Henson's photographs reflect an interest in ambiguity and transition. The use of chiaroscuro is common throughout his works. His photographs are painterly and often presented as diptychs, triptychs and other groupings. Henson's works often meditate on the categories of and relationships between male and female; youth and adulthood; day and night; light and dark; nature and civilisation. His images often use flattened perspective and tend towards abstraction. The faces of the subjects are often blurred or partly shadowed and do not directly face the viewer.
According to Crawford, Henson presents “adolescents in their states of despair, intoxication and immature ribaldry”. He has said that these “moments of transition and metamorphosis are important in everyone’s lives”.
Henson's intention is to use photography for creative expression. He states that he is not interested in a political or sociological agenda, although the viewer cannot help but relate his works to their own stance on these issues. Henson, however, is not intending his photographs to be authoritative evidence but rather to suggest endless possibilities and cause people to wonder.
It was announced on 23 May that a number of the images in the exhibition had been seized by police local Area Commander Alan Sicard, with the intention of charging Bill Henson and/or the Gallery with "publishing an indecent article" under the Crimes Act. The seized images were also removed from the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery website, where the remainder of the series can now be viewed online.
On the 5 June 2008, the former director of the National Gallery of Australia Betty Churcher said it was "not surprising" that the New South Wales Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would announce its official recommendation that no charges be laid regarding the Sydney Roslyn Oxley9 gallery's collection of photographs by artist Bill Henson.
Ms Churcher says it would have been ridiculous to drag the case through the courts:
On 6 June 2008 it was reported in The Age that police will not prosecute Bill Henson over his photographs of naked teenagers, after they were declared "mild and justified" and given a PG rating by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, suggesting viewing by children under the age of 16 is suitable with parental guidance.
An investigation into the matter was launched by the Department of Education on October 6, 2008.
Light versus Dark ; Bill Henson Is Australia's Most Feted Contemporary Photographer, a Modern Master of Chiaroscuro. as a New Collection of His Works Are Published, He Gives a Rare Interview to Sebastian Smee
Mar 15, 2003; AS ANYONE WHO has seen an installation of Bill Henson's photographs will tell you, the first time is difficult to forget. The...