The Spectacular Art of Capturing a Perfectly Timeless Photograph

By Julia Mantooth

Transforming the split second of time it takes to flash a photograph into a timeless piece of art is a seemingly impossible task. However, this has been accomplished time and time again by keen-eyed photographers. Photography in the 21st century can be seen as less about the literal substance of an image, but its essence and the intrigue that it inspires. Striking a balance between capturing the moment and the essence of that moment is exactly what makes a photo ageless. Read more here in The Spectacular Art of Capturing a Perfectly Timeless Photograph

Feature Image Southbank Centre, Hiroshi Sugimoto Kenosha Theater, Kenosha, 2015

When cameras were first invented, photographs were taken to depict their exact subject and nothing more. An image, taken of a smiling person, capturing the emotions caught on the face. Now, we value the larger meaning and message that a photograph can conjure. For the person, the social context grows in importance.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Polar Bear, 1976. © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy of the artist.

Achieving that balance between the substance and the essence of an instant is the formula for a timeless photograph. We are able to grasp not only the focal point of a particular image but also the dynamic elements of the world in which that focal point can exist.

Artists approach this idea of ageless photography in a variety of ways. There are several exhibitions currently taking place showcasing some exceptional photographers. These exhibitions offer a unique look into the minds of artists Hiroshi Sugimoto and Ettore Sottsass. 

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Union City Drive-in, Union City, 1993. © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy of the artist.

The Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre will be displaying work by Hiroshi Sugimoto until the seventh of January, 2024. His work is nearly all filtered in black and white, so the time at which each photo was taken cannot be determined just by looking at them. Each picture is uniquely timeless and enigmatic in nature. Although the photos all feel slightly foreign, there is a sense of familiarity in each frame. 

Hiroshi Sugimoto, UA Playhouse, New York, 1978

Image Southbank Centre

Ettore Sottsass is most known for his creation of the Memphis design style. This 1980’s style is a bright and funky design movement introduced by Sottsass with Memphis Milano. However, it may not be well known, but he was also a talented photographer throughout his career. These photographs are a significant diversion from the eccentric and colourful style that Sottsass was known to employ. Triennale Milano is showcasing several collections of these photographs as well as some of his design brainstorms. His innovative creative process is explored through this exhibition. These works will be on display until the 21st of April, 2024.

Ettore Sottsass Design Metaphors, Foto Gianluca Di Ioia

Image Triennale Milano

These exhibitions feature just two of the many exemplary artists who have been able to capture such stunning photographs. Having the ability to create permanence from a single snapshot in time requires immense talent and a sharp eye for design. An image in photography is a split second but can hold hundreds of hours within it.

To find out more about the Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibition please visit here

To find out more about the Ettore Sottsass exhibition please visit here

If you enjoyed reading The Spectacular Art of Capturing a Perfectly Timeless Photograph, why not read Seeing Things: Everyday Life Magnified

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