We had the good fortune of connecting with Henry Jones II and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Henry, how do you think about risk?
When I think about risks I have to assess my path from a wide spectrum. When I made the decision to take on this artistic career as a photographer I immediately had to strategize a plan to spend as much time practicing my skills as a photographer as I could. Time is one thing we can never get back and to say the least I risked many family events, downtime and sleep amidst working on different projects. Often times when I started out I wasn’t making any money, I was showing up and shooting for hours just for exposure. That risk helped to launch me into paid gigs including my first job with Nike which would prove to be one of the highlights of my career thus far. After a brief call with a Nike rep, I was asked two things, if I had ever ran more than a mile, and if I could be on location a photograph a group of women as the tested out a newly released running shoe. Reluctantly I responded as if I were fit enough to run a mile let a lone around a city block. This risk, ended up landing me a role as a photographer with Nikes EKIN team, I ran with so much heart, I’m not sure til this day how I was able to hang with the group of ladies. My job was complete, my intro to Nike was intertwined with me taking a risk on just how bad I wanted to showcase my work. Not all risks have led to happy beginnings. I once took a risk to photograph boxing matches, I paid for what turned out to be a fake pass into a boxing match. Risking money at the start of your career should only be used for secure investments. Here I was well into my 3rd year as a photographer, I had booked many events, shot celebrities, worked alongside some of the great photographers, and in the haste to explore a new field I watched an unsecured risk, a $475 mistake teach me one of the greatest lessons in my journey. In closing, it’s a game of your will to achieve versus your desire to pace yourself. All risks don’t lead to bigger opportunities, but when they do, make it count. Assess every risk you approach and be sure that it’s for the best interest of your career and the direction you want to go.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a photographer I believe what sets me apart from others is my artistic approach to each and every shoot. Each client is different and as I’ve moved around this line of work I am grateful that by treating everyone as an individual and not just a job I have developed relationships and a genuine network of peers. It wasn’t always easy walking into rooms feeling as though I needed to shop myself and my talents. I never made business cards, I stayed away from mixers and photo walks that were popular when outside was “open”. Working in this fashion shaped me to be direct and honest with myself, was I here in this field to make money or create a legacy. I’d like for my brand to be know for being hands on and intentional. Through all the challenges this past year 2020 has put the creative industry through I want my clients to know that memories were still created and I was blessed to still be able to capture many of them in the middle of uncertain times.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Some of my favorite parts of the city are in the downtown area, I love the arts district, one of my favorite places to dine being Zinc Cafe and also The Standard DTLA. If I had to experience a place with a friend visiting town I’d also hit up the Broad Museum, many of the museums in LA are underrated and it wasn’t until I began to visit them that I gained an appreciation for them. Last but not least the beach, Royal Palms Beach is one of the most tranquil places in the Los Angeles Area.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate this to the beautiful mother of my children and the person who has created time to deal with me and “co-sacrifice” many times in this journey with me, Jaylynn Craft. We’ve been down many roads together over the years and I couldn’t think of anyone outside my immediate family who has been through all the risks I’ve taken as if they were her own.
All images are self portraits by Henry R. Jones II