I feel this morning just a wee twinge of fall in the air here in the Outer Banks of NC. Oh yes it is still summer, but I can feel and smell what’s coming. I won’t think winter yet of course but the change of seasons always makes one think things over a bit. Reflect.

The summer of 2013 was all reflection in my case. I took most of the summer “off”, stayed home, rode my bike, made prints in the darkroom, and had a summer I have not had since I can remember. Yup the summer of childhood. One of those summers we all tend to leave behind once “responsibility” strikes and we must all go to work leaving behind childhood fantasies and dreams.

Pretty funny I guess, yet I never bought totally into giving up the fantasy. For sure I did learn to accept at least some responsibility in life, yet I never could get those summer dreams out of my head. I have been hanging on to my summer dreams summer passion summer romance the whole damn time! I shouda coulda woulda followed all the rules I guess, but on the other hand the “authorities” have not yet come knocking on my door and arrested me for arrested development, ha ha.

Did I get away with the crime of never moving totally into adulthood? I think maybe I did. I am rolling down the highway of life and I don’t think they can catch me now, and I ain’t looking back.

Does this mean no reality at all? Of course not. I have had to deal with all the same realities as everyone else. Yet just keeping a piece of my bicycle dreams alive all along has allowed me to escape the doldrums of aging that I see so many people living. And I do not mean “old” people. I see “young” folks who lose the dream at 30. Or even before. Logically I suppose it is an age thing, yet I am not so sure.

What I see is that the dream can live or die at any age.

Photography for sure has saved me. With pictures I could always go somewhere all by myself and where nobody else could go or had ever been. A singular adventure. I discovered this at an early age, and well here I am with the same damned dream the same wonderment the same excitement of freezing a moment in time. So either I have gone nowhere all along or I am living in my imagination or maybe both. On the other hand, who cares or why the hell not?

Yesterday for example, I could not stop seeing pictures everywhere all the time. They seemed to be falling out of the sky and all I had to do was reach out and grab them. Nothing at all difficult to do. Gifts. So easy it was a little disconcerting actually. Now not everyday is like that, yet I do seem to have a lot of days like that. No idea why really. Oh no, I do not mean that everyone else is going to think I had a great day of shooting, but I don’t care about everybody else. It worked for me. And for sure that is the state of mind I try to get those I mentor to see and feel and believe and live.

After the success of (based on a true story) I had about 5 minutes of “job well done” pleasure, and then quickly moved into the space where one must be to move forward. We all need to move ahead in exactly the same way after success as we do with failure. “Failure” means you must get your act together and do something. “Success” means exactly the same damned thing. Actually it is even harder after success.

Now I am sketching all over the place. No rush. I am shooting some medium format b&w film, going crazy hourly with my iPhone, and playing with several different digi “serious real cameras”.. All work. While at some points in my occasional forays into “adult behavior” I did tend to lean linear, I am now thinking that a smorgasbord has every right to have a place at the table as a meat and potatoes dinner. Why would I let a camera or a technique or anything at all get in the way of just raw and fierce and passionate? Even if I am “wrong” it is all part of sketching. A process. And no way around it. This stuff cannot be “decided”.

I went off the straight documentary rails with (based on a true story). I hope nobody thought I could ever come back. How could I?

So now I am just a “boy on a bike”. Not a bad place to be.

As I sometimes do here on Burn, I ask a question of this audience.

My question this morning to you as I have my third coffee is: How do YOU set yourself free? You must have an answer.



(photograph above shot on Pea Island in the Outer Banks NC of “Tonico” Monteiro and Alexandra Lettrich)


95 thoughts on “Summer of 13”

  1. David, photography has saved me, too. It’s all I ever wish to do. I’m 62 and feel the passion just as much, if not more, than ever. It is my sanctuary; I photograph for me and very rarely show my work to anyone. I should, but I don’t need to. I will send something to Burn. I will.

    And I have a bike.

  2. I feel this morning just a wee twinge of summer in the air here in the oz. Oh yes it is still winter, but I can feel and smell what’s coming.

  3. We had a small dose of a wet season the other day, usually no rain up here till Christmas…not much of winter in Darwin…But I digress, Davein answer to your question, the only time I felt that I was not free was when I was living in the big smoke, shooting for a national daily paper…the pinnacle of my profession..I reached that goal, ticked that box, but it ended up meaningless to me because of the emotional cost of shooting international news…Today I was thinking about an encounter I had 20 years ago at a roadhouse in the Gulf Country where I was pumping petrol and pouring beers , scraping enough money together to get another 1000k’s down the track, I struck up a conversation with this older guy who was traveling with his mates up to fish the Gulf of Carpentaria..I told him about my life , which revolved around the 3 F’s…Film,Food and Fuel traveling the country laying frames, sleeping in the car, the whole on the road saga…He looked at me with sadness, told me that I was the luckiest bloke he had ever met and that I should remember to somehow keep a handle on what it was like now because it will help me when I reach his age…I have always kept that mans eyes close , I saw regret and sadness there and I never wanted that in my future so I worked hard to create the life I lead now… I am still doing the same things now as I was 20 years ago and somehow that has turned into a career.

  4. The folks from OntarioStreams are coming this morning to do a little electro-fishing of the creek. They’ve been working hard the past few years to regenerate the 100 years extinct Atlantic Salmon population on the upper Humber River system, and as I think I’ve already caught two of the parr, I’ll damn well be there to photograph it. Coalescing backyard, documentary, nature and personal-interest photography all-in-one.

    Fingers crossed!

  5. These moments when the air in your chest is something else and you feel free, really free, for a day, or a couple of hours are really rare these days. Job, family etc…

    Yet, they happen, and the beginning of the end of summer is usually a good time for them.

  6. David, you and I, and anyone who has managed to make a living doing what we love have charmed lives.

    This past year has been one of reflection for me as well, sparked by the reality of turning 65, (an official senior citizen) In the past year I’ve spent more time looking back at my archive of personal photographs. At the same time, like you, I photograph constantly, far more than I ever have. Yes, they just fall out of the sky, you just have to catch them, little gifts from the universe. I believe my work is better now than ever. As far as my passion for photographs, and for life in general, I am just as passionate now as I was in my twenties

    Mike R..about personal work being a sanctuary, yes, no need to share, I did that for most of my life. In the past few years I’ve been sharing my personal work on facebook, both photos of my daily life, and older “scan-O-the day” arhives. Sharing has been rewarding, but it does change how you photograph for better or worse. The audience is always in the back of your head.

    And David, like Mike, I will send you some photos one of these days.

  7. How do I? No longer a photographer. I hate the camera now. I loathe it. My guts change inside when I pick ‘it’ up. Become blind-can’t see. Slam it to the ground and stomp it. Not a man nor woman. It, and I mean an ‘it’ it is. Like that girl and her cello. I just can’t handle it.

  8. Photography is my mindfulness meditation. It forces me to experience life in the now. I can’t photograph the past or the future, so it sets me free to be present. Don’t much care about photos – they are just empty pointers to memories better remembered than objectified. But the act of photographing…yeah, that sets me free.

  9. AKAKY: What is this free that he’s talking about?

    AKAKY_IRL: Trust me, you don’t want to know.

    AKAKY: Why?

    AKAKY_IRL: Because discontent is an ugly emotion and I don’t want to have to beat it out of you. You eat, you sleep, you work. Sometimes you take pictures. That’s your life. Don’t worry about that free stuff. It’ll only upset your stomach.

    AKAKY: You’re sure about that?

    AKAKY_IRL: Absolutely positive. Just let it go, dude; you’ll be happier that way.

  10. Whenever I take a camera (doesn’t matter which one) and embark on a trip, be it for a day or for a month, I feel free. Free of obligations, free of the ‘responsibility’ you mentioned. My only responsibility is to leave enough space for serendipity to happen.

  11. Nature. Animals. My new puppy. A silent mind. As Jim says…no past, no future. Only the now. A walk on a dirt road with my camera. With no thoughts. No noise in my head. This is what sheds the anchor. Unlocks the handcuffs.
    Now, if I could only sustain that for eternity.

  12. David,
    As a young aspiring professional photographer who hasn’t given up at my nearly 34 years of age, I am trying harder now more than ever to make that a reality. Such as that is, at this time that pursuit tends to be my greatest source of stress and one might call it being an adult. To set myself free, I occasionally go for walks or slowly page through books of photographers who came before. Sometimes I marathon watch star trek. However in the past two weeks, I’ve been working on a car. Prior to knowing that the only thing I want to be is a photographer and prior to college, I was a car enthusiast, a gear-head and a backyard grease monkey… So lately, working on this car has been a way to regress back into less stressful times what all I cared about was making a car faster or better built…

    In my downtime from that, I go back to looking up ways to start my career… both can be fun.

  13. Not give a shit about what the rest of the world thinks or does. remain true to your own beliefs and convictions. and.. knwledge knowledge knowledge.

  14. Wish I could set myself free. Can’t. Shy. Don’t mix well. Love looking though.

    Could never take that photo of a girl teasing with her hand in her pants, even if she were 50 years my junior. Not sure why you do either, though your focus is often on the nubile. As is our world’s focus. She’s a wild one. That guy’s just in the frame as a device, the gaze is on the girl. She apparently enjoys playing along. We all like that funny feeling in our pants.

    Most can’t set themselves free. You’re lucky, you’ve make your luck, ok. Wonder if there will ever be another cohort like yours, the male Magnum & NatGeo photogs with the hats and scarves. Yes, women are a part but not much; yes women are more and more and more part of the photographic world, some of the most talented image makers out there, with their gift for communication and compassion and color. For sure.

    But I digress. Bottom line: I like Burn, for the most part. Like your pictures, your talent, your inclusiveness, your generosity. Mostly like your drive and enthusiasm. In that sense, you ARE lucky, not everyone can summon the energy to do what you do.

    Keep going.

  15. The camera, David. It both frees and binds me, equally and at the same time. Like you, it has kept me younger than so many others I see of my own age, even as it and the lifestyle it has compelled me to live has been pretty destructive to my health at times.

    And you are always a good inspiration.

    And yes, I too feel winter in the air, and have already felt the snowflakes melt against my face, and looked down through an airplane window to see tundra that blistered in 80 degree heat just two weeks before completely blanketed in new white.

    But today, here in Wasilla, the sun has punched its way through what seemed interminable rain and I am going to the Alaska State Fair with two of my grandsons. I will live-blog the experience via my iPhone with Instagram as an intermediary. I doubt many people will care about a grandpa taking snaps of his grandsons, but it will be fun, it will free me, invigorate me and keep me young even as it wears me out and forces me to recognize what the decades are doing to me.

    I think I will see if I can get a short nap in, first.

  16. I set myself free 40 years ago when I borrowed my dad’s Canonflex and fled to Cape Hatteras via microbus, escaping mainstream urban life.

    Nowadays I set my self free when I lock the door of my studio and wander about, with or without a camera.

  17. I’m generally pretty much “free” by nature. My number 1 mantra in life is to do my very best to create a fiesta wherever I go. At the age of 8 I had an extremely close brush with death, it irremediably changed my whole outlook on life. Makes you live life everyday to the hilt, those close to me are usually worn out with incessant dance with life. Photography is my passion, a compulsion and a necessity which is just like a fix. However, I soon realized whilst studying at college I wanted to do my own stuff. I’m just too much of a rebel to keep to clients vision and ideas, I wanted and still want this freedom to shoot to my own ideas when and how I want to. Although I must admit, it had been nagging me for a little while. You know 4 years at college studying photography and refusing to do it professionally is a little weird or at least that’s what my wife and friends kept on telling me. But having a quick chat with Koudelka in Paris quickly cured that guilt trip and he sort of helped me see I’m not the only one who has this conflict and it’s OK. So I have a brilliant day job, totally removed from photography. I don’t earn a fortune, but I do have a brilliant boss who gives me lots of leeway and I work with great people. It’s fine with me doing this 8 hour job, because once I get out I’m back to being the Paul you all know on Burn.
    But don’t get me wrong I do want to create something big photography wise, with all my authorship, my voice, my freedom, my book and I know very well I won’t rest until I do make this…

  18. remembering and forgetting at the same time, that’s freedom. Time is what you make it. I am a photographer but only because of my obesession with the mystery of time and it’s existence or non-existence. When you are 12, time takes too long. When you are 80, it hasn’t been long enough.

  19. I think I never been as free as I am now, working on my stuff , art and love…. maybe I think really time is what set me free, having real time to think and love I know it sounds a little “cliche” and I used to be more structured (work, have money, live), but just maybe I have never experience “time” before in my life, and it feels great!

  20. Getting just a little scared worked for me. I love climbing, and reading a landscape or a piece of rock makes you very connected with the purity of nature and usefully observant as a photographer. Plus there is nothing like the feeling of success when you overcome a fear and as David says almost immediately move on to the next challenge. With a young family and annoyingly pervasive day job here in Japan I have not managed to get out climbing in years. Really miss it and the myriad positive effects it has on my mind and body.

  21. @ BOY ON A BIKE:

    “Biking is about rhythm and flow. It’s the wind in you face and the challenge of hammering up along hill. It’s the reward at the top and the thrill of a high-speed descent. Biking lets you come alive in both body and spirit. After awhile the bike disappears beneath you and you feel as if you’re suspended in midair. ”

    ― Gary Klein

    I will answer the FREE question in a couple of hours…

  22. “He goes home for a holiday” I think that’s the key to life in general. If you can be happy in your own place then life is always going to be good…..

    As for freedom? The camera has opened up opportunities to meet a lot of people and have experiences that wouldn’t have happened without the “excuse” of going to take some pics.

    But the way I have begun to live over the last 18-months has freed me in a way I couldn’t have thought. My partner and I have chosen to be as self sufficient in food as possible and try to hunt/farm/grow as much of our own food as possible. Swap like for like (food etc), and in a small way; break away from the system.

    Accompany that with photographing projects (mostly local) and doing enough articles to pay the way and it is slowly developing into a more free way of living… It has also allowed us to meet a huge number of diverse people. Pity it has taken me 50-years to get there!

  23. Oh; and the other revelation has been shooting with a little camera (V1) for nearly everything. It has rejuvenated my way of shooting and seeing and has also been part of the freeing up process…. :-)

  24. there are some poignant answers here….for some of you the act of shooting itself is therapeutic, and for others the physical object is the thing, and for others communicating gives pleasure…all good and well whatever works works.

    and for sure this topic is probably the thing most of us think about most of the time….that is AFTER we pay the rent, get the kids off to school, manage to get to class on time, get our income taxes done, paint the bathroom, get the dog to the vet, deal with illness and death,iron a clean shirt,change our schedules to get to Sally’s wedding,go through interminable security lines,and listen for hours to a friend in need…all stuff that must happen, and takes up most of our real time….

    carving out time for what one needs for the heart and soul is a full time job all by itself…very few, if any, on the planet get up in the morning and get their brushes all lined up and go straight to the easel and paint a masterwork in a nirvana atmosphere of creativity where the phone does not ring…we all have to bust it just to get from point A to point B without backing into the neighbors mailbox or the worst nightmare of all, losing our mobile phone!! ha ha

    no way around the mundane, the must do’s, and shit i am late …

    the sweet smell of photography does however allow us to take a picture smack in the middle of all of this…my last three photos published here on Burn and the social media were taken while (a) at the gas station waiting for the car to fill of girl w braids (b) stuck in gridlock on the of fireworks store (c) standing in line to pay my restaurant old man and moon..

    if you see the pictures you might think i was out somehow just wandering around looking for pictures ..sure that does happen , yet not hardly…

    nope…all i talk about is mostly a state of mind….as i have said before , if you think you are lucky then you are lucky…and the converse, if you think it won’t happen it for sure 100% will not…

    so put your bait on the hook….find a deep pool where the fish most likely are….and live for the nice surprises rather than fret over false expectations…

    you might catch a really big fish….

  25. Catching a very small fish might be good enough, too:

    We collected 4 Atlantic Salmon parr yesterday along a 50 metre (160ft.) run of the creek. The biologists were ecstatic, as it’s proof of future sustainability of the the species on the river system. Now it’s just a case of waiting for the Atlantics to mature on the creek over the next two years, swim down to Lake Ontario, and then come back to the creek to spawn.

    In a way, I look upon the life of the creek as an apt metaphor for what this dialogue. It was 15 years of rehabilitation – removing deserted beaver dams, taking out humongous deadfall and general cleanup to convert the boggy, silt-infested stream into a cold water, fast-flowing, gravelly environment for healthy invertebrates, plant life and fish species. The conservation authorities took notice when the brown trout returned to spawn in concentrations that exceeded those of the main river, which led to tree plantings, more surveying and selective structure construction. Turning the land surrounding the creek into an “Area of Natural Scientific Interest” (ANSCI) brought in financing and enthusiastic landowner participation.

    It was a series of little steps patiently made – the fry planting and egg-placement strategies failed for six years – and a persistence on the scientists’ part that I found remarkable. Just like photography for me, it’s the expected outcome of failure that makes for a stubborn belief in future success. A slow build on the past, a gathering and understanding of technique, lots of advice from the knowledgeable experts.

    When you can see the resultant effort at the bottom of a bucket, the deep pool is not much further ahead…

  26. What a difficult question! I work everyday in an office, doing what seems an interesting job; but not for me… When I spend my holiday time traveling to somewhere, visiting new places, meeting people, taking pictures, etc, maybe it´s then when I feel nice, I feel I can do what I want,… In some of this moments were when I really fell good… Of course see my family and friends being well is very very important, but being a little selfish, travel moments are freedom moments for me… It´s a pitty I can only enjoy this moments during my holidays (few days a year), but that´s it. Maybe these moments remember me moments when I was a child and I watched films and read books about remote places…
    And wind… when I feel it hitting my face…great feeling!

  27. Thank you David. I have found in my years of fishing, it is often wise to have the help of a local guide to learn what baits to use and what techniques work best to make the catch. Skype?

  28. It sure is a mental state/thing…I don’t know what isn’t mental actually.
    Knowing freedom, Knowing the feeling of being free it’s all it takes for me.
    Of course freedom means different things to different people and that is perfectly fine.
    But because I know how it feels to be free all I need is that recollection to get me there when the daily grind hits me.
    Focus is also liberating. Doing one thing and one thing only with focus sets me free. It does not have to last and eternity….its usually brief like all good things and bad things…which is why I love photography.
    Remembering that nothing last forever is also a BIG help and liberating.
    Life weighting me down does not last forever! it passes….

  29. getting free for me, is getting to a state of everything and nothing. as if i had just entered the world for the first time. i have it down that i’ll get to attend one of your workshops within a year….just so you know. honoring one’s word = power and power = freedom. great conversation, always love it.

  30. About “freedom”:

    I was trapped at University with physics, and slowly the degree did not suit me anymore… it was not “food” for my soul, hence, after some “dark” months of wandering around, I’ve started with photography (in the amateur way).

    Photography set me FREE in one way. After that, I really found a passion for pictures, I want to follow that path (later I’ve realized that is a rough one…) but never mind, I’ve followed the way.

    The fact is following that road, I become addicted, hence, too much freedom was transformed in the opposite… in a completely dependency… I was (I’m still) hungry to take pictures, I need to developed them quickly, I need to see exhibitions, to look at web pages daily and learn about photographers, about essays and features they’ve done, etc, etc. in a word: Picture-addicted. As photography tends to infinitude, is harder and harder to become free…

    I’ve remembered an awesome book of Raymond Depardon, ‘ERRANCE’ in French.
    He speak about that feeling. He speak about being in the present time, enjoying THE moment, being “soul” FREE. I really recommended that short book.

    L’errance n’est ni le voyage ni la promenade mais cette expérience du monde qui renvoie à une question essentielle : qu’est-ce que je fais là ? Pourquoi ici plutôt qu’ailleurs ? Comment vivre le plus longtemps possible dans le présent, c’est-à-dire être heureux ? Comment se regarder, s’accepter ? Qu’est-ce que je suis, qu’est-ce que je vaux, quel est mon regard ?

    Thanks David to post this story. Burn set me free in a marvelous way…

    Have a nice week everyone. P.
    PS: Someone heading to VISA 2013 on early September?? I will be there, with my burn T-shirt :-D

  31. great editorial David, thank you. i always enjoy your writing.
    ‘bicycle dreams’ very nice.

    for me, it’s a state of mind.

    i’ve always been a day-dreamer… (for better & worse) and i’ve followed my dreams, my heart, my passion… (even when those close to me have thought i must be a bit mad to do so).
    fear is the enemy of freedom… yeah!

  32. Seems like summer maybe on it’s last legs round here. Came back from what will probably be our last summer party just in time before at 2am a massive storm began which is still rightly now raging away.

  33. Feeling a little contrarian this morning, I’ll say that freedom is illusory on several levels and the illusion is ephemeral. The mindfulness, the being entirely present in the moment that jim mentions, is likely the closest approximation any of us are likely to achieve in this life. That’s not to say we shouldn’t choose and use our illusions wisely, but they are illusions nonetheless.

    On the ephemeral nature of our illusions of freedom, my hard realization of that sad fact came over the last nearly two years since I broke an obscure little bone in my foot (the sesamoid). I have always been an obsessive walker and when I could no longer walk far, for long, or now comfortably, it felt worse as a loss of freedom than from actual physical pain. Fortunately, I’ve been able to regain some of that freedom through bicycling and very judicious use of pain pills, but the lesson remains. All it takes is some kind of weird accident (I didn’t do anything to break my foot, it was one step like any other) and our freedom is gone in a heartbeat.

    Regarding our illusions on some of those other levels, what people like us refer to as freedom is often founded on obscene assertions of privilege that accrue from when, where, and/or to whom we were born. Too often, these freedoms rest on the oppression and servitude of many millions. In many ways, they prove devastating to not only the lives of millions, but to the planet as well, ensuring even more suffering for generations young and unborn.

    Just consider, for example, all the ramifications of a photographer flying halfway across the world to photograph prostitutes in Iquitos. The free time and expense require an economic privilege that relatively few in the world possess. Much of the required gadgetry both required and produced toxic pollution and was manufactured by terribly exploited labor. Most of the prostitutes are brutally exploited both physically and economically and many are virtually enslaved. The carbon footprint for all that air travel is excessive and cumulatively causing the planet to overheat, the oceans to rise, and millions to suffer. If we look to close, we’re likely to find that in cases like these, the freedoms of privileged western photographers are paid for with the freedoms of too many others to justify the product.

    Of course if any one of us were to renounce our worldly accoutrements to live simply and harmoniously with nature, the gadgets would still be produced, the planes would still fly and the prostitutes would still prostitute. And that’s not really much of an option anyway, is it?

    Realistically, we cannot live without modern technology — our phones, cameras, planes, trains, and automobiles. And if that is true, then realistically: we are not free.

  34. Mr Doomsday is back peddling his worldly remedies………. but then again it may be another ” I was half joking” comment

  35. Summer 13 has been extremely gratifying photographically. I am also seeing photos all round me. I’ve had one very quick dry spell which lasted 48 hours. Then I just realised I was trying to hard so I let go.

  36. Oh, I’m always half joking, at the very least. The misunderstanding, I think, is that some people seem to think that jokes are necessarily flippant or harmless. Curious though what “worldly remedies” you find in the above? I thought it was pretty much all doom, doom, we’re all doomed, doomed I tell ya.

  37. While swimming my laps yesterday morning, I reflected on the fact that I wasn’t having fun anymore with my photography. It had become work with all this book business, and all too often, frustrating work at that. I realized I had to do something to re-find my joy, to regain my excitement about photography, to do it just for fun like in the old days.

    I started thinking about my photog sister Lindsay’s 13 year old son Milo, who on Saturday night, had taught me how to use my iPhone to take pictures. I’d been using it for everything else but had still been wedded to my big old 7D. Milo also encouraged me to start using Instagram. Well, I’d been avoiding social media for a long time, but during yesterday’s swim I realized Instagram was exactly what I needed to get off my duff and back to shooting every day.

    So, the minute I got out of the water, I picked up my iPhone and started shooting what I was around me. Then I got dressed and went around our community park taking pics of whatever caught my eye. It wasn’t long before my batteries were down to 10% but I was having 100% fun!!!

    So now I’m on Instagram which Lindsay warns me is a slippery slope. I already discovered that last night when I woke up at 2:30 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. Three hours later – after posting several new and revised photos on Instagram and exploring terrific sites like Lindsay’s (lindsaymorrisphotography) and DAH’s (davidalanharvey) – I finally went back to bed.

    Now I’m thinking about what I’m going to shoot today. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that in my mind when I woke up in the morning! And I have dear Milo to thank for catapulting me into the 21st century and restoring my joy.

    So come visit me on Instagram. I’d love to follow you!

    username: patricialaydorsey

    Sent from my iPhone

  38. David…

    I bet one of the reasons you never lost sight of your summer dreams and managed to stay free was keeping to that Bob Gilka quote you a mentioned a couple times round here and on the old RoadTrips blog. …
    “Life is like a bottle of wine..there is only so much…do not pour any of it on the ground”

  39. Mike, you have convinced me. I am not going to fly half-way around the world to photograph prostitutes in Iquitoes! I’m sorry about your injury and the loss of freedom it has inflicted upon you.

    Patricia, I will take a look. Funny. I got on Instagram as I was spending too much time blogging the old fashioned way and I wanted to save time and this seemed like the tool to do it. It worked and I did save time – for a brief moment. But I’m hooked. Yes, Imants, Instagram is my latest addiction. But damn, is it fun! Liberating and captivating, all at once.

    Fortunately, later this week I will leave to do a shoot that will take me offline for a period of time.

  40. Patricia; “but during yesterday’s swim I realized Instagram was exactly what I needed to get off my duff and back to shooting every day”

    Buying the little V1 did the same for me; precisely because it was so light, responsive and handy that I was using it nearly every day. By using it every day I recharged my shooting.

    Oh; and congratulations on your book! Great stuff…. :-)

  41. But I’m hooked. Yes, Imants, Instagram is my latest addiction. But damn, is it fun! Liberating and captivating, all at once………….and eventually one cannot see the forest for the trees.

    The diluted image ……………

  42. “…and eventually one cannot see the forest for the trees.

    The diluted image ……………”

    Imants, I am certain that for one, your words will be true. Yet, another may see that forest in new wqys, observe details he had previously been unaware of… a spider perhaps, eating a fly in a web spun up in the high branches of a tall tree.

    This one might climb up that tree to get a better look at that spider, reach it, and then, from this high perch, look out through a gap in the high branches and see the whole forest as he never seen it before.

  43. Gustavo Aragon Garcia

    David i love de way you write with the keiboard and the way you write with the light

  44. Thank you, Frostfrog, for saying what I am feeling but could never have found the words to say. I have had more fun with photography in these past two days than I have had in the past two years. I had gotten so caught up with working on projects, that I had forgotten about the wonder of simply seeing and clicking. There is something so freeing about removing all expectations, relevance and desire for recognition. To me, Instagram is all about photography for photography’s sake.

    And I am loving connecting with both new and old friends here on Burn. I’ve missed you folks! Thanks for welcoming me home.


  45. ……..sterner stuff like Mr Face Book where albums will allow users to create a gallery that can be used by as many as 5000 friends, each of whom can upload up to 20000 photos in a single day

  46. Yes, Patricia. You are welcome and I agree. I just got home from taking my wife to the fair and it was so much fun to post the experience live as it happened, and then quickly repost to my blog. And yes, because I am using a very limited tool, it causes me to look at things differently. I’ve been very busy all day and still haven’t made it to your feed, but I will start following you before I go to bed…

    …Imants… sometimes it is good to lighten up for a minute or two… I know you are a talented and very serious photographer/image maker, but give it a try sometime… it just might give you a new sense of freedom… for a minute or two…


    yes, i agree…the sheer fun of photography is definitely an Instagram thing…did not know you were on it, will take a look and follow…


    you amigo are ON Instagram!!

    why is photography on Instagram necessarily “nothing special”? sure, might not be , but might be as well..

    after all it is just a platform…yet in your pocket and easy to see at all times…does not preclude anything else done with the same or other images…i have a few pictures that were on Instagram that are also limited edition collector prints on a museum wall right this minute….so what’s the prob?

    if people feel good about shooting and sharing then why not? could be art or could be new baby or could be what if there is a lot of junk out there on Instagram? one quickly learns to pick and choose or who or why to follow.. i would call that freedom!

    moreover i PROMISE a good book to come out of BurnDiary….no bullshit…a book built before your eyes in real time…

    hey my trees and shrubs are growing like hell after your fertilizing advice….come visit and you will see what i mean….and well there are a lot of trees “out there” yet some are more special than others…we choose the ones to make special..right?

    cheers david

  48. I never stated that I was anti instagram that it was a non platform Yep photography is heading towards a better space “nothing special” just another form of communication and now it can be a language of the masses no longer the realm of the few. No more bringing in strangers for family portraits, it is now a daily occurrence along with instant oats. Historic essays are created at a drop of a hat, weddings parties are augmented realities, just another day.

  49. Hey Imants,

    Care to share that fertilizing advise??!?!
    I need it….which reminds me….gardening and been outdoors is another way to feel free

  50. How do YOU set yourself free?


    but…one of the myriad problems you realize just a week later, is that you’re in a bigger “jail” than a week before. therefore that “trick” aint really working that well .:(

  51. marcin luczkowski

    now fall is coming, I am waiting for your new photos form home David. Full of energy, emotions of people and nature. However it’s sounds; I hope you stay in home. I like the boy’s on a bike pictures and texts.
    How do I set myself free? well I’ll give you an answer when I find it :D

  52. Everyone loves Instagram…I really should get myself a cellphone and see if it works for me…I wonder if anyone makes a cellphone that can only make outgoing calls. Seems to me that there’d be a big demand for something like that.

  53. IMANTS

    English is one of the common languages….everyone speaks a language..yet how many poets, playwrights, novelists are there? no such thing for “flat line” with a language or any human endeavor imo…some will rise above….human nature…a common language only means some uncommon spikes will occur…the flip side of course when there were few photographers, so many were merely technicians….so we gain we lose we move forward…

  54. How do I set myself free? By choosing not to live in America. I left for Bucharest, Romania where people appreciate culture, good food and aesthetics unlike in America. In the US, I always fall into a deep depression. In Europe, I get to live a romantic life! Here I feel free, outside of the American imperial bubble and the lie that is the “American dream”. The US controls the world through continued mass killing. I’ll never understand how America is called the “greatest country in the world” and the “the last superpower”. There’s no free healthcare! I am unclear on what you get from living in the US?! Bad food and obese people?


    freedom from preconceived ideas…freedom from cumbersome gear….lots of types of freedom…..we refer to a bird in flight as “free” is not necessarily “from” something….having freedom does not mean you just got out of prison…

  56. tractor divers are the Kolkhoz photography fraternity that dives under the old photographic regime a bit like the save the forest mob.

  57. Take Shakespeare out of the education system and he no longer rises to the top………… Then again many are happy with the poet, playwright, novelist that resides within themselves even if it has no great value or useful to others.

  58. Carlo it is all quite simple, one sees a tree, shrub flower etc and want to fertilise/water what they see.
    What needs the goodness and nourishment in the root system near the drip lineslow release trace elements are best in suburban gardens. Sandy soil needs a fair amount unless they are native to the particular area, heavy clay/compressed soils usually suffer from water-logging so good free drainage is needed.

  59. David, I agree. You won’t find any argument from me, now or in the past, stated or implied, on that statement…

    Although I was in prison once for two days… in Juarez…not jail…prison… when everything got cleared up and I got out, the feeling of freedom sure was wonderful. It meant something a little different than it had meant three days before.

    And that was after just two days…

  60. Imants,
    Thanks for illustration!
    Awesome…I will have to try it.
    Having some trouble with recently planted fruit trees.
    My soil is sandy….
    I think they are bouncing back.
    I started using worm castings.

  61. Or, Akaky, if you don’t need a cellphone, a mini jukebox, a portable game console, or a pocketable computer; if you are only interested in making photographs, you could get a camera that is only a camera. A camera that is only a camera does everything a cell phone camera does, but it is made specifically for the task of making photographs. It’s like if you only need a knife for filleting fish. A Swiss Army knife may have a tool for that, but you would do better with a Rapala knife.

    But for those of us who need a phone and like having a computer handy, it’s nice that they come with decent cameras as well.

    As for Instagram, I am judgmental about a lot of things, but that is not one of them. It seems like one of the more harmless forms of entertainment. If people like it, that’s great. Doesn’t seem to be for me though. Last night I biked down to Manhattan Beach for sunset, something I do fairly regularly. I rarely take pictures there, but since I have a new camera, I found myself doing a few experiments. Then I remembered I have a phone camera and thought I’d take a pic for Instagram. So I took one, then spent a little time processing it, then uploaded it, and by that time it was almost dark. I’d missed the sunset. I have a picture of it, but it’s not the same thing as experiencing it. Not by a long shot.

    As for the idea that more people are taking pictures now, I doubt it’s that many more. At least where I’m from, I think every single person I ever knew had some kind of camera, usually a Kodak Instamatic or Polaroid or the like, and they took pictures of special events such as birthday parties or vacations. What’s changed, I think, with digital is that now everyone can process and publish their own photos. I find it interesting that given so much power, they mostly choose to process them to look like they were taken with Kodak Instamatics or Polaroids. The limited cameras back then, and Instagram-like filters now, have a democratizing effect. They make just about everyone equal as a photographer. A good camera, of course, will not make anyone a good photographer. But a limited camera will make anyone a limited photographer. Sure, a few Walker Evans types will do significantly better than the mean within those limits, but that’s not the point of the exercise. The point of the exercise, for the great majority, is to have fun and produce mementos. I see nothing wrong with that. Seems a good thing actually. Certainly better than shooting with guns, to name just one alternative.

  62. MW…

    Why do you do so many experiments with cameras? Surely if you got down and just shot 200 images of street life, you’d get the same results plus maybe a couple of keepers.

  63. Paul, because I am a storytelling photographer not a street photographer. That, and most people don’t like being photographed when they’re just walking around minding their own business. I count myself among them and I really don’t like bothering people for no good reason. Generally speaking, it has to be important to some story.

    Think of it like boxing. To train for big events, I spend a lot of time in the gym skipping rope and punching bags. I don’t train by going out and picking fights with strangers.

    Others have different approaches and that’s fine. Be true to yourself. Of course there’s a delicate balance between being true to oneself and pushing to overcome one’s natural inhibitions, but at some point I think it’s best we come to terms with who we are and run with it. I’m at that point. And as you’ve seen, I can photograph people in the street when the need arises.

    Ross, you have a life most of us can only envy and gun culture-wise it sounds like the bygone days of my youth. Here in the U.S. these days, gun culture is something else. That, and all the real hunters use bows these days, or so I’m told.

  64. Circling back to the theme of freedom and photography. As far as taking photos, almost all of the enjoyment I get from it comes from the practice. I typically don’t enjoy the act of photographing during project work. Sometimes it’s due to job related pressure. Sometimes the project calls for photographing people who don’t want to be photographed. Sometimes the story involves some kind of existential nastiness. Photographing people who had lost so much after Hurricane Sandy is one example. I genuinely hated that. My Bunker Mentality project is another. I felt physically ill during most of those shoots. Going to the park or botanical garden and practicing strobe techniques on the flowers and trees, on the other hand, is infinitely enjoyable. Like Jim Powers, it works as mindful type meditation.

    The enjoyment from telling stories is more likely to come in the preparation, processing, editing, publishing, and feedback. The preparation requires a lot of thought and analysis and often practice to ascertain and master the look I choose for the project. The processing further refines the look. The editing is the best part, actually putting the story together in a way that (hopefully) works. Publication and feedback provide their own rewards, or at least valuable education. But a lot of the process is more work than enjoyment. It’s more of a need than a pastime.

    Perhaps some that is similar to what Patricia is talking about with the Instagram fun as I know she grapples with discomforting stories as well. That’s one of the great things about photography. We can make serious work of it and still enjoy it as a pastime. People in most professions much prefer to pass their spare time doing other things.

  65. “That’s one of the great things about photography. We can make serious work of it and still enjoy it as a pastime. People in most professions much prefer to pass their spare time doing other things.”

    mw..yes, I’ve made my living for more than 40 years making photographs, but I’m still a keen amateur in my spare time.

  66. Hey Paul….I do not mean to take your place ;-)
    I come across good quotes from time to time too.
    I post them when I sense an affinity with a topic:

    To say a photographer has a vision is to say the photographer has something unique to say to about the world. Why do some photographers have something unique to say, when so many others just shoot pictures that are general and lacking vision? Most people would say it has to do with talent. Maybe. But maybe not. Maybe it has nothing to do with talent. Maybe it has to do with the ability to express one’s feelings. The person who presents a strong vision has figured out a way to express his or her feelings, while others are struggling to do that. Talent, then, becomes not so much artistic talent, though that may be a good part of it, but rather emotional talent.

    Rodney Smith

  67. Carlo…

    Keep on posting quotes :-)
    Here’s one I discovered the other day…
    “I write to discover what I know.”
    -Flannery O’Connor

  68. “please be horrible!
    tear down your photography into pieces.
    don’t bother about glamour,
    destroy the surface,
    take care of your innocence,
    your fantasy is more important than reality

    remember, your pictures are jumping like rabbits into your
    camera when you understand
    photography is not about photography”

    Anders Petersen

  69. MW…

    I will shoot anything but tests. That’s why I asked David if he had finally done the S2 test against the Mamiya print. I only suggested street photography as an example it could be anything but tests. :-)

  70. “tractor divers are the Kolkhoz photography fraternity that dives under the old photographic regime a bit like the save the forest mob.”

    Really? How quotidian. I imagined that they’d be the harvesters of kelp forests, pushing their John Deeres to the outermost edge of the performance envelope while keeping a sharp eye out for great whites, orcas, and, most terrifying of all, environmentalists.

  71. Ricardo Vasconcelos


    Some years ago, it was photography that could indeed set me free, still is, dont get me wrong (!), the thing is that when it becomes a routine, you need to have something to set you free and rest you mind for some hours. i found my guitars and music gear in my old (childwood) house, now its on my house and thats it, i play guitar, i download some tabs and play untill my fingers and nails hurts. Thats really what sets me free. Takes me to my childwood, to my rock dreams, no better place to be on your mind and soul.

    Thats my “thing”!


  72. MW “you have a life most of us can only envy”

    I’ve been surprised how many have said that to me over the last 18-months to 2-years. However most don’t really mean it. Well if they do they don’t really want to commit to it (or even take steps to begin it). Usually it’s just lip-service because they aren’t prepared to give up the luxuries and lifestyle they have become accustomed to.

    The worst culprits (again from personal observation) are those who spend their time preaching from the sustainability “gospel” but their actions don’t really match their words…. This is not a dig at you; just an observation in general :-)

    Anyway; I reckon freedom is more a state of mind than anything else….

  73. Freedom.

    The camera provides too many decisions for me. So freedom for me is found in recreation or lost in laughter.

    I am very lucky too! I have exercised this often. I have been able to enjoy unique feeling of freedom with a team of Alaskan Huskies pulling my sled through beautiful and wild winter weather. Certainly on one of the most beautiful trails I have ever seen. I imagine this is freedom for them as well. To be what they were intended to be.

    I love reading these answers. All very interesting.

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