Life at 320 Frames Per Second

Life at 320 Frames Per Second

It takes a little getting used to - the constant rushing forward.

Travelling by Shinkansen, Japan's high-speed rail system, feels at first like a plane taking off; but, you never quite achieve flight, and the acceleration seems endless.

Out the window, anything close is passing to quickly to focus on; so you adjust to a series of glimpses, of passing cities, farms, stations. And, occasionally, a human form - a face, a shape, a silhouette. A flicker of life outside the metal tube...

Les fantômes du moulin

By Vincent Baldensperger

KAGE, OMBRE (en japonais)... Sans lumière pas de Kage. C'est une philosophie, un équilibre constant qui nous pousse, tous les membres du collectif, à modeler nos regards, à tenter de saisir cette balance sensible. L'invitation reçue à rejoindre le groupe il y a maintenant presque trois ans est tatouée dans ma mémoire. Rien de moins qu'une clé décisive dans mon existence. Reconnaissance sincère à tous mes compagnons de l'ombre pour leur regard lumineux. Heureux non-anniversaire !

Je n'ai pas souhaité plonger dans un catalogue, présenter un best-of. Il est à venir...
Je suis allé faire un tour côté Ombre, là où le silence est roi.

"Prendre à droite, route des usines vers le Pic de Nore"... là-bas du passé subsistent quelques traces. Délainage, textile, mégisserie, il faut s'enfoncer dans la pénombre de cette vallée pour retrouver ces vaisseaux fantômes. 4 degrés, des moulins et des ouvriers oubliés. "Vous êtes frères, frères de travail, frères de misère, frères d'espérance" leur lançait Jaurès en 1893. Echos définitivement perdus aux 4 coins de cette Montagne Noire.

Tôt ou tard la forêt grignotera jusqu'à la dernière pierre, jusqu'à la dernière poutre. Le soleil se couche. Ici comme ailleurs, on n'oublie rien de rien, on n'oublie rien du tout, on s'habitue c'est tout.

For the love of Kage

By Kevin Mullins

The Kage Collective is five years old.

I wasn't here at the beginning, but I'm glad I'm here now.

Whilst I'm proud to be a member, I feel I'm an apprentice to the other great photographers in this collective.  

I have learnt so much from them, not only through their imagery and storytelling but from our behind-the-scenes communication also.

I study their work constantly, as I'm sure you do, and every issue we publish I get a paroxysm of pride.

I envy their skill at storytelling, and I envy their curated stories.  My work is very peripatetic.  I move from wedding to wedding, lecture or talk to workshop and back to a wedding.

Often I feel there is little structure or coherence in what I'm doing long term.  

I picked up my first ever camera in 2009.  Back then, I shot with DSLRs and really, had no base idea of light, shadow and the relationship between them.

As I've moved through my journey, I find myself drawn to making images based on shadow, and light.  It's the essence of photography, we all know that, but for me, personally, I try to use these base elements to try and make what may be a benign image, more powerful.

As we move into 2018, I'm hoping to have more curated projects.  I often describe myself to my clients as "a curator of memories".  I think that's true of all photographers, and the memories I curate are in the most part for myself, my own family and of course, other people's through their wedding imagery.

But one thing is standard.  One thing is omnipresent, perhaps.  And that's the love of the Kage.  

Kage means "Shadow" in Japanese

 

We Band Of Brothers

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Photography & Text By Derek Clark

Any musician that’s ever been on the road as part of a band will know just how tight a likeminded group of artists can get. We rehearse together, travel together, play together and share hotel rooms. We share ups and downs, good times and bad, through thick and thin. We get so tight with each other that we are as comfortable failing as we are at succeeding. This leads to being braver within the music, which takes you forward on your journey as a musician and as a band.

Kage Collective is a similar environment, swapping musical instruments for a camera. I can’t believe it’s been five years already. It’s also strange to think how the X-Series cameras were just making their first steps in the world. I was shooting with my original X100 in Italy when I got the message from Patrick, asking if I was interested in starting a collective with himself and a couple of other photographers. I was flattered to be asked and it was a no-brainer for me.

Just like playing with superior musicians improves your own playing tenfold, a similar thing is true with photographers. We all look up to one another in Kage and we tend to think each other's pictures are better than our own. This has a similar effect as seven horses pulling the same wagon. We move forward faster, driving each other to keep pushing forward, but always stronger as a team.

The K-factor

By bert stephani

I was a KAGE fan from the start and I couldn't believe my luck when I became a member. I still feel like a student amongst these masters of photography. I look up to every KAGE photographer past and present. For this anniversary issue I've decided to not look at what we achieved but rather look at how much impact this collective has on my work. I took a look at all the pictures that I made this year and discovered how the KAGE-factor plays in everything that I do.

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At first it was the documentary aspect of KAGE that influenced my work. I've always been a big fan of the classic documentary photo essay. Studying the work of the others and getting feedback from them on my own work, simply made me a better photographer. Having an outlet for this kind of work and a bit of pressure to regularly produce new content also gives me the experience to grow.

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Through the work of my fellow photographers I also discovered the power of what I would call first-person-documentary. Objectivity is an illusion but by being personal, at least you can bring honesty to a story. This also applies to the small personal stories. I never thought personal pictures had any value outside my own circle of family and close friends. But KAGE told me that these tiny stories often resonate with total strangers and have a documentary value on their own.

I've always seen myself as someone who likes stories to be clear and simple. But being a member of the KAGE collective has definitely pushed me to try a more artistic approach. It's sometimes frightening for a craftsman to move on to art, but isn't art about telling stories too.

Seeing all this great work from all over the world has definitely pushed me to go and explore. This can be in exotic places. But taking a different look at the familiar is often even more interesting. Exploration can be about discovering the world, but it's also about what's on the inside. The support and the open minded discussions within our group have given me the safe haven that I need to be vulnerable and express the things that I usually rather hide.

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As a photographer I need freedom and limitations at the same time. Our monthly schedule hasn't been easy to maintain but I still see that pressure as a good thing. On the other hand there's never been any discussion on what a story should be. The freedom to experiment with different forms of storytelling gives my work oxygen. This year I've decided to concentrate mainly on portraiture and the guys have been nothing but supportive to pursue this as a form of storytelling.

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The last thing I would like to talk about is the value of photography. Realising that the medium still is incredibly powerful has made me appreciate my own profession and passion even more. It also has given me the responsibility to tell the stories I really care about, stories that need to be told even if nobody is going to write you a check for them.

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There have been times when I wanted to step out of the KAGE Collective because it does require time and energy that I often don't have. But the others never let me, and I'm grateful for that. I guess we'll never be a big media outlet, we may never go viral with a story and it's probably the worst business model ever. But it's a lab where interesting ideas and people grow. It's also a meeting point where an open mind can overcome different opinions. It's a place to communicate with some of my best friends and just as important … with you. Your input, encouragements and ideas are what feed us. Thanks!

Stuck on my Eyes

By Patrick La Roque

I remember long discussions when we first began this project: about form, about gear, about subject matter. Mostly I remember how adamant we were about our freedom to simply be, to allow stories to reveal themselves without a need for linearity or a pointed commentary. We would embrace abstraction the way painters did. We would explore poetic text on the same level as we would explanation. Documentary would coexist with sensory. I can’t say we’ve fulfilled every promise we made or reached every goal we set for ourselves. But I do believe our initial premise still rings true today:

This is not about forced reality. It is not about pure reportage without intent. It is about resolute interpretations of the moment. The eye as ghost and poet and translator. We believe in interaction without interference, in rogue infiltrations borne out of respect. The image as truth and as point of view.

We vow to be shadows.
We vow to search for light.

The images below? How many times have I gazed at these rooms, at all hours of the day/year? I keep revisiting each one as new territory, of dancing shadows and subdued light play—revealing the same echoes as if again mystified. In the end we always return to what we know.

The D.J’s gone but the song remains: “...five years, stuck on my eyes.

Cinq

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Words and images by Jonas Rask

So. 5 it is. 

For the KAGE unity it’s 5 years. For me as a member it’s 5 months. 

I want to try and put into writing what this collective has meant to my photography for the past 5 years, because there is not a single entity of inspiration anywhere else in the online photographic community that has inspired me to go shoot the way that KAGE has. 

5 years ago my journey into photography was still in its infancy. I had owned an X100 for about a year, and I had just bought an X-Pro1. Those tools had ignited a flame, that I have since not been able to control. My passion for photography has since grown into an obsession. The fine gentlemen (and also woman at some point) of KAGE collective have been the foundation on which that fire got built. 

Every time I went to check out the documentary pieces of the collective, I silently in my virgin photographic mind strived for that greatness in visual storytelling.

I have marveled at Patrick’s exceptional ability to render something truly grandiose out the ordinary. I have salivated over Bert’s ability to work with little to no light and tones, and still make the most amazing low key images I’ve seen. I’ve been floored by Robert’s extremely tight photojournalism that always bring me right into the situation. I look with envy on Derek’s phenomenal environmental musical portraits that so elegantly captures the soul and essence of the subjects at hand. I always get a distinct smile to my face when I dive into Kevin’s delightful way of portraying the most life changing of situations. And I am left quite speechless when viewing Vincent’s mind-blowing tonal control over his studio portraiture and post-processing.

The individuals within KAGE have grown photographically with strong identities just as I have grown in parallel with my own photographic identity. At no point in time had I ever thought that our paths would cross, and that I would eventually end up as a member within the collective.

I still regard the images that these photographers capture as some of the very finest images that I can behold, but to be able to throw my own images into the mix and get to learn from my fellow KAGE members, on a day to day basis, through our vivid conversations is something that I am so grateful for. 

So. 5 it is. 

Let’s see what the next 5 have in store.

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Double Exposure Derek Clark | X-Pro2 - 35mm f1.4 - ISO200 - f/1.4 - 1/850 sec

Double Exposure
Derek Clark | X-Pro2 - 35mm f1.4 - ISO200 - f/1.4 - 1/850 sec

Sunset Run Bert Stephani | GFX50S - 63mm - ISO100 - f/4 - 1/1000

Sunset Run
Bert Stephani | GFX50S - 63mm - ISO100 - f/4 - 1/1000

Shinjuku Shadow Robert Catto | X-T2, 35mm f/1.4. 1/280 at f/10, ISO 400.

Shinjuku Shadow
Robert Catto | X-T2, 35mm f/1.4. 1/280 at f/10, ISO 400.

Dancing with Dad on my Wedding Day Kevin Mullins | X-T2, 16mm f1.4 lens. 1/250 at f/1.4, ISO 200.

Dancing with Dad on my Wedding Day
Kevin Mullins | X-T2, 16mm f1.4 lens. 1/250 at f/1.4, ISO 200.

Lack of Jonas Rask | GFX50s, Canon 85mm f/1.4, 1/4000, ISO 100.

Lack of
Jonas Rask | GFX50s, Canon 85mm f/1.4, 1/4000, ISO 100.

Aliya
Vincent Baldensperger | X-Pro2. 1/125 at f/2.5, ISO 100.

Electro Patrick La Roque | GFX 50S. 1/125 at f/11, ISO 400.

Electro
Patrick La Roque | GFX 50S. 1/125 at f/11, ISO 400.

a Boy in Dunkirk

PHOTOGRAPHY AND TEXT BY BERT STEPHANI

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This boy used to live a completely normal, safe life in a nice house in Iraqi Kurdistan. Now, he lives in a tent in the bushes near Dunkirk, France. Every night, he hopes the French police doesn't come to slash their tent to pieces or empty a can of mace in it.

His father used to be a chef at a restaurant, now he depend completely on the goodwill of others to feed his family. The boy is not sure why they left their friends and family to live in a tent in a cold country where he can't go to school. The father on the other hand was given other options than to live an illegal life in Europe. He could have paid a lot of money to be left alone, not knowing when they would come again for more money that he didn't have. Or he could have chosen to have his family killed by someone who felt they had the wrong ethnicity or religion. 

This boy, his two younger brothers (the youngest is just 10 months old) and his parents were forced to go on a dangerous three month journey to Europe. They paid 25.000 dollars to human traffickers for this perilous journey. They can see the UK across the North Sea from where they are living now. But it will take another 25.000 dollars to MAYBE get to some of their friends and family who live there. In case you are wondering if the Brexit has already had an impact on the economy: yes it has, the traffickers have raised their rates considerably since the referendum.

Yet, this boy was happy to show us how the refugees try to keep the area clean, how they help each other out, how happy he was with the bag of old clothes we brought. And while he played football with my own son, I sat down with his dad. He shared his family's story and his hope that this boy and his brothers will one day live a normal life again. When I ask him about the future, he can only shrug— but he still believes humanity will one day prevail for his family and all the other refugees.

I visited Dunkirk together with my girlfriend Griet. We were deeply impressed by how much it ment to these people to have their existence acknowledged by a portrait and have their stories heard. On the way home, we decided to take it a step further and start a project around documenting refugee stories. We are still figuring out everything from logistics to our approach, but I'll keep you posted about our project.

Here are some more of the portraits that I made that day in Dunkirk:

Pushing The Darkness

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For every bit of light, there is dark
For every bit of white, there is Black.
For every bit of colour, there is grey
For every bit of hope, there is a question mark.

PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT By Derek Clark

It seems to me the more light in your life and the longer that light lasts, the darker it will eventually get. It’s as if we have an equal amount of good times and bad times, joy and sadness. Which could mean the longer and happier the good times, the more you better be ready for the bad. 

The further you coast downhill, the further you have to drag your shit back up the next hill. The warmer the summer the bleaker the winter. Could this be the way life and the universe works?

The past year has been especially bleak for the Clark family. It all started with my sister being diagnosed with a brain tumor back in November 2016 (Click here for my previous post on that news). That was followed closely by a couple of deaths in the family and then my dad was taken into hospital. Then came 2017 and a stroke for my dad, followed by two recent heart attacks within a week. There's more, but I don't want you reaching for the razor-blades. 

But at this point, my sister has completed a full round of radiotherapy and is now three-quarters of the way through a year of chemotherapy. It's too early to know just how successful both treatments have been, but fingers crossed for the best possible outcome. My dad had two stents inserted to prevent more heart attacks and he seems to be doing well.

But what has all this to do with photography? A lot it seems. Creativity doesn't like trauma and worries at all. Personal work is the first casualty, because that's the stuff that takes a good bit of 'get up and go' to produce, work that doesn't have any immediate consequence if it doesn't get done. Paid work is fine because you get the call, put your gear in the car and go do the shoot. Your worries fade into the background while you get into the zone on a job.

These pictures were made on a recent trip in the north of Scotland. I've been shooting in-camera black and whites recently using Fujifilm's Acros film simulation. My X-Pro2 and X-100F are set to a high contrast version of Acros as default right now and that's what I get when I turn the cameras on. I exposed for the light on these shots to avoid blowing the highlights, but it wasn't until later that I realized these pictures represent this past year. The darkness engulfs, and the distant hope of light feels so out of reach.