Although representation in the music industry is growing, it is still an uphill battle. Trying to stay hopeful when you look around the photo-pit and realize you're the only women is difficult and discouraging. For this series we wanted to hear from women in every real of the music industry who have been working their ass off and making great content and balancing the scales. Recently we were lucky enough to chat with CJ Harvey, a photographer and tour manager who has been capturing our favorite warm and immersive photos while on the road with bands like The Nude Party and Hinds. Keep reading to hear what shes learned while on tour and her advice to women getting started in the music industry. View her website here, and check her out on Instagram and Twitter!
When did you know that you wanted to pursue a profession in the music industry?
As a teenager, I used to see tour photographers popping up on stage with my favorite bands and would get jealous of the creative bond and trust that seemed to exist as a result of that job. Since then, I knew documenting tours with close friends was something I wanted to work towards in my photography.
There tends to be a blurred line between making a spectacle of women in the music industry vs. appreciating something that is sadly not the norm; have you ever felt pressure to be a perfect role model?
This is a great question! It's difficult to comment on because I go back and forth between being over-excited about every non-male in music I meet and being frustrated when people seem to only add women to their show to brag about their bill's diversity. I think learning to find a balance between lifting women up and normalizing women in the music industry is a wonderful thing to be aware of and discuss. In regards to the pressure of being a perfect role model, I would say that it's something constantly on my mind, but most of that pressure comes from my own head and not the people I'm actually working with.
What have you learned while being out on the road, both as a tour manager and photographer?
The most important thing that I've learned about myself from being a tour manager and photographer is that I work a hundred times harder if I truly support the band on a personal / creative level. I've done plenty of tours with artists I'm not close with, and find them almost impossible to get through. If you're working with people you cherish, it doesn't matter how exhausting the tour is because you'll still want to work your ass off to help them in every way possible.
You capture incredibly intimate and candid moments in all aspects of tour that most don't- beyond just the performers, your content explores the crowd, the behind the scenes, the travel. What is your favorite part of tour?
Some of my favorite moments of touring from a photographer's perspective is when everything is quiet. Whether that be when everyone's asleep in a pile on the floor with soft morning light illuminating their bodies, or when you're driving through a golden desert with all the windows down and the van is completely silent, or when you find time for a sit-down meal in the middle of nowhere in an empty diner. There's something about capturing the absence of sound in a photograph that I've always been drawn to.
You’re currently based in the Philadelphia area, how do you feel the music scene and overall artistic culture has affected your work?
I actually just moved all of my stuff out of Philly last month to be able to travel freely without paying to live in a big city. With that being said, it was an incredibly important place for me to be between tours for the past few years. I moved there from New York City where the artists who aren't already rich and/or famous struggle to find even an hour a week to practice. In Philly, since the rent is considerably cheaper, there were way more bands with free time to collaborate and create. All of my friends in PA taught me an enormous amount about everything that goes into a body of work before it's released and trusted me to document the process.
What drew you to film photography?
I was drawn to film photography because it's far more time consuming than standard digital photography. Don't get me wrong, I still love having my digital camera here and there, but I'll always prefer the patience and love required to shoot on film.
Who is your dream band/musician to photograph?
I absolutely adore the artists I've been working with throughout the past year such as The Nude Party, Vundabar, Sunflower Bean, Cherry Glazerr, Caroline Rose, Cold Fronts, Post Animal, Hinds, Daddy Issues, Mannequin Pussy, and Glove, BUT if any of them were to open for a bigger band, I'd love to also travel with The Babe Rainbow or King Krule. Or Lorde...
Who are some of your biggest inspirations (in any context- art wise, musically, just in general)?
Some of my biggest inspirations are: Hollie Fernando (film photographer from London, I loved her so much even before we met that my mom suggested I live in London for a summer and try to intern as her photo assistant. I never told her that because it's kind of embarrassing.), Caitlin McCann (film photographer from Philly, we met through a mutual friend on instagram about 4 years ago, and she's been a constant source of inspiration and love ever since), Alec Castillo (visual artist and musician from Upstate NY, one of my closest friends who is constantly putting out everything from zines to screenprinted shirts and is always down to collaborate), Rhyan Santos (film photographer from LA, forever a maker of my favorite photographs), Patton Magee (musician from Upstate NY, one of the most effortlessly phenomenal songwriters in my life with a brain and heart so colorful that it makes me wish I wrote music too), Anthony Pham (photographer and videographer from LA, a friend I rarely see in person, but am always in awe of when they share their work online), and Pooneh Ghana (photographer and videographer from Austin, someone I've looked up to since I first started music photography. The first time we met, I recognized her at a show in Texas and spent the entire night trying to come up with a "pick-up line" to help ask to take her photo).
Any advice for women wanting to get started in the music industry?
Never work with people who make you feel small. If you surround yourself with artists who respect and appreciate the passion within your heart, you'll swim.