Empire State Building, Study 1, New York City, USA, 1978. By Michael Kenna.
Michael Kenna, a black and white landscape photographer, caught my attention with his minimalistic and mystical style. This particular image is one of my favorites. He has captured one of New York’s most famous landmarks, the Empire State Building in all its pride and glory. Kenna makes me feel small and he makes me experience the pulse of the city with this photograph.
This image is photographed from a low angle looking up on the building, I think, from this angle, he captures its greatness, and makes the viewer feel small in comparison. The framing of this photograph seem to be well thought through, he decided to crop the two darker buildings on either side to create a focal point – it forces you to look towards the middle. Kenna also decided to flip the picture so that the buildings are in a diagonal direction instead of vertical. To me, this seem to create a sense of upward striving and movement. In a way, he is grouping these objects together and this is creating a sense of proximity, the choice of doing so leads to a creation of line. Architecture design are often examples of patterns and lines, but Kenna is using the lines in between the buildings, the negative space, to enhance the lines of the Empire State Building and the movement in the image. However, from what I can see, there is no clear pattern on this image, except for the repetition on the buildings. Kenna is working with high contrast on many of his photographs, the buildings on the sides are very dark in comparison to the Empire State Building which is light grey. This too makes your eye go more towards the middle, the lighter part of the image. Depth of field is irrelevant in this image, the whole image is in focus.
Overall, I like Kenna’s style because I think that sometimes less is more and he seems to keep it simple. I also like his way of making landscape photography interesting in a minimalistic way.
Link to image: http://www.michaelkenna.net/gallery.php?id=14