Henry is still flying.
One year ago, LightBox published Rachel Hulin’s series of whimsical photographs of her son, Henry, magically flying. Henry hovered above a sink, levitated nude in a hallway, and floated through a barn.
Unsurprisingly, Henry went viral.
“The week after the images were published was sort of a hilarious blur,” Hulin told TIME. “CNN called, then the Huffington Post and a lot of other news outlets.” Two days later she was on The Today Show. “It was surreal,” she noted.
Hulin was surprised at the reaction, particularly at the rabid interest in how the photographs were created. And not all of the feedback was glowing.
“I was admonished a fair amount for throwing my child by people who took the pictures too literally,” Hulin said.
She kept making pictures of Henry, now 2. Inspired by an interview she heard with lauded children’s book author Maurice Sendak , Hulin started to form a narrative.
“At first it was about clean flights, in beautiful, mostly indoor spaces,” Hulin said. “But after all the hoopla I wanted to really have fun with [the photos] — to go outside, to use props, to give the kid an adventure.”
The project turned into a book, Flying Henry, “about a baby who is rather pleased when he realizes he can fly,” Hulin explained. “He flutters about his home at first, but soon thirsts for adventure and flies the coop.”
The children’s book, published by powerHouse books in March, culminates in Henry’s grand discovery: the real secret to flying.
I asked Hulin what it was like to see her son all over the internet, and now on stranger’s bookshelves and in stores across the country. “I certainly never set out for him to become a celebrity,” she said. “He was just a very good model, and often had availability for shoots.”
“He’s huge in Japan.”
Hulin will be appearing at powerHouse with TIME international picture editor Patrick Witty on Monday, March 11 at 7:00pm.