summer vacation


i will fly back to new york tomorrow and will almost immediately launch into a very heavy schedule of beach vacation with my  family…so, for two weeks my friends, i think it fair to say that there will be fewer postings here….

for one thing, i cannot imagine there would be of much interest to most of you the doings of the harvey family at the beach…and for another thing, there is an unwritten  family rule that anyone spending too much time on the computer gets properly chastised by the rest of the family….

however, even on vacation, my camera is not in the bag….documenting my family has been my "job" since childhood and i try to produce a music "slide show" at the end of our time together as the "grand finale" of our precious time together…

do all of you document your families in a real way??   are "family snapshots"  taken as seriously as your "serious" work??  and lastly, how many of you have published pictures of your family??


40 Responses to “summer vacation”

  • David,

    For me, family vacation photos are to be taken very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely enjoy it, but for me it’s yet another opportunity to hone my skills. Try new techniques, experiment. I usually end up creating a web page to send out to all. I have been thinking about a “slide show” with music for some time. Any programs you’d recommend?

    Also, have you ever thought about doing a sort of online image review? Within this forum? Maybe allowing the occasional posting of one or two images from your regulars here and have everyone (including you!) take a shot a critiquing? Just a thought.


  • Just brought in the mail. New Geographic. Fantastic Mexico shots, David!

  • Well, it’s a group of people in which it was not a huge effort to introduce oneself, so I guess it would do. I just shot at the wedding of two friends of mine and found it really challenging… pulse was going up because a) I don’t know what’s going to happen and b) it will only happen once. And then I mostly hear disdaining comments about wedding photographers and family snapshooters…

  • Hi David

    My family is the primary focus of my photography, both on vacation and day-to-day/backyard. I just seem to slide between documentary snaps right into an occasional shot that is something more… something that just strikes a chord with me.

    Often those rare shots are not of interest to my family, who prefer the “say cheese” group photos in front of whatever sight, in bright mid-day sun.

    While I love the cute shots of my kids and can’t bring myself to delete even the bad shots, I never know, during those fun, documentary outings, when that fleeting chance will appear in front of my lens and push me into the zone, if only for a few seconds. It’s worth it.

    Have a fun beach break.

  • I have two types of family gathering, the first is a family holiday with the kids where I take a camera for snap shoots but am basically not allowed to spend time taking pictures under pain of something well painful. The other is a mass family gathering where I take pictures all day mainly to stop me getting bored and falling out with all those horrible people. I’ve sold a few family snaps, luckily the kids are photogenic. Alix who is 10 has also managed to sell one of me. Michael, I love to do friends weddings stops me getting too drunk to quick and gets you the best seat in the house. I really think pictures are the best presents, last year I did the inlaws a book family pics and I think they were really moved by it.

  • My familly is incredible small.. only my father and my mum… my sister with husband and children is living in Minneapoliss (soon they will move to Ketchican in Alaska) far away from Poland… so i don’t really have opportunity to take pics of my familly… my father is spending time in his room, my mother in her room or most of the time out of home…
    maybe in October i will have oportunity to shoot my sister’s familly life in Alaska… :-)
    I am sure when i will have my own familly soon (maybe children not so soon ;-)) :-) i will shoot a lot of pictures .. i already started to do it

    Stefan… your pictures remind me Larry Towell’s photos… are really nice! i will just use less photoshop, they are enought strong without too much ps

  • ps. Larry Towell was always a master of familly pictures in my opinion! I love his pictures!

  • My family, and I think many people’s families, have the greatest potential to influence your consciences. They know who you are and where you have come from. They are the people that raised you and love you. Siblings often times know how to bring you to your angriest at the drop of a pin, and parents often know how to console you just as easily.

    I think that you react more, to you family than anyone else, and as a photographer and artist all you have is your reaction.

    So, for me, it is very important to always work my camera when I am with my family, for these pictures are most accurately, as Robert Frank said, the instantaneous reaction to yourself.


  • Aga, yes Larry has some great family pictures ;) thanks, no photoshop in my ones, scan from prints, warm tone paper. best Stefan

  • :-) nice

    ps. Stefan… your daughter is charming

  • My family snapshoot it is one big catastrophe. My parents hate when somebody make them pictures. They not accept documentary photography. I always heard scream “don’t make me a pictures when I’m cooking!!”, or ”I’m no dressed!! (it’s mean “official dress”)”, or “don’t take me a pictures when I watching tv” etc. the same my siblings, they made stupid expression of face always. But they complain why they have not nice, beautiful pictures.
    For them photography means when everybody standing in official suit with some architecture landscape behind them (coliseum could be best). They will not be offended when I could make them photos like from fashion journal, but with their point-and-shoot camera and without their help. “good photographer can do pictures like this with every camera, and place!”
    So I stop aggrieve them long ago.
    Now I only hear “why you shooting so nice pictures other people and not us?”
    Only my wife allows me (She had no choice :) and she had a few good pictures.
    But this is not my family problem, but us Poles. Here everybody have problem with photography, because they not accept them self.
    People come to me when I’m shooting wide plans or architectures on streets and yell “why do you take my pictures?!! Do you have permission for that?!! Who you working for?!!”
    Good example from today; I saw 20 dummy of women in shop exhibitions. So I took a pictures when some lady comes in. 10 second after saleswomen has run out and cried “why you shooting my window!! Do you have permission?!! Who you working for!!!”
    I’m very nice man but sometimes I’m out of border.

    We Poles are nice and totally freak nation. My family and probably me too…

  • I used to think that my roots were “ordinary” compared to other people’s. That’s why I never considered my family as a “legitimate” photographic subject before. I’m glad that sentiment is finally out of my system:

    Aga, compared to your family, my household is HUGE. I’ve moved out, but my three siblings, two cousins, and their families still live with my parents. Every time I come home, it always feels like they’re throwing me a party.

  • Hello :)
    First of all: my english is really bad.
    My first post here, I’m a frequent silent visitor, but I’d like to say that i find this blog full of resources and I see many smiling people… I like it very much!

    Thank You David and to all others writers.

    About this post: I don’t take picture of my family because they don’t like picture… they want color! They want appear “beauty”.

    Unluckily my english is not so good to write and understand everything.

    Ciao, Mirko

  • Martin,

    Your’s was the funniest story I’ve read in a long time! It reminded me of my own family (mother’s side, Polish descent) and there aversion to the camera.

    Thanks for the good read.


  • Martin…you are right.. i have always same problem in my city – Katowice, people don’t like to be on pictures, even i shoot a window of a shop people dont like it.. it’s crazy!
    Totaly different is in France, Germany and Turkey – nobody ask you for permission… in Turkey people were even happy i took pictures of them :-)

    Jeryc.. i would love to have such big familly as yours! I enjoyed to spend time familly of my Ilker in Turkey.. he has 2 sisters and parents… all are spending time together watching tv, eating dinner ect.. even going out to restaurant to celebrate my birthday was fun!

    Mirko… i think most of us don’t speak english perfekt :-) (I don’t speak fluently for sure :-)) so don’t worry about your english.. i understand you very well :-)

  • Aga: I didn’t have any problems in Katowice and Wroclaw, people had either a gigle or sometimes wanted to pose for another one. But all Polish I know is “dzieki” :-P (Maybe it’s associated to travelling?)

  • Family pics are very important to me but I rarely publish them. They definitely appreciate with time. Something you’d hesitate to hang on your home walls today is a sure gem 5 years later.

  • Wroclaw for sure is different! It’s turistic place, same as Krakow and Warsaw – there are no problems to shoot…
    I can not say i had some problems, because i never had.. just say that is not so easy to shoot in Poland compare to other countrys

  • Hello, David!
    Actually i always was a little shy about shooting my family. You know, people just look at you and say: “Come on, boy, drop out this camera, go and bring us some beers”, or something like that. But the last months i’ve started to think about it seriously, and it became a reason for me to go back home, to Brasil: to trace all the way, from South to North of the country, where my roots were spread. I’ve got a grandpa who made 53 kids. Yeah, it’s not a joke, 53! So, i’ve got kin in almost every place in the map i put my finger on…
    Enjoy your vacation. Hasta luego!

  • Family photos are close to my heart. My kids were 12 and 13 when I adopted them, and we had no history. Creating evidence of a shared history was a huge deal that first year, something we could put on the wall or in an album and SEE that we were a family. They didn’t know US holidays (and totally didn’t believe me when I said they could wear a costume to school at Halloween), so it became a reference book for the following year. See? The baskets of candy are Easter, everyone around the big tree with lights is Christmas…

    After a few years, I stopped documenting them quite so much, but now that they are almost ready to fly away, we document normal days as much as holidays. And I love to see them sitting in the living room, surrounded by old photos of my parents and grandparents, the only way they were ever “together.”

    They make it on my blog occassionally, but not often. (More than my sons wants, less than my daughter…)

    Enjoy your vacation!

  • David, Is the photo of the blonde stud with his back to us your son? I have a feeling it is. Have fun on the beach. I am heading for a summer vacation with the family at Mayfield Lake in Washington State and I am positive that the photos that I take of my family on this trip will mean more to me than any photo I take ever. My favorite photos are those of my adorable children and their kids. There is nothing more precious or more photogenic than family. Without family there is not much worth living for. Thank God for family. My family have grown so used to my shooting them that if I don’t pull out my camera they ask why not?

  • Thank You very much Aga, I will try to stay in touch :)

  • Hi David,

    Here’s an old photo of my cousins and I with my maternal grandparents, taken by my father with his Olympus OM-1 in the mid-70’s:

    Guess which one I am (obviously this only makes sense for those who’ve met me before).

    I’ve only become serious in photography in the last few years when I’ve been living in a different country so I don’t have so many photos of my family. It’s also a case of not worrying about it because you think they’ll always be there, but you never know. Anyway, next month my brother is getting married so I’ll be taking a few photos.

    Here’s one of my godson, Daniel:


  • Hi David:

    yes, not only am i obsessed with Family Albums (that’s really what i think is at the heart of Frank’s work, for example) of all kinds, but at the heart of my own work, and the most important project, is the story of my life with my family (1: marina/dima, 2: parents, 3: friends)….

    i never photograph them casually (which is too bad), but they are the heart around which all my ideas, all my breathing, all of my body rattles…im bereft without the presence of them or my friends: their lives, their selves, their joys and sorrows and sadness and growth, and yes, death, are the channels by which i’ve navigated things….

    how better to wrestle with this unknowable life that to bury yourself inside the world closest around you…not as narcissim but as a searching….

    i’d love to see ur family pics too…by the way, i think of your first book (the south) as just that: and its the lighthouse swing-light of all your work: you’re an archeologist of the family: that is clear in all of your work, from the B/W to cuba to hispanic series to NG stuff…it’s another kinship i feel….

    seeusoon, when autumn lifts up her skirt ;))

  • p.s. yes, i’ve published pics of my family (wife, son, brother) and soon, you’ll be able to see some too at Sall-Baal…in a sense, i also think of the other people i photograph (for example, a long series about Immigrants/Students in Canada) as part of the family, as I approach them in the same way: a surrounding….

    the scent of place marked by those who’ve passed before….

    i should add this David: at our wedding, Dima was our “official” photographer, because my wife wouldnt let me shoot during or after the ceremony ;)))))))))))) (quote: “i want your attention on us:” ;)))….but i did get some great snaps in before and after ;))))…if photography is the language by which we speak of this disappearing world (at least it is for me), what better place to begin than of the world and people with whom we spend the most time and our defined by…

  • david alan harvey


    i like your work, particularly the portraits which seem to be more revealing somehow…the work from india is also quite good, but india is such a “natural” photo subject…daily life had some truly great imagery…lourdes was your weakest story for some reason..i have never been there, so maybe it is somehow difficult to work in lourdes….i looked at everything except maybe one category….

    again, like i tell most photographers, you just do not need quite so many pictures on your site…you could edit down and be even stronger….your best is very very powerful….if we were together with prints or even on the computer screen, i could help you edit this work down to a point where it would be flawless…

    keep doing what you are doing and stay in touch…

  • david alan harvey


    you look the same now!! well, almost….

    nice photo of your godson..

    are you coming to perpignan???

  • david alan harvey


    yes, you are right….very nice people here in this community…and your english is just fine!!!

    please do not be silent….it is the comments from all of you that make this blog so rich…

  • david alan harvey


    online image review?? we are going to do something online at magnum for photographers and their work….we are working on it now….

    thanks for compliment on mexican religious ride…that was only about a day and a half of shooting, so it does not go very far….once the embargo is lifted (90 days after publication) i will publish here some of the work that did not make the magazine piece…

  • david alan harvey


    yes, blond “stud”, as you say, is my oldest son…..there is another one who you will meet soonest….

    i would imagine you would have your family “covered”..and maybe even the families next door!!!

  • david alan harvey


    you are correct…almost everything i do “keys” off of my family….everything is either “autobiographical” in nature or is referential to some “remembered” or sentimentalized family moment or emotion…

  • david alan harvey


    hmmm, no matter where you go, you will have family!!! if your grandfather is living, go take an appropriate photograph…if he is gone, try to capture his spirit with one of your brothers or cousins…..

  • david alan harvey


    i only have two photographs on permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art…one of them was a random picture at a friend’s wedding…weddings are terrific if you can shoot them as you want…

  • So many readers of this blog are more advanced than I am. However, for those who might not know, I will share how easy it is to make a DVD using idvd on my Mac computer. I have done two now. The first was for my mother’s 87th birthday party. I used a combination of my photos of the family, old scanned photos, and video clips. For 99 cents each, I was able to find all of her old favorite tunes on itunes. Apple has a $99. per year PRO Care where I can go to the Apple store for a one hour tutoring once a week if I wish. I did this for iDVD one time and was able to put this all together fairly easily. I also did a family vacation of photos with a theme–that David has seen at a portfolio review. This is just an additinal way to use your images–and possibly could be used in a professional way. It’s fun to put photos together with music. Rosemary
    ps Apple is not paying me. I hope it is ok to use trade names in this way. Thanks again, David, for sharing so much of your knowledge and time and making this site available.
    Also, I would like to share how much family photographs mean to me. I have some beautiful old black and white images because my father studied art and was a wonderful photographer, and my husband’s uncle was a professional photographer. Those images that you take of your family now may be very much loved by relatives in the future.

  • i have passed by a difficult familiar situation the last four years since my father became ill of a cancer. During this time i asked myself a few times if i could be able of doing a photography essay of the situation, and i took random pictures. But every time i took the camera i was thinking how my father feel about his daugther working on his death. so, I only get two o three bad pictures. Now, five months after he died i didn’t show this pictures to no one of my family. but it seems like this pictures aren’t so bad for me now.

  • David, thank you, and yes you are right, I had been thinking the same about “lourdes” since longer time, the last time when I updated my web site I wanted to leave lourdes out. so now it is time to take decisions. best regards Stefan

  • Thank You David, I’ll do my best :)

  • Funny, I just got back from the woods, spent a week in a beautiful place in Laurentiens with my kids at friends cottage, and the first thing I read is this ‘summer vacation’ post.
    Well, David (and others), if you feel like checking some more photos please take a look on the summary of that vacation.
    You can go to
    and click on the main photo (We Came To Bury The Shrew) and that will take you to the story. Any feedback/comment is more than welcome.
    I believe that the greatest work always comes from personal projects and what can be more personal than photographing a family…

  • I am a Norwegian writer (fiction & essays, but also a collection of poetry), and for me it`s difficult to distinguish between “work” and “leisure” time. I don`t stop being a writer while I`m on vacation – the language machine inside my head is always spinning around and around!
    And when it comes to photography, I am not more or less serious if I take pictures of family members, friends or strangers; whether at home, or abroad in some “exotic” country, there are always plenty of opportunities, and my ideal aproach (in writing, as well as photography and music) is a mixture of playfulness and serious consentration in any circumstanses (although it isn`t always easy to find that perfect balance!).

    David, I`ve admired your pictures for a long time, but I wasn`t aware of your extremely generous and enthousiastic blog before yesterday (through the Magnum site). I`m reading through your old posts, and it`s great to see how you have managed to create this polyphonic choir of voices, responding to your thoughts and experiences from so many different places!

    After reading this more than one week old thread about family pictures, I decided to take the risk of showing a small selection of my own stuff outside the small circle of family members. Most of them are (rather melancholic…) pictures from last Christmas, the rest from other celebrational occations during the last few months (not so melancholic!).

    I created my first blog for this purpose, and all the pictures so far (except for the singing ladies) are family snap shots.

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