While still a teenager, Henry W. Kendall developed an interest in Scuba diving and underwater photography. He designed and built his own equipment, and carefully documented his concepts and activities. Many of his early photographs — some used in his 1950s-era books (Underwater Photography, Shallow Water Diving and Spearfishing; and Skindiver’s and Spearfisherman’s Guide to American Waters, all in collaboration with Hilbert Schenck Jr.) are included in the Photographic Collection, as are images of tests conducted in the MIT swimming pool with Professor Harold Edgerton to advance the use of newly developed stroboscopic lighting technology in underwater applications.
In later years Henry Kendall traveled to many sites in New England, the Caribbean, the Pacific Coast, and Australia to photograph reef life. Pursuing his interest in marine archeology, he organized and documented the retrieval of 18th and early 19th century heavy armament from New England shipwrecks and artifacts from early 20th century whaling ships.
Actively involved in the family’s interest in boating, Henry documented travels on various Kendall-owned wooden sailing vessels in New England coastal waters; as well as long-range expeditions on the powered research vessels Abel-J and Ida-Z to Alaska, Greenland, the Falklands, and Antarctica. His interest in whaling history, expressed in his active involvement with the Kendall Whaling Museum, led to a series of stunning photographs of abandoned whaling stations in South Georgia in the South Atlantic.
He also commissioned and photographed the construction of a replica of a 19th-century American whaleboat, which he sailed for many years. Henry Kendall’s last diving photographs were taken in Florida in 1999, while he was participating in the National Geographic Society’s exploration of the Wakulla Springs. He died during that expedition.