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The Estimable Mr. Harvey

Apr 2

In Friends, history at 3:59am

Saw Dave Harvey the other week, at GPP in Dubai. We’ve known each other for a long time, but, as is typical amongst traveling shooters, we hadn’t seen each other for several years. Maybe it’s just the way of photographers, we’re close in spirit, if almost never in flesh. We picked back up like we had seen each other yesterday, recalling immediately a legendarily drunken, depressed conversation we gather occurred between the two of us at least 22 or so years ago. It was at a bar in a sad Days Inn in upstate NY, spitting distance from Eddie Adams’ barn, and Dave and I commiserated and bitched about the business at hand. Everything sucked, everything was getting worse, there were no assignments, and the magazines we worked for were going down the tubes.

The collective memory of that conversation was immediate, and we both laughed. As Dave said, “Twenty years later. Still standing!”

Dave’s still standing, but he’s hardly standing around. He has embraced the internet as a publication of choice, and built an audience for his ongoing blogs and Instagrams. He believes fiercely in the mentoring process, having been fiercely mentored himself by the legendary Rich Clarkson at the Topeka Capitol Journal. He launched Burn Magazine,  an “evolving journal for emerging photographers,” which offers funding and grants for new work. And he creates award winning, limited edition books of his own efforts, combining his ever prescient sense of the moment with various technologies from the Iphone to rangefinders to point and shoot cameras. His sprawling imagination and wonderful sense of light have merged into the digital world in fine fashion.

When we both grew up photographically (though the notion of either of us being grown ups is the subject of debate in some quarters) the interface, the structure we had to plug our pictures into were magazines. We had to wait by the phone, and hopefully it would ring. An assignment would be born, and our pictures then offered up to the judgement and whims of others. Later, sometimes much later, the fruits of our labors would be seen in print. So it went, for many years. Now, of course, the pictorial conversation is quite immediate, with the gap between the click and the delivery down to literally seconds. I’ve been a photog for many years, shooting all manner of film and pixels. Probably the most viewed photo I’ve ever shot was an Instagram I made a couple weeks ago from atop the Burj Khalifa. It was everywhere, literally, before I even climbed back down the tower. We live in a fast world, and now, our pictures keep pace with it.

Dave’s digital conversations, via his Instagrams, are also quite immediate, and personal. His recent posts have been prompted by the death of his mother, Maryanna. He commemorated her in a picture, naturally.

His posts harked back, for me, to the death of my mom, which I wrote about a bit. I disclosed that I knew I would never see her again, so during my last visit, I made a photo. She died while I was in Singapore. That’s the life of a photographer. Sometimes you’re not there for some of it.

Dave continues to update from the gathering of the Harvey clan, and the celebration of his mother’s life. My heart goes out to him, and his family. 

Photographers. Sometimes we can’t find the words. But we can, most of the time, find a picture.

More tk….







Sara Lando says:

on April 2, 2013 at 4:28 am

If there is a single thing I took away from GPP is how honesty and curiosity and plain simple humanity are probably the unsung heroes in photography.
There’s something almost heartbreaking in how sincere and unapologetic Harvey is in his approach to photography and life.
And I think this transcends the medium he uses: the Internet makes it easier and more immediate, but it works for him because behind the immediacy there is a point of view, built in a lifetime of keeping his eyes open, a person looking for a connection.
I’ve perceived the same attitude talking to you and Heisler, which makes me kind of think it’s more than a coincidence…

Fadi Kelada says:

on April 2, 2013 at 4:36 am

My Heart Goes out to Dave and you Joe. I shed tears after reading your blog post with last pictures of your mother. I still can’t imagine how hard to feel like the last time you will ever see your loved ones.

Simone says:

on April 2, 2013 at 4:51 am

Still standing. I’d like to say the same for myself, 20 yrs from now 😐

Greg Stubbings says:

on April 2, 2013 at 5:04 am

Joe, you and David stand as leading lights to up and coming photographers. You both share your wisdom and knowledge so openly; a credit to you both.

Sean Reason says:

on April 2, 2013 at 5:18 am

Such “Mateship” is superb

Bob says:

on April 2, 2013 at 5:19 am

Joe – you have a special personal touch that came through in this post. Thanks.

Ed dougherty says:

on April 2, 2013 at 6:41 am

Nice piece sounds like a great guy

Bill Frakes says:

on April 2, 2013 at 8:14 am

Wonderful read.

Neither of you has spent much time standing though, more like running hard, and both incredibly generous about sharing not only your stories but helping other photographers learn and grow.

Ironically Heinz and I spent the better part of an hour yesterday talking about our moms.

Safe travels

Darcie says:

on April 2, 2013 at 9:05 am

As Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And you guys have an amazing eye, seeing things/people in a way that most people can not. I enjoy seeing your work. One of my most cherished memories and honors from working at Kodak was meeting and working with some of the greatest photographers and editors. It’s such a awesome feeling to say that I have met you all.

Tyler Vance says:

on April 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

Joe, in my lifetime I have been honored to work with both you and David.

I believe you guys are the best mentors any photographer could have.

Thanks to both for sharing your life views and expertise with me and countless others who have benefited.

tyler vance

James says:

on April 2, 2013 at 11:46 am

Dave Harvey doesn’t sound right. He’s a three namer like all the assassins. David Alan Harvey.

Ashley says:

on April 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Beautiful post …

Joe McNally says:

on April 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Same back Bill…thanks for stopping by the blog. Give my best to Heinz….Joe

Connie Marshall says:

on April 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm

You have kept me afloat with laughter and vicarious adventures throughout your Kelby Training video escapades that I watch in between caring for my elderly parents. So, it came as a surprise when tears rolled down my cheeks as I read your blog post today. Your courageous decision to photograph and share your mother’s beautiful humility during her final days revealed as much about you as her (God bless her soul for suffering the raising of a hellion like you – just had to throw that in). I have been intimidated by and afraid to photograph the sometimes messy process of nearing the end of one’s life. I am so grateful that I clicked the shutter anyway.


Simon says:

on April 2, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Mums, dads, friends, family, life…

Pictures that sometimes seemed like just a passing click of the shutter at the time transform into so much more down the track – often becoming both timeless & priceless. In a way that sometimes disturbs me I am often thinking of this process as I make my clicks, knowing that those images may well become the physical memories I or someone else may be left with of a loved one.

Hannes Uys says:

on April 4, 2013 at 2:08 am

Oh boy what an amazing piece you wrote here Joe with so many truths about life and this industry. The more things change the more they stay the same. Will be an honour to see you South Africa in June. ~H.

Ryan Crouch says:

on April 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

My two favorite photographers of all time gathered together..what I would have given to be there!!!

Greg Latza says:

on April 16, 2013 at 1:17 am

How ironic…the one and only time I’ve met you and Mr. Harvey was at the 1993 Eddie Adams Workshop, possibly the one you speak of. Harvey slapped on a slide tray and wowed a group of us students late one evening; each new slide even better than the last. As for you, I stood in a long line waiting for my 20-slide portfolio to be critiqued, positive that you would stop and exclaim that I was a diamond in the rough (kind of like how Ralphie expects an A+++ on his Red Rider BB gun essay in “A Christmas Story”). Instead, you took one glance at my slides, took a long, weary pull off your longneck, and told me how I had about two good photos and 18 really crappy ones. Some of the best advice I ever got! Your brutal honesty was a great help then and always makes for a great read now on the blog. Thanks again for the critique!

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