I have met Hendrik “Henke” Kelner a few different times over the years, and each time I have come away with a distinct appreciation for not only who he is, but what he has accomplished as the head of TABADOM, most notable for the production of Davidoff and its AVO, Zino, The Griffin’s, Winston Churchill and other brands.

A few weeks ago, we attended the launch of the second Davidoff lounge at Club Humidor in San Antonio, Texas. If you are able to ever stop by one of these launches, I would highly recommend it. Club Humidor, its owners Keith and Tiffany Rumbo, and Davidoff were great hosts and made sure we had all the mojitos, hors d’oeuvres and cigars we wanted. In attendance was a variety of Davidoff employees including Kelner and Davidoff North America President Jim Young.

Seemingly quick to smile, and fairly comfortable with his role, Kelner has answered any number of questions by me and others in my presence—some of them quite inane—and always does so with aplomb. I have been told my many different people almost reverently that he is one of the most knowledgeable tobacco minds in the world, and after talking to him and photographing him, there is no doubt that is true.

Hendrik Henke Kelner

For you photography fans, here are the technical details: this portrait was photographed in RAW with a Canon 5D Mark III and a 50mm f/1.2 lens set at f/2.8. The ISO was 1600 and the shutter speed was 1/40 sec. Kelner was behind the glass door to the lounge, which only had “Davidoff” printed on it, and all of the direct lights were turned off, both in the humidor where I was shooting from and in the lounge behind the door where the subject was standing.

The only source of light was three video lights held by the always capable Charlie Minato: two held below the cigar to highlight the smoke and the other held at about head level to highlight the face. The photograph was manipulated in Photoshop CC, mostly by adding contrast, burning down the edges, increasing the Dmax and sharpening.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.