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.
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.
All but two of the entries from August 2008 were made at a group photo festival/event that I was invited to join in Urayasu, Chiba. This particular camera belongs to an amateur photographer Takeo Akiyama, who was also exhibiting pictures there. He was born in eastern Tokyo in 1937 and took up photography when he was 15. After working mornings at his father’s restaurant he would spend afternoons walking around the city with his camera. An absolute amateur at heart, he built up a vast collection of street snaps of Tokyo as the city transformed itself over the latter half of the 20th century.
The driving force for his photography has never been a need to meet a deadline or please an editor but simply for the pure enjoyment of taking his time and creating photographs from the real world around him. (He self published a book of his pictures in 2011 that I’ll be featuring on the site soon.) His approach is, in my opinion, is the ultimate purpose of a personal camera and sums perfectly of what I enjoy about making this blog enjoyable to so many people around the world.
This blog started out as simply being a collection of gear- real stuff found on the streets used by real people- but has blossomed into a fuller picture of what the unique Japanese photography scene can be with posts about photobooks, exhibitions, and other events.
Thank you for all of your interest and support for the past six years. I honestly never expected this to be anything more than a series of pictures for my own enjoyment and so to see it mature and further my own experiences in Japan the way it has is something I find both exciting and extremely humbling.
Stay tuned for more Tokyo Camera Style in the years to come- there’s still a lot more to see!
Haruna Sato (website) has been recently shooting with her X-100 around the streets of Tokyo. Her use of the unique space of this gallery has the viewer meander around to see the work- it’s not unlike the feeling her pictures allow the viewer to experience Tokyo. Near the gallery entrance Haruna’s self-published photobooks are available for purchase. You can also order them directly from her website.
Gallery Kaido is unlike any other photography gallery in Tokyo. It occupies the second floor of an old apartment building from the 1970’s, tucked away in a quiet residential district west of Shinjuku in Asagaya (map). I was invited to have a show there in March of 2010. It went pretty well- you can images from that exhibition here.
The promotional postcards for my next show arrived- I’ve got one last darkroom session scheduled and then it is time to figure out what prints will go up on the wall. I don’t stress out too much on this part. Since I’m the one who took them it’s easy.
Listen: If you’re interested in making honest work there’s really no point in getting caught up in distancing yourself from your photographs through time or other people. If you’re shooting for yourself, why separate the feeling from the picture that way? Editing should be exciting and not a struggle. Sequencing is even easier. Since each entry is work made since the previous show I mostly just put them up in the order they were taken. This is how I do it, anyway.
The current owner of this Olympus told me that is the camera that Daido Moriyama used for his '71 NY series. He didn’t mean that it’s the same model of camera- but rather, it’s THE actual camera Moriyama took to New York in 1971.
Similar to Winogrand’s M4, it could be seen as an incredible collector’s item but it’s good to know that this camera is still being regularly used.
Original first edition copies of ‘71 NY are rare and or often prohibitively expensive. The reprint created by Andrew Roth in 2002 was well received and in turn is somewhat difficult to find today. You can read the story of how this book came about here.
Sample photos from the book and ordering/sourcing information for it can be found in the Japan Exposures bookshop: 71-NY Daido Moriyama