Captivated by the unique lens with which he sees the world, his beautiful story-telling and his passion for his art, ever since our first meeting we couldn’t help but fall in love with the work of US born photographer Henry Head.
Join us as we chat to Henry about his photography story, his greatest sources of inspiration and future plans for his work…
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Henry Head & I’m a film photographer from the US. I met my fiance while hitchhiking through New Zealand 5 years ago and am currently living with her in Queenstown until we move back to the states to get married in April. I love skateboarding, philosophy, writing & trying to capture emotions and stories through photography.
How did you get into photography? Film in particular?
When I was 19 I met a weary traveller named Portugal, who had hitchhiked into my hometown in Missouri. We struck up a friendship instantly and a month later I was quitting my job & packing a bag to leave with him. We spent a few months hitchhiking up and down the US west coast, then crossed the border down into Mexico. I started taking photos while pursuing this new nomadic lifestyle, to show friends and family back home what I was up to. Portugal, a gifted photographer himself, gave me a crash course in photography: showing me the basics of composition and lighting. Unlike a formal education where students are often drawing inspiration from other photographers, Portugal encouraged me to find inspiration from the people and circumstances I encountered along the journey & to allow those feelings to guide me. After a year of traveling & actively shooting, my cousin gifted me a film camera and some film, which I instantly fell in love with. I’ve been shooting film for my personal work ever since.
What inspired you to travel to New Zealand and start this body of work?
What first drew me to New Zealand was, like everyone who dreams of visiting, the epic landscapes. However, my primary inspiration during my last few visits has been my fiancé. Cheesy as it may sound, landscapes don’t hold a candle to falling in love (as far as inspiration is concerned). Today’s social media culture often tempts photographers to generate work for the sake of “likes” and “follows”, but recently I’ve been trying more and more to only take photos that I think I’ll enjoy looking at 30 years from now.
Any photographers in particular you look up to or admire currently?
Lukasz Wierzbowski (@lukasz_wierzbowski) is able to turn any moment, at any location, into something surreal and captivating, Grant Spanier (@grantspanier) is a master of late night nostalgia, Walter Rothwell’s (@walter_rothwell) street photography on black and white film in India and Egypt is remarkable, and Michael Portugal (@portugal777), my best friend and biggest inspiration. There’s so many more that I’ve admired for so long, but these are the ones who have been inspiring me currently.
What are some of the different shooting techniques you experiment with?
Double Exposures, for sure. I started taking double exposures with a point n shoot film camera (A Nikon L35 AF) about 4 years ago. When the film rewound at the end of the roll, it would leave the leader out, allowing you to feed it back into the spool and shoot the entire roll a second time. I would shoot the roll the whole way through once, capturing landscapes, then double expose the entire roll a second time, shooting portraits. It was always so fun getting those scans back, seeing how things lined up.
How do you find motivation to continue to go out and pursue your creative endeavours?
Man, I just try to feed myself creatively in every way I can. Not only gleaning inspiration from other photographers, but taking time to look at paintings, listening to different music, order things off the menu I’ve never tried before, talking to people with different worldviews and listening to them with the belief they have something to say that I need to hear.. Taking the world unto yourself through every means possible is the best way to broaden yourself in your own craft. That’s how it’s been for me anyways.
Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years time with your photography?
Pheww… That’s a tough one. I think I’d like to have established myself as a photobook photographer, releasing bodies of work in printed format as opposed to leaking photos one by one to an online audience through platforms like Instagram. Something about putting your heart and soul into your work just to have it double tapped on a phone screen and scrolled past waters down the magic. I believe that photobooks and prints offer an extra dimension to a photograph. I know this sounds mystic, but when you’re holding the photo, feeling the paper, seeing it in a proper size, it slowly becomes animated the longer you look at it, as the spirit of the moment captured emanates forth.
What advice would you give to your younger self given your experience in life so far?
Make art for yourself. Keep your head down and focus on your art, instead of comparing it to others. Don’t buy into the lie that your work is only as good as the engagement it receives online. Print your work, frame it, and give it as a gift to friends and family who will actually appreciate it. Use photography to give a voice to those who don’t have one. Making something beautiful sheds glimmers of light into a broken world, which is of the utmost value and importance.
Where can we view more and keep up to date with your photography?