Henry Horenstein has been a professional photographer, teacher, and author since the 1970s. He studied history at the University of Chicago and earned his BFA and MFA at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he is now professor of photography. Henry’s work is collected and exhibited internationally and he has published over 30 books, including Black & White Photography: A Basic Manual and Digital Photography: A Basic Manual, used by hundreds of thousands of college, university, high-school, and art school students as their introduction to photography. He has also published several monographs of his own work, including Shoot What You Love, Histories: Tales from the 70s, Show, Honky Tonk, Animalia, Humans, Racing Days, Close Relations, and many others. Henry lives in Boston.
Artists Statement: Over the years I’ve photographed many different types of subjects, even animals and the human form. But I’ve always returned to my roots as a documentary photographer. More than anything, I like a good story. And I try to tell one in a direct way, with humor and a punch line, if possible. With this in mind, I have photographed country musicians in Nashville, my family and friends in Massachusetts, horse racing at Saratoga, nightlife in Buenos Aires, old highways everywhere, everyone in Cajun Louisiana, South American baseball, camel breeding in Dubai, tri-racial families in Maryland, and much, much more.
For subjects, I prefer older cultures and places, especially disappearing ones. That’s what my history teachers, Jesse Lemisch (at University of Chicago) and E. P. Thompson (at University of Warwick), taught me to do. These cultures and places might vanish, but it is a historian’s righteous duty to make sure that they leave a trace. I also was very influenced by another teacher in Chicago, John G. Cawelti, who taught me (and doubting historians predating him) that popular culture should be taken seriously. One other great influence for me was my teacher at Rhode Island School of Design, Harry Callahan. Harry encouraged me to “shoot what you love,” and to pay no attention to what others are doing. “Even if you make bad pictures,” he said, “you’ll have a good time.” Thank you for that, Harry.