Burn Magazine Extends Emerging Photographer’s Grant for 2011, also Retrospect Influences and LOOK3 – by Johnny Bivera

$15,000 BURN Grant deadline extends to May, 15, 2011

Funding is designed to support continuation of a photographer’s personal project. This body of work may be of either journalistic mission or purely personal artistic imperatives. The primary intent is to support emerging photographers who will become the icons of tomorrow.

The Emerging Photographer Fund grant was initiated by David Alan Harvey in 2008, and is awarded by the Magnum Foundation, a non-profit created by the member photographers from Magnum Photos, Inc…Funding for the EPF has come from several private donors who have chosen to remain anonymous.

Previous jurors have been: Carol Nagar, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Eugene Richards, Maggie Steber, Fred Ritchin, Bruce Gilden, David Griffin, John Gossage, Susan Meiselas, and James Nachtwey

See more about BURN here:

A Restrospect of Influences I got from David Alan Harvey and James Nachtway

I am blessed, like the many other photographers who have been influenced by greatness.  I live and breathe imagery, the aesthetics of it, long discussed theories, the boundaries that are constantly challenged, other photographers work and those that influence.  It would be very hard to prove that in my over twenty year career I had not gone a day without having some thought to it.  And along that time I have compiled a list of great people from artist, activist and leaders that have given much influence in my life, enriching me to love this world and this life of ours more so than I could have ever imagined from the beginning.  Their time no matter how small or large, helped shape my life into what I believe to be a very successful existence today.  And in 2009 I was fortunate to have been given the time to learn from two mentor icons whose work and ethics I greatly admire, David Alan Harvey and James Nachtway.

If you have not attended a LOOK3 event in Charlottesville, Va., where one is coming this June 9-11, then you are missing out on a great festival.  I have attended two of its last three and found it to be an awesome experience.  Coupled with the beautiful location and creative vibe, it is a festival with like-minded individuals founded by a diverse and broadly tailored program of many interests.  This event is what provided me with the opportunity to meet and be influenced by two of my most admired role models.

What I learned:

Over the years there has been one constant to learning that has crossed over, and that is to learn and repeat, learn and repeat.   We continue to repeat things we should already know, but for some lessons require the right time, moment or level of influence before they sink in.  Even I who almost shoots daily, provide consultation and teach in all levels, require a kick or two of growth and direction for one’s own path to success, no matter what that may be, the point is to proceed in a forward and upward motion.  One must always be learning…

To study in a class between Harvey and Nachtway was like standing in the middle of two pillars housed on Mt. Olympus.  Yes, that may seem farcical, but I don’t mind placing my heroes on pedestals when there is no doubt as to the reasons why.  I came with no preconceived notion on what I was going to do when asked for what my project was going to be.  Which for a brief period after introduction was slightly embarrassed for myself as I became, along with a few others in the room, students with big floating question marks as to how providential our ideas were going to be.  With their careful study of my portfolio they began to catechize me as to the why and what concerning my work.  I was challenged to support it, which I did, but in the end I had an even deeper sense of asking myself the same question as to why?

They killed what I thought was going to be my project, “too literal, too broad, too little time to pull off your shots,” they said.  And all I could say to that was okay!  I’ve heard the same thing come out of my own mouth before.  They looked at a series of what I did show and they asked, “What was going on here concerning some of these singles?  You seem to have a love for horses,” they remarked, as they started to pluck individual images I had from different project stacks.  The new stack showed horses from different places in the world, performing different functions in society… “You know that you’re in horse country don’t you? asked Nachtway.  I replied nodding yes!  “Well then you might want to do something about that while you’re here,” said Harvey.  And with that my project for the next four days was to find a story in horse country and accepting the realization that I did have a love for horses.

The quest and having something to prove drove the adrenaline.  What in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains provided that treasure of a story… I drove for many hours and spoke to many people, and it was just my luck that this Sunday was the day all the major horse owners and ranch managers would be in Richmond, spending the day at the track.  The sun was going down and the eastern shadow was slowly creeping across the valley.  Did I just waste a day with no picture and no contact, but worst of all no story?  I was about to give up when out of the corner of my eye as I passed, I saw a little old lady driving a lawn tractor on a small family owned horse farm.  As I turned the car around, pulled in and lowered my window she called out above the barking dogs, “May I help you?”  I told her I was in search of a story in the setting of Virginia horse country, and without hesitation she walked up to me, leaned in and said, “Well.. it sounds like you were looking for me!”

Her name was Phyllis and she was a strong 70-year old woman who took care of the horses from sun up to sun down.  This was a wonderful family and she was the matriarch that allowed me in their lives for a very brief period, and this century old, family owned farm showed the love they had for this life and the struggle they faced in retaining this lifestyle for future generations, where the appeal to live and work on the farm fell on one little granddaughter.  As I worked, the voices of Nachtway and Harvey were never far away.

As the days went by with Jim and David (notice first name basis), I eventually earned their respect and to hear from them what I already knew but never took seriously to admit about myself.  I did start to believe in the prediction they bestowed upon us, that if we took to heart what we needed to learn, we were going to end up hating our portfolio, and we were going to see things differently (for the better of course).  Strange that I didn’t believe that possible, maybe it was with all the years of being institutionalized as a Navy combat cameraman or beltway executive photographer, that teaching an old dog different tricks was conceivable.  But here it was, creeping in like the silent night I slowly found, as I studied what I had in hand to what I was now producing that they were right… It was a great exercise and wonderful experience, one I’ve done and continue to do with my students, where I look forward to doing again for myself the next time I need a good horse kick in the head.  Jim and David matured me in how I viewed myself as a photographer, they taught me to slow down, to appreciate the next venture by making sure I finish the last one.

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