Finesse For Photography with Craig Harley
If, according to Marc Riboud, “Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second,” then this idea is remarkably reflected in the ‘dripping in creative finesse’ journey of photographer Craig Harley.
Harley might have started his career eight years ago, but his roots with the dynamic art form stem much deeper than that. His creative insight flowed directly from early exposure courtesy of his loving mother. “Photography was always a thing in my family. My mom learned it in high school, so she would teach me how to use the camera and we would go to the Kodak store and develop the film – all that exciting stuff. As a result, it became a hobby for me growing up,” he explained to Outlook.
It didn’t begin to bear professional fruit until his sojourn into the world of corporate. Stressing out while working in Information Technology resulted in a visit to his doctor. He was then advised to do something relaxing. It was then that he turned to his first love: photography. “A coworker, back then, now friend, Tricia Williamson from Panache Magazine, requested that I take some photos for her magazine. I told her that she was crazy. But I love crazy and love a challenge, so I did it.” In no time, Harley started getting bookings. Only then did it dawn on him that he was a professional photographer.
The transition from nine-to-five into full-time entrepreneurship was no easy feat. He recalls a time that he would maximise on the sick days and vacation days, showing up for work either late or not at all. He recalls his supervisor asking if he still worked at the company. But Harley was strategic. Not big on risks, he wanted to ensure that photography was a viable career option. Not until the craft was able to pay his bills would he resign from his job. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, Harley rode out of corporate Jamaica and never looked back.
Today, Harley finesses with CH Photography Limited, specialising in wedding and lifestyle photography. Both areas, he says, tells a story from start to finish: a beautiful love story from a wedding and your everyday story of the person(s) in front of your lens.
Describing the awakening adventure as pretty amazing, he shared that with everything that has happened, the experiences have not only nurtured his artistic development but have made him into a better person and photographer as well, “I wouldn’t change a thing,” he added.
Working for yourself does give you a great sense of pride, the entrepreneur admitted, and it is also a humbling experience, “I am happy to know that I can contribute to the growth of the creative industry in Jamaica. I can create jobs for others and the greatest benefit of all, I am accountable to myself.”
On his journey, Harley found himself branching out into wellness. Although he was always attending the gym, on the circuit, he was labelled as the fat photographer. Not overly athletic, but a lover of fitness, he got tired of the name-calling and decided to do something about it. He challenged himself to lose some weight and later built up the courage to train and participate in a bodybuilding competition. Putting himself through that process has not only given him the desired new body, but a greater appreciation for other athletes. That’s when it hit him. “I never saw fitness persons in Jamaica showcasing quality images that represented their brand. One day, I mentioned to the bodybuilders I knew that I wanted to do a shoot and we did and it just blew up from there. Pretty soon, I was diving deeper into the area of expertise and tapping into that niche.” He has since executed several photoshoots for some personal trainers both locally and internationally, as well as for magazines. And he did an underwear shoot for an Australian company.
Resources and accessibility of equipment locally have been obstacles that Harley has had to face, but he champions on by making the necessary investment in his business to ultimately provide the very best images for his clients. “I love shooting outdoors: the textures helps direct the shoot – shooting outdoors gives you the opportunity to understand and play with light. But then when you need that clean look, indoors is best. You have greater control over where you want the light to be.” Seeing the benefits of both, he has no preference, making the vision happen specific to the clients and their needs. If the location doesn’t work, he will make recommendations, “I try to make my shoot environment fun, some music, a laid-back feeling. And the reactions of the person when they see the results, is always a great feeling, knowing that you were able to bring that person’s idea to life.”
If you want to get started in photography, Harley explains, it requires a great deal of patience. “You can be trained as a photographer and practice every day, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and learn from them: that’s the only way you’re gonna get better.”
For more information on his work, you can follow Harley’s business pages on social media: Instagram: @ch_photographyltd and Facebook: CH Photography or you can check out his website: www.creativehousephotos.com