Brian Kosoff – Featured LACP Member, September 2019
This native New Yorker, born 1957, first became interested in art through sculpture, then found his way to photography, which ultimately became his life’s work. His earliest work, produced in his teens, was primarily focused on urban landscape. Many indications of his eventual photographic style were evident then, however landscape photography would have to wait more than twenty years before he would pursue it seriously.
In his last year of high school, Kosoff worked as an intern assisting several editorials and advertising photographers. This experience would have a lasting impact on his life in that it made it clear to him that photography was his calling, but it would also send him down the path of commercial work and setting aside his personal work. While enrolled as a photography major at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, Kosoff maintained an active career freelancing as a photographic assistant. His impatience and ambition to start his professional career would get the better of him and he left SVA in his second year to focus on assisting accomplished photographers. He felt this to be a better means to gain experience and rapidly expand his photographic knowledge.
While still in his late teens he had his first solo gallery exhibition in NYC. His show was featured in the coveted NY Times “short list” of recommended shows, and in which the Times described Kosoff as a “formalist”, a term he had not been familiar with at the time but turned out to be an apt description of his work today. During this time, and much to his own surprise, Kosoff was getting steady editorial assignments, by age twenty-one
had a few national magazine cover assignments to his credit, a photo studio on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and a growing client list which would ultimately include many of the Fortune 500.
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Having spent a few decades as an advertising still life photographer I tend to compose work that is for the most part spare and minimalist. I feel that if an element does not serve the content then it’s often a distraction. And as a former studio photographer, an area in which lighting is the truest test of one’s skills, I have an affinity and connection to lighting that creates a mood, defines a form and creates a sense of dimension. I believe this is reflected most obviously in my B&W work.
One of my current projects is a series of landscape photographs taken at night. What I found of interest in this subject was how our perceptions are very different then. We have a natural fear of darkness, likely because our main sense, vision, is limited by the lack of light and I guess that leads to a feeling of vulnerability. We can see terrestrial objects at far greater distances during the day, the world seems larger, the distances more vast, however we’re literally living in a bubble, one that can distort the reality of our existence.
During the day, when we look up and assume that we are seeing infinitely, we are not. Our own atmosphere, a bubble of gases and particles illuminated by the Sun, blocks our view and because of that our perception of the universe and our place in it is limited, we see no further than this “ceiling” over our heads. During the day, it’s easy to feel greater significance because our reach and scope seems as far as the eye can see, our impact so much greater.
But when one is out in the middle of nowhere, far away from cities and the unnatural environment of man and all one has for company is the howling of the coyotes and the countless stars, the perception of our place in the universe becomes far more obvious. It’s as though during the day we are indoors, safe and sheltered, in control of our immediate environment. But at night, with the skies now transparent, we are truly outside and at the whims of nature, the realization that we are just fragile passengers on a small, spinning ball in the middle of nowhere.
Photography with it’s artificial sensitivity to light can allow us to see the night beyond the shortcomings of our own vision or the false perception of artificial lighting. It allows us to see night as day, removing the cloak and perhaps allaying some of our fears of it, while at the same time showing us the familiar in a different light.
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