What is « Street Photography » for you?
Street photography always projects the “truth”. The “truth” that I talk about isn’t necessarily what I can see, but it also exists in society, in the street, and in people’s lives. and I always try to capture this reality beyond my values and viewpoint/perspective. To shoot people with the camera is, for me, like saying « hello ». Sometimes I use my mouth for that, sometimes my eyes, and sometimes my Leica, that’s it. I just really enjoy « talking » to people in the street, but anyway, if I use the camera, I always use the viewfinder, I never use hip-shot to hide myself.
Your work is about everyday life, tell me more about this.
People are living life desperately. Sometimes lonely, sometimes helping each other, sometimes crying, sometimes laughing. I capture people going about daily life because there are moments that they do not realize are more beautiful and full of human touch than the carefully choreographed movies of Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini, or Shakespeare’s plays. I attempt to visualize Mark Twain’s words “Truth is stranger than fiction.”, and prove that it is true as a visual language in photographs that: fantasy moments where children show, hope and possibilities for the future; adults are running on the society time semi-forcibly, but still, they show individual strength sometimes painful, and sometimes fun; and the moments can see the footprint they lived in.
« There is something here, something beautiful something special. It may last but a moment, but we are always connected to each other. »
I want to share these beautiful moments with other people and, at the same time, I want them to understand that extraordinary moments exist in our daily lives and that they can happen anywhere and at any time. There is something here, something beautiful something special. It may last but a moment, but we are always connected. I want you to feel that when you see my work. You are not alone. There is always someone in the world keeping an eye on your struggle.
What does catch your eye in the street, what are you looking for?
While I suppose it is a common theme for street photographers in the world to wander about seeking beautiful light and shadow, decisive moments, and photogenic characters, what I place the highest priority on is to aggressively incorporate the elements through which we can see Japan as a nation. Although this is a special element that does not exist in other countries, it is very dangerous to judge the charm based only on the subjective view. If we express ourselves too much, we cannot share the concept of the element with readers in other countries, with the occasional result being that the beauty of the element expressed in the photographs and fascinating connections between elements are not understood from a global point of view. By capturing streets from the objective at the same time as the subjective points of view, I can shoot photographs that are more open to interpretation.
In my opinion, it is a common mistake to call street photography a genre by itself for me it’s part of the richness of Documentary photography, one of the many ways to express it, like the « slang » in a language inside that major genre and some work express more than others that documentary sense, what do you think about that?
The main subjects of street photography are people and their daily life. I wish the viewers to feel that there is a wonderful scene in the moments of our daily lives. I believe, street photography is just a part of documentary photography. One of my unique ways of expression in street photography is that I try to incorporate the un-manipulated moment’s scene, a story from the viewpoint of the photographer. Adding the composition of social satire with a strong documentary character from deeper places and through people’s lives, the way the nation and the society exist. this is the most important thing for me, were you able to see what kind of life have people the subject of photographs been walking through in their street/city/country.
Street photography is not a kind of game that aims at high scores by competing for how many funny characters/interesting elements/connecting layers/busy compositions could be taken at the moment. I think it is not difficult, because some clichés already exist for that, I think we have to expose ourselves more in your photograph using viewpoint/framing to record evidence that the city and people existed beyond the concept, because photographers, the subjects, and city are always breathing, street photography should be more fluid, sometimes shoot people, family or your friends, objects stuff, sometimes the interesting expression of nature/urban. So, that’s why I call street photography just a part of a documentary.
Let’s talk about your « Hawaii » series?
In May 2016, I went on a week trip with my family. 2016, was a memorable year for me and my wife because twenty years have passed since I first went to Hawaii to visit my future wife who lived there in her college days, then I visited there again, with my wife and three little daughters. 20 years ago, I also took some photos with my Fujica AZ-1, but it was my first trip abroad and I could only record the superficial part of the land like other tourists, then I wanted to see and know Hawaiian people’s real life, and ordinary life.
« Photography is on the same line of the body language/nonverbal communication. »
What is the place of photography in your life?
Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to shoot in the street since we have children because we are both working, and last year in 2017, we gave birth to our third daughter, and at the same time, I lost my father to stage IV lung cancer, but happy things, sad things, I think these are the gift having the same meaning for me. Therefore, I focus on shooting close subjects now. Photography is on the same line as body language/nonverbal communication.
What camera do you use?
Leica M9-P with cron 35mm lens. (my M6 has broken..)
Do you have any projects in progress or to come?
I’m editing/summarizing past pictures for a new family photography project called « Gift of the Moment » consisting of unposed/unstaged photos like street photography.
Your top 5 photobooks?
Only in America by David Graham (1991)
Vanitas by Cristobal Hara (1998)
Winogrand 1964 by Garry Winogrand (2002)
Los Alamos by William Eggleston (2003)
Recreation by Mitch Epstein (2005)
American Surfaces by Stephen Shore (2008)
Interview Kalel Koven / In Frame