Interview: Bloginity Chats Up Lord of the Lens Henrik Adamsen.


The meaning of the name Henrik is “Lord of the House.” In Henrik Adamsen’s case, it should really be “Lord of the Lens.” By trade, Adamsen is a fashion photographer, but any description short of artist really doesn’t seem appropriate. In Adamsen’s photos, you don’t just see models or clothing – you see into a world emotion.

Be it anxiety, confidence, lust, or desperation, each of Adamsen’s photos seems to tell a story that flows forth from the frame, refusing to be bound by the edges of an eight by ten or a computer screen. High-definition is the only way to see Adamsen’s work, because it’s the only medium that lends enough depth and detail to do justice to the worlds within his photographs.

Daniel: Tell us about yourself, where did all of this begin for you?

Henrik: I started out as a retoucher around 1994 – retouching a lot of fashion brands, then moving to London in ’98 where i slowly moved over to graphic design. That turned into art direction/design when i moved back to denmark a few years later. I at some point i picked up photography and started using it for a few of our design clients. That style of photography didn’t really do it for me though, and I started doing tests for the modeling agencies here in Copenhagen. At some point I had to quit my day job.. My focus had changed completely from design/AD to photography. Because of the network I had from the advertising business, I didn’t really have to do much to get the first few jobs..

Daniel: What is it that you aspire to achieve from a photo shoot?

Henrik: It’s quite simple actually, yet I will probably never quite get there. When I start a shoot, I start off with an image in my head, of how the picture will look when I’m done..

The picture isn’t just the picture with color-tones and light, but also with that perfect moment, with the perfect mood. I guess it’s me hunting perfection – which I will never achieve. I think that struggle is important to keep developing as a photographer.

Daniel: Describe to us your first real shoot that you can remember; where you were, what you were doing and who you were doing it with.

Henrik: The first actual job I did was a hair-book for a client, who is actually still my client. It was in a backyard. It was actually quite amazing. It had quite an array of different backgrounds, textures and colors. There were about 25 different models, so I was a busy man for those four days.

Daniel: What has been your most rewarding achievement as an artist

Henrik: Actually knowing that other people enjoy what I do is pretty rewarding for me.. Apart from that, and i guess that’s not an achievement as such – but working with lots of exciting and interesting people all the time, is a pretty rewarding experience for me. As an artist, it was during a particular shoot in London, where I just all of a sudden found my style.. Usually I hear from other people that it’s something that you don’t really discover, but it’s just there after some years of shooting.. But for me it just hit me… This is what like doing – this is the look i like. That was pretty great.

Daniel: When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?

Henrik: It’s personal – but I will let you know when i get there

Daniel: Who’s your favorite photographer?

Henrik: I have two: David Sims and Greg Kadel

Daniel: What is it that you draw your inspirations from? (music, art etc)

Henrik: Well… initially I have seen a movie, a picture, heard music that kinda sets the mood or gives me the general idea for the picture. I often work it out with the stylist, the makeup artist or the client.. I don’t have a drawn up story board for the shoot. I’m very much inspired by the moment when I shoot.

Daniel: What has been your favorite shoot so far?

Henrik: It’s actually hard for me to pick out a single shoot as a favorite, there are so many shoots that i loved for different reasons. But i guess the most memorable shoot was the Forrest & Bob SS10 campaign shoot in LA.

Daniel: Has photography always been a part of your life? Is it something you’ve always planned to do as a career?

Henrik: No.. Creativity has always been a part of my life.. Photography is just a tool to express that, I suppose.. And as I mentioned before I’ve tried a few different branches in the creative business.

Daniel: When did you know you finally made it as a professional photographer?

Henrik: When asked me for an interview of course!

Daniel: Let’s talk about Forrest & Bob shoot. Take us through the creative process of working with the models.

Henrik: The Forrest & Bob shoot.. hmm.. Well the location is used a lot as location for movies (The Big Lebowski, Charlies Angels etc.), so at some point before the shoot i started thinking about movies. I’ve always liked the look of 60-70′s movies with the tints of green and yellow – so I said i’d like to do the shots as if they were stills from a movie, but mixed with fashion (posing in some shots .. etc), and i told the models this.. The models are all experienced models, except for Carlos Leon who was an actor – so that also fitted in nicely. The instruction from me to the models was pretty simple “pretend you own the place” (in a house like that, it’s actually quite easy to feel at home) – so i just let the models work, and see what they came up with from that – picking up on some of the things they did, and working with it. Hard to explain really..

Daniel: That house looks pretty amazing, where did it take place? Was it a celebrity’s home?

Henrik: Yeah it belongs to James Goldstein (fashion and basketball fan), who also appears in some of the shots.. He was an amazingly cool guy. It’s located in Beverly Hills.

Daniel: What type of camera do you use for your shoots?

Henrik: I use a Hasselblad H2 with a PhaseOne P30+ digital back for pretty much everything i do. I also have a Canon 5D mk2 as a sort of play camera… But I only used it for the Lingerie video, yet..

Daniel: In your own opinion what are 5 tools that a photographer cannot leave without?

1. A reflector, board or something to reflect or bounce light.
2. A flag.. doing the exact opposite of the reflector to stop the light from bouncing (creating deeper shadow).
3. A roll of gaffa tape.
4. An extra external hard-drive to back up your shots every day (or several times a day) – explaining that you’ve lost shots is really difficult to explain to a client.
5. A MacBook Pro.

Daniel: Adobe CS5 was just released. Is the Creative Suite something you often use? What are your thoughts about CS5?

Henrik: Yeah I have the Design Standard package, I use InDesign to build my portfolio and do PDFs. Photoshop of course.. I’ve used it since Photoshop version 2, I’ve never used anything else for retouching. I’ve only had CS5 for a week – so I couldn’t be too specific yet. I do however love that they’ve introduced a new masking tool, I will have to play around with that when I get the time.

Daniel: If Adobe isn’t something you use on what are your tools of the trade?

Henrik: CaptureOne Pro from PhaseOne (the manufacturers of my digital back) – I always shoot straight to that program, through a 10ft FireWire cable. I love working that way. I can create a rough look for the shot, and the clients can follow the shoot on the screen. It’s very handy. I also use that to develop my raw shots before I retouch them.

Daniel: I know you’ve toying around with video. You put together an beautiful & sexy video for Forrest & Bob. Where does your vision come from? Because that knocked us off our chairs.

Henrik: I came up with the idea about a year ago when i had to do a test with a model friend of mine, on a location.. But the weather was too bad to shoot outside, and as we were driving back home, I had the idea. I’ve always liked the challenge of limiting myself creatively, to push myself to create something out of almost nothing (like limited space, makeup, styling… whatever). And at the time I thought “Hmm.. it could be fun to do a story for a lingerie client in a car.. but to do it as if a girl gets in the car and strips for you” … So I actually shot the original idea with her, in my own car, and those images then became the inspiration for the Forrest&Bob story.

Daniel: After watching the video my conclusion is that you were born to do this. What can we expect to see sidewise from Henrik Adamsen?

Henrik: I don’t know if I was born to do it – but it’s certainly something that you will see more of.. I will keep experimenting with video on the side, but keeping it tied in with my still shots – I think that’s a fun mix, that deserves to be explored.

Daniel: What is your opinion about photographers with agent/agency, do you think all photographers should have one?

Henrik: I guess that depends where you want to go as a photographer.. Most photographers do well without them. I just wanted to go places where i had no network or idea how to go about it. Factory311 have a huge network, so that seemed the right way to go for me. But as you mentioned before – it’s a very personal thing.

Daniel: What’s on the horizon for you? Any new works on the way?

Henrik: I have an extremely bush June and July.. The Copenhagen fashion week is in August, so all the campaigns will be shot right about now. So lots of exciting stuff on the way.

Daniel: Where do you see yourself in 2 years time?

Henrik: I don’t know .. doing exactly what i love.. just for bigger magazines? hehe

During our interview I asked Henrik a question about his big dreams. Recently he sent me the follow-up email: “Well.. tonight it happened” here is the recap:

Daniel: When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?

Henrik: It’s personal – but i will let you know when i get there.

Here is Henrik’s email:

Henrik: Well.. tonight it happened.. When i first started shooting – my biggest dream was to shoot with the model Louise Pedersen, and I just shot with her tonight. It was everything i ever hoped it would be. AMAZING!! She is just fantastic both as a model and as a person…. hm.. now I have to look for a new dream to go for ..