Author Archive for david alan harvey

The Last Days of Summer


Last days of summer. Warm water and spectacular weather always marks the now subtle change from summer to just a twinge of fall air. Wind direction is the big topic here in the outer banks. An offshore breeze and it’s time to surf and an onshore wind kills the shape of the waves and is best for kiteboarding as here. Either way using wind and water energy for art and for sport is an exhilarating way to live. It’s free. Just a board and the wind and the sea. I can’t do any of it. I’m a poor bodysurfer. But who cares? I can take great pleasure in just watching. No two waves alike. Unpredictable. I’m totally mesmerized by the sea in both calm and violent storm. Summer is over yet summer is on the way.#outerbanks #kiteboarding

The last fiction/fantasy picture


This is the last of my series of three fiction/fantasy pictures I am posting on Instagram Actually it was the first one I ever made. Shot about three years ago on my rooftop in New York as part of a Magnum Nudes portfolio originally sold at a Christies art auction in Paris. It is still the one picture that is key to this project. This series won’t ever be a book. I cannot make enough like this to fill a book. Too hard to do. So I’m just hoping i can get maybe five or six. One thing I’ve learned is that not everything makes a book. A book is not just a bunch of good pictures from a place. At least not anymore. Books should be books. They should have their own visual literacy. There are some amazing new books out there and a whole lot more that simply are collections, yet not books on the highest order. Same as with films. Lots get made somehow, yet we all must look long and hard for the really good ones. So the same truth applies to photo books. My fiction portfolio may end soon or take on a new life. I will find out this year. All part of the adventure of exploration. All part of sticking your neck out. All part of risk taking. It would be easy for me to shoot “popular” pictures. I see what people “like”. I know how to do it. Yet working the edge is the only way to grow and working the edge is the only way to really be alive. #newyork#magnumnudes #nudedude



Masks intrigue all of us. This one from Venice, Italy. Every culture has masks and I have a small collection from various cultures around the world. This photograph continues my non documentary fantasy/fiction series. I am in the “playing” stages of both shooting and choosing. Oftentimes I start a project and then drop it or it may segue into something else. Only by photo sketching and working do long term concepts evolve in my case. I can’t be sitting around waiting for something to pop in my head. Ideas jump at me when I work. No matter what the work. When shooting pure documentary I am an interpreter of the reality before me, yet there are parameters of discourse. If shooting fiction as here, there are no boundaries. No rules. The story is in my head. All photography is exploration in its best forms. As a language it is the newest and least known although most spoken by the most people. Pictures are primitive. Yet in our modern high tech world still photographs dominate our daily life. I think this comes as a surprise to many. For sure new forms of photo expression evolve daily. If I watch TV news I must escape the horror that seems to bombard. The underbelly of mankind. Yet through art we can at least discover the snippets of imagination that allow us to continue. Masks hide and masks reveal. #venice #masks



While I have earned my living as a straight documentary photographer, I was influenced as a young boy by fiction writers. Even on documentary shoots for National Geographic I would read fiction to get a real feel for a culture. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabelle Allende and Carlos Fuentes shaped my psyche for Central and South America work as much as the factual research I had to do. Fiction always gave me a layer of the tactile and the essence of a story. Twain’s line from Huckleberry Finn ” It was late and it smelt late” always stuck with me as a “picture”. So for the last two or three years I’ve become very interested in “writing” fiction with my photography. So far I only have a handful of fiction pictures as here. Although my fiction is still documentary in a way. Real people in real time in real places no makeup no actors yet with a visual twist of fantasy. All coming out of my head of course. I’ll publish here about three of these in the next few days. Some controversy is inevitable. Yet all of us must explore new ground all the time. Anything consistently repeatable and popular just isn’t the “edge” I love as both a viewer and a creator. This was shot on the Nags Head Fishing Pier. No props no lights. Part of my upcoming book of fiction BeachGames out whenever I can finish. #obx #beachgames #nagshead

Small waves


Small summer waves are still fun summer waves in the outer banks…The hard core big wave riders are waiting for the fall swells.. In the meantime warm water and no wetsuits appeal.,#obx #northcarolina

Keep on going


Rio de Janeiro. I always tell those I mentor to never stop shooting. When you think things are over or you’ve “got the picture” , keep on going. Squeeze the lemon. Here I had been working with a parkour artist and he’d made about 4 jumps for me and he was pretty much burned out and I’d seen the back of the camera and definitely “had the shot” anyway.So it was over. Done. So I’m hanging with my friends and out of the corner of my eye I see him running to make another jump. He hadn’t told me. I wasn’t “ready”. So I focused on my friends instead of him as in the previous shooting. This ended up as my fave of the two shots and is part of my upcoming book BeachGames. Everything in life is about timing timing and timing. Your street shooting of course no exception. #rio #brazil #beachgames

Getting in the middle of things

11891041_10155961666045022_7790863852755928625_n Rio de Janeiro. I like getting in the middle of things. Getting in and then “disappearing”. Not becoming totally unnoticed but so much a part of the scene that I’m not at all obtrusive. A glass of wine in my left hand a camera in my right I can go with the conversation flow and then passive/aggressive take my picture. Quickly and without drawing attention. Sometimes in these social scenes I dance and shoot so nobody feels me an intruder. In Rio I integrated into all classes over several months. No not a chameleon , I act the same,am the same, with everyone. The eclectic nature of Rio appeals. There are so so many different types and social groups, all of them warm and accepting of me as an outsider. This photo of Rio high society appears in my book ( based on a true story) . Link in profile. #rio #brazil #basedonatruestory



I’ve now done 4 pictures in a row from Rio/Bahia in Brazil. All a bit different in subject matter. I’ll do 2 more tomorrow.The 6 Brazil pictures do not encompass very much territory. I tend to choose very few places to shoot especially in a broad topic.This picture was published both in National Geographic and my more personalized novella photo book (based on a true story).. I always know with any photo essay I cannot show everything. I can only be symbolic or capture mood or reveal personality. It’s all subjective especially since I’m a gringo. I am a guest in Brazil. I try to always act as a privileged guest wherever I work. I have no empirical knowledge. I learn from those I photograph. For this type of shot I just become part of the scene . Sitting. Having a caipirinha. Waiting. Not aggressive and not appearing to anyone as a professional. The only thing I have going is my overall positive feelings about the culture. I wouldn’t even want to do articles or books if that’s not how I felt. Photography as a tool is a terrific way to journey through life. No two days alike. It’s also the only thing I know how to do.If a picture results that others can feel, so much the better. #rio #brazil #leica

Breaking It Down


Rio de Janeiro. As a professional photographer when shooting a broad subject like Rio, I must compartmentalize. Break it down into digestible parts. If I’m shooting for a magazine there are editorial “points” that must be made and at the same time simply capturing the atmosphere of the flow of the street gives a feeling of what it’s like to be there. It’s not all beach umbrellas and caipirinhas. I photographed Rio for a few different magazines, yet the longest most complete essay was for NatGeo. At the very same time I had my eye on a more personalized book. Some of the pictures can work for both, some not. This is a street corner I returned to several times simply because of the way things flowed. I could see that during certain hours the confluence of people melded. Add rain, and it was even better. Usually I get to know the people I photograph. Yet not here. People were rushing to catch buses home and there was no time to meet, so it falls into the category of candid street shot. Mixed with other photos more specific, we begin to get a feel of Rio. As a photo essayist you can never get it all. Nor should you. No really good story tells all. The eclectic nature of Rio is compelling to me. The Cariocas in all walks of life are full of life. Check out NatGeo for one approach and see my book ( based on a true story) for another sensibility. Link in profile. #brazil #rio #burnbooks#basedonatruestory



In a state of Candomblé trance, women from Bahia, Brazil celebrate Yemanja, goddess of the sea. Africans brought to the “new world” didn’t often fully accept the Catholicism of the Portuguese and Spanish. Nor did the indigenous tribes of the Americas. From Africa they brought their own tribal spiritual practices which survive to this day from Mexico and the Caribbean to the tip of South America. While these women did congregate in front of a Catholic Church in Salvador, Bahia , the priest did not allow the doors to be opened to them. Candomblé in Brazil and Santeria in the Caribbean, and many other African or indigenous religions are often quite secret having been at odds with Catholicism for over 500 years. Most tribal practitioners will also go to church on Sunday and tell you they are Catholics. That was of course their survival mode in the earliest years of the Iberian conquest of the Americas.#Candomblé #bahia #brazil