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]