Japan Dispatch No.4

Photography is like a found object. A photographer never makes an actual subject, they just steal the image from the world.”
-Hiroshi Sugimoto 

A walk through the sacred. Japan, 2019. 

64mm / f4.5 / 15s / ISO 125

Last month I wrote to ask for your support in our efforts for EMpower's annual fundraiser, and you didn't disappoint. I'm so pleased and grateful to say that our team was able to raise £50,000, which will be matched by EMpower's generous underwriters for the same amount, after cycling 1500km.  The overall challenge has seen numerous teams raise £2million - a herculean effort in such a difficult year! As I promised, everyone who supported us will have their name entered into a ballot to win a signed and framed edition 1 photo of their choice from this Japan series - I'll be drawing the ballot and revealing the winner in the next mail, which will be the last dispatch from Japan.  

Kanso. Japan, 2020.

45mm / f11 / 30s  / ISO 200

I recently received the first batch of test prints from these photos, and it's always such a rush seeing the print versions of work that I've been preparing for almost a year. Often the last step of the production process is the one that gets the most overlooked - surely you pick an image, decide a size and hit print? In fact, it's this past part of the process that I think can make or break a photograph.

Firstly, understanding that an imagine can look totally different when blown up from the screen to a large format print, and knowing that any imperfections in the image will get magnified. Secondly, learning that colours on a computer screen don't always transcribe to the printer, means an extra layer of work to calibrate the screen and the printer. And lastly choosing what the of paper - matt, or glossy, or grainy finishes can all lead to vastly different outcomes. I'm enjoying playing around with the different finishes before I decide on a final outcome!

In a world where so much content is designed for digital consumption and to "grab" the viewers attention on social media with bright colour palettes, I think I've learned to value even more the feeling of seeing a photograph in the print and slowly consume each section of it, bit by bit, subtlety by subtlety.   The feeling of watching someone standing and getting lost in a large format photograph is what makes pouring energy into this journey so worth it. 

To quote Ansel Adams: "The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance". 


Seijaku. Japan, 2020.

50mm / f16 / 30s  / ISO 100

As I think back to the fact that this trip to Japan was now almost 12 months ago and essentially my last proper "trip" I'm more and more excited to think about what life the other side of the virus looks like, and being able to hit the road again. I'm yearning for those days in the field with 5am alarms where you wake up groggy but waste no time in getting ready to go, taking just one moment for that small luxury of a jet black cup of coffee to fuel you through a cold morning in the field. Hitting the road and driving out to a spot with a sense of anticipation- what sort of clouds will there be, where will the sun be coming up, will you find a composition that you think makes sense in time before you lose the good light. And then, just letting go of any expectation and taking each moment of that morning in for what it is - another day to cherish and another day to explore and view the world through the lens of the camera.

Soon, it will be time again, and these good thoughts will get us through the long winter that beckons.