Skip to product information
1 of 3


"based on a true story" Original Hardcover Folio. Signed. David Alan Harvey

"based on a true story" Original Hardcover Folio. Signed. David Alan Harvey

Regular price $ 1,500.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $ 1,500.00 USD
Sale Sold out

Awards & Reviews

• BurnBooks won the 2012 Lucie Award for (based on a true story)

• Listed as one of the top 10 photo books of the year by Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards in 2012

• Nominated for the Kassel Photo Book Award 2013

• Won POYi’s Best Photography Book Award 2013

• Listed as one of the Best Books of 2012 by The New Yorker.

“(based on a true story) set a new standard for the photo book. Extraordinary photography and book design.” ~ Teju Cole for The New Yorker

“(based on a true story) seems to be a random machine gun attack of a book, but it’s not. It’s held together by carefully (and very cleverly) calculated clues. External elements such as the postcard of clues and the ‘map’ (it’s a visual map – I found it in the end) of the book point you in one direction…you get a raucous, dynamic and thoroughly enjoyable ride around the hillsides of Rio de Janeiro, in a book where the text, design and layout is incisive, innovative and fun.” ~ Colin Pantall for photo-eye

“(based on a true story) takes its place as one of the best of the more extravagantly designed photobooks at a time when extravagant design is making a comeback.” ~ Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in The Photobook: A History Vol. 3

(based on a true story) - book demo from Bryan Harvey Films on Vimeo.

“The power of the best ideas comes from the intuitive, the connections that come out of nowhere (or seem to) from sensual and emotional places…not from logical story lines.”

Right off the bat, we’re uncertain. A folio, held together with string and beads? Twenty-first Century digital imagery, presented in a Fifteenth Century publishing format; this is going to be good.

We understand the familiar spine-creak and fragrant, glossy pages of other photo books that line our shelves. Images set off against white matting, each afforded a respectful moment, each making its unique statement.

This is the opposite of what (based on a true story) aspires to.

(based on a true story) is a collection of spectacular, mysterious moments. The story moves with fluidity and ease, all day and all night, through a city that is never named on a continent never specified. Is it journalism?  Is it “staged”?  As the poet said: partly truth partly fiction, a walking contradiction.

The images explode with color, heat, humidity, danger, fear, chaos, more chaos.

Harvey hits all the high points – even clichés – of Rio de Janeiro, but his treatment is subversive.  Beaches, mountains, high society, favelas, jungles, voodoo; they’re all here, but thrown together in a high-energy, digital montage that evokes the emerging aesthetic of Chaos Cinema.

The images tumble and boil in your mind. This is in no small measure the work of Bryan Harvey, David’s son, collaborator and architect of the design.

It’s critically important to know that Bryan is a filmmaker.  Because while (based) might seem frenetic and challenging as a book, it flows naturally as a film – rising and falling, heating up, cooling down, speeding forward, slowing down, deafening one moment, a whisper the next.  And because the images are slammed together without explanation or gentle transition, they jump out of the page – dynamic cinematic, wholly unpredictable.

Presented a diptych (a form that dates back at least as far as the Babylonians), our logical mind asks, how do I take this in, where should I go?  Should I process the images as a set or de-construct the stack, following each half-image around to the back of the collection?  There are no page numbers, only a handy map.  Can I mix up the images and create my own version?

The answer is yes – to all of the above and pretty much anything else.  The best way to read (based on a true story) – as with any genuine adventure – is to surrender. The Harvey Boys are taking you where they will.  Give in and go along for the ride.

John Mathias Mitchem
Venice, California

For the “making of”, visit: 


Published by BurnBooks June 2012
66 full bleed photographs 9,64 ” x 14,17 “
1 poster 14,17 ” x 18,50 “
1 roadmap for original re-assembling
1 postcard with clues
Slipcase: double run color print on canvas ‘IRIS’
Cover: hardcover, color print on canvas ‘IRIS’
Contact sheet on inside cover, flap
Shipping box: cardboard, duo color printed
Paper: Fedrigoni Splendorgel Extra White 160 gr

Photographs: David Alan Harvey
Layout and Design: Bryan Harvey
Producer: Eva-Maria Kunz
Production: Andrea Barbato, Michael Courvoisier, Candy Pilar Godoy
Printing by EBS, Verona, Italy 


1 to 100: $95 (sold out)
101 to 300: $120 (sold out)
301 to 400: $144 (sold out)
501 to 600: $192 (sold out)

Orders will be shipped via USPS.

View full details