Former fashion model turned photographer, Henry Hargreaves , has a reputation for playing with his food. Born 1979 Henry is a Brooklyn -based artist and food photographer who spent his formative years growing up in New Zealand. He began working in fashion in early 2000, relocating to New York City. He had an immediate affinity for the city and found it a warm and welcoming place. He worked as a fashion model in New York for four years but always secretly wondered what it would be like to be behind the camera.
He gave into his curiosity one day and bought a camera and began to play, trying different lighting techniques and tricks he picked up, always searching for a sense of balance within his compositions. Working at first with fashion models, he soon became disinterested in the planning of shoots and coordinating clothes, models, and assistants.
One day, browsing the supermarket he realised that this was his art store and inspiration, thus beginning his artistic career in unusual food photography.
Remembering back to when he was a child, his first taste memory was the back of stamps that he used to lick sitting next to his grandfather as he did his correspondence. Later in life he recognized the taste once again when he tried Beeman’s gum, sparking a curiosity in how we think what we think about food. This developed into a wider interest in the habits and rituals that make up our food culture as a reflection of who we are. Working at a local restaurant he began to shoot the waitresses while also noticing that diners’ orders revealed certain things about their personality.
Making food provocative, charming, and even controversial started simply but grew into some of the most talked-about collaborations and subject matter in the industry.
Henry Hargreaves doesn’t shoot food that exactly entices, and sometimes it’s not even food at all. In one series he deep fried our favorite electronic devices like a cell phone, an iPad, and earbuds, whereas in his project Edible Rainbows we saw regular food turned the color of the rainbow. With nothing but the color altered from their regular recipes, the taste was presumably the same, but the experience was jolting for most to look at much less eat, even for Henry himself.
His project No Seconds received wide acclaim, where he recreated the last meals of seriel killers like Ted Bundy and Timothy McVeigh. Continuing to feed the public interest and his own, he also photographed the preferred meals of celebrities before they go on stage. What is his goal in shooting food in these contexts? That you’ll remember it. Henry says it’s when “you remember it after you have stopped looking at it.” He admits that a lot of his inspiration is spontaneous and sometimes has a different outcome than he expects but trying something is the only way you’ll know if it works or not. He says: “ My universal piece of advice is just do something. I would 1000 times over, do something and find out that it doesn’t work, than sit there with an idea that I’m never executing. Just go out there and do it.”
Most of his projects are collaborations as he believes it compliments one’s own skill set and blurs the lines between roles. He also collaborates with companies like Canon for instance, like for a series called Brunch Explosion that captures the look on someone’s face at the exact moment when chaos hits the kitchen. Some of his favorite projects are Mushroom Clouds: The Fall out of the Food system, a commentary on the how the talk of nuclear war has crept back into the conversation, and the Gingerbread Art Galleries.
His project Birthdays That Will Never Come , brought him back 360° to his native New Zealand for a collaboration with Visa Wellington On a Plate where he made recipes from the historical Women’s Weekly cake book with an 80’s aesthetic, clebrating kids that would never have birthdays in New Zealand.”
Henry Hargreaves has created a wide spectrum of work for commercial clients like Ralph Lauren, Sagmeister and Walsh , GQ , V , Esquire , New York Magazine and personal projects like 3DD , a 3D Celebration of Breasts , The Death Row Last Meal series, Bacon Alphabet and the Edible Subway.