Pro Talk; David Alan Harvey

He figured he'd be one of the last of the holdouts. "When the whole digital revolution started, I thought I'd be the last guy to be shooting digital," David Alan Harvey says. Then along came an offer he didn't want to refuse. "Nikon was working on an ad campaign for their D100, and they asked me if I'd go down to Mexico and shoot with the camera. They knew I'd done a lot of shooting in Juahaca as part of my Spanish culture project. They said pick a place you'd really like to go, take the camera and see how you like it. So I said sure. It was a good commercial shoot, and it would give me a chance to see how I'd like digital."

The learning curve was a blip. "I spent about 15 or 20 minutes with a Nikon tech person who showed me the basics of the camera and I was off," David says. "I had my favorite lens on the camera, the 20mm, and right away I thought, hey, this is great." The photos you see here are outtakes from that ad shoot; they were among his very first digital images. "I figured out right away how to make the camera work in the kind of light I liked to work in--interior, dusky, moody light." When he found he could set up the digital camera to take his kind of pictures, everything fell into place. Simply, his camera may have changed, but his vision never had to. "I used the camera for a short assignment after the ad shoot," David says, "and I was pretty well hooked into it."

Photos © 2005, David Alan Harvey, All Rights Reserved

Being able to shoot in his style with digital was vital, but the convincer was, he says, "being able to edit in the field, and being able to see how the story is coming." David prefers the lengthy, narrative assignment, and, as he says, "storytelling benefits when you're seeing the story as you're capturing it. For all my National Geographic stories, I'd go out in the field for eight weeks and not see any film. Now, I had a real strong sense of what I was doing. I'd gotten used to not seeing the pictures, and if you'd asked me back then if that was a problem, I'd say no. I'd learned how to deal with it. But having the ability to look at the material while I'm there and seeing how it's all sorting out, that's definitely an advantage. Seems to me that it makes the story stronger. And I think you can be looser with digital; you try different things.

"Put it this way: I haven't been back to film since I did that ad shoot."

David Alan Harvey is a NikonNet "Legends Behind the Lens" featured photographer. The current "Legends" story and an archive of profiled photographers, including David, can be found at