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« Margie and I go to the Anchorage Premiere of "Big Miracle." Now I must figure out how to blog it as I saw it | Main | David Alan Harvey Workshop, entry 20: Farewell to those I experienced the workshop with »

David Alan Harvey Workshop, entry 21 - final: David himself - his two predictions for me; thank you, John Gladdy, for bringing me to the workshop

This is David Alan Harvey himself, and he was tired when I took this picture. He says he doesn't get tired, but he does. He just doesn't take much note of it or let it stop him or slow him down - or stop him from playing, either. "Work hard, play hard," he says, and he does. Sometimes, I think he does more than any other human being I have ever met - certainly more than any other photographer. In general, I have met no harder working group of people than photographers. I am at a loss as to how he does it. In just the time since the workshop, he has taught another major workshop, finished off two National Geographic pieces - one on Rio De Janeiro and one on what lies just beyond the porch of his Outer Banks, North Carolina, beach-front home - a project which he also turned into an online workshop.

For that workshop, he brought the editor of National Geographic online and also took his readers inside National Geographic to assist in the final selection of the opening image - the first time in National Geographic's history when they allowed pictures that were soon to appear in their magazine to be shown in another forum. He also  finished off the shooting for a personal book on Rio, made that into a very intense online workshop during which he regularly made multiple daily posts and continually responded to the lively dialogue those posts generated. Throughout all this, he kept Burn Magazine alive and flowing with new talent and, again, joined in and stayed current with all the Burn dialogue those posts generated.


I am exhausted!

On the surface, especially during the early stages of a critique, he can sometimes seem a little bit gruff, but he makes up for it later and he gives of himself to other photographers more than does any other photographer that I know of. I am one of the many photographers to whom he has given. Of course, I have known about Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey since at least 1978, when he was named Magazine Photographer of the Year. Truth is, though, over the past couple of decades, I have lived very isolated from the larger world of photography.

I once kept track of National Geographic, Life, Time, American Photo, Aperture and other photographic publications studiously and also who was doing what photographically. Yet, I lived a life built around the tiny circulation, photographically-oriented publications that I either created or inherited for a time here in Alaska. I have had very little interaction with other photographers - including the talented photojournalists living and working here in Alaska.

I lived in my own world, occassionally making short forays into the larger world, but never staying long enough to go anywhere in it. I did not lose my larger ambitions, but I had no idea how to focus them and they always seemed to get drowned out by the urgency generated by the demands of the tiny-circulation publications that I have been engaged in.

Then, in June of 2008, I took a bad fall while acting recklessly in search of a better angle. I lost my right shoulder, got it replaced by titanium and then for a year was unable to do much of anything but walk around snapping left-handed photos with a pocket camera given to me by my children. This happened just when I had begun two big projects and was poised to make some decent money and start digging my way out of the economic hole I remain engulfed in.

Unable to do much, I spent more time wandering about on the computer. One day, I wandered onto Burn Magazine. I was stunned by the quality of the work, and inspired by the moving force behind it all... that force being David Alan Harvey, multiplied by the talent and force of all those other photographers - emerging, iconic and struggling; young, middle-aged and growing old - who joined him in the work.

When David started Burn, he had been advised by some in the know not to allow comments and dialogue, but he did and so all these diverse and globally-dispersed people became a community, even a family of sorts - myself, Frostfrog, included. As is the case in all communities and families, contention sometimes arises among us, but it almost never drops into that gratuitously mean and spiteful contention common to other dialogue boards. We are all there because we love photography. Those of us who are photographers want to better and advance ourselves, others want to better understand or even to spread love among the Mass of all Civilians of the Audience of this earth. 

And so it was that, in as grim a moment as I have experienced in this life, the head of that family, David Alan Harvey sought to comfort me. At the beginning of this series, I told about the two predictions that he made for me, both of which seemed impossible at the time - one, that he would see me in New York within a year; two, that a new muse would come into my life to fill the void left behind by the suicide of my beloved Muse Soundarya, who chose to follow her husband Anil, who had just died in a car crash, into whatever lies beyond this life.

Obviously, the first prediction came true - in large part because of another member of the Burn family. When I began this series, I told how an individual had clicked onto the Paypal button that I put up on my original blog, Wasilla, Alaska by 300 and then some and had made a contribution to this blog large enough to cover a round-trip ticket from Anchorage to New York. I did not know when I might take that trip, but then it just happened that David scheduled the Loft workshop for one of the rare times when I would have money enough to justify the expense. So I came.

The donor has told me he is okay with me identifying him: John Gladdy, a member of the Burn family and a most talented photographer. His contribution? $666.66. I know this number will horrify some readers, but let me assure all: he may have spent much of his time walking on the hard edge of life, but John Gladdy has a good and generous heart. He is a good person.

Thank you, John Gladdy. I would never have made it to the Loft Workshop without your most generous encouragement.

How about the second part of David's prediction? That I would find a new muse?

No one will ever again step into the place that Soundarya occupies in my life. No one. That place is hers and hers alone. That said, I must say that her sister, Sujitha, whose wedding in Pune, India, I am scheduled to attend in March, did step in to help carry me through to this point. While it goes without saying, but I want to say it, my wife, Margie, has sacrificied so much to allow me to do what I have done, has always been there for me, has always supported and encouraged me and has been often my only sounding board before publishing. When she was young and beautiful (she remains beautiful), she would almost never allow me to photograph her, as a photographer would normally expect his muse to do, but, yes, she also deserves the title of Muse.

There are many definitions of "muse" in the dictionary, both as verb and noun. Among them, these:

...a guiding spirit... a source of inspiration... a muse is a spirit or source that inspires an artist... muses help inspire people to do their best...

As of recent, who has inspired me the most? Who has most pushed me to do my best?

David Alan Harvey.

So, David, you may not be a goddess of Greek Mythology, but you sure as hell have inspired me; you have helped to keep me going when I felt I could not. Every day, you push me to better myself. In this sense, you are the fulfilment of your own prediction. You are Muse - to me, and to how many others?

If any readers wish to learn more about David, the projects he has done, the books he has made, Burn has the links to get you going in all the right directions.


This series is now over. I did spend two more days in New York and, of course, I did fly home and that ought to be a Logbook entry. I may or may not blog something from those two days and trip home. If I do, then I will surely muse a bit about the experience, what I have learned and how it affects me now.


Reader Comments (8)

harvey does indeed look tired in your great B&W close-up. gladdy has a terrific website. interesting thot about finding another muse. your paths shall indeed cross.

January 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuth Deming

I know both of them, and love both of them, and I'm not somebody easy to use that word in regard to humans.

Bill, I'm way way behind on reading your latest posts, I want and I will catch up, it might take a little bit.. but I have a good reason.. that has much to do with what you write above, and with the men you write about above.

Work hard, play hard.. and dreams come true! Absolutely YES!

More next time I can stop by..

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereva

Yes I knew it was John Gladdy! Had to be John, a very special man indeed. The first person since my grandfather had died who really told me a couple of truths straight in my face and also solved my biggest photographic doubt whilst in Paris.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Thank you Bill. Most inspiring. Over the last 3 years I have visited everyday. You have me hooked! Your sweet muse, Margie, has stolen my heart! I love her too. I wish nothing but the best as you continue your love of photography. We have all learned so much about Alaska through your lens. We have all fallen in love with your family and those precious boys and your pets. We have all laughed and cried as you have told your story. You have taught us to look around our world as we do the most mundane routines in our lives. Stop and talk with the horses...they have so much to say! We have fallen in love with a little boy and his train. If you hadn't slipped that day and needed a new metal shoulder, none of us would have met your loving family and fell in love with them. Many of us found you through another Alaskan who craves the spotlight, but it is you who have shown us there are very nice people in Alaska and little boys that love their Grandma and Grandpa!

I followed your workshop and struggled with you so out of your element. A fish out of water. It showed the misery, poverty, lost people with the glizt and glamor trying to cover it up. They all looked like lost souls to me. Sad to think this was a step up on the ladder for many of them. It depressed me.

I'm glad you went and learned, but glad you are home and surrounded by your beautiful Alaska and your beautiful family. Real people who love each other. I would much rather watch the beautiful Natives doing their dance in a gym than sad people dancing in NYC! To me, Ruth was the saddest story. A lost soul in a sea of humanity handing out leaflets to find salvation. Sad, indeed. Reality? In NYC but not in fly-over USA. It takes all kinds, and by God we have them! Bill Hess world = reality. NYC = Helter-Skelter. Welcome home Bill.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrs Gunka

clicked on burn magazine link--great site. would be scary to submit work for everyone to critique, but probably helpful too. visionary of the owner to allow comments a few years back.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdahli22

Can I sing now? Can I?

I wanna sing for JOHNYG...and for all of YOU...who make the dreams come true...


January 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentera civilian-mass audience

Like the gold scavenger’s sieve,
It’s loaded with trash and dirt,
Rocks rough around the edges.
Still, getting your hands dirty
To go through it all
Is worth it;
For in it,
All that glitters
Is gold.

- New York.

January 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlily

Thank you, Ruth.

Eva - I look forward to it.

Paul - Someday, I hope to meet him in person, too. Paris would be a good place to do it.

Mrs. Gunka - no matter where I go, it always feels best to return to Alaska.

Dahli - yes, it is a good audience but it can be a tough audience, too.

Sing, Civi - sing... and thanks for friending me on FB.

Lily - Yes, I am Alaskan - but I do love New York City!

January 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterLogbook - Wasilla - Beyond

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