Author Archive for david alan harvey

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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



The wind changed direction in an instant and suddenly we were all running for our lives on a sugar cane plantation in Bahia, Brazil . Controlled burning of the cane is routine, making for easier cutting, yet things can get out of control fast. Slaves from Senegal and Nigeria first came to Bahia around 1515 brought by the Portuguese to do exactly this job. To work on sugar plantations which preceded permanent Portuguese settlements .The sugar plantation workers now are paid minimally and live in what seem like slave quarters to me. We are all addicted to sugar and yet the price we pay in health and in history for this sweetest of plants is steep indeed. From my book Divided Soul ( Phaidon) on the diaspora of Iberia into the Americas. #sugar #brazil #bahia

Nick Nichols in the Outer Banks


NatGeo Editor, Photographer, and Explorer, Michael “Nick” Nichols in the Outer Banks. Nick is a dear friend for I have no idea how long. Magnum colleague, NatGeo colleague, and we be high a few times colleague. Nick and Reba’s backyard slide shows became Look3. Every photographer I know at Magnum and NatGeo is a workaholic. Yet nobody works harder than Nick. The boy is driven yet somehow laid back in outward persona. Respect..

#natgeo #look3



There’s almost always a breeze in the outer banks. Or rather a pretty decent strong wind. That’s why both kite boarders and the Wright Brothers showed up here. For sure most of us who live here in the outer banks do so because of the weather. It’s often dramatic. Some of us are even disappointed that no hurricane hit this year. Man made structural damage aside, riding out a hurricane is an adrenaline pump el supremo. In the meantime a light summer breeze delights. The dunes are whipped by the wind the same as the sea and appear as waves in super slo mo. #outerbanks #peaisland #breeze #dunes