From in front of the camera, to behind the camera: that was the route for still-life and fashion photographer Henry Hargreaves. Having posed for numerous fashion houses as YSL, Prada and Jil Sander, four years ago Hargreaves decided to turn his career around. With a great range of work to his credit, he managed to make still life photography really fun to look at, again. Back in October, we first introduced you to his work with his “Food of the Rainbow” photography series, and now we had the chance to chat with him and get a more extensive look on his work and the man behind it.
Trendland: You used to work in front of the camera for big fashion houses, but four years ago you started working behind it. How did this transition happen?
Henry Hargreaves: I wanted to have control over my career, I wanted to be the one who was making the decisions and having their visions realized. Don’t get me wrong I took a lot of great experiences from the modeling days but I hit the ceiling of what I was likely to learn pretty fast so to move forward I had to move on.
TL: Fashion and still life; where these two meet? Is there a winner?
H.H.: I began with fashion as that’s what I knew but there are so many more variables – model, grooming, location, styling etc and at the end of the day its being edited by someone who’s focused on showing the clothes so my vision would often be clouded. Still life came about as most of my early paid assignments were product shots and from there I began playing with them and it snowballed from there. I really like this form as I have a picture in my head that I want to achieve and I try to surpass that. Winner I prefer Still Life as I find it weirdly therapeutic and I think I’m better at it.
TL:For your “Food of The Rainbow” series you teamed up with stylist Lisa Edsalv. Tell me a bit about this collaboration.
H.H.: Her agency set a meeting up with us, she was cool and open for experimenting. I read a story about a woman who had trouble getting her kids to eat food so she colored it to make it fun. I presented this as the starting point to make a bunch of dishes multicolored, we brainstormed around what would work and we ended up with some pretty amazing results!
TL:You’re New York-based, but you travel a lot. Is that because of inspiration-seeking? Inspiration finds you, or is it a two-way road for you?
H.H.: I grew up in New Zealand, it doesn’t get much more isolated than those islands down the bottom of the Pacific. So I feel a pressure to see but gain a great deal of pleasure from seeing as much of this side of the world while I’m over here as I can and I’m also a naturally curious person. But ultimately one day I feel I’ll move back to be closer to my family.
TL:One last meal. No second. It’s really interesting what is the final request of the death-sentenced, isn’t it? What drove you into that concept?
H.H.: I get a lot of my ideas from stuff I find on the web, I read something and think that’s cool, but if I started there and did this and that, then it would be awesome! For this series I found a Wikipedia about convicted criminals and their last meal requests, I just love the psychology of it, and what this meal said about the person. So I tried to recreate what I imagined this meal would have looked like from their eyes when they were presented with it.
TL:A burst of color characterizes most of your work. You’re not a big fan of black ‘n’ white?
H.H.: I like black and white, but I just feel that it’s easy to make something look good in B+W, but when color is done well it is terrific! Also I always associate B+W with the past and vibrant color with the present
TL: What fascinates you about still photography?
H.H.: It makes me happy to make things I would like to see if I was the viewer.
TL:Your 3DD series came out into two books, Original & Deluxe edition. Was it the first time you got involved in the publication world? How was this experience?
H.H.: Yes it was. I had a great experience, 3DD was the number 1 erotic book on Amazon last Christmas, my Grandmother was very proud! It’s also a great honor to have a book out there, especially when you didn’t have to bank roll it yourself and it’s a pretty special feeling when you see your handy work in bookshop windows and on people’s coffee tables.
TL: When photography comes to versatility, which ones are easier to transform, objects or models?
H.H.: Objects don’t talk back get cold or need to make text messages, but I think when you transform a model well it can have more impact. I did some great work with the designer Stefan Sagmeister where we body painted models and I think this is some of my most visually striking work.
TL: Is photography the only way you express yourself?
H.H.: I have also started making short animated videos.
TL: What do you want your work to be recognized for?
H.H.: Making people smile and rethinking the way they see everyday things.