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BUSINESS - INTERVIEW

Interview with Location Photographer Chip Henderson

Even if the object is a car, the whole operation can be done in the comfort of the studio. However, when it comes to shooting a hotel, a golf course or an industrial facility, shooting should be done in their physical locations. I talked with Chip Henderson about location photography.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Chip Henderson

Chip Henderson

BUSINESS - INTERVIEW

by Melisa Kaya

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Being away from the comfort of the studio means a completely different equipment requirement and process management. After a long career in the studio, Chip Henderson decided to work on location photography. Instead of going to his studio in 15 minutes, he drives for hours to go to the shooting area. Instead of creating the perfect atmosphere with big lights and reflectors in his studio, he uses the weather forecast to capture the best of natural light. And while doing all these, his best assistant is a ladder. I talked to Chip Henderson to learn more about his career, and to better understand location photography.

Chip, before talking about photography, I would like to learn more about you. When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo that you shoot with it?

Sure my dad was an advertising executive and one of his clients was just beginning to develop an island off the coast of North Carolina - Bald Head Island. He moved us closer to that area so he could manage the account better and the school that I attended needed a new student photographer to shoot for the school. I told the headmaster that I was a right-brained guy and he gave me the Nikon camera with a 43-86mm zoom lens - horrid piece of glass - like f 5.6. Most of my early photos were around Bald Head Island - they had a lighthouse and old Coast Guard Houses that were the subject of most of my early camera work.

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Chip Henderson?

I’m a husband of 37 years to an incredible woman and we’re the parents of 7 kids whom have given us a baker's dozen grandkids. They keep me young, energetic and in shape. We homeschooled our kids so we could pack up and travel across the county as I have shot campaigns and images at great locations. They have shown up in many of my photos and love the travel. My early days of photography were with the state of North Carolina as a college student during the summer where I shot travel & tourism, film & motion picture locations and industrial images that were used to promote the state. After graduation, I began my photography business using that experience that taught me the value of finding interesting locations and how to use light to create dramatic images. Light is so much a part of my image creating as I am constantly intrigued by the beauty of Gods creation and how I have a God-given ability to capture that.

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

How did you decide to pursue a career in photography and establish your own studio? What inspired you?

My degree was in telecommunications and business but I always enjoyed photography and video work over television so I began my studio right after I graduated. I had been shooting since high school and knew I wanted some type of visual career. I was introduced to advertising location photography by another photographer and determined that was the direction I wanted to go - producing more advertising work. What really inspired me to really get going was meeting my wife to be - who was just getting ready to begin nursing school and I realized that I couldn’t be that poor starving artist and keep her and our family to come provided for so I began to knock on doors with a passion equalled to my love for image creating.

Pinehurst Resort - Photo by Chip Henderson

Pinehurst Resort - Photo by Chip Henderson

Could you tell us about Chip Henderson Photography?

We have shot about everything that you can image - from now President Donald Trump for Doritos, lifestyle for Bank of America, boats for Chris Craft hanging 15 feet above the boat in a helicopter and golf courses for The PGA and it has always focused on great locations and lighting - natural light enhanced and balanced with stobe and/or hot lights. Whatever it takes to get the most dramatic lighting. We have shot and then published books for The US Olympic Festival to Pepsi Cola as well as landscape books of North Carolina. For the last decade or so we have shot more for resorts, travel destinations, and golf properties as we focused on these three specific areas. We now use that same approach to shoot video - using multiple creative cinematographers and drone operators as we shoot videos for clients across the country.

What kind of services do you offer to your clients?

Still photography and cinematography production

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

What is Location Photography? What kind of businesses need it?

Location photography is any type of production that takes you out of the confines of a studio and puts you in a place where you have to determine the lighting and composition for all of your images in an environment chosen for the assignment. This typically necessitates scouting the location ahead of time to pick the best sites for the shoot, then determine lighting and finally factoring in product, props, and talent to help plan a schedule to work from for the shoot.

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

How did your interest in location photography has begun? What is the most special aspect of location photography for you? How do you combine it with advertising, golf, and marketing photography?

My background in location photography began with my work with the state of North Carolina as I was shooting everywhere - from being in a hot air balloon for tourism to the inside of a nuclear power plant under construction for industrial development. We did not need a studio as the whole state was our studio to shoot. I did have a studio for about 10 years and we shot a bit of everything but I sold that off as I was mostly driven by the location shooting.

Location scouting is the most important aspect of my approach to producing as finding the best place to shoot at a property, then determine the lighting set up that will enable you to develop a schedule for the shoot- since we typically begin at sunrise and run thru dusk for long 12-14 hour days. Unless you want your images to look average you’ve got to find interesting angles, times of day/ dusk for dramatic lighting and where you are going to place props and talent - and you can’t do that on the run on a big shoot.

Marriott San Antonio Hill Country - Photo by Chip Henderson

Marriott San Antonio Hill Country - Photo by Chip Henderson

What are the key points that you pay attention to most before accepting a new project?

Exactly what the client desires as the end product / so getting a shot list of what they want to feature at their property is essential. Then determining how long it will take to shoot and balance that with the budget to determine how you can best pull off everything they want and leave some time to create pleasant surprises that you want to deliver from the location.

You need natural light. How do you set the right time?

Scouting and using apps on the phone to determine where the sun will be even on cloudy days or when you are on site but not at the exact time that you will eventually shoot.

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

How would you describe the effect of the quality of the location photo on the guests' decisions?

With social media and internet marketing, people want to experience the property before they ever get there so it is imperative to get great photos and video that show the guest what they can expect.

Is it possible for abroad clients to work with you for their hotels or golf courts in their own countries?

Absolutely - especially if a client loves my approach & style and its a project worth hopping on a plane for.

Which factors determine the project budget?

My fees have not fluctuated that much in years but what really helps in the budget is for clients to have the monies to hire really good talent, stylist and crew. Talent is the biggest - but at the level, we are shooting and the fact that we are shooting stills and video at the same time and often with multiple cameras and a drone - you just can’t scrimp on this area.

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

What are your expectations from your clients for a successful collaboration?

Good communication, great relationships and cold beer at the end of a very long day of shooting. And the understanding that what we do is a team effort - we are there at their request to deliver great work while shooting around guests of their resort, golfers on their courses or people skiing on the same lake we’re shooting on. So we have a high bar to not take ourselves so seriously that we don’t find the time to respect their guest and difficulty in shooting around an on-going enterprise. Raising 7 kids has given me a calm demeanor in the midst of hectic and often stressful circumstances but I love the work and the great folks we have collaborated with.

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in location photography?

Open your eyes everywhere you go and consider how the location you are in could be a set for a shoot.

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

Photo by Chip Henderson

Photo by Chip Henderson

What do you think about social media? How can our readers follow you?

Instagram - @chiphendersonphotography

Linked in Chip Henderson

Facebook - Chip Henderson Photography

What is next for you?

Continuing to produce images and find those client collaborators to work with

Thank you Chip for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Chip Henderson





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