It is enough to merely absorb the rich – even intense – and lustrous hues of Robert Caplin’s photographs and luxuriate in them. How he does it is reflected in what he is principally drawn to: “First and foremost, I’m attracted to beautiful light both hard and soft,” explains Caplin in a just-published interview on the Leica Blog.
Caplin’s work is regularly featured in America’s premier periodicals including National Geographic – but you wouldn’t need to be informed of this fact if you but look at this classically NatGeo image.
To the question, “Was or is there a . . . type of photography that influenced your work or inspired you?” Caplin unhesitatingly answers, “Absolutely – photojournalism.” The article supplies gobs of pictorial proof demonstrating this fact. However, inclination towards photojournalism hitched to a preference for colour results in a wonderful departure from conventional B&W photojournalism: witness the photo of a homeless man or panhandler and other pedestrians at night with a brightly-lit stall to one side. A B&W image would not have put over the tonal contrasts and realism that Caplin’s colour version does.
Caplin clearly does not only capture a moment – decisive or otherwise – or a situation or an event; he sees and brings out the hues that are inherent in the moment, situation or event. Indeed, you can partly infer this from one of his methods of working: “Sometimes I’ll find a pocket of light and simply wait for a person or a moment to pass through.” The photo taken in the evening of a man repairing a window of a brick house is a prime example of this mode of operation that resulted in a photo with lovely hues and colour temperatures due to different light sources.
Sometimes “the person or moment” is no more than a small silhouette bringing the gentlest and deftest of human touches to what is primarily a sedate study in architecture, composition, light and textures. On other occasions colour, composition and light serve to support and accentuate what is primarily a spontaneous portrayal of human emotions and, indeed, that “moment” depicting a memorable instant in a human life.
It is this unusual combination of factors and approach that make Robert Caplin truly an unique photographer.
Tags: light and colour, photojournalism, Robert Caplin, street shooting