Freemasons' Hall through a lens with Japanese photographer Kenji Kudo

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

A different view

In the first of our photo series revealing Freemasons’ Hall through a lens, John Revelle speaks to photographer Kenji Kudo about his passion for this iconic building

What inspired you to start taking photos?

As a boy, I had a toy pinhole camera that had been given away with a photography magazine. I was also developing and printing my own photos from a very young age, I think around five years old. It was a wonderful experience – and one which sparked my lifelong love of photography. It’s difficult to believe that was almost half a century ago now.

What do you like to photograph and why?

We get used to seeing the things around us, the familiar objects of the everyday. I try to make those things strange and unusual. Renew them. 

When did you first come to Freemasons’ Hall and why did you want to photograph it? 

My first visit was in 2011 when I was shooting for a book to be published in Japan. At the time, masonic buildings there were largely inaccessible to the public. But when I asked if I could shoot here I was told that, although it was an unusual request, it would be no problem and the friendly staff let me do my work.

What made you come back last summer to take this second batch of photos?

After that first shoot I was hooked. Some time later, I was looking back over all my photos and Freemasons’ Hall stood out as the most exciting subject I’d ever worked on. 

And then Jody at UGLE found some of my photos on Instagram and got in touch, asking if he could repost them on social media. I of course agreed. He also said that if I was ever in London he would personally take me round the building for another shoot and give me full access to all the lodge rooms. I was on a plane the next month.

The photos have been so popular, even gracing the cover of the last issue of this magazine. I’m very thankful to him for taking such an interest. I think Freemasons’ Hall is special because it’s not been ruined by changes or renovation. It has that majestic air of years ago. 

Any advice for members wanting to take their own photos of lodge rooms or masonic architecture?

Use a wide-angle lens that lets in lots of light and work lightly and quickly to capture the emotion of what you see in your mind’s eye.

What projects do you have coming up in the future?

I would love to publish a glossy coffee table book of my photos of Freemasons’ Hall. Something permanent and high quality to truly honour the building for years to come.

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