Entrepreneur. Design consultant. Award-winning fine art photographer.
Multi-skilled Bryn Davies now calls Malaysia home. Originally from Canada, Bryn moved to Kuala Lumpur from Liverpool, UK.
His photographic interests lie in the arrangement of light and space. His compositions find a balance between craft and research, sitting in the interstice of aesthetics and context.
He is an Associate with the British Institute of Professional Photography. In 2020, he graduated with a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in Photography.
Another Way of Seeing
There is a saying from Leica: “Photography is about choices. Seeing while others simply watch.”
This is so true of Bryn Davies’s photographic art.
Bryn, now based in KL having moved from Liverpool, truly has another way of seeing. He chooses to look at what is real and show it in an almost surreal way, contemplating a colourful world and memorialising it in monochrome.
He doesn’t simply watch as the world passes by. He sees deeper, more insightful details, sometimes abstract ideas, combining them all, and interpreting them in his distinctive way.
Bryn observes from a different angle and portrays subjects from a unique point of view, depicting the seemingly ordinary in an extraordinary way.
In providing a definitive commentary of his style, Bryn says:
“As a photographer, I have a minimalist aesthetic. It’s also my nature. I search for an increased simplicity and quality in my life.
“My background in design informs my photography, and, in turn, the images are a visual representation of design, composition, and the utilisation of negative space; what is known in classic East Asian art as the void.
“My two biggest influences are Germanic design and classical East Asian art.
“The project In Praise of Shadows is a study on the constructive patterns and compositions of bamboo, while recalling the value of bamboo to Asian heritage and philosophy.
A Leica shooter for seven years, what was it about the cameras with the famous ‘red dot’ that first attracted Bryn?
“I prefer photography to be reduced to the essentials — including shooting black and white natively.
“This is the biggest attraction of the M-System. The camera body and lenses are compact, manual and of the highest quality. Ergonomically, I prefer dials to buttons and touch screens. And nobody continues to enjoy the use of dials quite like Leica!
“I’m primarily using a first generation M Monochrom. In many ways it’s a modern classic. It contains an 18mp CCD sensor that gives a unique quality to the image.
“It’s my primary camera, unless I’m asked to shoot specifically in colour. In which case, the SL (Typ 601) is my backup system — where I can use the M-adapter L to employ my M-Lenses.
“I always try to encourage black and white as a starting point with a client, with the offer of colour only if needed.
While some photographers switch between colour or monochrome, undecided about their preferred form of expression, Bryn is clear in his own mind.
“I believe that someone who chooses to photograph with a monochrome sensor in the digital age is comfortable with what they shoot and why.
“For me, it was a natural step in eliminating unwanted distractions.
“Photographing manually and with a monochrome sensor, there is a smaller margin for error — but a greater satisfaction getting things right in-camera.
“Even with these self-imposed restrictions, I’m able to photograph a wide variety of work; from my long-term project, Sketches of East Asia, to creative commissions and corporate headshots; all were created using the same camera and lenses.
“In my case, it’s not just a concept of less is more, but I try to do more with less.”
Like so many photographers, Bryn was affected by the Movement Control Order, working from home, where he reevaluated his art. This was a productively reflective time for him.
“During lockdown, I reexamined my archive and found a series of images taken at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
“They inspired me to write an article, as I found it insensitive to publish them without acknowledging the complexity of opinions that surround the memorial.
“Researching the various contexts highlighted how the relationship between design and photography is a key element in my work.
“The studies illustrate the individuality of the memorial’s pillars within a wider network of the collective grid system.
“Even when I engage in a more conventional use, like street photography, you can see that design and architecture is an influence on the composition.”
A deep dive into his archive, a more considered curation of his oeuvre, and with the accompanying text, allow us all a greater appreciation of Bryn’s portfolio.
It will leave a rich legacy from which any admirer of monochrome photography will learn from and be inspired.
Written by Kieron Long