Words by: Martei Korley
Ten years into the new millennium it would baffle many that “new” material from the golden age of Reggae should surface and still be relevant. It would seem that 70’s Kingston has been shamelessly milked for anything which could add cool factor to even a promotional sticker. That is exactly the reason why this particular piece of work is such a rewarding experience. David Burnett, or Dave as most call him, has managed to cull an impressively engaging collection of photographs from his archives. Dave began his career as an intern at Time Magazine, after which he spent three years covering the Vietnam War before co-founding his agency, Contact Press.
On assignment for Time Magazine he made several lengthy visits to Jamaica in 1976 and in the process photographed Bob Marley at his home, Peter Tosh on the bonnet of his car, Burning Spear in the studio (when they were still a trio). The following year he received a call from Rolling Stone Magazine while on assignment in Europa. They wanted to know if he could spend a few days on the tour bus with Bob Marley and the Wailers(!) as they kicked off the Exodus tour. Well, the rest is history, literally…
Anyone who meets Dave immediately understands that he is the consummate photographer. That he is one of the most understated and easy going individuals you could come across seems to have helped him in his achievements: As a photographer of several presidential campaigns (sometimes using view cameras!) and world crisis, sprinkled with whatever else life brings a shooter of his caliber; his perspective has always been relevant. And so he has been the recipient of several prestigious rewards for his work, including “Best Olympic Sports Essay” and “Best Campaign Picture – Road to the White House”.
As far as the Jamaican assignments are concerned, his love for the culture and people of Jamaica is clearly evident in his work. Or if you have a sec., try discussing Caribbean cuisine with him; he holds Jamaican fare near and dear to his heart – ginger beer anyone?
Soul Rebel is the first book of David Burnett’s 40 year career; it was however quickly followed by another : 44 days: Iran and the remaking of the world; a book chronicling the Islamic revolution in Teheran 1978-79. Talk about immersion.
Click here for copies of Soul Rebel or for limited edition prints of David Burnett’s photographs.
Chucking it up with daughter Jordan at the Hells Kitchen, NYC, reception for “Soul Rebel”