This month’s featured photographer is a master at wedding photography – Barett Henry. Read his insight below to learn what inspires and motivates him.
Describe your approach to photography— What makes your work unique? What makes a good image?
Since I started CivicPhotos ten years ago I have always focused on capturing images which have modern styles and fashion with a nostalgic type of editing. My work is truly timeless since it centers on capturing emotions of people in love and that never goes out of style. My work is often unique because I cater each photography session to the couple’s vibe or way of thinking about their relationship. For that reason you will often see multiple themes captured within a single photography session. To me a great image is a photograph that is true to the couple being captured. A great image should be authentic…I always love searching for ways to guide my clients which helps them create authentic emotional moments that aren’t forced.
What inspires you? Who are your influences?
I find inspiration in many things. I always want to capture the essence of a theme, a location, an outfit or an emotion. I love fashionable timeless moments but I also love practical photographs. One wedding photography artist that influences the way I capture photography is Jose Villa since I find him to be a photographer whom is complete in the way he creates fashionable yet practical photographs.
What was your first camera?
Olympus MJU-II was the first camera I remember using extensively to take pictures…it’s a 35mm film camera with autofocus and it was a joy to use. I certainly learned the importance of making sure the film being used was properly loaded into the camera due to the times I thought I was capturing images only to find out the film wasn’t advancing due to not being loaded correctly. I had no idea that my love of cameras would grow exponentially over the years to lead me to where I am today.
Can you think of the first time you realized the camera you owned was holding you back?
I remember in 2015 I started shooting Medium Format film and even though the film scans were only 16 megapixels there was a “special look” about seeing a medium format image. Capturing photography on Medium Format film made me realize how much potentially beautiful photography I was missing out on by using only 35mm cameras. Within a years’ time of shooting film I found that I spent over $10,000 just in film development costs which made me start thinking about alternatives. The PhaseOne P25 was a camera that was of interest to me so I purchased a used model in 2016. I loved the results I was getting from this PhaseOne digital back which made me interested in seeing what a full frame Medium Format digital back would give me in terms of quality. At that point I purchased a PhaseOne p65+ from Digital Transitions after having them give me a couple demos on this digital back. I simply adore the organic & unique rendition I was able to see in my images since moving to a full frame Medium Format digital back!! I get excited seeing the beautiful composition I was able to capture on a Medium Format film camera with the flexibility of digital editing. Thanks to PhaseOne for creating such awesome photographic tools which forever changed the way I viewed photography!
What’s a photography-related purchasing decision or experience that you regret?
I regret the decision’s I made for the first 7 years of my photography career before my experience with Digital Medium Format. Back then I would buy the next model of a 35mm camera thinking it would change my photography. Regardless on weather my 35mm camera had 22 megapixels or 50 megapixels it was a challenge to find a substantial difference in terms of the aesthetic.
How did you make the transition to professional photography, and how did making a living from photography impact your style of shooting?
I formed CivicPhotos in September 2009 as a website where I could place the photographs I captured with my first semi-professional 35mm digital camera. The following year I was asked to document the wedding days of many of my friends and by 2011 CivicPhotos had grown to the point where I was shooting 25+ weddings a year and the number has increased ever since then. I would say in 2012 my shooting style starting taking direction when I began advertising with Houston’s top wedding magazine Weddings in Houston. I started focusing on the way photography could communicate not only emotion but other themes such a class, style& fashion.
What was your most difficult project?
One of my most difficult projects mentally was when I was privileged to document a high profile wedding in downtown Houston. The wedding couple…a local Houston city official & a lawyer…was totally beautiful and photogenic and they were getting married at one of Houston’s most beautiful architectural venues…the Julia Ideson Library. This wedding had countless moving pieces of decor and to top it all off the wedding officiant was Houston’s City Mayor Sylvester Turner. I loved having this challenging opportunity and it certainly helped me grow tremendously in handling stress while delivering amazing wedding photography.
If you had to do a project using the bare minimum of equipment, what would you bring?
Good question!! Unfortunately I never have minimum equipment since I usually map out my photography sessions meticulously with a theme so there are clear expectations in terms of results. For the last couple years CivicPhotos has been catering to our central theme which is we really don’t do anything with minimum equipment or effort.
What’s the most interesting/surprising/invaluable thing you keep in your equipment bag?
Easily it’s my PhaseOne p65+ digital back since this camera is central to the CivicPhotos photography aesthetic. I cannot replicate the quality this camera produces with any of my other photographic camera equipment.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started out?
I wish I knew how much equipment matters towards the beginning of my photography career. It would have prevented me from spending thousands on camera’s that only incrementally improved my photography. I see why so many photographers choose to capture weddings on Medium Format Film because of the Medium Format aesthetic. Many of PhaseOne’s Digital Medium Format offerings are certainly affordable with some planning and these tools produce world class level images.
Do you have a “Passion Project” that you enjoy working on in your free time?
I love having “Passion Projects” so in my free time I usually love putting together style shoots which allow me to document a unique photography idea at a unique location. Doing these “Passion Projects” keeps me focused on improved growth in terms of visualizing new photography concepts.
What’s your favorite book/movie/album that you’ve experienced recently?
My most recently seen favorite movie is Five Feet Apart. I not only love how beautiful the love story of the movie is but I adore the color palette this movie uses in its cinematography.