Letter from the Editor                                                                                                                   photo by Frank Overton Brown III

Earl Grey often sits atop the hood of my truck in cool weather. Engine heat gives him a warm spot, and he has the upper perch to rule the property. He hates to come into the house and has, as you can see, a warm winter coat that often allows him to sleep comfortably even in the path of a cold wind from the north. Go figure. He could come in and sleep by the fire if he wanted. It was wood for the fire I was about to gather when my good neighbor Frank, keeper of my cats when I travel, snapped this casually with his phone.

I have been here at home now for a whole month. The longest stretch of time at home for over a year. 2012 brought a lot of excitement, rich rewards, and a whole lot of time on the road. So to just hang out and chill a bit was the vacation of a lifetime. Yet vacation is about to be over as I prepare to leave for Dubai. Never been. So this will be a whole new experience for me in a part of the world I have never visited nor worked.

If you happen to be in Dubai or in the area, please come to see my show opening on February 28th at Gulf Photo Plus Gallery and/or join me for a workshop at GPP 2013. I will stay in Dubai for the entire month of March to do these events and then simply shoot freestyle. To see what comes of it. All of it happening during Art Dubai and the International Horse Fair, which are also of special interest to me.

Before I leave for Dubai, I will meet with most of the Burn team in New York this week. Eva-Maria Kunz and Diego Orlando fly in from Italy, Kaya Berne buses it up from Charlottesville, and Candy Pilar Godoy comes by subway from Manhattan to my loft in Brooklyn. We have a book publishing workshop to do along with the Burn meeting, so a very nice blend indeed. We all work 95% by remote control, by Skype, by text, by email, so it will be nice for a bit of persona a persona.

Among other things we will be discussing how to manage BurnDiary, the building of a BurnStore, and how we will move forward with BurnBooks. We will also be discussing how to best manage the 2013 Emerging Photographer Fund grant we give every year through the Magnum Foundation.

One key discussion will be exactly how much time I devote to Burn, how much to teaching, and how much to creating my own new work. So while I have lots of energy to do it all, I don’t want to spill any wine on the ground. The super crew listed above helps me get it all done.

Thanks to support from this audience, we rocked it in 2012. We especially thank those who supported the EPF through tax exempt contributions to the Magnum Foundation and for those of you who contributed to Burn directly. Because of your support we can carry on at all to show as wide a variety as possible the work of photographers you may not know. Because of your support, our limited edition books have been distributed through BurnBooks right here on this site.

Anton Kusters “Yakuza”, “Burn.01”, “Burn.02”, and my own “(based on a true story)” all made available through our own little distro center here. With our success with these books, we are exploring publishing the works of both iconic photographers and emerging alike. Nothing happens until it happens, but this most likely will happen.

For sure we will stay small, boutique, specializing in limited editions. Building books of superior technical quality, sparing no expense in quality printing and binding, and making these books available at the lowest possible cost for the quality built in.

Our appeal for the photographer is of course that the photographer gets exactly the book they want. No compromises. If we like a book, we will do it. Our track record speaks for itself. All of our books have increased in value to collectors from the original price. We want our books to be investments for those who purchase should they see it that way.

As a consumer, I buy books that I think have an intrinsic value as objects of art. Not simply collections of pictures. I do not think I am alone in this quest at a time when the plethora of images becomes daunting, and discerning buyers want something super special in print. So we will build books that fit this niche market.

In some cases, we may partner with long established publishers for a wider distribution, and we already have our books in specialty book stores. Again, we do not want to be big, just good.

BurnDiary, a concept for uploading some of your work on Burn on a daily basis is coming. We just have to decide this week how to best make this happen in a way that makes sense. No, we will not become a photo sharing site. Yet I do think our readers are interested in showing their daily single photographs, so we will give it a try.

BurnStore is simply a logical thing to have. Everybody asks us all the time why we don’t have one. Again, this store will include things we build and perhaps others that you build. All items reflecting the quality we want inherent in the goods we market already which at the moment are only books and workshops. Both things that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Burn was started with audience participation as its mantra. So we welcome ideas and suggestions as always. One thing I have learned is that there is no shortage of good ideas, yet good ideas that can be practically implemented is something else. Every idea takes another person or two to make it happen. I work for free, but the young people around me need jobs. So any support you give to Burn helps them, helps you to have a potential platform for your work etc etc.

By the way, I hope you have taken a look at our new Archive in the right hand column. Eva and Haik worked very hard to make this happen. Eva had to go back through every single essay and prepare for this. Days and days of work. Haik made it happen technically. A quick skim through this archive gives you a real sense of what we do here. It is also very easy to search.

Ok, I leave my front porch. Goodbye to cats. To beach, to bike rides. Off to New York, and Dubai and well maybe a stop in Europe on the way home.

Many of us have met in person, I hope to meet more of you. My favorite thing is discovering new work, new photographers. So please show me. I am ready when you are.



41 thoughts on “Letter from the Editor”

  1. Aint Earl Gray the real mastermind behind the obx fort…or at least in partnership with Simone….about time that gets acknowledged ;)….

    You back to Brooklyn after Dubai?…if yes, let me know…coming down baring supplies….

    much love to the whole damn crew and the flame that does not surrender, sparked up and BURNing incandescent…….



    Alla Breve Loving

    Three people drinking out of the bottle
    in the living room.
    A cold rain. Quiet as a mirror.

    One of the men
    stuffs his handkerchief in his coat,
    climbs the stairs with the girl.
    The other man is left sitting

    at the desk with the wine and the headache,
    turning an old Ellington side
    over in his mind. And over.

    He held her like a saxophone
    when she was his girl.
    Her tongue trembling at the reed.

    The man lying next to her now
    thinks of another woman.
    Her white breath idling

    before he drove off.
    He said something about a spell,
    watching the snow fall on her shoulders.

    The musician
    crawls back into his horn,
    ancient terrapin
    at the approach of the wheel.
    –CD Wright

  2. Looks like Earl Gray is growling, but as a cat owner, I know better.

    I love the BurnDiary AND BurnStore idea. Brilliant extensions of what has already been built here, as well as opportunities to grow the site’s presence. Can I assume that BurnDiary will also be an informal way to scout out projects? Either way, love it.


    not sure if i end up in New York after Dubai or not…you trying to pin me down? good luck!! honestly i will probably stop in Belgium on the way back to see Anton’s show…and then most likely be ready to head all the way home…will keep you updated…


    Earl Grey is just bored…not much going on around here in winter!!

    sure , we are always looking for projects however they may come to us…i could imagine for sure this will be a good way just to see what many of you are doing, and get on to a good essay from the beginning….


    not forever young, but forever forgetting i am not!

    cheers, david

  4. Enjoy your travels, sounds awesome! Can’t wait to see what Burn produces next and what the Middle East looks like through your lens.

  5. It would be great to see something more definite how books are going to be marketed/made presented and access to book creators.

    I am having a show with about 17+ different books ……..7.017 days only in Tassie all on little stands with individual lights in a very large vacant space, later this. A sort of walk up to a book or two loo,leave no questions asked exhibition. It is about process not object though for the audience object will probably over ride concept.

    Maybe a show of images in Oudergem Belgium shall see

    Looking forward to burn book decisions

  6. It has been a hard, fun, work week of almost no sleep, working solid from the morning hours to the next morning hours, so my head and mind has been reduced to blur and when I opened this up, I thought David was standing next to a bear leaning over the car. Then I saw it was sitting on the car and I thought, “that must be a pretty small bear” and I then I thought maybe it was a raccoon. Finally, my eyes focused a little better and I realized it was the cat, Earl Grey.

    I was kind of moved by this, especially in light of David’s upcoming travels, because when I travel and am gone from home for significant periods of time it tends to be my cats I find myself most concerned about. The human members of my family all know why I am gone and generally have some idea when I might come back.

    The cats don’t. They have no idea at all. And for whatever reason, the cats gravitate to me as to no one else and my family reports that Jim in particular gets very stressed out and goes through some kind of personal hell until finally I return, and when I am home he is with me always.

    David’s photographic and mentoring skills aside, I think the thing I admire most about him is that he loves cats and cats love him.

    You see I am reporting in on Sunday, rather than for my scheduled weekly Saturday report and comment. That is because Saturday morning, I got to bed at 4:30, got up at 8:00, then was back hard at work by 9:30 and shot constantly until about 3:00 or so this morning.

    There has been a lot on Burn about Carnival and its various incarnations. In a way, Kivgiq is like the Carnival of the True Far North, rooted into antiquity, with strong fashion statements made in fur parkas and mukluks and beautifully sewn atiges. Don’t look for much of it on my blog anytime soon, though. It’s gone to take me a long time to do a good edit of the take and I am not going to show much of it until I publish my Uiñiq magazine Kivgiq special, scheduled for July 2 release.

    I’ve never known quite what to think about the Burn Diary. In some ways, it feels like just one more bite into my time and so I have been thinking I would not participate. But, as I am reporting in and commenting just one day a week now, maybe I can do the report in a weekly Burn Diary and drop in comment or two on the latest essays at the same time.

    We’ll see.

  7. David, you do get around. In my entire lifetime, I have not covered the amount of ground that you cover in one year. I’m exhausted just reading about it.
    Congratulations on all you have achieved here. I’m very appreciative to be a tiny part of what goes on in burn. Looking forward to whatever is coming next.


    i am sure we will do the same with future books what we have done with Yakuza, 01,02,and (based on a true story)….build them with best quality and distribute ourselves….this is the model that even the “big boys” like Aperture want to do as well…i.e. going the trade book Barnes & Noble distro route literally forces a lack of quality because everyone is trying to cut corners to save production money to make a profit…i mean when the book store takes 50% of the sales price right off the top and then there is shipping and storage costs to consider, then you can see quickly that money back to the publisher is probably around 25% of the sales price and well the photographer ends up with about 10% if lucky..books are not about making money in my view but about having a benchmark for your work….so if making money is not the primary motive, then might as well do books that are of superior quality…the internet distro system allows us to do this…BurnBooks are also in selected book stores but not on consignment…the book stores that have our books buy the books outright…so far we have printed in Italy with master craftsmen….more expensive than printing in Taiwan yes but we have just decided to do it anyway, making our books a bit more expensive to produce than otherwise, but we are going for a limited edition niche market anyway….(based on a true story) started out as a $95. book and there are now a few copies left at $ we are essentially sold out…i saw the other day on Ebay a signed copy of (based on a true story) selling for $695…so our early buyers at least doubled their investment almost instantly if they were collectors…most just want the book of course…but having a book that goes up in price and in value is simply the market i am interested in….it does not mean there are not other ways and means, but it does mean that is what BurnBooks will stand for….at the very same time we are producing a newspaper version of (based on a true story), yes printed in Italy as well, that will be given away for free in the favelas of Rio to art classes etc…half of our press run of the newspaper will be given gratis in Rio…the other half we will distribute at a nominal price online…surely signed copies of the newspaper will increase in value to the buyer as well..i think we may produce several newspapers in the coming months…super high quality newspapers yet at a low cost to the buyer…..most of what i do in general is for free (like Burn) , with some things i do marketed at a premium price like workshops and limited edition books…pretty much the philosophy of the artisan is what i like….

    what you are doing with your books is an even more limited edition than what we will do at BurnBooks….i love that idea as well…we are open to all kinds of ideas, all kinds of ways of distributing fine books….BurnStore might be the place where fine super limited books could be marketed…..seems logical…

    stay tuned…

    cheers, david


    i am surprised i am a cat person…i always had dogs only prior…..dogs do stuff…you can put them to work…..they can hunt, they can catch Frisbees, they can lead the blind….cats don’t work…yet they are the only domestic animal which CHOSE man to hang out with…so cats are to be observed…as wild animals….cats can survive without us..oh sure, maybe easier with us, but they can do fine on their own…hence their “arrogance” i think…and of course they are the ultimate observers…they KNOW i am leaving on a trip…they see my movements different, my suitcase being packed, etc etc…so they are a bit nervous and seeking a bit more attention than usual..and of course i spoil the hell out of them anyway…isn’t that what cats are for?

    cheers, david

  10. GORDON

    well i get a bit exhausted myself as i go through my archive and simply see where i have been….even a spin through by iPhone camera roll, an incredible diary, has me wondering how in hell all THAT happened…of course i just put one foot in front of the other and so in the middle of it i gain energy….while the experience is actually happening i am not exhausted..i get energized….only looking at it later makes me wonder…..

    cheers, david

  11. My first contract with Oxford press gave me 15%then 10% when I wrote textbooks for Singapore, I ended up being traded to several companies, never did know what the agreements were …….. a world of its own when editor meets accountant

    Here in oz no one with touch you unless there is a sure fire return and profit counts a lot of people out. I am not really about multiple copies of books just like making them but if there is an avenue on burn I am happy to participate…….

    ……… our venture here that is slowly moving along finding a active market, hand dyed scarves sell better than books (I will have a link to a shopify type of site soon…. yes I am happy to sell Tassie made scarves OS as well) these will be joined by limited edition camera hard cases with a difference

  12. IMANTS

    i think the percentages to word authors is higher than to photographers due to lower production costs i assume…..photogs from trade publishers normally get from 7%-15% depending on many factors including status…we will do much much better for the photographer…will have to be on a case by case basis dependent on many factors….but somewhere in the 25-40% category i think…again, many variables….

    we already have a few big names knocking on our door….yet we want great unknowns as well as great knowns…

    cheers, david

  13. a civilian-mass audience

    IMANTS…you got me ,amigo…my chooks rock!!!

    yeah…a big THANK YOU to our SUPER CREW !!!…to our DONORS…


    P.S…MR.HARVEY, you continue to accelerate… ‘DARK ENERGY’,the Universe is expanding!!!

    BURN is the place to be…!!!

  14. Wow, nice plan David!
    so much energy! May be you have a nuclear reactor inside of you? :D
    If you stop in Europe on the way home please remember the easter celebrations in sicily (March 29-30-31), I’ll be on the field :D let me know…

  15. DAVID :))))

    hahahahahah…try to pin you down, me? never ;)))….have a safe trip and a powerful workshop this week…see u in May for sure then :))

  16. Have a nice trip to Dubai and enjoy this new land for you!…
    About books which are not only a collection of pictures, I have a graphic designer friend who is member of a collective of what they called “Artist Books”. They create art pieces with “some kind of book format”… Someones include pictures, someones not… They can include messages, text, shapes,…

  17. “i think the percentages to word authors is higher than to photographers due to lower production costs i assume”

    Any camera you can think of: over $100, often over $1,000

    12 pack, Ticonderoga Millenium Cedar Black #2/HB: $5.07

    12 pack, Palomino Blackwing 602, $20.00

    12 pack, Staples legal pads, $6.79

    Altogether, even with the fancy pencils I like, the price of writing is less than a good dinner at the Olive Garden. On the other hand, writing is annoying in the extreme, which photography tends not to be, so in the end all these things even out, I suppose.

  18. “i promise nothing….i am dreaming…but, sometimes my dreams come true…sometimes”
    David Alan Harvey, March 09 2007 writing on RoadTrips about a future blog…

    More than sometimes your dreams come true, a lot more than sometimes :))))
    Thank you for so many dreams come true.

  19. CESAR

    yes, cool..thanks for the link


    my cats are not really impressed with anything i do…and when i treat them especially nice, it seems expected of course….


    when it comes time to do a BurnBook from the collected work of all here, you will be the first person i hire to get all the best quotes together…you have an amazing collection of best said stuff!!!

    cheers, david

  20. IMANTS

    well we will offer things, but the basic Burn will always be free…..IF somebody wants to buy an Imants book for example, they may…but of course they can always see Imants for free by simply searching here….the things that are expensive here on Burn, are all things that are expensive to produce…just no way around it…and of course we plan, and do plan always, to make things that are for sale more than worth every penny

  21. David,
    May your cats continue to be safe. As you know I worry about mine.
    This past week a neighbor trapped and brutally killed 2 of mine.
    I had nurtured them for nearly 3 years, through 3 hurricanes.
    They gave me much pleasure, watching them grow, keeping me company.
    When I confronted the neighbor, he denied it saying he had not seen them.
    The havahart trap baited with a slab of raw fish was incriminating enough.
    Not to mention that here were also cat tracks in the area. Denise and I are devastated.
    All is not well on the outer banks.

  22. I’m curious why the neighbor would kill the cats? Does it have something to do with their bird killing nature? A quick google search tells me that there is a big problem with domestic house cats killing endangered birds in the Outer Banks, and pretty much everywhere else. Is it right to keep these predators as house pets if it is true that they are doing so much damage to the OBX environment?

  23. The neighbor is a far cry from an environmentalist. It’s just the nature of some folks to hate cats. Locally they are often persecuted and tortured.
    I realize cats can wreak havoc on bird life, and are best kept indoors for their own good. I just don’t have the space.
    These were feral born under my house. The mother was killed by a car, and I took them in at 5 weeks.

  24. I’m far from being in a position to judge. Have just been coming across the cats killing birds problem more and more recently, a couple notable examples from Jonathan Franzen. Was curious since I hear so much about OBX through burn so googled a bit and found the controversy much more about off road vehicles than cats (and feral cats more than house cats). Conservationists being threatened and harassed. Never see ORV’s in David’s photos from there. Is that selective composing or are they not as oppressive as the few articles I’ve read make them sound?

  25. MW,
    The ORV controversy here is significant. Threats are often a big part of it.
    I have remained neutral. Most all the action is on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, where vehicles have had access to the beach for years. Now to drive the beach you need to buy a $120 permit, and the areas of access are diminished.
    I love beach driving. It gets me places to do some of my photography.
    With so many more visitors to the outer banks, it is highly restricted nowadays.

  26. I can relate to both sides. Used to often camp on a beach in Mexico that had a lot of ORV traffic. Hated it when I was just lazing around the beach. Loved it when I was doing it. Didn’t consider any possible wildlife impact. Sounds like endangered species are threatened by drivers in OBX and that many ORV drivers are assholes As someone who has often been an ORV driver and has known a lot of them, my anecdotal evidence suggests that the asshole thing is generally true. Sucks when they ruin it for the rest of us.

  27. Received a another dummy of a completed book yesterday it is always a pleasure to see them in print.
    Putting a book together with Bob……. his text my images…… with visual imagery having a hard time keeping up with Bob’s words this is not a east task.

  28. Never a dull moment in this place….some arguments…sure, but dull moments NEVER.
    Actually arguments are never dull moments either….so, yes….NEVER A DULL MOMENT HERE!

    Burn Diary since you mentioned it some time back always sounds exciting. Looking forward to that!
    Burn Store sounds pretty awesome too.
    More books in the horizon…hell yeah!

    It’s going to be interesting seeing you freestyling it in Dubai. I have also never been there but have been close to it and been around similar cultures. I can’t wait to see your take and impressions of it through photos.

    Warm greetings from Miami and wishing you all the best for that busiest of a month in March!
    I might visit you in May to hopefully make it for the final show of the workshop. Let’s seeeeeeeeeeeeeeee……

  29. Thanks Ross, this is not an easy task at times it runs well then I need to dismantle the lot. I may have to take a new approach to it all.

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