The photographer behind our favourite submission from My Year in a Photo
We got in touch with young New Yorker Karl-hens Pompilus to discover more of his work.
Photography Karl-hens Pompilius
22-year-old photographer Karl-hens Pompilus found himself feeling in something of a rut last year. Like so many others across the world, the loneliness of lockdown left his mind blank, and his creativity stifled. But after a month-long trip to Utah at the end of summer to see his best friend, he found his camera back in action, and whilst there, took a dramatic shot of his friend standing in the middle of the Bonneville Salt Flats, an epic 30,000-acre expanse of salt crust. The resulting image was submitted for our user-generated photography series My Year in a Photo and was undoubtedly a highlight.
Originally from Haiti, Karl-hens grew up in a small town outside the capital of Port-au-Prince. After a trip to New York with his father became a permanent relocation, he was forced to learn English, quickly, at nine years old. “Thinking back, I would never have guessed that I would be taking photos now because I thought I wasn’t creative,” he says. “But in high school, my best friend became a model, and it made me want to follow in his footsteps. While figuring out modelling in 2018, I slowly found myself behind the camera instead but still never took it seriously. In 2019, I ended up buying my first film camera and really fell for it, despite being a stranger with that format.”
Still in the early stages of his career, Karl-hens’ work focuses mostly on friends, not models. “They’re not used to posing or being directed to do so,” he says. “But as long as your subject or model is comfortable, it automatically draws in the viewer. Humans naturally form bonds with one another by experiencing the same feelings or emotions.” As for his choice of backdrops, much of his work is taken outside the city, in dramatic natural spaces. The overall effect is certainly something special.