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*
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