Zen Gardens in Kyoto

For 1100 years Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the seat of the imperial court and the center of Japan’s traditional culture. Although it is not clear when the first garden arrangements were completed, literary evidence indicates that the tradition extends back at least twelve and a half centuries. Graced by a wealth of fine topographical features, landscape vistas and natural materials, the region afforded all the requisites necessary for creating superb gardens.

In 1996, I was invited by the Japanese government to spend four months photographing the three Imperial Gardens, the first photographer ever given the privilege for such an extended period of study. I chose to photograph with an ultra large format 8×20 camera. The rectangular shape was consistent with the scroll-like composition these gardens seemed to demand and the large film made it possible to portray the spaces with the fidelity they deserved. The arresting visual perspective led me to emphasize unusual and bold composition as the central motif for the entire series of work.

All photographs are available for purchase. Sizes up to 4 X 10 feet.

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