Get Featured: Erik Henderson


by Bellamy /

3 min read
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Get Featured: Erik Henderson
Erik took a period of personal strife and turned it into a very big project. Really big.

My personal photography has always centered around documentary and social condition work. Doing this required quite a lot of driving and walking, two things that became extremely painful if not impossible once I injured my spine. This injury caused me to basically stop all of my personal work for a bit longer than I’d like to admit. After a while I decided I needed to start a new project, based in the studio, where my limited mobility would be less of a handicap. This project would have to be based in someway in the analog world, as for me personally, digital was too much like my daily commercial work.

As a bit of a craftsman and tinker the concept of building a camera has always floated around. I’ve built several smaller cameras and pinholes, but for years I’ve wanted to build a huge camera. I love the way paper negative’s render, and 20×24” was the largest widely available paper, so as a nerd I’ve always wanted to build a camera. I had grand plans of building a beautifully crafted wood and brass camera, but the concept was always left on the backburner.

My injury eventually pushed me to attempt this. I wasn’t sure if the project would be successfully, but I knew I needed to do something for my mental health. I dropped my grand ideas about the camera. Instead it was quickly built over a weekend. The overall budget was around $100 US, most of which when towards the bellows material. Scrap pine jointed with pins made up the front and rear standard, and a push pull system of focus was built using some copper pipes. A film holder was built out of stacked Masonite, and a piece of sandblasted acrylic made a rough ground glass.

The construction of the bellows proved to be the biggest roadblock. My math skills are questionable at best, but thanks to the internet I figured out I needed at least 8ft of bellows to get the magnification that I wanted. A more elegant solution likely exist, but I ended up taping together a bag bellows, and supported it with some C stands.

My paper negatives effective speed is something like iso 3. Wide open my lens is stuck at f9, and obviously my bellows factor is hilariously huge. This meant I needed a ton of light. Two strobe heads, with a combined 4800w/s where positioned less than 12” from my subjects. There was no diffusion, just 11” reflectors. Exposure was around f32 at iso3. Huge shutters proved to be too expensive, so the exposure was made by removing the lens cap in a dark studio, firing the strobe, then replacing the lens cap and closing the dark slide.

Being paper negatives I developed them like you would any darkroom print, then wet contact printed them to produce my positives.

My primarily goal was to make much larger than life tight headshots. Being an art student I could bore you with a long explanation of all the ideas behind this, but to sum it up I wanted to kinda promote self confidence, as this medium of 1:1 contact prints would show everyone their smallest imperfections and encourage them to embrace them. I also wanted to explore doing something super pointless. Critics will likely point out that this was a waste of time and energy, and that the same results could be accomplished easily digitally, or even with a 4×5 camera. I would agree with them. This project was about doing something for no apparent reason, wasting time, and valuing process more than result. I’ve always valued seemingly pointless art, and my injury (btw I’m basically fine now) made me embrace this more than ever.

Thanks again!!

Click on this link and send in your project/work: Get Featured. *I am looking for mainly projects, not individual images*
Oh, and click here to see a few of the photographers that have been on the site before

There is currently a wait of around 3-4 months due to the level submissions. Thanks.

Please make sure you come and comment, polite and constructive critique is welcome.

8 comments on “Get Featured: Erik Henderson”

    Callum October 11, 2017 at 5:54 pm / Reply

    These are fantastic, the whole project is incredible and the results live up to the work you put in. ‘This project was about doing something for no apparent reason, wasting time, and valuing process more than result. ‘ Sounds like creativity to me ;)

    Brian October 11, 2017 at 8:55 pm / Reply

    Amazing work. Really honest with your approach and intentions. Best of all? Not pretentious.

    And it’s good to read that you’ve recovered from your injury.

    Neal October 11, 2017 at 11:06 pm / Reply

    Well done, these are very cool. Although I can’t imagine being a sitter… 4800 w/s from 12 inches!?!? That kind of light makes staring at the sun child’s play. Must have scared the crap out them!

    Erik October 11, 2017 at 11:11 pm / Reply

    Great stuff! The “1:1 rationale” is so simple, but fits the project appropriately.

    Currently also going through some back issues, and definitely feeling the strain on my mental well being. Perhaps I need to explore a project to keep sane.

    Max Merkle October 12, 2017 at 2:05 am / Reply

    That’s beautiful.

    That’s art

    alex t October 12, 2017 at 4:21 am / Reply

    What a great inspiration. Thank You!!
    BTW: I don’t like that phrase that always comes from various people “but you could do it better with a digital camera.” We as creatives/artists have the right to decide which way we want to go! And it’s not important if it’s better technically. I am sure that the expression on the faces of the people portrayed would be much different. Just to see the effort to get to that one picture changes the mind of the people in front of the camera.
    I say well done!!

    Dan Castelli October 12, 2017 at 11:07 am / Reply

    I’d compare this work to Avedon’s large portraits, but your work has warmth & a connection to the sitter, whereas his work was cold & sterile.

    Scott October 21, 2017 at 1:52 am / Reply

    I don’t think you mentioned what monstrous lens you used.
    What was it?

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