Collecting Photographers: David Burnett

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

 Recently I ran into David Burnett at,VISA POUR L’IMAGE in Perpignan, France. We reminisced about all the places we had run into each other around the world. Then I flashed back to our first meeting.

One of the more humiliating things in this business is all the infinitely long lines we occasionally endure to obtain credentials. Like a typical news schlub, I was standing in an interminable line of cameramen & reporters & photographers at Logan Airport. The Secret Service was doing security checks of the media. Mesomorphs in dark suits were surreptitiously listening to wires coiling out of their ears. Standing behind me in line was a hirsute photographer with a worn khaki jacket full of bulging pockets. Somehow under all that hair I recognized a face that I had only seen in magazines. In between his past Pulitzer Prize photographs from Vietnam & his future Picture of the Year photographs, he was in Boston covering the Pope John Paul ii visit to USA.

Of all the people in the crowd, nobody else acknowledged his existence. I extended my hand & told him my name. Numerous awards & by-lines do not make behind-the-scenes photographers any more visible. Even when famous ones drop their names with snooty maitre d’s, no better table is waiting for them in the restaurant. But anonymity is usually a photojournalist’s best ally. Slowly the line got shorter. At the end we picked up badges with bad mug shots. Also I made a friend.

At the enormous arena in southern France we rummaged our cobweb-filled heads for all the major events where we accidentally bumped into each other: Olympics Games, political conventions, exhibitions & I look over my shoulder into a familiar face. But I still remember that day in 1979 as if it were yesterday.

Find out more about David burnett at the following Links


Photo February 3, 2010 at 6:53 AM  

Nice. It is great to see a photographer acknowledging another in such simple and respectful words, letting images speak for the long relationship. Thanks - JI

Michael Krupa,  February 3, 2010 at 11:05 AM  

One of the many byproducts of facebook/blogs, etc. is that photographers and other artists/jounalists can get word out about their work to interested audiences. Grat story.

Anonymous,  February 14, 2010 at 11:52 AM  

Photographers are interesting because it's their photos that make them known or famous, not their own "celebrity". Their personalities are all very different but usually they are the opposite of "celebrity". You wouldn't really know one unless you knew they were one. Other celebrities are known for everything that's on the other side of the camera, and they have that "celebrity aura" around them that is expressed in their clothes, jewelry, the way they "are". Photographers are on the other side of that camera, and when you meet one whose work is well known, it's almost like a meeting of the "secret society"... you're both in the "club" in a way. -- Jeff E

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blog (blŏg, bläg) n. 1. short for Weblog 2. online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer 3. diary that is posted on the Internet 4. an experiment to verbalize my observations about the status of photography. It will be eclectic & deal with philosophy & practice of this universal art form. It will strive for periodic commentary about issues many photographers face, like ownership and the economy. It will also talk about pictures and what makes good ones and how to get them. No hardware. No software. No recycled clichés. No whining.