In the first of a new series, our Lens Hero is Aberdeen photographer Chris Henderson. His project to share portraits of swimmers and surfers is a big hit with fans on Instagram.

Those that have been following us long enough know that we started out as a photo sharing group on Instagram. We’ve been racking our brains to honour that history in a new and different way. After speaking with a few local photographers, we thought it would be pretty cool to introduce photo essays. A way for us to highlight local photographers who we think you’d like to follow.

So first up is the hugely talented Chris Henderson. He’s a wedding photographer for his day job, but also shares outstanding portrait photography on his personal Instagram account. We love to see his photos on our timeline. One of our favourite projects has been to photograph local photographers and wild swimmers on the waters edge at Fittie. Maybe out of their comfort zone, but always in a hero pose, catching that early morning light. Over to Chris to explain.

Join our newsletter!

But just before you continue reading, please consider signing up to our monthly newsletter. It’s a great round up of what's happening in the city. No spam, just a collection of stories and images from the heart of Aberdeen.

Chris Henderson

I started this project largely by accident. I’d been sitting at home, yet again contemplating buying a Leica. Instead, however, decided I needed to actually get out and use the gear I already had. Generally speaking, any time I find myself contemplating a new piece of photography gear, it’s because I’m not taking enough photographs with my current set-up.

So to give me something to photograph, I put out a request for portrait volunteers on my Instagram stories and was very pleased when Victoria got in touch. She said if I didn’t mind getting down to the beach for 7am, I could photograph her in her wetsuit. It sounded interesting, so we arrange to meet up.

– Victoria

The light at that time in the morning was really interesting. It was also great being outdoors in the fresh air, especially after numerous lockdowns and being unable to travel outside of Aberdeen. I took my Pentax 67 along with my Fuji X100s as backup. In the end I actually preferred the look of the images I got on the wee Fuji.

– Freya

I was really pleased with the results, so I decided to carry on with the project and arranged to meet another group of swimmers around sunrise. In the end they were running late. The light was amazing though, so I ambushed a couple of other swimmers who were coming out of the sea and asked if they’d be up for it. Thankfully they said yes. Those are still some of my favourite photos from the series. Once my original subjects arrived we had about 30 seconds to get their photo before the blazing sun broke over the horizon and the flattering light was gone.

– Thalia

Once I’d photographed a few swimmers, the word seemed to get out about who I was. It became much easier to find willing subjects. I kept an eye on the forecasts for clear mornings that coincided with the tides being right. I wanted to have some sand to stand on to take the picture. And so I’d head down to the beach for sunrise without pre-arranged subjects to photograph, just to see who I’d run into.

– Erica

That pre-sunrise light was unlike anything else I’ve worked with, and I was hooked. On mornings where the light was particularly special, it pushed me to approach complete strangers and ask for portraits. This is something I’m usually quite shy about. It was also really refreshing to be photographing people who were coming out the sea. People who where not looking their best in a conventional sense, but were still really open to being part of the project.

– George

This project really helped me keep creating through a difficult winter where almost all of my paid work had been postponed into next year or cancelled. It also opened me up to approaching total strangers for portraits, something I still struggle with but it’s getting easier, and I’ve met so many interesting, lovely people. Because I’m a very weak swimmer, I’ve still not ventured into the water myself yet. However I plan to continue documenting Aberdeen’s swimmers and surfers this winter too.

Campbell –

Thanks very much to Chris Henderson for his time and for sharing his wonderful photographs. Please go follow him on Instagram. This is the first Lens Heroes, a series of photo essays highlighting the work of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire photographers. We’re going to share more of these photo essays over the next few months. We’re always interested to find out what you like, what you don’t like and your ideas for new projects. Get in touch.

About POST

Kevin Mitchell and Chris Sansbury founded POST from a desire to cut through the noise to share the great things that happen in Aberdeen. They therefore focus on community, culture and the interesting people of the city. The local artists, businesses and charities; photographers, musicians and entertainers; the people at a local level that make a positive impact on our city each and every day. So they use video, audio, writing and social media to amplify the voices in our community, and to ultimately give a platform to Aberdeen folk to engage and tell their own stories.

Recent work includes interviews with We Are Here Scotland founder Ica Headlam; Paralympic gold medalist, Neil FachieChef, an Aberdeen rapper who is pushing for success; an article by film director Mark Stirton about the state of high-rise buildings in the city; coverage of Nuart Aberdeen and TEDx Aberdeen, as well as coverage of British Art Show 9.

So visit now to read a great selection of interviews and articles.