Out of Hand: The Madness of Carl W. Heindl

For God's sake, how did you get into my bathtub and who gave you a camera?

Recently, I had the pleasure to chat with Carl W. Heindl; a graphic designer, freelance photographer, musician (his albums are now available online for free: eroder.com), and often naked Canadian. I was originally exposed to Heindl's work through chance when I stumbled upon his online Flickr.com portfolio - a massive, manic archive jammed together from his last few years of work, spanning some hundreds of page deep. A terrible beast. Within his portfolio lies a wild night-ride through the weird and far spectrum of photography; raunchy party scenes smear against the camera lens, portraits suspend belief and cop feels in uncomfortable places on my body, and the rest is a frightening medley of freelance work that you'll just have to see and experience for yourself.

How old are you?

CWH: 29 long and hard years on this terrible place.

How's living in Toronto?

CWH: Beh. Everyone's always saying sorry too much. It's like a friendlier, slower, tinier version of New York. I know where everything is and it's a nice place. I'm content here. I'd like to see the rest of the world someday. 

What's in your arsenal?

CWH: I use what works best for me. My portraits and fashiony flash setup stuff my Nikon d700 and a bunch of speedlights. Film, my main squeeze is a Yashica T4-S or T5, stunning little coated lens on the thing, dropped that little fucker so many times too. That or whatever little gem of a camera I stumbled into on ebay or thrift shops. Been dinkin' around lately with an Argus C3, Agfa karat 36, Polaroid SX-70 Sonar, my grandfather's old Rolleiflex Automat Model 2, Century Graphic 2x3 with a 120 back, and trying out oddballs like this Yashica Samurai X3.0 i just nabbed, a damn terrible 80's camera.

What influences or inspires your photography, outside of other photographer's work?

CWH: I actually like to keep my blinders on for most photographers work - just keep my eyes forward and do what I'm doin' with minimal influence save for a few other Canadian photographers/buds. Outside of my peers, it sounds stupid but it's just the world that inspires me. People being great, shitty, neutral. Trees. Buildings. Nature. I have this idea that you get a good, usable 50 some-odd years on this earth, so make the best of it - I'd say that's my biggest drive.

How did you get into photography? So far, what's been your biggest triumph with it?

CWH: I picked up a camera again 2 years ago because making music just ran dry. I needed to do something, some outlet. Oh frig, I forget half the stuff I've photographed already, I have such a terrible memory, at this point photography is also a memory aid for what I did with my dumb life. I guess some of the stuff that really still resonates with me would be the shots i see again down the road and don't hate, the ones that I surprise myself saying, "I did that?"

" I have this idea that you get a good, usable 50 some-odd years on this earth, so make the best of it. "

What's your favorite creation or capture?
CWH: A shoot like the one I did for Fritz Helder (shown above). Fuck man, that shoot had so many variables. We wanted to have the chair in a tiny room, with all the fire behind him. Nobody could find someone dumb enough to let us use their house, so someone had the idea of shooting it INSIDE a moving van. So we rented the van, picked up this chair from a film/porno prop rental warehouse, another friend I have works in film here in Toronto, in the art department. I somehow got him to ask the FX guys to borrow a fucking movie grade flame bar. So we all load up and head to a secluded area/industrial beach. The roof of the fucking van is made of plastic. Change of plan, we shoot it in the water. I think we broke quite a few laws, I'm really glad none of the people walking their dogs called the cops. We just shot it bang bang 30 minutes, out of there. I like pulling a shot like that out of my ass pretty much. I'm a broke photographer that never goes about anything through proper channels and I just use what's at hand. It all worked magically somehow, the next day I had to leave the city and just go backpack camping with a bud. Was a stressful shoot.

What has been your experience with freelance photography? How did get into working with Vice and other magazines, working with musicians, etc?

CWH: Freelance is hard. I never wanted photography to feel like work. I am getting carpal tunnel pretty bad from working with computers since I was 12. So the last thing I need is to edit 6 hours of bullshit wedding photos or whathaveyou after 8 hours of work. I'll still do those things for the right amount of money though. People do anything for money. I think with Vice, I just kept bugging the couple contacts I had there, sending them the event photography I had done - it was my earliest stint with photography, it's good beginner practice. You have a room full of people doing something interesting, you take photos of babes or DJ''s and slap your name and website on the bottom. They get used as profile pics all over Facebook and it was a good early promotional tool for getting my name around. I rarely go out these days and I find it to be the same shit every event so, like I said - I'll do it for the right price but I'm beyond that now. 

Any thoughts on living on your photography alone?

CWH: It'd be a dream. I haven't ever made much off photography. Every time I make prints for a show nobody buys shit and I'm out a few hundred dollars with these dusty old prints sitting around. Pretty discouraging. I feel I came into the field at the worst time. Art is a luxury item again, kids with rich daddies get cheap, capable SLRs for Christmas and instead of competing with local, dug in photographers over a years time, you compete with this world pool of talent/garbage weekly. You have to keep your work fresh, interesting, frequent and steadily improving at the same time. Which is why I do a shoot practically every 2 days to stay sharp.

How do your eyes see the current state of the world?

CHW: We've really buggered this place up pretty bad. I keep my head low and chug onward. I never really felt like I fit here and now, but who does?

Drink of choice?

CWH: Bourbon with a little ice.

What's the last book you've read?
CHW: A meditation on the nature of and anthropological by-product of time itself by one of my fav. poets/thinkers... a local named  Christopher Dewdney, actually. The book is great and kind of shows you how obsessed we became with measuring something that's only relative to each of ourselves. Good mix of fact/history and deeper metaphysics.  It's called "The Soul Of The World"

What did you want to be when you grew up?

CWH: I don't remember. Aside from the typical fireman shit (which is funny because I'm thinking about starting my firefighter training next year. You get to cook and work out basically, then a straight week off for photography. Maybe a fire or two would be fun times too).

What is your purpose, and what are you afraid of?

CWH: I think our purpose is just what we are doing now, and in the near future. Best not to dwell on things like that too long, I think. Just keep doing whatever it is you find yourself doing. Do your best and don't worry. I'm not afraid of much, but I'm not totally comfortable with everything either. Constant state of awareness/anxiety I guess; it helps photography.

For more on Carl W. Heindl, visit eroder.com.