Nothing is ever the same twice because everything is always gone forever, and yet each moment has infinite photographic possibilities.— Michael Kenna
The most impressive Michael Kenna quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening
I often think of my work as visual haiku.
It is an attempt to evoke and suggest through as few elements as possible rather than to describe with tremendous detail.
Perhaps most intriguing of all is that it is possible to photograph what is impossible for the human eye to see - cumulative time.
The golden rule in the arts, as far as I am concerned, is that all rules are meant to be broken.
For me, the subtlety of black and white inspires the imagination of the individual viewer to complete the picture in the mind's eye. It doesn't attempt to compete with the outside world. I believe it is calmer and gentler than colour, and persists longer in our visual memory.
Parks and gardens are the quintessential intimate landscapes.
People use them all the time, leaving their energy and memories behind. It's what's left behind that I like to photograph.
I believe that photographers should be passionate, determined, disciplined and ready to seek out their own styles and identities.
I don't have anything against colour.
It is just not my first preference. I have always found black and white photographs to be quieter and more mysterious than those made in colour.
I don't think it is even possible to define what a good photograph is, so it is difficult to instruct anybody how to make one. Beauty and aesthetics are subjective, and very much in the mind of the beholder.
I prefer to think of photography as a never ending journey with infinite possibilities. I love to return to places to re photograph. Nothing is ever the same. The options are endless.
I do have strong convictions and political opinions, but I don't think it's necessary to imbue my photographic work with them. I use photography as a vessel for visual material to flow through, to encourage conversation with the viewer. I try to present a catalyst and invite viewers to tell their own stories.
The first time, I usually skim off the outer layer and end up with photographs that are fairly obvious. The second time, I have to look a little deeper. The images get more interesting. 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.
My advice to any budding artist is never to be satisfied with imitating others.
This is but a means to an end. A serious artist will work with intensity to discover themselves, their own personal vision. I believe this is a fundamental aspect of the creative path.
Most of my work involves slowing down rather than speeding up.
I prefer to look at prints than scans, and I prefer to look at original silver prints rather than digital prints. I prefer to look at fewer images, but spend time with those individual images.
Beauty is very much in the mind of the beholder.
There are many aspects about what and why we photograph: visual pleasure, personal empathy, intellectual stimulation, technical excellence, etc. Serious photographers and artists will try to create works that are original. Over a career period they may develop a singular identity in their images.
There can be no doubt that probability increases with practice.
Fortune favours the brave, fortune favours the prepared mind, and fortune favours those who work the hardest.
One advances by standing on the shoulders of giants, but the ultimate goal is to find one's own vision.
If I had to give advice to other photographers, I would first suggest quickly getting over the camera equipment questions. In my humble opinion, the make and format of a camera is ultimately low on the priority scale when it comes to making pictures.
For me, this is one of the advantages of not using digital, I never know when I have a good photograph! I practice doubt as a way to push myself into alternative compositions by selective focus, different speeds of exposure, and unusual perspectives.
Everybody now has a camera, whether it is a professional instrument or just part of a phone. Landscape photography is a pastime enjoyed by more and more. Getting it right is not an issue. It is difficult to make a mistake with the sophisticated technology we now have. Making a personal and creative image is a far greater challenge.
If the quality of professional materials continues to erode or even dries up, then many of us silver photographers would have to follow the digital tidal wave. It certainly wouldn't be the end of the world, but in my opinion, having no silver material available would be a huge loss to photography.
I encourage playfulness and experimentation with both the camera and subject matter. Sometimes there is an obvious perspective, but it is important never to be satisfied with that.
I believe that we photographers don't benefit very much with answers from other photographers. What is more beneficial is to ask questions of ourselves and see what thoughts float out from within.
We all have choices and must make them for ourselves.
Craft is important, but cameras for their own sake are not.
A sense of aesthetics, a connection with the subject matter, an enquiring and an inquisitive mind, these factors outweigh whatever equipment we use.
Easier is not necessarily better.
We see in colour all the time. Everything around us is in colour. Black and white is therefore immediately an interpretation of the world, rather than a copy.
As a landscape photographer we should be open to possibilities, for one thing often leads to another.
I try not to make conscious decisions about what I am looking for.
I don't make elaborate preparations before I go to a location. Essentially I walk, explore, discover and photograph.
Of course, the whole photographic process has been made much faster, cleaner and far more accessible to people by digital innovations, which is really great. Everybody now has a camera, often as part of our phone, and most of these cameras require little to no technical training. An enormous variety of apps also enable us to take short cuts to finished images. We hardly need to even think anymore.
One needs to fully accept that surprises sometimes happen and complete control over outcome is not necessary or even desirable.
Different assignments, different places, require different approaches.
Sometimes I take minutes in a location, at other times days. There are many places that I have returned to over several years. When I photograph, I look for some sort of resonance, connection, spark of recognition.
Essentially, I look for what is interesting to me, out there in the three-dimensional world, and translate or interpret so that it becomes visually pleasing in a two-dimensional photographic print. I search for subject matter with visual patterns, interesting abstractions and graphic compositions.
Time is of the essence, particularly if we're sending images out on social media. The reality is that the majority of images are only viewed for a few seconds, often on a phone or computer. There are so many images freely available that it takes a lot of will power to concentrate and prolong the gaze on one picture at the expense of the thousands of others waiting to be viewed!
I find that when one has worked long enough, technical know-how becomes almost irrelevant. In photography, it's not difficult to reach a technical level where you don't need to think about the technique any more. I think there is far too much literature and far too much emphasis upon the techniques of photography. The make of camera and type of film we happen to use has little bearing on the results.
Sometimes the most interesting visual phenomena occur when you least expect it.
Other times, you think youre getting something amazing and the photographs turn out to be boring and predictable. So I think thats why, a long time ago, I consciously tried to let go of artists angst, and instead just hope for the best and enjoy it. I love the journey as much as the destination. If I wasnt a photographer, Id still be a traveler.
I would strongly encourage anybody embarking on photography as a career to embrace and enjoy the whole process. Being a photographer can be a wonderful way to experience the world.
I believe that every photographer, every artist, should choose materials and equipment based on their own vision. I don't believe that non-digital is necessarily better than digital, or the reverse for that matter. They are just different, and it is my preference and choice to remain with the traditional silver process, at least for the time being.
There is no one way of photographing anything.
I don't believe there is even one best way of photographing any given subject.
Instant gratification in photography is not something that I need or desire.
I find that the long, slow journey to the final print captivates me far more.
Approaching subject matter to photograph is like meeting a person and beginning a conversation. How does one know ahead of time where that will lead, what the subject matter will be, how intimate it will become, how long the potential relationship will last? Certainly, a sense of curiosity and a willingness to be patient to allow the subject matter to reveal itself are important elements in this process.
I enjoy places that have mystery and atmosphere, perhaps a patina of age, a suggestion rather than a description, a question or two. I look for memories, traces, evidence of the human interaction with the landscape. Sometimes I photograph pure nature, sometimes urban structures.
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.