The Harpist

The Harpist

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I spent a little time in the studio with Margie, an extremely talented harpist. I can actually attest to that as well, as I’ve listened to her play at concerts. She is the harpist for the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, pretty cool stuff. The harp is an amazingly complicated instrument, I couldn’t imagine the years of learning involved, especially since I’m in the process of learning how to play guitar, which has a measly 6 strings. I get dizzy just looking at the sophistication of the harp. I don’t know how many strings, and then there are a number of foot levers at the base to change pitch and who knows what else. The people who makes these things deserve a standing ovation, not to mention a musician who can master it.

I played the trumpet in middle and high school. Yes, that’s right… 3 buttons, and the rest is left to the tightening and loosening of the lips. Comparing the trumpet to a harp… two different animals, heck… two whole different animal kingdoms. I liked the trumpet as it was almost more “feel” of the human body in sync with an instrument, the trumpet so reliant on super slight changes in the body to produce different notes. In my mind, it was more of learning how to control your body more than learning the complexities of an instrument. Simply, the higher the note needed to be, the more you a tightened your face and looked like an even bigger dork (that I can do well). The harp… oh boy, talk about having to know an instrument. It’s to the point I didn’t even ask Margie what all the different levers did to the already crazy number of strings. Ok, so you get it… being a harpist, you must feel pretty awesome being able to skillfully wield its seemingly endless possibilities with precision. Hence why you don’t see harpists on every corner. Pick a city and seek out the number of musicians for all the various instruments, and I bet the harp will be at or near the lowest number. Simply put, I was excited to have an opportunity to photograph a harpist.

The harp is a large instrument. You’ll never see an old guy hanging out on the park bench go, “hey kids, want me to play you a diddy on my harp,” and see him whip it out of his back pocket. It’s a solid 80 lbs. of instrument, moved about via dolly, and requiring dedicated transportation (you ain’t stuffin’ this thing in your Honda Civic). Also note, the harp makes an awesome photographic prop. 🙂

So, this leads us to our photos here. Margie needed photos for marketing her fine talent. She needed new business cards, website, etc. Step one – some fun photos to make that all happen much more easily.


The harp is so large and a fairly static prop, so we had to get a little unconventional with our shots. It’s kinda like shooting a car owner with their car, it’s like… you shoot them sitting in the driver’s seat and the maybe leaning on the hood, where else do you go with that? Well, with Margie and her harp, I had her get behind it and look through the strings. They ended up being some of my favs of the bunch. Also had her way in the foreground and the harp in the background. This separates and makes Margie really stand out from the very eye-catching instrument, yet you can still easily tell that she owns the paws that make that harp sing.

We started on out white seamless, just to knock that marketing material home-run, and then went to my favorite studio style – the black. To my delight, Margie also favored the darker, more dramatic shots (YES!), so you better believe I shot away on that.

Fun shoot, great photos, and… more to come!