AK BENNETT, PHOTOGRAPHER
YOU SEEM TO WORK STRICTLY IN LANDSCAPES, CAPTURING THE DENSITY OF NEW YORK CITY TO THE VASTNESS OF SCOTLAND. WHAT DRAWS YOU TO LANDSCAPES AS OPPOSED TO, FOR EXAMPLE, PEOPLE?
I don’t necessarily think of myself as a landscape photographer. I am not trying to capture landscapes per se. I think what I am mainly looking for or what seems to catch my attention is composition. I find myself continually drawn to simple bold shapes and often look for repetition and visual movement within those shapes. My photographs are not about the subject or scene. I never look for those things. What I see in the photographs is more graphic form. If at some point that graphic form happens to be human, I’ll probably start photographing people.
YOU PHOTOGRAPH ALL OVER THE WORLD. DO YOU TRAVEL TO PHOTOGRAPH OR DO YOU PHOTOGRAPH WHILE YOU TRAVEL?
I travel to photograph. I have tried to combine vacation travel with photographic travel, but my wife gets very bored standing around for a few hours while I wait for the sky to get interesting or a shadow to emerge. I also find that I need to turn my eye on so to speak. And vacation travel is about shutting off rather than turning on. For me making a really successful photo takes a lot of time and concentration. It means walking through fields or climbing into a ditch, or standing in the rain for hours. My process is not most people’s idea of fun.
YOUR WORK IS QUITE HAUNTING AND YOU HAVE STATED THAT YOU PREFER SHOOTING IN PLACES THAT ARE COLD AND UNINVITING. ARE THE TWO CONNECTED AND INTENTIONAL?
My life is so filled with the hustle bustle of city living, noise and visual pollution that I think I am continually looking to simplify. Or find some sense of calm or serenity. I don’t know if I am looking for haunted spaces in particular. I think what attracts me are spaces devoid of visual clutter and distraction. I gravitate to places that people have naturally stayed clear of, and because of their sparse surroundings, compositions within that type of space just seem to reveal themselves more plainly.
WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY?
A old friend and the conversation that ensues just into the 3rd pint of Guinness.
COMB OR BRUSH?
DO YOU LIKE YOUR NAME?
I was born Antony Kevin Bennett in Southern England in 1967. And was never called Antony, only Tony. Tony Bennett was just another name to my parents who were both from New Zealand. But I think I started noticing people making a fuss about it when we moved to the U.S. in the early 70s. Once I realized I shared my name with the singer Tony Bennett, I started to look for alternatives. Maybe I would go by Kevin Bennett, my middle name. But I think ultimately it just seemed like too much work to try to change it or correct people, so Tony Bennett is what people call me. AK Bennett is for the art (more not to be confused with the singer than anything else.) But to answer your question, I would say no. To me Tony always sounded like I made pizza.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE. MY AGE IS…………….
an odd way to measure my life, I prefer to say I have been around the sun 45 times.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER TONIGHT?
I have no idea. Hopefully not asparagus.