john busch – breaking & entering

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John Busch

Breaking & Entering

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This incense just floats away.  I cannot track it; it burns and goes. All of my moustaches have come and gone, I burn them on my face, they become gone and sometimes they return, these moustaches.  And when I think about my current moustache, I realize that I no longer consider the having of a moustache a matter of choice, but more a matter of consequence.

I enjoy that strange anticipation — that varied stretch of time that elapses from the shutter to the lab. That the exposed film is something different than it was before and there are rules about looking at it.  It is especially rewarding when the exposed film proves to be more valuable than fresh stock.

A lot of my photos are about anticipation — setting up and waiting.  More like hunting than fishing, I suppose. One part of my process is technical: the equipment, the craft, the little tricks picked-up along the way. Those components are important and they are also very reliable.  The other part of my process is completely ephemeral — and I don’t really quite understand it myself: the expression, the pitch, the moment that will never exist again, ever. Endlessly compelling — relentlessly strange. This is why I don’t work at home — the second part of the process doesn’t exist there.



John Hayden Busch was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. He attended New York University.

John Began taking photographs at the age of 12, when he was invited to participate in a hunting trip.  In a fateful gesture, and not devoid of grace, his mother granted her permission along with a camera — “you may shoot anything you like, but only with film.”

John has been a resident of New York City and currently resides in Los Angeles.  He has taken photographs on every major continent, including remote counties in the interior of Arkansas.


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John Busch


Editor’s Note:

This is one of the essays created during our most recent NYC loft workshop…

John came up with the idea… and shot and produced this essay in just a couple of days.

Please only one comment per person under this essay.. Further discussions should take place under Dialogue..

Many thanks… david alan harvey

36 Responses to “john busch – breaking & entering”

  • John, Dear John!
    You have done something really beautiful here!!
    I love how you structure photographically the reciprocal curiosity when people meet. I think that this is really what we all think when we meet people at events, different places or simply by talking to someone on the street. You have really gone beyond the first shallow encounters and you offer an insight to the life of people.
    I often pass by houses and I have the urge to see what’s going on in there.
    The only thing that might be revisited is maybe the photographic link between the places where you meet the people and their homes.
    I mean, by looking at it, I find that something is missing, but that might just be wrong.
    You tell me.
    Thanks for sharing

  • I really like the concept (believe it or not) you have here. Very original. Would love to see more of these. I would be happy if you would lose the music, though. It buries your voiceover and just detracts from the essay. Your essay takes Shizuka Yokomizo’s “Stranger” concept (which seemed too cold for me) and gets inside and personal.


  • Ah, so you are a hunter. The analogy works well for you, I think. I like your concept of luring relative strangers into your trap. I like the use of the audio to get your idea across but I want to see better pictures. I’m not really interested in the people or the pictures. I think you might get a lot more out of this project than me. It just occurs to me now that I might like it more if your subjects could do the voice. If they were to tell the simple story you tell of the meeting and taking you home to photograph them. I think that would give the piece a little more depth. This is quite a cheeky work and that’s its attraction, but its a fairly minor one for me, I’m afraid.

  • inside lives of others..
    wanting to know their story..
    or a chapter of it…
    I like this…
    Moved a little too fast for me,
    wanted to slow down on some of the images….
    but love your access,
    your idea,
    and showing NYC to have neighbors that DO open their doors,
    to strangers…..
    Thats what I liked about it….
    It gives me HOPE,
    thank you……

  • Throughout the show I kept thinking how startling it was that in 2 days so many people allowed you to walk into their private lives, possibly at their own risk. They let you photograph their children, exposed themselves to someone with unknown intents, and you had…intentions…to use their images. I’m not saying that’s bad, but it’s a tension I noticed and felt. Then at the very end I noticed the title, “Breaking and Entering,” and I thought, Nice.

    BTW, funny that I wanted to call in a “show.” Must be that snazzy music.

  • ANTON,

    Don’t know what you did differently this time, but I cannot get this essay to run at all in either Safari or Firefox on my old system….???

  • You definitely delivered on your idea, with very different characters, which offers again a view of people (everyone of us, actually) less stereotyped than the medias propose day in and day out. It is good that the melting pot is neither a pot, neither melting. Good choice with the wide angle, and the simplicity of approach, which for me, seems to work even better than film or video, for this subject.

    Text is very well-written, succinct (Thanks!!!), but ok, you just defined what photography is for most people taking it to the next level, and out the door.

  • Very very nice and original concept, idea and pictures, John!!
    I’m very impressed by the fact it was done in just a couple of days (and mostly with one lens, if i’m not mistaken). I understand what you mean by referring to the completely ephemeral part of the process, and these pictures clearly show it, though that may sound like a contradiction (my English today is quite bad, indeed, but I’m pretty sure my words wouldn’t make any sense in Italian, either) :-)

    I agree with Jim Powers, I too would love to see more of these, without the music, like the slideshows we’ve been seeing around here so far (with captions instead of the voice-over).

  • Would like it if you did actualy break and enter.
    There is an artist that worked as a maid in fancy European hotels and when the guests were out would take all of their possetions out from their cases and place them on the bed and photograph them. That was interesting and had concept. This comes across as a lovey dub union of egocentric New Yorkers ala “Friends” razzed up with a dandy voiceover and jaw dropping existential musings about a moustache. A This is who I am so slap me informercial that fits between Mtv Room Raiders and The real world. I feel like Kevin Spacey in The Big Kahuna, the approach is too wide eyed and naive no scent of maturity, recognision of what you are, your part, the viewers role. You are no sacraficing anything of yourself in this pursuit not, questioning anything you have been told, no tension which is vital if you are to communicate anything via any medium in any language. If you are going to use people exploit them and do them justice. The characters you portray in this are like Friends characters one dimentional, ungrounded, weak being that exist in an imaginary universe where people don’t have jobs, bills, disease etc and everything is ok by the end of the story with the aid of good old cup of coffee made to your unique idividual requirements. The poeple you photograph and that people we see are not the same people, you direct them. There is no truth gets through that machine between you and them. No more than gets through that machine between your ears. My criticism is general and not meant to be personal. I hope to be constructive so that hopefully the next time you go out and invite yourself into peoples homes you have more to think about, more to work with. Aim higher and you will achieve more or fail and burn, nothing wrong with that, just don’t be afraid of failure.

  • So for me I liked the concept. Not the pictures. I watched it 3 minutes ago. Only 2 pictures really stand out for me as memorable. The one of the tuba guy in the hall and your title slide. These 2 had something more to them, something interesting and suggestive. The others just dont do anything for me.

  • What an interesting idea … and what you have to say, your words and ideas are compelling to me in a way I cannot understand … going beyond the words, those moments you captured in this essay … nothing necessarily heroic, iconic, pressing … yet the sense of immediacy, intamcy, opening … this photo that, as you appropriately point out, will never be captured again, and by common understand should of never happened (or should they) of? … it lets me to wonder, that when I wake up tomorrow morning, or when I get out of the dinky coffee shop on the corner of Anslie and Lorminer, if I will be hit by a bus, or equally as likely and probable and banal … will someone ask to come into my home and photograph me…

    I see people comment more about the concept, and in a way I am, but this concept goes to one of my core beliefs in photography …. that every photo that ever existed is perfect … every single photo in this essay is absoluty perfect … those moments will never happen again, even if similar moments occurs. People don’t have multiple children because their 1st or 2nd born were exposed incorrectly, too blurry, or composed badly. For any given moment in any given time, the photograph taken is perfect. It is your child, and despite the obvious differences in this analogy, pictures like these, looking into worlds that however mundane are still worlds, these pictures are absolutely perfect, and thats a statement thats not meant to go to your head, but as a matter of fact in art, photography, and life.



  • Congrats John my man. Again I had the pleasure and honor of being witness to this creative process. It was real and organic in the way it developed during the workshop. While most of us where struggling to define our essays, John’s was I think more a story of himself then the subjects in the photographs. This is not in anyway a criticism it is a true reflection of John as an artist and a creative being. John usually shoots film, I believe this was shot in digital with a Hasselblad (am I right John?) so again a different take then most of us in the workshop. John’s background in the film industry also significantly influenced the essay in its final form . I really think that David is creating a new medium incorporating photography, music, and narrative that opens up a whole new dimension to photography. I would love to see more fresh talent like this published on Burn.

    All the best John, Congrats once more and can’t wait to hang in NYC again.



    this was built as a Quicktime movie…not our normal slide show program…but, we have had several essays using the Quicktime system with no problems…plays ok on Firefox for me…i will check with Anton to see what might be your problem…


    i think this essay is ALL about the concept…i mean, John meets someone on the streets of NYC and somehow gets into their homes in five minutes and is photographing their lives…THAT does not happen in NYC….

    we will be ready to publish your curated essay this week…thanks again for the extra effort….


    the original sound track we used for the friday night event was Pablo Cruz, but we couldn’t buy the rights for online use…it was best with Pablo…

    cheers, david

  • I first looked at the essay without sound (quite inadvertedly as I didn’t realize my speaker was off!). Looking at the essay again, with sound, I certainly feel that I like the concept and the essay as a whole, but I have to say that it is let down by the photographs themselves – the exception being the photograph with the tuba in the hallway.

  • Interesting concept well done BUT

    I agree with some of what Andrew and Andrea said…

    It was quite an accomplishment that you were able to connect with so many strangers and get in the door but it feels like the piece is more about you than them. “Look what I did.” Not that there’s anything wrong with the piece being about you. Just not sure if that’s your intention.

    You’re in and you’re out quickly looking (hunting) for the next subject…at least that’s the pace of the piece. I can only imagine how frantic it is to get a piece together for a DAH workshop so perhaps if you didn’t have the deadline it would be different…but maybe not. Maybe the quick pace was your intention.

    Watching the piece I kept wondering not how you were able to GET OUT quickly once you were in. You went to a lot of trouble to get in the door, I’m sure the people didn’t want you running off after a few shots.

    Did you connect with anyone who wouldn’t let you come over? Anyone you decided against going home with?

  • sorry typo…

    …wondering how you were able to GET OUT
    (omit wondering not how)

  • CATHY..

    i will have to let John write about his intent….i do not think there was anything “frantic” about it…John is pretty laid back and the way he worked and delivered was certainly not deadline specific…it is always interesting to me what people do in just a few days…that does not mean of course that any workshop essay is a done deal….i always expect most photographers will continue either on the theme they start or at least do derivative work…there is however something to be said for the spontaneous combustion of doing something fast and raw…anyway, wait and see what some of the others did…surely all exercises of a kind, but when viewed together the collective momentum is palpable…

    cheers, david

  • i think its neat. I like the idea of just talking people into inviting you home for a photo. The cross section of people is great. Not an original idea by any means, especially in the realms of moving imagery, but certainly a fun little project to do that may well have the legs for a larger body of work.


  • Apologies for second posting. I didn’t read the editor’s note because I tend to presume it’s always the same, as it is on the occasions when I have read it. So I didn’t realise John had done this in such a tight time frame and I didn’t realise this was a workshop project. Therefore, I just want to say, in light of that, well done John.

  • John!!!
    Like Frank, I had the pleasure of being witness to this creative process of yours.
    Can’t forget your face and mood after having spent half the night in the South-Bronx.
    And I totally agree with John Gladdy… legs for a larger body of work…!
    Excellent stuff, man, keep it up!!!

  • Looks to me like the beginnings of an excellent project. I like the tuba image in the hallway and I like the cats. But then I always like cats. I have yet to decide what I think of this quick time movie concept. Usually, when I find a photo spread, it annoys me to view it as a movie and I would rather click through at my own pace. Somehow, though, I think perhaps in this case it may be the right choice – although, as another stated, the music competes too strongly with the voice.

  • Fluffy and….I didn’t catch the name of the second cat :-) I like this and the music that goes along…


  • John, in my eyes, ears, mind and heart, IT WORKS! I love the organic quality to the process and product. I love that the pics are “on the fly,” so to speak, rather than too posed. You really give me the feeling of “breaking and entering” people’s lives and I am in awe of your spunk. Hell, a lot of us are shy about taking pics of strangers on the street, and you not only take their photo but manage to get them to invite you into their homes. Amazing! Especially in a city like New York.

    I see that you live in NYC so I hope you plan to continue this project. I definitely see it as an exhibition and a book. And at the openinng, I want to meet all these people!!!

    Bravo to you, John, and it was great seeing you at DAH’s loft on Friday night. Hope we meet again.


  • Great concept, but I think pictures are not that great..because it is being displayed here on burn it makes you look twice for things that makes it special, but I can’t see that in this images..also so much wide angle deformation..

    Bye, David

  • I like the idea here – I like what you are saying and how you say it. It was even entertaining for me – I watched it and was interested from beginning to end, which isn’t something that I can say for all essays. It’s my belief that access is so much more important than image related aspects such as composition, etc…and for that I’m quite impressed. Sadly, I can’t help but feel that you’ve left behind the actual crafting of the images themselves. They don’t stand out to me…I don’t remember them. I feel as if the photographs themselves are not as strong as your access to them deserves. Of course, you only had two days to come up with this and that could be a strong factor in this…

  • I like it, it’s fun and spontaneous. I watched twice without the audio and I thought it was so New York, big city, superficial. With audio it gives it that fun feel. Not crazy about the extreme use of short lenses.
    Nice work.

  • Jogn, I love it! Very impressed that you only have two days invested in this project (as it appears here). I’m a voyeur, and can really relate to your piece as I am a big fan of what Todd Selby ( ) is currently producing.

    I could not care less about the strength or composition of any individual frame. For me, this works as a multi-media piece – a mini-documentary of 2 days roaming the streets, just meeting people. Oh yeah, you have a nice voice for narration (reminds me of Richard Dreyfus in Stand by Me :-)

  • Whoops, sorry I misspelled your name, John!

  • I think the essay is great. You have been trusted to enter other people’s lives. In a world where trust is so difficult to find you have demonstrated to us that we only need to look. I don’t think that this is about you or them…. it’s the relationship that you have co-created that shines through.

  • Hi John!!
    Great Job!
    Fun, light, humorous and full of energy!
    Go forward with the same inspiration and passion.
    Keep in touch.
    And if you’ll came in Italy…(You know!)
    Best wishes..

  • hey john… great stuff… it was awesome to see it evolve from the first day to this… loved it all along… it was very cool meeting you… keep in touch…

  • I love the idea, but I think the photos should be shot in a more… personal way…

    Seems like they are more snapshots, rather than documentary.

    But it’s something to develop on, I like the approach, and meeting new people, because these days, people tend to be afraid or to keep to themselves, this shows the positive side of meeting another stranger, and the fact that they can open a window to their own lives.

  • John

    Congratulations for being on burn.

    Fun stuff. This would be a great exercise to point a whole workshop at.

    I’m a little distracted by the extreme wide angle lens, not sure if it is helping or hindering here, but it is your vision, and at least the approach is consistent. I like several of the shots a lot. The door knob and the tuba player in the hallway shot particularly. \

    Your subjects look very comfortable with you. From the sound of your voice, and the pics, you are a pretty laid back guy who can put people at ease, a good skill to have. I found it interesting how your tone of voice changed when describing the video game player.

    Being the resident Burn anal nit-picker, I’d also love to pop a couple of your RAW files into photoshop to show you how good they COULD look.

  • Sirs,
    Great work.

    I believe that Mr. Busch’s website is
    Look forward to seeing more.

  • To JOHN:

    Jesus, great stuff and IDEA. As David says, this things does not happen in NYC, nor a big city. To much paranoia from people at the beginning of the XXI century :-(. Great work in an individual society… and if I think that was during a WorkShop, even more!

    We (photographers) have a urge to see what is hidden behind that people

    “”The photographer is filled with doubt. Nothing will soothe him” DEPARDON.

    Cheers Patricio

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