Photographs by Kayleigh Johnson (@kabes1456)
Photographer Harvy Moon's work is hard to miss - the moody, dreamlike shots set in Los Angeles' suburbs and cityscapes has become his personal touch. Based in Los Angeles, Moon is very much influenced by his location as well as the people who reside there – take a look through his Instagram feed (@harvymoon) and you’ll catch a familiar peek of the palm trees and eclectic side alleys that litter the city, or vibrant rays of light streaming through the (sadly now torn down) 6th Street Bridge in the Arts District.
But the focus of his photos is the people – other young creatives, musicians, and even himself. Each portrait uses the environment to help capture something about who these people are, exposing the multifaceted people underneath.
We talked to Moon recently about portraiture, his childhood in the Midwest, and his side career in indie hip hop.
1. You’re originally from the Midwest. What made you decide to move out here to Los Angeles?
I was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota. I lived on the same street, in the same house, for 18 years until I went to college, and even then I was only 4 hours away from home. I moved to Los Angeles when I realized how very little I had experienced in this world.
I wanted to pursue a career in fashion photography and since weed is still illegal in New York, I decided to flock to the West Coast. I’m also in a band with two of my friends from home who had been living out here for a couple years before I made the move to L.A., so that was also a deciding factor.
2. What is your occupation?
My occupation is made up of a few different components. Firstly, I am the studio manager/producer and assistant/digital technician for a celebrity and fashion photographer. I also shoot product photography for a brand building company, as well as do freelance photography for various companies.
3. You were a chef for 8 years! Tell us about that.
I was cooking at a country club during high school and really enjoying it. So much so, in fact, I almost went to culinary school. Instead, I ended up going to school for audio production, engineering, and the music business.
I was in another band at the time, and recording and creating music was my main passion, so trying to turn it into a career seemed like the best thing to do.
4. Why the switch over to photography?
I had taken a couple film photography classes in high school and thought I was decent at the time, but never really took it too seriously. In college, I had some time to fill up in my school schedule, so I decided to take a digital photography class. Almost immediately, I was drawn back into photography wholeheartedly. From there, I just continued to shoot as much as I could.
5. What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I’ve always had an interest in portraits, so most of my work has revolved around people. Whether it’s fashion or street photography, I really like shooting people. Living in the Midwest, there were a lot of abandoned houses and buildings, so most of my earlier work features a lot of that as well.
I also enjoy shooting nature when I get the chance. Lately, my main focus has been men’s fashion.
6. Who are some influential photographers?
I’m definitely influenced by my boss, Dove Shore. To name a few others, I’d say Nicholas Maggio, Lachlan Bailey, Jason Lee Perry, Kat Irlin, Glen Luchford, and Gregory Crewdson.
7. What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up around 7:15AM. I usually either go to my boss’ office or to a studio or location if we have a shoot that day. If I’m in the office, I finish around 4:30PM and head home. Before Daylight Savings Time, there wasn’t any light left by the time I got off work so I would usually get some editing done or work on music. Now that there are still a few hours of light when I get done for the day, I try to shoot as much as I can.
If I’m working on a shoot for my boss, I usually get done a bit later than usual, and sometimes have to drive a long distance from a location. In that case, I’ll usually get some dinner with my girlfriend and just chill, or cook something if we’re feeling up for it.
8. You’re also a rapper! Tell us how you got involved in the world of indie hip hop.
I am indeed, and I also make beats. I grew up about 4 hours away from Minneapolis, Minnesota which is the home to a record label called Rhymesayers. I got into one of their biggest acts, Atmosphere, when I was about 14 years old and became the biggest fan of underground rap music. That was also a big reason that I decided to go to college in Minneapolis, where I actually got to take a class taught by one of the founders of Rhymesayers.
Marcus, a friend of mine who is actually in my band now, began writing songs on the guitar when we were about 15 or 16 years old. He played them for me and I thought they were really cool, but I knew I couldn’t sing or play guitar.
I wanted to write songs so I just tried writing some raps that in hindsight were absolutely terrible, but I enjoyed it. I kept going from there and eventually Marcus started writing raps, too, and we began making hip hop music. We started a little duo called “fargone” and played a bunch of shows in our hometown and in Minneapolis during college.
Marcus moved to Los Angeles about a year before I did and started a band called Bad Apple with another friend of ours. When I moved out here, I joined them and we have two 5-song EPs under our belt.
9. Why beard? Who/what influenced you to grow it?
“Beards carry with them a sense of reverence and wisdom”.
I’ve had a beard since I could grow a decent one, around when I was around 18. I’m not sure what initially sparked my desire to grow one, but I didn’t really start growing a long beard until about 2 years ago. I had it going for about 9 months; then, in a severe lapse of judgment, I shaved it off. I immediately regretted it and started growing my beard again. I’ve been going strong for a little over a year now, with minor trims here and there.
10. Do you have any tips for beard growers?
Take care of it. I use beard shampoo in my beard every other day and beard conditioner every day. I also use a beard balm during the day to keep my beard’s shape and a beard oil at night to keep it healthy. Having a beard is a serious dedication at times, but if you are willing to deal with a few inconveniences, you and your beard can enjoy a happy life together.
11. Where do you see yourself in the next year?
I have absolutely no idea. And that’s okay with me.
Right now, I’m obsessed with: jewelry and hats.
The first website I log onto every morning is: Instagram.
My favorite Instagram to follow is: @impossiblecool
I’d love to visit: Iceland.
If I wasn’t doing this job, I would: be trying to figure out how to do this job.
Follow Harvy Moon on Instagram @HarvyMoon. Check out his website at HarvyMoon.com.