Being online and interested in photography, inevitably as we wade daily through oceans of mediocrity, we occasionally stumble across a photographer whose work just sings to us, and excites us at the possibilities of the medium all over again.
I wanted to write a short post to share with you three photographers I’ve found in my travels whose pictures delight, encourage and inspire me.
Why? On his blog, JT (in Seoul) much of the time uses fairly simple humble compact cameras like the Ricoh GRs, and an 8MP Sony DSC-W100. From these machines he eeks out gritty, grainy, emotive and intimate photographs that many couldn’t make with the most expensive kit in the world.
I think what I like about JT is his underdog kind of approach. Whilst there are hundreds, thousands of people chasing the latest technology and ever increasing MegaPixel count and lens sharpness, JT just hunkered down and got to know the basics of his craft and his relatively primitive cameras first, and makes them work beyond what virtually every other user could.
More? Check out his So Long Friend post about that little Sony, or Why I Always End Up With a Ricoh, about the amazing (as I recently discovered) Ricoh GR series.
Who? Hin Chua.
Why? I don’t think I’ve ever come across photography that seems so ordinary and so special at the same time. I discovered Hin’s After The Fall series initially, and photographs like this are somehow simple enough to encourage you to gaze into them, yet deep enough to reap reward when you do.
Images like the burnt out apartment in the selection from After The Fall featured here, are amongst my favourite images I’ve seen in the last few years. Also, though Hin mostly shoots in colour, I don’t think about the colour, as I do with most colour images, wondering what camera/lens/film/preset combination was used to create it. I just think about the overall photograph. This is a huge compliment, that the colour has almost become invisible, and the overall composition is king.
More? As well as those above, see his Instagram (@hinius) for more, like these again very simple yet memorable shots of hand prints on a lift door and mountains of gravel.
Who? Wouter Brandsma.
Why? In common with the other two, Wouter just gets on with making pictures without, it seems, obsessing over and using the latest kit. Another Ricoh lover (it was his review of (and photographs made with) the GR Digital III that made me feel I had to have one), Wouter favours the user experience of a camera (everything is where you need it, nothing gets in the way) over bells and whistles.
Wouter mostly seems to shoot black and white, and his shots (often just of his daily commute) are wonderful. But his colour ones are possibly even better, and I just adore sets like these, especially that last photo with the red B boxes. Or this set – just look at the colours on the main picture with washing blowing on the boat. This is how I would like my colour digital photographs to look, and it’s reignited my interest in finding and tweaking LightRoom presets that might get me somewhere close.
More? See further pictures on his blog of nearly 10 years, and more magnificence on his Instagram (@wouterbrandsma).
Writing this I’ve been thinking about what these photographers have in common, why they inspire me, and why I wanted to share them with you.
In short, I think because I’ve spent the last few years gorging on vintage photography kit, and reached saturation point, I’m now trying to strip down, simplify, and find just a small handful of cameras I love using and that give me results I like without hours of processing.
JT, Hin and Wouter all just seem to get on with photographing what they find beautiful around them, everyday, without caring much about the spec of the equipment they use, or having dozens of options.
More important to them is using the stuff that just works, then using it extensively enough to get to know it so well it becomes almost invisible, an extension of their hand/eye/mind.
This, I believe, is my next aim in photography.
Using the few cameras I’ve chosen (and mostly my Pentax K10D and Ricoh GRDIII) to get to know them and their capabilities inside out, and create the best work I can, as I continue to hunt for the beauty I find around me.
I hope you gain something from these three photographers.
Who are your most inspiring photographic influences? Please let us know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.
14 thoughts on “Three Photographers I Love”
thank you for the excellent recommendations
You’re welcome! Who have you come across online who inspires you?
Plenty of usual suspects I am sure like Thomas Heaton and Ted Forbes (both on YouTube) but also (on Flickr) Thomas Toft and Jan Niklas Warneck come to mind
Not usual suspects to me, plenty to explore, thank you!
I knew Josh and Wouter’s works already. Really remarkable! I make sure to visit their sites regularly.
And thanks for making me aware of Hin Chua. The selection from ‘After the Fall’ are absolutely terrifying. very simple at first sight, but they grab your soul…..
Yes what I also like with Josh and Wouter is though they don’t seem to use many cameras, they both have used Ricoh GRs, other digital compacts and iPhones/smartphones, and yet there is great consistency in the look of their photographs. I don’t know whether this is because their processing workflow is very consistent (though from reading both of their blogs, neither seem to spend much time on or enjoy this aspect, especially JT) or they just know their few cameras so well and how to get the look they want. Of course a lot of the consistency comes from subject matter too. Either way, I’d like this kind of simplicity in the range of machines I use, and consistency in the output, ie the final photographs.
I discovered Hin Chua via a street photography podcast I used to listen to, I forget the name now. I wouldn’t say he’s a typical street photographer at all. But yes his work is very striking and memorable, it seems so simple but it makes such an impact. It reminds me a little of Stanley Kubrick movies like The Shining and 2001, where scenes you might only see briefly have a lasting visual impact – the twins, the river of blood in the hotel corridors, the little boy riding his trike up and down that patterned carpet in The Shining, and in 2001 the black monolith, the bone thrown into the air that becomes a space ship, the red light of HAL, and the “light show” at the end…
Exactly what I though. Seemingly banal pictures that haunt you when you study them. Man against machine. Lost in urban sprawl….
I’ve been aware of themes in my photographs for years, like nature reclaiming man’s work – vehicles, buildings etc. Think I’ve got a way to go to reach Hin’s level…
Thank you Dan for your recommendation. Very much appreciated.
There is an essence in the mundane, the simple things in life. By getting rid off the distractions you can work on consistency and a visual language.
You’re very welcome Wouter. Your blog, writing, and most of all photographs, have been a great inspiration in recent weeks. Plus it was your reviews of (and photographs taken with) the GRD III and GX100 that were the final nudge I needed to explore them for myself – and I absolutely love both.
It was the GX100 that got me back into using Ricoh cameras after I got a GR1 film camera in 1996. I like GRD-series with the fixed prime lens, but I wouldn’t mind a GX100 kind of camera with a slightly larger sensor too. It is great to be making photographs and writing about photography again.
I have a post nearly finished about the two Ricohs. They’ve been complete game changers.
The GRD III is fantastic, and I have the 21mm attachment which is fun too. Generally I’m a primes kind of guy, but I got curious about the GX100 and the ability to shoot at 24mm. Plus the step zoom feature is brilliant – this is exactly how I use zooms on my Pentax DSLR – at the set marked focal lengths on the barrel, not just zooming to any arbitrary point.
So now I have the GX100 set up pretty much the same as the GRD III (3:2, ISO400, b/w (I process the RAW file but love the b/w preview on screen), Spot AF, Av, -0.3 exp comp) except with the GX100 I use MY1 for 24mm and MY3 for 28mm, when 24 feels a bit wide and/or distorted.
Do appreciate the larger screen, faster writing and slightly faster lens of the GRD III though, and I could live with just a 28mm lens, plus that 21mm add on now and then. It’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to the “perfect” camera, despite me not all that long ago thinking that my Contax 139 Quartz was that camera.
I’ve been drifting towards an ever more simplified set up after having literally hundreds of cameras the last five years or so. The Ricohs offer an ideal balance of simplicity and capability. Such a beautiful user interface and design.
Have you used a later GR or GR II with the APS-C sensor?
I’ve had the GR since mid 2013 when it got released. It is a very good performer, but I always loved using cameras with a smaller sensor. A camera with a fast lens and an one inch sensor would be fine for a greater depth of field even when photographing with a large aperture.
Right now though, I’m back to the GRD3 as long as the camera last. When the lens extracts it makes a strange noise and I lost the thumb grip on the back. I mainly use my iPhone. I always have it with me and the quality is very decent. Simplicity, simplicity.
Absolutely, this is the way I’m going too, just want to simplify. My K10D to use the gorgeous old Takumar lenses, and Pentax-A lenses when I feel like being a little more automated, then the GRD III and GX100 for everything else.