An Interview by Claire Cottrell, 2010
CLAIRE COTTRELL – Describe your creative process?
HENRY ROY – Long years learning from experience and culture give me the ability to trust my instinct and intuitions.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – What do you love most about photography?
HENRY ROY – The magic of the film’s chemical process. And the fact that you have to be physically present to shoot. It makes you act, travel and meet people.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – What is your inspiration?
HENRY ROY – Literature, cinema, music and everydaylife
CLAIRE COTTRELL – What are you working on now?
HENRY ROY – Different photo series and texts for different magazines. Finding a gallery that would help me realize some of my projects.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – Can you talk about any future projects?
HENRY ROY – Go to Haiti to help and shoot. Make a short film and publish another book, dedicated to portrait.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – You were born in Haiti, but moved to France at a young age, does the Haitian culture still influence your work?
HENRY ROY – Of course! My mother and father being Haitian, I’ve got this land and people under my skin.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – How does the French culture influence your work?
HENRY ROY – I’ve been confronted almost all my life to the French environment, education and lifestyle. My cultural background is also mostly French. Even if my work could be considered as "international", the way this culture influences me is obvious.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – Have you been back to Haiti since the earthquake? if so, what did you see?
HENRY ROY – I haven’t, but plan to go there as soon as I am sure I can be useful.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – Do you have any suggestions of how to help? Personal affiliations to local foundations?
HENRY ROY – Give what you can, but give something: to any great humanitarian organization or to people you know that will.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – Your photographs have an incredible intimacy, do you know most of the people in your work? if not, do you have a methodology for capturing this intimacy?
HENRY ROY – I have my own methodology. I really care a lot about the people I photograph. Who ever they are. I would say that it is a very democratic process. Also I’m aware of the great responsibility it implies to represent someone in a picture. And when people feel that, they agree to unveil more of their intimacy, knowing I sincerely respect it.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – I love the quality of light in your photographs, how do you think about light?
HENRY ROY – The search of the right light is almost a spiritual quest for me. I like the idea of depending on natural light. As I avoid using artificial lights, the weather variations really affect my work. This approach makes my experience of light unpredictable. The light I photograph has a deep influence on my body and mind and give my subject its spirit.
CLAIRE COTTRELL – I think my favorite collection is your work in Tangier, tell me about your time there.
HENRY ROY – I was on vacation for a few days with my wife and son. It was the beginning of spring, the sun was shinning, the wind blowing and we ate delicious food in this city full of vestiges from prosperous times. I was thinking about Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Roland Barthes, Jean Genet, Joseph Kessel, William Burroughs, etc… so many great writers who visited the crowded streets of Tangier. I spent quiet and intense moments walking between the hotel, beaches and the old city souk, trying to interprete my feelings.
Published 2010, on Claire Cottrell's blog