moving on

one of the things almost all of my students have in common, besides being serious about photography, is that they are invariably in some state of transition in their lives…when i chat one on one with each of them, they always tell me that a life change is in the making…sometimes a student has just gone through a divorce or are in the uncomfortable process of a relationship change….or they are unhappy in their career and are thinking that photography may offer a new light…

my approach to making photographs is really about how to approach life and all of its nuances….the beauty of the camera as a creative tool is that it is also a theraputic tool…..a way of connecting or disconnecting depending on how one views it…to really make photographs that have the "authorship" of which i so often speak, the photographer must look inside….for it is impossible to be an author if one does not have anything to say….

the digital age is an era where absolutely everyone takes pictures…it is raining pictures….we are inundated with photography….so many images floating through the ether that one could think that still imagery is somehow de-valued….i think the opposite…..any well educated person can write a gramatically correct sentence, yet few can compose a poem that resonates or write a compelling short story or novel…so it stands to reason, that just because "everyone" can take a technically good photograph, the power of authored photography will be more apparent, rather than less…

technology always leads in a new creative era….the invention of the printing press did not create authors , but it did allow whoever had real ideas to make their ideas known to the masses…the same with radio, and film , and television , and now the net….no form of new technology ever replaces the old….it is an additive process, rather than subtractive…

the power of the still photograph will grow….it’s utilitarian uses may go a bit more into the background, but it’s artistic developement is just beginning….the fact that there is so much mundane and banal work  out there, should only give a forward thinking person hope rather than despair….now is the time to invent….now is the time for the true creative person to expand their thinking and do what mankind has always done and that is to take whatever exists and push push push to the extreme spaces of thought…

when you go forward you must leave something behind….maybe a job…maybe someone…to leave something or someone behind is just flat out painful…not easy…not comfortable…not fun…..and "easy" decisions are not really decisions….only difficult decisions are the ones where we are really "up against the wall" and we weigh one thing against the other and can become totally disabled by not being able to make a decision at all…

finally, one must "jump"…pretty scary….but, once you jump, you are free…..the ecstacy that comes from actually taking a flying leap is a "rush" second to none….you cannot look in the rearview mirror….staring dead ahead…eyes on the prize….and take the people you  love along for the ride…..again, no need to subtract….just add….

when you do break free, there could be others from your peer group who fear or resent your new found freedom….when they see someone break free, oftentimes they can feel left behind, or get resentful or become insecure…take care of these people as best you can…..try to bring them along….the big ones, the confident ones, will come…they will be happy to "share"….these are your real friends…..

how can i be writing about freedom and techology in the same epistle??  easy….they are related in this case….there are truly no excuses for any of us to be held back now….there are so many doors open it is just mind boggling….self-publishing both in print and on the net, the new need for real photographic essays, on-line and gallery prints sales, and the exciting new medium (or , i should say re-vamping of an old medium) the combo of stills, sound and motion on the internet…..we are just beginning to explore….

so…..wake-up, get up, abandon cliche, get loose, work harder than ever, think, feel,  look, act, re-act, move close and just be a living integral  part of the most exciting time of your life….nobody can stop you now!!!!

30 Responses to “moving on”

  • Thats how I feel, totally. The technology isnt making it easier to make good photos, just easier to make photos. Easier in the sense that once you get past the initial investment of getting a digital camera, the rest of it is free. That makes a huge difference and for me it meant being able to actually take photos. Before that I did shoot a bit on film but it made my wife crazy if I over did it. film, development, etc. Now, no problem. Some claim that this ability to shoot dozens of exposures at a time somehow makes digital inferior. “Juts point, click and get lucky” But thats an argument I never bought. Even though its free to snap frame after frame with a digital camera doesnt mean one will do that. Its not an automatic leap. Personally, there are days when I will go out for a day and press the shutter literally 3 times the whole day. I almost never set it to motor drive either. This weeekend I went out and shot a total of 10 frames. 3 were keepers. Last weekend I shot 2 frames total. One of those shots will be exhibited at the Krakow Photography Month festival in May, which coincidentally is being curated by Mr.Power of your very own Magnum agency.

    As you say, just get on with things. Who cares about the technology, its about he image, isnt it?

  • …nobody can stop you now!!!!

    I send my portfolio for agency but they will reject it. It pleased but they will not sell it. sometimes I think I should not learning photography from the best photographers, just shooting like everyone who have digital camera now. i send them my most pretty and peaceful photos. I have to forgot all photos from Magnum agency. maybe after year somebody will sell my Beautiful photos!

    but you heve right!

    “work harder than ever, think, feel, look, act, re-act, move close and just be a living integral part of the most exciting time of your life….nobody can stop you now!!!!”

    I will work harder!

    Martin in bad moon

  • Rafal,

    Just came from your site. Amazing shots! Very inspiring.

    And with that inspiration and David’s admontion to get up, get loose and abandon cliche… I am quite looking forward to today.

    Gonna be a good day!



  • hi david,

    how are you? just wanted to say thanks for writing something really positive, it can make a big difference to here that from someone who is already so well established. i’ve heard other well established photographer bemoaning the state of photography, even stating that if they were starting out now they wouldn’t bother. i took the big leap and last december left a boring day job to follow my dream of being a photographer. it’s the best thing i ever did. things are moving slowly, but they are moving; it’s what i want to do and i’m doing it on my terms.

    so here is to living life, following your dreams and enjoying every minute of it. it’s a beautiful spring day here in london and i’m off to print some picture on my brand new printer.

    take care


  • Hey David,

    Great post and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Next week I’m putting my house on the market and leaving a tiny little town in western Colorado for the big city of Portland OR. I’ll be pursuing photography full time, weddings (PJ style of course) shooting musicians, travel etc. It’s scary but exilarating at the same time. I’m taking a very supportive family with me along with a determination to make my passion a reality.

  • David!

    a big hello from Lisbon!

    yep. couldn’t agree more. the future is not all black clouds. with all the changes coming in and little talk about the demise of photojournalism and professional photographers, it’s good to read positive thoughts and a realistic approach on the matter.

    it really depends on how good and dedicated one is as a photographer…

  • Michael,

    thank you!


    obviously I cant give you any real advice. Only David could do that. But what I can say is to just do photography for yourself and keep trying. Dont give up or get too frustrated along the way. Make it something you do for yourself, and eventually something will happen. Have you tried entering any competitions or trying to enter festivals or group exhibitions? That could be a way to try and gain some exposure. There are plenty of contests around, one Im going to be submitting to has a prize of spending a day with Stuart Franklin on top of being exhibited at Recontres d’Arles photography festival in July 2007. I doubt Ill win that but its worth trying anyway.

  • David,

    Your thoughtful writings were the perfect night cap after a nice cigar under a clear Texas sky.

    Glad to hear Sicily was so inspirational.

    Keep your friends posted.

    Cheers, amigo.


  • yup, i can see me in the words you write. i’m new in the photography life. i started taking pictures at the age 28 and now i’m 32. i’m freelancer since 31, and to this happen i have leave 10 years behind a professional life that hasn’t nothing to do with photography.

    nice words, David!

    (sorry my bad english)

  • yup, i can see me in the words you write. i’m new in the photography life. i started taking pictures at the age 28 and now i’m 32. i’m freelancer since 31, and to this happen i have leave 10 years behind a professional life that hasn’t nothing to do with photography.

    nice words, David!

    (sorry my bad english)

  • Hi David,

    Thank you for the wonderful post. Most I hear from the industry today is how tough it is to make a breakthrough for an emerging photo media artist. What you say is quite spot on about photography as the transition. My case is not far from it. Your words just give me a little light in this wide and uncertain world.

    All the best,


  • Hi David,

    Thank you for the wonderful post. Most I hear from the industry today is how tough it is to make a breakthrough for an emerging photo media artist. What you say is quite spot on about photography as the transition. My case is not far from it. Your words just give me a little light in this wide and uncertain world.

    All the best,


  • Hi David.

    Yesterday I was thinking about my job…. in a sad office, doing boring things. I am here in milan for a master in photojournalism, and the work is making me having no time for shooting.

    So, yesterday i was thinking of leave the job and start thinking only to photography…. I read your post, and I decided to leave the work this month. because I have to do it before it’s too late. Thanx David :-)


    p.s.: Sorry I couldn’t meet you in Sicily, my programs changed and in easter i remained in Milan…..

  • David,

    That was a great post, one of the most inspirational and hopeful things I’ve read about the state of photography. You touched on a lot of things I’ve been feeling and thinking lately.

    I’ve been a staff photographer at a newspaper for nine years, and I crave something more. You mentioned the sense of being “up against the wall,” and that couldn’t describe how I feel any better. I feel like I’m armed with the tools, but lack essential knowledge of how the market you’ve described works.

    My question to you is this: how do you make the leap?

    Did you anticipate having to do career counseling when you started this blog?

    Thank you,


  • very, very inspiring. thanks for sharing. this is really a first class blog…

  • David,

    thanks for your post. You know, sometimes I remember my father…when we came from Cuba he used to play one or two dollars a week in the lottery and every week he checked if his number has won…never did but he always said “para la proxima” (“the next one”)…for him it was about the faith…about keeping a dream that things will get better for all of us…that faith kept him going forward all his life…$1 a week didn’t made him a gambler either…it was more of a ritual…

    My photography is there…everybody says is great but nothing happens with it so I keep going to my job everyday to get my

    paycheck…but my paycheck also pays for this beautiful “hobbie” so at 48 I keep saying “para la proxima” and that is what keeps me shooting, traveling alone in my car hunting for images and learning from people like you and the rest of the people that write in this blog everyday.

    thanks for this virtual space… It’s a great place to feel good and positive.

    Carlos Rubin

  • yes i’m listening… dammit..

  • Your words are inspirational especially as I, a junior photojournalism major, try and figure out if this is what I actually want to do with the rest of my life. Taking that first ‘step’ as you put it is really the first and hardest thing to do. Bouncing in and out of a photo sine curve is one of the most frustrating things I’ve encountered thus far. The whole, “what the hell am I doing” mentality sticks in and is sometimes difficult to shake off but when I do, for a time, it’s crystal clear.

    Your words do help. Thank you.

    Ethan Sterner – Philadelphia, PA

  • It’s all about passion. It’s all about dreams. It’s all about soul. And then, you’ll be free, just doing what your heart feels. I also have fears but my dream is stronger than everything. And will keep on trying. Thanks so much for your encouraging words, David. We have a friend in common (that’s why I got to this page) and hope to meet you soon…. in Spain ;-)

    “nobody can stop you now…” Thank you!!!


  • Hej Rafał

    For me „I will work harder” it means not- more shooting, but more work in order to photograph in whole (especially for time). But my time has finished. I must do something with my life. Photography means my camera and people’s problems, for me. Probably I will make photos for advertising agency, or weddings, but this is not what I want from photography. Only press photography something signifies for me. I must say I give up. (odpuszczam sobie). I must be focus on daily life. I am going to work for many. I have no choice. Probably if I have more talent something has managed, but it is not important now. I’m not hanging out my camera but I must put it in bag, maybe it will be reason to take it out someday, somewhere.

    Well, stay in passion, everyone.


  • Martin,

    dont give up. You will regret it later. Im pretty much in the same boat as you, Im not getting anywhere really but Im an optimist, I keep dreaming:) But I have a job that has nothing to do with photos so atleast Im making money and can afford to dream.In the meanwhile, Im sort of enjoying the freedom to simply take the photos I want to take with no demands from others.

  • Hi David,

    Great Post!!! Just wanted to let you know that you have a fan all the way from the Philippines. Looking forward to your blog entries and pictures…


  • Dear Mr. Harvey,

    I have only recently stumbled upon your blog. I love your open style of writing. Thank you for the latest lineup of inspirational posts.

  • Cheer up

    What a beautiful words from a respected Photographer, Davie Alan Harvey. Thank you for positive view.

  • David,

    You mentioned here a “photographer must look inside….for it is impossible to be an author if one does not have anything to say…” I’d love to hear your thoughts for any recommendations or strategies to use for looking inside to find out what’s truly meaningful.

    I have a feeling you could make a book out of this blog. Your posts have a lot of power to educate and inspire. Just reading here and occasionally posting has reinvigorated my career as a photographer. Thank you.


  • Oh captain, my captain! Your last paragraph rings ever so true. Thanks for being both preacher and teacher. You area a true inspiration. Say hello to Laura for me if you are able to get ahold of her. Cheap beer is plentiful in Florida, so give me a shout if you come to the Tampa or Orlando area.


    Rob Mattson


  • Hi David,

    how are you doing? for some reason (too much work?…) i missed this post and few others recently.

    Well, i was reading this post, and i could see myself… not only that… I could see the conversation we had the last day in Sicily, and the thought to be next to a change is getting stronger and stronger in my mind… it’s in the background but is growing and growing…

    and I had this conversation again with Lana and few more friends. I feel I am stuck in a place I don’t want to be.

    but as you say these decisions are painful, if it’s easy it’s not a decision… will see… time will tell!



  • david alan harvey


    nice to hear from you….i will travel to see laura on saturday…..pls. visit me when you are in new york…


    keep thinking….you will know when and if the time is right…

  • David – thanks so much for this! I have been trying to find my way in life for so long. I feel like I have been walking in the dark waiting for someone to turn the light on. Photography seems to fit my purpose now.

    This post resonated inside me giving me confidence to show life as I see it through photography.


  • The fantastic thing in life is that everything is connected!

    Just as someone told me once: “today is the first day of my new life and i’m gratefful for it”…

    See you soon,

    Light Kisses

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