Friday Inspiration: Kenro Izu

We’re still in various shades of lock down here in Connecticut. I certainly won’t be traveling beyond the local area until at least the second half of the year which leaves me wondering what to do to scratch the photography itch. I’m spending time making plans for photography trips and also filling the well by looking at a lot of photography on line and in my ‘library’ of photography monographs.

I’ve been exploring the idea of doing a still life project, something that I’ve thought about over the years and even made some tentative attempts. In thinking about still life projects I came across the work of Kenro Izu and got his book Still Life (it’s out of print so you’ll have to hunt a bit) to explore more.

Kenro was born in Japan and moved to New York City in 1970. After a short period of time working as an assistant he established his own studio. I have struggled to find a comprehensive biography of Kenro – as one might expect each one I’ve read presents a slice of his life that is relevant to the project that is being exhibited or presented. I came to Kenro’s work through his still life portfolio but this is very much one facet of his art life. He has travelled widely to explore the spirituality of Buddhist and Hindu sacred spaces – creating bodies of work in places such as Angkor, Bhutan and Fuzhou.

As I understand it many of these projects were completed using a large format camera that produces 14×20 negatives. What a hulking beast of a camera! The negatives are processed using platinum palladium printing process. Platinum palladium is an interesting process, it results in images with a distinct brown to off white look. The chemistry is UV sensitive which means as long as you stay clear of UV light you don’t need to work in a dark room. Watch Kenro developing a print in the video above.

I understand that Kenro used a medium format digital camera for his project ‘Requiem’. It’s possible to make digital negatives by printing onto Waterproof Silk Screen Positive Film and then developing these in the normal way. An interesting option for those of us that are committed to digital but want to explore more traditional printing techniques.

Check out the interview with Kenro in the videos below and see more of his work on his website here.

Friday Inspiration: Thomas Joshua Cooper

I’m intrigued by Thomas Joshua Cooper’s work, made with a 100 year old field camera, particularly that which documents the atlantic basin. In this project Cooper is charting the extremities of the land and islands that surround the Atlantic Ocean. As I understand it each photograph begins as a location that he finds on a map, this is then further researched before the trip which because of the typically remote location often involves difficult journeys by air, sea and land. Once on site Cooper makes only one photograph, the product of a lot of gazing and waiting.

Some of this work is captured in his book ‘True‘ that I’m now waiting for to arrive.

Check out the video of Thomas Joshua Cooper below:

Friday Inspiration: John Coffer

Occasionally I will find the same snippet of information pop up across a variety of different webpages, magazines, etc. that I turn to on a daily basis to find out what’s going on. That’s how it was with John Coffer.

John was recently featured in the Atlantic Magazine. John lives off the grid on a 50 acre farm in upstate NY that he uses as his base for “Camp Tintype”, ‘the best known and longest running learning center for wet-plate collodion photography in the world’. In addition to the video below, there are more videos on John’s website that are well worth a look. While you’re at John’s website you should also check out some of his tintypes.

COFFER from thismustbetheplace on Vimeo.