Vermilion Arts Guild's Harvey Mann: Eye on Nature

Harvey Mann’s passion is to be a good photographer. His goal is to be a great one someday.

This Vermilion Arts Guild photographer aims his lens at nature—birds and animals, land, sea and sky. Mann carefully plans each of his photos but nature, being spontaneous and unpredictable, proves to be ­­­­­­a particularly challenging yet equally rewarding subject. You can see his amazing collection of photographed birds in the upcoming Birds in Art Show opening at the Vermilion Arts Guild Gallery on Saturday, April 27th.

His interest in art began as a child, played out with crayons on yards of butcher paper unrolled on his mother’s kitchen table and entering a lot of drawing contests. But photography, his primary medium, was adopted when he began a tour of duty in Vietnam. “I used it to record what I would probably never see again,” he said. 

Mann is retired from a 35-year career building and remodeling homes where his regular escape was through the camera lens. “I always had my camera close, no matter what,” said Mann. While he still enjoys creating and working with wood, photography is his art.  

“My favorite part of taking photos is to capture it in a way that it has art appeal,” explains Mann. “I take a lot of nature photos so that gets me closer to learning the habits and life of each subject.” Most of his photos on display at the Vermilion Arts Guild Gallery are diligently thought out to capture a specific, special moment in time.

Mann is inspired by the late Ansel Adams, a notable American photographer and environmentalist. “He set the standards of how to look at nature,” said Mann. Adams work has taught Mann to study the habits and changes that take place with the seasons yet as with most living subjects, there’s little control and plenty of the unexpected.

There is always going to be frustration and disappointment when trying to capture nature," he said. “There’s a high level of the unknown so to deal with it, I always try to anticipate what is going to happen.”

In one of Mann’s most challenging moments to photograph nature, no amount of anticipation prepared him for a moment he couldn’t get on film yet can’t forget.

“I talked a friend, Bill into going with me to take pictures of Portage Glacier in the Chugach National Forest (Alaska),” recalls Mann. “We hiked almost a mile across a frozen lake to get to a viewing spot and continued on to what is called the ‘debris pile.’’ Within minutes both had fallen through the ice into 80 feet of water.

“I managed to get out first and turned to look at Bill as he was going down,” he said. “I reached out and grabbed his arm just in time.” Both managed to get to some rocks where they sat thinking about how they had just escaped death.

“Bill said he would never go on one of my adventures again,” said Mann, “but we did get some very nice pictures though.”

What brings Harvey Mann to the Vermilion Arts Guild? “I’m getting to know some of the great people that live in and around Vermilion that share the same interests,” said Mann. “Being able to display and sell my art is a plus as well.”



Marilou Suszko