My fine art photography website, amagaphoto.com, has been growing for a while and will be open for business soon. Check it out and you’ll see that it’s long on images and short on words. I’m of a mind that individual works should speak for themselves — any commentary I might make would limit your own view. You have a right to see, or not, what you want.
Yet I — as a photographer, artist, and individual — still want a voice and a place to show my other photography. So here I am.
I’m not a fan of artist’s statements. Most of the ones I’ve read tend to be formulaic and impenetrable. If they are intended to illuminate, the light is all too often dim and casts ambiguous shadows. On the other hand, I won’t deny myself an occasional philosophical signpost.
The About page on my site says it well enough: I like simplicity. I always have. This is reflected in my taste in just about everything.
In my teens, I lusted after the 1965 Lotus Elan. It was small, light, and fast. And it was very simple in both styling and mechanical design. Its creator, Colin Chapman, was famous for a statement that was at once a philosophy and a strict direction to his engineers: “simplicate and add lightness.” The statement was borrowed from its originator, William Bushnell Stout, who designed the airplane that eventually became the Ford Tri-Motor in 1925. Frustrated with his engineers’ unrelenting drive to complicate designs and add weight — which you definitely don’t want to do with an airplane — he admonished them to do the opposite: simplicate and add lightness. I loved it. But that only nourished a seed that had been planted five years earlier.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to advertising. Already on the alert for clever ads, a defining moment came in 1960 as I turned a page in the New Yorker to see the Volkswagen “Lemon” ad. Two things struck me simultaneously: the utter simplicity of the layout and copy, and the irony of VW calling its own product a lemon. To make such an impact with one black and white photo and a few words of copy blew my nine-year-old mind and put my feet on the path to simplicity in expression.
Classic Chinese and Japanese ink drawings, Picasso’s line drawings (and John Lennon’s too), JMW Turner’s later works, Monet, Georgia O’Keefe, Mark Rothko, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and on. . .
. . . and on.