“By the time I was 12, I must have been dragged through every major museum and cathedral in Europe.  I went on to study business out of necessity and art history out of passion. I figured that I would spend my time in the company of Renaissance painters and sculptors, little did I know that on a fateful day, during what I thought was a basket weaving course (for the uninitiated, those are courses that you pick to get good grades without working too hard), I came across a small boy in a park holding a hand-grenade. Since then, I have had a single-track mind, both as a collector and as a photographer. The course was Women Photographers in the Twentieth Century; Julia Margaret Cameron, Jessie Tarbox Beals, Lee Miller, Margaret Bourke-White, Lisette Model through to Diane Arbus. All strong women, and all great photographers.

Most photographers’ bios start with ‘he received a camera for his 10th birthday …..’, I was no different, other than having to save and pay for it myself. I am not sure what I was doing exactly, but I took a lot of pictures. I traveled a lot and was fortunate to see and experience great sites around the world.

At University, with the help of Diane Arbus’ Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962, and others, I moved from documenting my travels (read feeble attempts at re-making postcards), to trusting others around me to make the postcards. I focused on the people and the other interesting aspects of what you might see in places where you are for the first time, or maybe the 32nd time.

I read that Henri Cartier Bresson hid a small box of individual negatives, before leaving for the war in 1940. His precious negatives, cut to the individual frame, and completely without context. There is no contact sheet, no story, and no caption. I think often of this story, as in many ways it reflects my approach to photography.

I travel light. I don’t own a flash, a tripod, or filters. I use only one type of black and white film, one 50 mm lens, and one analog camera. I shoot quickly, I don’t bracket, nor do I try different angles or compositions. On a roll, I will often have 36 completely different and unrelated photographs. Most of these are of course discarded, but on occasion, I find a photograph that I am happy with. At best, I have themes, at worst I have a few photographs that have no red thread what so ever. I am comfortable with that.

Further, I am a follower of Gianni Berengo Gardin, who stamps all his photographs with a green stamp that reads: Vera Fotografia (genuine photograph), confirming that what is in the photograph is what was in front of him when he made the photograph. The photographs are printed analog from the negative with no digital manipulation of any kind. I do the same. I print in silver gelatin from original negatives and only scan the finished print on a flatbed scanner to populate my website.

I make photographs that reflect my curiosity, my history, what I see, and of-course all the photographers that have inspired me over the years. No man stands alone. I photograph the things that inspire me, and make images that I hope will have staying power and remain in the conscience of my friends and collectors for a long time to come.

Mitsuru Nagata designed my logo. My website was expertly designed by Samuel Sučík, currently of Edinburgh.”

Harbel

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