Editor's Pick

If Your House Were On Fire, What Would You Take?

  • Nate Luke, 36, Springfield, Mo., advertising photographer. "Portable phonograph I used to court my wife. ... First camera given to me by my dad. ... Thai red-pepper seeds ... Shadow box of old dry flies ... Wedding photo with my wife ... Can of gun powder from my Grandfather."
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    Nate Luke, 36, Springfield, Mo., advertising photographer. "Portable phonograph I used to court my wife. ... First camera given to me by my dad. ... Thai red-pepper seeds ... Shadow box of old dry flies ... Wedding photo with my wife ... Can of gun powder from my Grandfather."
    Nate Luke
  • Jason McCarthy, 32, GORUCK military gear: "Java, my dog, Green Beret and Yarborough knife, Family scrapbook I had in Iraq, one-of-a-kind duct-tape wallet made by a friend, Java's finisher medal from the Chicago half marathon, grandfather's burial flag."
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    Jason McCarthy, 32, GORUCK military gear: "Java, my dog, Green Beret and Yarborough knife, Family scrapbook I had in Iraq, one-of-a-kind duct-tape wallet made by a friend, Java's finisher medal from the Chicago half marathon, grandfather's burial flag."
    Jason McCarthy
  • George Yanakiev, 23, Bulgaria, online guy at an ad agency: "Junk food, junk food, junk food, coffee."
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    George Yanakiev, 23, Bulgaria, online guy at an ad agency: "Junk food, junk food, junk food, coffee."
    George Yanakiev
  • Justin R. Swaby, 25, Los Angeles, architecture student: "My dog, Rooster; Childhood toy truck; Vintage suitcase, a gift from my aunt; Nikon EM 35mm camera; Sewing machine; Baby doll head mug, a gift from a dear friend; Favorite gun-toting marionette; Small bird carved from bone, a gift from my boyfriend; Vintage porcelain black lady salt shaker."
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    Justin R. Swaby, 25, Los Angeles, architecture student: "My dog, Rooster; Childhood toy truck; Vintage suitcase, a gift from my aunt; Nikon EM 35mm camera; Sewing machine; Baby doll head mug, a gift from a dear friend; Favorite gun-toting marionette; Small bird carved from bone, a gift from my boyfriend; Vintage porcelain black lady salt shaker."
    Justin R. Swaby
  • Michelle Ashton, 27, London, Web designer: "MacBook Pro. It's uninsured and full of work and personal photographs. Twenty-seven-year-old teddy bear, 'Teddy,' who has already survived one burning house."
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    Michelle Ashton, 27, London, Web designer: "MacBook Pro. It's uninsured and full of work and personal photographs. Twenty-seven-year-old teddy bear, 'Teddy,' who has already survived one burning house."
    Michelle Ashton
  • Paul Mading Kwaje, 22, Sudan, farmer: "Bush knife, favorite shirt, wood bracelet, my largest bowls, hoe, water bottle."
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    Paul Mading Kwaje, 22, Sudan, farmer: "Bush knife, favorite shirt, wood bracelet, my largest bowls, hoe, water bottle."
    bh
  • Cristina Cavallari, 43, Italy, crafter/graphic designer: "My family cat (not pictured), wool and wood knitting needles ... my best t-shirt, blue comfortable sandals ... felt monster I made, sea rock from my father ... old German vase."
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    Cristina Cavallari, 43, Italy, crafter/graphic designer: "My family cat (not pictured), wool and wood knitting needles ... my best t-shirt, blue comfortable sandals ... felt monster I made, sea rock from my father ... old German vase."
    Cristina Cavallari
  • Manuel Platzer, 27, Austria, digital media: "... Headphones, Polaroid camera, photo of girlfriend ... drawing tools, iPad, T-shirt handmade by my girlfriend."
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    Manuel Platzer, 27, Austria, digital media: "... Headphones, Polaroid camera, photo of girlfriend ... drawing tools, iPad, T-shirt handmade by my girlfriend."
    Manuel Platzer
  • Will Cheyney, 27, London, design director: "11" MacBook Air, Eddy the Teddy, Nintendo Game Boy, Ray-Ban folding Wayfarers, iPhone 4, white chino shorts, Lomo LC-A camera."
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    Will Cheyney, 27, London, design director: "11" MacBook Air, Eddy the Teddy, Nintendo Game Boy, Ray-Ban folding Wayfarers, iPhone 4, white chino shorts, Lomo LC-A camera."
    Will Cheyney
  • James Oliver Lamont Fox, 40, Massachusetts, student: "Growing collection of old-timey Vermont pennants; Ede & Ravenscroft brogues bought for our wedding; box of cufflinks; ... Levi's Troy-lined jacket; ... my kilt, Lamont, the only made-to-measure thing I own; external hard drive of photos."
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    James Oliver Lamont Fox, 40, Massachusetts, student: "Growing collection of old-timey Vermont pennants; Ede & Ravenscroft brogues bought for our wedding; box of cufflinks; ... Levi's Troy-lined jacket; ... my kilt, Lamont, the only made-to-measure thing I own; external hard drive of photos."
    James Oliver Lamont Fox
  • Erick Elliott, 22, Brooklyn, musician/designer/music hoarder: "Michael Jackson's Thriller and Moonwalker on VHS; OBEY GIANT handkerchief; Precious memento-ish pictures of my family ... Photo of my cat Morris, who passed away ... Axiom 49 keyboard, circa whenever I started making music; Native Instruments Maschine instrument, circa two months ago."
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    Erick Elliott, 22, Brooklyn, musician/designer/music hoarder: "Michael Jackson's Thriller and Moonwalker on VHS; OBEY GIANT handkerchief; Precious memento-ish pictures of my family ... Photo of my cat Morris, who passed away ... Axiom 49 keyboard, circa whenever I started making music; Native Instruments Maschine instrument, circa two months ago."
    Erick Elliott

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That's the question Foster Huntington asks on his blog, The Burning House. And to answer the question, you have to submit a photo of what you'd take.

Few of these piles really resemble what one might grab in a panic. They are carefully contemplated and arranged. And the responses vary. Some interpret the question to mean: What would you need to survive? (Advil, scissors, rubbing alcohol.) And others take it to mean: What are your most irreplaceable possessions? (Photos and stuffed animals.)

The Burning House
The Burning House

by Foster Huntington

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Huntington, who started the blog, falls into the latter camp. He'd grab family photos and a few blank rolls of film, he says.

At the time of its launch, he was a fashion designer in New York City, "surrounded by a culture interested in definition by possessions," he writes via email.

Last summer he quit his job and bought a Volkswagen van, and since then he's been living on the road — dispatching his photos on a personal blog and via Instagram, with the hashtag #vanlife.

"Hearing and interacting with thousands of people's responses to the question has helped me realize I need a lot less to be happy," he writes.

A book edition of The Burning House: What Would You Take? will be released next week.

And how would you respond? Submit it to The Burning House — or to us!

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