best for one another. Not a hint of jealousy, meanspiritedness or negativity. Brutally honest critiques, yes, but no personal attacks or acrimonious exchanges. Critiques intended to help the photographer move forward rather than set him or her back. Often asking questions rather than making unfounded assumptions. Respect for different ways of approaching photography and a willingness to share techniques and ideas when asked. And then a real sense of shared celebration when anyone made a breakthrough, either in the workshop or in work that was shown on the screen.

    In short, just what Burn could become if we’d let it.

    Patricia

  • When I saw your work before the finalist was announced I was thinking: What a great and original way to put mood in the image. How create way to create that unique atmosphere.
    And now you won. Congratulation this is great work. I wish you all the best Alejandro !!!

    -r-

  • scribbling notes in the dark – on Richards

    I could listen to Eugene Richards speak about his work all day. At LOOK3 this year, Eugene presented War is Personal, showed a short film, and shared the multimedia piece from The Blue Room series. Though I had previously heard Eugene talk about these bodies of work, his gentle intensity and powerful sincerity made me feel as if I was seeing everything for the first time.

    Often thought of as a photographer who uses his gift to raise social awareness, Eugene’s roots are in health care advocacy and social service. He is perhaps best known for his personal treatment of social documentary books and films on the topics of drug abuse (Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue), his depiction of poverty (Few Comforts or Surprises, Below the Line: Living Poor in America), mental illness, aging and the self published Dorchester Days about his rapidly changing hometown. Eugene is respected and known for his total involvement with the people he photographs.

    War is Personal, begun in 2006, looks at the impact of the Iraq war on the soldier and their families from different perspectives: A 25-year-old certified medic, home from Iraq, who can’t escape the horrors of war. In New Hampshire, the enduring strength of a mother caring for her brain-injured son. The story of how grief has transformed the father of a slain US marine. The anguish of a mother who is bracing herself for her son’s second deployment to Iraq. The pain of a young soldier from Missouri remembering the ambush of his unit in Iraq. The project was aided by a $50,000 NatGeo grant, but Eugene and his wife, who was instrumental in the project, faced repeated and countless obstacles to both producing and publishing War is Personal. The project has recently won a Getty Grant for editorial photography, which has allowed the continuation of the essays.

    In working with the people Eugene photographed for the project, he was very honest, sharing his own political views that he is against the war. But Eugene is clear that he wants to tell the story from the perspective of person he is photographing, and that he isn’t trying to make any one point. Included in the project are textual essays.

    Acknowledging that it was sometimes difficult to photograph these stories, Eugene remarked that being quiet and doing nothing is much more difficult. “I was asking myself for the thousandth time, “What can I do? Write letters, sign petitions, continue to protest, stop paying taxes?” I was a photojournalist and I had been too silent.” He said it is when he is involved in the working on a project that things are much better for him emotionally.

    As an example he spoke about of a very difficult day shooting at the funeral of Princess, or Army Sergeant Princess Samuels. Because of the difficulty in obtaining help in finding stories through the obvious sources, often Eugene would only discover that a funeral was being held when it was posted in the paper. But coming across Princess’ funeral was completely accidental, and Eugene says he was emotionally unprepared. He had been driving and stopped at a church to get directions; the deacon invited him in. Through a third person, Princess’ mother gave permission for Eugene to photograph. She never spoke to Eugene, but wanted him there for personal reasons. Eugene said his hands shook and he only got a few frames.

    A few notes from my scribbles when Richards showed War is Personal at David’s loft back in 2008:

    EUGENE: The project I am working on now is kind of naive; I hit a point and I had to do something.

    That something is his powerful, stunningly meaningful piece War is Personal. He is working with a combination of photos and text to show how war has affected some who are here, at home.

    EUGENE: I find in this case, the photos (alone) don’t do it.

    The intensely tender and intimate narratives in text he has included read like a work of literary fiction, but are all too real for those living these stories. The man himself is serene, quietly quick witted, lovely and abundantly sincere, and the room was filled with reverence.

    After an embrace with David, David said to Eugene

    Wow, that’s too much..

    EUGENE: It is too much..

    DAH: You have to believe you make a difference, putting a brick in the wall at least, and trying. I can’t think of a more noble thing when it comes to photography.

    Eugene also showed a The Blue Room in multimedia form, with his quietly husky voice reading the text that accompanies his first published color project. Partly funded as an assignment for NatGeo, the images are of the landscape and abandoned houses of the rural American West. Eugene drove across the country, zigzagging in search of the forgotten homes for some three and a half years. He said he almost felt that he robbed NatGeo, because for him it was pure pleasure to be able to shoot as he wished.

    The working conditions were hard with the temperatures at 30 below zero and floors collapsing beneath him, but the freedom appealed to Eugene, and he called it therapy. It was a personal journey and a meditation on the fragility of life. By law, he was trespassing, and in many of the states that meant he could have been shot, so he said he jut had to be careful as he never obtained permission to enter the homes. But finding out anything about any of the houses was difficult despite his efforts. He said he only learned anything about the owners of 2 of the homes; about the home with the snowy bed, and another where there were many shoes. It seems the owner’s son died in WW2 and the mother kept all his shoes…

    On one occasion, Eugene gathered up a pile of photos that were scattered on the floor of one house. He took the photos out of the house, found the relatives and showed them the photos, but they didn’t want them. In an act that I think speaks volumes about the man, Eugene returned to the home and put the photos back where he had found them.

  • I’m reading Erica..
    you write beautifully…
    thank you, thank you….

  • Erica, I am overwhelmed. Thanks for keeping BURN’s head above the dirt…

  • Erica–

    Eugene Richards is one of my heroes and a continual source of inspiration for me.
    Thank you so much for writing the above. It really moved me.

    Now, I’m looking forward to your Peress assessment.
    Maybe you can explain what all this “cat and mouse” business is about?
    And is the man enlightened?? haha. I’d be more inclined to give that honor to Richards.

    Yes, thanks for keeping Burn’s head above the dirt.
    If not for you, DAH, and one or two others, I would have been long gone.

    Love you, sis.

  • xoxo

    thanks guys..

    ok, cup o tea and then will start the next.

    apologies for typos and tense issues..am trying to crank these out for ya’ll

    LISA..me too..and I had good grace for him to spend some time giving me feedback on my never ending project..a gift to hear his thoughts

  • I meant KATIA!!

    hey, and i am still looking forward to your thoughts :)

  • Here’s a short one..good light, I had to go shoot :)

    scribbling in the dark – on Steinmetz

    Frequent National Geographic / GEO contributor George Steinmetz presented African Air at LOOK this year. 51 year old George said that he was born and raised in Beverly Hills, and by the time he was a teenager he felt he needed to move beyond his cloistered upbringing and out of the “Gucci Ghetto”. When he was 21, for over 2 years, George hitchhiked through Africa with little money in his pocket. Because he had a budget of about $5 a day, he learned about the culture through immersion, often sleeping in huts at night. But he began feeling like an ant crawling across a giant shag carpet, and wanted a way to get above the ground so he could get some perspective on the country that he had fallen in love with.

    When he returned to the States he finished his degree and began assisting other photographers until he started shooting assignments on his own for various clients and eventually for NatGeo. It was for an assignment on the Sahara for NatGeo 12 years ago that George first learned to fly, but it wasn’t until the local pilot backed out of the project that he devised another method for getting the aerial shots. For a month, George took paragliding lessons, and then put together a kit that could be broken down into many small bags that could be assembled to make a motorized paraglider. Though he sometimes uses planes and helicopters still, George says their limitations are great in some situations, and his craft allows him to hover low when he needs to without overly disturbing the scene below.

    George showed a little video of the assembly process in fast motion, quite confounding and humorous to watch, all these little pieces that puzzle together to make something that looks like a backpack with a giant fan beneath the sail. For reasons that weren’t made entirely clear, the kit gets smuggled into Africa in different stages, and then 2 – 4 cars are used to carry the gear for the trip. While George flies (no more than 50 miles at a time) usually in the range of 50 feet to 200 or so, the caravan travels nearby with an arranged pick up point. At times his friend who is a sport paraglider, comes along on the trips. I think he said that it was on the last trip that it took the government 3 weeks to track him down, so he left the next day.

    In order to shoot, George needs to take both hands off the controls momentarily. Mishaps happen, and he said he needs to be very careful of certain situations..like flying too low over sea lions on the shore. If his motor were to quit and the craft went down, the sea lions would get tangled in the sail and he’d be pulled out to sea with the fleeing sea lions. Some of his images are interesting because of the dynamic with the world below him; lionesses stare without fear, children empty out of schoolhouses – but for me the most powerful of the photos were the ones that he said were of places never before photographed, and of the vistas that I know my eyes would never have seen if George had not followed his dream.

    For a glimpse into his reality, see http://www.georgesteinmetz.com/multimedia.php

  • scribbling in the dark – on Parr

    Martin Parr the photographer, filmmaker, collector, curator and publisher said “All people who get anywhere are obsessive” during his Masters Talk at LOOK this year. A longstanding obsession for Martin is his use of his creativity to examine idiosyncratic cultural character and to throw a spotlight on how we live around the globe.

    Though it may not be readily apparent to someone who looks briefly or out of a larger context at Parr’s glossy, often garish hyperbolic images, he considers himself to be a concerned photographer in the traditional sense. Parr’s M.O. is to use “irony to disguise” his seriousness. By focusing on the -isms of our society – like tourism and consumerism – he hopes to represent the world that we actually live in. Parr works against the overwhelming power of the over published image, saying that there are abundant essays on mental hospitals, circuses, and that there is an element of propaganda even in our family albums. His message is to encourage us as photographers to be independent thinkers, and to look for vulnerability and ambiguity in our ideas and in our photos. To improve and deepen his own work, Martin studies stand-up comedians.

    Parr showed a wide body of work, pulling from his books Martin Parr, The Last Resort, Bad Weather and Common Sense, among others. Bad Weather came about in part because as an Englishman he is obsessed with the weather, but also because he realized that photographers for the most part shoot in good weather. Instead, he thought he would shoot in only bad weather. Parr said he had a constant “affair” with his flash; when using it in bad weather conditions especially there were a lot of accidents. Parr studied these accidents, and then learned how to incorporate them into his conscious choices when shooting. In a thought process similar to his motivations for making Bad Weather, Parr turned the fact that most photographers look for intrigue on its side and decided to look for the mundane to see “what he could do with it.”

    Parr is not only a prolific producer of books of his own photography, but is frequently an editor of books of collections (like Boring Postcards and Saddam Hussein Watches), a maker of art books (like Love Cube, the game) as well as the editor of The Photobook: A History.

    Parr expressed that he believes most photographers have blind spots and tend to work at the extremes of subject matter. He thinks it is important that we photograph our dislikes and our prejudices, that we air them them out. He said that photography is an excellent tool to help us examine our ambiguity about the things that we love and hate. He encourages us to question trends, to go beyond good photography and to think about how things will look in years to come, and to constantly challenge not only your own assumptions, but those of the photo community.

    Parr said that he studies the decline of photographers, and that their biggest pitfall is laziness, citing the classic example of a photographer’s first book being their best. He reminds us to stay fresh and push ourselves forward, to see our strengths and to know our weaknesses.

    When Parr’s grandfather gave him his first camera, with it was a note, hoping that the boy would learn to “cultivate an eye for beauty of all line, form and colour.” Martin expressed his own goals as trying to order and make sense of the world by using photography. He said that for him, photography is another form of collecting; perhaps he is gathering visual records as evidence that there is some kind of structure to our strange ways and habits. Though it is a widely circulated story, Parr seemed glad to recount it once more: When Parr joined Magnum, he received a fax from Henri Cartier-Bresson saying “I think you are from another planet.” Martin thought that was the greatest compliment of all.

  • Thanks Erica, it is really amazing how you do that …

    BTW, I heard Martin Parr telling in an interview that his response to “I think you are from another planet” was:
    “So why kill the messenger?”

  • Yes, he said that too!

  • I did not know about his “studies” of stand-up-comedians, but humor and irony is about finding vulnerability, and as you mentioned him saying: vulnreability is what he is looking for. In ourselves and through this in society. So stand-up-comendians, the guys that find the weak spot in us, probably are the best sources one can get. :-)

    Geez … I never appreciated stand up comedians … guess I am one of these dry-bones-with-no-humour-Germans …

  • Martin Parr is a National Treasure. He’s the Beetles of photography, he just works on ‘all levels’ What’s not to like about him?

    That being said, i heard that people who interrupt Martin’s shooting (and there have been many sightings) can make him a little bit grumpy :-)

  • I have the two volumes of “The Photobook: A History” he brought out as an editor with Gerry Badger (Phaidon). Absolutely interesting! Especially because most of them are not to be found anymore. It is a different look at the history of photography … and it’s influences.
    I can only recommend it.

  • Lassal..about the book, he said that now that he looks back at it he feels really remiss for all the great books he left out, simply because at the time he didn’t know about them, that he is continually scouring bookshops and asking other photographers for input because he can’t keep up. He also said that he had already checked the C’ville bookstores for the rare and interesting, so any other collector shouldn’t bother :)

    Joe..I understand..I’m the same way when i am seeing my negs for the first time..no time for chit chat in the lab with some random person!

  • “Martin Parr is a National Treasure. He’s the Beetles of photography, he just works on ‘all levels’ What’s not to like about him?”

    I did this postcard show in a gallery once. That was before I got into photography and I (admitt) I had no clue about who Martin Parr was. Well … at least up to that point – because practically EVERYBODY got me these “boring postcard” series from Parr afterwards! I think I got 14 only for my birthday … not counting all the others inbetween …. I could have opened an own “Martin Parr Postcard” shop with it.

    So I definitively knew who Martin Parr was after that :-)
    If he finds a good answer for what the meaning of life is, then I might consider putting him above Monty Python … hmmm …

  • ERICA – you are amazing. how do you write all of that and take it all in too! yes, Martin Parr was FABULOUS. i had NO idea he was so damn funny! i nearly cried during his portrait series.

    btw – i am still recovering… it’s going to be another week until i feel normal again.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANTON!!!!

  • Erica …
    yes, sure … there is always something missing. Most of the books are not to be found anymore, sold out, out of print … But even if he just got a small percentage of them … it still tells an amazing story. And I would not have known about it otherwise. Sure, AFTER these books on photobooks, you probably will not even find them anymore as a cellar-bargain on eBay … but, nevertheless …

    I would not mind him bringing out a third or forth volume. I would buy them. Especially because I know I could not buy all the photobooks …

    We always miss something. I am sure there are a lot of great photographers “missing” in the official history too … not just photobooks.

  • GINA –

    thanks..I think it was way too much Reading Comprehension prep for the SAT! Remember those essays we had to read in a short, timed period and then answer questions about what was read, sometimes in essay form :) Not sure if you saw, but I did a few other photographers earlier in the thread. Guess who i am saving for last,
    CAUSE I DON’T KNOW IF ANYONE KNOWS WHAT WAS SAID!!!

    By the way, are these talks transcribed anywhere? Or available as audio or audio/vis pieces?

    Still recovering too, but you’re gonna need some extra tlc or something!

  • Oh …
    Happy Birthday, Anton??
    Happy Birthday, Anton!!!!!!!!!!!

    Such a wonderful job you are doing here …
    It is a terrific multimedia show you did with DAH …
    Took my breath away.

    I wish you a lot of energy, inspiration, serendipity and luck for your project in Tokyo.
    Hopefully you will have us let a glimpse at it again soon?

    My very, very best wishes for you!
    And hopefully until soon.

  • This is more art photography with special effects, the judges can only vote what’s in front of them however I would say many of the judges had a second glance at david alan harvey with what he picked and put before them, so my question is what is david agenda with this selection, come on everyone, I always felt burn dealt with serious documentary not art? In addition, could the people who are trying to appear smart critics with lick ass comments please stop and just focus on their own work and earn points on merit.
    this has all the hallmarks of Magnum multinational.

  • What evidence do you have that Burn deals with documentary photography? It has been stated my many people that there isn’t a particular genre specific theme here, and the essays shown so far dispute that premise. Burn deals with a wide variety of photography, documentary falls in there but doesn’t dominate. But the more essential question is why you think only documentary photography can be “serious” and art photography cannot.

  • @ erica

    thnk u very much for the scribbling in the dark essays ………..

    …i think u r frm som oder planet …….lol ……

    ,,,

  • Hey, Rafal, I think we need to let David answer the more agressive and doubting writers, if he wishes too. The way Donal wrote his post, to respond is to take the chance of yet another shouting match, with others butting in….

    Erica, thanks. Now, Gilles Peress? Really curious about his lecture, from what has been told so far.

    Parr’s answer to HCB was brilliant. The stuff about all these great books which we either can’t see, buy or afford is food for thought. Are books important to the art of photography, therefore should be ever present at some level to the audience (re-edited?), not just missed and talked of? Or is the photobook an art in itself, collector’s art mostly, undemocratic?, and its limited dissemination beyond first editions, of not great consequences to the enjoyment and understanding of photography and its history?

  • I meant the limited dissemination, not just the book, but of all the photos inside, and the manner in which that is edited and shown, la “mise en page”.

  • HERVE

    working on it..thank god it a rainy day with time to sort it out, because this one isn’t easy!

  • Look3 crowd.

    I heard Steinmetz is very good looking. Anyone want to confirm or deny?

  • It’s long, a bit sloppy, but I did my best..to make any sense I had to weave in an interview with Peress from 12 years ago..

    scribbling in the dark – on Peress

    The night after the Gilles Peress talk at LOOK, my roommate Dolores and I stayed awake too late for our own good, using what the other gleaned to try to approach some kind of collective understanding of what had been said by Peress. His was the kind of presentation that alternately made me laugh and feel uneasy for the interviewer, to think that I was a privileged witness to brilliance and to feel that a willful game of evasion was being played before my eyes.

    Despite the fact that Mary Ann Golon managed the photo department at Time magazine for over 20 years, that she has numerous poignant interviews under her belt and that she and Gilles walked through his exhibit together and also reviewed what they were going to discuss publicly, the actual interview was imbued with a sense of spontaneity, unpreparedness and it allowed for a dominant uncomfortable reality. It turns out, these are some of the qualities that Gilles cultivates in his work. And for many in the room, they had the same effect on the talk that they do in his photographs: one of genius.

    I’ll tell you the end first. If Gilles were reading a reflection on what he had said, maybe he’d enjoy it this way. In a letter sent to Mary Ann some time before the interview, Gilles wrote “Remind me to tell you about the dead photojournalist.” The talk ends like this, with Gilles telling a joke:

    A photojournalist dies, and he goes before St. Peter. St. Peter says “We haven’t seen you in awhile. We’ve decided to do something special for you. We are going to give you the choice of where you want to spend eternity. But first, you will visit both Hell and Paradise, and then decide. Where do you want to go first?”

    The dead photojournalist thinks a bit and says “Hell.” Poof, off he goes to Hell. And all his buddies are there playing golf and telling stories about their days as great photographers, laughing and drinking and having a great time.

    The next day the dead photojournalist goes before St. Peter who asks how it was. “Interesting” the dead photojournalist replies. And then it is time for him to visit Paradise. Poof. The dead photojournalist finds himself on a cloud, sitting next to an angel who plays the harp all day long.

    The next day, he goes before St. Peter again, and St. Peter asks “So, what will it be?” The dead photojournalist says “No offense, but I choose Hell.” Poof, and off he goes to Hell.

    This time, when he arrives in Hell, the skies are dark, there are piles of rubbish everywhere, everyone is fighting because there is no food, and no one is laughing or telling stories anymore. The dead photojournalist is in a panic, and asks the devil “What happened? It was fantastic here just 2 days ago, even Mary Ann Golon was here!”

    And the devil says: “2 days ago you were freelance. Now you’re staff.”

    Gilles calls the work that was shown on the screen behind him “Still Lives”, or, in French, “Natures Mortes.” The conversation between Mary Ann and Gilles begins like this: With Still Lives looping, Mary Ann asks him something along the lines of how he thinks this body of work fits into his career, a question so straight forward that I don’t write it down. Gilles’ reply is that the images are not a body of work, rather a fragment of a habit, dust to dust. That he doesn’t think that much, that absolute emptiness is his natural state. That he rarely goes out, it makes him uncomfortable, and that he is not sure he has a career.

    To anyone who has met me, here is an analogy that will be of use to describe the next hour, which was supposed to be two. It was given by my friend Neal, speaking in a whisper while sitting next to me during the talk: “Trying to get discourse from Gilles is like trying to take a photo of Erica.” Or better yet, just imagine the man sitting beside Mary Ann with a small smile on his face as he says, possibly to himself “L’enfer, c’est les autres.” (“Hell is other people.”)

    So this is how it goes..Mary Ann issues relevant questions and Gilles answers them honestly, but in a language that doesn’t help to facilitate much understanding. Only now, after days of taking in what he said and after reading an interview he gave 12 years ago that is referenced here below, I think I might get it – Gilles’ words and his way of delivering them are an apt reflection of how he feels about language and why he turned to photography as a vehicle of understanding.

    Gilles’ childhood was saturated by Rousseauist ideas, which hold that “man is good, man is fundamentally good, and if anything goes wrong it’s just the system that has to be adjusted.” His parents shielded him from knowing about the reality of the human condition. Gilles feels that he grew up as a child with an absence of images whose presence could have helped to tell him the truth about reality. In college, Gilles studied political science and philosophy, which influenced him “incredibly” by making him very untrusting of language, even his own. Yo Gilles, photography felt less coded, more fresh and “kept him stable and in relationship with the world.”

    In his interview with Harry Kreisler 12 years ago, Gilles said:

    “I’m like a perfect child of fury. I was force-fed so much of this stuff (philosophical politics / political philosophy). At the same time I was dealing with reality. I was extremely involved in the French social reality at the time, and I started to see a huge gap between language and reality. All the intellectual theories of the late ’60s in France were extremely political. It was simply a question of survival: I needed a tool and a vehicle to understand and formalize what was out there in the world, my relationship to reality. If I didn’t have that tool, I most surely would be in some mental asylum somewhere. I needed something to be able to mediate the relationship to the world, other than language. It’s an essential thing, like eating. It’s about surviving, it’s about making sense of what’s out there and what’s in there.”

    It seems clear that he still feels the same today, but perhaps the disillusionment with language has increased since he talked with Harry. His words now were fewer and harder to elicit, and were given sparingly, like a homeopathic medicine. Or to use the colloquial expression, like pulling teeth. With some nudging, he told Mary Ann:

    “Photography is something I do to stay sane and to process my relationship to the world. It is a little bit like grieving.”

    Photography is not something the Gilles does to express himself, rather it is a tool to help him understand the world. Gilles seemed comforted that “There are pure ideas between the moment of perception and when you put an idea on it” and that these pure ideas are accessible through the visual medium. “I’m proposing to you that photography is a language on its own, which is that when you look at images you do derive ideas; and I’m also proposing to you that you can derive ideas without going through words. So I’m forcing you to really look. And this process of looking, it’s like a new set of ideas that are being proposed to you.”

    Gilles said that work should be able to stand on its own, and that for him captions beneath a photo are redundant. He is interested in the space between categories, like between photography and literature, and he questions the rituals that hold photography, like the act of hanging work on the walls of galleries. He concerns himself with what is necessary, and what is just, in the service of an idea.

    Gilles joined Magnum Photos in 1970, and his quote on his photographer page there is “I don’t care so much anymore about ‘good photography’; I am gathering evidence for history”. Mary Ann asked him about the role of Magnum in his work, and he said that in the 70s the other photographers shared easily and were incredibly generous, and even now at Magnum you don’t have to please anyone.

    Gilles believes that reality speaks very powerfully through photography, but that 1/2 of the ‘text’ of a photograph is in its reader. He told Mary Ann that history is more and more about representation, so it has become more visual. This is problematic, Gilles said, because truth is ambiguous. The authorship of the truth comes from many sources – the photographer, the camera (because he thinks that each camera allows photography to speaks in a different way), the force of reality, and the viewer who has his own interpretation of what is happening in the photo. Stating that univocal photos that try to make a point are propaganda, Gilles pointed out that great writings and photos use ambiguity so that the viewer, or reader, processes the information in his own way. And Gilles’ part is to document the reality that is going on around him from a receptive place:

    “There is a lot of the trivial of life and there is a lot of notions of simultaneity of life, of life that goes on while catastrophe unfolds, and so on. And this is why I work the way I do; I work extremely open to what’s around me. I document from the most minute detail to the most spectacular scene. I do work in a very open way and I document everything that’s around me. It’s a very existential approach. I shoot pictures of the glass of water I drink if I feel that it means something at that time. ”

    Gilles, who has taken on the roles of Professor of Human Rights and Photography at Bard College, NY, and Senior Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center, UC Berkeley resists labels in photography. He said that he isn’t a war photographer, and that he isn’t interested in categories in photography. Gilles has said that he tries to avoid predictable forms and the goals of the market. Instead, he tries to find a zone of freedom where even he can’t predict the outcome. Fundamentally he is concerned that war and war crimes are so easily swept under the rug by the Western world while war is simultaneously glorified and shrouded in mystique. He told Harry:

    “I’ve now been doing this for a long time, and I’m not a war photographer. I don’t have this identity, it’s one that I would also reject. But I did find myself quite a few times in fairly conflictual situations. And I see young soldiers and I see young marines that learned somewhere, and I really feel sorry for those kids because they don’t know. They think it’s like a nice movie. Sure, there are casualties and so on, but they’re not prepared for what is the reality of war. And I think that civilians here do not have any notion of what it is.”

    Whether or not Peress works on assignment, and he usually doesn’t, he works from the inside out. Asked what makes a great photo, Gilles remarks that it is a very individual matter, and is a combination of things in the “I like” relationship; a photo’s construction, what the photo is about, what it says about the world, and an extra something (“it pricks”) which makes you decide that you like it. The beginning of forming his attention on any subject / place is for him to ask himself questions. In creating work, Peress consciously avoids being overly prepared so that his images are more an accurate reflection of reality than an illustration of an idea of reality. His desire is to create images that are “extremely transparent.” Though he will do some advance research, he tries to go without an agenda, without any preconceptions about what is happening or what an end product might look like. He focuses instead on his own “understanding and then doubting my own understanding.” This new understanding allows him to be able to provide the next generation with visual information that may help them to not repeat the same mistakes as the generations before them.

    Seeing the atrocities of war is very difficult for Gilles, and the passivity of the civilized world is as “painful to witness as the horror itself…It’s a painful process. I mean, during the process of doing the Rwanda book I was in a serious depression for the whole period. I had this feeling that I was going to vomit all the time. You know, you live with it.” Before Rwanda Gilles had been in Bosnia. The collective impact of what he had seen as well as the lack of action in the international community left him with the sense that maybe God is half good and half evil, even though Gilles had been raised outside of religion.

    Gilles shared that he is only able to focus on the now, and that he, at least, finds peace when the chaos on the outside is greater than the chaos on the inside. And although he does want to communicate “a high level of moral outrage” he feels that “Pricking the moral conscience of the international community and, I think, the individual also is not the primary goal, but a by-product. My primary goal is to understand what is happening out there. My primary goal is to make up my own mind as an individual. ”

    HK: Is human enlightenment the goal?

    GP: Yes.

    HK: Your personal enlightenment…

    GP: Yes, seeking the truth.

    HK: In terms of human enlightenment and the betterment of man, an ideal would be that I’d do something about it, right?

    GP: Yes.

    Toward the end of the presentation, a woman who had spoken with Gilles 25 years ago recounted their conversation. She said that when they had spoken his emphasis had been on matching the inner and outer realities. He replied that he doesn’t feel that way so much anymore, that for him now, the aim is to work from the inside out. Gilles said that “the fertile ground of photography is at the intersection of the inner and the outer worlds.” If you dwell too much in the outer, the work becomes predictable, and if you work too much from the inner, it becomes idiosyncratic. You have to strive for balance.

    Personally, I was glad he said that.

    excerpts from: UC Berkeley, with Harry Kreisler, April 10th, 1997 Conversation with History.

  • You can watch the UC Berkeley, with Harry Kreisler, April 10th, 1997 Conversation with History interview here:

  • Erica,

    Thanks for doing all of these, especially the extra effort to recap the interview from Berkeley. What I find most fascinating is that here is a man who studied with Foucault and then grew to distrust language, unlike the majority of academics who embrace Foucault’s writings. That could more of my reaction to art history in grad school though. Thanks agin.

  • ERICA,

    Thanks so much for your written report and for that link to the Berkeley interview. I just watched the whole thing. The most striking thing to me was that although English is not his first language, Gilles Peress came across as far more articulate (not to mention far deeper and more intelligent) than the ‘native speaker’ interviewer. Peress is impressive. He explained in what I found to be very easy to understand terms a number of themes that have been thrashed around here on BURN quite a bit. I can also imagine why he might in some contexts and forums come across as ‘playing cat and mouse.’ There’s much to think about for a long time in what he says.

  • Erica;
    Thanks for all the work you have put in bringing us these words from LOOK3. Even though i live in the southern hemisphere it has certainly made me feel a lot closer the “photo world”.

    Thank you

  • Thanks, Erica. I think what Gilles is doing and saying is that you have to find his own truth, and it is nobody else’s. This is all so important.
    There are too many people who go the wrong way and think thruth is one, and we kinda have to meet, ideally, where that oneness is, goes further than our individual experiences, ie. that we are essentially one. Yes, we are, but not on this earth…

    Other parts, I felt in conflict with what was said, though it does not matter that much, of course.

    “photography is a little bit like grieving”… Here’s an interesting discussion, since this is a concept few have embraced here, choosing instead to praise the “celebratory” nature in taking a picture. Both aspects are probably reconciliable…

  • Grrrr: ..is that you have to find YOUR own truth….

  • On grieving and celebrating, a poem by Jacques Prevert

    Song of the snails on their way to a funeral

    Two snails were going
    to the funeral of a dead leaf.
    Their shells were shrouded in black,
    and they had wrapped crepe around their horns.
    They set out in the evening,
    one glorious autumn evening.
    Alas, when they arrived
    it was already spring.
    The leaves who once were dead
    had all sprung to life again.
    The two snails
    were very disappointed.
    But then the sun,
    the sun said to them,
    “Take the time
    to sit awhile.
    Take a glass of beer
    if your heart tells you to.
    Take, if you like,
    the bus to Paris.
    It leaves this evening.
    You’ll see the sights.
    But don’t use up your time with mourning.
    I tell you,
    it darkens the white of your eye
    and makes you ugly.
    Stories of coffins
    aren’t very pretty.
    Take back your colours,
    the colours of life.”
    Then all the animals,
    the trees and the plants
    began to sing
    at the tops of their lungs.
    It was the true and living song,
    the song of summer.
    And they all began to drink
    and to clink their glasses.
    It was a glorious evening,
    a glorious summer evening,
    and the two snails
    went back home.
    They were moved,
    and very happy.
    They had had a lot to drink
    and they staggered a little bit,
    but the moon in the sky
    watched over them.

  • Yes, Erica, I remember finding the transcript for that Peress interview back when I was in college. Then last year I found that youtube clip. Thanks for posting again. Peress studied philosophy and is using photography in a very different way than other photojournalists obviously. He and Koudelka always seem to be on a totally other level within the the reportage tradition.

  • SIDNEY..

    “He explained in what I found to be very easy to understand terms a number of themes..”

    The last 12 years seem to have had a profound effect on Gilles..watching this old interview and listening to him last week had the effect of meeting 2 different men, on the surface anyway.

    I had to laugh at myself when I read Casey from slideluck’s summary, I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had just written something like this!:

    Gilles Peress. What is there to say? He didn’t answer a single question, told one joke, and then asked to be excused halfway through. I sort of get it. I don’t always have the words and sometimes I don’t feel it worthwhile to use the words, and there was something refreshing about his obstinance.

    Casey has some great photos and recaps of LOOK on his blog, check it out when you can: http://network.slideluckpotshow.com/profiles/blogs/a-peek-at-the-look3-photo

  • ERICA…

    you have done an AMAZING job of reporting the Look3 fest…..you really caught the essence of the talks of the “legends” and like many others here i ask “how do you do that?”….in any case, thank you….

    i hope the short time we spent together looking at your book was helpful….and as soon as you get the work to us in completed form and as you want it , i will publish….

    cheers, david

  • Excellent, Erica! Thank you for your stunning effort and remarkable clarity. I hadn’t known about Gilles views of photography as rhetoric — great stuff!

  • DAH

    I really didn’t know where to post these on burn..if you think they would be better of elsewhere, please feel free..glad you like them! I think it may be time for me to invest in something bigger than a 4 inch notebook though.

    I’ve grouped all of these plus 2 that I wrote for about your post workshop gatherings at the loft for roadtrips (Paul Fusco / A. Sanguinetti and Gene Richards / Bruce Gilden) and put all of them on my website http://ericamcdonaldphoto.com so they are all in one place and this might motivate me to do more..

    Can anyone remember if I wrote a third one for roadtrips? I feel like I did but maybe not. Wish I had taken notes for the Bruce Davidson talk at Aperture..but I just couldn’t tear my eyes away.

    The book (aka the never ending project) : thank you so much for your time, I know how everyone wants a piece of it, especially at these gatherings. My plan is to shoot the 35mm for a full year to get a sense of all the seasons, which means through October…then a re edit and if possible a multimedia piece..(someone speak up if you are NYC based and want to offer your talent pro bono for credit)..the little teaser I made was okay but not how I wanted to see the piece in the end. Which means publishing would be around the end of the year, I hope.. WHAT A CAN OF WORMS YOU OPENED DAH..all started in a roadtrips thread where you said something like “I have a good idea..what if I were to give assignments to readers here, for example, I might assign Erica to cover politics…” and I though heck no, not politics, what I’d really want to do is..and the rest is history. So thank you for the push to make my internal vision of a long term piece a reality..and for the first time I am actually able to believe that this could be a book. Maybe by the time it is ready you will have a hold on some ideas for getting it in to the world in book form too..

    okay, I think I gave myself the writing bug by doing the LOOK pieces, need to rail it in now or I’m gonna fall back into the roadtrips days of putting it all out there.. :)

  • A civilian-mass audience

    I have no time to read …Hmmm…BUT…

    I Trust the BURNIANS and I will say that :

    ERICA you are DA Woman !!!

  • Erica,

    You write very well. Amazing job.
    Thanks especially for sharing it with those who could not be there.

  • you all are very welcome!

  • What a pity I was not @ look3 :-(
    Erica thank you so much for the sharing!
    I wish one day I can come too ;-)
    Is it every year?

  • Albertina, the next LOOK3 will be in 2011

Comments are currently closed.