This week’s episode of OpenFrame is hosted by Vonecia Carswell, a photographer and educator from New York City. She speaks to Henry Danner, a NY state licensed social worker and visual storyteller, who believes in using his camera as a tool to influence change. Henry talks about the healing power of photographs and how documentary storytelling can help impact communities and future generations.
If you haven't listened to this episode yet, here are some of our favorite takeaways:
- You don’t have to be a full time photographer to be professional. In fact, your other occupations and experiences have a tremendous impact on your photography. In Henry's case, these are:
- His social work
- The experience of being a Black man in America
- His curiosity for history and creating historical records
- Growing up in church, which offered an early appreciation and sense of community
- Photography is a human connector. When you build a strong bond with your subject, you can go deeper, when taking someone's photo.
- In street photography you want to show slices of life, share personal stories and portraits but avoid portraying your subjects negatively or making them feel bad about themselves.
- Rather than simply showing pain and poverty, Henry focuses on photos that have healing power, those that tell stories and give hope.
- Honesty, and honest photography can heal — but it can also hurt. Henry wants his photographs to make people look harder and deeper, and not just with their eyes, but with their soul. It's all about helping them find themselves in the photo, so they feel seen and heard.
- As photographers, we use the camera as a roadmap: it can tell us to go into a certain direction, where the light is great, or something interesting is happening. Without it, we wouldn’t walk towards certain people and have certain conversations.
- Henry also found healing through photography. It made him notice things about himself. It was a tool he used for self expression, like a new language. It empowered him and gave him confidence during a time of unemployment.
No matter what type of photography you do, we all got into this industry for similar reasons — because we are drawn to people and their stories. Because we believe they hold power. Join us for this beautiful discussion and immerse yourself into the wonderful world of Henry Danner.
Give Henry a follow on Instagram and check out his beautiful work on his website! Find out more about his community collective - Souls in Focus and if you are based in New York, join one of their photowalks!
The conversation with Henry and Vonecia is also available on Youtube and via all popular streaming platforms - Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor. Subscribe, listen and share this episode with a friend who would find it inspiring!