Kingston, Jamaica.

29 Responses to “Marian”

  • I like this one better than in color. Don’t know why…just do.

  • I´ve seen both pictures in Instagram, color and B&W, and although from a while ago I like seeing color pictures, I prefer this one in B&W because for this case I think it has more strenght…

  • ahhhh…now that’s what i’m talkin’ about..

  • The color and the B&W are both very different images to me…..I find myself returnign to the color version more, something about the pattern in her blouse that I like in the color is one thing that I can put my finger on…

    Strong portrait, wither way.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    MARIAN is bringing “summertime”…

    thank you!!!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    BOBBY (I am late) and REIMAR…happy birthday ….

    I want my cake NOW,pleaseeee,I’ve be waiting so long…:))))))))))))))

  • Where is this “color” version of which so many speak? Interesting near miss, as I see it. Needs more room on the right side of the frame. On a related note, someone asked to see samples of my portrait photography. I spent five minutes throwing together a little gallery. I won’t show you that, but in the process I saw this little juxtaposition. Thought it was cool. Almost simultaneously saw this article which contains many wise words about creativity from Bill Watterson. Some days it just all comes together. Most days it’s better to just ignore it when the universe conspires to teach these little lessons and just get back to work.

  • Wither way? Isn’t that down at the end of Lonely Street, next to the Heartbreak Hotel?

  • Akaky

    love your spirit..


    Ok, seriously? In the same breath that you diss this portrait as ‘close but no cigar´ you then go on to promote your own work? Self-promotion is cool but tramppling the work of another in the same breath seems in rather bad taste to me. Just like posting the link to your “Brainy” essay under the essay of another (regardless of your subsequent ´oops, i didn´t mean to do that´ apology). It´s pretty easy to kill interest in your work this way, Michael.


  • Well, I really didn’t mean to post that link under the other work. That’s something I make a point of not doing. As for this, not seeing the problem. But wahtevah. Apologies extended wherever apologies are due. I just like to chat about photography and often use my own work as a reference. I have no expectations whatsoever that anything I link to here will generate any interest outside of perhaps a few friends who read this blog. So please, if it bothers you, ignore me and withstand any temptation you may have to click on a link. I enjoy your comments. Thanks.

  • But yea, I do see that portrait as close, let’s say a very good cigar, but not a Habanos anyway. Great lighting, really great lighting, really really great lighting, but doesn’t tell us much about the subject. Certainly nothing to justify the deviation from rules of good composition in which the subject should be looking forward. Could work well in an essay with other photos of the subject, especially if what’s behind her is important. But alone? Close, so close, but without seeing more to surround it, I’m left suffering from a mild nicotine fit.

  • Michael

    ahh..maybe i´m feeling a little bitchy today..thanks for your nice response..

    as far as the portrait, the thing is that it´s so easy to fix that it begs the question whether David likes it the way it is (?) I don´t really have a problem with it because her shoulder touches the left side of the frame so i don´t get the sensation that she´s too close to the right. In fact, until you mentioned it i didn´t even notice the lack of space. I was too busy looking at her, her hair, the pleats of her clothing, the good use of texture and something so benelovlent and kind in her expression. I see what you mean about the space but it doesn´t bother me.

    Oh, and i have checked out your work several times and actually really enjoyed the brainy essay as well as your post to Paul about the guy that you approached to shoot and the resulting portrait. You are very accomplished and it shows in your work.


  • I liked this portrait from the start, and prefer the b/w version. I love this beautiful face, the hair, and the way it has all been rendered by whatever means. I also agree that the crop is un-fortunate.

  • Did someone say “rules of composition”?

    Sorry but that phrase was banned from use here. See memo G-13 from Panos dated April 20, 2010, Section C, subparagraph 4, to wit: “Henceforth, all “rules of photography” are hereby suspended on Burn, and any reference to such rules are forbidden, unless used in the context of “jest” or implied irony, including, but not limited to … “rules of composition” ….”

    Again, terribly sorry … but those are the rules.

  • The framing doesn’t bother me at all. I agree fully with young Tom Hyde.

  • The framing doesn’t bother me in the slightest either. Works for me although I’d always choose the BW version.

  • TOM:

    That was a riot!! I am totally for Panos making up the rules about no more rules, anarchist that he is. And i love his bandana.

  • Yes, I’m aware of how cool it is to be breakin all the rules, usually with some kind of cheap ass camera. I do it myself, some.

    But I also go to top end galleries and museums and even browse an iconic photobook on occasion, and I’ve made it a point to notice how the most successful artists’ work relates to “the rules.” I put “rules” in scare quotes because the more accurate way to frame this conversation would be to use the word knowledge in place of rules. Knowledge of what works and doesn’t work compositionally in two dimensional compositions in rectangular frames, or how colors and shapes communicate different meanings or emotions depending on how they are arranged or put next to one another. Not so much “rules” as just the way things work in real life.

    Unsurprisingly, the great majority of the most successful work you’ll see in museums, galleries, and great photobooks is consistent with those “rules,” or better said, professional knowledge that’s been accumulated over many centuries. You just don’t see all that many iconic images or paintings in which a tree is growing out of the subject’s head. Of course there are many exceptions. and a great artist can make the head-grown tree a feature not a bug, but they know what they are doing. And of course a million monkeys taking a million snaps will eventually produce a great photo in which a tree is growing out of the subject’s head, but the monkey that got lucky is unlikely to produce a solid body of work by ignoring the accumulated knowledge artists have gained through centuries of hard work and study.

    I recall an incident where I was working with a great editor, one who, btw, is known for breaking a lot of rules, on the final edit of one of my essays. There was one photo with many problematic elements that had somehow managed to get through the initial edit. But now he brought his attention to it and bang, bang, bang, rapid-fire, listed three of four “rules” that the photo flaunted. I said, yes, I am aware of all that, but feel the raw emotion of the scene trumps the rules in this particular case, that in fact, the flaunting of those “rules” adds another layer to the raw emotions of the scene. I lost that particular argument, or maybe I was saved from some embarrassment, but either way, it’s somewhat emblematic.

    One can successfully deviate from the rules, but at the top of the game, top professionals will challenge you about it. Best to know what you’re doing if you want to be more than a one hit wonder.

  • Oh, and as for Panos being a good role model regarding rules, I agree. Note that his Venice pictures, for which he has received (deservedly) so many accolades, mostly adhere to them. Perhaps in the end he’ll be more recognized for iphone photos of his centered, out-of-focus dog pooping against a skewed horizon with a mailbox growing out of its head, but we’re not there yet.

  • mw – well stated and a good argument. None-the-less, to me this picture works perfectly as framed. I kind of suspect that if you had not been measuring it against rules, but had just been looking at it for what it is, the violation of the rule would not have bothered you, or even caught your attention.

  • Hi Michael:

    “There was one photo with many problematic elements that had somehow managed to get through the initial edit. But now he brought his attention to it and bang, bang, bang, rapid-fire, listed three of four “rules” that the photo flaunted”

    I think this is the point of the whole discussion. Your esteemed editor ticked off three of the four rules you broke. So one broken rule made it under the editor´s limbo stick. We don´t know what that flaunted rule was but it didn´t sink the photo. The photo didn´t work not because one rule was broken but because four were broken and the result was chaos.

    It is remarkable to me how many rules can successfully be broken if the viewer can somehow find his or her way into the frame and then move about and derive pleasure, satisfaction, meaning and sense out of it all. When a photo works, no one is going to nitpick it´s success except those who can only judge good work by the rules that have been duly followed. Successful observance of the ten commandments is no guarantee of a life well-lived. Successful observance of time-tested aesthetic rules is no guarantee of a photo well-loved.

    If good photography was as easy to produce as simply obeying the rules then we would all be in museums. Good photography has energy and heart and intelligence as well as a certain aesthetic. it can be a blank piece of photo paper that´s titled “White-out”. And why not? If the photographer´s body of work makes a good case for the concept then it´s as valid and true as any Ansel Adams zone system, large format, technical masterpiece. It´s not how you obey the rules but how you break them that sets you apart.

    Another way to achieve the same excitement is to obey every rule to the letter and yet depict subject matter that is so perverse, difficult or upsetting that the only way anyone can bear to view the image is by navigating through the frame clinging to every familiar stylistic element they can get their eyeballs around. This iconic photo by Larry Burroughs fits this description:

    Ok, timed out..hafta eat..great discussion..


  • As for me, I am eating watermelon right now.

    It is a pretty good watermelon. Pretty amazing if you think about it – me, eating fresh, delicious, watermelon right here in South Central Alaska before the ice is even off the lakes, before the first leaf turns green. Not only that, but on many occassions I have had delicious, fresh, watermelon in the middle of the dark winter in the furthest north reach of Alaskan Arctic with the temperature so far below zero you don’t want to hear about it.

    Heck. I’ve had delicious watermelon in Greenland.

    That’s the kind of world we live in.

    I forgot to mention – I like the black and white version best.

    And I am very impressed with the thought and analysis both Mike and Kathleen so often put into their comments. I am serious, truly I am.

    All I can think about right now is watermelon. It sure is good.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    whatever FROSTY said…excluding the watermelon…!!!

    how the heck did you find watermelon in Alaska?
    oime, we are ONE after all :)))

    I LOVE YOU ALL…keep focusing and sharing your vision…

  • “I kind of suspect that if you had not been measuring it against rules, but had just been looking…”

    Oh, I was just looking. Only went into analysis mode because it’s such an interesting image.

  • MW,

    But why? Why do some have to go into analysis mode when they like a photo? My sister has been a photographer for many years and she does the same thing. She looks at one of my photos and says, “Wow, kath´, this is great, but why this crop and why that film, lens, shooting position, etc. And why not play with it a little in photoshop?” She has my eyes completely crossed in the space of a minute. It´s never, ever about the emotion or the moment or the power or the magic, it´s always about the technique.

    What photographers do, i eat with a fork and spoon. I am by no means a gourmet diner. I´m just nosy as hell about life and the unique ways that others see it. However, were i to dissect a particularly delicious meal while eating it, it would go something like this:

    “mmmmm” *slurp, slurp* “what oven temp did you use on this again? How many minutes? Did you pre-heat?”
    *chomp-chomp*..”OMG, this is good, i love the garlic but maybe shallots would have been better and oregano would have lifted the lower notes into another dimensión but it´s killer good just the same” *smacks lips, slaps palms on distended, satisfied belly* “Did you whisk or stir? Fold or mix? Pour or drizzle? Hey, don´t hit me, i´m just asking!!!”

    i really do believe that some of us are hard-wired and/or conditioned to see, care and be bothered by the space that is not on the right side of this frame and some will not. My conclusion? Vive le differénce!!


    I loved and i do mean loved, that watermelon bit. I saw a bit of graffiti the other day that i shot with my i-pone. it has become my new mantra, “Smoke the life”. You definately know how to do just that. And we will keep n´joying your unique perspective.


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