I am drawn to places that may challenge me as a photographer, locations that at present are not on the hot list of places to visit. I Would normally head to areas that could be regarded as remote, or certainly feel that way. The landscapes of choice are ones that appear almost untouched, although the truth is seldom the case. I have been fortunate to visit many countries over the past few years , but my recent trip to Japan seems to have a difference that's difficult to categorise.
One of the main factors that made Japan, and Hokkaido in particular, intriguing was its apparent simplicity, certainly in the depths of a harsh winter anyway. When I am out shooting , my aim is to distil the landscape before me of all it's confusion, into digestible parts composed in such a way that the photograph is not an overwhelming record of every aspect of the scene. On previous trips to Scotland, Iceland and New Zealand I had found a need to break down the enormity of the landscape and try to say something about the individual aspects that I saw when I was there. The images I had seen of Hokkaido seemed to describe a landscape that was already elemental and minimal in its own right, with very little need for distillation at all. This was not quite the case though.
What enables you to create this simplicity in Hokkaido is the weather. The weather was not what I had been expecting. It was cold but very little snow was falling and its this that makes the difference. At first I did not realise but Hokkaido is a landscape heavily sculpted by industrialisation. The influences of this can be seen for miles around. The locations were not as forthcoming as I i, had imagined and without the grey canvas of falling snow, eliminating man's presence from the scene was not so easy. I had to pick my compositions very carefully in the areas I felt I could shoot but on other occasions, it was just a case of " Drive on! ". This was very frustrating, but I already new this would not be my only visit.