David Alan Harvey Workshop Party

On Friday night, Dr. Girlfriend, my friend Tim and I trekked out to Brooklyn to the loft/studio of photographer David Alan Harvey. David has a workshop called At Home with David Alan Harvey that he puts on twice a year. He describes the class like this:

i will spend “one on one” time with each of you to help you choose a photo essay which you will complete during this week….first, i will look at each of your portfolios and see where you need to “go” for your personal “next step”…daily group critiques from the previous day’s work will be followed each day with a guest editor or photographer presentation

One of my friends was a participant in the workshop, and invited me to the post-workshop show (and fiesta). After getting lost trying to get to Dumbo because of bad maps and the seemingly randomness of Brooklyn streets, we finally made it to the show. It was truly and exciting experience to be around so many working photographers. In my bubble at work, there isn’t much of a photography atmosphere, so it was great to rub shoulders with other photogs. David was a gracious and interesting host, making sure that he talked to everyone and introduced himself to all the stangers that he invited into his home. It’s pretty neat going to a studio of a photographer that has an original print of a portrait of Che Guevara that he shot! Pretty great.

The show was interesting too. It’s focus on photo-journalism and photo essays doesn’t interest me much professionally, but the photography was really interesting. There was a brief talk by Eugene Richards and another one by Bruce Gilden. If you haven’t seen it already, you have got to check out this video of Bruce working in New York:

While the Richards and Gilden parts were interesting, I found the student work to be more exciting. I’d already seen much of Gilden’s work, and while Richards’ work was beautiful, I found that much of it seemed to be pretty typical photo journalism from the 70s. This isn’t to say I don’t admire it – I think that the larger issue is just that I’ve seen so much photography that is similar, that even his stark and shocking images don’t seem that original. For example, the shots of a woman smoking crack on a bed with a crying baby lying nearby. Amazing that he’s able to get those shots, and amazing that he can build those relationships, amazing composition, everything. I guess what I’m saying is that while it’s excellent and beautiful work, it’s work that I’ve seen a lot of, from a lot of people, so I’m not moved emotionally, perhaps.

Either way, I enjoyed the freshness and rawness of the student work. I like some photographers more than others, but the work excited me and made me want to shoot, so which is why I was more impressed by it than the more established photographers.

All in all an interesting evening in Brooklyn. Got me very fired up to work more. I’ve been shooting far too little these days, and while photo essay isn’t what I’m interested in, the party was a reminder that I need to shoot more and spend more time thinking about what I’m shooting rather than jumping from project to project. I’m going to try to get more involved in the community too – I live in New York for a reason, right? I need to make the time to do things like this more often. Great stuff.

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