Since I have reviewed the Ume Kayo's book Ume-me, I did more research on Ume Kayo. I luckily found a video of Ume Kayo at work! Its amazing how quickly she uses the camera without hesitation and she also likes to keep things simple with her subjects and camera gear. What I love about her is that she has an eye for funny things and she captures something we might have missed from daily life. I got the video translated so we can have a better understanding of her work. I know it is not a perfect translation so please bear with me. If you have comments or suggestions about the translation please let me know.
Narrator: To be sure not to miss anything, that's what is important for her.
Kayo: Hey look!
Narrator: She runs off with the camera in her hand and take a photo. What is it that caught her attention?
Kayo: Awe darn it, I was too late. What was that?
Narrator: THIS is what she wanted. She is a 25-year-old professional photographer.
Kayo: I just saw a pigeon dropping by this food stand to "buy" some fried potatoes.
Kayo: For me, taking a picture is creating and preserving memories. All of these are my work, but at the same time they are all memories.
Narrator: She had her first photo collection book published last year, and that was when she gained popularity and exposure. For rookies, it is said that you are lucky enough if you are able to sell 3000 copies, but in her case she has sold over 30000 copies. She takes pictures that show humor, and then adds the line: The BEST "neighborhood" photos. She captures the moments which draws us in instantly. Once we see them, we get hooked on them.
Visitor at exhibition: I wonder how the heck does she capture THAT certain moment from everyday life?
Visitor at exhibition: I think the cool part is that it's not that her photos have a message or anything like that, in fact it's the opposite.
Narrator: Let's all dive into this "Ume Kayo world", shall we?
Narrator：It is hard to explain just what exactly is it about her photos which makes them so funny, but something about it is just plain fun and humorous.
Copy writer Mr. Shigesato Itoi: It's pretty tricky because if you get something just slightly "off," it looses the humor right away. But in her case, she is able to capture that moment. It's interesting how she just appeared like that into this world.
Actress Rie Miyazawa: She is able to capture those moments where most of us tends to just miss or not even pay attention, but yet we know see it all the time around us. The ability of being to do so right at the perfect moment and timing is just amazing.
Narrator: Recently she has been doing jobs in areas which she has never expected.
Kayo: Wow, is this going look like, you know, those TV idol shots?
Narrator: However, things like that will never affect her. She always maintains her own pace.
Kayo: OK, look at me, just a bit. Now, I need to take a shot of your butt, yup, your butt. OK, stretch~~~.
Question: When is the "perfect" timing and moment for you?
Kayo: It's hard to explain it with words...you know, it's when it just "hits" you, that's when. Many of my photos are like funny gag-like scenes, but it's not like those moments hit me all the time. Whether they are gag moments are not, all of those scenes and moments hit me the same way.
Kayo: Hey, check this out! Some miracle, huh? It's Terresa Tien's book!
Narrator: Ume Kayo's camera attracts miracles.
Kayo: OK, another miracle has come my way.
Narrator: Tokyo, the Taito-ku area.
Kayo: Um, sorry, it just crossed my mind...what if my room stinks? I mean, I don't think it does, but...Oh, all of these boxes here, they are not mine, just to let you guys know..
Narrator: This downtown area one-room apartment is where she lives.
Kayo: OK, please come in! Um, sorry, you guys might smell the food from last night....it might be smelling bad in here...
Narrator: It doesn't smell bad or anything, but it is sure strange.
Paper on the wall: OK, OK! If you start crying, keep crying until the tears reach your mouth, and then just eat them!
Kayo: OK, it's a little messy in here...yeah I know, these alligator guys, I know they are strange. I thought it might be fun if the mail guys saw and it and they'd freak out or something.
Narrator: She is a 25-year-old woman from Ishikawa. After graduating from high school, she attended a photography school in Osaka. These are all the photos she has taken in the past 8 years, there are about 40,000 of them.
Kayo: Oh no, hey stop, don't film this!
Narrator: She uses only 2 types of lenses; the normal/standard lens and the wide-angle one. Her parents, which knows nothing about cameras and photography, had bought these for her as a graduation gift, and she has been using it ever since.
Kayo: You know one time, I spilled some soup on the lens here....it got all over the lens...I tried to sip it off, but I was too late you know, so the lens broke...( chuckles)
Narrator: We decided to follow her around town
Kayo: Wow, this is kind of funny, the camera crew is right behind me... not sure what I should do.
Narrator: This day she had no work, so she went to her part time job which is not so far from where she lives. She carries her camera wherever she goes. The setting is usually at auto-focus.
Man on bike: Heh, a photo?
Man on bike: Have you been to Dennpo-in street?
Kayo: Dennpo-in street?
Man on bike: Of course, if you are in the Asakusa area, you'd have to know about that place!
Kayo: Wow, really?
Man on bike: That place is where they had...um.....augh, what was the name...anyway,it's the best street in Tokyo, got that?
Kayo: OK, got it! Hehe, so funny...I don't know even know that guy....but I guess I should go check the place out.
Narrator: She works part time at a shop for baby clothes. At this point, taking pictures is not enough to make a living. However, she has never thought of making photography a way to support herself either.
Kayo: I have fun the most when I go over there in that corner...drink some water and eat some cookies.
Narrator: During her lunch break, she goes out to town again.
Kayo: Hey, this this this! It's so gross, isn't it!?
Narrator: It seems like "gross" things get her attention.
Kayo: Eeeeeew, this stuff....I don't know how this happens, but so gross...
Narrator: Once she uses up all her films, she goes to Shinjuku to get them developed. Usually she uses 10 rolls each month. Even when she is waiting for the prints, she looks around for a good shot.
Kayo: Did you see that, that little kid was falling off her dad's back.
Narrator: She enjoys taking photos of people the most. When she was a student at the photography school, she became friends with the local students, and the photos of the kids got the teacher's attention. These photos are both her work and memory.
Question: Who are you interested in now?
Kayo: Yuuka!( an actress/model in Japan) I really like her, I want to take a picture of her. I think we are about the same age, and one time she appeared in my dream, we were like best friends...I was taking her picture.
<The prints are ready>
Kayo: Hahahaha, wow, so cool. I love these, hey, look at this guy...some stranger...he's making this circle with his arms, cool.
Narrator: She is now heading for Osaka.
<Ume-Kayo in Osaka>
Narrator: She arrives at a big gallery. She will be having an exhibition which is pretty big in scale for a rookie like her. She wants the visitors to feel what she felt when she was taking the photos. In order to do this, she decided to make very large prints. This is the first time she does something like this.
Kayo: Wow, so big! This is fun...
Narrator: When thinking about something seriously and deeply, she has the habit of munching on snacks.
Kayo: Hmm...it will be fun if I cut this out...maybe I should....OK, I'll do it!! Sorry, I'm gonna cut you up...
Narrator: It might be shocking to see a photographer cutting up their own work, but she doesn't care much about it. As long as she feels that it is going to be fun, that's what matters the most to her.
Kayo: This one right here, this was taken at Ueno station...I want the viewers to see what I saw, so I want this photo to be at the same eye level as mine. I thought this would work if I made the prints bigger.Most of them are like this.
Narrator: It took her 5 hours to set everything up. She also ate 1,200 yen worth of snacks. She has created yet another memory.
Kayo: Oh, I need to take that...ok, say cheeze...hehehe, cute, nice glasses!
Narrator: She decides to drop by at a place where she used to live. She spent her students years at the second floor of this hair salon building.
Kayo: Hey, guys, oh wow, you're coloring your hair? Oh wow, you bought the book!! You bought so many, wow, I feel like some celebrity now! You want me to sign these?
Lady at the hair salon: She used to go to the park near here, and take photos of the kids playing there. One day she came home crying, I asked her what was wrong...she said that she got yelled at for taking the picture. She came home crying all the way!
Kayo: I mean, it was scary you know, they all were yelling at me! Those guys surrounded me and getting all angry.
Narrator: The mood in this photo is what created the Ume-Kayo world. She is now back in Tokyo. She is on the phone and is talking about work, but something is going through her mind and she seems uneasy.
Kayo: Oh my god...I'm going to meet Yuuka!
<Ume-Kayo and her big gig>
Narrator: Today is the big day for Ume Kayo, she will have the photo shoot with Yuuka. It is a special project organized by a photo magazine which focuses on rookie photographers like Ume, and the whole plan is to grant their wish.
Kayo: I'm sorry....I was sleeping until the last minute. I can't believe this, I'm such an idiot,I'm so sorry, please give me a sec. I'm late....I overslept...I never had a problem like this before...sorry..please wait,wait here, OK?
Narrator: She kept thinking about Yuuka and that pretty much kept her awake the whole night. As a result, she has overslept a bit.
Kayo: OMG...I wonder where she is now...I wonder what Yuuka is doing now. I wonder if she knows me. Does she know that it's me who's gonna take her picture?
Narrator: Before the photo shoot, she will meet up with the costume staff, the make up artists, and get the general idea and image down.
Kayo: Um, hello, excuse me...here's my card. I'm Ume Kayo. Nice to meet you.
Manager: Oh, it's hand-written?
Kayo: Um, it's not that I am poor or anything...
Manager: OK, so before we get started...Yuuka's not going be here until later. It's the firs time we meet. We need to get to know each other a bit. I'm Yuuka's manager, I've been working with her for 10 years.
Kayo: Oh wow, 10!!?
Manager: So, what do you have in mind for the photo shoot?
Kayo: Um, cute...I want to make it cute....just keep it simple..
Manager: what about the hair? make up? Any ideas or suggestions?
Kayo: Um, I don't need those...I just want it to be cute, simple...natural. That's all what matters to me.
Narrator: It seems like she is feeling a bit uncomfortable.
Staff: So, which one should we go with?
Kayo: Oh, OK, that one then....Oh, did I decide it too quickly? I mean, I think she can decide...I don't really care about her clothes, as long as she looks cute..
Narrator: Since she has started to get bigger jobs and gigs, she is no longer able to work at her own pace all the time. There are things that she wants, and what the clients wants. They are different each time. She chose a park with lots of dinosaur figures for the photo shoot. She looks around to check what is around, what kind of people are there. She has brought the usual lenses for this shoot. The film she is using is the Fuji Film brand, 710 yen.
Kayo: Oh no....here she comes...oh wow, she's real! Oh wow, um hi, I'm Ume Kayo...nice to meet you..Oh wow, oh no...Wow, I saw her!! It's really you!
Narrator: So, what will happen today at this photo shoot?
Kayo: OK then, let's start.
Yuuka: Wow, you get right into it, hey?
Kayo: OK, this one... you can do whatever you want, just get on that thing, yes, that small blue one over there...OK,say cheeze!
Narrator: This is it for this shot. They move onto the next.
Kayo: Oh, so you were born in April? Oh, June? Wow, I thought you were born in June...I mean, you look like a June girl, your face does!! I seriously believed you were born in June, I mean, you have that kind of face!
Yuuka: Haha, really, my face does?
Kayo: OK, give me the cute "idol" look...I know you can do it!
Narrator: She just gives general comments, there are almost no retakes, she just goes with the flow and let Yuuka do her stuff.
Kayo: OK, cool, that was great!!!
Narrator: The outer and general image of Yuuka as an idol is not important for Ume Kayo.
Kayo: OK, wave your hand....a peace sign too, perfect!! Look everyone, it's Yuuka!!
Yuuka: I get the impression she likes things simple...she really likes people, meeting and talking to people...that's the feeling I get from her.
Kayo: Oh, that's a good shot.
Yuuka: Oh, that old lady over there? haha, you didn't even ask her if you can take her photo!
Kayo:I don't have time to ask each time, speed is everything!
Narrator: The magazine shows her work. Ume Kayo meets Yuuka. We can see Yuuka not as an idol, but just a simple young girl having fun with her friend, and that goes very well with the Ume Kayo world.
<What are your visions for the future?>
Kayo: I don't have any. Seriously. How I can think about stuff far into the future? I don't want to limit myself by saying things out like that. I shouldn't do that. I feel like once I say something, I will go towards that...I mean, it's not a bad thing, but I don't want that to happen, you know.
What worries me? Hmm....worries...worries...nah.
Narrator: Her hometown is in Ishikawa. Every time she has some free time, she visits there. There is someone she always looks forward to seeing.
Kayo: Hey guys, I'm home! Hey, what's that strange looking curtain hanging there...Hey, grandpa!!
Narrator: It's her grandfather. It's the end of the year, Ume Kayo is at her hometown now. Her grandpa is doing very fine.
Grandpa (92 years old) : haha, guys, sit down...have a seat.
<Ume Kayo and her home>
Narrator: Ume Kayo has spent all her life in Ishikawa until her high school graduation. Both of her parents were busy working, so her grand parents had a hand in raising her.
Grandpa: So, where are these guys from?
Kayo: From Tokyo!
Grandpa: Wow, is that so? All of these people came all the way down here from Tokyo?
Kayo: Yup, we all flew here!
Narrator: She has been taking her grandpa's photo for 8 years now. She has never explained why she takes those photos. He has never asked her as well. She just take them, he lets her do it.
Grandpa: From the very beginning, she was like this...her character, her personality..very kind, open minded. Also strong. She has stayed like that. Never changed.
Narrator: The grandfather always gives her strength.
Kayo: I think he's getting all happy because people from Tokyo are here. Usually he gets happy when he has visitors.
Staff: How old is he?
Kayo: He's 92!
Staff: Oh wow, 92!? Darn!No way!
Kayo: He likes to make people happy...he likes to entertain them, you know? So yeah, I've been taking his picture for a few years now... and I can tell he's getting older when I see the photos... Oh no, I shouldn't be thinking like this...this isn't good..
Narrator: For her, taking pictures is the same as making memories. It's not that she wants to look back at the past, she wants to take the photos because it's important to capture the fun moment. A new year has started. From the very beginning of the year, she starts taking his picture. With each photo she takes, he becomes more happier and energetic. She feels so. She believes so. Just like any other day, we can see her walking around with the camera in her hand. Even the most simple, even boring everyday life will turn into something fun through her camera.
Photographer, Ume Kayo. 25 years old. Miracles will follow her.