Native son David Burnett returns to Salt Lake City with Too Close exhibit

7 10 2011

David Burnett, co-founder of Contact Press Images, returned to his home town of Salt Lake City and opened his exhibit Too Close at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on the University of Utah campus, 6 October, 2011.

His exhibit might also be called “Outtakes” since it is composed mostly of unpublished images from his illustrious career. The exhibit title is a tongue in cheek homage to Robert Capa’s quote “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

These images are spectacularly suited to a gallery setting and as Burnett himself noted, “Worth studying. Even many years later they have something to say.”

Burnett has been a hero to photojournalists for most of his 40 years as a photographer. That includes me. And I’ve only been at it for 30 years. Burnett is a true photographic innovator with his use of multiple camera types and formats. His images are iconic.

Some quotes from Burnett’s entertaining lecture:

“Time will change how you view your pictures. Keep everything.”

“The most important pictures are of your own life, from the same room that you are living in.”

“Photojournalism is pronounced dead every five years or so. It will always be with us.”

On digital photography and the lack of darkroom training for young photographers:”There’s something wrong with that, vastly wrong.”

Burnett shed light on two cherished moments from the 1980’s in his long, globe-trotting career.

During the first meeting ever in Russia of President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev Burnett sheepishly admitted to manipulating history. Burnett and a few other photographers covering the event feigned taking light meter readings on stage and moved the chairs where the two world leaders would sit to about a foot apart.

While covering the overthrow of the Shah of Iran Burnett told how he, with the help of about 10,000 Iranians, was able to throw/relay a roll of Tri-X film to French photographer Patrick Chauvel during a massive Khomeini rally of nearly  a million in Tehran.

Burnett is wonderfully modest. He’s a heart-felt speaker with a great flare for humor and obvious love for photojournalism (and film). I hear he is an avid blogger. I intend to sign in and follow him.

His exhibit continues at UMFA until January 29, 2012.




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