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Entries in David Alan Harvey Loft Workshop (21)


David Alan Harvey Workshop, entry 21 - final: David himself - his two predictions for me; thank you, John Gladdy, for bringing me to the workshop

This is David Alan Harvey himself, and he was tired when I took this picture. He says he doesn't get tired, but he does. He just doesn't take much note of it or let it stop him or slow him down - or stop him from playing, either. "Work hard, play hard," he says, and he does. Sometimes, I think he does more than any other human being I have ever met - certainly more than any other photographer. In general, I have met no harder working group of people than photographers. I am at a loss as to how he does it. In just the time since the workshop, he has taught another major workshop, finished off two National Geographic pieces - one on Rio De Janeiro and one on what lies just beyond the porch of his Outer Banks, North Carolina, beach-front home - a project which he also turned into an online workshop.

For that workshop, he brought the editor of National Geographic online and also took his readers inside National Geographic to assist in the final selection of the opening image - the first time in National Geographic's history when they allowed pictures that were soon to appear in their magazine to be shown in another forum. He also  finished off the shooting for a personal book on Rio, made that into a very intense online workshop during which he regularly made multiple daily posts and continually responded to the lively dialogue those posts generated. Throughout all this, he kept Burn Magazine alive and flowing with new talent and, again, joined in and stayed current with all the Burn dialogue those posts generated.


I am exhausted!

On the surface, especially during the early stages of a critique, he can sometimes seem a little bit gruff, but he makes up for it later and he gives of himself to other photographers more than does any other photographer that I know of. I am one of the many photographers to whom he has given. Of course, I have known about Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey since at least 1978, when he was named Magazine Photographer of the Year. Truth is, though, over the past couple of decades, I have lived very isolated from the larger world of photography.

I once kept track of National Geographic, Life, Time, American Photo, Aperture and other photographic publications studiously and also who was doing what photographically. Yet, I lived a life built around the tiny circulation, photographically-oriented publications that I either created or inherited for a time here in Alaska. I have had very little interaction with other photographers - including the talented photojournalists living and working here in Alaska.

I lived in my own world, occassionally making short forays into the larger world, but never staying long enough to go anywhere in it. I did not lose my larger ambitions, but I had no idea how to focus them and they always seemed to get drowned out by the urgency generated by the demands of the tiny-circulation publications that I have been engaged in.

Then, in June of 2008, I took a bad fall while acting recklessly in search of a better angle. I lost my right shoulder, got it replaced by titanium and then for a year was unable to do much of anything but walk around snapping left-handed photos with a pocket camera given to me by my children. This happened just when I had begun two big projects and was poised to make some decent money and start digging my way out of the economic hole I remain engulfed in.

Unable to do much, I spent more time wandering about on the computer. One day, I wandered onto Burn Magazine. I was stunned by the quality of the work, and inspired by the moving force behind it all... that force being David Alan Harvey, multiplied by the talent and force of all those other photographers - emerging, iconic and struggling; young, middle-aged and growing old - who joined him in the work.

When David started Burn, he had been advised by some in the know not to allow comments and dialogue, but he did and so all these diverse and globally-dispersed people became a community, even a family of sorts - myself, Frostfrog, included. As is the case in all communities and families, contention sometimes arises among us, but it almost never drops into that gratuitously mean and spiteful contention common to other dialogue boards. We are all there because we love photography. Those of us who are photographers want to better and advance ourselves, others want to better understand or even to spread love among the Mass of all Civilians of the Audience of this earth. 

And so it was that, in as grim a moment as I have experienced in this life, the head of that family, David Alan Harvey sought to comfort me. At the beginning of this series, I told about the two predictions that he made for me, both of which seemed impossible at the time - one, that he would see me in New York within a year; two, that a new muse would come into my life to fill the void left behind by the suicide of my beloved Muse Soundarya, who chose to follow her husband Anil, who had just died in a car crash, into whatever lies beyond this life.

Obviously, the first prediction came true - in large part because of another member of the Burn family. When I began this series, I told how an individual had clicked onto the Paypal button that I put up on my original blog, Wasilla, Alaska by 300 and then some and had made a contribution to this blog large enough to cover a round-trip ticket from Anchorage to New York. I did not know when I might take that trip, but then it just happened that David scheduled the Loft workshop for one of the rare times when I would have money enough to justify the expense. So I came.

The donor has told me he is okay with me identifying him: John Gladdy, a member of the Burn family and a most talented photographer. His contribution? $666.66. I know this number will horrify some readers, but let me assure all: he may have spent much of his time walking on the hard edge of life, but John Gladdy has a good and generous heart. He is a good person.

Thank you, John Gladdy. I would never have made it to the Loft Workshop without your most generous encouragement.

How about the second part of David's prediction? That I would find a new muse?

No one will ever again step into the place that Soundarya occupies in my life. No one. That place is hers and hers alone. That said, I must say that her sister, Sujitha, whose wedding in Pune, India, I am scheduled to attend in March, did step in to help carry me through to this point. While it goes without saying, but I want to say it, my wife, Margie, has sacrificied so much to allow me to do what I have done, has always been there for me, has always supported and encouraged me and has been often my only sounding board before publishing. When she was young and beautiful (she remains beautiful), she would almost never allow me to photograph her, as a photographer would normally expect his muse to do, but, yes, she also deserves the title of Muse.

There are many definitions of "muse" in the dictionary, both as verb and noun. Among them, these:

...a guiding spirit... a source of inspiration... a muse is a spirit or source that inspires an artist... muses help inspire people to do their best...

As of recent, who has inspired me the most? Who has most pushed me to do my best?

David Alan Harvey.

So, David, you may not be a goddess of Greek Mythology, but you sure as hell have inspired me; you have helped to keep me going when I felt I could not. Every day, you push me to better myself. In this sense, you are the fulfilment of your own prediction. You are Muse - to me, and to how many others?

If any readers wish to learn more about David, the projects he has done, the books he has made, Burn has the links to get you going in all the right directions.


This series is now over. I did spend two more days in New York and, of course, I did fly home and that ought to be a Logbook entry. I may or may not blog something from those two days and trip home. If I do, then I will surely muse a bit about the experience, what I have learned and how it affects me now.



David Alan Harvey Workshop, entry 20: Farewell to those I experienced the workshop with

In this series, I have covered the workshop as I experienced it. I have only showed you glimpses of the other ten photographers that went through it with me. In their own different ways, each went out and had experiences every bit as intense as mine. They were sometimes discouraged, sometimes elated, but they all had a love for photography, a belief in their own ability and the desire to make themselves better. Each persevered to succeed and complete their essays. Each essay went beyond the normal scope of what one would be normally be expected to accomplish in five days.

I came expecting some rivalries to develop among us, as that is what almost always happens when creative, ambitious, driven, people get together to pursue anything. Yet, if any rivalry developed, I did not detect it. All wanted to succeed, but all wanted everyone else to succeed as well. During the critiques, there were no mean nor snide remarks, but even criticism was delivered in supportive ways.

Although our social time together was pretty much limited to lunch breaks, a sense of camaradarie grew among us. I know that cynics will find all this hard to believe, but that's how it was.

I have told you about the artistry of Edite Haberman, talking here with Michael Lloyd Young and Tracie Williams. Hopefully you have seen her beautiful work of art in the class slideshow on the Hassidic community of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. It was a vastly different piece of work than was the essay on a Latin American slaughterhouse that she used to introduce herself to us at the beginning of the workshop.

Originally, she presented the slaughterhouse as photojournalism, but by the time David finished removing the ones he thought ought to go, what we saw was an artistic rendering of a slaughterhouse - at once horrific and beautiful.

Edite is a nightowl like me and on a couple of ocassions we have found ourselves shooting emails and photographs back and forth at 2:00 and 3:00 AM for me - 3:00 and 4:00 AM for her in San Francisco. She participated in a team documentation of San Francisco on winter solstice and recently finished hanging a solo show at the World Affairs Council, where she is slated to speak at the same podium where Madeline Albright and Barbara Boxer have spoken.

I have already written a fair amount about Zun Lee (here posing for Carolyn Beller) who I got to spend a bit more time with during the workshop than I did with anyone other than my apartment mates. Zun has also left a number of comments. Anyone who has followed this blog knows that as the workshop drew close to the end, I seemed to be irreversibly careening down Humiliation Road.

As I careened, I kept thinking that even if I did not pull out of it, then I could console myself with the knowledge that, without trying, I had encouraged Zun, who had been ready to back away from shooting his powerful essay on black fathers, until he saw my introduction essay on my own father.

On the final shooting night, Zun and I rode the subway together from Brooklyn to Manhattan. As we parted, he stated confidently that I was about to go out and shoot something good. I was not certain, but took confidence from his confidence.

His essay has caught a good amount of attention. He has built on it since returning to Toronto and has undertaken new projects as well. My gut feeling is that Zun is going to far as photographer.

In my entire series, I posted only one image that spoke to how painful the workshop experience can be when a photographer goes out, shoots her heart out, brings her images to class, feels she has little to show and then sees most of what she did show fail to survive the critique.

As we saw, Tracie Williams recovered strongly from that and produced an exceptional essay of flash portraits from Zuccotti Park and Occupy Wall Street.

She is still there, covering the movement. I received an email from her the other day. She said she had "been living some crazy ass nomadic Occupy lifestyle, which, needless to say is a bit unstable."

What we saw at the workshop was only the beginning of her essay. I look foward to seeing the completed work - in a book, I hope.

I have no idea what Isabela Eseverri has been up to since the workshop, or where she is. I did receive a note from her the other day, to give me her ok to run her work in the slideshow, but she did not say anything more than that. I checked her blog, but it has not been updated since September.

Her Latina essay was superb and sexy and so my hopes are high that, wherever she is, she is shooting something good.

Mark Bennington, whose essay caused us to wonder just what secrets are hidden behind the faces of beautiful women, has spent most of his time since the workshop in Mumbai, India, working on a book project he calls, Living the Dream - a documentary look at the world of Bollywood actors. He is currently back in the US, but he believes he will be back in Mumbai when I go to India for Sujitha's wedding to Manoj. The wedding will take place in Pune, about three hours from Mumbai and I will fly home from Mumbai.

We should get a chance to hang out.

Sarah Baker - I wrote about our post-midnight conversations at the apartment, and how she started out shooting a color essay on a black barbershop in the neighborhood of our apartment and then switched to black and white.

One night as we visited late, she showed me a certain lens she had and I don't even remember what she called it, but it did different kind of things with focus. She handed it to me and told me I could play with it and borrow it if I liked.

I shot exactly one frame with it and this is it.

Sarah is in Myanmar right now. I am not exactly certain what she is doing there, but she does want to be a travel photographer and she also works to combat the sexual slavery of children, so I suspect that whatever she is doing, it is good work to do.

I received a group email from Jen Zeil Klewitz (left) a couple of days ago. She just landed a job in the Kimberly region of the Australian Outback. "That's the far northwest corner," she wrote, "one of the world's last, untracked, great remaining wildernesses." She will be working with Aboriginal women. In the past, she spent three years there, so she is not a novice to the area or a stranger to the people.

"This will certainly open doors for me to work with indigenous people all over the world -- a lifelong dream of mine, and a door I've been waiting to open for me for a long time, combining my expedition/wilderness/conservation skills, documentary work, and art/dance/music background to help extraordinary people often overcoming extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I dream that this work specifically will continue to take me to Africa and back into Latin America."

She said the workshop "pushed me to 'dig deep' in a way I hadn't expected, and that experience for me yielded a lot of necessary clarity and focus about my path, my work, and my vision. Has been an interesting few months (re)shaping that vision...and voila!! All my paths have collided into a beautiful little gift of a new life Adventure."

When we spoke at the workshop, she had been planning to come to Nome later this year. Maybe that's out now. 

Don't worry - I've got a few sentences for Andy Kropa and Milli Apelgren coming up, too.

Carolyn Beller and I friended each other on Facebook - which pretty much the whole class has done - and she has stepped up to be a friend. She leaves me encouraging comments just about every day that her situation permits. It does not always permit - she just returned to her home in Chicago from a prolonged trip to India. She kept her camera in action and is posting the results day by day.

I just wish that she had stayed in India a little longer, so that maybe our paths could have crossed when I go there. What a kick that would have been, to get together with two of my workshop mates in India.

Uwe Schober is the one workshop mate that we worried about for a bit, as he disappeared for awhile. We worried that he had taken a David Alan Harvey critique a little too hard and personal, but if so, he rose above it - as you can see in the superb portraits that he did in the place he had disappeared into - Zucotti Park.

I do not know what he is doing now or if he is back home in Germany, but I did get this very short message from him just the other day:

"not much online these days and travelling quite a bit..."

Throughout my career, I have followed an almost hard-and-fast tenet that Andy Kropa, standing at left next to Sarah, has given me cause to rethink. So has David Alan Harvey. When doing photojournalism and documentary work, I never use flash. I always use available light - even when there is almost no light available. My rationale for this is that I want to depict things in the light that I find them, not in the light that I bring to the scene.

I took this picture on the stairway to the roof during the party that followed the final night's slideshow presentation. It is available light - and there was not much light available.

Earlier, I mentioned that Andy had taken a lighting workshop from David on the Saturday before the workshop began. The early critiques began with David starting out to scold Andy for messing up the off-camera flash lighting techniques that he had used at Occupy Wall Street - but suddenly David would stop - a brilliant picture, brilliantly lit, had appeared.

At one of those critiques, a picture came up of a pigeon walking on a sidewalk near the face of a sleeping Occupy protester. David stopped, and we all gazed at that picture. It was excellent, we all agreed. David marked it as a keeper. Then, the next picture popped up - the man still slept, but instead of the pigeon, three men in suits walked by, one after the other.

The image was stunning and one of things that made it stunning was the way Andy's light had struck the walking men and the sleeper. So David stopped and we talked about it for awhile. David then told Andy that it was going to have to be one image or the other - the pigeon or the men walking.

"I think I like the pigeon best," Andy said. "I'll go with the pigeon." This was clearly one of those cases that Sports Illustrated Photo Director Steve Fine had referred to when he said photographer's make their own worst editor.

Fortunately, David, and all of us rose up against that decision. It had to be the men walking.

Life Magazine agreed - they included that image in their special "Best of 2011" issue. Here is a picture of that image in Life along with a letter Andy wrote to David.

Since the workshop, Andy has been getting much work, including an assignment to cover the New Hampshire primary debate.

As for me, I told myself I would undertake regular flash lighting exercises - but I haven't. I have continued to shoot all available light, except for Aurora's wedding. It's just a feeling I have. I like to shoot things in the light in which they present themselves to me. Maybe tomorrow I will grow out of it. Maybe I never will. But Andy's got me thinking about it.

I will close with the final scene I shot at the workshop. We had returned momentarily to the Loft after sharing lunch together on the day after our presentation. It is Milli Apelgren - who felt so distanced from the "cool people" in high school that she shot her Loft essay on cool people in New York City. Whenever I visited Milli, I found her to be extremely cool - and the photos in her essay, Entangled, are all cool.

Milli is back home in Austin, Texas, doing her work at the Blanton Museum of Art of the University of Texas at Austin.

We parted company right after she waved this goodbye in the little graffiti-covered shack atop the building that houses the loft. I have not seen her, or any of my workshop mates since - but I sense them every day.


I have one more post to go in this series. I will begin work on it as soon as I post this, but, given the hour and the fact that I feel I should leave this post at the top of the page for awhile, I think I will wait until tomorrow afternoon to post it.



David Alan Harvey Workshop, entry 19: I leave Times Square and then in the final push encounter technical diffculties; iconic photographers Anderson and Gilden - and then the Loft show


For some reason, it has been very hard for me to bring myself to put up tonight's post. All day long, I have been growing more and more depressed at the thought of it. Before posting, I wanted to address a few comments that have been left since yesterday, but I could not make myself do so. When I would sit down to do it, my arms would grow heavy like lead, and so would my head.

I could not make words. I could not type.

The same thing happened each time I thought I would finally put this post up. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Finally, about 9:00 PM, I made myself select the pictures. I had only a few pictures to choose from, yet  still I had a hard time of it. Finally, I did select the images and ran them quickly through Lightroom and Photoshop. By then, it was just about 10:00 PM.

Now I could not make myself upload the pictures. I decided I needed to eat a mediocre hamburger first. I warmed up the car, drove to McDonald's and ordered a quarter-pounder with cheese, small fries and a cup of water.

Now I am back. I have uploaded the photos. The lead feeling is still there, but I have to get it done, so, even though I do not feel I can type another word, I am making my fingers type. Jim, the good black cat, sits on my desk between my keyboard and the monitor, making it difficult for me to see what I am working on.

I suppose I could make him move, but I doubt that I will.

So what has triggered this blue feeling in me? Is it because all of this is finally coming to an end, and somewhere inside me I don't want it to? Not long after the workshop, David launched an innovative, new kind of workshop. He went to Rio, where he had completed a long term shoot for National Geographic, but now wanted to finish off the shoot for a personal project, a book based on a single night that happened years ago, but stayed with him forever.

Yes, of course, it involved a woman.

Anyway, he kept a blog as he did the book shoot and in it showed us and told us what he was doing, let us face the questions that he faced, and even sometimes even let us help him edit his pictures. He had a staff of "fixers" - all Brazilian, all women, all beautiful, all smart - who helped him as he went about setting up shoots, getting prints made to hang on the wall to help him better visualize the editing and process and did whatever they could to take care of all extraneous matters so that he could concentrate on his shoot and his workshop blog.

Throughout, it felt to me like an extension of the Loft Workshop. Even though it was online, the experience often grew intense. Shortly after the online workshop ended, I began this series. I had intended to complete it in a week - but how long has it been? Three weeks? Four? I don't know. I have lost track.

So maybe I just don't want the experience to end.

Or maybe it was the experience I had with the IRS today that put me into this blue state. The task was small and should have taken five minutes, certainly no more than two, but took over two hours, most of which was spent listening to horrible music over my iPhone.

I don't know.

But, music... I had been on my way out of Times Square when I found and photographed Ruth, but after I finished, I decided to take a quick walk around the perimeter. That was when I came upon this fellow, playing saxophone blues in front of Olive Garden.

When I first discovered Times Square - I think in the year 1980 - there were musicians playing blues on the street then, too, but it was very different Times Square. There were many places to eat, some of which had chickens hanging in the window and all the food was good - the pizzas had to be the best in the world - and the Pretzels... how I miss those pretzels! There was no Olive Garden, or anything like an Olive Garden. There was a McDonald's and an Sbarro, but otherwise no chain food that I remember. 

Porn stores with horrifying life-sized dolls hanging from the ceiling, clearly visible from the sidewalk, sat right next door to Broadway Theatres. The crowds were just as thick then as now, but among the flowing masses of people there were pimps and prostitutes, conmen who worked their schemes openly upon the gullible. I was advised to keep my wallet in my front pocket and maybe a thumb too, so that I would not get ripped off by a pick-pocket

The porn stores are gone now, replaced by Disney and the like, and if there are pimps and prostitutes they are much more subtle now. I did not recognize any. It is a much more safe and, naked cowgirl and cowboy aside, more family friendly environment now, but when you see a man such as this standing in front of Olive Garden playing the blues on his saxophone, somehow, it seems that something has been lost.

Anyway, it was time for me to get back to the apartment and select some images to take to the next morning's critique session. 

I came upon this cat as I walked from the Brooklyn subway station to the apartment that five of us had rented together. I had seen the cat before, several times, from the first day on. I like cats, and I liked this one. It made me feel good, like maybe after nearly a week of failure, frustration and disappointment, I might pull this together afterall.

Yet, I was so tired I wondered how I could pull it off. I have a huge amount of experience in staying up and working all night, even for two nights in a row and sometimes three - days included, too, but I didn't feel like I could do it this night. Cumulative exhaustion. Before leaving home, I had sunk myself into the task of making a preliminary draft of what might have been my last Uiñiq. I had put in some back-to-back all-nighters. I had slept for only an hour on the night that I traveled from Wasilla to New York and I had never gotten more than four hours sleep during any night of the workshop. Most nights, it was more like three hours.

It had been so hot that what sleep I had gotten was uncomfortable sleep.

Even an allnighter would not really give me enough time to do a good edit of all the Times Square pictures that I had taken. I had mentally kept track of images that I thought good, so I decided not to even try to look at the entire take, but to drop in here and there where I knew these images would be, make my selections quick and then I could do it.

I decided that this scheme would work well enough that I could afford to take a nap. It would take awhile to download my pictures into my newly-repaired laptop. I plugged in one of two cards, dozed nervously and lightly while it downloaded. It was now somewhere between 1:00 and 1:30 AM. I set my iPad alarm for 4:00 AM, started the download for the second card, laid down upon the couch that served as my bed and then dozed off as best I could. I got up just before 4:00 AM and turned off the alarm before it chimed.

I cannot stand to hear an alarm go off.

I opened Lightroom... and it froze. It would not import my CR2 RAW images into the editor. I force-quit it, opened it again - and again it froze. I did another force-quit, then restarted the computer and tried again - same result. I still have Photoshop CS3 and it will not open the RAW CR2 files from my camera. I must convert them in Lightroom.

If I could not get Lightroom to work, I could not edit or process my CR2 images into jpegs. I could not show them at the critique session. Once again, I found myself driving onto Humiliation Road. I decided to throw away all the 1:1 Lightroom previews and see if that would help. So I did, and the process took over two hours. When it was done, I encountered another problem.

Once I solved this final problem, I had ONE HOUR before I would have to leave for class. I knew I would have Ruth in the show, so I dropped into the middle of her take and grabbed two images that looked good. I already knew which wedding picture I wanted, so I found it real quick, then added one more. I had to have a certain portrait of the divine woman. I remembered the little boys who had lept so excitedly into the air when they discovered they had been chosen from above, so I ignored my larger "Chosen From Above" take and chose them.

In this way, I skipped  through the take like a rock across a pond, grabbing images. While my workshop mates had been editing and undergoing critiques through everyday of the week, I had gone through one critique - that of my failed Mormon missionary essay. I decided that I would still use one image from that to begin my show, so I grabbed the one that had best survived the critique.

When the workshop began, I had about twenty images ready to present to David and the class. I wanted a ten image show, and I knew that at least half of those I brought would not survive the critique.

Then, when Michael Courvoisier projected the "contact sheet" of all 20 or so of my images onto the screen, I felt sick. Suddenly, it all looked like junk to me. Not one image looked good. Damn!

Then David said, "Bill, you have some excellent images here," - or something close to that. Then he went through and nicked the ones he liked the least. Off went the groom. I didn't mind. The bride was better. Soon I had my show. This fellow, by the way, the one at left in the red shirt, was not involved in any of this. This is New York Times photographer James Estrin, who was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Price for a major essay series on race in America.

Mr. Estrin also created the New York Times Lens Blog, which he now serves as co-editor. He was our guest speaker on this, the final day of the Loft Workshop.

Now that it is all in the past, I feel very badly that I did not take any pictures of the critique on this morning. I am a little puzzled about why I didn't. Truth is, I shot very few pictures during all the workshop sessions I attended. As everyone in the room was a photographer, it felt a little pretentious to me to pull out my camera and shoot things the way I normally would have. What if we all did that?

So I shot very few workshop pictures. I don't think I ever left the chair I was sitting on to shoot the few I did. And now I feel badly about it. I should have photographed all my classmates hard at work, so that I could show them to you right now, but I didn't.

I did photograph Mr. Estrin, though. Although he did not know it until his lecture ended, he and I already knew each other well. We had exchanged many emails and some phone calls, too, over the course of a full year, the final result being the piece that he and Karly Domb Sadoff wrote up about me and my Arctic photographs in Lens Blog, titled, A Warm Feeling for the Arctic.

Part of what is going on in this exchange between David and James Estrin is their message to the class that to succeed, a photographer not only needs to have talent - which abounds in this digital age - or to work hard, but also to know the right people, to have connections, and build on those connections.

And, after this workshop, every student would have high connections in the photo world. It would then be up to the students to utilize these new connections.

Now it is evening. A standing-room only crowd has gathered in the loft. Michael Courvoiser (baseball cap) is working with Chris Anderson, one of two "iconic" photographers who will present shows ahead of the student work, to ready his slide show.

Chris Anderson is a Magnum photographer who made his reputation covering war and hardship, such as the time he set out with some refugees from Haiti who hoped to make it to the US in a boat named, "Believe in God." The boat sank. As it was going down, all, including Anderson, thought they were going to drown. Anderson kept shooting until finally they were rescued.

After seeing a great deal of war and torment, he decided to spend time at home in Brooklyn, where he lives in the same building as David, and to turn his lens toward his wife and son. He created a beautiful book, titled Son. He was also the first to convert a paper photographic book into an iPad book with Capitolio.

As he presented his show, Anderson would very gracefully swing his arms to direct Michael through each slide show. His entire body swayed with the motion.

Once you have seen the work of Brooklyn native Bruce Gilden, you will not forget it. His subjects range from gangsters to Haitian earthquake survivors and whatever he shoots, he gets in close and takes the viewer right to wild edge of his subject's humanity. It was the Michelangelo Antonioni movie "Blow Up" that inspired him to become a photographer.

Many of his photo subjects look like hard, rugged, tough, even somewhat twisted individuals and so does Gilden, a little bit - but David knows him will and says it is hard to find anyone with a bigger, more giving, heart than Bruce Gilden.

We could hardly have been given harder acts to follow than Chris Anderson and Bruce Gilden, but follow them we did. And here is our student show, titled, "At Home With David Alan Harvey." I wish you could see it bigger - especially the verticals - but here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

Immediately after the slideshow, the room broke into applause. Zun Lee stood up, unable to hold back his tears. David embraced him. If you have watched the video, then you understand Zun's tears and this moment. If you haven't, please do so when you get the time.

Then everybody was hugging - the whole class. Me too. I tried, but it was kind of hard to take pictures in the middle of a big group hug, in a darkened room, so I will stop here.


I am not quite done. Tomorrow - no, later today, after I go to bed and get some sleep - I will put up two followup pieces. Then I will be done.




David Alan Harvey Loft Workshop, entry # 18: Times Square, p7: Street Preacher - Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven.

Those who have been with this series from its beginning, seemingly so long ago but now nearly done, will recall that I first ventured out from the workshop hoping to shoot a photo essay on Mormon missionaries at work in New York City, but I could not gain the cooperation of the top mission authority. My effort failed. Next, I set out to photograph street preachers in New York City. I wandered here, I wandered there, and found not one street preacher.

By the final shooting afternoon of the workshop, I did not have a single image upon which, in the short time left, I could possibly build a photo essay. My workshop mates had all experienced pain and frustration as they underwent the sometimes withering, yet always building and somehow always encouraging, critiques of David Alan Harvey, but now all had essays of power and beauty coming together. I, alone, had nothing. I, alone, charged rapidly down Humiliation Road.

In desperation, I turned to Times Square, to see what kind of secular religion I could find there.

On the final evening, I had barely arrived back on Times Square to see how I might finish off my final shooting hours when I set off to cross the road and suddenly found myself facing this fellow, brandishing his cross like a weapon: "Repent, sinner," he greeted me, "The hour of the Lord is at hand."

A street preacher! A missionary! At work in New York City! I was overjoyed. I quickly shot this picture.

We chatted and I took a few more images, the level of wild-eyed, seeming insanity, grew stronger in each one. He told me that he was Russian Orthodox, but also named a litany of faiths that he said he had previously served. Soon, maybe, he said, he would take on another faith. He would then be out here preaching on behalf of that faith, too.

I have met many Russian Orthodox people, priests included, and none of them look quite like he does. I soon realized that he was not really a street preacher at all - but an impersonator, an actor, employed by no one but himself, even if perhaps he sometimes believed the role he played was real, that he was who he impersonated. Disappointed, I moved on to try and finish off my Times Square secular religion essay - as you have seen it unfold.

The hours passed. I kept busy, shooting this, shooting that, worried sick the whole time. I had discovered that I did not have my iPhone. I was certain I had left the loft with it. I feared I must have lost it on the subway. Off and on throughout the evening, I stopped tourists and asked them to call my number. Some shunted me aside. Some called.

None got a response. I had one fellow send a text to my number, with instructions on who to call, should anyone receive it. A couple of times, I got so upset about that phone, I wanted to give up, go back to the loft, proclaim this trip to be a lost cause and sulk. Instead, I shot and shot and shot.

Then I decided I had more pictures than I would be able to deal with. I was tired. I was hungry. I had hours of editing ahead of me between now and the morning critique session. I started back toward the subway... and then, I found this woman... extending this pamphlet toward me. She spoke: "Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

I accepted her pamphlet, which I would have done even if I had not wanted to photograph her. I would have done so not to be converted but because I have been a missionary. She was growing old. She had undertaken a miserable task - to stand on the street in a worldly, secular, place, admonishing an endless river of flowing, mostly uninterested and indifferent tourists to, "Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

I did not know the forces and experiences of her life that had brought her to preach in Times Square, but I did know her ultimate goal - to find joy, if not in this life, then in the life thereafter.

Furthermore, in an odd sort of way, I caught a reflection of my stalwart, ever-preaching, gently admonishing, pioneer-descended, ultimately broken-hearted, Mormon mother in her.

So of course I would have taken her pamphlet, photo or no photo, just to give her a fleeting moment of joy.

We talked for a couple of minutes and she told me her name. That was four months ago. I have forgotten, but I do not want to indifferently refer to her as "the street preacher," "the woman," or "the missionary." I want to refer to her by name. So I will call her, "Ruth," because Ruth is a good Biblical name. So is Mary, but that might be pushing things too far.

So, for the purposes of this little photo story, this street preacher is Ruth.

As you can see, although it would hurt this passing woman in no way, not everyone was willing to undertake the very simple act of accepting a pamphlet, in order that she might give an old woman a moment of joy - or even to acknowledge her presence.

In fact, few were willing to accept a pamphlet. Some, a minority, it seemed, did at least acknowledge Ruth's presence.

Ah, a child!

"Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto Me; for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

So spoke Jesus Christ, as quoted in the Bible, King James Version - King James being the version I grew up with. I think Mom practically had all of King James memorized. I do not exaggerate. I know quite a bit of King James myself. King James is the only Bible I care for. There is beauty in the language of King James, beauty I find lacking in the other, bland, versions. But, reader, if you find comfort and truth in the other versions, if they speak more clearly to you than does King James, then cling to them.

It is the language of King James and also of the Book of Mormon that first put language into my head - that, and the cussing of my father. My Mormon father loved to cuss. So do I.

Damnit, anyway! For hell's sake and hell's bells. Like hell! Thora - don't give me Hell! Well, I'll be damned! So cussed my father. And so cuss I.

He pretty much kept it there, but on a few occasions when it seemed appropriate, I heard him drop even the "F" bomb - or the "S" word. And so it is with me.

I am tempted to do so right now, but I am writing about a missionary, preaching the gospel. It just doesn't feel quite right. So I won't.

Maybe later. In another post.

But I digress:

Perhaps the little child would have accepted the pamphlet, but the adult quickly shunted her on by.

Their eyes were affixed on the glitz and glamour of this world. They stood staring at whatever glowing thing they were staring at for probably two minutes. Not once did they even glance at Ruth. She kept her hand and the pamphlet extended toward them the whole time.

"Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

Ruth first extended the pamphlet to the middle aged couple but, their faces hardened, they turned away. A young woman walked just in front of them with a baby hanging over her front. The young woman paused, reached back, and accepted a pamphlet.

Maybe the young woman was their daughter, and the baby their grandchild, because all of sudden the expression on the face of the man changed. The man took a look at the pamphlet in the hand of the young woman. His face softened. I am a dad. When my face hardens, my daughters can easily soften it, too. 

Ruth reloaded.

Now, following the example of the young woman, the man accepted the pamphlet. The woman observed his action, but did not seem happy about it.

Yet, she took a pamphlet herself. She did not look at Ruth. She did not smile. She spoke not a word. Her face did not soften. She held the stone fast in her face... but... she did take a pamphlet.

Christian soldier Ruth had scored three for her Lord.

"Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

She scored another - although, again, without the slightest hint of acknowledgement of her presence, save for his acceptance of the pamphlet.

"Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

A group of young people, all of them fairly hip looking, came walking in a line. I wondered what they would do. "Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven," Ruth greeted them.

The young man had a heart. He accepted her pamphlet.

Then they discovered that their act, which might be called one of Christian charity, had been documented. They looked a little horrified.

"Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

Again and again Ruth spoke these words. Over and over and over. How many thousands, tens of thousands, perhaps, maybe even hundreds of thousands of times might these words have left her lips over the course of her ministry?

I asked her what church she served.

Jesus's church, she said.

Far, far, more people did not accept than did. At times, Ruth looked exhausted. Discouraged. It seemed that maybe she was ready to stop. But no.






"Read the Bible. Believe in Jesus. Go to Heaven."

Ruth persevered onward.


Onward Christian soldier

Marching as to war

With the cross of Jesus

Going on before.


Ruth - Christian soldier, sword in hand.

Times Square, New York City, New York, USA, Planet Earth.


David Alan Harvey Loft Workshop, entry # 17: Times Square, p6: chosen from above

A few of those on Times Square who hope to be chosen from above.

A large digital screen stands near the north approach into Times Square. Most of the time, this screen is filled with real-time, moving images of the people who walk and congregate below. Those who pass by beneath can look up and then search for themselves among the oncreen crowd.

Virtually every sighted person who passes by beneath does scan the screen in search of themselves - along with any friends and loved ones who they walk with. At intervals, the people on the screen will be replaced by an ad, but just for a short time. Then the people reappear to again search for themselves, more excited now than before. They know the moment of choosing draws near. Soon, a dancing girl jiggles across the screen and then either this young man or an attractive young blond woman follows, a yellow Polaroid camera in hand.

As soon as the young photographer appears on the big screen above, those down below begin to wave and shout to try and catch the attention of the photographer, who is not actually there, who cannot see them, because the photographer is only a video recording of someone who once held a Polaroid camera, but is now off somewhere else, doing something else. A computer now controls everything that happens onscreen.

Even so, those down below grow excited, each hoping that they and their loved ones will be the next to be chosen by this non-existant photographer.

And look! Up there on the screen! See the man standing on the pink plaza, pointing his camera upward toward the screen, toward the image of the photographer from above! 

IT'S ME!!!

And please take note of the boys dancing behind me. You will not see them again in this post, but please remember them. They desperately want the non-existant photographer to take their picture. They want their presence upon this earth to be noted; they want to be recognized as unique and special individuals. They want to be chosen from above.

I will point my camera at them. I will take pictures of them. They won't care. I will be oblivious to them. All they will care about will be their quest to gain a flash of recognition from the fictitious photographer above.

After the imaginary Polaroid photographer appears, s/he plays with the crowd for awhile. The hand of the photographer's digital likeness reaches down to the image of the street, plucks the image of an individual from the crowd, flicks it up into the tops of surrounding skyscrapers and then brings it safely back down to the onscreen street.

After just a little more teasing, the big moment draws close. From his or her station above, the likeness of the photographer appears to point the yellow camera at the anxious crowd, most of whom are eagerly waving, shouting out, pointing, trying to get the photographer's attention, pleading with the photographer to point the yellow camera at them, to choose them.

And then... the picture is taken! A tiny segment of the larger screen randomly selected by the computer appears as a screen shot within the borders of what looks to be an actual Polaroid print. Only a few of those faces that look up so eagerly appear within the frame. For them, the ones chosen by the computer, joy follows. Some grow ecstactic. Their presence on this earth has been recognized from above. They feel as though they will live forever.

In just seconds, the Polaroid picture dissolves into pixels. It exists no more. The faces of those down on the street continue to peer upward, each hopeful that he or she will be among the next to be chosen. Some give up. They have waited here long enough. They have not been chosen. They walk away.

Here we are! Choose us! Our follies are behind us now. Choose us!





Waiting faces aglow with an expression akin to rapture.

Some raise their hands, as if to catch the spirit.

The raised hand.

All peoples, all nationalities, are here.

It is not only interdenominational, but completely interfaith - the Christian alongside the Muslim, the Jew, the Hindu, the agnostic and even the atheist. When the moment nears, it does not matter who they are. They hope to be chosen... but maybe there are just a few who are not quite convinced.

Where you come from or what you believe is immaterial. If you are chosen, you will be chosen. If you are not, you won't be.

They await the moment.

My children are deserving, even if I am not. Do not be misled by the mischievous looks upon their faces. My children are deserving. For the sake of these beautiful and innocent children, choose us!

But the fictitious photographer above will choose whom s/he will.







One has come, accompanied by an angel.

They have been chosen. Their joy is beyond compare.

At some point, I notice this little girl behind me - so eager, so excited, so thrilled; so innocent. She reminds me of my own daughters when they were small. She causes my heart to melt. I badly want her to be chosen - just as I would have my own daughters, if we had all been here back then when they were small, if such a thing had existed back then.

The man who appears to be her father picks her up. They all wave, hoping to catch the attention of the fictitious picture taker from above. I frame them, then watch their faces. Suddenly, I see the light in their eyes ratchet up a notch, their smiles grow bigger. The little girl is pleased. The dad is thrilled. I snap the picture. They have been chosen.

See? There they are, in the Polaroid frame, looking up at themselves. They have been chosen. And look! In the frame just in front of them! ME! Taking their picture at the very moment they became numbered among the chosen.

This means... I have been chosen, too!

But I did not know the hair atop my head had grown so thin. When I look in the mirror, I never see the top of my head - but there it is and my hair is growing very thin. This truth cannot be denied.

I have been chosen and it is a bit of a shock to me.



Ok - I have one more Times Square piece to post. Maybe I will get it up tonight, but maybe I won't, because I have another significant task that I must complete before I go to bed. I could have got it done by now if I had not watched the football playoff games today, but I did. I wanted to be with my wife, and my second son, to eat pizza with them and they watched the games, so I did too. I was pleased with the first result and disappointed with the second. I wanted to see the Patriots and the 49'ers go at it in the Super Bowl. That won't happen now.

Please bear with me for just a little bit longer. I will make the final Times Square post. In my own opinion, it should be the best of the Times Square posts. Afterward, I will finish my coverage of the workshop.

I will. I promise. And soon.