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


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


  1. Jerry passed away this morning at 4:45 AM Pacific Time.
    May he rest in peace.
    Carla Lopez

    May 17, 2011

  2. Theresa W. McElwaine comments:
    Rest in peace, dear Jerry ~ playful Buddha; teacher, mentor, and friend; maker of so much beauty.

    You made the world a better place and, while you will be greatly missed, you will never be forgotten.