Making the Small Things Big with Don Harris of HardPress Studio

Don Harris, also known as Nikon Don launched his company Hardpress Studios in 2007. Crossing off one of the many goals on his list, and since then has been taking the industry by storm. The Nikon certified photographer has worked with brands like Jaguar, Dillards, and collaborated with Project Runway designers. Harris also credited in Oprah‘s magazine for a BLACK DONT CRACK Editorial. Amongst his many accomplishments, Don has amassed over 12K instagram followers.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Don Harris about his journey with the art of photography, his accomplishments and the best advice he’s ever received. Take a peek below.

How did you get into the art of photography, what drew you in?

Well, I’ve always been an artist in some form since I was young. Photography was just another outlet for me to express what was going on in my mind.  At family functions , I always found myself being the one to take photos, because they believed in my abilities. I guess I never identified with the passion of photography until I got older, because at that time, I saw it as…I just enjoy capturing moments. Once I became more in tune with that passion, I understood it more as, this is photography…this is what I do.

What is your favorite part about your craft?

The response that people give to the work that I do.  Whether it’s my photography or art projects, I find it rewarding to receive the reactions that I get when I bring people’s visions to life.

When you launched Hardpress Studios in 2007, what was going through your mind?

What was going through my mind is actually synonymous in what the name “Hardpress” means.  For me, to be Harpdressed is understanding that you have no choice, as in, there is no other way around the matter of what you are trying to accomplish. Its either this or nothing. Its an inevitable path or direction that you must travel to achieve the desired results. What was going through my mind was that this is the right thing to do. Considering the circumstances that were surrounding me at the time, and in the face of many obstacles and criticism, I could have been steered in an entirely different direction just to survive.

 I tried working regular jobs, even finding jobs in my field and working very hard at them; only to find myself back in the way of doing photography, graphics, and every other artistic job that people would reach out to me to do. I had to realize that there was a calling for my life; an innate ability that lived in me. And even though I saw myself as an artist, I always envisioned the bigger picture, which was a company.

What has your journey been like before and after launching your company? Any challenges?

One of the first challenges for me was finding my niche. Being from New Jersey, it was easier for me to do it back home because everyone knew what I did already. Upon moving to Greensboro, I didn’t know anyone at all, and had to start over in rebranding myself.  I had to work hard to get my name out there and build up a reputable image in the community. I valued that process, as that journey was where the foundation for Hardpress Studio, LLC was laid, and even my name began here…Nikon Don.

Another big challenge was trying to get people to not see me as “just an event photographer.” Sounds crazy but, if people were only seeing me out shooting at the clubs and such, I would be thought of as just another event photographer in the crowd. So, I had to rebrand myself again, by no longer shooting in the clubs, and actively pushing my fashion photography portfolio and creating my aesthetic.  Now people see me as a creative content builder and fashion photographer, and they come to me to help them create artistic visuals for their brands.

Just reflecting on how far you’ve come, how does that make you feel?

I’m truly grateful that people recognize the strives I made and the things that I have been able to accomplish up to this point, but I am nowhere near done yet. I feel as though, I am still not where I want to be yet, so I must put in more work and I am always looking to the next step in building my brand.  Right now, I am working on photography classes with Michaels Arts and Craft Store, creating brand ambassadorships with brands like Taft shoes, and more things along those lines. With these steps, I am not only working on growing my business, but also growing my brand so that I can open more doors for other people that work with Hardpress.

What is your biggest goal that you have yet to achieve?

My biggest goal stems back to my first goal, which is to make Hardpress Studio the company that I see it to be.  If I had to attach a marker to that goal, I would say that I know I’ve arrived when I am able to have salaried employees and signing checks with Hardpress logo on them, for my team. I am talking payroll, W2’s, benefits, etc.  Being able to affect people’s lives, is what Hardpress means to me, and change people’s circumstances the way that this company changed mine. That is my ultimate goal. Then I will be completely content when I am able to pass down this business to my daughter one day to help secure her future.

What can we expect from you in 2019? Any big projects on the way?

My main focus for the rest of the year is just to continue building relationships and collaborations with other brands; becoming an influencer in addition to content creator.  I mentioned earlier, I will be partnering with Michael’s to host a series of photography workshops, and I also host these workshops with a local college here, A&T University. And I am in the works with lining up brand ambassadorships and collabs with a few other brands as well; with everything from shoes to bundles.  I just want to continue to use my influence to inspire others to be who they want to be. 

What advice will you give any aspiring photographers out there?

The best advice that I’ve ever received was “make your small things big and make your big things small. Whatever your idea of success, no matter how grand it may be, (i.e.  “I want to shoot for Beyoncé one day”), make that the small task, and the things that you can do everyday, make those grand, as you will work towards them harder. The small task to make grand is…just keep shooting.  

You will get there. The more you shoot, the better you will be. If you look at it like, you’re not shooting for Beyoncé right now, that’s the wrong mindset. If you’re not shooting at all, then you will never shoot for Beyoncé.  Being consistent brings success. If you stay consistent and keep perfecting your craft, the right doors will open, and you will be so prepared for when those doors open, that you may not even notice when you’re already inside the room.

Don’s advice resonates not only with photographers but anyone with goals to achieve. Though he’s had many great accomplishments he’s not stopping anytime soon. In other words, Don can’t stop and won’t stop.

You can stay up to date with Don Harris and his journey @NIKONDON on all social media and of course don’t forget check out Hardpress studio’s website at

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