JOHN HENSHALL - influencers
Henshall has been inspired, encouraged and influenced by many people during his career and this page recognises some of these important people, without whose support he would not be where he is today.
First and foremost must be his Father, Mother and Sister.
John's father, John Henshall (1913-1996) bought him his first real camera, a Dacora 6x6cm folding camera, when he passed his scholarship to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield, in 1953. His father, also John Henshall, an accomplished artist and calligrapher, instilled in him a love for telling stories using pictures and was the major influence in his creative life.
His mother Margaret Henshall (nee Passmore) (1919-1989) provided the stable home, encouragement and tolerance without which developing his early hobbies and making them into a career would never have been possible.
His sister Margaret Gregory (nee Henshall) has not only been a wonderful friend and sounding board for his many projects but also worked for his company Telefex and was responsible for making many of the Telefex camera effects for television for many years. Margaret's support continues, along with that of her husband Malcolm Gregory.
His then wife Paulien (nee Roorda) was hugely supportive in the critical days of his career change from television lighting to digital imaging and bore him three children, now all adults, of whom he is immensely proud.
His father's friend in Wakefield Irvine Kaye not only gave John his first box camera (with which John won his first photographic prize from Meccano Magazine) but also introduced him to the world of electronics.
In his early teens in Wakefield, John worked as a part-time projectionist at the ABC Regal Cinema. There he met Donald Issatt, another projectionist who also had a 16mm camera unit and touring cinema with which John helped him present in local hospitals and outlyting villages. Donald taught him the basics of shooting and presenting the moving image.
During his school days, teachers such as Miss Alice Allen, Mrs E Bedford and headmaster Charles Roland Ross at Alverthorpe C of E Junior School, Wakefield, gave him the foundations on which he is still building. Other inspired teachers at that small village school, such as Mr Rupe, asked seemingly ridiculous questions which at first caused much amusement in class – for example "Where would you find snow on The Equator?" The inspired teaching at this small village school encouraged John to think carefully and laterally. (The answer to Mr Rupe's question: Mount Kilimanjaro.)
Secondary education teachers at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Wakefield (QEGS) and Stockport Grammar School (SGS) continued building on these foundations.
Whilst at SGS John worked part-time at Brissenden's Jewellers, Deansgate, Manchester, a business run by his father's friend and fellow calligrapher Mayer Greeph. John worked for Mayer polishing jewellery and melting down photographic slag to recover silver. He will always be grateful to the late Mayer Greeph for his warm friendship, humour, guidance and a first insight into running a business.
Waiting for the bus to Brissenden's one day, John met the Reverend Dick Kimball at the bus stop. Dick was a young Kennedy-esque minister from Boston, Massachusetts, who was in Stockport on a two-year assigment as minister of the Unitarian Church there. John and Dick became friends and met frequently in Boston until Dick's death in 2007. Dick was an inspiration to the many people whose lives he touched, not least John. Here is his obituary in the Boston Globe.
Many people helped John in his ambition to work for BBC Television, including Albert (Alan) Evans, who worked in telecine at Granada Television's studios in Manchester and Don MacKay, a senior cameraman on BBC television outside broadcasts in Manchester who allowed him to visit OBs in the area.
Joining BBC Television in 1961 John was mentored by the always calm and patient Bob Coles who taught him everything about television in his early days at the BBC. Many years later, in 1980, Bob left the BBC to form the broadcast video facilities company Tarn Limited with John and another former colleague and friend, A J 'Mitch' Mitchell.
While at the BBC many people influenced John's development, especially his Senior Cameramen Bert Postlethwaite, Eddie Stewart, Bill Millar, Peter Hills, Ron Green (read John's personal appreciation of Ron here) and Dave Mutton. When John moved on to lighting he was greatly inspired and taught by Ken McGregor, Gerry Millerson and Tom 'Monty' Moncrieff.
John's still photography was decidedly amateur when he joined the BBC but another trainee was a young man who already had a wealth of professional photographic experience, Ian Perry. Ian persuaded John that he needed one of the new single lens reflex cameras and that led to him selling his Agfa Silette and buying a Pentax S1. Feeding off advice generously shared by Ian, John's still photography then really took off. Ian went on to become one of the BBC's most creative cameramen.
While a cameraman on Ron Green's crew John met Dave Pattison with whom he has remained the best of friends for over forty years. Even when Dave left the BBC to follow a new career as a pilot with BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) John and Dave remained friends – and do so to this day. Dave never lost his interest in photography and by the early days of digital imaging had become a Boeing 747 Captain with British Airways and regularly took the first digital cameras with him around the world. In his down-time overseas Dave compiled many of the web versions of John's articles on his laptop computer. These may still be found on this website.
After retiring from British Airways Dave Pattison worked for the newly launched on-line stock photography website Alamy.com where he was in charge of Quality Control. A digital imaging expert in his own right, Dave has a studio in Longworth, Oxfordshire, where he runs courses for Alamy staff and others. He is also an accomplished stock photographer. His website is www.DavePattison.com.
John's first camera crew at the BBC was Bert Postlethwaite's 'Crew 4', whose Vision Mixer Clive Doig was, one might say, slightly zany. Wind the clock on a mere forty-something years and John is still firm friends with Clive, without doubt the most creatively innovative television producer he has ever worked with – first in the BBC and later as a freelance producer/director. BAFTA Award winning Clive has 'discovered' many talents who were destined to become famous, often giving them their first breaks in television. He is a puzzle wizard and this is reflected in many of his productions and in his Trackword in the BBC's programme guide Radio Times. Clive Doig has a wonderful sense of humour. Having given the late Jeremy Beadle his break in television, Clive devised the famously successful 'Alien Invasion' on Beadle's About. (That link will take you to YouTube for a side-splitting three minutes.) When John was Director of Photography of many of Clive's later programmes, production meetings would focus little on planning the lighting but more on having John participate in a rehearsal for the format of the show. Sadly, however, Clive never gave John this opportunity in front of the camera – otherwise this biography might have been completely different!
On a lighting course at the BBC's excellent training facility in Evesham, Worcestershire, in the early 1970s, John met Peter Hodges, a video engineer from the BBC's then new Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham. Friendly rivalry between engineer (Peter) and operator/cameraman (John) resulted in John calling Peter a "one volter" one day. (One volt is the maximum level of a video signal – a purely technical measurement.) Despite this, they became firm friends and remain so to this day. In fact Peter Hodges is a unique blend of artist and technician, with a deep understanding of his craft to better aid his creativity. He is also an author, of both fiction and fact, and has written technical books for Focal Press. His ability to explain the technical in words we can all understand is well illustrated in his book An Introduction to Video and Audio Measurement.
When 'moonlighting' from the BBC with his Telefex optical effects equipment, John met the Head of Cameras at HTV Wales/Cymru Dick Hibberd, with whom he established an immediate rapport. Dick had a vision – to form a Guild of Television Cameramen which would unite cameramen from all over the UK and perhaps throughout the world. Ever a man of determination, Dick Hibberd did indeed establish the Guild of Television Cameramen in 1972 (with a little help finding people using John's Telefex contacts book). John became one of the first BBC members of the new Guild and Dick's Vice Chairman. Together with Bill Vinten of W. Vinten Ltd they presented a lecture to the Royal Television Society which looked at the future of specialist mountings for broadcast television cameras. Dick Hibberd remains one of John's enduring friends from his days as a television cameraman and is highly respected as 'Member Number One' of the GTC.
Keith 'Keef' MacMillan was one of the earliest and most creative pioneers of the new genre of music videos in the 1970s. Artistes included Kate Bush, Blondie, Paul McCartney and many other. John was privileged to work as Keef's Director of Photography on many of these productions and on the innovative Channel 4 production Network 7, of which Keef was also co-producer.
Tony Briselden was a cameraman at the BBC when John joined but they never met there. They met in the early 1980s, when Tony was the secretary of the Royal Photographic Society's Film and Video group. Tony and his wife Valerie have been friends and wise counsels to John for many years. They are always ready to give sound, considered advice and valuable practical help. It was Tony who worked out how to produce the on-line searchable Find a Photographer database for the British Institute of Professional Photography's website when John registered and founded bipp.com in the early days of the internet. Tony Briselden has assisted John organising and running many conferences, including the Digital Imaging days for Seybold in the US, and at many of his other speaking engagements. Tony is the ultimate "nice guy" who helps everyone – except himself! – so John keeps nagging him to get more of his excellent photography uploaded to the Alamy picture library. How much notice has Tony taken of this advice to date? You can check here! By the way, the informal portrait of John at the top of this page was made by Tony.
When John joined the British Institute of Professional Photography's Council in 1984 he met Ron Taylor – and made an instant decision never to get the wrong side of him! Ron is a canny Scotsman from Musselburgh who does not suffer fools gladly. But John soon learned that, beneath a sometimes gruff exterior, beats a heart of gold and a dedication to the aims and objectives of the British Institute of Professional Photography which he has never found to the same extent elsewhere. With a publishing experience gained when he worked at The Scotsman, Ron negotiated the bringing in-house of the BIPP's magazine, The Photographer, and was its editorial committee's chairman until 2007. Ron guarded the publication closely – as though it was his own business – and kept a close check on every item which affected its budget. Yet Ron Taylor never took a single penny for all his work. Despite this, the importance of his contribution has never been recognised by the BIPP, an organisation sadly ruled by personality issues.
It was Ron Taylor who encouraged John to write a regular column about the impending future of photography and so The Photographer became the first magazine to carry regular articles on digital imaging under editor David Kilpatrick.
David Kilpatrick is an editor who has always been way ahead of his time. Not only does he enjoy the best in-depth technical knowledge of all aspects of photography but he was an early pioneer of desktop publishing, in an era when most magazine production was still produced from paste-ups. Way back in 1991, David was brave enough to go direct to press from images supplied by John using the world's first DSLR camera. His production skills ensured that the reproduction was perfect, so no one was aware of the risks he was taking. It was therefore appropriate that John Henshall's Chip Shop was always sent digitally to David Kilpatrick, right from its first edition in January 1993. John Henshall will always be grateful to David Kilpatrick for the adrenalin of the excitement of working together as colleagues at this, the most exciting time in the development of photography and publishing.
John met Brian Whitehead through their children's school in Strawberry Hill, Twickenham. Brian is a graphic designer who had been an early adopter of the Macintosh computer, Adobe Illustrator and QuarkXPress. When John discovered that his MS-DOS/Windows computer would not run the new Adobe Photoshop application, it was Brian who eased John into becoming a Mac user. Looking back, it was one of the most important transitions which John has made, made incredibly easy by Brian's advice and tuition.
Brian Whitehead has the remarkable ability to be able to explain complex things in down-to-earth terms which make it seem so obvious and easy to understand. He also enjoys an unequalled creative mind. It was Brian who came up with the name of John's company – EPI-centre, 'where the digital earth moves' – and designed its logo with the theme of 'capture, create, share' which is as fresh today as the day it was conceived almost two decades ago.
In 1994 Brian Whitehead became the design editor of The Photographer magazine, which immediately took on a classy modern design. Gone were the 'widows', 'orphans' and other typographical and design gaffs which few can actually see but most are uneasily sub-consciously aware of. Although not primarily a photographer, Brian's choice of images for inclusion in the magazine was equally stunning. John will always be grateful to Brian for his calm, gentle but always impeccable advice and tuition in all matters design and Apple Macintosh related. The Photographer magazine's loss in 1996 was undoubtedly a wonderful gain for the many students of the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) in Farnham, Surrey, where Brian is now Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design.
When John was presented with an Honorary Master of Arts degree by the University for the Creative Arts at a ceremony at Guildford Cathedral, Surrey, UK, on 30 June 2009 appropriately it was Brian Whitehead who delivered the oration in support of John's award. You can read Brian's kind words here.
When preparing for the dinner to celebrate the end of his term as president of the British Institute of Professional Photography in 1992, BIPP Chief Executive Adrian Berkeley – another first-rate professional sadly unappreciated by the BIPP but certainly respected and admired by John – suggested that it would be a good idea to make a Presidential Award to Michael George, the retiring General Manager Professional Imaging for Eastman Kodak. To be honest, this was not John's idea of a happy-go-lucky farewell party to thank the staff of the BIPP who had been such fantastic support throughout his year in photographic politics. Michael George had a somewhat fearful reputation as the most powerful man in professional photography in the UK. But he acquiesced to Adrian's advice, which he knew was always sound. In the event, his fears of were unfounded. Michael George was very moved by the award and the evening was as light hearted as John had hoped. However, there was still one major hurdle to overcome – meeting the new UK General Manager Professional Imaging for Eastman Kodak, Tony Eatough. At the dinner, John sat next to his wife, Hazel.
Years later, John discovered that the lovely Hazel Eatough was just as apprehensive as John on that occasion and had pleaded with Tony to go alone! Yet that dinner proved to be the start of first a business relationship and later a friendship which has proved to be of seminal importance for John's work in digital photography.
Tony Eatough was a man whose eyes were unblinkered. He was part of the imaginative young team approinted by Kodak UK's Chairman and Managing Director Erroll Yates to equip Kodak to face the future. John already knew Erroll Yates as a man of vision and daring. He had been terrified when Erroll invited him to address the board of Kodak in 1991 to speak about the future of imaging. John imagined that those people would know far more than him about what was going to happen in photography. Sure enough, they knew that Kodak was the world leader in imaging and gave him the impression that film sales would go onwards and upwards for ever. Yes, of course they would ...
When Tony Eatough came along, he was different. He knew that Kodak's current commercial success depended on selling film but he was also shrewd enough to be interested in what the future might hold. Intrigued by John's interest in digital imaging, Tony equipped John's new EPIcentre in west London – the first of its kind in the UK – with the latest Kodak digital imaging products, including the first Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera, the DCS100, a RFS2035 35mm scanner and a XLT7700 thermal printer. At that time Kodak was the only photographic company with digital imaging products. Tony also retained John as a consultant. Since he left Kodak – as General Manager Professional imaging for EAMER (Europe, Africa and Middle East Region) – Tony Eatough and John Henshall have continued a close business relationship and friendship. Indeed it is safe to say that Tony Eatough has been the single most important person in the development of John's later career.
Tony Eatough sent John to Kodak's Center for Creative Imaging in Camden, Maine, USA, a facility created in 1991 by Ray DeMoulin to teach digital imaging and related subjects to photographers, designers and artists. Ray DeMoulin was then General Manager of Kodak's World Wide Professional Photography business. The importance of Ray's vision of the CCI being the catalyst for the integration of digital imaging into all areas of the photographic industry has never been recognised – least of all by Eastman Kodak, who sold the facility to a local businessman in 1993. Sadly, despite some innovative ideas, he did not have the resources to move it forward and it soon closed.
Disposing of the Center for Creative Imaging must rank as one of Kodak's most short-sighted errors as the yellow box film company was being dragged kicking and screaming into the age of photography without film.
John visited the Center for Creative Imaging twice, shortly after it opened in 1991. He took three courses there, including an important course on Colour Science run by Eran Steinberg, a brilliant young Israeli graduate from Rochester Institute of Technology who then worked at Electronics For Imaging. Eran was working on a number of innovative projects for EFI, including the Cachet application, which included many facilities absent from the then new Adobe Photoshop. (Many of these facilities were later transferred to Adobe Photoshop when EFI's founder and CEO Efi Arazi decided not to continue with this kind of software.)
When Eran introduced his class at CCI to Cachet, John already had had an early copy from a chance meeting with Efi Erazi at a PP of A (Professional Photographers of America) conference and was able to suggest some small improvements. Intrigued, Eran said, "What say we take some lobster together this evening?" Thus started a friendship which has endured and grown as Eran has increased in importance at the forefront of the imaging industry.
It was Eran Steinberg who suggested that John should attend the Seybold conference in San Francisco and even offered the use of his newly acquired house on the slopes of Twin Peaks. John was pleased to be able to return the favour when he began organising the digital imaging days for Seybold by inviting Eran to speak about his increasingly innovative work. Eran Steinberg is a rare mixture of genius brain, good businessman and straightforward all-round nice guy. He is currently CEO of FotoNation, a company whose innovative imaging improvement products are to be found in the majority of digital cameras (and that means many millions) produced today.
John Henshall will always be grateful to the people mentioned here for their friendship and infuence on his career. Of course, there are many many others who have helped him along the way. To everyone, John says a very big and sincere 'thank you'. Knowing you all has enriched life immeasurably.
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