Narrative Photography: Cig Harvey

My kids have 9 weeks of holiday. I always have high hopes of getting tons of work done during this time, but every summer again I am a bit bummed by the fact I can't get anything done! We are having a lot of fun, but 9 weeks of holiday is just a bit too long for me! 

Whenever I can I do try to watch photography related movies. Since I'm exploring the concept of narrative photography, I watched a movie on BH photography tutorials from Cig Harvey, an American fine art photographer on telling a story through photography. It had quite a few eyeopeners for me.

Since in Dakar I have been photographing a lot of arts and trades and processes of building and processing things, when preparing for the final assignment, I was focusing on depicting a similar process. Cig's photography is all about telling a real story or depicting a feeling in an image. And most about finding yourself through taking photographs, but in such a way that the image itself depicts something that conveys a general feeling or message. 

Cig's body of work is a reflection of her development in photography and the stages of life she goes through. She starts with only taking images in one room, black and white, stages scenes. Some are self-portraits, others with objects. All images are very symbolic and inward.  

From there on there's a shift to colour photography, with more photos taken outside, more vibrancy and feeling. Her color photos really speak to me. It's personal and have a great sense of style. 


In a lot of ways Cig's tutorial has been very inspiring. First of all, she challenges me to just get out there and take start shooting. Take yourself and your work serious and make it a priority. Second, there is a way to discover yourself through your work and I am important enough to take the road of self discovery. What I do like about her, is that she shows that her feelings are universal, her work is not egocentric in any sense.

She also believes that everything you read, look at, watch, or experience is reflected in your art. I think this also starts with becoming aware of the visual sensations one experiences when reading or listening to music, etc. So I decided to write down what images I get in mind when I read a book, or hear a specific sound. Just to get more visually aware of my other senses and try to reflect this awareness in my work.

I want to explore that idea. I also love her use of colour and composition, the fact that she doesn't use a lot of post-processing, with tons of layers and textures. What you see is what you get, and Cig is able to see so much! 

Back in Dakar and maybe when I get some time the remaining two weeks of this never-ending summer holiday, I want to start this self exploring way of photographing. There's more than just my new, interesting environment. I want to find ways of telling the story of my life through images. Not just the stories of others.