If you want to change your photographs, you need to change cameras. Changing cameras means that your photographs will change. A really good camera has something I suppose you might describe as its own distinctive aura.
-- Nobuyoshi Araki
I don’t think about what camera I should use that much. I just pick up the one that looks nicest on the day
-- William Eggleston
Cameras are wonderful little contraptions.
By making photographs, they are tools with which one can express their personal taste and private sensibilities. At the same time they physically exist as expressions of these same concepts. The relationship one has with their cameras affects their approach to making a picture.
People who shoot film simply do because they choose to, and the Photo Culture of Tokyo is full of film camera users. When I meet them out on the streets I ask to photograph their camera, and usually post it here the same day. All of the photos were shot with a Ricoh GRDII. I trust that this irony is not lost on anyone.
These photos are meant for sharing. By all means, re-blog away. Clicking on the images will present you with a version 1000 pixels wide to further enjoy.
When: August 26 - September 7th, 2014 / 12-7pm (closed Mondays)
What: Twenty-one fiber prints made as best as possible from what turned out to be a batch of Oriental FB Seagull paper with emulsion problems. This ongoing series remains an experiment and a way of working.
I’ve been going past Lucky Camera in Shinjuku since 2001- I even bought my first rangefinder there in 2002 (a Bessa R2) and my first Leica (M6TTL) in 2004. I can’t believe that in thirteen years I never noticed that their Fujifilm Fujicolor sign had a misspelling. Actually, this is their old location- they moved to a new shop near Isetan in Shinjuku earlier this year. You can check out Lucky Camera online here: lucky-camera.com/english
As for “Camara”, when the shop window looked like this, there wasn’t much reason to look anywhere else.
Muta is one of 3rd District’s members and has been holding several exhibitions of his work each year there since 2009. On his profile page (link) you can see samples of his work by clicking on the dates or titles of the shows- then click on the sample image to bring up the larger sized scrolling online galleries. A great example of his Tokyo street work is the wonderfully titled “since 1988 lookin’ for the face" series.
Yangon is also known as Rangoon in English. The show is made up of images he took to Burma just this past June- about six or seven weeks before the show. He said in his statement that he leisurely walked around with ten rolls of film and had no objective or timetable of any kind. The pictures reflect this mindset.
Interestingly, for the show Muta printed not just the entire 35mm frame, but also the surrounding edges including the sprocket holes of the film. Laying bare the physical element of the material used to make these pictures like this possibly correlates to the openness of the town and the people he photographed. He’s not using artifice to enhance his idea of a place, but rather through transparency shows he has nothing to hide. The place and his pictures are good enough as is.
While walking in Ginza I ran into my friend Narashige Matsuki and his wife, Yumiko. He was packing his Plaubel Makina 6x7 rangefinder (top) and Leica M4-P (left). We got coffee and got caught up- since we all last met the two of them took a trip to LA and the American southwest. I love how intimate and personal his pictures are. This picture from their trip is so great.
To all you millions of 17 year old art and design students* on this site, I really suggest following him on tumblr. He’s making pictures that you will like. He’s making pictures that can really teach you something about photography. Don’t think that you need to detach yourself emotionally from your photos! Figure out what makes you (and who you’re with) what you are, and go from there.
Leica M4-P with 50mm f2 Summicron lens and half case
The young woman holding this Leica is Yumiko (website / tumblr) and while this camera actually belongs to her husband, Narishige (who lovingly and almost exclusively photographs his wife), she takes pictures as well.
Giovanni Pascarella, a postdoc researcher arrived in Japan in 2010 and when not investigating on the effect of neurodegeneration on DNA in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases spends his spare time making photographs. Recently, he has began printing in the darkroom. He tells us that…
As you can see it’s a very minimal set-up, both for space constraints and because I just started printing a few months ago and being a beginner my needs in terms of equipment are low. Around my enlarger I have a timer, contrast filters, some improvised tools for dodging and burning, and a speaker to fill my printing sessions with some good tunes (lately it’s mostly Mogwai and other post-rock bands).
Before making the commitment to purchase this equipment I wondered for some time whether it wasn’t just better to rent one of the darkrooms available around Tokyo or Yokohama. But in the end I decided to go with my own darkroom mainly because of convenience: I can print whenever I want and it takes only 10-15 minutes to prepare everything. However I’ve found that I need to be fresh and relaxed in order to produce good results. Therefore I print only on the weekends. I got most of the equipment from Yahoo Auction Japan. With a bit of luck you can find some very good deals there for darkroom stuff…the enlarger itself cost me just 2.000 yen! (about $20 USD)
I’m currently reading and studying a lot about basic printing techniques. It’s been quite a relief to discover that Internet is still a very powerful resource for darkroom learning material, and there are several active forums focused on traditional photography from which it’s easy to get answers for even the most detailed questions in a short time. Classic books from master printers are also readily available on Amazon, most of the times second-hand and for very reasonable prices.
Getting into printing has been the best things that happened to my photography since going back to my film roots last year, and I actually have to thank you, Jesse and the other people from the community for encouraging me to do so (even a few words sometimes can be a powerful primer). My awareness of light and composition are greatly benefiting from this experience and although the process of shaping a photograph from my mind on the paper can be frustrating at times (well, most of the time) having in my hands the final print always fully repays me of everything.
I think that he’s on to something with that last line. Prints do indeed seem to have an intrinsic value that makes all the investments of money, time, and effort worth it in the end.
A scan of the July 2014 Tokyo Camera Style monthly feature in Nippon Camera
My editor and I went to meet Issei Suda (right) at his exhibition in June at a gallery called Wadagarou over near Ginza. I had met him once before at an opening reception at PGI a few years ago and again last September at his massive retrospective Fragments of Calm at the Tokyo Metro Museum of Photography. A fantastic (and fantastically prodigious) photographer who has had some recent re-releases of his photo books, Suda Issei is finally getting some of the exposure abroad which he deserves. If you’re not familiar with the man, listen up: He’s one of the best street photographers you’ve never heard of. Of his books, I recommend Minyou Sangaand Waga Tokyo 100 in particular but his retrospective exhibition catalogue Fragments of Calm is an affordable overview of his work which I’ve talked about on this blog before.
As for the left hand page, I photographed everyone on the same sunny day in May. The bottom two pictures are people I met at Kameido Tenjin (a really great environment for shooting) during that shrine’s Wisteria festival. The top two photos were taken a little later at Nezu Shrine, during that shrine’s azalea festival. Interestingly, I ran into the couple in the frame at the bottom right again in Nezu. Small town Toyko.