Growing up in Hawkes Bay clearly made an indelible mark on photographer Derek Henderson. Though today he resides in Australia, his portraits of New Zealand’s landscape are arresting, showing with sincerity a country that is both vast and beautiful.
“I don’t shoot any landscapes in Australia because I can’t get my head around it,” Sydney-based Henderson remarked in an interview with Melinda Williams, “it’s too big and flat”. Turning his lens instead to the countryside of his homeland, Henderson has spent time photographing locations that are both nostalgic and new to him. His photographs of New Zealand are empty of humans, though not of their presence: There are untended gardens grown wild, dirt roads that roll past weatherboard cottages, and forgotten tools left to rust. The sometimes unkempt nature of Henderson’s content is tempered by his aesthetic. Commonly, you will find a mimicry of shapes and a continuation of lines; in one image a cow’s spine echoes the edge of the hill that divides land from water; in another, the split in a log continues from its wooden confines to merge with the border between a field and a dark thicket of trees. There is motion to his photography, the sense that you are passing through the landscape as both a visitor and a local. Often shooting with a 4×5 large format camera, Henderson manages to capture, with a heady sense of scale, both the details and the majesty of New Zealand’s landscape.