I started taking black and white photographs after being inspired by two great masters: Ansel Adams and Michael Kenna. Ansel Adams taught me the magic of tonality in black and white; Kenna taught me about arrangements and balance.

The truth is that black and white photography is not defined in only two colors. With his trademark ”Zone System,” Adams divided what we call “black and white” into nine shades of grey ranging from the blackest black to the whitest white. These are the tools I have used as the blueprint for my atmospheric black and white photography. Playing with tonality and arranging shades of grey is one of the hallmarks of this work.

Meanwhile, I love Kenna’s style of composition and the way he captures nuances. He plays with atmospheric photography: his images simplify the world without dismissing the complex beauty that lies beyond sight. As the saying goes, “less is more,” and Kenna’s work conveys this very powerfully.

Finally, I am inspired by haiku: short Japanese poems arranged with five syllables in a line, then seven, then five again. Haiku has taught me to look at this world in the most uncomplicated but contemplative way. Haiku is about nature, and nature is the place where I seek my freedom, expression and identity. As my photography is so minimalistic, I push myself to create work that plays mainly with the composition of negative space.

—Hengki Koentjoro