SAMURAI

New Zealand D-Photo - - FOLIO -

Any cre­ative knows an idea is a slip­pery thing, and projects very sel­dom turn out just as they be­gin in the mind. Wood ex­pe­ri­enced a nice il­lus­tra­tion of this fact while putting to­gether the im­age that would even­tu­ally be­come his Gold-win­ning samurai group por­trait. Here, the pho­tog­ra­pher started with the idea of go­ing on a his­tor­i­cal deep-dive. He was in­spired by the work of 19th-cen­tury Bri­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Felice Beato, who was one of the first to bring East Asia to the rest of the world in pho­to­graphic form. Beato was able to chron­i­cle some of the fi­nal days of the Ja­panese samurai class in pho­to­graphs and also pi­o­neered a tech­nique for hand-colour­ing black-and­white pho­tos — prob­a­bly in­flu­enced by time spent around Ja­panese wa­ter­colourists and wood­block artists. “My orig­i­nal idea was, hey, why don’t I do some­thing com­pletely out of the box for me and do some­thing like that?” Wood re­calls. “Do it re­ally old school, shoot it on film, do a bit of hand colour, play with that theme?” He shot the first por­trait, the samurai in the cen­tre of the shot, with the in­ten­tion of cre­at­ing an en­try to the Clas­sic Por­trait cat­e­gory. That would mean mak­ing the pic­ture with a sin­gle cap­ture, with­out any sig­nif­i­cant al­ter­ations in post. “What was ini­tially a clas­sic por­trait — and this hap­pens to me ev­ery year — I got to that point, and thought … why not? Why not make it some­thing more?” In the end, Wood could not re­sist the pull of his in­nate style. An ad­di­tional four samurai were shot, and a back­drop taken at Ro­torua’s Red­woods For­est was dropped in be­hind. The plan for hand colour­ing was usurped by the artist’s sig­na­ture tonal con­trol in the dig­i­tal dark­room. The pho­tog­ra­pher knows the ‘trolls’ will al­ways come af­ter him for his in­cli­na­tion to em­brace dig­i­tal edit­ing in his pho­to­graphic process, and ac­cuse him of be­ing ‘dig­i­tal artist’ rather than a pho­tog­ra­pher. On the whole, Wood lets his ac­claimed work speak for it­self, but no­body can be ex­pected to turn the other cheek ev­ery time. “It’s like, yeah, sure, to be hon­est, mate, I couldn’t use a bloody camera if I tried, you’re right,” he in­tones sar­cas­ti­cally, ahead of a mis­chievous chuckle. To see more of Richard Wood’s award-win­ning im­agery, visit richard­wood.co.nz

RICHARD WOOD, SHIELD MAIDEN, CANON EOS 5D MARK III, CANON EF 50MM F/1.4 USM LENS, 50MM, F/10, 1/160S, ISO 400

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