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Hiroshi Sugimoto

We have been asked to research several photographers as part of Project 2. I chose to look at three photographers’ one of them being Hiroshi Sugimoto. I wanted to examine his work because he uses a style of long exposure rather than a more conventional route using either an automatic mode e.g., Shutter priority, Aperture or Program

Hiroshi Sugimoto for over 30 years has used a large format 8×10 camera

I watched the link provided, which comprised of two short video clips. In his theatre series, he opens the shutter using bulb mode for several hours starting at the beginning of the film and at the end finishes the exposure. This leaves a blank white screen in the cinema and all the people disappear. He explains that this is a blank space within a blank space.

Michael Freeman in his book ‘Photographer’s Vision’ looks at movies and films in a way that he explains a movie splits time into sections and to specific sequences. A famous photographer Eddie Adams, captured an image of a Saigon police officer executing a prisoner in the street in 1968 his view: “a still photographer has to show the whole fracking movie in one picture. A still picture is going to be there forever.” Freeman, The Photographer’s Vision.

In light of this quote Adams makes the point, which refers to a solitary image telling the whole story whereas a movie tells the story over several sections and has a definitive beginning and end. Comparing this to Sugimoto’s style of photography he takes one picture shown a film from beginning to end but does not literally show each frame of the film and considers he three-hour image one photograph. I question what is the point of this?

He explains that depending on the movie the screen can vary from being bright at the end if the film was optimistic and dull if that story was sad.

Sugimoto went onto photograph seascapes something I particularly enjoy photographing and using long exposures. He uses a very spiritual and natural way to express colour in photography and almost be at one with the world.

His latest four yearlong project ‘The Lightning Field Series’ involves no camera only striking metal with high voltage electricity and then processing the film in varying amount of salt solution to create a natural phenomenon. His philosophy is that the final photograph is representative of the wind and gods.  The exhibition was called ‘The Day After.’ Nakamura, Memories of Origin.

I recently met up with an old work colleague and we discussed my current university work and he told about Nobuyuki Kobayashi. Kobayashi is a captivating photographer producing platinum palladium prints on washi paper using ancient techniques that date over 300 years. I watched the short 30 minute video and was totally gripped by his composition of the landscapes but the art of producing wonderful prints that only emerge months later in the darkroom. He describes  ‘Yubi’ quite literally translated as ‘Yu’ meaning “gentle” and ‘bi’ meaning “beautiful.” His work echoes that of Sugimoto and this is why I wanted to mention him in my research.


I do not want to stray away from Sugimoto but I came across the phrase ‘Wabi Sabi’ whilst researching Capa. “Wabi” refers to an austere, natural state. “Sabi” refers to a lonely, melancholic sense of impermanence in life. So, the fact that everything in life is in a constant change and that nothing lasts forever. The fact that nothing in photography is complete or perfect and constantly evolving fits both these photographers’ work.

I found several websites describing Wabi Sabi, which I have included below for anyone who maybe interested in fiuther reading.

http://www.discoverdigitalphotography.com/2016/wabi-sabi-photography-the-art-of-the-imperfect/ (Accessed 13/02/17)

http://www.wabi-sabijapan.com/photos/gallery/index.html (Accessed 13/02/17)


Freeman, M. (2011) The photographer’s vision: understanding and appreciating great photography. Lewes: Ilex.  (Accessed: 13 February 2017).

Nakamura, Y. (no date) Memories of Origin. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhZJF4IPXcw (Accessed: 13 February 2017).