Monday, 2 February 2015

The Creative Collective - Introducing Mike Harvey

Each week at Platfform we are delving into the workspaces of a series of creative individuals, discovering their unique talents, and providing you with an exclusive insight into their journey. 
Watch this space..

Mike Harvey - Honest 

Image credit - Mike Harvey 
TAXI portrait '£3.06'

Last Tuesday myself and the editorial team at Platfform had the exciting opportunity to interview
Mike Harvey for the forth coming edition of the Vignette edition to be released in March 2015.

Mike, a self taught photographer from Swansea in South Wales who became a taxi driver for four years to fund his love of travel, hailed a small storm of media interest upon release of his TAXI photography project, which was taken over a six month period in 2010. The unusual but fascinating and powerful series of portraits that Harvey, now a teacher, took of his passengers explore the real communities behind people's assumptions, providing a snapshot in time of people's journeys and documenting a small snippet of welsh history and culture.

As Harvey's warm, reassuring welsh accent filled the room, the nerves of four excited but anxious Fashion Promotion students quickly dissipated, giving us an insight in to why so many of his passengers felt completely at ease and natural in opening up and relaxing in to conversation on their journey with him.

It was a philosophical fair ground really. People would bring topics in to the cab with them, or it was a natural progression of the journey....there was no limit as to the inspiration that would start a conversation in a Taxi. Nothing was off bounds”

Harvey's natural interest and fascination in people started as a young child. Naturally inquisitive and wanting to understand people, he went on to study Human Geography in University, and began the profession of Taxi driving to fund his love of travel to places such as Egypt, Brazil, India and Nepal. Looking under the touristic facade at the culture and the real communities of these fascinating countries, he began to compare it to what he was witnessing at home in Neath and Swansea. His interest in the journeys and stories of his passengers fascinated him, and it became a natural progression to start documenting the journeys; and the TAXI photography project was born.

As the conversation progressed, the four of us became more drawn in to Harvey's compelling, unique story of his photography journey, his easy going and charming manner inviting us to ask questions off scope of the interview. There is something distinctive about a taxi that is synonymous with anonymity and comfort, that makes many of us leave our inhibitions at the curb and divulge our inner most thoughts, secrets and worries with free abandon, to what is, in essence, a total stranger. The spontaneity of the situation in which these characters are placed enables their photographs to exude authenticity and honesty - something Mike consistently reinforces.
You do see so many different little social nuances.... there were so many inspiring moments being in the gives you a wider appreciation of things!”

What makes Harvey's portraits so poignant is his ability when the shutter goes down, to capture that visual representation of his passengers portraying a small part of their journey, making us attempt to breakdown our assumptions of a certain stereotype.

Harvey has learnt over the years to take photographs with the motivation to achieve something, rather than taking a photograph for the sake of preserving a frame that should be enjoyed through the eye. In todays social media obsessed society, photography can take on an element of delusion, detracting us from the moment and experience that really matters. “There's a sense of a modern day keeping up with the Jones” Harvey contemplates. “If you're to busy looking at others peoples drive, then you're not concentrating on your own journey”

Read our interview with Mike Harvey in the new edition of the Platfform magazine out end of March 

Visit Mike Harvey's website to see more of the TAXI photography project here

Words Angharad Selway 

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