Submit Saturdays: photographer and filmmaker Harry Israelson's bright, smart portfolio
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Photographer and filmmaker Harry Israelson is no stranger to It’s Nice That: we featured his gorgeous series about lawn bowls back in September. His website is an utter joy, packed with brilliantly shot images and innovative direction for music videos. The standout piece is this compelling film, where a sky dancer takes the starring role in a short we would happily watch all day. We spoke to Harry about his vibrant creative moniker, working with Toro Y Moi and more.
How did you get started in directing and photography?
I started directing small fashion films with a partner right out of college in my hometown NYC. Chaz from Toro Y Moi noticed our work online and asked if we wanted to collaborate on a music video for his upcoming album. It just sort of took off from there.
Now I do commercial work mostly, but Chaz and I still work together on Toro Y Moi visuals. Photography has always been the easiest form of creation for me. I find it to be the most productive because there are so few obstacles between me and the final image. Filmmaking is the opposite. I hope to have a photo show one day soon.
What are the best things to shoot for you?
I really enjoy traveling to a new place, seeing it for the first time and just shooting off a few rolls. For some reason I keep coming back to a lot of the same themes: old people, dogs and the life of leisure.
What do you usually shoot with?
For video work, I prefer to shoot on an Arri Alexa. The Alexa Mini is the best camera I’ve ever worked with, paired with a set of old lenses, like Zeiss Super Speeds, really creates an image that feels both contemporary and referential at the same time. I tend to shoot my photos on my dad’s old 35mm Nikkormat from the 70’s. Kodak Portra 400 or bust.
What influences and defines the aesthetic of your work, and your site design?
Simplicity is the greatest principle of good design. I like simple, strong images and my site supports that idea. It’s weird how an aesthetic starts to develop; when I go out to take photos, I’m not looking to continue a trend. My eye is just attracted to certain subjects and I’ve learned to just trust it; somehow it all taps into the same point of view.
Why Primary Colors as a name?
I shot a few rolls of black and white a few years ago and it turned out like shit. I couldn’t figure out why my photos were so uninteresting and then I realised it was because I am drawn to colours, which obviously weren’t translating. The Primary Colors are in control. Also, HarryIsraelson.com really isn’t much a winner …
What do you have planned for the year ahead?
In a few days I head out to the desert to shoot a Toro Y Moi concert film. It’s shrouded in mystery and that’s all I can say. I’ve been bringing this one along for a while – feels like my Fitzcarraldo, pulling a ferryboat over a mountain top. Nearly there!
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About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.