Elizabeth Hosking: A Study on Negative Space (Premium)

All images by Elizabeth Hosking. Used with permission.

Elizabeth Hosking is a fine art and documentary photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. Ms. Hosking is currently working independently exploring themes of human nature and land. Having initially started out as a street photographer; she is now traversing natural and imposing elements with a particular focus on New Zealand and their national natural heritage and connection to their land.

For this month’s focus on Landscape Photography, La Noir got the chance to chat with Ms. Hosking and talk about her process and making the transition from Street and Documentary Photography to working on Landscape projects. Though the subjects may have changed some of the basic principles of photography remain the same; here’s how her story and evolution of her work.

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From the images you provided the mountaintops have a very calm atmosphere about them can you talk to us about how do you achieve that serene look to your images?

Those images were made through the Crown Range, in Otago, New Zealand. The form and patterns found in the mountaintops emerged from sheaths of white, drawing the eye upwards. I hoped to capture the same quietness and smallness I felt at the time. The mountains just fell away into the light as the road traveled onwards, so I let them.

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With street photography and documentary photography a lot of what makes those types of images noteworthy are what they say about how humans interact with their surroundings, how does that differ from your Landscape work?

I’m working in these undisturbed, imposing natural elements – in particular the striking beauty of New Zealand. There’s no focus on human elements though there is a fascination about our relationship with land. There’s this enduring mystery embedded in it, an absence of human organisation though we interfere with it. Humans identity is so often deeply embedded throughout land, that visceral connection to it having its own identity and way of being.

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How much of that comes from your street photography roots?

I find negative space interesting, it’s that absence or void that inspires a lot of curiosity. It can often make people feel uncomfortable. My approach to landscapes has very much been influenced by my roots in street photography in this sense. I went from working in the bustling environment of cities during particular chaotic times, seeking out moments of quiet and reflection amongst that. I rarely ever approached people on the street. I wanted the moments to be undisturbed, to pay attention and be present. Individuals further isolated by light and shadows.

I wouldn’t call myself a street photographer anymore. There’s more time to be considered now in such different environments. The way I was making pictures on the streets required me to work very quickly. I’m more interested in engaging with something and learning about a person now as I photograph them.

Although Ms. Hosking has moved on from her Street Photography roots, her work continues to connect with the most basic of human emotions especially when confronted with the vastness of nature. Her work presents us with the challenge to accept the concepts of void and absence as represented by the negative space in her work. 

Based out of Melbourne, Australia Ms. Hosking’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally including at festivals such as Head On, and the Month of Photography Denver, Colorado.