Thoughts on Life, Art, Photography, Technology, Teaching and Travel…..
Looking back at your life, most people can identify a few individuals that have in some way dramatically impacted and influenced the direction of their lives. I have a handful of these people that have played a huge roll in my life to include my parents, children and my Photography Professor at East Carolina University.
I recently had the pleasure of talking with my former Photography Professor and mentor Henry Stindt about his art and photography projects. I first met Henry back in 1982 when I was starting on my Master of Fine Arts Degree at the East Carolina University School of Art. I had just been discharged from the Army as a Military Photojournalist and decided to use my G.I Bill to pursue an MFA in Communication Arts. Henry essentially took me under his wing and helped me fill in the gaps in my photographic/art education. I learned my technical skills in the military and Henry helped me build on my technical foundation by instructing me in the ART of photography.
Through Henry’s guidance and mentoring I left graduate school with the tools and skill sets required to be an effective Photo Educator. Over the years I’ve incorporated many of the things Henry taught me both in the studio and on location into my teaching – especially studio lighting, commercial photography and paying attention to detail when it comes to all aspects of photography.
Henry’s most recent work is centered around his photographic exploration and investigation of Central America and Mexico with a focus on religious / cultural festivals and celebrations.
In talking with Henry about his photographs, it was very evident that he has an incredible love, passion and curiosity for the people in the Central American region. In fact…he is basically a “people person” and uses his camera as a tool to learn more about other cultures and the human condition.
The following is what Henry shared with me during our interview. I asked him about his recent work, his photographic style and where his work was leading him.
He said… “Photography is all about making connections, developing friendships, and building relationships with the people and communities I choose to photograph. I’m in awe of the high level of spirituality and strong sense of community in the people of Central America.
My camera is a tool to search out the TRUTH and BEAUTY in the indigenous cultures I photograph. I make it a point to be respectful of their spaces and try not to photograph with any preconceived agendas. I just try to stay aware of what is going on around me and be ready to translate that photographically. The act of photographing in Central American enables me to learn more about other cultures and develop relationships with the people I meet on my photographic journey.
As an artist and educator I strive to share the TRUTH in my images. At least that is my hope. My photographic style is a by product of my art background so there are elements of fine art, photojournalism and a documentary approach in the images.
I trust in an intuitive almost involuntary response to my subjects when I’m working. Light is a very important variable in my pictures. My years of experience working with artificial light, off camera flash and mixing ambient and flash have enabled me to make these photographs in less then ideal conditions.”
In addition to being a working (and exhibiting) photographer Henry is also an avid artist and loves to draw and create mixed media pieces. He told me the drawing and mixed media work feed off one other and have become points of departure for his photographs and visa versa.
His investigations into drawing and mixed media fulfill a need to experience the different relationships between a variety of plastic materials and enables him to explore the creative potential of artistic mediums beyond the scope of photography.
We also discussed the difference between traditional “wet” processes and the digital “post-production” process. Capturing that initial “magical” photograph is just part of that process and whether you are going into the wet darkroom or sitting down at your computer to enhance “fine tune” the final image in Photoshop the creative journey doesn’t stop once the shutter closes. Great photographs are a product of a heightened awareness and attention to the details of every aspect of the photographic process from initial concept all the way through post-production.
Henry Stindt, an adjunct professor of photography at East Carolina University, and a freelance photographer who has operated studios in Atlanta, NYC, and currently lives and works in Greenville, NC. He earned a BA in Design from Penn State University and a MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute. Henry studied photography at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and the International Center for Photography, also in NYC. His work as a photographer and researcher has taken him to many remote regions of the world, but Central America and Mexico have been his primary focus for the last decade.
In 2010, Henry was awarded a grant entitle “The Heart of Oaxaca.” With this grant, he returned to Oaxaca to continue his inquiry into “the spirit of the native peoples,” which is clearly expressed through their passionate festivals and ceremonies.
Renting a one room apartment in the historic center of Oaxaca City during their most holy month of December gave Henry the opportunity to witness and participate in an almost endless procession of religious ceremonies and rituals. Recently the result of this grant has become an exhibition entitled “The Mestizo
A reception for “The Mestizo Spirit.” Exhibition is scheduled for October 2, from 6:00pm – 10:00 at Starlight Cafe, in Greenville, North Carolina and the show is up through November.