Ryōan-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan, 2000

One of the most famous (and photographed) zen gardens in Japan, Ryōan-ji is hard to see freshly. There are a lot of people jostling about, so a wide shot will include them. To get this picture I had to out-wait three Japanese ladies who were acting … well, like Japanese ladies d’un certain âge. We were all experiencing the kind of space that simplifies and liberates: the crust of convention falls away.

I decided that this simplicity was best caught with a pseudo-telephoto effect, placing one of the famous rock groups starkly against the wall, which I gave the maximum detail. This was a film negative and the 16 x 20 print is very granular – you can feel that wall under your hand’s eye. I have some for sale.

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