'The camera sees more than I can, so I give it plenty of rope and watch what happens...'


Exhibit About the Fillmore Art Scene 1955-65

An image by Jerry Burchard of Jay DeFeo that's used for the exhibit "‘Fillmore’ marks unique era in San Francisco art scene." Here is a link to the article in the Sonoma News from 11-12-2012 which talks about the exhibit that features the photographs of Jerry Burchard and others being held at di Rosa Preserve titled “Renaissance on Fillmore, 1955-65,” running through Jan. 27, 2013.


The Night Photography of Jerry Burchard

Casablanca, 1973.

Times Theatre (mid 60's.)

Teahouse in Goulimine, 1973.

Washington Square, 1976.

Russian Hill, 1970.

15 minutes in Goulimine, 1973.

Jerry Burchard was born December 1, 1931 and raised in Rochester, Upstate New York. By the age of 16 Jerry was a third generation Kodak worker (the largest employer in the area.)
He joined the Navy (1952-56) and served as a photographer in Europe, shooting mostly car and plane wrecks that involved military equipment.
After the Navy, at the suggestion of Minor White, Jerry attended (and received a BFA in 1960) at the California School of Fine Arts.
Jerry started teaching in 1966, and was chairman of the photo department from 1968 to 1971 at the school what is now called the San Francisco Art Institute.
During the 1950's Jerry was doing portraits of the San Francisco North Beach artists, after wanting originally to photograph jazz musicians, but finding that most of them had died.

In the 70's Jerry would teach for a while at SFAI, and then go live for months at a time in exotic places around the world to hang out, to be there, and to take photos.
Casablanca, Goulimine, Madrid, Ping Yuen, Bangkok, Burma, and other locations were all well suited for Jerry's night walks with his camera, capturing the ambiance, the feel of being there. His favorite place becoming Bangkok, Thailand.

One time Jerry told me that he found a rock by some bushes to set up the camera, opened the shudder and went to have a drink. Jerry came back, took a look at the scene, and decided that it was a two drink exposure, so went back to have that second drink. 'It's whatever feels right' he use to tell me.

Randy Magnus


Jerry Burchard Color Photographs

Temple of the Emerald Buddha, 1986.
Dancing Trees, Ko Samet, 1986.

Threading the Palms.
Bangkok City Limits, late 80's.

Bangkok McDonalds Grand Opening, 1985.

Chiang Rai, Thailand, 1977. (B&W negative on color paper stock.)

Old Teak House, Bangkok, 1992.
40 minutes in Ko Samet, Thailand, 1986.

Sheer exhaustion after five days and nights in Pagan, 1981.

The color photographs by Jerry Burchard of Thailand and elsewhere, mostly time exposures taken at night. And a self-portrait.
“I’ve never met a place I didn’t like in Thailand – all the people, the thrills, the events. The feel of a place.”
Jerry Burchard

In 1981 Jerry took a trip to Pagan, Burma, and found these children festivals to photograph.


Jerry Burchard - Photographer

Conversation with Night Photographer Jerry Burchard by Randy Magnus .

San Francisco night photographer Jerry Burchard discusses his work and living in Southeast Asia.
video by Randy Magnus

"Jerry Burchard knew much more than he said, and his photography revealed even more than he knew..."
Val Vale


More Temples

Temple erected for King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 65th Birthday for a one year celebration, 1982

Thonburi Bell Temple, Bangkok 1981

Ceremonial Temple for the Cremation Rites of Queen Barni, Bangkok, 1986.

"It is later, in the country night, when only the drone of mosquitoes and the occasional song from a far-off radio intercede, that the moonlight talks to you, and the centuries come tumbling down, and finally you are there, feeling right at home.
These walls are your walls. Lean on them, stroke them, and talk to them. They will answer.
They've been waiting for you."

Jerry Burchard
June 28, 1984


Photographs of Jerry

Jerry Burchard with Namo Kruwatsuthat (Michael Khan) from Bangkok, Thailand.
Shot in North Beach of San Francisco. Photo by Michael.

Photo of Jerry Burchard with his friend and computer tech Barrett Horne in North Beach, San Francisco, CA. (2009) photo by Randy Magnus.


Share your Jerry Burchard Story:

Feel free to click on the comments, share an experience you had with Uncle Jerry, or your favorite Jerry Burchard story.

More Black and White Work by Jerry Burchard

San Francisco, 1972.

Madrid, 1972.

Twenty minutes in Bangkok, 1977.

5 minutes in Casablanca, 1973.

Times Theater, S.F. 1968

5 Minutes in Agidir, 1973.

“My camera is my friend. We go for walks together, sometimes late at night. Sometimes we meet people or landscapes and we make love to them. Sometimes the camera gets more than I do. Sometimes the other way. In any case, the camera, a wizened 1957 SP Nikon, sees what I don’t, what I can’t, what I’d like to. That’s why we’re friends.”
Jerry Burchard


Robert Koch Gallery Exhibit, 2009

Hollywood Theater, July 1977, one week after Elvis's death.

Jerry Burchard has described his photography as the "unconscious rendering of light as advent." His blurry nocturnal images from the 1970s portray places as disparate as Bangkok, Casablanca, Agadir, San Francisco and his hometown of Rochester, NY, and share a similar notion of the photographer recording the serendipitous play of light within his camera. The surreal blurs and streaks animate the already seductive architecture and foliage of Burchard's sites, creating less a portrait of a place than the photographer's reveries within it.

Burchard received his B.F.A. degree in photography from the California School of Fine Arts in 1960 and has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute since 1966. He is a recipient of 1976 and 1979 grants from the National Endowment of the Arts. Burchard had one-person exhibitions at Addison Gallery of American Art and Corcoran Gallery in 1978. His work was included in "Beat Culture and the New America, 1950-1965" which originated at the Whitney Museum in 1995 and traveled to the de Young Museum.

Robert Koch Gallery, 2009

image from Art Business.com


Temples in Pagan, Burma

Gawdawpalin from an adjourning temple courtyard, 1981. Pagan, Burma.
13 minute exposure.

Approaching Gawdawpalin Temple during the Festival of Lights, 1981. 18 minutes.
Interior of Forbidden Temple. 5 minutes in daylight, March 1984.
Sluicing for Gold and Sapphires in the backyard. Pagan 1981.


Lesser Known Color Work by Jerry Burchard

There was a time when Jerry was looking for ghosts in alleyways, or rather, to show a faint suggestion of the passing presence of people in the cityscape.

Legendary Photographer Jerry Burchard Talks Photography

(from the same session as the first video.)
Jerry greatly enjoyed being on YouTube. He thought that it was really cool,
but was disappointed when the viewer numbers were slow to climb.
It did turn him on to YouTube and other video sites, he was always forwarding links for me to see.
This was shot in the mid 90's at the Ron Jehu Gallery in San Francisco. Ron was a longtime supporter of Jerry's work.


Erotic Beauty

An image of Jerry's from Donna-Lee Phillips' personal collection. A print of this is in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art permanent collection.

Ektacolor 74 Print Untitled (Nude Detail with Flowers).

Some of the first color photographs I saw by Jerry, around 1978.

Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection

Forty Minutes in Novato, 1975.

Russian Hill, San Francisco (View of Harbor), 1975

Jerry wrote "Since I shoot instinctively I don't mind if things are a little shaky or if there are blurs or things out of focus. If the picture is holding itself together, then these things are expressing time and life for me.
I can look at a picture, and what I remember is not just me standing there at that corner, but what I remember is getting high while I was taking the picture.
If you kiss someone who is really beautiful, you get off, and the same thing is true when you take a picture.
You should feel as if you're glowing. Sometimes I could swear I was overexposing my own picture just from standing there.
I hope that those feelings come through."

- From the book by Lustrum Press, "Darkroom" 1977.

I found these images in the Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection, along with other photographs already included on this site.

Washington Square At Night, San Francisco, 1969

Washington Square in North Beach of San Francisco was an area that Jerry knew well. It was close to the school he taught at, the San Francisco Art Institute, close to where he lived, and was on his way for an evening journey for a cup of coffee, a drink, or dinner.

I found this body of work in the collection of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA.


Casablanca Portraits

Jerry would spend 4 to 6 months in Morocco in 1972-73, and this was one of the families that he stayed with. The boy is holding the family pet.
You can see more portraits from Goulimine, Morocco by clicking here.


An Italian Circus

When Jerry Burchard was stationed in Italy as a Navy Photographer, he attended a circus and took photos. Years later Jerry stumbled across these over-exposed grainy negatives, printed them up, and they were part of the bases of a new way of thinking about photography.

Click here to see more of Jerry Burchard's Circus Shots.


Catalogue for Corcoran Exhibit, 1978

JERRY BURCHARD. April 21-June 4,1978
Washington DC: The Corcoran Gallery of Art, 1978. First edition Square 8vo.,
unpaginated, b&w photos.

Limited edition of 1500 copies printed. This exhibition "Individual Photography" is one of a series. With exhibition list and selected bibliography. Burchard (b. 1931, Rochester, NY) received his BFA degree in photography from the California School of Fine Arts in 1960.

In the introduction by Jane Livingston she mentions, "The photographs have a character of hipness, and of responsiveness to nuance and humor and the sexy possibilities in things .... using his own intuition as it directly contacts the sensuous mysteries of the world."

Andrew Cahan Bookseller, LTD

Teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute

Jerry commented on this image from the 70's:
Thank you Chester, That is a wonderful picture. It makes me look ten times cooler than reality, and features one of my favorite shirts!
Yes indeedy, the seventies were remarkable. Everybody had money, the parties were great, and the country was at peace with itself, albeit briefly.
We could all afford to appreciate each other for what we were worth.
We are lucky to have experienced the period, for those times are rare.
Let's hope that history repeats itself, and soon.
- Jerry Burchard

photo by Chester Simpson of Rock-N-RollPhotos.com

Jerry playing hand ball with Huge Harpole on the SFAI courtyard, 1970.
photo by Peter de Lory

Jerry talks about teaching, his cameras, and Andre Kertesz.
Video by Randy Magnus.