David Burnett

burnettMaria_1387a copyDavid Burnett is a photojournalist with more than 4 decades of work covering the news, the people, and visual tempo of our age. He is co-founder of Contact Press Images,the New York based photojournalism agency, now entering its 37th year. In a recent issue of American Photo magazine Burnett was named one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography.” (That made his mom very happy.)   Here on this site are images of history unfolding: war, sport,  politics, the famous, the infamous, and the Unfamous. Work is constantly being added, so come back and see one person’s view of what our world of the past 40+ years looks like. In a world gone mad over digital photography, his  kit includes  a 60 year old Speed Graphic press camera, and a plastic $30 HOLGA.  Each has a place along  side his digital cameras, each camera a tool to find the right look for the right moment. The May/June 2010 issue of American PHOTO did a 10 page story on David, and his unique talent for staying ahead of the times.    In July, 2011, David worked with Photographers for Hope to create a workshop for homeless news vendors in Glasgow, Scotland. Their work (see here) is a really wonderful show of what photography can do, when there is motivation.  Don’t miss it.

He is also collaborating with the group “Facing Change – Documenting America” which is trying to recreate a modern version of the FSA, and take a serious look at the issues facing the country during these turbulent economic times.  You can see the group’s work at  www.facingchange.org  He recently taught workshops at the GulfPhotoPlus.com festival in Dubai – a long way on an airplane to get there but really great fun. Check out the blog ( werejustsayin.blogspot.com ) he writes with his wife Iris.

Reporters Without Borders has just published  “100 Photos for Freedom of the Press” featuring a whole career’s worth of David’s work. The publication, which helps support R.W.B. is available by mail order: If you click here, you can order one

burnett_100photos_liberte_presse_largeWanna know what’s inside David’s camera bag: have a look here, an interview with Grover Sanschagrin of PHOTOShelter.com.  Milwaukee Public TV recently interviewed David for their “I Remember” documentary series. Have a look here.

David has won virtually every award in the field of magazine photojournalism. These include:

  • Magazine Photographer of the Year, University of Missouri/NPPA, 1980
  • World Press Photo (Holland) ”Press Photo of the Year”, 1980
  • Best Olympic Sports Essay, China News Photographers Association, 2009
  • Robert Capa Gold Medal, Overseas Press Club, 1974
  • First Prize Sports Story, World Press Photo, 2005
  • Best Olympic Sports B/W Essay, International Olympic Committee, 1997
  • Best Campaign Picture – Road to the White House, Picture of the Year International, 2009
  • Olivier Rebbot Award, Overseas Press Club, Best Reporting from Abroad 1985 and 2010

He has thrice been a juror in the prestigious World Press Photo contest in Amsterdam, chairing the board in both 1999 and this year, 2011.  In 2007 he taught at the World Press Photo “Joop Swart MasterClass”, leading ten emerging photographers in their quest for new direction.

  • “44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World”: the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington DC   2010
  • “44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World”: Visa Pour l’Image, Perpignan, 2009
  • “Soul Rebel” Govinda Gallery, Washington DC 2009
  • “Faster, Higher, Farther” Olympic photographs,  Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR 2008
  • “Managing Gravity”  Sports photographs, Kimball Art Center, Park City, UT  2007
  • “Traces: In the Path of Hurricane Katrina” 401 Projects,  New York 2006
  • “Traces: In the Path of Hurricane Katrina”  Cabildo Museum, New Orleans 2006-7
  • “Too Close”  Rencontre d’Arles 2006
  • “Measures of Time”  Hudson Opera House, Hudson NY 2006 + 14 colleges around the US  2003-2007
  • The “Soul Rebel” show will appear at the Sordoni Museum in Wilkes Barre, PA in October 2010.  Other venues are planned.
  • “Too Close” Utah Museum of Fine Arts, October 2011 through January 29, 2012


“Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley” published February 2009 by Insight Editions. They include photographs taken in 1976 (Jamaica) and 1977 (Europe on the EXODUS Tour) and remain one of the few complete, out-of-the-limelight sets of pictures of the Reggae Icon. Signed books can be ordered for $65 + shipping (total of $70)   A package including a signed, dedicated book and an 8×10″ print are available for $ 350.00 Here is a page of information on the book.

“44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World” – a photo history of the 1978-79 Iranian Revolution, published November 2009 by FocalPoint/National Geographic Press. These pictures were done over a nearly two month assignment in 1978-79 and cover the end of the reign of the Shah, the arrival in Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the change of power over to a government run by the clerics.  It includes a very accurate history of those days as well as commentary by David. The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Here is a page about the book.