Senior Josh Harmon uses film, photography and 3D graphic design to capture and express what he calls “moments.”
Harmon described moments as spaces “in time where everything … seems to stand still, where things appear to be just right.” Through film and photography, he seeks to capture those moments and “encapsulate feeling, share emotions, communicate” with audiences.
He discovered his passion for photography in eighth grade on a trip to Yosemite National Park in California. After taking photos on his father’s digital camera, “I remember being hooked,” he said.
Around that time, he discovered his interest in 3D design and animation. Since then, he has explored photography and film of his own volition. Aside from one photography course he has taken at Principia College, he is entirely self-taught. He advocates artistic experimentation, as it has helped him develop his own artistic style. “Sometimes it’s not sitting there and planning,” he said. “It’s just grabbing a camera and doing it.”
While Harmon does employ digital methods, he has a deep passion for analog photography. Film from an analog camera is developed chemically through exposure to light, rather than digitally as soon as the picture is taken. “I do all my serious work that way. I still do darkroom print and develop my film,” he said. Harmon has developed hundreds of his own camera rolls, and has an entire storage cabinet full of prints at home.
Harmon’s photography philosophy is founded on “[getting] it right in camera, first,” rather than relying on digital editing. Instead of altering a mediocre shot, he believes “it will look better and be better” if the picture itself is well-crafted from the start.
Some of Harmon’s photographic expeditions are spontaneous, but once he narrows his inspiration, he crafts the image in his mind and “[tries] to hunt it down.”
Harmon’s film style is largely grounded in the same philosophy as his photography. Rather than establishing a plot and expressing it through visuals, “the plot is me connecting my forms,” or images, “together in my head,” he explained.
As Harmon is “all about image,” he naturally paired with 2014 graduate Damon Wilgus, a plot-oriented cinematographer. The pair started working together in 2013, with Harmon as cinematographer and Wilgus as director, and they created two 20-minute feature films.
Their film “Through and Through” won first place Viewers’ Choice in the 2013 Principia Film Festival. They stole the top title again this past spring with their film “Partners in Crime.” Harmon worked alone in 2012, but still took the top spot with his film “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”
Though he will not work with Wilgus this spring, Harmon still plans to enter the 2015 Film Festival. His image-focused approach will play a key role in the film. While he is still solidifying details, he knows he wants to incorporate several scenes that will “be absolutely gorgeous” and “extremely visually appealing.”
Another goal of his film is to “showcase the amount of talent there is at Prin.” He hopes to combine the visual aspects of the dance department with the auditory aspects of the music department, creating a highly aesthetic experience.
In his film – with his emphasis on visuals and the talent of Principia – he wants to play with and visually symbolize emotions. Through the process and development of the film, he expects that dialog and plot will naturally take shape.
Harmon hopes his spring film will be “a real sign of [his] work, almost as a capstone piece of [his] time at Prin.” He said, “Although I’m a computer science major … I do want to have that … be a portfolio piece for me as I graduate.”
Upon graduation, Harmon hopes to continue his work in film and photography. “Even with my computer science degree, I don’t really see myself as a software engineer working at a desk all day,” Harmon admitted. His dream job would be to be a colorist for films. Though he is not completely sure of his future, he is sure that his passions for film and photography will find their way into his career path.