If you missed David Alan Harveys visit to Durango earlier this month, you missed meeting one of the most respected photographers on the planet and a downright fascinating man.
Harvey opened his show Divided Soul at the Open Shutter Gallery on May 13 and followed up the next day with a one-man show and lecture to a standing room-only crowd at the Back Space Theatre. Hes a prestigious Magnum photographer the cooperative includes more than 80 renowned photographers at its New York, Paris, London and Tokyo centers and hes had more than 40 photojournalism articles appear in National Geographic.
But for those who missed out, all is not lost. Divided Soul, which includes photos from Harveys book of the same title as well as his book Cuba, will remain on display at the Open Shutter into July, and Harvey will return to Durango around the same time to finish work on his next project.
Like Divided Soul and Cuba, which chronicled Harveys journeys to South and Central America and Cuba where he focused on the legacy of Iberian migration to the New World, Off for a Family Drive is a project more than 20 years in the making. In fact, his look at American family life began more than 50 years ago when he turned his newly acquired Leica camera on his own family in Virginia.
Those photos became a handmade book, Off for a Family Drive, which he created at age 14. Fifty-two years later, Harvey plans to reprint the book and add to it with photographic profiles of American families coast to coast. And although hes now a full-time New York City resident, hell spend about a month putting the book together here in Durango, where his mother, Maryanna, lives (Hermosa, actually).
Hes been a very interesting and wonderful son, Maryanna Harvey said last week during a television interview at Open Shutter.
We felt like our business was to encourage him even if we or everyone else thinks its crazy.
For the Family project, Harvey is expanding the definition to reflect the changes in todays American family. That means the book and exhibit will show much more than mom, dad, brother and sis piling into the station wagon for a trip to the Grand Canyon.
In 35 years of traveling, Ive found there are many, many types of families. Anybody who thinks theyre family is a family, whether theyre related by blood or not, Harvey said.
Come July while hes lying low in the San Juan Mountains, Harvey said hell be actively seeking submissions for Family. The project is perfect for Harveys style, which he said hasnt changed since his parents built him his first darkroom in his childhood home.
My pictures are of simple, everyday life thats all I ever needed to tell a story, he said.
That doesnt mean, however, that Harvey just points, shoots and lets his pictures do the talking. He penned many of his National Geographic articles himself, and when he worked with writers, he took extra time to learn the topic. Its what makes Cuba and Divided Soul and presumably Off for a Family Drive true photojournalism, not just a glorified photo album.
If youre going to do a story, know the story and dont just be a photographer, Harvey said.
With plenty of material already in hand, Harvey said a preliminary version of the exhibit portion of Off for a Family Drive is ready to go. An unfinished version of the exhibit will go on tour in Europe this summer and fall, and Harvey said he hopes to have the book and a full exhibit ready for an American tour in the spring of 2012.