Influencing Me: Michael Kenna

Looking at artists/photographers and how they work is an important move for anyone wanting to learn. You should study what they do, take away what you like and disregard what you don’t. We have looked at Michael Kenna before, but it was a while a go and that post no longer exists, so it seemed like a good time to be revisiting the work of Michael Kenna. Today we are going to be doing another Influencing Me post.

Influencing Me: Michael Kenna

Michael has been taking photos for a long time, here is a quick description of him from Wikipedia

Michael Kenna (born 1953) is an English photographer best known for his unusual black & white landscapes featuring ethereal light achieved by photographing at dawn or at night with exposures of up to 10 hours. His photos concentrate on the interaction between ephemeral atmospheric condition of the natural landscape, and human-made structures and sculptural mass.

That is really amazing those long exposures of up to 10 hours, and makes me think I’m not pushing my photography enough.


One thing you notice when you start looking at his work is the simplicity of it. He does not fill his frame with objects or subjects and you can see that he has very little in his images. There is an isolation attached to them.


The use of monochrome is also interesting, though it looks like they are not totally black and white, and he has applied some tone to them, though very little. Stripping the image of any colour makes you focus on the textures and patterns of what he had photographed.

There are scenes here that many of us have seen before from other photographers, but Michael allows us to see them in a different way. Through his work you can see the world in a different way, and therefore challenges you to do the same. There are several images that would be good to try and do, though not a copy, but in our own way.


I hope you have enjoyed the revisit of Michael Kenna’s work and would invite you to go and look at his website, Michael Kenna to see more from him.


15 Responses

  1. Tom

    He is one of my favorite photographers. You can learn a lot by just looking at his simple but most elegant photos. Who said that film is dead, that is what he uses.

  2. Pam Kotzin

    I like what you said about his work making you feel like you are not pushing your photography enough. Reading about some of his exposures being 10 hours made me feel a little lazy. I like his simplicity of isolating his subject. Amazing images! Thanks for sharing them Leanne.

    • Yeah, I think I need to try some much longer exposures, I’m going to make that my goal this year.The simplicity is amazing, so much to learn Pam, I’m so glad to hear you liked his work.

  3. Jane Lurie

    One of my favorites. Nice post, Leanne.

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