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Henry Szwinto photographer and nature lover

Tall, athletic, smiley and observant, Brockenhurst chap Henry knows his way around a camera. And the local area. He’s been capturing magic here in the National Park for most of his life.

He tells me that he didn’t know what he wanted to do as a child. Coming from Polish immigrant parents he felt that education was important, but he wasn’t sure how.
Finally he trained at Southampton University as a chemist. But life there wasn’t easy and he earnt the title, “the student who got closest to being thrown out, but wasn’t”. He feels that this is primarily because, outside of his chemistry course, he was ‘a good’un’. He played National League hockey for Teddington first team, the Uni, plus table football, snooker, tennis, volleyball and – not to be ignored, he’s a pinball champ’.
From age 6 he knew he loved photography. He started to be successful as an adult but gave up for 15 years after feeling like he was taking pictures that would sell well, rather than just enjoying it. He is a professional ‘slow traveller’. He has an inherent eye for small and beautiful details. The frosty curve of a leaf, the morning dew on a spiderweb, the sunset gilding a horse tail. His ability to go slow is his greatest resource he says. ‘I am most relaxed when walking in the forest, the reconnection potential of nature is untapped, yet most people don’t notice and move too fast on their way somewhere else.
From age 6 he knew he loved photography. He started to be successful as an adult but gave up for 15 years after feeling like he was taking pictures that would sell well, rather than just enjoying it. He is a professional ‘slow traveller’.
They forget to appreciate what is already there. Having a camera helps you slow down and I love to share that with people and teach them to ‘see’ again.”

A fallow buck in the New Forest.

Henry also uses his intelligence and skills in logic (and Photoshop) to create some brilliant fantasy pictures. My favourite was a rugby-themed shot of his daughter and husband, spin passing their baby son. Most amusing was the dad who was duct-taped to the wall for their family portrait. Some families will find that very appealing!
He loves equine portraiture and horse lovers should visit his website for some shots with particularly dramatic lighting.
If he won the lottery? I’m guessing he’d take his lighting and backdrop kit to tour the world taking portraits of equestrian tribal cultures. His eyes lit up when we chatted about a favourite book – Yann Arthurs Betrands book, ‘Horses’. If like horses and you’ve not seen it yet – treat yourself.

Abe Bleekman who is a young Dutch International eventer

Prince a Dutch International event horse

Henry is a hugely knowledgeable nature lover. To get such good bird pictures he has to be. We discussed his strategy to be in the right place and the right time. For example, to get Barn Owls hunting in winter. “Ah well, their feathers aren’t waterproof and in winter we often get a few wet days back to back. They don’t like to feed in the rain. As soon as we get a dry day, I go out very first thing in their favourite hunting spots and I wait”.
When not taking pics Henry is often found running. He’s a long-distance runner and has even modelled  for the Nike 2012 Olympic advert in the Arctic circle.
Henry Szwinto running in the north pole
We are hugely grateful for Henry to share his photographs with us. We both hope they inspire you to visit the New Forest and take time to reconnect with nature, reinforce your desire to care for our planet and travel slowly.
Henry offers photography experience courses in the New Forest. His guided photography walks take you off the beaten track and away from busy tourist areas.  He’ll show you hidden gems and you’ll learn about the natural habitat and what

animals, plants and fungi can be found there. You will learn how to photograph the wildlife with
minimal disturbance so that you get better more relaxed subjects and we can work on different
techniques used to photograph smaller subjects such as flowers and fungi.

To find out more about taking a trip with Henry, please visit his website here: www.szwinto.com and follow him on Instagram here: @henryszwintophotography

Barn owl feeding in winter.