Those Who Inspire Me – Kenneth Josephson

For me, one of the great joys in life is discovering a new source of creative inspiration.

As I have become more engaged in photography, I’m constantly broadening my photographic literacy and finding new images and photographers that I was previously unaware of. One of my resources for this information is the Lens blog of the New York Times which recently ran a post on a photographer, Kenneth Josephson, that I was unaware of and discovering his work has been a spark of inspiration.

Kenneth is a Chicago based photographer, who has had a long and interesting career, but stayed out of the lime-light and thus remained relatively unknown. The release of a major monograph of his work and a solo gallery show in New York have brought some well deserved attention to this trailblazing photographer.

During Kenneth’s career, he explored many visual concepts and ideas and was an early innovator in conceptual photography. Before anyone gets turned off by that term with its trendy high-brow and art-school associations, it plainly means photography with a concept behind it. His concepts are direct, visually interesting and have a hint of a wink to them. Many explore the medium’s constant struggle of truth and illusion and how our perceptions effect what we see. He looks at photography with the inquisitive mind of an explorer but with the eye of an artist. Like many artists, his style and work evolved over the years and there is much to be inspired from no matter what your photographic interest.

 

This image caught my immediate attention and is a favorite…Chicago, 1961. Four figures silhouetted against a dark background, each hit with an individual beam of light.

This image caught my immediate attention and is a favorite…Chicago, 1961. Four figures silhouetted against a dark background, each hit with an individual beam of light.

 

In this image, simply titled Chicago, 1976, Kenneth’s wit and playfulness come out by challenging us with scale assumptions.

In this image, simply titled Chicago, 1976, Kenneth’s wit and playfulness challenge our scale assumptions.

 

In another image, Chicago, 1973, the juxtaposition between the torn “test-strip” of the plane and its placement over the tree image creates an interesting visual relationship that can be interpreted in many ways.

In another image, Chicago, 1973, the juxtaposition between the torn “test-strip” of the plane and its placement over the tree image creates an interesting visual relationship that can be interpreted in many ways.

 

A simple concept, but executed to perfection.  Simply entitled Polapans which refers to the instant film that he used in the composition.

A simple concept, but executed to perfection. Simply entitled Polapans which refers to the instant film that he used in the composition.

 

Not only were his ideas insightful and witty, but each composition works well. New York State, 1970

Not only were his ideas insightful and witty, but each composition works well. New York State, 1970

 

Even though Kenneth was not a railroad photographer, he spent time trackside and found many interesting compositions. Chicago 1961

Even though Kenneth was not a railroad photographer, he spent time trackside and found many interesting compositions. Chicago 1961

Kenneth’s work is currently being shown in the Gitterman Gallery in New York through June 11th. There are 43 images in the show and it is definitely worth seeing if you are in the area. All these images can be viewed on their website gallery, but looking at the traditional gelatin silver prints in person enhances the visual experience of his work. His prints have suburb tonal qualities and depth that is just not seen when viewed on a digital screen.

The monograph, The Light of Coincidence - The Photographs of Kenneth Josephson, is available through University of Texas Press. It is a very impressive book and a must-have for your library.

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