Our US@UO series is a behind-the-scenes look at UO culture. Whether we're following the stages of a new store build-out, profiling a cool UO employee, or sharing a roundup of recaps from local events, US@UO takes a look at the real people and real stories happening inside Urban Outfitters.
UO New Jersey employee and photographer Harrison Turner shows us his medium format film photography and chats about the creative culture in his role at UO.
Photos by Adam Barabas
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, my name's Harrison Turner and I'm from a small town in New Jersey, and I go to school full time at FIT in New York City studying fashion business. I love to take photos and produce music in my free time. Can't even tell you how many times I've been mistaken as a photography student by just walking around campus with a camera on my shoulder. I'm completely self taught, all learning through doing. Same with my music, I played the string bass all through out school and that lead to my interest in music production. I work almost exclusively with film photography, experimenting with 35mm and 120mm or medium format photography. Both are crazy expensive hobbies but I love them just the same.
When did you first start taking pictures? What drew you to photography?
I started taking photos casually in my first few years of high school (my first girlfriend was really into it) but never took it too seriously until about two years ago. Just started collecting cameras and learning came from there. Youtube videos were/are my best friend! Photography peaked my interest because it was a much more approachable form of art, once you get past the mechanics of a camera. It's just so instant, even with film photography. The second you press the shutter, you have that moment forever. I think I've always had a great eye for things and being able to showcase that to other people is awesome. I've always been told that in order to be a good photographer you need to be able to "see well." If you can't, you're just anyone else with a camera.
Are there any artists or photographers who have inspired you over the years?
Too many to mention really. Michael Kenna has been a pretty big influence for me recently. He works mainly in fine art and landscape photography, but his style is something that can be translated to any kind of photography. There's a certain simplicity to each of his photos, and being able to find beauty and art in everyday things. Helmut Newton, Robert Smithson, Sandy Kim, Cass Bird, Petra Collins, etc are also influences for me. I think it's really important to mix contemporary influences with more legends of the industry.
When did you first start making music? Are there any ways in which the creative process of making music crosses over with taking photos?
It all started when my parents bought me my first MIDI controller for my 17th birthday. It was this little Akai drum pad with a couple knobs, I also had a tiny piano that I worked on too. From there I got more gear, better speakers and it all grew from there. It's funny, I would have to say that taking photos and making music are not connected at all for me. Maybe in terms of overall theme/feel? It's weird having two things that you love to do because one month you'll be super into one thing, and the next month you'll pull a 180 and I won't touch my MIDI controller. It's like my creative process is split like that.
Tell us about your work for UO. What do you like best about your job?
I work at Store 180 in Princeton, New Jersey when I'm not at school full time in New York. It's a smaller store so I've become super close with all of the people that work there. It's a real family feel there, and there's nothing more important than that. Shout out Store 180!
What’s a typical day like for you at UO?
Typical day starts off with a cup of dark roast coffee, clock in, then I get to work! I'm a really goal orientated person so I won't put something down unless I finish it. Usually I'm up at greet, gasping whenever a cute dog comes into the store, or upstairs in the fitting room! The day usually ends with me buying SOMETHING. More often than not its a candle. I'm a sucker for a good candle.
Do you have any favorite places in your hometown? Can you share some of them?
My town is a fun vacuum. Things are too far away to walk to but too close enough for you to drive. We have more banks and drug stores than I can count, but nothing fun for the kids to do. There is one gem though. It's my favorite coffee spot in town and its called Factory Fuel. I have a couple friends that work there and its a fantastic space. It's a converted pottery factory! You can even sit in the converted kiln and enjoy your vanilla latte.
What’s next for you?
Well right now, school is the focus. I don't play games when it comes to school. Education is one of the most important things to me. Creatively, I'm working on building my portfolio and focusing on my craft(s). People have asking me for an album recently so I might just go and make one for them. At some point I would really love to publish some of my work in a book. Photographers do that right?
Quavo Entering VFiles NYC
Ok so the breakdown of how this image came to be is totally by accident. I was walking around Soho as I usually do when I have free time and I was walking down the street and I saw a black Uber SUV parked outside this boutique with tons of kids crowded around it. I figured I'd stick around just to see what all the commotion was about. After about 10 minutes of waiting around, Migos got out of the car and went into the store to perform a small show. While the paparazzi were there snapping thousands of photos, I was there with my super old school camera and was only able to get one photo of Quavo.
Double Exposure with Girl
This is a photo of my friend Courtney who is now traveling throughout Europe just for the heck of it (so jealous). This photo was taken at a lake in Pennsylvania and I chose to make a double exposure, just to add depth to the image. For those who don't know, a double exposure is done on a film camera by taking one photo, pressing the film rewind button on the bottom of the camera, cocking the shutter, and taking your second image over the first one.
Pine Tree Figure
To date, this is still one of my favorite photos I've ever taken, mainly because it was totally accidental. It's of my friend Adonis at his house in New Jersey. After pulling an all nighter working on music, we went outside to see an extremely foggy landscape. I first took a photo of the texture of these nearby pine trees, then layered it on top of Adonis (who is actually holding a samurai sword) but this was still during my learning curve of photography and didn't properly double expose this image but I love it nonetheless. I used a special film for this photo called Lomochrome Purple, where it has very heavy pink and purple tones already on the film itself. This image is completely unedited.
City Street (b&w)
This photo was taken down in the Financial District in New York, extremely close to the East River. I was in the process of crossing the street when I stopped and was amazed by the way the street looked. It was about 5pm and the sun was just starting to set. The white strip just about dead center in this photo is actually the sun being reflected off of a building down the street.
Dark Photo with Lights
I live very close to the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, and this is one of the tunnels that leads to the actual Lincoln Tunnel. It was on one of my walks at night, and I realized that if I were to severely underexpose the image, that the street would fade away and only the lights be illuminated.
This image was taken very late at night, close to the Hudson River along 10th Avenue in New York. I chose to carry a tripod with me, so I could take properly exposed images at night and this is the result. With this film I did whats called "pushing film" meaning if the standard ISO of the film is 400, you would shoot it at ISO 800 or ISO 1600. This gives the image much higher contrast and a cool look to it!
Follow Harrison in Instagram