Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Artist of the Week

Dakota Blue Harper

Dakota Harper is on the move, and capturing it all through his tightly focused lens. He is young, fond of hip hop and an extremely talented photographer. In order to capture a moment you have to have that artistic eye, speed and clarity. He has all of this, and has already begun to collect a series of images that are at time striking, and at others humorous. Many times his images seem to tell a story, and it is only amplified by the colors and contrast.

As we have seen with Constance K, a good way to make a name for yourself is in the booming Chicago hip hop scene, and Dakota has done that. He has befriended a rapper by the name of Lovejones, and in turn created many vivid and energetic pictures of his live shows and also staged promos. Regardless the subject, Dakota know what he wants do. He see moments and angles and captures them.

Recently, Dakota was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): What do you look for in a photograph?
Dakota Harper (DH): The first thing I look for in a photograph is an opportunity in composition. Whether I can incorporate interesting elements that are already in the shot to my advantage or not is what I love the most. A large reason people like particular photos over others, and they're usually not aware of it, is because of the composition. I've learned that's a vital technique, so that's always my first goal.

OA: How much thought do you put into the post-production of the images?
DH: Post-production is the best part. Some times people fall into holes of using filters, making the colors too ridiculous, or just using black and white so it looks "artsy". I've definitely overused some filters and a year later thought it looked horrible. At this point I know what's possible and what's not ridiculous. There's so much you can do that you can literally be working on one picture for days and still have new things to bring to it. Lots of thought goes into my stuff, everything an artist does or comes up with should be intentional without a doubt. I'm doing a lot of color and lighting affects with Mike lately, but it's not my style just a way I'm doing stuff right now.

OA: Do you feel this might lead to photo journalism or are you strictly in it for the artistic elements?
DH: I'm definitely keen on knowing that a photographer will go hungry. So I'm pursuing consistent work, just looking for the best opportunities that lend themselves to what I love about the art, really trying to stay close to music but making sure I have fun while doing it is number 1 no matter what. a white collar job is not in my future at all.

OA: Where is the best spot to shot in Chicago?
DH: I'm definitely not giving away the best kept secrets I have, but I definitely don't like shooting downtown. It's been done and seen too many times. there's nothing interesting down there. When I really started getting into photography I started off shooting on the West and South Side, those are still my favorite places to shoot in the world so far. We've accidentally driven through some projects that white people in a nice car would usually get pulled over in.

OA: You have a lot of pics of the musician Lovejones on your flickr page. I really enjoy his music. What is the relationship there?
DH: We met through my brother actually. Mike's from Kansas and he came up here to keep pursuing his music career, my bro threw his mixtape that he got from Mike on my computer then a few weeks later i was doing all his pictures for websites. He needed photos for myspace and stuff, and I needed a way to get my photos out in the public, so it just worked out perfectly. We just met up one day and did a shoot downtown (the obvious place to go first). Then, just formed a partnership from there, getting me into shows to shoot, and helping with a few connections. It was really perfect timing for both of us, pretty random but we've been really tight ever since. We've done four shoots so far, the most recent one being for a feature in Chicago's Moda Fashion Gazette this upcoming fall. And we've been planning some future things with other clothing stores around Chicago also to press our own work and the collabs. and I'm still waiting for him to put me on a song, ha.

OA: What's next for Dakota Harper?
DH: Definitely staying on top of my work this school year, academic and the good stuff. I started/run an annual student play thing at my school, so I'm really looking forward to writing crazy stuff this year. Then college the following year, and of course a long lasting successful life in art after that.

Bonus Questions:
OA: What is your favorite local bookstore?
DH: Truthfully the only bookstore I've ever been in is the one at school for art supplies, but they truthfully don't even sell books there.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy?
DH: Music is really my first love. I think that's why me and Mike (aka LoveJones) are so tight. I'm a Lil Wayne head, but Diplo is my favorite right now. Florida is one of my all time favorite albums by far. He'll be the Steely Dan of my generation. I love finding new music, I'm always online looking at and listening to new stuff and staying on both the local and world wide taste.

For more information and images from Dakota Harper please visit his flickr page.

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