The first section of Mark Bramley’s website is dedicated to his photographs of cars. In some of the shots they’re racing down sinuous mountain roads as they do; in others, they’re stationary, parked gleaming in front of pristine white buildings and other curiously empty architectural spaces. In every one, Bramley manages to make his automotive subject look very good--clean and strong and shiny in all the right places, which oftentimes is pretty much everywhere.
His shoots take him to sublime locations all over the world--when you photograph cars professionally, it’s only a matter of time before some client sends you to the salt flats--but he rarely has time to train his lens on anything other than the machine at hand. So every so often, he’ll take a few weeks off in search of scenes that move him, and that’s when he captures landscapes like these. They’re just as striking as his automobile photography, but in a totally different way. The cars are sharp and precise. The landscapes show us a far hazier reality.
"I can travel for days on these trips and not find anything I want to shoot," he says. But eventually he’ll turn a corner and see something that hits him like a punch to the gut. Sometimes the beauty is obvious--a stunning feat of human engineering, say, like an elevated roadway stretching off into the distance. In other cases, it’s a more subtle bit of poetry, like the lonesome gas station throwing out a halo of light into the dusky night.
Many shots share a soft color palette, a holdover from his days of shooting on color negative film, Bramley explains. But they’re also linked by a sense of mystery, a sort of eerie stillness. "I always prefer to travel by myself," he says, "which I think brings a certain solitude to the images. I guess I’m drawn to quieter scenes that make you think a little more." That very palpable sense of quietness is another thing the landscapes have in common. Even at the gas station, there’s not a car in sight.
[Hat tip: It’s Nice That]