Harvey Jackson is a Portrait and Fashion Photographer in NYC who after serving three years in Iraq and Kuwait City moved to NYC to work for the prestigious Pier59 Studios, where he collaborated with Mario Testino, Steven Klein and David Sims. We talk first crushes, creatives on his radar, lessons learnt from a break up and more…
YOUTH and ROLEMODELS
How was your experience coming out?
I feel my experience was more of a unicorn experience, I just remember being a kid and I was dating this girl… her name was Stacy, and it was ok, nothing out of the ordinary, except I realized that I was not interested in sex with her. So she broke up with me and shortly after, I met this guy named “Trez” at a friend’s house and we became boyfriends. My experience with my mother was never really complicated. When I had a girlfriend she would come by the house and hang out. And when it was over and I started talking to the new guy I was like me and Stacy aren’t seeing each other any more but I started dating this guy and I like him and she was like ok cool, bring him by the house. At this time I was probably 16-17 so I think this was pretty progressive for her to just be so unbothered by any of this unlike some of my friends’ parents.
Did you struggle with internalised homophobia… a common experience for queer people growing up or working in hyper masculine environments?
I would say slightly, because at that age people are trying to model you into the ideal person they think you should be not who you are. But my mom and aunts did a great job of shielding me from a lot of that until I could make my own some what conscious decisions. As for me as an adult, Im very ok with myself as a gay man in all aspect of my life, work and personal.
You served in Iraq and Kuwait City for three years, what triggered you to make such a drastic career chance once you returned to America?
Well I was always a creative I just was figuring out what space that was in. I was going to school for architecture when I got called to service. And while I was over there I took a lot of photographs of my experience. When I got back about 1-2 years in to school I had a long talk with a professor of mine and he was like, “hey your good at architecture but your great at photography” I think you should switch your major. Then he goes to say you will never love architecture the same way you love photography and from that moment I never really looked back, off to the dark rooms I went.
Growing up did you have a ‘portal’ to queer culture that allowed you to identify with others?
I did, I was apart of a Ball Room House called ‘House of Maserati” this guy named Danny Sanders was the house mother. He is such a funny and amazing guy. We traveled together, we went to functions together, I learned about sexual identity and what it looked like in it many forms. It was a social class room to experience and see and understand this culture and the people in it. I was blessed to have someone like him and others to guide me through that world safely.
Who was your first crush?
My first crush was this guy named Amtrez “Trez” from the first question. He was a few years older then me but my mother loved him, he was my first ever boyfriend. We spent so much time together he really set the bar high for everyone I ever entertained after that. He took me to the airport when I was going to basic training and we got our first HIV test together. Our date nights were pure magic. He worked an hour away from me and literally lived in another state. And would come see me almost everyday. Now I can barely get someone to confirm evening plans if it’s not 2 months out. Me and him still speak to this day just as friends though.
What advice would you give your adolescent self?
Bank all of your military checks and take out any extra student loan to put into bitcoin lol. Outside of that I think my adolescent self did damn good. I moisturized regularly, I worked out, I was pretty self aware, I traveled, I explored who I was as a person and who I wanted to be. I questioned everything. I taught myself how to learn as a young adult.
“Even Kale Grows Better With Stress, Keep Pushing On My Friend”
Did you have a role model that inspired your decision to pursue photography?
Outside of the professor who told me to change my major, there was a girl who went to my school named Jenny Jones who was an arts major and she studied photography and she was amazing at it. She taught me a lot about the dark room, what cameras to use, composition, it was when she stopped and gave up on photography that made me want to do it more. I thought if she could inspire me that much with her work I could possibly do the same with mine.
What are three words you would choose to describe what you look for in a project before embarking on it?
Desire. Questions. Discovery.
What’s your Go-To track for exercising?
“It’s House Music”- Original Mix by Lady Alma. If you ever want to get ya life on a treadmill, put this song on and watch 5 miles fly right past you.
As a creative or entrepreneur there’s a lot of highs and lows throughout your career, what drives you everyday to wake up and pursue your artistic goals?
So my goals as an artist, is to fine tune my ability to clearly communicate my dreams and ideas into physical things. That is such an amazing ability to me. Just to know that there was something in my head yesterday and somehow things come together in the physical world and now I see that thing that I saw in my head and now others can see it as well. The more I do it the more I can validate the idea that if I can dream it I can do it, and translate that to anything.
If you haven’t already worked with them, who would be your dream subject to collab with and why?
One of my new collab dreams would be with the Composer Martin Stig Andersen. His music has such a visual story to them. If you haven’t played the IOS game LIMBO, you should play it. He made the score for that game and once you here the transitions you will understand. His detail to the environment and organic rhythm of a sound is unbelievable.
“The more I do it the more I can validate the idea that if I can dream it I can do it, and translate that to anything.”
Is there an individual or group of creatives that make you excited for the future?
A lot of my friends are doing great things in the world right now like, Marcus Branch “Photography and Performance Artist,” James Felton Keith “Data Scientist,” Elton Anderson “Content Creator,” Eric Carter “Photographer,” Carmen Deneshmandi “Photographer – Film Maker.”
I love how Marcus’ work is a direct reflection of who he is as a person and what he represents as a visual contributor of this day. His personality is forever evolving into such a beautiful thing to see in his work. He is currently creating work with Polaroid Originals + Ryan McGinley Presenting:
The New Originials: The Next Generation of Instant Photographers
“An Ode to Autumn.” 2017.
James Felton Keith: is one of my openly gay geek friends running for US Congressmen, with his platform of Redistributing Wealth using your data. He is on the cutting edge of digital protection and being compensated for your personal intellectual data.
Elton Anderson: is well know for creating feel good images of people of color in a very editorial way and highlighting the culture in a way that is refreshing to me. He runs an online platform called Creators of Color.
Eric Carter is an amazing human I met at a Mobi-nyc event. I saw him sketching a lighting diagram on his leg and just started talking to him about it. From that point on we have stayed in contact and we randomly always run into each other on the trains in NYC. He has created some amazing still life imagery and portraiture that sees to always speak to his sexuality, needs and desires. He’s like a visual hopeless romantic and that really resonates with me.
Carmen Deneshmandi: is a iranian female Photographer and Film maker who is really exploring her identity and discovering her self through her work almost as self created therapy. She is currently in a group show called “Before We Were Banned” at the ArtHelix.
What have you learnt about yourself this year?
In 2017 and basically from 2015 – 2017 I was kinda all over the place work wise and identity wise because of a break up I went through with someone who I thought was my life partner. So I spent the most of that time finding myself and who I was before that relationship and who I wanted to be after.
In 2017 towards the end of the year, I was able to finally reflect back on that situation and see it without my love goggles on and start to learn from it, purify myself, and forgive myself first and then that person. Needless to say I’m glad 2017 is over, it was overall just horrible for everyone around the world. But yes it taught me a lot through self reflection and reconciliation of self.
Do you adopt a Future Self or Present Self mentality?
In my personal life I have a Present Self mentality but as a creative and artist I tend to have more of a Future Self mentality.
What are you fitness goals for 2018?
My goals are to lose about 20 pounds and to create a new dietary food map for myself something that I can grow with and do.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
“Even Kale Grows Better With Stress, Keep Pushing On My Friend”