Many experiences have shaped the life of Eric Henderson ’97 — but none of them quite so much as Thunderbird and a 1950s camera.
Born and raised in Dallas, a self-described “Texas kid,” he now lives in New York and is grabbing international attention for his fine art photography. Currently, Henderson is featured in a global campaign by UK brand Bombay Sapphire gin, including appearing in GQ Magazine ads and working with clothing designer Marc Ecko on an international photography contest.
While some people may not understand how a successful businessman and former Thunderbird TSG President becomes an artist, Henderson explains it simply.
“It’s just the disposition of the typical T-bird student. You are open to discovery, whether its business or art…T-bird has always taken a more expansive view,” Henderson said.
And it was precisely this openness that prompted Henderson to buy a 1950 Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera from a makeshift street bazaar while walking through Harlem in 2003.
With no former training, Henderson took to the streets, clicking away on his camera. It wasn’t long before people took notice. The Studio Museum in Harlem featured his work and the press declared him a standout newcomer.
“The first two years were pivotal because I put more hours into shooting than I ever would have in a classroom,” Henderson said.
Shot only in black and white, and usually after midnight, Henderson’s long-exposure photos are urban and unexpected. They depict cities and people without hiding any flaws.
“I simply hold very still while I’m letting the light come into the film,” Henderson says, describing his technique.
Prior to picking up the camera, Henderson worked in global marketing, including client and agency-side work for GE, Pepsi-Cola, Citigroup, Xerox, Siemens and high-profile not-for-profit organizations.
Today, Henderson is a full-time artist and has been commissioned for work in France, Morocco, Brazil and across the U.S., working with such entities as Starbucks and The World Bank.
“People always say that I ‘left corporate,’ but that’s not true,” Henderson said. “Now I’m dealing corporations, museums, and high net worth collectors and it loops me right back into the business world. I can speak their language in business.”
He added, “I don’t believe that an artist must always show up in a room with polka dot pants and his hair on one side of his head. If that’s you, God bless; but just be you.”
While Henderson continues to ride his wave of success, he is also clicking away with his camera. His goals include full gallery representation in New York, London, and other major centers. He plans to continue selling his work to collectors and developing his craft.
“I want T-bird students to understand that you have to be ready for anything,” Henderson said. “This has been a seamless move, though I do say to myself ‘whoa,’ I found this little brown box and it’s taking me around the world.”