Photo: The Truce on Drugs - Kenji Aoki
Photographer Kenji Aoki was commissioned by New York magazine to shoot a series for a story on the current state of drugs in America. As a photographer and artist Aoki has a very stark style. It's all about high constrast photos with white or black being prevalent in them all.
Lighting, depth-of-field, and composition. The above photo has a superb leveling of lighting filling the subject matter at an angle that creates harsh shadows that are barely noticeable. It gives the photo a high contrast and works well here. Being a flat plane, the depth-of-field doesn't have to be too deep to catch all of the subject matter in focus. Yet the composition in the shot is extremely powerful. The symmetry of the cocaine against the black background gives us both a high contrast and symmetrical photo. The powdery and chaotic layout of the cocaine also fights the perfectness of the symmetry a little. The line is both symmetrical and asymmetrical with the majority of the weight on the left side.
The photo above of marijuana is much more grey and doesn't have the high contrast look of the first photo, yet it carries Aoki's washed-out look. The circular aspect of the marijuana is the most interesting feature of the photo. The depth-of-field and focal length were enough that it appeared close-up and in-focus all the way through.
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