[Interview] How Stuart Franklin finds inspiration in specific moments, as shown in The Frame – Samsung Global Newsroom
Samsung Art Store is the epitome of digital-physical blending taking over today’s art experiences. It enables widely acclaimed galleries, museums and artists to showcase their masterpieces to users around the world using The Frame’s pristine digital signage. Since its launch in 2017, Samsung Art Store has enabled consumers to access extraordinary and unique art selections from the comfort of their own home.
Stuart Franklin is an award-winning photographer who has traveled all over the world in pursuit of his work. The titles Franklin has held over the years vary from photographer to documentarian and art curator, with his work landing on the pages of newspapers, books, magazines and other media in between.
Over the years, Franklin’s work has gained considerable momentum and visibility. — his work has earned a place in renowned publications around the world. Now his work is featured on Samsung Art Store, introducing even more variety to the ever-growing art collection accessible through The Frame.
Samsung Newsroom sat down with Franklin to talk about his work and how he sees digital transformation taking the art world into unimaginable new spaces.
Q: Tell us briefly about yourself, your work and the inspiration behind your photography.
I am a Magnum photographer and have worked in the industry for over 40 years. I am inspired by many things: the light, the form, the subject itself, often the general idea behind a larger project. But these days I also like to draw and paint.
I am currently working on a book on trees. 25 years ago I published a book called tree time (1999), and I am now revisiting the subject in preparation for a new book in 2023.
Q: You started studying photography in 1976 and have had a huge impact since then. How has your photography evolved over time?
After studying drawing and painting, then photography, I started a career working for newspapers and news magazines. My stories have always been stories of people: in the news, street photography and portraits. This started to change in the 1990s when I started focusing more on landscape work. — I have worked on magazines, books or exhibition commissions and an exhibition for the National Galleries of Scotland.
Q: You are known for your wide range of photographic styles. Could you tell us more about your creative process?
My work has evolved over time. In the past, I have worked mainly in reporting or breaking news. I haven’t given up on that: I recently worked on the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK But more and more I’m focusing on landscape photography. Currently I’m interested in the relationship between nature and memory, so the conversation revolves around the relationship between the elements of the landscape that elicit a memory and something objectively interesting in the landscape itself.
Q: What is your favorite setting or place to take photos?
Right now, forests. I recently worked in the largest walnut forest in the world in Kyrgyzstan.
Q: Can you tell us specifically how advances in technology and the emergence of art and digital platforms have changed or shaped your career?
Unusually, my work transitioned from working on color transparency film and black and white negative to digital color around 2004 and now back to 80% film. I use my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra for about 90% of my digital color photography these days. Digital has many advantages, especially when working in low light. But currently, I work in black and white film and in digital with the Galaxy S21 for color.
Backlighting and increased dynamic range are always a plus with digital displays, but the downside is often the reduced image size. It is difficult to mix the two. Anything backlit in an exhibit will always stand out more than a gelatin silver print.
Q: Caroline Islands (2000) is one of your most popular photographs displayed on The Frame. Tell us briefly about this room. Why do you think people are drawn to this image?
This landscape and these colors speak of a distant place, of a getaway, of an escape, of a calm and undisturbed place. In busy city life, all of these qualities become desirable.
Q: A lot of your photography within the Art Store that has grown in popularity over the years involves nature. Can you tell us more about your artistic intentions for these photos?
I have always found solace in nature and celebrating its beauty. The challenge is to make inspiring places also look inspiring in a photograph. This usually involves choosing the right light and the best time of day to shoot so that the highlights aren’t too bright or the shadows too dark. Light — the quality of light — plays a huge role in my way of thinking about photography.
Q: Can you give us a preview of this photo?
This photograph was taken in late 1999 on commission for the article titled Celebrations of Earth — published in January 2000 as the opening story of the new millennium. Due to the mist formed by the water falling from the waterfall, the morning light remained soft for quite a long time, which gave me enough chances to make several exposures from different vantage points. Also, Polaroid films suitable for my camera were easy to buy at the time to help me with testing before doing the actual exposures.
Q: Where do you see the future of photographic art exhibitions? What do you think of what’s to come?
I think there will always be an attraction to seeing the print as a three-dimensional object, like we see a painting. However, I suspect in the future that the three-dimensionality we are used to experiencing in a gallery will be digitally deliverable and generalize over time. The digital experience will expand in ways we can barely imagine. There will be more galleries and virtual exhibitions. I’m sure it will, and it will make art more accessible to a wider range of people.
Q: Besides the two photos listed above, do you have any other recommended parts for The Frame users?
I’ll always be one to point out my most recent work, so maybe this year’s work from Spain, Italy or Kyrgyzstan or the work I’m about to do in November in Cambodia and Bali. But then I recommend the images of Bali that I took in 1999 for the Celebrations of Earth project — I still love those beautiful green rice fields. Then there is the work from Korea. Too many choices present.
To see more of Franklin’s photography, head to the Samsung Art Store.