parting

yes yes parting is  indeed sweet sorrow…..i am always amazed at the bonding and friendships which are built in just a week of working together with my students  in these photographic workshops….and this morning we will all hug goodbye, promise to write , and all hope we meet again soonest….some students i will never see or hear from again…..but many stay in touch for years and we meet occassionally at photographic festivals like arles or perpignan or sometimes just random meetings in the street in some other part of the world…some stay friends for life…morning coffee for me in new york is answering student emails…….

right now all of us are totally sleep deprived but happy…..all of the Easter processions we photographed were approximately two hours from siracusa where we are based….sometimes we photographed all night long and slept in the car on the way home…..Easter monday we all slept on the beach but then had to drive back to siracusa and "crash edit" for our final music slide show which was shown publicly in a small  amphitheater just off the piazza del duomo…such fun and so so rewarding……i will post some of their work as soon as possible..my internet connections and service here are a bit of a nightmare, but the food is great, the people are just the best, so only harveyblog suffers a bit….please see new post of some of my new student work under "student work/workshops"…

what has totally interested me my whole photographic life is exactly this bonding….i have always been curious why photographers seem to bond so well….photographers seem to truly enjoy making friends with each other…..most of my lifetime friendships are with photographers i met at an early age…my friend medford taylor and i met in grad school while scrambling to use the same darkroom at the same time…he says i nudged him out so that i could print!!…probably true….but he has put up with me ever since….in this same era, i met both jodi cobb and william albert allard (stories on both coming soon)….we have been friends for over 30 years….there is a  long list of photographers who remain friends for years and years….this has surely been one of the joys of this business for me…..even this blog  community is part of everything of which i speak….

but it does beg the question……why do photographers like to "hang" with each other????
few of my writer friends do the same…few of my friends on the "outside" have quite the comaraderie that we seem to have…hobbyists share interests, but we are professional competitors with each other…if bill allard or alex webb get a particular story it means that i do not….there is only so much funding and so many book publishers and so many grants and so many  ad accounts to go around….you could imagine we would not even know each other or speak to each other, but the opposite is true…..

is it because only another photographer can relate to our strange egos, behavior patterns and the like?
is it because we are stimulated by another photographer doing great work rather than being possessive or jealous???  i do not have the answer…..i only know that this is generally true…and it is also true in our relationships with editors as well…..it would stand to reason that a photographer might strike up a postive relationship with an editor for a magazine for which he or she receives commissions….but i have so so many editor friends with whom  i do no commissioned work and never will do commissioned work….for those who may doubt this , just show up in perpignan or arles or any workshop program you will see this comaraderie, this friendship, this common bond…..

out of the eight students i just had  in this  workshop, probably two of them will push forward in the world of documentary or art photography…..over the years i have seen some  do magazine work, some  have gallery shows, some  publish books and some will enter the administrative side and become magazine editors or curators…..most will use their photographic work as a means of personal expression without becoming involved at all in any commercial ventures ….

i do believe in the "circle of life"….pay back, pay forward….however you want  to view it…all i know is,  i feel terrific right now about the past week…i hope all of my class feels the same…and i hope some of these new friends will look at this week’s "grand finale" as a beginning rather than an end…..

14 Responses to “parting”


  • David,

    my experience with fellow photographers is very similar to yours. When I’m out shooting I don’t like having another person with me – except a fellow photographer. Probably this has a lot to do with the things we do which sometimes seem very strange to people outside of photography. Our shared interest in people around us and their activities certainly also helps create a bond.

    Not too long ago I spent five days on the tiny island of Mexcaltitán/Mexico (I think you know how small it is) with a photographer friend. It was fantastic, we pushed each other, shared ideas and, more importantly, friendship with people who live there. Five days there with a non-photographer would be very tough, I guess…

    For me photography has been, among many other things, a great door-opener. Almost anywhere I go there are other photographers who help with logistics, contacts, equipment etc. etc. Of course they are in a way competitors, but I never look at them that way.

    Another aspect might be that a photographer is IMHO very much defined by his or her personality, not so much by a technical skill that one could learn. What I mean is that each of us is more ‘unique’ as a photographer than, say, a lawyer or a dentist would be in their respective profession (I’m not implying lawyers and dentists don’t have unique personalities; it just seems that their profession and their personality are less intertwined than is the case with photographers). This makes us more interested in one another than people with very similar skills would be.

    Cheers

    Carsten

  • carsten…very good point…..david

  • Dear David,

    It’s been such a great experience working with you and the others, shooting deep into the night at these deeply moving and passionate easter celebrations.

    Equally impressive has been seeing how you are able to be critical of our work while remaining supportive and encouraging.

    I look forward to working with you again in the future and will definitely stay in touch.

    Here’s a photo of you chimping at one of our “secret” locations.

    http://tinyurl.com/2v33dx

    Cheers,

    Nick

  • Hey David,

    It is sad parting after one of your workshops. Everyone becomes such good friends and have shared so much together. The editing, critiquing, the dinners together that last till 2am. It’s great being around all that passion. It’s tough to go back the the real world where you’re not shooting nine plus hours a day, living and breathing photography. Maybe it’s time for a change…

    Here’s some photos from the Street Life of Rome workshop in 2004. Hope to join you again soon. Cheers!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/whoopicat/sets/

  • true true my friend… so hurry up and get back here so we can share inspirational stories…

    i”ll be in DC next week, and get to meet with Sadie at NG, thanks to Robert and your efforts!! Thanks for being supportive!

    kim

  • My brother in-law is an archaeologist in Israel. His profession is something I’ve always been fascinated with. When he visits I am constantly peppering him questions. I once felt the need to say something like, “Hey, sorry to be bothering you again about this, but..” and he stopped me in my tracks and said, “I don’t think you understand just how much we like talking about all this.”

    It’s a unique occupation. As is photography. I know there are millions of photographers around the world, but I’ll be damned if not every time I tell someone what I do they tilt their head to the side and say, “Huh. Really?” They don’t really know any photographers. (Or archaeologists, I’ll bet!)

    I generally don’t talk photography at all unless I’m with another photographer. I mean, nuts and bolts photography talk: f-stops, shutter drag, RAW vs JPG, personal projects, etc. We’re a unique bunch…if I do say so myself!

    (Though some *cough-cough-David Alan Harvey-cough-cough* are more unique than others!)

  • Interesting entry, good to have a new one David:)

    A couple of thoughts

    1. Id love to join one of your workshops. They seem not only like a blast because of where you guys go but also because of the feeling of camraderie I can sense through your writing.

    2. I like spending time with other photographers because of a very simple reason. Its my passion, something that I cant imagine not doing. So how great is it to spend time with people who have the same passion and with whom we can share. I dont have the same problems of competing with Alex Webb for stories, so this is just an amateur’s perspective:) But when I go shooting I prefer to do it by myself. I like to have the freedom to go where I want and to hang around in a spot for 30 minutes if need be. But if you ever wanna shoot with me David, I wont complain:)

  • rafal….well, i am the same when it comes to shooting…..i might be friends with bill allard or alex webb, but all of us want to be alone when we are actually working….i have had various friends and family with me when i am working and i enjoy this …most photogs do not…but the friends and family i have with me are not shooting….my girlfriend is a photographer and she shoots constantly, but we are not shooting side by side….she goes off in one direction and i go in another….

    cheers, david

  • Beautiful women, alcoholics, basketball players, criminals, politicians, musicians, and psychopaths tend to hang together. Photographers tend to be very comfortable with each other. It’s probably trying to figure out from others why they’re “inflicted” with an incurable desire to go thru life taking photographs. It’s a very strange way to make a living (if you think about it) so there’s a desire to get to the bottom of the ‘problem’. In my case I have always liked to go places and see things that others don’t see and do. And meet people I’d never ever meet otherwise. Plus I like to see what things look like photographed. I don’t know. It’s what I do. It’s enjoyable to meet other photographers and hear and see what they’re doing.

  • john..you always did have a unique perspective on things!!! yes, hanging out with other photogs does make you always realize that someone else is just as crazy as you are!!! justification dude, justification……david

  • I wonder if part of that quick bond is that photographers learn not to judge too harshly, less we be unable to form the bonds needed to tell our subject’s stories. Empathy and acceptance are code words for the documentary photographer. Therefore, when we are around fellow photographers we can drop our masks, relax, be ourselves, and true to each other. At least that seems to be the way it works most of the time. Of course, there are the occassional urinating contests… but even those quickly lead to mutual admiration.

  • michael…yes, yes…and i suppose also the most interesting aspect of our “togetherness” is that the very nature of what we do is an interesting combination of “looking out” at the complexities of the world and at the same time using the “mirror” inside to subjectively interpret what we see..photogs tend to have pretty big egos, but they also tend to be sincerely interested in other people….they listen and then they look…

    i am always just as interested in spending time with a shoeshine boy on a corner in madrid as i am in hanging with the ceo of the bank that looms over his head…

    cheers, david

  • j.lee

    you are right….and this is part of what i was writing to michael…..photog talk can lead to tech talk (particularly these days!) but mostly photog talk is about some project or story we are working on and the education we get from each other is second to none…and also, so often we are working alone in unfamiliar surroundings and cultures , without our friends and families around, and totally immersed in someone else’s life…when we get back to our “own lives” or around other photographers who have been doing the same thing somewhere else there is an “outpouring” of understanding and a general unspoken “yes, I know what you do”….

    david

  • David said: “…the very nature of what we do is an interesting combination of “looking out” at the complexities of the world and at the same time using the “mirror” inside to subjectively interpret what we see…”

    Windows and mirrors, right?

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