American photographer David Alan Harvey was invited to select an image from his archive for a Magnum exhibition exploring the meaning of the “decisive moment” in 2016. Harvey wrote of the Ibiza party, pictured here: “The decisive moment can take a lot of clock time. This particular decisive moment took two weeks of my time. The summer foam party at the club Amnesia in Ibiza, Spain only happens once per week. It took me seeing it once to know what I should do. At first I thought I should get in the mess, which I did. I got some nice pictures there but I thought getting above it would be better to get the feeling of mass hedonism or like Dante’s Inferno. It took some permission getting to get up into the lighting rig in the ceiling of the club. In the end I shot literally one Kodachrome film frame that looks like this. The club lights flashed multiple colors at random and only this one had the feel and tone I wanted. Two weeks of time literally down to two seconds of opportunity. Worth it all, of course.”

It's a lot of work living the life that you want to live, but that's what I'm doing

David Alan Harvey
© David Alan Harvey | Magnum Photos

Born in San Francisco, David Alan Harvey was raised in Virginia. When he was 20 he lived with and documented the lives of a black family living in Norfolk, Virginia, and the resulting book, Tell It Like It Is, was published in 1966. He was named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association in 1978. Harvey went on to shoot over forty essays for National Geographic magazine. He has published two major books, Cuba and Divided Soul, based on his extensive work on the Spanish cultural migration into the Americas, and his book Living Proof (2007) deals with hip-hop culture.

His work has been exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Nikon Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Workshops and seminars are an important part of his life. Harvey is founder and editor of the award-winning Burn magazine, featuring iconic and emerging photographers in print and online. His latest book, Based on a True Story, was published by BurnBooks in 2012. Harvey joined Magnum as a nominee in 1993 and became a full member in 1997. He lives in North Carolina and NYC.

© David Alan Harvey | Magnum Photos

Get Magnum news and updates directly to your inbox