Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

The Unusual Photography of Pen Densham

Pen Densham unrolls one of his large photographs inspired by nature.

One of our favorite things about writing the Buzz is learning more about our fascinating neighbors, like Pen Densham. Well-known as an accomplished film and television producer, writer, and director, Densham is also a photographer.

Densham began his career in still photography, but abandoned it to develop his career in film and television. The longtime Windsor Square resident, who now lives in West Hollywood, told us his interest was piqued a few years ago when he saw the photography of his teenage daughter taking a high school photography class.

“Her work was so free, it was inspiring,” explained Densham. Since returning to photography and now using a digital camera, Densham has developed a unique body of impressionistic images inspired by nature. Recently Densham invited us to take a look at his work.

There’s no manipulation of the image in the dark room, everything is done by Densham through the lens.

“I was raised loving photography. My mother and father made 35 mm theatrical short films. I even rode an alligator in one at the age of four. Cameras seemed like magician’s instruments. I yearned to cast “spells” with them,” wrote Densham in the introduction to one of his photography books, filled with images inspired by his koi pond.

“Casting a spell” is a theme throughout Denham’s work. His images are very large, some as large as six feet. The sense of motion and vibrant color draw the viewer in. His work is inspired by nature and is created without any manipulation of the digital images in Photoshop.

“I keep it very simple,” explained Densham. “I don’t know how to do any of that. I’m interested in creating something you’ve never seen.”

“Waiting, by a wind blown tree, a wave smashed beach, a vigorous mountain stream. I want to pull everything in the world through my lens. I want to paint with the sun, at a 186 thousand miles a second,” wrote Densham on his website.

“The leaves are turning” by Pen Densham, from his New Zealand series.

Once captured by the camera, the images are beautifully printed on very large paper, which adds depth to the image, drawing the viewer deeper into the image trying to figure out what you are looking at. Naturally, we asked as he gave us a tour of Schoos Design where much of his work is displayed. Densham explained we were looking at a reflection, or a plant rippling in the breeze or a wave. He has managed to cast a spell with his camera and capture a moment on film that we would never have seen otherwise.

Densham said he will often wait until he finds the right moment to snap the shutter, and thanks to digital photography he can take hundreds of shots, overexposing some or using long blurring shutter speeds to create just the right image. He loves finding patterns and developed a series of images where he folded the image on itself, creating a mirrored reflection.

Koi by Pen Densham from his book “Exploring the Dragon’s Gate.

Densham brings his filmmaker’s eye to still photography, creating dynamic moving images. He made a conscious decision to forget about all the rules of photography that he learned years ago in his search for “qualia,” the philosophical term for experiences that have no words, just feelings. The images are colorful, cheerful, and uplifting. Abstract and yet familiar. What a treat to explore with the artist!

Densham with a gallery of images featuring light reflections that are mounted on glass.
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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