Maurice Harmon was born in Wauseon, Ohio in 1953. Shortly after his birth, Maurice’s family moved to an old farmhouse in Adrian, Michigan. The house was lacking an indoor bathroom so there was no choice for Maurice and his family but to use an outhouse some distance from the main dwelling. A coal-fired furnace heated the un-insulated building. Soon Maurice Harmon’s parents started renovating the house, installed an indoor bathroom and later expanded into the attic to accommodate the growing family.
Around the same time, and despite the family’s lack of means, Maurice’s father had somehow managed to obtain a 35mm Swiss Arca camera to occasionally photograph family life. To Maurice, in his formative years, it was an esoteric but intriguing little mechanical device.
At age 11, Maurice Harmon and his family left the farm and moved to northern Michigan when his father became city manager of a small idyllic tourist destination. Farm life abruptly changed to small town main street life for Maurice as he moved from 88 acres in the country to a fraction of one acre in town. But the change was stimulating to him and provided new opportunities Maurice never envisioned.
Soon Maurice Harmon was immersed in little league baseball, band, basketball, swimming and fishing, and adjusting to a new living environment in town. Summers were filled with work, play, and growing up. And a sensitivity to the arts emerged. Maurice’s interest in music increased and became a serious passion. Equally so was Maurice’s participation in various sports–primarily basketball and baseball.
While in high school Maurice Harmon participated in a mix of sports, music–including individual and group competition–and worked various jobs to earn money for college. Maurice Harmon graduated from Gaylord High School in 1971 and began his college education at Michigan State University that fall. Maurice paid his college tuition entirely from his savings, loans, and grants and working 30-40 hours per week during his undergraduate years.
Maurice Harmon accepted an offer from a Detroit suburban police department to become a full-time certified officer in 1974. A year later he decided to obtain a law degree. Maurice left law enforcement to pursue a career in law, graduating from the University of Detroit School of Law with honors in 1978. While in law school Maurice Harmon was a member of law review and participated in the school’s urban law clinic. Again he paid all of his own tuition, books, and living expenses.
Thereafter, Maurice, and his then wife Nadine, moved to Boulder, Colorado to establish residency and practice law there. When Maurice Harmon first arrived he was struck by the beauty and grandeur of the Rocky Mountains and concluded he must buy a camera to photograph them. Maurice Harmon’s photography journey was born.
While learning to try cases in the Mesa County District Attorney’s office, Maurice was also learning to make pictures with his newly acquired Canon AT-1, a basic manual exposure camera. Maurice Harmon’s interest in photography rapidly grew into a serious hobby 1as he travelled around the American west. About the same time, a summer arts education program near Aspen was gaining attention for its week-long workshops, featuring prominent professional photographers teaching their art to amateurs. During the summer of 1983, Maurice attended his first workshop at the Anderson Ranch Art Center led by Robert Gilka, National Geographic Magazine director of photography.
Thereafter, Maurice attended workshops led by Jay Maisel and William Albert Allard, Sam Able and others. Soon Maurice Harmon was spending more and more time furthering his passion in photography even though continuing to practice law. Maurice began to accept small photography commissions here and there in the Grand Junction community. He developed a friendship during these years with professional photographers both in the region and across the country.
In 1985, Maurice Harmon, Attorney at Law, made his first of several trips to China, starting in Hong Kong and then into the mainland visiting Beijing, Shanghai, and other parts of that vast country. During this trip, Maurice Harmon Attorney began to consider winding down his small law firm so he could move to New York City to pursue a new career in professional photography. Three years later, after concluding his successful appellate representation of the only person on death row in Colorado at the time, Lawyer Maurice Harmon began the transition to photographer and moved to Manhattan.
In the beginning he assisted established photographers to learn the business. After three years of schlepping gear and fetching bagels and coffee for others, Maurice began working on his own.
While assisting others, he worked on his own portfolio to develop stronger imagery and market his work. Although, it was difficult to compete in the NYC photography market he slowly began to get shooting assignments from magazines and corporations. The following 13 years he shot assignments for various clients throughout the United States and overseas. During that time Maurice Harmon shot magazine assignments for Sports Illustrated, Golf & Travel, Links, Caribbean Travel & Life, Holiday, Golfweek and others.
Maurice photographed commercial jobs for Rolex, Ernst & Young, Automatic Data Processing, Ashland Inc., Penguin Books, Kmart and various advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson.
During this time Maurice Harmon learned first-hand the importance of copyright ownership of the photographs he created on assignment and the necessity of clear licensing agreements defining the scope of the rights granted for use of his work. Maurice also developed contacts and friendships with some of the leading photographers in the nation. When he discovered, to his surprise and dismay, frequent use of his work beyond license limits, Attorney Maurice Harmon began to bring lawsuits for copyright infringement on his behalf. Often met with disdain and contempt when confronting infringers of his work, Harmon learned first-hand the heavy-handed corporate response to anyone with the audacity to confront them for their illegality.
Even more astonishing, were the reactions of book publishers, who themselves created copyrighted works and vigorously prosecuted infringers of their content. Rather than express embarrassment and apologies for their unlawful conduct, most of them treated my pre-filing inquiries with hostility and denial. This personal experience informed Lawyer Maurice Harmon's decision to return to law full time, specializing in helping photographers enforce their copyrights when trampled upon by big business, and ultimately creating, along with partner Chris Seidman, Harmon Seidman Bruss & Kerr.
Although, Attorney Maurice Harmon continues to practice law, he is increasing his production of new photography focusing on fine art imagery and the creation of related images. Maurice is planning exhibitions of his new work, and others’ art, in gallery space he is having constructed in Maine. Maurice Harmon is also interested in the potential of aerial drone photography, which he sees as a new frontier permitting us for the first time in history to see more like birds see. While aerial photography is not new, images from tiny drones that are able to go where helicopters and airplanes cannot, provide unparalleled opportunities to create new imagery not unlike the impact small 35mm handheld cameras had in the 1930s. The ability to photography from limitless perspectives, including low altitudes, i.e., above typical eye levels but less than top down views, will change photography. Although ladders and bucket lifts have permitted, in a limited way, this kind of photography in the past, none of these alternatives come close to the potential of drones.