friday feature: cig harvey

I had the great pleasure to speak with Cig Harvey yesterday. I'm sure you are all familiar with her dreamy, conceptual images. Along with the numerous awards Cig has received for her images, Cig was named PDN's "Emerging 30" Photographers in 2005 and a "Rising Star" in 2004.

What you may not know is that most of Cig's personal work are self-portraits. You thought photographing someone else was hard? Try photographing yourself. What a talent.

Cig's clients range from Kate Spade to Ralph Lauren, Bloomingdales, W Hotels and more. Her work has been featured in many galleries around the nation... and lucky you.. she teaches!

The Santa Fe Workshops –
The Personal Photographic Image – June 28th – July 4th, 2009

The Maine Photographic Workshops –
The Personal Story – July 5th – July 11th, 2009

Born and raised in the county of Devon, England, Cig now lives in Maine with her filmmaker husband, Doug Stradley and dog, Scarlet Snacks.
(read her clever little bio here.)

More of Cig's work can be found on her personal site and her agency's site.

Here is our interview, for you:

01. How were you first introduced to photography?
When I was 13, I used to volunteer at a local community darkroom. The people there showed me how to use the darkroom and I was utterly hooked. The darkroom is a magical place.

02. Do you shoot film or digital?
Both. I very recently made the transition to digital for most commercial jobs because it makes more sense, financially, but all my personal work is film. I spend hours and hours in the darkroom and have a deep respect/love for that part of the process.
(Cig does all her own color printing. Learn more about color printing here.)

03. What was your first camera?
Nikon 35mm. (though Cig has had many old cameras, this is a favorite) I've also shot with the Hasselblad the last 10 years.

04. What was your first commercial job?
In 2001, I got picked up by a gallery in New York. It was my first serious show.

05. What was your favorite shoot you've worked on?
Commerically, my favorite job was Kate Spade. It was a dream assignment and couldn't have been more creative and inspiring. They were astonishing. My favorite thing is brainstorming and they really trusted me.

06. How are you inspired?

So much. So much! I'm an avid reader of novels. I read a lot of Japanese novels and books from other Asian authors. Life inspires me and fuels my pictures. Different artists influence my work depending on my portfolio. Christopher James mentored me through my MFA.

07. I noticed one of your images, "Hope Chest," is a self-portrait. Are there others?
Yes. I have taken lots of self-portraits. "Hope Chest" was actually photographed in my [home ] studio. The studio isn't as clean now!

08. What inspired you to shoot self-portraits?
To tell a story. It started off because I had no money for models. When I shoot personally, I typically work alone. I love being able to come up with a concept, set my camera up and run into the picture. It's important to have some separation [with personal work] from commercial work.

09. Why did you decide to live in Maine?
I came here for Rockport College (The Maine Media Workshops) --I took these workshops and later got my MFA. It was ideal because it was total immersion. Photography 24/7.

10. Would you say that your location inspires your work?
Yes. I use the landscapes as a metaphor for my work. I teach in Boston, and live part of the week there but rarely make work there. I'm very much inspired by my space.

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
It really is about the work coming first and finding the right avenues for your work later. People submit what they think people like, rather than working on the work first and foremost. The discipline of being an artist is very key. I make work every day in any creative way. It's 1% talent and 99% tenacity.

Thank you, Cig! Readers, did you like this interview? Leave a comment for Cig below.

add to sk*rt


Jenny said...

This is an amazing interview, Nicole! I admire Cig's work so much. It was fun to learn more about her and her philosophies.
Thank you!

Machen family said...

Her pictures really are so dream-like! I love them!

Heather said...

Such beautiful and inspiring photography! I really appreciate the advice to amateur photographers about putting the work first and then finding the avenues for it later.

Jill said...

beautiful work. i love her self portraits - i had no idea she took so many!

A "cheery" disposition said...

Wow, thank you for introducing me to this photographer . Such stunning pictures. That piano one is beautiful.

LeLe said...

Wonderful interview... Love the tub shot!

laceyJ. said...

Wow... SO beautiful and SO inspiring! Thank you Nicole and Cig!

Signorina Svizzera said...

What a great interview- her work is amazingly beautiful!

Sarah said...

These images are gorgeous, and I loved the interview. Thanks!

paula said...

Brilliant work.

Cafe Johnsonia said...

I loved this. Those photos are so marvelous. I love the self-portraits.

Tabitha said...

What a wonderful interview! Cig was very inspiring in her words and in her beautiful images!

Jezz said...

wow, i'd love to work in a darkroom, how magical :)
lovely interview

citymama1 said...

I really loved the last line about how being an artist is "1% talent and 99% tenacity". Great interview.

Natalie* said...

she's my absolute favorite.

colors are so vivid... the story she tells is so emotional.

i want to go to there.

chelsea said...

Thanks! I love her work. She is inspiring.

d said...

amazing to hear from Cig Harvey. Thank you for sharing.

janebuttonphotography said...

Very interesting article and great, inspiring images - I want to know her secret for focusing her self-portraits! Beautiful work. Thank you for sharing!

twin2trip said...

How inspiring.

I like that she said it's 1% talent and 99% tenacity.

Diana Hulme said...

what a nice interview. such lovely photographs. i spent way too long on her site. :) thanks!

jules said...

So interesting, lovely photographs!

emily said...

the diver image is STUNNING. I love all of this work. Thanks!

Two Mittens said...

enchanting images - I love these features!

Jake said...

Gosh, am I the only one pining for every single dress she is wearing?

Lunachick said...

No, I too am in awe of the dresses! I feel like I've used up all of my cool outfits for self-portraits. I need her wardrobe for a week!

firefliesofhope said...

Great blog, Nicole. You are very talented. I loved your interview with the ever talented Cig, and the accompanying photos.

I can't wait to show your beautiful blog to my children, who have inherited their great grandpa's eye for composition and passion for photography.

He and my grandmother raised my mother in Manhattan and Chicago (1930's-1970's). He had his own darkroom and his 1930's photos of Manhattan are stunning, as are the candid portraits he took of family and friends.

All the best to you in this FUN, creative profession.

Rie said...

she's very inspiring.

the haystack needle said...

Love this interview, Nicole. Cig's photos are so impressive. And I have a soft spot for Maine.

Melissa said...

Absolutely gorgeous! So delightfully whimsical.

Jordan said...

I'm lucky enough to have had Cig as my professor for the last three years while earning my BFA in photography. She's truly the most lovely person, and I can't wait to see what wonderful things she's yet to do!

Brennan Wesley said...

She is quite the creative motivator.