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Saratoga Doc Photography with Daesha Devón Harris

November 1, 2016
Daesha Devón Harris
Daesha Devón Harris presenting in Emerson

On October 17, Saratoga Springs native photographer Daesha Devón Harris gave an artist talk as part of MDOCS' fall series, Portrait and Biography. "Through a native lens: Portraiture, social documentary and narrative in Saratoga," was delivered to a standing-room only crowd from the campus and community. Art Professor and photographer Robert ParkeHarrison introduced the speaker and moderated the discussion.

Daesha Devon Harris spoke eloquently about local (Saratoga Springs) history to speak to the universal American, as she explained. Harris provided a PowerPoint presentation filled with her photography while reading a piece she wrote to the audience. She captured photography as a way to not only seize a moment but also to create one. For Harris, photographs were not enough when it came to effectively telling her stories; she wanted to be able to tell the background of her subjects. In order to provide her audiences with a fuller picture of her

Daesha Devón Harris and Robert ParkeHarrison
Professor Robert ParkeHarrison moderating the Q&A

work, Harris said that she likes to accompany her photos with biographies. I found this idea interesting, since a classic debate about documenting with photographs revolves around whether or not written words are useful for still images. On the one hand, through words the audience is given more information to interpret. On the other hand, text could take away from the photographs by engaging your focus elsewhere.

Daesha Devón Harris with attendees
Daesha Devón Harris talking with attendees
Harris explained her decision to accompany her photos with biographies as a means of perpetuating the importance of narrative. With this, she spoke about the specifics of her work as being a result of the fact that she sees images everywhere, which influenced and lead her to the desire to capture alterations in urban landscape. This included gentrification and its severe effects on communities of color. All in all, Harris sees herself, as well as documentarians in general, as collectors of evidence, which she depicted through her eye-catching photographs and insightful spoken words
—Giulia Cohen '18