A Conversation with Henry.
Henry Lohmeyer is the founder of Camera Men and the co-founder of Our Collective, both online communities of expressive photographers from around the world. A self-described love junkie based in St. Louis, Missouri, Henry is known for his visual poetry—eloquent and compassionate stories of the human spirit he captures with his lens.
What inspires you?
When I’m taking a picture, I’m in the moment... feeling it. My images are not necessarily about what I’m seeing right then. When I look back on them, I’m most jazzed to be reminded of how I felt when I took the picture. If you look at my photographs, it’s a feeling that’s being conveyed, a story being told. It’s an honest capture.
You take a lot of portraits of people on the street or on buses and trains. Why are you drawn to these subjects in these places?
I think most people are absolutely regal, regardless of where they are. If you create room for them to reveal themselves, you see it. A really great portrait is candid. Shooting in public spaces forces me to relinquish control. While discretion in itself is important to me, being a fly on the wall also helps to capture the kind of images I want. I’m in their space. When they catch me taking a picture, I stop being a witness. All of a sudden, they are on a stage and that kind of portrait doesn’t have the honesty that I’m drawn to. If you try to manipulate your subject or get someone to strike a pose, you’ll take a picture or a likeness of them, but you won’t capture who they really are.
It’s obvious from the comments on your Instagram feed that your images resonate in a very particular way. People see themselves in your images, they being so rich with possible narratives. Is that your intention?
That’s a really interesting thing that you point out. First of all, I am really grateful for the Instragram community. Photography has been a lifeline for me. After hitting rock bottom—jail and rehab—taking pictures became a safe way for me to process my shit. I’ve found IG to be a safe, supportive place for me to check in with myself and stay connected to others. I think my willingness to be vulnerable and express what’s really going on, without a glossy veneer, gives my followers a kind of permission to say, “Me too! That’s how I feel.” It’s very humbling to get that kind of validation. At the same time, I’m honored to be able to offer them these moments of shared humanness and show them that there's beauty in them.