Chris Henry’s Dark and Majestic Landscapes

Chris Henry’s images stand out among the landscape photos usually shared on the internet.
Cold tones, overcast skies and mountainous topography are some of the elements that inspire this traveling photographer.
In this interview, Chris explains how the lack of light highlights the greatness and magnificence of nature.
The images he creates are honest, unaltered by the overuse of photoshop or filters, and will inspire you to travel the world.

Hi Chris, can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m a self taught photographer and graphic designer who currently lives in Philadelphia, PA. I actually went to business school and upon graduation realized it wasn’t my passion by any means so I launched myself into the creative field. While currently working as a designer I picked up photography as a side passion and serious hobby.

“[…] it was landscapes that continued to humble and energize me simultaneously […]”

To me the grandeur of nature by far became my biggest inspiration to do what I do and my focus for pushing myself in the endlessly challenging field of photography.

©Chris Henry

How did your passion for photography start?

I would say it was always inside of me from an early age. I will always remember when I was in Park City, Utah at a very early age and being incredibly taken by some of the nature galleries. The landscape photographers venerated there were painting an image of the world that exceeded my knowledge of the reality in such a forwardly brilliant way that it would became a genre of photography I would never forget.

“The most disappointing trips in my life have been to tropical beaches.”

While I dabbled with portrait photography and commercial photography by trade, it was landscapes that continued to humble and energize me simultaneously every time.

©Chris Henry

Your images are often quite dark, cloudy, which gives them a texture and cinematographic aesthetics. What attracts you to this kind of light and color?

With a few exceptions, beaches don’t interest me. The most disappointing trips in my life have been to tropical beaches. Every photo I’ve ever taken on a sunny Mexican beach has been over-exposed and, quite frankly, banal. I would say my gravitation towards a more morose landscape is truly a reflection of the environment that I’ve fallen in love with.

“[…] I concurrently wish to exhibit the places I visit in a way that is entirely believable, authentic, and most of all exciting […]”

Whether it’s the unfathomable splendor of the Canadian Rockies or the highlands, of Iceland or the fjords of Norway, every time I click the shutter in a cloudy landscape it’s because it makes me feel like I’m on another planet. And it just so happens that these places ⅘ times are ensconced in fog.

©Chris Henry

What do you wish to communicate through your photos?

For several years I struggled with an identity for my photos; by that, I mean my primary photographic subject and the style with which I edit my photos in post processing. I’ve dabbled with all kinds of techniques but in the end, and where I am now, my focus has been to communicate abject authenticity and believability.

That may sound comical but in the age of digital alteration, anyone can take a photo and turn it into essentially an unrealistic fantastical art piece. From viewing the work of many others it has almost become a differentiating skill to demonstrate your work is genuine and that it has not been heavily altered in Photoshop, or similar programs.

“[…] I thought I had seen it all; until I went to Iceland.”

Although I may enhance my photos in Lightroom only, I concurrently wish to exhibit the places I visit in a way that is entirely believable, authentic, and most of all exciting; which is a reflection of my own excitement.

What is the place that inspires your the most?

Without a doubt: Iceland. This country essentially launched me full-throttled into landscape photography. It’s the kind of place where every single 10 minutes on the road, there is something unique and unbelievable. It’s absolutely a playground for anyone seriously interested in nature photography.

©Chris Henry

What do you find there that you didn’t find anywhere else?

I grew up visiting the National Parks of the United States. After trips to Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington, I thought I had seen it all; until I went to Iceland. Never have I been in an environment that is as calming and stormy, dangerous and welcoming, moody and peaceful, or so all around diverse. It can allow anyone, from the casual honeymooner to the gritty backpacker, to have their mind f’ing blown.

“Bright sunshine for photography creates overblown footage and is most generally not your friend.”

What is the best time of the day to take pictures?

Photography is essential your impression of light. So without a doubt, the best time of day is sunrise to post sunrise and sunset to post sunset. Light does unique things during this time that can’t be found in the other 80% or the day. You’ve seen my photography though and will notice that a lot of it looks like a case study on the absence of sunlight.

“I’m a firm believer though that equipment doesn’t make a strong photographer.”

So to assuage to the curious photo noobie, my general recommendation would be that clear skies suck. Bright sunshine for photography creates overblown footage and is most generally not your friend. Seek moments when light does interesting things to the subject you’re looking at, even if there is very little light at all.

©Chris Henry

What photo gear do you take with you when you travel?

I roll with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Phantom 4 Pro V2 drone. I’m a firm believer though that equipment doesn’t make a strong photographer.  Your ability to harness light and capture an engaging scene, does. Have you ever seen a compelling Polaroid photo series? That right there should prove that your equipment isn’t everything. Once I was able to recognize a strong composition, I upgraded to the aforementioned equipment because of the increase in convenience and resolution.

“Grab yourself a genuine fascination with the exotic landscapes of the world […]”

What advice would you give to take powerful landscape photography?

From experience I would honestly say your desire to capture awesome stuff is 90% of the battle.  Anyone can learn the in’s and out’s of shutter speed, F-stop, and ISO from the convenience of their couch, but not everyone will take that knowledge all around the world. Grab yourself a genuine fascination with the exotic landscapes of the world, hop a plane, and plant yourself in front of the places you’ve only previously dreamed about. The powerful photography will follow.

©Chris Henry

What is your dream destination?

I have many dream destinations. Too many to count. I would say my next big destination though, which is really a group of destinations, is quite frankly a place that I feel like most have traveled already. To me there seems to be this golden area between Eastern France, Switzerland, Southern Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy. From the photos I’ve seen, there’s so many beautiful places there, I could only pray I’d have enough time to see it all.

And you next one?

From there, Indonesia to Australia. After that, New Zealand, down to Antarctica. Duh!