This is the inaugural Lost Sessions Interview. Lost Sessions are conducted over AIM and are unedited. I grew up sneaking issues of Playboy from my friends’ fathers and even though I was looking for nude photos, eventually you got around to reading the interviews. They were lengthy and cool. I hope to chat with some awesome Angelinos that are out there making this city amazing.
I could think of no better person to start these sessions off with than photographer Harper Smith. Harper has been cutting her teeth shooting everything from lifestyle to commercial to music industry and her style is exactly what we’re into here at Lost Angeles. She’s got her finger on the pulse and has shot the biggest names in music. Harper and I went to high school together so it’s a real treat to have her come to the blog and answer some questions. She’s making quite a name for herself around town and definitely someone you should be up on.
LA: Harper, thanks for taking the time to talk with Lost Angeles. This is a treat, you are doing some great work!
HS: Ah, gee thanks.
LA: When did you decide “I want to snap photos for a living”?
HS: after too many d’s in math and english
HS: haha. i think art was always the direction i was goin. my mom and i would always paint together when i was little, she always showed me different meduims of creativity. after my first photo class in school i realized i could make the photo thing happen professionally
LA: You went to get a Photo Journalism degree from the esteemed program at Missouri. What did you take from that?
HS: its funny actually. college was kind of just a stepping stone to the actual learning experience which is what we call REAL LIFE
HS: ha. i learned how to do the techniques, but all the extreme learning happened right on set after school.
HS: the journalism program was incredible though. stuck right in the middle of nowhere shooting documentary work…its a big part of my creative style still.
LA: i know what you mean. film school was amazing, i learned craft and story, but it was walking around south central and downtown that made an impact. to that point, since moving home to Los Angeles, has this city fueled you at all creatively?
HS: absolutely. you cant lose (photographically) with so many crazy ass people in one place. i wasn’t aware of it until i looked at my work as a whole, but i love destructive photography
HS: ….guess im a cynic at heart
LA: i saw you went to coachella this year and got some great snaps. what was that experience like?
HS: SO RAD
HS: i was intimated honestly. my editor (ARTWORKS MAGAZINE) told me to go for it and shoot whoever i wanted. there were so many photographer there…so i went full force, shot with film, threw some elbows, and even danced a little in the photo pit.
LA: best performance you saw?
HS: ok. ok. dont judge….
LA: ok, fine.
HS: my first time EVER hearing his music
HS: he got me…. bad.
LA: i buy it. he did front the Smiths. And well, that is your last name. seems like destiny.
HS: he isnt even human. kind of like me haha
LA: so my readers probably don’t know this, but we went to high school together.
HS: and i beat you up in the lockerroom. remember?
LA: i blocked it out. la la la la la.
HS: yea. you were always backing my creativity. this is why i still heart you!
LA: i remember you taking great photos back then, but almost a decade later, you’ve found a lot of success and there is this really raw edge you bring in your work. i see this world i can’t see with my own eyes. what would you describe your aesthetic as?
HS: i eavesdrop
HS: i traffic a lot of my emotions and views through my photographic scenarios. i know immediately when i am inspired by a potential situation or setting for a shoot.
LA: eavesdrop. man i wish i thought of that. awesome. i’m a bad interviewer. i’m kissing your ass right now.
HS: you owe me. i have been kissing your ass for years
LA: unfortunately the photos have been destroyed. street cred for zack dropping. fail.
LA: what’s it feel like when you get inspired? i am always curious as i have moments where the city seems to want to talk to me. how does it happen for you?
HS: it always seems accidental, right?
LA: i know what you mean. right place at right time.
HS: i think turmoil inspires me. things that are “off” or imperfect. there is so much beauty in that. this is the reality of all of our lives. a camera has the ability to capture that one second of insecurity or sadness.
even when i set up a shoot for fashion or commercial, i like to create this element of turmoil.
LA: that’s really cool. i wondered about that. your work with celebrities feels very personal. would you say that it’s that turmoil you add or look for that conveys that?
HS: i find it. keeps it real.
LA: i once had my picture taken by martin schoeller to help out an agency i used to work for (they were short on models). he gets a lot of that turmoil, but he had a very constructed rig you kind of just sat in and photos got snapped.
you seem to find it in the open. is that due to that “feeling” you get when you spot something?
HS: i try to not “look for it”, it is just happening all around us
LA: how are you doing on time? a few more? we need to feed the people. with our banter.
HS: totally! i am about to meet with Ali Magazine but im good for a few more
LA: Nice one. who are you shooting next? what’s on tap?
HS: got some stuff cookin with Capitol Records and Interscope
LA: so what are the odds we can commission you to take my blog profile picture. i think you could actually make me look cool.
HS:we could brown bag your head
HS: ha! you are photogenic as i recall
LA: i’m thinking brown bag is good if we put makeup on the smiley face.
HS: totally down. ill call up the best makeup artist in town.
LA: favorite photographer?
HS: walker evans
LA: favorite place to eat in LA?
LA: dodgers or angels?
LA: trojans or bruins?
HS: poo on both of them
LA: where can we buy your work?
LA: last question. swine flu. nervous?
HS: Babe is my hero
LA: this was awesome. maybe you’ll let Lost Angeles follow you on a shoot sometime?
HS:only if you buy me a wheel of brie
LA: and 300 red M&Ms right?
HS: no. purple skittles.
LA: okay Harper Smith. You’ve got the mic. Your chance to say anything to the city. All you
HS: How far east can you go before you’re heading west?
LA: well done. i’ll have my people get with your people on the brown bag shoot premise. i think there’s oil in them there hills.
To get in touch with Harper Smith: