FOX HARVARD is an incredible photographer based in Clearwater, Florida (USA).
Always moving or trying to make precious the beauty that surrounds him no matter of the place.
But at the same time he never forgets his artistic flair born in Sarasota, “the cultural coast” which we are going to explore, even if a little bit, through this kind of artist confession and unreleased shooting.
Where are you from, Fox? Is your hometown in some way related to your photographic activity?
I’m a 37 years old Floridian, born in Tampa and raised in Sarasota, Florida. Sarasota is called “the cultural coast” with good reason and, by coincidence, my parents noticed a drawing talent in me and started me in art classes when I was around 6 or so; then I started with private painting tutors on the weekends and after school. Most of our school field-trips were to places like the Sarasota Opera, the Sarasota Ballet, the Ringling Museum, etc.
So it’s hard to distinguish between what influenced me before the fact and what I already had an interest in. I think it’s safe to say the arts were always in my blood, which is why I took such a liking to it in the first place.
And where do you live now? How your art flows in this place? Do you feel inspired?
Currently I’m based out of the Clearwater, Florida area, on the Gulf Coast. I’m not 100% sure how to accurately answer this question; I feel I’d have access to an obviously much larger pool of models if I were in LA or NY, but to be frank those cities are only worth visiting to me. I’d probably go mad living in one because of the filth and noise that’s seemingly everywhere at all hours of day and night. Perhaps if I could romanticize New York in the same fashion Woody Allen does at the beginning of “Manhattan” it would be tolerable or even attractive to me, but at this point I think most of my time would just be spent thinking “SHUT THE FUCK UP.”
Admittedly, on one hand my geography is a bit limiting for growth, but on the other hand I’m forced to create more with less, which is still good at this stage. Plus my daughter Katie is here and there’s simply no way I could possibly tear myself away from her. But aside from when I was shooting in Paris, I’ve never really felt “inspired” per se, by a city – I’m really only inspired by unique faces. Occasionally a specific location might come across as inspirational, but that’s generally only because of how it’s decorated or furnished and how I think it would look in print.
Do you often travel for work? If yes what’s the place you visit most?
I’ve only been shooting seriously for about four years now. Most of what I’ve been shooting during that time has been in Florida (Tampa, Miami, Orlando, etc). I don’t make it to NY or LA as much as I should, partially because of acute aviophobia (a.n. fear of flying), but practically speaking I’m kept quite busy here. I’m also fortunate enough to be able to fly people in from other areas here to work with me. I will be traveling to both this autumn though.
Since 2008 or so, the places I’ve flown to the most are Canada, UK and France. I’d like to be able to travel more – especially to work with people I don’t have access to currently – but the right job offer could completely change the way I feel about my current living situation overnight. It’s honestly hard to say. To be quite blunt, I’d be more interested in a move overseas than I would in the US. I’ve never been particularly fond of this chronically undereducated country or its vacuous culture, but the progressive views and more accepting lifestyles available in a place like New York, LA, or San Francisco for instance would be just about the only thing that would appeal to me on a domestic level.
And what is the country that inspires you more? It could be a place that you have never visited before, too, if you think it may help you to improve for some reason.
Different things about different places naturally spark interest in various ways (as everywhere has it’s own unique “flavor”) and I don’t want to run the risk of appearing stagnant or repetitive by only shooting the same thing, but if I had to narrow it down to a single country, at this point I’d have to say France. Even more than the city I was raised in, Paris itself has felt more like home since the moment I first stepped out of the Gare du Nord in 2007. I’d be hard pressed to think of a single place that could help me to improve my work more. Hell, I can’t think of a place I’d just be happier and more content in than Paris.
As far as places I’ve yet to visit, I’ve always really wanted to give Japan a go eventually. And maybe something in Eastern Europe as well; Prague or even something like rural Russia. A nice dacha on a lake with enough space for my tomato garden.
So… Do you think there is any difference between shooting in US and, for example, Europe?
I’d say it has more to do with the person from a certain place rather than the place itself. People are people, when it all boils down. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t more charm in people who are foreign to me. But that’s a bias I’ve unashamedly lived with my entire life; “the grass is always greener…”
Truthfully though, to me at least, there is a difference in the general mentalities that can’t be ignored between most Americans and the rest of the Western world. Americans do tend to have a more style-over-substance attitude and an over-abundant and willing acceptance of built-in-obsolescence that really shapes the way they interpret and interact in the world, whether they’re willing to admit to it or not. To me there’s always been a definite distinction in the quality of conversation and interaction between myself and the majority of American-born people, as opposed to that between myself and people raised outside the US; the latter usually wins out.
It’s just always seemed unfortunate to me that most people would argue the best cards you could be dealt in life would to be born white and American; but at the same time we’re really the most boring fucking people on the planet.
Is there anything you would like to change about your art?
Always. Almost everything. I love change. I would eventually like to get to a point in my work where I can easily recognize and admire a lot of the same qualities in it as I can in the work of the people I admire most, but at the same time I fear once I reach that state I would lose a key component of what drives me to continually improve my work: the fear of being inferior to them.
What is, in your opinion, the best part of being a photographer?
Probably that of being able to work with so much beauty; both the creativity and the inherent escapism involved in it. I know that sounds totally superficial but I couldn’t be more genuine about it. I’ve always been enraptured by beauty, in any form. Beautiful people, beautiful locations, being able to interact with beautiful minds – the allure created by the designs and garments from such wonderful artists, the gorgeous or even dilapidated scenery and all the fantastic images that can be created with that type of beauty.
What would you do if they said you couldn’t shoot anymore?
Celebrate the opportunity of being forced to go back to painting [laughing]. In all seriousness I’d probably take it as a creative blow. But being raised an artist, my creativity has always seemed to find an outlet, no matter what the medium, so aside from occupational accomplishment and/or public accolade – to what little I’ve done so far – I’m not completely sure I’d know what to do or where to start. That being said, nothing can keep a truly determined individual from creating.
Text by: Nina Sever