Hiroshi Sugimoto


—People used to feel the light and how the light affected the surface of the object. The sky, lights from the window are constantly changing every second, every minute. So you really had to guess what was going to happen. You had to develop your own sense of the best balance of F-stop and shutter speed. I trained myself very well spending thirty years doing this. So the machine cannot measure some things, very intimate factors. What the early photographer gained from the study of nature, now people tend to rely on the computer or machines for. That’s not good enough. You need something more than that.

—I developed my own style of printing. I tested many different methods—Walker Evans’s method, Ansel Adams’s method. They used different kinds of formulas and chemicals. I spent quite a lot of time studying chemicals and how to develop large-format negatives. I also developed a sense to adjust the negatives. What kind of gray tone creates these nice gray tones? And what level of grayness makes black tones, not losing the medium tones, but extremely deep black? And then, highlights should be interesting but never washed out. There’s no pure white; there are always some tones there. Even in the deepest shadow, there’s a tone which is possible to print on the silver surface, but not in a catalogue. So this is about studying the silver reactions—and the colors of the metal as silver, and the surface of ink tones. The colors of the metal...silver metal, silver colors. That makes the tones of the images so rich. I’m a great fan of this process and the colors of silver—how to make as fine tones as possible, as a silver-print maker. So in that sense I am a very craft-oriented person. But at the same time, I want to make something artistic and conceptual. In general, you know, the post-modern artist never paid attention to craftsmanship. That’s something like a nineteenth-century cliché. But to me, I’m going the other way around. I really respect my craftsmanship and my hands. So even though I’ve lived in this postmodern time, I probably call myself a postmodern-experienced pre-postmodern modernist!

—When I was working on the architecture series I was actually photographing huge-scale architecture looking up from the ground level. I wanted to transfer this sense of seeing the building from the ground floor...It’s presenting some kind of taste and sense of the early-twentieth century. In "Seascapes," my subject matter is water and air.
PBS interview.

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