Henry Danner Q&A
Henry Danner talks photography with The Black Gaze.
The Black gaze to me, means Black visual artists having the ability and ample opportunities to tell our own stories without the fear of not meeting the expectations of non-Black people.
How does this relate to your photography practice?
This relates to my practice because I mostly make photographs in Black spaces and communities with the hopes of capturing authentic and honest moments that reflect the beauty of our existence.
What do you want to say or address with your photography?
I want my photos to be a part of the healing process for individuals and communities affected by trauma and injustices.
What influences and inspires you? How is this reflected in your work?
History is my biggest inspiration. Looking to the past for clues on how to move forward and forge new paths is a huge part of my process. I do this by looking through old photobooks, reading a conducting research on historical events and listening to elders share their stories. This is reflected in my work because I try to tap into the same themes of resilience, identity and liberation that key Black historical figures evoked with their actions.
Who are your favourite Black photographers from the past? Why?
Gordon Parks, Roy DeCarava, James Van Der Zee, Carrie Mae Weems, Don Hogan Charles, and many more. These photographers all captured honest perspectives of Black existence and were trailblazers, often being the first Black photographers to do various things in the industry. I think they all, in their own ways, exposed the world to the beauty of Black people.
Please describe the highs and lows of your experience as a Black photographer?
One of the best things about being a Black photographer is receiving and giving inspiration to use photography as a way to take control of our own narratives. I love being able to help people from my community develop a more positive relationship with photography.
One of the struggles is the guilt that is placed on you by the media at-large for only wanting to photograph Black people in a subjective manner. It is impossible for me to maintain an objectivity and distance from my subjects because I see bits and pieces of my identity in every Black person that I photograph.
What work are you producing and what more would you like to do?
I am in a graduate program for Journalism so I have mostly been producing work for class assignments. In the new year, I would really like to produce 3-4 personal documentary photo projects.
About Henry Danner
Henry Danner is a NY state licensed Social Worker and visual storyteller. Using his camera as a tool to influence change, Henry wields the power of photojournalism and documentary photography to highlight poetic nature of everyday life, display the power of community and share stories that heal.
Henry is a member of Columbia University Journalism School’s class of 2022, and a founding member of the visual artist collective Souls in Focus.
Take part in The Q&A
The Q&A is an ongoing discussion open to Black photographers of all ages, genders and genres.