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Michael Kenna

Michael Kenna

After examining the ubiquitous work of Ansel Adams, I looked for inspiration closer to home; photographers who had worked with the smaller British landscape, rather than the big-scale American wilderness. Joe Cornish (http://www.joecornishgallery.co.uk/about) makes photographs of the landscape that are crystal clear, with vivid colours and with a deliberate eye on the commercial market (nothing wrong with that of course).  However, I was looking for work that captured the feel of the rugged northern landscape of Britain.  I enjoyed Jem Southam’s work  – see interview in Seesaw Magazine (http://seesawmagazine.com/southam_pages/southam_interview.html – accessed 22.3.15) – and the story basis for his honest landscapes, mostly of the softer landscapes in southern Britain. Fay Godwin‘s black and white work also has an honesty in the way it portrays the land and the story it tells.

However, the photographer of British origin I most enjoy is Michael Kenna (1953), born in Lancashire and now based in Seattle. His photographs capture the spirit of the landscape through black and white interpretation, rather than a more literal capture. In a interesting interview in the online magazine Curious Animal (http://www.curiousanimal.com/michael-kenna/ – accessed 23.3.15), as well as sharing how he almost became a monk, Kenna reveals, “Photography’s absolute power used to be its tie with reality: what you photographed was real and existed. That has now gone.” I feel this with many photographs I see of the landscape – they are almost machine-made forms of graphic art rather than photographs; processed through the Photoshop blender so many times that they become highly improbably representations of reality. Too disconnected to resonate.

Michael Kenna’s work is showcased on his own website (http://www.michaelkenna.net/imagearchive.php – accessed 23.3.15). Below is an example, with an isolated copse within an agricultural landscape and a typical Yorkshire skyline.

Michael Kenna
Michael Kenna

 

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