6B Cr- The Michigan Daily - WA"e., eU. - Thursday, November 9, 1995
Local photographer Harvey: Naked in the spotlight
By Karl Jones
Daily Weekend Editor
It's an August night at Stucchi's. Mil-
lions'of Ann Arbornatives with no friends
are orammed into the ice-cream shop
commiserating with their single scoop of
mint chocolate chip. It's hot, it's late ...
nothing exciting will ever happen.
Then, like a dream sequence from some
wacky seventies sit-com, a man at the
next table whispers, "Now!" His two
female companions jump up, rip off their
dresses and sling an arm around
eachother's shoulders. The man snaps a
photo, and before Stucchi's patrons even
have time to scream, "Cool ... they were
NUDI!" the three have disappeared.
Thmysterious photographer in ques-
tion is:Harvey, aformer Ann Arbornative
who began shooting public nudes about a
year and a half ago. One might wonder
whatkind of man would decide to devote
his lifeto this, er, unique line ofwork. The
answvr is ... a surprisingly normal one.
Harvey lives in a small flat with his
wife ,jebecca and their pet rabbit. The
couple are warm, friendly, genuinely ex-
citedbout Harvey's line of work. In fact,
if it weren't for a few pictures of nude
people hanging on the wall, the photogra-
pher and his wife could be the couple
next,door. This may have something to
do w4h the fact that, before delving into
the ralm of nude photography, Harvey
didn't even own a camera.
"I -worked at Zingerman's for three
years" said Harvey. "I was living in a
3,500square foot apartment, and halfofit
was ,he Anecdote Club (one of Ann
Arbor's only underground clubs at the
"One day, a model and a photographer
approached me about using (the space in)
the apartment as a location for a work-
shop to teach photographers to work with
the nude form. All I had to do was make
coffee and tea and lunch," he laughed.
A friend of Harvey's loaned him a
camera for the shoot, but according to the
budding photographer, the novelty wore
"It was fun, don't get me wrong. There
were three nude women, and it was very
artistic... It just seemed like everyone
was doing the same shots. I was thinking'
'Ifwe all sat down and looked at the shots
like a week from now, they're all going to
be almost identical, so what in the hell is
At the height of frustration, inspiration
"I looked out the window, and there
were like 30 people waiting to cross the
street, facing straight," Harvey contin-
ued. "I thought it would be so funny if
these three nude people were the last three
people of this group. THAT would be
funny! THAT would be a photograph to
get! And the whole kind of philosophy
happened right there. The idea of no one
knowing, the candid-ness of it..."
Harvey eventually decidedto move his
"philosophy" into the streets of Ann Ar-
bor. A nude shot at Hash Bash, another in
front of Cava Java ... and the amazing
thing is that pedestrians seemed almost
oblivious. A series of Harvey's photos
reveal a nude man posing and pivoting in
front of a store window. Three com-
pletely clothedpeople who had no idea he
was going to "drop" are walkingpast him,
and not ONE of them even turns to look.
"When there's a lot of people around,
it's much safer to do a shot because if
you're walking down a crowded side-
walk, you can't see much further that the
second or third person in front of you,"
said Harvey. "A whole bunch of things
couldbehappening, andthere'sthat whole
wave ofpeople there ... but you don't see
that brief drop. You miss the wholething."
The candid-ness of Harvey's nudes
eventually drew national attention. Tab-
loid television show "A Current Affair"
decided to run a piece on the photogra-
pher in September of '94. When he asked
around for models, then-acquaintance
Rebecca turned up. The two eventually
married, and as the success of Harvey's
newlyfounded"nude greeting card" busi-
ness and world wide web page began to
take off, the couple decided to take the
logical next step. They went on tour.
"Nationwide search for nude people"
trumpeted the fliers the couple handed
out in cities from Los Angeles to New
York. And from tatooed exhibitionists to
small town residents looking for a thrill,
models crawled out of the woodwork for
a chance to appear in one of Harvey's
"(On tour) we carry the camera around
with us and then we go to the coolest
places in the city. Where we want to
shoot, we put up fliers and try to draw the
people from those areas," Harvey ex-
The models would practice stripping,
posing, and getting dressed again in the
couple's hotel room before they moved
out into the street. As Harvey pointed out,
the need for speed and accuracy turned
the whole process into a type of science.
"It's all planned ahead, and there's no
communication once we leave the train-
ing room. Once in a while when we're
running through an alley or something,
we'll scream 'yay' but mostly we just
don't talk," he said.
In order to avoid potential trouble with
anyone who might be opposed to seeing
(or unknowingly appearing in) a nude
photo, the couple devised a James Bond-
like getaway plan.
"We zig-zag," Harvey said. "We do a
shot, and then we have a getaway plan
where it's all on foot for several blocks...
We park a distance away, so you don't
jump in the car and have your licence
plate right there for everyone to see. Then
we zig-zag to another shot and make
triangles and stars and whatever and just
keep zig-zagging all over town."
"A lot of times people will ask us what
we're doing, and we just don't say any-
thing," he continued. "We'll give them a
little blurb, but we don't just stand there,
we gooffandgiggle andsay, 'Oh my god,
we did it again!"'
The gods of law enforcement have
been smiling on Harvey thus far in his
career as a nude photographer. He has yet
to be ticketed, arrested or even severely
chastised for public indecency. A few of
his photos even feature police officers or
vehicles along with the standard nudes.
"It's fun to include cops in shots be-
cause they have a sense of humor. I've
met a lot of cops, actually." Harvey ad-
mitted. "Most of them are pretty regular
people. I thought growing up and getting
speeding tickets that they were pretty
well jerky, but I'm finding out that, hey,
you run into a bully, but it's not as fre-
quent as you think."
In the future, Harvey plans to continue
selling greeting cards, posters and t-shirts
that display his work in local stores like
Schoolkids' Records, In Flight, David's
Comics, and others. If he can get around
certain activist groups, that is.
"One ofthethings I encounter... is that
the word nude automatically categorizes
greeting cards in a certain way. Activist
groups or church groups, there's all kinds
of names for them, come in and all their
job is to do is to complain about some-
thing that they disagree with," Harvey
sighed."In other words, they inhibit these
stores to exercise their choice and their
right of expression."
"There's not a single one of these pic-
tures that are racy," he continued. "It's
not what it's about - it's about natural-
ness. We're trying to put nude people into
an everyday setting ... I mean, we do
shots in the middle of Monday after-
The photographer will also be pub-
lishing a book of his photos called "The
Spirit of Lady Godiva" sometime soon
and is considering expanding his national
road trip to a world tour.
"I would like to do the Pyramids ... a
kangaroo in Australia. I don't care where
we are as long as there's a kangaroo in the
background, you know," he laughed. And
although Harvey admitted that one day he
might return to a career in the food indus-
try, he also stressed that his passion for
photography is here to stay.
"Professionally I don't think I would
move beyond the nudes ... but I would
like to experiment on a personal basis,"
he said. "We were driving down the road
the otherday, and theclouds werejust this
amazing color, and I was imagining a
camera that could just capture all those
colors and all those hues." Then with a
twinge of "naked" enthusiasm he added,
"I was intrigued."
Check out Harvey's web page at
Harvey's wife Rebecca poses for the first shot of their 1995 cross-country tour
"Hi. I'd like a single scoop of vanilla, a. sweater and some pants, please."