What makes a great photographer like Henry Horenstein tick? Or how does he click such astonishingly beautiful and often highly abstract images of animals and sea life? The artist and RISD prof shares pro secrets this Thursday night at the Aquarium.

He’ll discuss the making of photo books Aquatics (2001) and Animalia (2008), and more.

Of Aquatics, The Boston Globe noted: “[Horenstein’s] carp and jellyfish are weightless and oddly graceful, suspended in warm and diffuse atmospheres.” Of Animalia, writer Owen Edwards raved, “Though most photographers are driven to find a new vision, even the best fail more often than they succeed. In [these images], Horenstein has succeeded to a dazzling degree, evading the abundant clichés of animal photography at every turn.”

Horenstein, author of more than 30 books of photography, including Honky Tonk, Close Relations, SHOW, and Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual, used by numerous schools and universities, is certainly best known for his unforgettable images of people, famous and obscure, images which capture subjects’ vulnerability (check out his portrait of a young Dolly Parton in Honky Tonk), authenticity and personal awkwardness (Close Relations chronicles his own people), and playful idiosyncrasies (SHOW takes us behind the curtains of burlesque performance).

“I’ve spent a career mostly photographing people, which can be fun, rewarding, instructive, and …often difficult. So many personalities and attitudes. Good and not so good. Fish and other marine life require no personal interaction, but they take on lives of their own,” Horenstein says. “Mostly I’m projecting, I’m sure, but it is very peaceful to watch and shoot marine life. So many amazing creatures—the way they are built, the way they behave.”

The hardest aspect of shooting underwater creatures? Patience.

“I am a nervous person and generally bouncing form one thing, place, to another. You can’t do this with marine life because you can’t pose them or control the surroundings. You have to wait and wait sometimes for hours until your subject does something you want…in the best light, with the best background, etc.” he explains.

All marine life shots were taken in aquariums and zoos, because, Horenstein says, “I’m too chicken to go underwater.”

Horenstein’s work has been displayed internationally–in museums, galleries, and public art installations.

Event Details

This Thursday Oct 20
6–7 p.m. Wine and cheese reception

7–9 p.m. Lecture at the National Aquarium’s Meyerhoff Auditorium (book signing to follow)

Cost: $5 for members, $5 for students, $10 for non-members or free with book purchase

Reservations are required; call 410-727-FISH (3474) to reserve

Or submit a fish or fishbowl-related personal short-short story to win two tickets!