Every photographer has their own unique style of photography. Some are learned professionals, some come from self-taught backgrounds, but all their work says something to us, Photography is not mindless visual beauty.
Liam Henderson is a portrait photographer from Scotland since 21 years now. He comes from a tiny island called Shetland which is the most northern point of the UK. Along with portraiture he also does a lot of travel photography primarily using film.
Liam tries to capture honest emotion, once a victim of following the herd, Liam is now a phoenix, rising from ashes. Connecting with for the #iamlivingit series, We from Team Living-it bring to you Liam Henderson, his journey from a graphic designer to Photography, his love for emotion and his adventures with photography.
Livingit: What first drew you to photography—and how did you discover it?
Liam Henderson: My initial interest was graphic design, from an early age I knew I wanted to be a designer. I spent years playing around with software while learning as much as I could on my own. After finishing school I got a job at a local magazine as a graphic designer. Here I started to recognize photography, I gradually got more and more interested in it then decided to give it a go.
Livingit: What cameras and lighting gear did you start with and what are you currently using?
Liam Henderson: I started shooting with a small Sony SLR my mum had. I took mainly landscape photos where I got to grips with all of the manual settings. I now use a Phase One medium format camera and a Nikon D810 for my digital work but I also shoot a lot of films, mainly with a Mamiya RZ67 as well as a Nikon FM2 and Mamiya 7.
For lighting, I use Profoto in the studio or on location while utilizing natural light where possible.
Livingit: How do you best describe your current style of photography?
Liam Henderson: I see my style as being quite calm. Most importantly, I aim to capture honest emotion and expression. It often consists of strobe lighting, since living in Scotland doesn’t always allow for natural light! But, I do try to use natural light wherever possible and as also combine the two.
Livingit: Which photographers influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing, and career path?
Liam Henderson: I’ve been influenced by many photographers since I started but there’s a few who have always greatly inspired me. One is Irving Penn, which is probably the same for many people but I love the way he captured people. There are also some more modern photographers who have influenced me such as Alec Soth, Dan Winters, and Mark Seliger to name a few. I think my style evolved from taking little bits of inspiration from different great photographers and piecing it together over time to create something that works for me.
Livingit: If there was one thing you would want us to know about you, what would it be?
Liam Henderson: I’m a bit of a car nerd – I got the obsession from my dad at a young age. He owns various classic cars. I have a couple myself, and we often go to events and races throughout the year. I think this strengthened my love for photography as it gave me an immediate subject I could practice on and it kind of went hand-in-hand.
Livingit: How do you feel when people say, “The camera is just a tool; it’s the photographer who matters.”
Liam Henderson: I completely agree. Even though I use fancy gear it doesn’t make me a better photographer, it just allows me to do the best job I can in any situation. In any craft, there’s a mind behind the tools and I believe photography is the same.
Livingit: When you go on one of your travels, what all you take with you? Why?
Liam Henderson: I like to keep my travel gear light and as simple as possible. I always just shoot 35mm film with my little Nikon FM2. This means I don’t need to worry about batteries or memory cards. This also makes me think about every photo instead of firing thoughtless snaps.
Livingit: Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?
Liam Henderson: I sometimes wish I didn’t care about gear because it tends to make things too complicated and get in the way. Saying that I don’t think I have a regretful gear purchase.
Livingit: What kind of tools do you use for post processing? Explain your workflow.
Liam Henderson: I use Capture One for initial adjustments then I use Photoshop for retouching and further color refinement. I try to keep post processing quite minimal, I used to go a little overboard so I’ve gradually refined my process. So, in Capture One I will just correct the color, temperature, sharpening then I will take it to Photoshop and spend more time on color to achieve the look I’m going for as well as any skin retouching if needed.
Livingit: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Liam Henderson: I wish I had realized not to follow trends and to take more influence from timeless work. This would provide a better understanding of the meaning of photography and the storytelling aspect of it. But, I feel like I wouldn’t change anything as my path has taught me a lot and allowed me to find my artistic voice.
Livingit: Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
Liam Henderson: Coming from Scotland means I’m very used to unpredictable weather – I usually try to have a backup plan for an indoor location if possible, or brave the elements if that’s an option!
Livingit: Color vs. Black and White. Why one over the other, and is the photographic process different?
Liam Henderson: I couldn’t really choose between the two as I think they both work in different scenarios. Another reason I like to shoot film is you have to make that choice beforehand which usually makes me think more about the look and emotion I’m going for. I do have a specific love for black and white though. For me, it takes you past the surface of the image and lets you concentrate on the expression and emotion of the subject.
Livingit: If you were allowed to showcase just one photograph from your entire collection, which one would it be and why?
Liam Henderson: It’s a tough choice but I think it would be this image of my friend Joe. It’s one of my most honest photos as it was completely unplanned.
Livingit: What advice do you have for budding photographers?
Liam Henderson: Shoot what you want to shoot and don’t follow the crowd. It’s so important to be passionate about the work you create and to not just make what you think other people will like.
We all tend to follow the herd, in some way or another, knowingly or unknowingly. But what makes us stand out is how we are different from it and have a mind of our own.
Going against the current needs courage, and we all have it, hidden away somewhere, scared to come out.
Call to it.