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Kadir van Lohuizen

Vía PanAm

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In 2011, Kadir started a visual investigation on migration in the Americas.

In 12 months, he traveled along the Pan-American Highway from Terra del Fuego in Patagonia to Deadhorse in Northern Alaska.
Vía PanAm is a unique social documentary MULTI MEDIA project made into an iApp for the iPad.

 

Bio

Before Kadir van Lohuizen (The Netherlands, 1963) became a photographer, he was a sailor and started a shelter for homeless and drug addicts in Holland. He was also an activist in the Dutch squatter movement.

He started to work as a professional freelance photojournalist in 1988 covering the Intifada. In the years following, he worked in many conflict areas in Africa, such as Angola, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Liberia and the DR of Congo. From 1990 to 1994 he covered the transition in South Africa from apartheid to democracy.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kadir covered social issues in different corners of the former empire. He also went to North Korea and Mongolia. In 1997 he embarked on a big project to travel along the seven rivers of the world, from source to mouth, covering daily life along these lifelines. The project resulted in the book “Rivers” and “Aderen” (Mets & Schilt).

In 2000 and 2002 Kadir was a jury member of the World Press Photo contest.

In 2004 he went back to Angola, Sierra Leone and the DR of Congo to portray the diamond industry, following the diamonds from the mines to the consumer markets in the Western world. The exhibitions that resulted from this project were not only shown in Europe and the USA, but also in the mining areas of Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone. The photo book “Diamond Matters, the diamond industry” was published by Mets & Schilt (Holland), Dewi Lewis (UK) and Umbrage editions (USA) and awarded with the prestigious Dutch Dick Scherpenzeel Prize for best reporting on the developing world and a World Press Photo Award.

In that same year, Kadir initiated a photo project together with Stanley Greene and six other photographers on the issue of violence against women in the world.

In 2006 he launched a magazine called Katrina – An Unnatural Disaster, The Issue # 1, in collaboration with Stanley Greene, Thomas Dworzak and Paolo Pellegrin with an essay by Jon Lee Anderson.

After hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, he has made several trips to the USA to document the aftermath of the storm. In the summer of 2010, to mark the fifth commemoration of Hurricane Katrina, Kadir exhibited images of Katrina’s devastation and the aftermath in a truck-exhibition that drove from Houston to New Orleans, a project in collaboration with Stanley Greene.

Kadir is a frequent lecturer and photography teacher; he’s a member and co-founder of NOOR picture agency and foundation and is based in Amsterdam.

 

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Reneta Gancheva

Bango Vassil

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Bango Vassil is the day, when bulgarian gypsies are celebrating the beginning ot their new year. It is on the 14th of January. For them, it is the most important day of the year. The legend says, that this is the day, when St.Vassil save their nation from drawing in Red Sea.
Traditionally, Bango Vassil is the day, when all the family get together. All of the children and their children. The oldest women cook, clean and prepare the house and in the night everyone’s coming. When doing the housework, you have to be quite and not to say a word for the daytime.
The family I met was Vassilka and Vassil’s. They had their namedays too. Their nine sons, with their children and their children’s children celebrated in this big blue room. There was only bird meet on the table. A lot of wine, rakia and other alcholoic drinks went fast on  men’s bodies. They were sittin on the ground, around a short table . And the women on the other side of the room, sitting on a tall chairs, aroud empty  tale. The feast continuous for two-three days. This is the way, the day goes. Everybody’s happy and enjoy their celebration!

 

Bio

My name is Reneta Gancheva. I am from Bulgaria and 18. Now is my last yearn in Yambol’s language highschool. I take photos for a small local media.

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Conversation with Michael “Nick” Nichols

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David Alan Harvey: Now the thing is that you were a photographer first. When I met you, you were a Magnum photographer. Now you   are Editor at Large at National Geographic. Pretty obvious though, this doesn’t seem to be an office job.

Michael “Nick” Nichols: I’m only a photographer.

DAH: You’re only a photographer. Well no you’re more than that. You do other things.

MN: But it all comes from photography.

DAH: I know it all comes from photography, but what I want to talk about, in today’s world, and you evolved your photography and also into the…well you created the Look3 festival for one thing which is for other photographers beside yourself. So, you do a lot of stuff outside, you teach workshops.

MN: And that’s since you and I are so joined at the hip because we both for some reason feel it is important to give it back to the next generation.

DAH: Why did we ever think that was a good idea?

MN: The reason it happened to me was because Charles Moore, my start came from somebody else saying, oh I’m going to help out this kid.

DAH: Right.

MN: And I like that, so I’ve always felt that it’s important. And history is important to me, so building on something and not leaving it behind…if I meet a young photographer that doesn’t know Alex Webb’s work, or your’s or Eugenes, I’m like, well what are you doing? You’ve got to build on stuff.

DAH: That’s right. So Charles Moore helped you and then when he did that you felt like payback some day when you made it.

MN: Yeah.

DAH: Yeah, same for me. I felt that way when I was at my first Missouri workshop. These Life magazine and National Geographic photographers were looking at my contact sheets and I thought well, that’s just the coolest thing…If I make it, I’m paying back too. So we’re similar that way.

MN: And just in full disclosure, I love you dearly, your one of my best friends, I never get to see you, I’ve followed Burn from the beginning although I’m not part of Burn. You know, I’m fully supportive of everything you do even if I’m not there.

DAH: You are part of Burn.

MN: You know this is my first appearance in Burn…this interview. But I’ve been with Burn from the beginning because I believe in what your doing. Always. And I know that you’re with me when I’m with the lions. Somewhere there.

DAH: Oh, always with you when your with the lions.

MN: Were going to some day sit on the porch and do what we say were gonna do.

DAH: Yeah, the only problem we’ve got is that for some reason we’re like work-aholics or something. We can’t get to that porch. You’ve got a nice porch to sit on. We’ve done some of that during Look3 and previous visits to your house. And you’ve come down and visited my family at the beach and I got an extra bedroom for you at my house, so you’re welcome.

MN: And that’s the other thing…my family feels like your part of our family.

DAH: Well we feel that way about each other, yes.

MN: And your kids treat me as if I’m part of the family. So I want everybody to know that we’re not just casual acquaintances.

DAH: Well that’s right, that’s right.

MN: Yeah.

DAH: I mean and we have a lot of fun together. Somehow we always manage to have a lot of fun together. And a lot of laughs, but you’re way different from me in one respect because, and Bryan has even told me this, Bryan who went to the Ndoki with you and made his first film on you on the Ndoki, told me…basically told me that well, Nick works way harder than you do Dad. And I think there’s no doubt about that. When I look at the films, when I look at the stuff, the logistics, the things that you have to deal with to get those pictures, you have to go through a whole lot of logistical stuff before you can even begin to take…

MN: Easily by the time I get to an assignment I’m completely exhausted because of the money I had to raise, all the gear I had to put together, all the…this last one’s 50 boxes going to Tanzania, two years of fundraising, you know, literally almost 10 years of talking about lions, and then you, of course, your pictures have to start to live up to all the hype that you’ve…not hype…whatever you’ve done to…and if I had to say who my favorite photographer on earth was, it would be a battle between Alex and Eugene because I love that complexity. And to do that in natural history is incredibly difficult. So, you know, I’m not satisfied with a telephoto lens but sometimes that’s where you are. So, it’s incredibly difficult technically, but I don’t want anybody to see the technical when they see the picture. You know, when they look at that tree, if they’re thinking about how we put it together, than I missed them. I didn’t do it right. It’s supposed to be spiritual. And so I’m trying to get back to the simplicity that David Alan Harvey uses in his photography. But the level of work that takes…but you know the part about working so hard is I am incredibly driven. You know, I drive myself to collapse, and the only other person I can compare that to is Jim, on the fact that we’ll work ourself till we die, but I don’t know any other way. I don’t know half. I don’t know thirty percent. That’s why I’m gonna quit, because I can’t figure out how to slow down.

DAH: But you’ve been saying “i quit” for a long time.

MN: Yeah but I’m serious. When I said last waltz, what I mean literally is that, like they did, they didn’t quit playing music, or I’m not going to be a National Geographic’s guy after this project and I’m not going to move on to the next project. I’ll extend this one as long as I can, but then I want to go back and say, can I be David? Can I be simple? Because there’s too much volume in what I do. There’s too much noise.

DAH: There’s a lot of moving parts to what you do.

MN: Yeah, and the stress level and the fact that I’ve got this incredible woman in my life, who has been there for the whole trip, and you know you can fuck that up, and I survived all the chances to fuck it up. And so the fact that she’s still with me and we’re tighter now than we’ve ever been.

DAH: Well I see that, I see that, it’s amazing. Well Reba is an amazing woman and you’ve been gone, you’ve been out in the jungle, you’ve been in the top of a tree for months at a time, and she’s still there when you get back. Part of it probably is that she’s an artist herself.

MN: She was attracted to me because I was an artist and I was attracted to her because she was an artist. So we support the obsession of being an artist. And I, you know, people can cut and slice any way they want, I was gone while the kids were growing and I didn’t get penalized for that. You can get penalized for that. But now that they’ve grown, I’m sitting there with them. I’m with them.

DAH: No I see that, I see that. Well let me just go back just for a second here because when I met you, I mean now you’re a senior editor, what is your exact title? Editor at large?

MN: I’m Editor at Large.

DAH: Ahhh busted, you had to stop and think about your title Nick. Size does matter.

MN: Laughing..Well no, because I work so hard to get that word staff photographer off my title. I hate that word. It’s venom to me. You know, because it means ownership. I’m not owned by anybody. I assure you that. I’m milking this place like nobody in the history of photography.

DAH: No, no, don’t  worry  this is an honest conversation…. it is too late for either of us to get fired.

MN: Well, I’ve given them more than I got.

DAH: Well of course you have and they know that. That goes without saying. They know that.

MN: But I like the tone of editor at large because what that means is not in the office. It means out there. So I fought really hard for that title.

DAH: And you’re keeping readers for them too. You’re good business.

MN: Some of my colleagues think that I’m old. I’m not old.

DAH: David Alan Harvey doesn’t think you’ve ever been old. When I met you, you gotta remember, you were a Magnum photographer when I met you and you shifted from Magnum to National Geographic, from an institutional standpoint, spiritually you are a Magnum photographer. Funny how we literally “traded places”..But you needed the capital resourcing. Period.

MN: Yeah exactly, Magnum is in my DNA.

DAH: But the thing is, I can go out and do my thing for ten dollars and where I need ten dollars you need a hundred thousand dollars, therefore you needed the National Geographic behind you. NatGeo has been good to you…and to me.

MN: And I can’t justify what I do if I’m not reaching the planet. I gotta have a huge audience because my work is about saving the planet, you know. Its not about me, its about tigers and elephants and stuff like that. So if I didn’t have this microphone, I’d just be pissing into the wind. This is the only place on earth that I can do what I do.

DAH: That’s right. Ok Chris (Johns) in his article was talking about being driven. I feel driven, and sometimes I feel like it’s a burden almost to be driven because you can’t get off of it. When you were a kid, I saw a picture of you in the 4th or 5th grade in Alabama. That’s where you’re from.

MN: Yeah

DAH: That’s where Reba is from.

MN: Yeah, that’s why I’m called Nick. My best friend’s growing up we’re Bubba, Fuzzy, and Stevie Wonder.

DAH: My nickname was Heavenly.  I know your mother. Partied with your mother and you and the gang. I photographed you and your mother together for my family project. Where’s that drive coming from? What’s the nut of that thing? Where’s that fire coming from? Where’s that work ethic coming from?

MN: Fear, first off.

DAH: Fear works.

MN: Fear of failure. I’d love for people to understand that no matter where you get it, if your not afraid, something’s wrong with you. Every time you go out, you should be afraid. But then the work ethic of being poor…my mom raised us, my dad left when I was a kid, she’s had no education, and my dad was in the picture but he always thought, your just a lazy hippy. You know, I’m obsessive, I’m obsessive compulsive and photography gives me a….

DAH: a kind of  hippy.

MN: I’m definitely a hippy.

DAH: And yet you’ve got a work ethic.

MN: I’ve got a pop side to me. My stories are very popular. I can tell you that the readers love them.

DAH: Oh yeah, I love them too.

MN: But the work thing is…I don’t know anything else. That’s the problem. I don’t know how to turn it down. Once that train left the station, and I got on it, I haven’t figured out how to ever get off.

 

Photo taken by Kyle George

View Nicks personal website at www.michaelnicknichols.com or go directly to his iPad app here.

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LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

 

 

 

 

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Sean Gallagher

China’s Fragile Forests

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Natural forests cover about 10 percent of China, however few of these forests remain in a primary or pristine condition.

China’s forests are threatened primarily by timber collection, mining, unregulated harvesting of flora for traditional Chinese medicine and excessive development related to increased tourism. Reforestation efforts by authorities have also caused the proliferation of mono-culture forests, which have hampered forest recovery and negatively affected biodiversity.

In 2011, the UN’s official “International Year of Forests,” the forests of the southwest of China were classified by Conservation International as one of the world’s top ten most threatened forest regions.

This is the third chapter in a long-term body of work focusing on China’s environmental crises in the early 21st Century. The previous two chapters have focused on increasing desertification and on disappearing wetlands.

This work was funded by a travel grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

 

Bio

Sean Gallagher is a British photojournalist, currently based in Beijing, China. Graduating in Zoology from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England, his work now focuses on environmental issues in Asia, with specific emphasis on China.

He was the first recipient of the Emerging Photographers Fund in 2008 and is a 4-time recipient of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting Travel Grant. His work has appeared with news outlets including Newsweek, the New York Times, Der Spiegel and National Geographic. His work on environmental issues in China was acknowledged as “some of the most striking images on display at the Copenhagen climate change conference”, by the BBC World Service in 2009.

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Sean Gallagher

Pulitzer Center

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Scott Dalton

So Close, So Far: Daily Life and Cartel Violence in Ciudad Jurez

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Averaging over 3,000 murders a year, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, has become one of the most dangerous cities on earth, a place sometimes called ‘Baghdad on the Border’, or ‘Murder City’.  Located on the US-Mexico border, just across from El Paso, TX, Ciudad Juarez is the epicenter of a struggle between drug cartels that has pushed all of Mexico toward lawlessness. The city has become a bed of tension, its citizens weary and nervous of the gunfire that may erupt at any moment. Yet daily life in Juarez maintains a paradoxical serenity, at once contradictory to and somehow acquiescent in the crisis that is overwhelming the city.

As a photographer I am interested in the often-fragile relationship between people and the places they live, in how individuals, environment, and history combine to create a region with its own culture. In my project ‘So Close, So Far: Daily Life and Cartel Violence in Ciudad Juarez’, I am exploring these ideas through images of daily life in a place where the drug war calls the very concept of “daily life” into question.  Combining environmental portraits and documentary reportage, I hope to document this tragic and historic time in the life of this city, when cartel violence forges an uncertain new reality.

Porfirio Diaz, a former president of Mexico, is famously quoted as saying, ‘Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States’. This proximity has had a profound influence on the history of Ciudad Juarez. Renowned in the past for bandits, smugglers, and revolutionaries, it is now the stage upon which drug cartels are enacting a bloody struggle for control of the lucrative drug routes leading north into the US. With over 30,000 cartel related deaths in all of Mexico since 2006, the country has an uncertain future. In Ciudad Juarez the government has been reduced to picking up bodies and tallying the dead, impunity has spread, life has become cheap, and murder is easy. Yet somehow life goes on.

 

Bio

Scott Dalton is a photographer based in Houston, TX and a graduate of UT Austin in Photojournalism. He was based for 14 yrs in Latin America, mainly in Bogotà, Colombia where he photographed the drug war. He has photographed in conflict zones in Colombia, Nepal, and Gaza; and he has also covered major stories and events throughout Latin America. He spent a year with a paramilitary gang in Medellin directing the award winning film ‘La Sierra’. And he has even been kidnapped by Colombian rebels while on assignment for the LA Times in 2003.

He now works on long-term personal projects shot on medium format film. Currently his focus is the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Before that he spent four years photographing a region in Colombia that influenced the writings of Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez. His photos have appeared in National Geographic, Harper’s, Time, The New Yorker, GEO and many other outlets. In 2009 he was nominated for the Santa Fe Prize and was Top 50 in Critical Mass.

 

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Scott Dalton

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Alvaro Deprit

Black Garden

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Nagorno Karabakh / 2010 May.

Inside the narrow valleys of the Caucasus Mountains there is a country not appearing in the maps: Nagorno-Karabakh, which name – a mixed of Russian, Turkish and Persian languages – means Mountainous Black Garden.
This self-proclaimed republic is the result of a cruel conflict – 20 to 30 thousand victims – that started in the 1988, when its majority Armenian population started demanding the independence from the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.
People in Karabakh try to survive as they can.
The recognition of Kosovos independence by Western powers as the recognition by Russia of South Osetia and Abkhazia – two secessionist regions of Georgia – are the facts that made the Karabakhians think they could become a real country.

 

Bio

Alvaro Deprit, Madrid 1977.
He has been living in Italy since 2004 divides his time between Rome and Istanbul.
Alvaro studied German Philology in Germany, Sociology in Italy. Self-taught, has deepened in photographic language attending the courses in Spain with Pep Bonet and Shreyl Mendez.
Concerned by the Turkish culture and its modernization, changes in post-Soviet South Caucasus and in immigration in Europe which explores the various forms of adaptation.
He has exhibited his photos in Rom, Barcelona, London and New York and has worked for Il Sole 24ore, Newsweek, Internazionale, Vanity Fair, Viva Magazine, El Periodico, Yo Dona, Glamour.

 

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Alvaro Deprit – OnOff Picture Photo Agency

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Alfredo Chiarappa

Crossing Leningrad

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Leningrad, Russia
January 2011

“Stavrogin: … in the Apocalypse the angel swears that there’ll be no more time.

Kirillov: I know. It’s quite true, it’s said very clearly and exactly. When the whole of man has achieved happiness, there won’t be any time, because it won’t be needed. It’s perfectly true.

Stavrogin: Where will they put it then?

Kirillov: They won’t put it anywhere. Time isn’t a thing, it’s an idea. It’ll die out in the mind.”

- The possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky.

During the winter in Leningrad the night falls in love with time that seems never want to end. And the white mist all around suggests all lovers never to leave each other, and keeps company to the city youth.

After the end of the Communist dictatorship the young russian cultures strongly felt the influences of their contemporary american and european neighbours, so much that 20 years later even the myth of being a city of sex tourism has been lost.
Today in the city of the Great Peter you can breathe european air, and it can be compared to generation dream cities like Berlin and London.

Crossing Leningrad is about post-perestroika youth who wants to go beyond the time they couldn’t see certain films, couldn’t listen western music, radio stations and even wearing jeans.

 

Bio

Alfredo Chiarappa was born in 1982 in Melfi, a little town in southern Italy, and currently lives in Milan. He holds degrees in communication design from Politecnico in Milan and studied documentary photography at Rome School of Photography. His work is focuses on street culture and young people everyday life. Currently, he is a freelance photographer and he works on his personal projects. He also teaches Digital Media at Politecnico in Milan.

 

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ASSIGNMENT EGYPT: LAURA EL TANTAWY

Burn has just contributed $2,000. to the crowd funding effort for Laura to photograph her homeland, Egypt. This funding for Laura comes from you. From your generous contributions to Burn and by purchasing our books. This is our pay back/ pay forward. We will be doing more assignment work with photographers of all kinds, cooperating with organizations like www.emphas.is and doing some on our own. One way or another we will do our part to get photographers working on projects of significant importance. Either in journalism or in art.

Our big push in 2012 will be to only be publishing original work done specifically for Burn. As we just did with much of the work now in Burn02. Burn readers will have the first look at Laura’s new Egypt work. Both Laura and all of us at Burn thank you for your support.

Below is an unedited skype call with Laura:

 
DAH: Well Laura, we’ve known each other for a long time and I know your Egypt work. We  are anxious to get involved with you on some new Egypt work. I think the readers of BURN already know a little bit about you – they’ve seen your Cairo work during the revolution, you were an EPF finalist, and they know you from the India farmers suicide project – basically  they’ve seen some of your Egypt work in general, so tell us what you’re getting ready to do if your funding comes through for Emphas.is? What do you want to do this time?

 

LET: The main reason for the funding is that I want to go on a one-year trip across the country. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do – just for my own self and I think this is the best time to do it to get a sense of what’s happening in the country in terms of everything, the way people are thinking, the way the country is looking. I think it’s that phase where there is that transition happening right now and some people are thinking…they are still coping with that, what just happened with that change and has that change filtered into anything real that people can sense in their day-to-day lives and compare it to what it was before?

 

DAH: When you’re looking at Egypt, are you driven more by current events or are you driven more by the overall history and culture of Egypt in general – or some combination?

 

LET: The overall culture and history is mostly what I’m interested in precisely because I feel like Egypt has always been..you know every photo book that I have seen about Egypt has generally been about the Ancient Egyptians and the Pharaohs, the whole archeological aspect. We rarely really see anything about modern Egypt –what people look like and what life is like in Egypt. That’s what has always intrigued me from the beginning about Egypt: I want to show that aspect to counterbalance that exotic image that we have because it’s not all exotic, that’s in our history but now it’s a different reality. Of course with the current events, well you know, I think all current events happening right now are important, but for me, the ones that are really important are like the elections, because these are decisive and they’re really going to affect what’s going to happen next. Something like the Mubarak trial, which is happening right now, while I’m in Egypt, if those hearings are happening, I’ll definitely go and stay outside the courtroom to get those pictures, because that’s part of the story. Regardless of what people are saying that the hearings maybe staged or whatever, I think it’s historic to see these people, who were realistically owning and running the country, behind bars.

 

DAH: well, if you were looking down the line and I know you have mentioned this to me before, but maybe our audience doesn’t know about it in general, I know that you have looked towards doing a book on Egypt, is that right?

 

LET: yes

 

DAH: The only thing I am thinking is that let’s say three or four years from now when hopefully your book will still be sitting on everybody’s coffee table around the world, how important are the current events that are happening now going to be in a book that’s sitting on a coffee table three or four years from now?

 

LET: It’s a good question. I think it’s all part of the history. When we look at it at that moment it’s kind of like a historical document and it’s not just the current events, but really any picture in that book because everything is changing everyday and I think any picture in that book at that moment is going to be part of the history. I think particularly those current events, like the trial of Mubarak the former President of the country for 30 years, I think it’s going to gain more relevance and importance then than it even has now, in my opinion. That’s why I wanted to go to Egypt during the revolution anyways, it was because it was important for my own history and I think that is something that I’m feeling obviously a lot more with this work than the other stuff I do because it is about me – it is about how I feel and how I feel about the country and where the country is going and the kind of memories that it brings back to me. It’s about my childhood, my future, you know, my current time. Everything.

 

DAH: As an outside observer looking at your work I find you to be a very lyrical photographer – you’re a very artistic image maker and at the same time I have seen you take on news events, like the revolution in Cairo, and you’ve done a brilliant job with that as well. It will be interesting for me to see which way you lean in terms of a book on Egypt – whether you lean more towards events or whether you lean more towards everyday life. What do you think?

 

LET: Well, I’m not going to concentrate on current events all the time, you know what I mean? I started the work in 2005 and when I started the work in 2005 it was about everyday life, mostly from a street perspective. I think what I really want to do more now is actually gain more access to people’s homes and look beyond the streets. I think the streets are extremely important because I feel like for me, the sense that I got about Egypt in terms of the turbulence, the isolation of the people and that something was about to happen – I got that from the streets. It was catalyzed by conversations I was having with my family and my friends about the situation behind doors, but the streets can give you a very good sense of what’s happening in the country. It’s the body language and everything about the people – I mean people were walking on the street talking to themselves, literally. But I don’t know. If you are talking about current events like a 50/50 balance between current events and day-to-day life, then it’s hard to say now, but knowing myself it’s going to be like 20 percent current events and the rest daily life because for me that’s what is more interesting anyways.

 

DAH: Well, I can’t project my feelings about your work onto what you’re getting ready to do, but if I were going to sit down and appreciate a book on Egypt by Laura El-Tantawy, I would be thinking more of everyday life rather than current events because it takes one hell of a current event picture to last more than a few days or a few weeks at least, so…

 

LET: To be honest with you, I don’t necessarily feel I’m really a current events photographer – like from a news perspective, I’m not sure I am somebody you can put where a current event is happening and really get one picture that tells the story. I don’t think I’m like that and I don’t really feel like I do that very well, maybe it’s a weakness, maybe it’s not, I don’t know, but I’m not really a current events photographer.

 

DAH: well, I think you handled the Cairo revolution very, very well. I think you did do very well with current events and you got certain kinds of current event pictures that nobody else got, so I think you can do it and I think there are some current event pictures that you have in that take that lift way beyond the current event. You know my favorite of the guy in the palm tree – you say he’s not really in the palm tree, but it looks like he’s in the palm tree, the guy standing up on top of a statue I guess is what it is with the palm tree in the background – that’s a symbolic picture that was taken at a current event but could be good anytime.

 

LET: yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you mean.

 

DAH: No, I don’t think of you as a current events photographer either, I look at you as better than a current events photographer in the sense that I think you are able to interpret the everyday life in a very special way, and so that’s probably what I would look for if I were going to buy a Laura El-Tantawy book.

 

LET: well, I hope I can keep that up! Actually, one of the things I should add is that I am going to also be shooting video this time. I started to do some experimenting with video when I was in Tahrir and that was actually fun and I think it added a different dimension for me. So I’m going to try to be doing that as I travel around the country.

 

DAH: Do you think that you’ll be able to concentrate on your normal style of photography and be able to do video simultaneously?

 

LET: I think in this particular situation, yes, I mean hopefully. It’s hard to say when you’re not in the situation and just projecting what’s going to happen, but I think yes – yes, even more than in Tahrir because in Tahrir you were bombarded by stuff around you the whole time and eventually it became a question of should I use my phone (I was taking video on my phone because it was the only thing I had at the time), but I was like, should I do this or should I be taking a picture? It was really a conflict at that moment, but I think on a long one-year journey like that, I’m going to have more time to reflect and think. There’s definitely more time to think about it.

 

DAH: That will be interesting to see how you handle that because I’m not so sure about that because you know how it is, it never seems like every picture situation seems like, OK, you’re going to have to work on this now, there doesn’t ever seem to be like long periods of time for one to reflect on things – usually you have to make a decision very quickly whether you’re going to go one way or the other…

 

LET: yes, but I think you are thinking of taking a video of the same situation that you’re photographing, whereas I’m thinking that the video is going to be something to compliment the pictures but not repeat them. So the video is going to be of different things that I am not really inclined to photograph, you know what I mean? I would like to really use both platforms to compliment each other rather than, OK, this is a video of the same situation that I photographed, so in that way I see more of a balance.

 

DAH: Yeah, well, it’s obviously the trend, it’s what more and more people are trying to do and you’re in a new, younger generation than am I, and I think that is definitely the trend. I’m still very curious to see how that’s going to work out. I haven’t seen very many good examples of where people have been able to do both  No doubt I have missed some great work out there..

 

LET: you’re shooting video at the moment, right? I thought you said you were

 

DAH: No, I’m not shooting video

 

LET: Ah, I thought you said at some point you were

 

DAH: No, I haven’t…for me, shooting video and shooting stills on the same subject would be, I think, very difficult unless I took two weeks off and just did video and then, I would probably think, oh my goodness, I wish I had a still of that situation, or the other way around. No if I’m doing video and stills I’m going to have somebody else who is doing the video just because for me it’s too big of a jump to go back and forth from one to the other. But again, as I said, you’re from a different generation and I think a lot of young photographers, just like you, are combining those two things, but I just haven’t seen great examples of that – I’ve seen people do it, but I’m always frustrated by 99 percent of what I see. Just when I’m starting to watch a video it turns back to stills and just when I get into the stills, it all of a sudden turns into a video and for me, most of the time it’s annoying, but I would love to see somebody do it right. So I’m hoping you can be that person.

 

LET: Well, yeah, we’ll see. It’s a one-year journey so there will be time to think about stuff. We’ll see how it goes.

 

DAH: Well, you’re a brilliant still photographer and I think you could do the whole thing with stills, but as I said, there’s so many people doing the video and so many people that are trying to do the video, that I think somewhere along the line somebody’s going to come up with a really interesting way of putting the two things together. But you do see a lot of it that it’s done because they can do it, rather than they should have done it.

 

LET: yeah, I know what you mean.

 

DAH: In any case Laura it’s going to be fascinating to see what you do with this. You obviously need some more funding somewhere along the line to spend a whole year in Egypt, this will just get you started and we’re happy that we can be a part of this – we were happy to be a small part of your Cairo revolution photography, where I think you really did show a very special vision of that revolution that was different from what a lot of news photographers did, and I have every confidence that you’re going to be able to do the same thing in the whole country.

 

LET: Thank you very much. You know, I’m wondering – just putting it out there – as a BURN reader I would be curious to know how I can get a project that is up on Emphas.is part funded by BURN?

 

DAH: That’s a very good question and yes, I think you will be the first one that we’ve sponsored through Emphas.is, but we got a little bit of sponsorship money for you last time, as you remember as well – somebody just saw what you were shooting in BURN and they gave you some money. But then we started thinking, wait a minute, you might be able to do much better if it’s crowd funded on Emphas.is and they can raise more money so that you could do more work and if we can a big piece of that, then we can publish more pictures of yours. So we thought that this might be the best way to go, so it’s a little bit of an experiment on our part but we like the Emphas.is people and I think, yeah, we will entertain suggestions from everybody. One thing that you don’t know is that we are changing a little bit the way that we are going to work with photographers in the future. We’re going to work a little bit more like other magazines have always worked, where we will get to know the photographers a little bit better than just having them submit work and then us reconfiguring a few pictures – we’re going to really look at their websites, really look at them and their personalities and think in terms of having at least a little bit of a cadre of photographers that work for us on a pretty regular basis. I mean you know, we can’t have a staff, we can’t have contracts or anything like that, but we can have a few photographers who we like, who like us, and we can develop a little bit of a relationship for the future in terms of working on specific projects. So I think, we’re going to be doing more portfolio reviews as a group and we’re going to be studying photographers more and spending a lot of time with them and working a little more with other people in the same way that we’ve worked with you, actually.

 

LET: Yeah, I think that would be great. I think a lot of people would be interested in that.

 

DAH: I think so, I mean we’ll see how it goes. Again, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. We’ve been extremely successful with BURN02 as we were with BURN01 and so that would sort of spin your head around a little bit because we’re selling books at a phenomenal rate – I mean we’re selling 30 of those a day, so it’s a rather amazing thing. But just because you can do that doesn’t mean that you should do that, so that’s what we’re trying to figure out, how we manage our own personal careers and how we also help to manage other people’s careers. Yeah, we’re really kind of into career management kind of a thing with BURN, as much as, you know, putting out a book and a magazine. We’re interested in the photographers and who they are and what they want to do. We want to make it as personalized as we possibly can, which is what we’ve actually always done, we just want to even make it more so. Sorry , I digress. My enthusiasm gets carried away sometimes…

 

DAH: Just one other question for you, Laura. Explain to the readers one more time, you are of an Egyptian nationality and yet you have lived about 75 or 80 percent of your life away from Egypt. How does that affect you working in Egypt – do Egyptians know that you haven’t spent your whole life there? Does that have a positive effect or a negative effect? How does that affect you and how does that affect the people that you’re photographing?

 

LET: This is a tough one for me even to look at, to be honest with you. I don’t know – I mean when I’m in Egypt sometimes people don’t think I’m Egyptian and yet I tell them I am Egyptian and I speak to them in Arabic and their like, yeah, whatever, you’re not Egyptian. You know, I really don’t know what to make of that, to be honest with you. It’s totally confusing, even for me. I do feel that obviously I have changed a lot as a person and the way I think about stuff. I feel like I am Egyptian heritage wise, but whether the fact that I have lived abroad is a good thing or a negative thing when it comes to photographing Egypt, I don’t know. It makes me feel slightly uncomfortable, to be honest….

 

DAH: How do they know? Can they just tell by the way that you dress? The way you act?

 

LET: yeah, maybe the way you act, the way you dress, that kind of thing. I don’t really know what it is. In Egypt you see all kinds of people, so I don’t think it’s particularly that, but people know, or maybe it’s just the kind of places I hang out. I like to go to an area in Old Cairo where a lot of tourists hang out, but that’s just because it’s really beautiful and I feel it’s really Egyptian in a way, so maybe because their used to seeing tourists, they think I am a tourist as well. I’m really not sure what it is. But basically my point is, whether me living abroad as an Egyptian for so long and coming back to photograph, I think a lot of people can look at me and say, you know, what right do you have? You’ve lived away from the country for so long, so what do you really know? But in many cases I look at people who have lived away from Egypt, like myself, and they’re a lot more connected and educated about what’s happening in Egypt now than people inside Egypt themselves. You know when people live in a situation they can become completely blind to it and I actually saw that a lot during the revolution with people that I know – they were completely blinded by what’s happening. It’s kind of like they were under the spell of this place that they’re surrounded by, whereas when you live abroad and you come back you have something to compare it to. You know this is not the way it’s supposed to be and that the way people are walking on the street talking to themselves, this is just not normal. It’s a sign that something is fundamentally wrong in the country.

 

DAH: Do you think they might think that you’re not Egyptian just because you’re photographing as a professional photographer? Is being a woman photographer a really unusual thing to see for most Egyptians?

 

LET: I think it used to be, but when I was in Tahrir Square there were so many people with cameras, particularly women, so I don’t really know. I mean, yeah, it’s still sort of new trend kind of thing and yes, of course, if you are walking around with a camera, they probably think you’re a tourist, which is fine by me. I actually rather people think I am a tourist when I’m photographing  because, you’ve been to Egypt, you’ve seen immediately pointing the camera at something makes people paranoid. So in many cases I have actually played it to my advantage and pretended that I am a tourist just to that I can work. But generally, I don’t know, it’s a touchy area for me because I feel that I can comfortably talk about it but at the same time I feel like I haven’t lived there long enough and I feel uncomfortable about maybe what people are going to say. You know what I mean? I think that I have probably confused the whole question!

 

DAH: No, No, No. I think you have answered it well. You don’t really know exactly how that’s going to play out. I mean I have photographed in my own culture, like I was just in Iowa photographing my own culture, where my family is from,  and they knew I wasn’t from there either. My mom and dad are from there , I look just like everybody there, but they knew that I wasn’t really from there, you know. So I felt a little bit like  a foreigner in Iowa where I actually grew up as a little kid at one point and where my family’s from and I got the same ethnic mix as the people who live there, right? But I was a little bit of an outsider. I’ve also gone and spent a lot of my time photographing in countries where I have no connection –different religion, different culture, different color and been very much at home and hanging right around and taking pictures that I think are very natural to the people of that culture, so it’s an interesting equation. You can be very close even if you are from another place or you can be totally apart even if you theoretically belong.

 

LET: yeah, definitely . I never used to think about this. If you had asked me this question before what happened in January or February, I probably would have very comfortably said, no, there is no question, I am Egyptian and there is no problem, but I really started to question this more and more when stuff was happening in Egypt and you had these people who were protesting, sleeping in Tahrir square and they’re the ones that really instituted this change and so I started to feel like, yeah, I’m Egyptian, but I didn’t actually do what these people did – they did it. So I’m kind of Egyptian, but not really as Egyptian as they are.

 

DAH: Well, that’s a good honest answer and I think that’s all we’re looking for here

 

 

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I have a very playful side. Some get this side confused with my so called “serious side”.  Often the two blend.  Surely my intent. So, right smack in the middle of Burn 02 production and also when I am focusing on two major projects, RIO and FAMILY DRIVE, I come up with this idea now called COMIC BOOK,  which spun spontaneously yesterday out of nowhere while I was playing with the Instagram bit.  The beauty of COMIC BOOK is that I can do it while doing other things.

These are to be three picture fiction sequences based on real life.  Or, are they even really fiction? You can decide. Just like the way I always saw the comics in the paper as a kid, and smiling as an “adult” as well. Anyway, fun and I keep trying to think of legit creative ways to use Twitter and Facebook, which is where these sequences will appear first. The “reality show”  is now being built by introducing the characters.  Two characters have been introduced so far on the FB/Twitter platform, and I will have up to ten interacting characters. These “stories” will evolve over time and are intended totally as a retro spoof on the so called “picture story”. But who knows where this goes?

Well, for one thing I hope it will spawn some ideas for you. I really want you to start thinking in terms of packages of pictures, sound, music, or whatever media you like and wrap it all into little units we can plug right here into Burn. Just as I have here. Yes, this is mine , but I am waiting for yours. The sky is the limit. No restrictions, just come up with a totally fun or totally serious concept. We will play you right here if provocative enough.You must produce the entire idea and package it for use. We can help of course, but the point is independent production by you. Yes, we already do this to some extent, but we want to max out this idea. So my “play” is just to get things rolling.

There is one thing I really need for you to do right now. We are late for this idea for Burn 02, but I think we can still make the deadline. Anyway, let’s try. Go NOW and take a self portrait using a window, any window,  to frame you. No more instructions. Just you in a window as a self portrait. We need 100 of you to do this for it to work as a spread in BURN 02 which we are scrambling to have in print and a debut at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France by the end of the month.

Just drop this picture into Submissions right here and mark it Self Portrait. If we can collectively make this happen cool, if not BURN 02 will rock it no matter what. If you do this, it must literally be done in the next few days. Should be fun and the designer of 02 has an interesting concept for these pictures. A surprise for you of course.

Hey, its summertime. Time to do things just for fun. Of course if you do anything you enjoy, it might just be taken seriously. I think the point is, and I try to get my students to open their minds way way way up, is that everything you do should be some sort of self portrait. Not literally, but figuratively. A point of reference to who you are, not who you are supposed to be. Photography can be used in so many ways. I never cease to be amazed by the possibilities. Wishing you feel the same. Show me.

-dah-

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