For the past five years, photographer Jeff Harris has helped SLAM bring sneakers to life.
For more than 15 years, KICKS has kept you educated on the ever-changing world of footwear. From breakthrough designs to the individuals responsible for your favorite kicks, we’ve told the stories behind the products you love. Now, from behind the camera, we chronicle the man who captures the art within every high top, Hyperfuse and adiZero that’s featured on SLAM’s pages.
In a bright studio overlooking downtown Manhattan, photographer Jeff Harris discusses how he brings sneakers to life for SLAM every month: “We try to appeal to a young and sophisticated audience,” says Harris. “We know that people reading this magazine focus on the details, they’re focused on what’s different in each issue.”
A graduate of New York University’s film school, Harris was born into a world of art and photography. His parents met while attending a high school for music and art. After graduating, his father opened an agency representing artists, photographers and illustrators. “I was always surrounded by [art],” says Harris. “It was in my DNA.”
The studio’s clientele includes Honda, Maxim and for the past five years, SLAM. At the beginning, Harris got a call from SLAM’s Creative Director, Melissa Brennan, who was looking for a photographer to take on the KICKS section of the magazine. The rest was history.
Now, roughly 1,000 different shoes have cycled through Harris’ studio since 2008, but he’s having trouble recalling just how many pairs he’s photographed. How many pairs, exactly, you ask? “None.” Harris laughs and explains, “We always only get one shoe to shoot.”
Each month, Harris and his staff ensure the unique qualities of the kicks are highlighted. Whether it’s setting Jordans on fire, or having an intern take a bite out of a shoe that’s made to look like a steaming ear of corn, Harris has found success in turning something as material as sneakers into art.
He believes, however, that the credit belongs to the designers. “It’s amazing that somebody designs new shoes each month,” explains Harris. “That kind of design is very akin to art. Where do you draw the line between industrial design and art?”