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.