Around the World with Henry Rollins
BY Winston Gieseke
October 14 2011 4:00 AM ET
At any point during the shooting of what became this book were you asked to put your camera away?
Only one time. It was at a military base in Abu Dhabi that’s a classified base. It’s kind of on the down-low because that’s where they keep a lot of U2 spy planes.
One of the most disturbing image in the book was the one showing the hooded mannequins.
That was in Delhi. I almost felt like I was suffocating while taking the photo. It screams out at you in a very weird way. It says a lot about different cultures. These images, these things offend me. I go to these places and my main sentiment coming back from a lot of it is, I’m offended. I’m offended at what the West does and how the West washes up on these shores and manifests itself.
Did the essays come from journal entries written at the time or did you revisit each photo with a fresh pair of eyes?
There’s nothing extracted from a journal. I sat each photo out and related to it in my own fractured, weird prism. And that kind of writing is very hard to do.
It’s not journalism. With journalism, you just get the idea and hang words off it. The idea’s the most difficult part. Putting words on it — that’s just putting leaves on a tree. It’s growing the tree that’s the bitch.
But hopefully I ended up with something more impactful than a mere photo book. I mean, if you’re James Nachtwey, a famous war photographer, you can get by with your photos because you’re a photographer. I’m still learning, as you can see. Since the book is laid out chronologically, you can see that resolution, composition, light, and F-stop choice actually evolve. Because part way through, I found out what F-stop meant.
You more or less apologize in the intro for your amateur photography skills.
Only because for about 30 years plus I’ve been in front of a lot of really good photographers. And having the respect that I do for photography I had to go, “Look, I’m just a guy with a fat passport who gets to go places.” Let this just be what it is. Although I do work very hard on the photography and I’m trying to get better.