Video: David Alan Harvey On Photography As The World’s Only Common Language

Why the Magnum photographer believes we are all visual storytellers

David Alan Harvey, the New York-based Magnum photographer and Burn Magazine founder, gave a recent talk at TEDxVerona chronicling his life in photography.

He calls it “the only language right now that the entire world can speak, and we speak it all the time,” noting that everyone has felt success and pains, “and that is the great wellspring for stories.”

He describes his own influences—painting, music, and literature, but little photography beyond Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank—avoiding war and celebrities in lieu of daily life moments, and oscillating between fiction images and reportage.

“Because I went out of my comfort zone… I realized at some point that I was able to go anywhere and be able to become part of any culture at any time,” he says. “I hang out with people, I socialize with them, I become a part of their lives, and then I get that Cartier-Bresson-like moment, but only after I’ve gone inside.”