I've seen far lesser collections of images put together as books … There is also a light section near the center of the photo, a "question mark.". There is often a sense of drama, a story about to be told, secrets revealed, actors about to enter onto the stage. Lovely article. Michael Kenna is one of the most popular and influential landscape photographers of the last 50 years. Please check "Upcoming" for future exhibitions, publications, book signings and lectures. According to Margaret Livingstone in her classic “Vision And Art: The Biology Of Seeing”, we have two visual systems: an evolutionarily older B&W one that concentrates on edges and contrasts, the most efficient way to detect movement (Something’s moving. In photography, it’s not difficult to reach a technical level where you don’t need to think about the technique any more. Now to Michael Kenna. When I decide “what” I want to photograph, I choose the appropriate locations. He has a silent approach to photographing the environment, scenery, landscapes and anything around him. These floating ideas usually turn out to be the catalysts for my future projects.” – Michael Kenna, “I sincerely believe it is normal and healthy to study the work of other artists, and even imitate other’s efforts, as a means to explore one’s personal vision. Interview with Michael Kenna October 2003. We recently had a Michael Kenna Photography Facebook fan page put up and there are now about 14,000 fans. He uses a lot of symmetry and rule of thirds but is not afraid to break rules if the composition calls for it. And an evolutionarily newer color one that cues on the meaning of a color in context defined biologically (red blood) or culturally (red light). Using compositional elements like this is simply a matter of seeing them and recognizing them, then framing them in the appropriate manner. I don’t recall where I first encountered his photos, but, although they were not the street photography I was attracted to at first, they struck a chord. So I think a color photo works best if color is a just a highlight or if the photo is only about the color. And this is the lightest part; it’s not by coincidence. I use photography as a vessel for visual material to flow through, to encourage conversation with the viewer. These lines may be straight, crooked, or angled, and light can affect how they are perceived. I do not feel that I have ever stolen from these artists.” – Michael Kenna, “I think style is just the end result of personal experience. Other artists, in many mediums, have greatly helped my own development as a photographer. His images are simple and quiet, empty but for the bare minimum of visual elements. Red is the most important color to this system. These two systems seem to compete with each other when we look at a photo, a special case of seeing. This is about as close to Kenna's style as I've come: As for technique, I don't do anything special for black and white. His books include Forms of Japan and Rouge, which is a study of the US industrial heartland. I find there is something therapeutic and hypnotic in this activity, similar to practicing landscape photography. Large Prints. For me it’s the act of photographing. Finally, Michael Kenna has a number of photos like Hillside Fence, Study 5, Teshikaga, Hokkaido, Japan 2004: These ultra-minimal photos, of which Kenna has realized many, show little more than a fence line (often made up of posts or sticks) against the bright white of the snow. Everything guides you to that corner and out, into a place […] we don’t know what’s there. The black mass on the center-left of the frame heads toward the top right, yet stops almost dead center in the frame. After further study in London, he worked as a commercial photographer and printer before relocating to the USA. Whatever it is that drives him, landscape photographer Michael Kenna has been travelling the world for more than 40 years, carrying his heavy Hassleblads to countries ranging from France to Japan, often working at night or in the early hours of the morning … In Stark Outlook, Kucharo Lake, Hokkaido, Japan 2004, the dark and light are reversed. Look at Taushubetsu Bridge, Nukabira, Hokkaido, Japan 2008: In this image, one can see the same type of big, bold line (though there are also reflections, another common element of Kenna’s compositions), that leads to the land on the other side of the bridge. Michael Kenna is a huge inspiration for me. The second time, I have to look a little deeper. JK: Tell me about the new book. Leading lines don’t always have to be straight lines, and can sometimes be implied by elements of a photo. The Rouge, by, and autographed Michael Kenna Often working at dawn or during the night, he has concentrated primarily on the interaction between the ephemeral atmospheric condition of the natural … So you come in here [bottom right] and you wander along and you go out here [top left]. – Michael Kenna “I find that when one has worked long enough, technical know-how becomes almost irrelevant. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. There is a great minimalist and zen quality to the images and Michael Levin very much feels like a contemporary of Michael Kenna. Despite the digital revolution in photography, the perfect medium for Kenna’s work is black-and-white film and silver-coated paper. The perspective becomes a lot clearer from such high ground. I try to present a catalyst and invite viewers to tell their own stories.” – Michael Kenna, “I find that when one has worked long enough, technical know-how becomes almost irrelevant. November 20 - December 19. Enter your email address to subscribe to Kirkville and receive notifications of new posts by email. It’s that enigma, that illusion, that use of our own creative imagination that’s very important to me.". When you make four-hour exposures in the middle of the night, you inevitably slow down and begin to observe and appreciate more what’s going on around you. Michael Kenna's quiet approach to the environment provides a glimpse into the provocative and subtle serenity of landscape photography. Simple – no magic involved. Rafu Japan, 2008-2018 … Post was not sent - check your email addresses! The results are soft, stark, enigmatic views of gardens, industrial sites, … The aspect of unpredictability inherent with night exposures can also be a good antidote for previsualization…” – Michael Kenna, “When exposures last hours rather than fractions of a second, there is much time for watching. Where does it all come from, who knows?” – Michael Kenna, “I often think of my work as visual haiku. The make of camera and type of film we happen to use has little bearing on the results.” – Michael Kenna, “I don’t have any particular method to my madness. … I have done this out of basic courtesy and respect. In the distance, there is a dark, cloudy sky that attracts the eye, but the diagonal line of the pier pulls the viewer back down toward the bottom of the photo. On my own journey, I have actively tried to see through the eyes of many well known photographers, including but not limited to Atget, Bernhard, Brandt, Callahan, Cartier Bresson, Giacomelli, Misrach, Scheeler, Steiglitz, Sudek, Sugimoto, Weston (Brett) and many others. I don’t need to go very far to find examples, and, to discuss leading lines, I’ve decided to limit myself to the photos that were in this exhibition, though there are plenty of other examples throughout his work. As one of 6 children born to a working class Irish-Catholic family, he initially aspired to enter the priesthood but his passion for the arts led him to The Banbury School of Art where he studied painting and then photography. The third time it is even more challenging and on each subsequent occasion, the images should get stronger, but it takes more effort to get them.” – Michael Kenna, “Getting photographs is not the most important thing. The night has vast potential for creativity.” – Michael Kenna, “I gravitate towards places where humans have been and are no more, to the edge of man’s influence, where the elements are taking over or covering man’s traces.” – Michael Kenna, “Parks and gardens are the quintessential intimate landscapes. Kenna studied painting and photography at the Banbury School of Art and later attended the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication). Michael Kenna is one of the most important living black and white landscape photographers. Minimalism is the key word when discussing Kenna’s work. For the photographer, real can become surreal, which is exciting. Learn how your comment data is processed. And he mainly uses Hasselblad medium format and Holga cameras, accounting for the square format of most of his photographs. The viewer can then wonder where it goes, and what’s on the other side of the hill. As he photographs on a Hasselblad which has a square format, a vast number of his images … Category: Photographers - Quotes / Favorites One of my hobbies is long distance running. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Brooks Jensen: Your 20th book is about to be published – this one entitled Calais Lace. It’s what’s left behind that I like to photograph.” – Michael Kenna, “In my photographic work I’m generally attracted to places that contain memories, history, atmospheres and stories. From an early age Kenna aspired to be a priest and, aged eleven, began studying at a seminary school. Thanks. View 12 Great Photographs By Michael Kenna. This is one of his primary compositional elements, and looking at a collection of his work, even the one in this exhibition (which contained about 40 photos), it’s clear how he uses this technique. Honkyoku: Learning to play the shakuhachi. There can be deep shadows which act as catalysts for our imagination. So I think that’s why, a long time ago, I consciously tried to let go of artist’s angst, and instead just hope for the best and enjoy it. Michael Kenna is one of the most influential landscape photographer of his generation, photographing for 50 years, best known for his black & white landscapes. Kenna doesn’t plan schedules or visualize the images beforehand, he takes what he gets and finds. But both lead the eye to a hazy distance. Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), The Composition of Michael Kenna’s Photographs: Leading Lines, interview him for the PhotoActive podcast, 45-Year Retrospective Exhibition at Bosham Gallery, Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review Recordings, New Security and Privacy Features in macOS Catalina and iOS 13. Michael Kenna: (laughing) I’d like to think so. I’m interested in the places where people have lived, worked and played. Sometimes the most interesting visual phenomena occur when you least expect it. Creative Black and White: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques Harold Davis. However, art quickly became his strongest subject and at the age of 17 he moved to Banbury School of Art in Oxfordshire. Since about 1986 he has mainly used Hasselblad … Michael Kenna (b. Ginza Fugestudo, Tokyo, Japan. Over a period of time the world changes; rivers flow, planes fly by, clouds pass and the earth’s position relative to the stars is different. In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s a luxury to be able to watch the stars move across the sky.” – Michael Kenna, “Life is about turning up. As Kenna said in the interview excerpt above, he likes "tunnels of trees," which lead the viewer’s eye to the distance. Michael creates dream-like scenes by combining innovative and traditional photographic techniques. With a career stretching more than 45 years, his work has been exposed in hundreds of exhibitions, and, to his count, he has published 72 books, with more in the works. During the day, when most photographs are made, scenes are usually viewed from the vantage-point of a fixed single light source, the sun. I particularly like what happens with long exposures, for example, moving clouds produce unique areas of interesting density in the sky, stars and planes produce white lines, rough water transforms into ice or mist, etc. One can see a hint of the mountain between the tree trunks, and a larger part of the mountain above the end of the road, as if this is the culmination of the road that leads to the distance. It’s enlightening, therapeutic and satisfying, because the very process forces me to connect with the world. On the Shoulder of Giants, Camera Darkroom Magazine, July 1995 In the Darkroom with Michael Kenna, Photowork, 1997 Interview with Michael Kenna, Photoforum, 2003 Michael Kenna Interview, Photo Review, 2003 Pro Cameraman interviews Michael Kenna, Dolby … I have a theory, which seems to work for me, that the best ideas come through thinking about something else! Sometimes people ask me about films, cameras and development times in order to find out how to do landscape photography. Michael Kenna is no doubt a contemporary master at photography. Neither of the two photos above are at angles as sharp as the other photos I’ve examined. About Michael Kenna. Tags: Creativity - Quotes, michael kenna, Photographers, John Paul Caponigro – Digital Photography Workshops, DVDs, eBooks. I’ve always seen B&W more related to structure in a photo and color as more of a singular highlight. I don't have anything against social media but I find my days are already full, and I can't even keep up with emails, so I haven't, and probably will not, embrace further [online] … A couple of years ago my daughter, Olivia, went to spend a summer in Argentina as an exchange student—our summer, their winter. In B&W the structure jumps out instead. Web Galleries RECENT PRINTS. In this post, I'll be dissecting Kenna's photos, explaining why his I think his photos work, how it's done, and finally, show some of my attempts at … Film can accumulate light and record events that our eyes are incapable of seeing. This is a very simple image, but it represents the most typical use of leading lines in Kenna’s photography. Rather, many factors, experiences and decisions, great and small, brought me to the life path I have been on for the past 45 years. The eye follows this pier to its end, which leads to the dark cloud, then back to the beginning of the pier again, in an endless cycle. (Another comment element of Kenna’s composition is centering.) //. One advances by “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Michael Kenna: I don’t think there was ever a decisive moment when passion and enlightenment about photography suddenly enveloped me. Michael … B&W is the ice cream sundae and color is the cherry on top. The tried and true world of black and white photography continues to mesmerize both advanced and beginner dSLR photographers. Kenna was actually somewhat responsible for the creation of the Chicago Outfit of today. While thinking about one thing, and being active at the same time, other ideas float in and out. As the eye perceives these birds, it then spots the fourth bird, to the left, it flight, looking almost ephemeral. Sometimes, lines lead the viewer to a main subject; other times, which is common in Kenna’s photos, they lead into the distance, often into a vanishing point of nothingness. I watch the sky and imagine what patterns the clouds and stars will make on my film. I'm not sure what it all means, though! $25.99. The color jumping up and down to get noticed and obscuring the structure, which to me is the most important part of a photo. Barren seascapes, abandoned fishing nets, fragmented piers, mysterious horizons, trees emerging from under snow drifts – these are just some of the images which dominate Michael Kenna's work from Japan. Drama is usually increased with the resulting deep shadows from artificial lights. At night the light can come from unusual and multiple sources. And this is Cours La Reine, Paris, France 1987. It was previously published in French, but will be published in English by Nazraeli Press later this year. “I do have strong convictions and political opinions, but I don’t think it’s necessary to imbue my photographic work with them. Michael Kenna travels the world, attuned to the aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual resonance of natural and urban landscapes, which he seeks to capture in his exquisite black-and-white photographs. Using the analogy of the theater, I would say that I like to photograph the empty stage, before or after the performance, even in between acts. And I love that, because there’s a question mark. The more you get yourself out there, whether you wake up at 5:00 a.m. to pouring rain or not, the more you’re likely to experience the wonderful happenings that are going on all around you. Thinking about this, and looking over his work in the dozen books I own, I’ve isolated a number of types of composition in Kenna’s photos. I came across his work after I started doing night work - I've tried some Kenna-esque black and whites to complement my normal color work. Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Michael Kenna. Poplar Trees, Fucino, Abruzzo, Italy 2016 shows a combination of two compositional elements: leading lines and repeated elements. Here’s a photo from the exhibition: Winding Wall, Mont St. Michel, France 2004. It’s the very peculiarities and imperfections in this traditional approach that he works within to make calm images imbued with an almost tangible amount of solitude. Michael Kenna is a British photographer best known for his black-and-white images of unpopulated landscapes and urban scenes. As small tokens of appreciation, I have often credited those influences openly by including their names in the titles of work. Can I eat that or is that going to eat me?). Kenna presents these pathways, directions, and stages for viewers in many of his photos that use leading lines. I love the atmosphere of anticipation, the feeling in the air that events have happened, or will happen soon…” – Michael Kenna, “Perhaps most intriguing of all is that it is possible to photograph what is impossible for the human eye to see – cumulative time.” – Michael Kenna, “Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.” – Michael Kenna. His unique minimalist imagery has inspired many, and earned him a huge and loyal following. Kenna's photography focuses on unusual landscapes with ethereal light achieved by photographing at dawn or at night with exposures of up to 10 hours. In 1953, Michael Kenna was born in Lancashire, England, into an Irish Catholic family. Oct 10, 2017 - Michael Kenna / Born 1953 in Widnes, Lancashire, England, best known for his black & white landscapes. I watch the water, the leaves on the trees, passing cars, changing shadows, smoke from chimneys, whatever is around. I love the journey as much as the destination. Photogpedia covers everything from photography style to what cameras they used to their best photos. Michael Kenna was born in Widnes, England in 1953. Chasing time and unexplainable silence just to be felt amongst a land of islands, a must watch video. He allows the scene to speak for itself and embraces a Zen-like approach to image … Michael Kenna December 2001 Jim Kasson interviewed Michael Kenna at his home in San Francisco. Michael Kenna, a letter from Shinan Michael walks through the forests of mist and into the trails of nowhere. Much of the appeal of greyscale photography may be because seeing this way is our basic biologically evolved way of seeing. He combines traditional and latest photography techniques to create exotic scenes. Michael Kenna: A 20 Year Retrospective, 2003. Ansel Easton Adams, a photographer and an environmentalist, famously known for the landscape photography, came to the world in February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, California. We are used to working with a single light source, the sun, so multiple lights that come from an assortment of directions can be quite surreal, and theatrical. One thing I took away from our discussion – both during the interview and afterwards – was the carefully refined composition of his photos. Find an in-depth biography, exhibitions, original artworks for sale, the latest news, and sold auction prices. The Briton, famed for his black-and-white landscapes, loves the plastic pocket camera for its unpredictability and the whimsical quality of the resulting photos I've been a long time fan of Michael Kenna and spent time analyzing his composition and post-processing techniques. Michael was born in Widnes, Cheshire, in 1953 and discovered photography at art school. The result of his efforts can be seen in two books, Hokkaido (2006) and Japan(2002), both published by Nazraeli Press. If I wasn’t a photographer, I’d still be a traveler.” – Michael Kenna, “There are many characteristics associated with night photography that make it fascinating. I think there is far too much literature and far too much emphasis upon the techniques of photography. Kenna uses long exposure times and shoots in inclement weather to obscure the details of the vistas before him, instead … Here’s Stone Pine Tunnel, Pineto, Abruzzo, Italy 2016. The first thing I do in landscape photography is go out there and talk to the land – form a relationship, ask permission, it’s not about going out there like some paparazzi with a Leica and snapping a few pictures, before running off to print them.” – Michael Kenna, “The first time, I usually skim off the outer layer and end up with photographs that are fairly obvious. Michael Kenna is one of the most important living black and white landscape photographers. Paperback. Japan / Buddha exhibition. Pebble Beach, Ault, Picardy, France 2009 has a different perspective. People use them all the time, leaving their energy and memories behind. It has been thus throughout history in all mediums of creative expression. I have gone to places where they have photographed and have consciously and unconsciously emulated their style and subject matter. In the second one, the path is pretty much straight up the center of the frame. Since about 1986 he has mainly used Hasselblad medium format and Holga cameras and this accounts for the square format of most of his photographs. Sometimes I choose “where” I want to photograph, then look for the “what” when I get there! Michael Kenna Photos Sometimes it is a basic concern for security but at others it is a more meditational activity. I look for traces of the past, visual fingerprints, evidence of activities – they fire my imagination and connect into my own personal experiences. Here’s what he said to me about the above photo: "I think with many of my images I have pathways, I have directions, I have tunnels of trees… I have boardwalks that go out because I’m creating something of a stage for the viewer to go onto and to be on their own, to be solitary. Leading lines are a common element of composition. Naturally, in a black and white photograph, you go from dark to light, it’s the way we see. MK: It’s called Easter Island and is published by Nazraeli Press. January 2003. View Michael Kenna’s 887 artworks on artnet. These shadows can invite us to imagine what is hidden. There is something satisfying about leading lines, as they give the viewer a path to follow in an image. In this photo, one can see the end of the fence as it reaches the horizon, which is subtly visible due to the minimal contrast between the snow-covered hill and the cloudy sky. There is a bit of relief visible in the snow, and the way the fence turns to finish its journey as a straight, vertical line is satisfying. Michael Kenna looks for simplicity in his composition, moving closer or framing the subjects to get rid of extraneous objects. Those who have seen a silver gelatin print from an Ansel Adams or Ed Weston negative will notice the depth to the image and the overall difference in "feel" to the entirely different process of … In the preface to the catalog for your 1990 Gallery Min exhibit, Mayumi Shinohara states: "The works of Michael Kenna suggest to those of us in the photography world that many photographers around us are more interested in money spent on materials and travel than in the mastery of basic photographic techniques. 4.6 out of 5 stars 27. The images get more interesting. 1953) is an English photographer acclaimed for his elegant black-and-white photographs of landscapes. In this article, I will discuss Michael Kenna’s use of leading lines. The eye is drawn by the lines which generally stretch from the foreground to the distance. The leading lines of the road, and of the tree branches that become more concentrated and smaller, frame the lines of the poplar trees as they move from individual, repeated tree trunks to merge in the distance. First Ward Alderman in Chicago from 1897-1923. We live pretty fast-paced lives so it is a luxury to be able to slow down and better appreciate some of the more subtle effects of nature that we can so easily miss or take for granted.” – Michael Kenna, “Photographing at night can be fascinating because we lose some of the control over what happens in front of the camera. This accumulation of time and events, impossible for the human eye to take in, can be recorded on film. I think there is far too much literature and far too much emphasis upon the techniques of photography. Lessons from over 50 photographers including Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams and Cartier-Bresson. In future articles, I’ll look at some of the other compositional strategies that Michael Kenna uses, such as centered objects, repetition, reflection, and more. Gallery Art Unlimited, Tokyo, Japan. The blurry white water, shot with a long exposure, adds mystery to the end of the slipway, and the viewer can see a bit of darkness near the end of the slipway where it has been wet by the water. Other times, you think you’re getting something amazing and the photographs turn out to be boring and predictable. All of the above photos have leading lines that go from the bottom right of the frame toward the top left.