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Alumnus CJ Harker Is Featured in
National Magazine for Emerging Photographers


West Windsor, N.J. – For Mercer County Community College alumnus CJ Harker (’11), a fascination with skateboarding has become more than a hobby.  He is developing a reputation in photography circles for his work documenting his skateboarding friends as they pursue their sport.

This fall, Harker is featured in PDNedu (Volume 12, Issue 2), a national magazine for emerging photographers and photo educators.  In an article in the Storytellers section by Tema Stauffer, she writes: “Like many young photographers who document their friends and lifestyle, CJ Harker finds his inspiration in the culture of skateboarding.” 

Harker routinely shoots at sites in Philadelphia, his current hometown, and the Trenton area, where he grew up.

According to Stauffer, “What makes Harker’s photographs of skateboarders stand out from the crowd is his ability to dramatize his subjects through a sophisticated and inventive use of lighting techniques.”"

Harker began casually photographing the skateboarding scene as a teen.  After graduating from Ewing High School, he attended MCCC for two semesters to complete some general education requirements and then transferred to Rider University, where he majorerd in business.

Realizing that studying business was not his calling, Harker left school and worked as an auto mechanic before returning to college at MCCC in 2009 to study photography.

Photographer CJ Harker

“I went to Mercer originally to get all of my core classes out of the way in a cost effective and efficient manner.  When I came back the second time it was to build up photography credits and skills part-time while I worked full-time a couple of miles down the road,” Harker explained.

Harker says his Mercer experience was great.  “Michael Dalton runs a solid photography department and all of the faculty are outstanding.  I definitely learned a lot in my time there and the access to a traditional darkroom was invaluable,” he says.

While at Mercer, Harker worked for the award-winning College VOICE student newspaper, earning a third place award for photography from the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association in 2010 and a first place prize from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2011.

He says his experience as a VOICE staffer was nothing short of amazing.   “Holly [Associate Professor Holly Johnson and VOICE advisor] struggled tooth and nail to get that newspaper where it is.  Working in assignment format towards a regular publication deadline was an excellent experience.  Handing a project in to have it wind up filed away somewhere is just not quite as encouraging as seeing a stack of tangible material with your work in it,” Harker recalls with satisfaction.

He also recalls the camaraderie that made his time on the newspaper staff especially gratifying. “There was a real level of engagement from everyone on the staff.  Collaborating with people who are passionate about what they are doing is crucial to an enjoyable, productive environment,” he says.

Harker has continued his education at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he is currently in his senior year.  His work is regularly featured in Skate Jawn, a Philly-based magazine devoted to the culture of skateboarding.

Harker says he is settling comfortably into life in Philadelphia and is looking into artist residency programs to continue his education after graduation.  While he can’t say for certain what his plans are, it’s clear that his vision as a photographer is beginning to take shape.

Learn more about PDNedu by visiting the magazine's website here.

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