Creative Spotlight: Liam Hennessey of Applehead Studio

“I want my work to evoke some kind of emotion in people, good or bad.” – Liam Hennessey, Applehead Studio

Hey Peeps,

This photograview is with friend and photographer Liam Hennessey, founder of Applehead Studios, who creates a beautiful and emotive variety of portrait, wedding, family and boudoir to name a few.  Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Liam.

1. Your studio Applehead has a wide variety of Wedding/Portrait categories to choose from, I’m assuming that it would be an understatement to simply call the drive behind your work “creative”? Do you come up with these ideas yourself or with a team of people?
Applehead Studio is myself and my bad-ass assistant, Steph Camp.
A lot of these ideas come from day-to-day things that happen in my life, music that I listen to or just things that happen around me. It usually just starts as a small idea and after some collaborating with Steph and clients…manifests itself into a photograph of some sort.
A lot of photographers are now using the term ‘creative portraits’ and it kind of makes me laugh because I think all photography should be rooted in creativity.
There are too many people pushing the shutter button without reason or purpose behind it.

2. Your shooting style seems to dance between humorous and emotional, blending human and candid images with color and motion – telling memorable stories. What is your process or method when approaching a shoot and how do you keep it fresh and different from work with other clients?
I think it just stems from my desire to separate myself from the popular stuff.
Every time I think I find a group or organization to belong to…everything starts to look the same and then I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.
The clients really dictate the feeling of the shoot. It’s a lot like painting…if a client says ‘here’s a red marker and canvas, go nuts’ then that’s what we use. Another client might give us a can of spray paint and a sheet of aluminum…and so we go with that. Does this make sense?
The toughest thing has been trying to define my style…it’s just what I do and you can call it whatever you like.

3. How would you say your work and style have evolved by being both a husband and father?
Oh man, it’s crazy…being a Dad has opened up a whole new world for me.
It’s rare if I’m not fighting back tears at a wedding when the father of the bride gives a speech.
I pull a lot of inspiration from the fun that we have as a family. The relationship and love that I have for my wife trickles into my work. We laugh a lot and compete a lot and fight a lot…it all finds a way into my work and translates into something humorous or intense or emotional.

4. You seem to do several location weddings, what makes your business a go-to for this type of job?
I’d like to think we offer something that appeals to clients that makes them want to have us shoot for them.
It might be our work or the way we interact with them…destination weddings are usually pretty intimate and involve a small group of close friends. It’s different from the 150 people type wedding locally.
It’s also pretty inspiring for us to shoot in different places. We’ve been everywhere from New Zealand to Cape Breton, and the best part of all of those weddings is the relationships we have with the clients that we got to spend several days with.

5. Applehead Studio has won several awards, voted by public opinion and demand. What is it like to get so prestigious in only 5 years? How have these awards promoted your business?
Ugh, I had a huge argument with Steph about this just last night. While its nice to be recognized, I am not a fan of awards. The only people I want to please are my clients and myself. I don’t tend to look back at the work I’ve done…I just want to do better the next time.
I want my work to evoke some kind of emotion in people, good or bad.
All this fluffy bullshit on Facebook doesn’t do anyone any good. I have a small group of friends who’s opinions I really care about and I rely on them to grow. I have officially walked away from submitting images for awards and now leave those things up to Steph.
There are some incredible photographers in this city that don’t have any awards and I don’t think that takes away from the quality of what they offer. In the words of Eddie Vedder in his Grammy speech, “I don’t know what this means. I don’t think it means anything at all.”

6. To get a little personal, my own mother survived colon cancer years ago and I know you can relate from a similar situation. Can you tell me what the CCS means to you and how Applehead Studios takes an active part in the fight against cancer?
Just reading this question sent chills up my spine.
I photographed by Mom’s last chemo treatment because I was having a hard time with verbally communicating anything about it with anyone. It was a trip and a truly cathartic experience. Any time I can help out the CCS, I do.

7. Are there any recent/current/future projects on the go that have you excited?
Hell yes. The wedding season is a pretty methodical time. Lots of repetition. Weekend shooting and mid week editing. There’s not much time for doing personal work but it seems like as soon as November rolls around my brain explodes and the ‘off season’ fills up.
I’m really interested in the overall improvement of the local photography industry and teaching. I also love the freedom to shoot whatever we want, whenever we want. I like the freedom to call up friends or clients and just say, “Hey I’ve got a crazy idea, wanna shoot with me?”
We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve this winter for some value added things for our wedding clients for 2013 and I’m really excited to show it…but nothing is ready yet.

8. In five years, where will we find Liam Hennessey and Applehead Studio?
The greatest thing about this job is that it’s a lot like walking in the woods with my girls…I have a general idea of where we’re headed, but I usually let them take me wherever they want to go and enjoy the trip.
I’d like to see Steph eventually branch out and do some of her own shooting. I’d like to do more teaching, more travel weddings and with luck I’ll be sitting at a computer answering more of your questions Michael!  You’re good for the community and I always enjoy doing these things with you. Thanks pal!

Thank you Liam for some great candid perspective into your work and I wish you the best in 2013!

Laters,
Michael Carty

Michael Carty Website

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