5 Minutes With... / Rich Hendry / Great Eastern Bear

We recently spent 5 minutes catching up with Rich Hendry, photographer and owner of the Great Eastern Bear where our LPA Futures exhibition is currently on display. Here is what Rich had to say... IMG_9459-1

- Can you tell us a little about what you do? I work freelance as a photographer for editorial, advertising and design clients. I also own a gallery in Shoreditch which I set up to promote fine art photography.

- How long have you been a photographer and what made you decide to become a photographer in the first place? I’ve always wanted to be a photographer since I was a child, I undertook my first commission for an agency in Edinburgh when I was 17.

- What inspires you and your photography? Most of my inspiration comes from people I meet and stories I hear, as well as books / films / music. I’m keen to try and produce work that conveys a certain emotion rather than a distinct graphical style or technique.

atlantic-I © Rich Hendry

- Can you tell us about your gallery, Great Eastern Bear? How do you select who exhibits? The gallery started as a personal project really as I’ve always been interested in the fine art and story telling side of photography – it’s a nice opposite from working in commercial photography. I actually converted the space from a former East End brothel and I think the building itself has a lot of stories to tell…

We take submissions and look at proposals from photographers all the time and we really try and base it on the quality of the work and the concepts behind it, not how well known they are or how much their work will sell for.

As well as art the gallery also hosts events and is used as a studio space. Dropout TV film live band sessions there … there’s a lot going on! In addition to supporting free art we also dedicate time and expertise to nurturing interns; giving them a good grounding in the trade

- What was the most exciting shoot you’ve worked on? And why? I just got back from Memphis shooting Priscilla Presley for Harpers Bazaar which was a fantastic adventure – we got to shoot in iconic locations like Graceland and Sun studios which was amazing, and had to battle against thunder and lightning and tornado warnings all weekend too. It was a pretty intense schedule and I think I only managed about 5 hours sleep all weekend, but great fun and lovely people, we had a lot of laughs!

- We’re proud to say your one of our LPA Futures sponsors, how important do you think such schemes are in the photography industry? I think it’s very important as you’re not only judging photographers on personal work but also pushing it out into the public arena – a lot of the most exciting projects around get inspired by and commissioned because of personal work so it’s a good message to put out to aspiring photographers.

RichHendryLegendsa © Rich Hendry

- What do you think of the final 5 Futures winners work? The work is really impressive! All of the work is of a really high quality, but it’s also really diverse which is great – you see a lot of the same clichéd ideas repeated all the time so it’s refreshing to see five very different styles put forward.

- Apart from yourself of course, who are your favourite photographers? I don’t think I have any particular one favourite, but I’ve always been inspired by Robert Frank by the way that he can tell stories. Nadav Kander also inspires me by the way he can switch between genres and styles but still retain a distinctive ‘feel’ to his work.

- What are the best and worst things about being a photographer? The best bits have to be the travel and the people – it’s fantastic meeting new people and seeing you new places while doing something you love. The worst bit has to be the hours in front of the computer doing post work, but I’ve been lucky in that sense and get a lot of help from Taylor James, a retouching house just round the corner in Shoreditch.

- If you had to pick three of your works which best epitomise your photography, what would they be? I’d say my work is epitomised by detail; whether that is something technical, capturing an expression or seeing beauty in something often overlooked.

-Your gallery is in the real heart of Shoreditch, where are your favourite places to go in the area I’ve been going to the Crown and Shuttle on Shoreditch High Street quite a bit since it re-opened last month, it’s got a huge beer garden which is good for the summer!

Shoreditch City Farm is a bit of a family favourite, it’s amazing that so many animals live just a few minutes walk from the bustle of Brick Lane.

Shirt © Rich Hendry

- What is your favourite blog or website? I love designboom.com – as well as the fine art and technology sections I’m a massive architecture geek, and they showcase some great work from around the world. And shitlondon.co.uk makes me laugh!