PhotoDonuts -Can you introduce yourself?
Fox Harvard -I’m 35 & a native Floridian–born in Tampa, raised in Sarasota. I studied Studio Arts and Photography at the University of South Florida in the late 90s. I’ve been raised in the arts since I was six starting with a private painting tutor and continued with that through a performing arts high school. During college I was an intern at a small fine-arts gallery in Florida and after leaving college I wound up becoming director for about two years. During this time and a bit after I primarily shot adult work on the side as I had a proper day-job, and after the dissolution of a seven year relationship I spent the better part of 2009 shooting in Paris, and now reside in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
-Why, since and how did you become a photographer?
I was raised essentially as a painter and didn’t really started shooting when I was 16; my grandfather gave me my first camera when I was a sophomore in high school. After leaving college I started shooting freelance for the fashion & adult industries, and since my work as a mixed-media artist before that was also sexually charged, I decided to incorporate that style of photography into my pieces as well. I guess even though my primary medium is photography I still don’t feel like a « photographer », per se, but rather like an artist who finds the camera the most convenient tool of the moment.
-What gives you inspiration?
Hmmm…I’m not sure I can answer this without sounding pretentious or ridiculously simplistic. Mainly shooting the female form; I’ll say my ideal aesthetic for a woman was heavily influenced by what I saw in photographs growing up–ultra-feminine qualities: petite profiles, long, thin limbs, etc. From a superficial standpoint, I must play the devil’s advocate too: I should also state the main reason I was so enamored with that look was because I was biologically attracted to it from the beginning, rather than solely shaped by it after the fact. The attempt to define & express my sexuality growing up was one of the reasons I took up photography to begin with. I started caring a lot more about having sex when I got my first camera.
I don’t know if you’d specifically label it « inspiration », but the way most ideas come to me is generally a chain reaction from my own thoughts and analyzing previous works—to be honest one series has always inspired the next, even when they don’t visually appear to be linked. As far as the conceptual goes, I think it’s impossible for me (or any artist) to be fully conscious of all the implications of the work when creating. The process of creation can be mentally exhausting and leaves one little to no energy for peripheral considerations. I try to make sure as little external influence as possible enters into the creative process. I tend to only really examine my work after it’s done.
I don’t believe it’s possible or even realistic for me (or any artist, for that matter) to be completely responsible for everything that a piece can encompass. I feel whether it’s during shooting or editing it’s important that I not over-analyze a piece, for fear of destroying it before it’s even been given life–much less alter it in a way that the work doesn’t warrant or deserve. I feel the need to stay partially disconnected from what I’m doing until it’s truly complete; so there’s not necessarily a spark of « inspiration » that starts the process, it’s more or less me looking at it after it’s finished and recognizing only then where it really came from.
-Your work focuses on women and nudity, why this choice?
Even as a child I loved drawing & painting things that stood out from the rest of the class’s body of work and I always enjoyed creating things that illicited more of a reaction than the others, and as a teenager thought photography would be the next logical step in that progression. But every medium is different, so I actually wound up jumping into it with the usual amateur mistakes; essentially just not putting enough serious thought into the « why » of what I was doing instead of focusing on the human elements of what all the medium was capable of. Then I began shooting only people in high school, and all the nuance of emotion and feeling that I had been looking for just seemed to fall into place. After that photography became my primary artistic influence in college. To me there is no more timeless, elegant beauty than women. With a camera in particular, I think the best way to truly capture that beauty is to listen, rather than talk, so to speak. Too many photographers make the mistake of trying to control or direct the shoot too much, and the beauty of the real interaction gets lost in the artist’s attempt to force a preconceived image. It’s really best to let the model’s character and beauty carry the work; real beauty is what happens in those moments of spontaneity that speak louder about the subject than any mass of contrivance ever could.
-Do you have any projects you would like to achieve?
I’m told by my friends the concepts I’m working on at the moment are a tad on the darker/macabre side, although I’m not sure I totally agree. The pieces are more or less going to resemble editorial shoots and be slanted toward what might appear to be crime-scene photos involving skinny dead girls in ballet clothing and expensive cars. I know it sounds odd, but I plan on rendering them in a way that will hopefully make them a bit softer and not quite as shocking as my description seems—I want them to raise more questions than they answer with the viewer and still remain sensual in their own right.
-Something to add?
Mark Twain once said, “Nature knows no indecencies—man invented them.”
Thank you very much Fox!