Life is Art : David Alan Harvey – The Camera Forum®
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Life is Art : David Alan Harvey

Life is Art : David Alan Harvey

My friend and mentor David Alan Harvey begins his talk at TEDxVerona with the observation that photography is now the only universal language, a common thread understood around the world without need for translation.  He goes on to observe we are now all visual storytellers, thanks to the incredible proliferation of cell phone cameras and inexpensive small, pocket size cameras.

David’s career has been a long and colorful one.  What I along with many others would call a dream life is art adventure for a photographer.  An American professional photographer by trade, David is a man who sets and reaches his personal goals.  He firmly believes that life is art, and for him, photography is how he documents it.  One of David’s few ambitious dreams was to join Magnum Photo, a goal he set for himself and worked hard at until he was accepted as an associate member in 1993, then becoming a full voting member of the Magnum collective in 1997.

David is often described as a Visual storyteller, a description that while accurate falls far short of the actual reality, the magical way David has of working a crowd.  Life is art, remember?  David makes an art of living connected with the culture of the people he photographs. The winner of numerous awards worldwide, David Alan Harvey uses photography as a form of documentary fantasy in his real life is art stories. Author of more than 40 such stories for National Geographic, David has also exhibited work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, at the MOMA in New York, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and at the Bibliotheque National in Paris.

Never one to rest on his laurels or to sit still on a couch for very long, today Harvey is also the founder and editor of the prestigious BURN Magazine which promotes the activity and work of promising emerging photographers.

At 70 yeas old, David may have started to slow down from his youth, but he still does a limited number of photography workshops every year.  If you aspire to be more than just another “photographer,” and can meet the rather steep qualifications for admission, a week to ten days shooting with David in Mexico at his Day of the Dead workshop will change your photography forever.

And possibly your life.  It was David’s workshop in 2001 that led to my spending the following seven years living and photographing Mexico.  David is a demanding task master, tough on his students pushing them to become all that they can be.  His classes are never easy.  The competition for admission is stiff.  It is guaranteed the other students will also be quite accomplished in their own right.  David doesn’t teach beginners, choosing instead to work with those who he can help the most, the students who show the most promise.  David doesn’t mince words nor does he tolerate anything but seeing your best develop.

If you can get in on a Harvey workshop, I strongly encourage you to do so.  David will be a refreshing breath of fresh air.  David is an instructor more interested in your own personal development, making that his own end goal.  When you reach the level of international recognition Harvey has, you really don’t have much to prove to anybody any longer.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


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Chuck Jones

Digital Media Producer, Photographer, Video Storyteller, Cinemagraph Master. Only Semi-Reformed Hippy. Managing Editor of http://TheCameraForum.Com

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