Henry Hargreaves

Jan 9th, 2018

Henry Hargreaves


Henry is a artist and photographer. Born in New Zealand but living in Brooklyn. His work touches on 4 main themes; Food, Colors, Nostalgia and dick jokes. He has exhibited around the world form the Venice Biennale to his nana’s nursing home.

How does technology affect your photography?

The advent of the digital camera is really what changed my work. I started shooting medium format, but having digital now allows us to render ideas much quicker. We don’t have to go and buy film, shoot polaroids, get it developed, scan it and see if we like it or not. Now it can be seen immediately. I think that has made photography much more accessible for many people, which is why we’re seeing the rise in visual communications across the board. The other way it affects things is you can now use other social platforms to expose yourself and that’s a really big differences. Where I started, you were either a fine art photographer, showing in art galleries, or you were a commercial photographer who is literally a gun for hire. Whereas now, I think the personal projects for commercial photographers have become an important thing because you can show everything online.

What are you working on right now?

I always have lots of personal projects on the go at anytime. I’m working on a project on airplane meals at the moment, I am also cultivating and growing mold with my friend caitlin who I work with a lot. I am doing a thing on oysters, I am also working on an ongoing project on staff meals which has a website, staff-meals.com.

Why did you start taking photos?

I was a model and I wanted to be the one behind the lens and not in front of it. I felt that the photographer was in control and able to do something really interesting, so I just went out and bought a camera and tried to start being that other person.

How do you determine if a work has been a success?

I think you have to do work for yourself. In terms of personal work. I feel that if I’m proud of it, it has been a success. You could measure it in terms of how much it is shared and liked and all that stuff but I really don’t think that matters at the end of the day. I do work because it’s about me exploring my surroundings and learning about elements of everyday life. I just want to do things that make me feel good and proud and hopefully in turn there are other like minded people.

What’s the worst reaction you’ve had to your work?

I’ve had a lot. To me the negative reactions are good because for everything you do, there will be one hundred people who love it and one person who hates it. But the hundred people who love it so often are not gonna write to you and say they love it, but the one person who hates it will write to you and I think every time you get one of those you gotta say there are just another 100 people behind this who are loving it. Also the other thing is that if no one hates it, no one really can love it, to me it is about stirring emotion. I start off with trying to do that with myself and exploring those themes, but it just becomes a pretty picture if it doesn’t stir an emotion in anyone. I had a lot of hate mail from the chinese after the food map series that I did with Kaitlin Levine, because we left Taiwan off the map. I was called an ugly american by one person, which as a New Zealander is a little bit of an irony.

What other forms of art inform your work?

I don’t look at too much photography. I follow a lot more graphic design and architecture. I find that if I look at too much work of other photographers I get stuck in a “I wish I did that” phase, as opposed to when I look at work of other disciplines I see things that inspire and that I can bring into photography.