It has been a long time since I have written here. I have been shooting and teaching and teaching and shooting like crazy. Oaxaca, Rio, and now Dubai. Like a madman. Yet all of it my passion , all of it fun, and all of it just what I DO. Yet of course I just run out of time. Can’t do it all. Want to. Just can’t.

The above picture from Dubai is my most recent, shot a few days ago just before I left Dubai. Not a  likely place for me to shoot, or so I thought before I went there last year. Something bit. I came back again. There was a fascination for me in a new age city where the people of the land went from the poorest on the planet to the richest. Overnight. Allah Akbar. Hence the title of my upcoming magazine : Up from the Sands.

Those of you who know me know that I love books the most as the ultimate resting place for fine work. Books are where I want my work to be. Books are my nourishment from colleagues, those I admire, my students,  and those who are unknown to me., I simply love fine work regardless of source. Sure I want you to be interested in BurnBooks. You have acquired all that we have offered so far. Thank you. Yet for sure I will promote any day the fine work of great publishers like Steidl , Aperture, Phaidon, Trolley, Taschen, etc etc. and anyone else who makes a great book.

I am a Magnum photographer and I will promote Magnum anytime. My company. I will also interview for Burn fine photographers from VII and from Noor and from any other agency where I see fine fork. Why would I promo the competition?

I will tell you why. There just are not that many good ones out there. I will assemble any time all the great producers of any kind. We need each other. To keep the level high. Buy a Taschen book today, buy a Phaidon book tomorrow and get a BurnBook while you are at it. Competing? Sure. Only keeps the level high.

I will be introducing in a couple of weeks Michael Loyd Young’s new book:  Beer, Bait & Ammo. Our latest BurnBooks offering. A work of art, a work from the heart. Mike flipped his life around. A former student, Mike turned his camera on his own world, something I implore all of my students to do.

We will be announcing  soonest our upcoming lineup of books , and zines. Some mine. Mostly others.

It was Kelly Lynn James  who has always been fully credited by me for the name BURN. Thanks Kelly.

So as we did for the title Burn , I am throwing this one out there for you to help choose (no money in this for you)

I wrote above that the title for my upcoming zine on Dubai was gonna be Up from the Sands. Yet I have also thought simply:  Sand …what you think?

(a) Up From the Sands

(b) Sand

(c) your best title…



39 thoughts on “Up from the Sands”

  1. up from the sands is a very good title. enticing and gets right to the premise. a good and accurate theme to focus on.

  2. David, sad to see you’ve left Dubai already. Going to see Olivia Arthur tomorrow at GPP and was kind of hoping to see you there …
    I’d loose the “s” at the end – Up from the Sand; Probably because it gives a single, monolithic presence to the desert. When you live here, for most of us expats and probably for more and more of the younger generations of locals, the sand is everything outside of our normal lives, it’s the ever encroaching Thing just beyond the border of the city.

    It’s hard to give another title without seeing the work – but along the same general idea would be “between sand and glass”.

    Cheers, and hope to see you soon – GPP 2015?

  3. David, I strongly second Paul A.’s suggestion above… drop the ‘s’ and make it just ‘Up from the Sand.’ It is stronger, cleaner, more modern, like the difference between sans serif Helvetica type versus older serif fonts with little hooks and arabesques. ‘Up from the Sands’ has on the one hand a vaguely antiquarian, 19th century romantic or 1920s Hollywood feel to it, and on the other could be confused with the ‘The Sands’ hotel in Las Vegas.
    Good Luck!

  4. I don’t knew what photos or contain are you talking so think about a title is difficult. But based in what you put in the table I think the better is Sands. I think plural is simple and goes behind. Is more mysteriously and recall the infinite. Lot of possibilities. Something unexpected. That is my humble opinion. Saludos

  5. David,
    yes, but the title is chosen by people who’ve seen (made) the movie or book. I’d feel short changed if “Up from the Sand(s)” was only portraits of modern residents of Dubai, because to me it evokes a sense of history, or at least of change in time, of growth. I’d expect it to touch on architecture, on images that juxtapose past/present, nationals/expats, sand/asphalt …

    I completely agree with your thought that titles shouldn’t as a rule be too literal (“Burning Atlanta” is worse than “Gone with the Wind”, right?) but still there should be a connection to what you feel.
    I guess that’s what I was trying to say about seeing the pictures first …

  6. Richard Sharum

    Congrats on the great experience in Dubai. Because of the obvious contrast between the old and the new Dubai, and the confusion of which is more likely to define it in the future, maybe “An Island of Time”, as it seems Dubai is isolated in modern luxuries, in a region where such advancement is frowned upon, but is also very proud of it’s rich, ancient heritage. The “Island” part, obviously because of that seclusion. I don’t know… just a shot in the dark of course. Btw, I sent you an email earlier today, I am sure you are flooded though….

  7. I like Up From The Sands. I think it is a good representation of Dubai as it transitioned from a poor country to one of the wealthiest almost overnight. Like a new plant that has burst up and broke through the surface.

    just my two cents.

  8. I prefer “Up form the Sands”. I don´t know exactly why… it sounds poetic… and I guess the pictures will be also…

  9. maybe something more poetic….something along the lines of “mirage” and “dune” “dunes” instead of sand/s?

    I like this color version a great deal as opposed to the black and white in instagram. Both are great but the color does something extra I think.

  10. Up From the Sands…

    Although I do find “Up From the Sand” to be a strong competitor and find myself going back and forth…

    I would modify mtomalty’s title to “Add oil and water…” but I like Up From the Sand(s) better.

  11. PAUL A.

    Gone With the Wind is the best title of all time….and it does not say “this is a love story set in the American Civil War”..last year and this, i have published here on Burn a selection of the pictures i will use in the zine…this will not be a full blown book nor an anthology nor an encyclopedia of Dubai today….i think i will only show about 30 pictures max…more along the lines of Alec Soth’s Upstate or Ohio newspapers….only my version of that sort of “diary”…..

    i could of course get to the layout and then decide i need another trip to Dubai…or even kill the whole idea….could happen…yet i think for whatever reason i am just in the mood for a few short zines…Song of Oaxaca, Beach Games , and Up from the Sand should or could all come out in the next 12 months…

    cheers, david

  12. @ DAH:

    “Up from the Sand” is a mysterious title! Unfinished title! I just want to know what’s inside the book.
    What about a shorter one: “Upsand” seems a name of a new neighborhood of Dubai… like Midtown in NYC.

    Willing to see the bunch of images together. Shine. P.

  13. The photo and the country seem to suggest “Out of Sight” for a title, as in the future is out of sight. In that part of the world, the sand seems to ultimately reclaim everything, no matter how grand or durable the “thing” may appear.


    Always nice to see you here Jim….For sure you are correct…The sand will indeed reclaim everything..Eventually. But not yet.

    Dubai is indeed a very strange city. 90% “foreigners”….The only city where you are very unlikely to meet the locals..the indigenous population….

    One really really nice thing about Dubai is that it is SAFE…I am not used to safe….You could leave your M9 sitting on the table at a restaurant by mistake, and it would be there if you came back the next day…Either still on the table or with the manager for safekeeping. You definitely do not want to commit a crime in Dubai. Tough on crime.

    Another unusual thing. The Emiratis love their leaders. And why wouldn’t they? The locals are well taken care of. Totally supported. Foreigners do not do too badly either. No income tax!!!

    Some negatives: Dubai is not a walk around town. You MUST have a car or taxi. Nobody walks around (except me). Similar to Los Angeles in that respect. Also no rain storm sewers or gutters. It rarely rains, but when it does the streets flood instantly. Also, you had better have a GPS even with a taxi driver. Easy to get lost. You would imagine that if you were building a city from scratch, that one would design in the grid pattern. Not sure why they did not.

    There is way more good than bad in Dubai. Their plans for the future include an extensive medical tourism business. For sure there is no better airline in the world than Emirates. Priced to sell even with a last minute purchase. FRIENDLY airline personnel!

    As you know my world has always been with a Spanish/Portuguese orientation. Iberia and the migration into the Americas. Of course the Spanish and Portuguese do have a high percentage of Arab blood from 700 years of occupation by the Moors who also brought the horses which the Spanish later used for the conquest of the Americas…So a big circle indeed…

    Cheers, David

  15. When I read “up from the sand” in relation to Dubai, I think of oil. Thinking culturally/historically, water comes to mind. You seem to be hinting that the title represents, at least partially, a people’s economic “rise” from nomadic herders to wealthy world citizens. So it’s a triple entendre, as I read it, which is the kind of thing I like in a title (like “CIB”). I’m a bit afraid that your description in the comment above comes off a bit chamber of commerce-y. Seems I periodically read that those shiny buildings are built by armies of virtual slaves. Don’t know how true that is, but it’s out there and I’d hope the reality of it, whatever that is, would be addressed in any significant story about Dubai. Not particularly worried at this point as you’ve shown very little so far and have no history of putting lipstick on pigs, so to speak. Anyway, glad you’re finding new things to see. Sounds like an exiting publishing year ahead.

  16. Daivid, I do like New Age City, as you mentioned in your post above. If you are going to document the cultural discrepancy between a nomadic heritage being lived out in a 21st century city how about Duel In The Sand?
    I like the photograph, on first glance it looks like a simple snapshot but on further viewing it has quite a bit of tension in the frame. It’s ‘monochrome colour’ too.


  17. I like Up From the Sand.

    What about “Out of the Sand” (or Sands). Can be taken literally several ways, and also figuratively….

  18. “Oasis” but maybe that’s a little too dreamy and loaded. “Where the desert rises” perhaps. Or “Dubailand,” which gives me just a sense of falsehood/manufacturedness to the name; also rhymes with “Island” which could be a metaphor for the city. The spelling might make for confusion on first pronunciation for someone who hasn’t heard it.

  19. David, I just read your reply to Jim. As always, no-one and nowhere is perfect. I have seen t.v. reports about the building of the city and the use of foreign labourers; mainly Bangladeshi or Indian, who work to build the city but live outside and are bussed from hostels outside the city. Some have had their passports taken from them on arrival and find it hard to leave. Nothing is simple (I almost wrote black and white!). It is an amazing city but the real story may be the movers and shakers and the builders.


  20. imageconscious

    My title: “And Sand”

    or, with the DAH ellipses: “. . . And Sand”

    Up from the sands: don’t dig

    Sand: meh

    And Sand: suggesting there is so much more other than the sand

    and that is my meager 2 cents


    i like “….and Sand” good idea….thanks…a bit of mystery…like it….still ok with Up from the Sand although maybe it is too much like a NatGeo title or whatever…

    for sure i am not trying to tell a BIG STORY here…this a zine and not a book…photo impressions..

    anyway, i will get to layout and see where i stand…as i think most of this audience knows, i am always ready to dump a project or kill an idea ….i am very ruthless with my own work…just because i shot it does not mean i will publish it….

    thanks for thinking

    cheers, david

  22. MW

    sure do not mean to sound like the Dubai Chamber of Commerce..ha ha….but the place is kinda an unusual bubble on the planet…the super economic situation really has allowed a near perfect society and i cannot remember ever feeling that anywhere before…

    sure THE journalistic story , told over and over, is the story of the Pakistani workers who have built this city..physically…that story is by now a bigger cliche than the story of the glitz…i am not saying it is not true…yet the worker camps are totally open for all to see….the workers come voluntarily because they can do better in Dubai than they do in Pakistan…..i would never advocate anything close to what is sometimes described as slave labor…for sure it is not that at all….workers should always be fairly paid, well treated, and have good living conditions…the Romans, the Greeks, the Vatican, the Egyptians, the Maya, the Americans and on and on and on etc etc should all have thought the same thing while building their empires, yes??

    cheers, david

  23. Interesting what you write. As I meant to emphasize regarding the workers, I am aware of the cliche but not how that tracks with reality. As such, I find your characterization of the workers and their open for anyone to see camps enlightening as it goes against what many people consider common knowledge. Given the other positive things you write, maybe you should reflect that in the title. “A Near Perfect Society” would certainly be attention grabbing.

  24. I’m OK with the original title… But here’s a few more…
    Utopia Boulevard.
    The sand of Shangri-la.
    Babylon redux.

  25. kellylynnjames

    Hi David,

    Lance sent me this link. I hadn’t seen it yet. Thanks for the love, but as always you are the energy, spark, and fire. :)

    I’ll throw in an idea and keep with the theme… what about “White Hot”. I’ve only seen a bit of the work but I’m sure is has as solid dose of white robes, sand, sun, and sexuality.

    Big love and hugs,

  26. a civilian-mass audience

    “Burning Sand…”

    reporting from broken Grecolandia!



  27. KELLY

    pretty good title….White Hot could work…..and a bit less normal magazine title oriented….you definitely remain a key person on my title team!!!

    i do hope our paths cross again soonest….

    big hugs, love back to you..

    cheers, david

  28. David, I live in Dubai and am used to seeing the side of it they want you to see: photoshopped HDR photos of happy people infront of shiny buildings. I’m excited to see your twist on it.

  29. Hi David,

    I really like Up from the Sands. It has all: mystery but also hints where this all comes from. My best shot: Modern Mirage

    Greetings from Warsaw!


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