Over the last week or so I’ve been making a list of my top 12 influences, visual artists and their work that influence and inspire me. Consistently over the years Hiroshi Sugimoto has made this list. Born in Japan, Sugimoto moved to the US to study in the mid-70’s eventually settling in New York. While he’s returned to a number of subjects repeatedly over the years, including ‘American Theatres’ in which he photographs old movie theaters and drive ins using long exposures in an attempt to show time in his photographs; ‘Dioramas’ which are beautifully executed photographs of exhibitions in natural history museums and more recently of wax-work figures; ‘Architecture’ in which he photographs structures slightly out of focus which gives a sense of the form that the architect had in mind without you getting lost in the details and my personal favorite ‘Seascapes’. His seascapes, such as the one above, give a real sense of the vastness of the ocean that particularly appeals to me.
Check out the documentary below for more about Sugimoto’s life and work.
When I was poking around on Bainbridge Island recently I did a quick tour of most of the interesting shops on the main drag, Winslow street. I wasn’t looking to buy anything, my bags were perilously close to the 50lb limit imposed by the airline as it was, but rather looking. Looking for inspiration, looking for things that I could use later. In Bainbridge Arts & Crafts I came across a book by Mary Randlett called Landscapes that I thought was amazing.
Mary’s photography came to the notice of the public as the person who took the last photographs of the noted poet Theodore Roethke. She then went on to photograph Roethke’s students and other Northwest artists (including one of Johsel Namkung who I’ve written about previously), their artwork and architecture. As I understand it (from one of the essays in the Landscapes book) Mary’s landscape work was ‘personal work’, photographs that she made for herself and shared with friends as christmas cards. These photographs eventually were published in the Landscapes book.
What particularly appeals to me about Mary’s work is that there is little of the grand landscape here. The feeling is much more of someone who had spent time with the landscape, enough time to let the landscape reveal itself.
To see more of Mary Randlett’s Landscape work I highly recommend the Landscapes book. The University of Washington has some of her work online in their digital collection. As always let me know if you find a good resource that I missed.
The relationship between creator and publicist is something that struck me as a little weird when it was first spelled out that there may be a real need for this dynamic – how will anyone know what you’re done if you don’t tell them or can’t communicate with them effectively?
I was thinking about this again recently in the context of architects and the photographers that photograph the resulting buildings. A good architectural photographer is able to understand the buildings design and show it in a way that reinforces the design. Perhaps the most famous of architecture photographers is Julius Shulman. While I didn’t know who Shulman was until recently I did recognize some of his photographs and particularly the one shown above, “Case Study House #22, Los Angeles, 1960. Pierre Koenig, Architect.” One of the distinct features of Shulman’s work was that he often included people in his photographs, something that was unusual at the time and still isn’t terribly commonplace. Check out the videos of Shulman discussing his work below. A full version of the documentary ‘Visual Acoustics‘ is available on NetFlix or you can buy a copy here.
I’m in the Pacific Northwest this week to attend a workshop with Art Wolfe. It was through researching potential workshops with Art that I came across Jay’s work and have been following his blog for a couple of years now. His outdoor work, covers a wide spread of nature, landscape and adventure photography but he also builds on his architecture training to make some stunning photographs of buildings. Goes to show that the more you know your subject the better the photographs will be.
It’s hard to know the person behind photographs when your interaction has been purely electronic stalking but Jay’s about page reinforces the notion that I had of a pretty mellow, if not passionate and intense guy. Do all those fit together I think so. Get a sense for yourself in the interview with Jie from an episode of ‘Framed‘ last year.