“You should get into the habit of looking above eye-level while walking,” says American photographer Brian Kanagaki. “It’s much more beautiful than looking down at the dirty street and trash.” Golden Persimmons, shot over a period of six years, captures geometric subjects in ambiguous environments; spanning over eight countries (though predominantly New York), the black-and-white images take inspiration from the graphic shapes found in cities all over the world.
The project began when the design director got lost while taking a shortcut in his hometown, San Francisco. “It was funny to get lost in a city that I thought I knew so well,” he says. “I ended up driving around and finding so many new things that got my mind working.” One of the things that caught his eye were decorative trees in people’s front gardens, the original basis for the series. But after moving to New York and spending time travelling, the project quickly evolved to focus on uniting the world via its mundane similarities.
Kanagaki vows that his images are nothing special – that people everywhere could see what he does, they just choose not to notice the “little details”. He says that our preoccupation with mobile phones is a major factor, and is something that instigated the series, part and parcel of the mediative state that taking photographs evoked in him. “Everybody wants to be somewhere else than where they are,” he explains. “I want people, and me included, to enjoy where we are now; I’ve found that looking for shapes and shadows really helps that.”
Despite this many of the photographs were pre-planned, and most were shot on a Pentax 67 (a “hefty” camera that “you don’t just carry around for fun everyday”). The 33-year-old says his first task was to scout out his location, then decide on a specific time, taking the light and the business of the scene into account. This makes for a very still set of images, but Kanagaki says he didn’t initially intend to not exclude people. “It makes it seem very cold,” he says. “But apparently that’s just how I like to see things.”
www.briankanagaki.com Golden Persimmons II is published by Palm Studios and costs £30 https://palmstudios.co.uk/product/golden-persimmons-ii/