I was fortunate to have received a good formal grounding in art and design during my long, obsessive education to become a "great architect". But after finishing school I became detoured onto a path that widely diverged from architecture and the arts. Some twenty years later I decided to leave that path and to rejoin my interests in art, design, and especially in photography.
And what a time to rejoin photography! Today's photography offers infinite possibilities to nearly everyone. My own main interests, as a practitioner, lie close to the core of photography's nature: its ability to capture the small ephemeral beauties, incongruities, discontinuities, ambiguities, and simple humors in the everyday world. This is photography's unique capability and the absolute apex of the medium to me.
I hope you find a few images here that make you smile, that make you wonder, that confound your immediate comprehension, and that invite you to look longer and harder. Most of all I hope at least one of my images remains tattooed in your memory. If so, I've been successful.
- Ken Tanaka -
I'm always eager to read comments from anyone viewing my images. Please feel free to send your thoughts and questions to me at any time.
About This Work
Most of my galleries represent samples of work in progress. Expect edits and additions with some frequency.
Also please note that my images are not staged. With the exceptions of still lifes or other obviously constructed scenes I photograph what I see when I see it.
City - The hustle and diversity of the large cities present endless sources of remarkable scenes for the sharp eye. Such scenes also embody wonderful time capsules for future generations. These are the characteristics I try to record with these images.
To Build - The long, ultra-complex processes of large construction projects presents remarkable scenes that can never be repeated. Here is where I apply some of my training in architecture to help capture some of these scenes, not for documentation but for their sheer unrepeatable poetry. This is my longest-running personal project, which I began in 2007. While my work on it has seen some slowing I suspect I'll continue to find new frames until my last days.
From Here - Sometimes the most wondrous scenes are right under your nose. That has certainly been true for me. I captured each image in this gallery from inside my home high above Chicago. Richard Misrach's "Golden Gate" served as an inspiration for this ongoing work.
One Moments - Images here primarily represent one-off moments of poetry, of humor, of ambiguity, of incongruity, or just plain absurdity. To that end they nearly all feature human subjects but are free of any common theme or setting.
In Plain Sight- A hodgepodge of beautiful, unrelated small scenes found right in front of my face over the years.
Time in Glass - For over a century the 85 dioramas at the Field Museum of Chicago have served as "theaters of nature" for countless schoolchildren as well as many other visitors. Indeed, these displays would bring countless city kids as close to such animals as they would ever come. Although such static displays of taxidermy have fallen out of favor these dioramas still represent some of the best in the world and still draw thousands of visitors each year. The images in this gallery were created as a tribute to the art and craft (not to mention the many stories) that went into creating these displays a century ago.