UrbanWeird Photography
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Photo Sketchbook

Thoughts on general photography and personal photographic process.

The Anti-Urban

Pride Approaching Arrogance

Pride Approaching Arrogance

The British actor Juliet Stevenson said that “everything contains its antithesis”. This is true with my personal experience and my photographic work. I am an urbanophile. I love cities and only want to live in cities; preferably right in the center. Me being an urbanophile is defined by my experience in the antithesis of the city, i.e., growing up in a rural area. I never felt like I belonged there and did not particularly enjoy it. I always dreamed of living in big cities. I guess you could call it a “grass is always greener on the other side” type of thing, but I never had the reverse – not yet anyway; ironically, the grass has remained greener for me in cities.

To me, doing urban photography (street, architectural, urban landscape) is writing a biography of a city through images. A part of any biography is talking about the subject’s environment within which he/she/it grew up.

Where does a city grow up?

In the countryside.

Most cities begin in the countryside and small hamlets and are shaped in no small part by the nature surrounding them; though they, i.e., masses of humans, can drastically change and eventually incorporate these surroundings. But nature will always surround a city. Well, until the time the entire planet becomes one big uber-mega-megalopolis.

Calling myself an urban photographer does not prevent me from photographing other seemingly unrelated subjects. I enjoy photographing natural landscapes and flowers. By participating in such photography, I am constantly reminded of these scenes as ‘not being urban’. What I see in a close-up of a flower is not just petals, stamens, and pollen but also NOT windows, streetlamps, and pedestrians. In my urban-centric mindset, everything is based on it being or not being urban. So, in a weird sense, even a mountain-scape without a human or anything human-made in sight, is also urban because it is Anti-Urban.

In the current issue of UrbanWeird Photo (Winter 2006/17), I take you outside of the megalopolis of Tokyo into the surrounding natural scenery of Japan and inside to its parks and gardens. In my opinion, photographing nature or mostly nature is an essential aspect of urban photography because it is the antithesis of urban; thus, part of it.

Brian Wood-KoiwaComment