theBigGayBlog’s art correspondent, Caleb Zephyr profiles out photographer and graphic artist, Rob Harmon.
Rob worked as a senior motion graphics designer for a post-production agency in Philadelphia after graduating from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2000. In 2008 he relocated to Charlotte, NC to be with his partner. Currently he’s working as a professional freelance photographer, motion graphic artist, videographer and graphic designer in Charlotte. See more of his work at: www.heavenlydark.com. Follow him on Instagram: www.instagram.com/heavenlydark.
Caleb Zephyr: What kind of gear do you use?
Rob Harmon: I’m currently using a Canon 7d Mark II and a 60d.
Lens – 24-105, 50mm 1.8, 10-22mm ultra wide
Tripod – Manfrotto 055XProB with a video head and ball head.
Filters – None (Don’t judge me) Ok an ND filter rarely
Flash – 530EX/430EXII and some studio strobes
Camera bag – ONA/Saddle Bag/ and rugged back pack
EyeFi SD cards are awesome.
CZ: What is your favorite lens? Why?
My 24-105mm F/4 L IS USM is pretty much my go to lens for just about everything except for large landscapes. It’s a perfect range for getting close but, not too close. It’s just a great all around universal lens to have and it rarely gets removed from my camera body.
CZ: When you go in one of your travels, what all you take with you? Why?
RH: Extra memory cards (You never know when one might go bad on you) I typically try to minimize gear to two or three lenses, one flash (if needed), an extra battery, lens cloth, and a laptop sometimes. Lugging around tons of gear isn’t fun, especially if you’re hiking or biking a trail. I’ll bring my tripod sometimes (for night shots) but, it’s rare that I do. It’s just another thing to carry so I try not to during the day. Most of the time I choose gear based on the trip. Is it a day trip, week long trip, or just a few hours?
CZ: Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought?
RH: Filters (no lie) I’ve gotten so comfortable with just not using them. ND (Neutral Density) filters are great if you wanna do some long exposures outside during the day though.
CZ: What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your work flow.
[Adobe] Lightroom, Lightroom, Lightroom. If it’s for a client on location I’ve been beaming JPGs to a tablet using an EyeFi card so they can see something larger than what’s on an LCD panel on your camera. If I don’t have my laptop or I’m not in the studio I’ve been using my EyeFi SD card to beam JPGs to my phone for on the fly Instagram postings (365 challenge project).
CZ: How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
RH: Youtube and Amazon Kindle are your best friend but, learning from other photographers is equally just as important. The biggest thing is just taking pictures and learning what works and what doesn’t. It’s an ongoing learning experience.
CZ: Among your works, which one is your favorite?
RH: My favorite has to be my Empire State building HDR skyline shot. It was totally on the fly; The pigeon was just a bonus.
CZ: Which photographers have influenced you most?
RH: Steve McCurry was my biggest influence. He’s traveled the world documenting the lives of others. Looking at his photos makes you want to step outside of your own little world and explore what else is out there.
Bill Cunningham from New York is one of the most fearless photographers I’ve ever seen. It’s not so much the subject of fashion; It’s his fearlessness to shoot whatever and whoever. Some other mentions would be Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Davidson, Spencer Tunick, Gregory Crewdson.
CZ: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
RH: Composition. When I started we only learned the technical nature of photography. Setting up the camera, loading the film, developing etc. We never touched upon composition or the rule of thirds.
CZ: What/who inspired you to take up photography? How did you start?
RH: I was in high school and I was at this peak of discovering my artistic side. I was obsessed with wanting to learn every form of art drawing, sculpture, pastels, oils, acrylics I wanted to try it all. So photography was another art I wanted to learn. Once I got into the darkroom that’s when I got hooked. It was the “not knowing” when developing film. Did I use the right settings? Did the roll of film develop ok? It was like unwrapping a present over and over and over again. This feeling of surprise and disappointment but, that’s what made you learn from your mistakes.
CZ: What is your favorite type of photography? Least favorite?
RH: Street Photography is my favorite and Landscapes are my least favorite.
CZ: How long have you been a photographer?
RH: Technically since I was a sixteen, but it wasn’t until 2007 when I decided to jump in head first with a point and shoot. Then I got my first DSLR and it’s just been a part of me ever since.
CZ: Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?
RH: That’s such a big question but, I think I’m more of a documentary photographer. I love to try and tell stories through my photos but, I think it’s also the perception of what the viewer thinks is going on in the photo. Sometimes I just want to capture a moment or capture emotion through a single frame. Other times I just want to experiment with techniques.
CZ: What motivates you to continue taking pictures?
RH: What motivates me is the constant challenge of learning something new in photography or photographing someplace unknown to me. I’ve always enjoyed the discovery of little hidden things where ever you are.
CZ: What does photography mean to you?
RH: For me photography means snippets of life. For a second we get to capture the moments of ourselves, the lives of others, moments in time that might have been forgotten if it wasn’t for someone photographing it. We’re all little documentary makers in a way. We’re capturing the known and unknown of the things this world is and what it’s becoming.