Monday, March 15, 2010

Sister Story: Sharvon P. Urbannavage

*photo of Rose Rollins by someone else :)*

check my profile pic.  it's kinda hot.  i feel like my inner Tasha was channeled (which i didn't notice until after).  wishful thinking?  anyway, i can only take small credit for the hotness of said photo.  most of the magic came courtesy of one Sharvon P. Urbannavage.  she just may be my favorite photographer.

i present to you Sharvon, owner of SP Photography:

SisterGarten: when did you first know you were a photographer?

Sharvon: I've been into photography since I was a kid, due to my father being a photographer when he was in the military. However, I didn't realize that I had "an eye" until I was in college. I took photography to fulfill my art requirement and to learn how to use the SLR (single lens reflex) camera my dad got me in high school. Through my coursework, I learned to find dope images in the oddest places, and got great feedback from classmates and professor.......and I've been shooting non-stop ever since.

SG: what is your favorite subject?

Sharvon: People. All ages, shapes, sizes and colors. I'm naturally an observer, which is why I tend to be so quiet when I'm actually around others. Its a little weird, but I just find myself staring at random people when I'm out and wondering what their "story" is. If I'm at the train or in the airport, wondering where they're going or coming from. If I overhear something they say, wondering what the full context of the conversation is. I'm interested in people's stories, and have been surprised at how interesting my story is to others. I like helping people tell their story through photographs.

SG: what inspires you as an artist?

Sharvon: Light. I had an assignment in college that was an experiment with light. We basically just had to photograph interesting ways the light reflected off of things. These were the best photos in my portfolio during the whole semester, and it taught me to appreciate how something as simple as light, can make the most abstract object look beautiful. So now when I shoot, I find myself looking for areas where the light is doing interesting or weird things. You can see this throughout my portfolio. I'm now delving into experimenting with studio light and I'm excited to see where my creativity goes with that.

SG: what obstacles do you face as a black woman in your field? what obstacles do you face otherwise in your field?

Sharvon: Its definitely a challenge to be a black woman in any field. There are female photographers whose styles I admire such as Annie Leibovitz (of Vanity Fair) and Mary Ellen Matthews (of SNL), but in all the photographer profiles I read in my magazines, I rarely, if ever, see black women. Throughout high school, college and in the workplace I've always felt I had to work twice as hard to even be on an equal playing field. But once people see my work ethic as well as my skill level, they realize how truly talented I am, so I've never really let being black or female be an obstacle, per se. It's simply part of who I am, as a person and an artist, and it allows me to have a different perspective on the world that I shoot.

SG: if you could shoot anyone (living) in the world, who would it be?

Sharvon: I really can't think of any ONE person I'd like to shoot. An obvious answer would be a celebrity, but those are people who have been photographed thousands of times. Going back to what I said before, I'd like to photograph someone whose story I want to know more about. Such as cancer survivors...what they did to overcome the disease and their struggle. Young soldiers....why they chose the military over other options. Those are just a couple examples, that actually hit close to home for me. Hopefully I didn't just give my ideas away to someone else!

SG: what do you want your work to say to/do for people?

Sharvon: I want my work to show people that everyone is beautiful in their own way. I personally am not the most photogenic person, but I have photos I've taken of myself that have been the greatest self-esteem boosters. I've had clients who make coy, self-depricating statements like "I look horrible.....I don't take good pictures.....I'm gonna break your camera with my face." Then they see their pictures and are in LOVE with themselves. Anyone can be photogenic....its all a matter of knowing your flattering angles and finding good light. And any good photographer will be able to bring out the best in you.

SG: what's the craziest/weirdest thing you've done to get a photo?

Sharvon: Several! From dodging in-and-out of traffic, to laying flat on the ground in Old City [in Philadelphia], to running non-stop for about an hour, to standing on barstools (I'm super clumsy!), to nearly being arrested for trespassing. My style, to date, has been what I like to call "strolling shoots". I pretty much scout a general location where I want to shoot my client, and then we'll just walk around and find good spots. I've stumbled across some awesome backdrops shooting this way, and it allows me time to get to know my client a little more while we walk and chat, which I feel helps me bring out their personality and essence through their photos (plus its also great exercise!). I've had to do some interesting things to get the shot, but I'm just glad I've always had clients who are totally willing to just go with the flow. Can't ask for anything better than that!

for more information on Sharvon and SP Photography, visit


Jordanian Times said...

seriously either u look really good or this chick is the bomb

Shalita Hale said...


MLee said...



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