I recently finished publishing a translation of The Return of the Near-Future Photography Skill Talk Part 1.
The show and interview explores the careers of three photographers who won the Ihei Kimura Photography Award. Ume Kayo, Yurie Nagashima, and Rinko Kawauchi gets to be interviewed by renowned Japanese photographer Mr. Kishin Shinoyama. The show talks about privacy, creative process, showing photographical works to editors and much more! Please watch the video and follow along with the translation.
Note: I am still working on Part 3, please patiently wait till then = )
The Return of the Near-Future Photography Skill Talk Part 2
Held by the magazine company "Brutus"
December 10th, 2010 Held At Tokyo Shinagawa Canon S Tower S Hall
Rinko Kawauchi ( FOIL Nao Amino)
Yurie Nagashima (Akaakasha Nozomi Himeno)
Katsuyo Ume (Littlemore Yoko Omine)
Hosted by Kishin Shinoyama
Kishin Shinoyama: OK, so then, next is Yurie-san. I think in this group, you were the first person to get the award, correct, like what, about ten years ago? By then, you already had your "girly photo" style, and you were known for that style. Actually by the time you got the award, you've been in the photography world for about ten years...so that means you have a 20 year career, right?
Yurie Nagashima: Yes, it's been about 17 years now.
Kishin Shinoyama: So what are you doing now?
Yurie Nagashima: Well actually, when the magazine staff came to see me for an interview, I was right at the end of this certain project..I was like Oh my god, Mr.Shinoyama is going to see this? Oh no, I can't show this to him...!...and well, I hid my stuff from the staff.
Kishin Shinoyama: You what?? You didn't show your stuff to them?
Yurie Nagashima: Well, I wasn't ready to show them yet...Unlike Rinko-san, I'm the type of person where everything has to be completely finished before I show my stuff to other people. When the staff came, I just wasn't ready, and I get so self-concious.
By the way, right now I am taking pictures of people again, like portraits. Not my own portraits of course, other people.
Rinko Kawauchi: So when you do take a good picture, or come up with something nice, you don't tell your managers or editors? You wait until the last minute?
Yurie Nagashima: In some cases, yeah. I know, it's sometimes a problem.
Rinko Kawauchi: Well, I think it's OK. So, what about you, Ume Kayo? You don't tell other people about your ideas?
Ume Kayo: Usually I do tell people...but it depends.
Rinko Kawauchi: Well how about when you think you took a really good picture, do you show others right away?
Ume Kayo: Yes, I do. I feel like I want to show it off, hey, I got a really good shot and I feel all carried away...and then later on, I go like oh no, maybe that wasn't such a good idea...
Rinko Kawauchi: Oh, are you talking about the photo you showed earlier?
Ume Kayo: Yeah, especially the one with the water kettle...it looks so strange when you look at that photo on a huge screen like the one here...when I saw it, I was like oh shoot...I feel kind of embarrased talking about it now...Oh no, please don't show it..
Rinko Kawauchi: Don't worry, I like that photo.
Ume Kayo: By the way, just in case you are all wondering, that kettle is actually attatched to that bar.
Kishin Shinoyama: Haha, don't worry, it's not a bad photo.
Ume Kayo: Oh, do you really think so?
Kishin Shinoyama: It's not bad, it isn't...but you know,back when you got the award...remember, we had a party...and it was my job to explain to the audience about the people who won the award, and I also had to talk about your photos....and THIS kettle photo, I'm telling you, it was SO hard to explain to other people! I mean, people were like what the heck is that kettle photo...?
Let me tell you guys about this young lady here...she really is a unique one. So, I had the chance to meet her, and we decided to meet in front of the Takamori Saigo statue in the Ueno park. She said that she wanted to take a picture of me. So we had a little photo shoot...and this picture ended up in the sports newspaper...but I mean, why THIS photo?
Ume Kayo: Well, I thought it was a great photo..I mean, for me it's like a miracle. I'm in the same photo with Mr.Shinoyama,THE Mr. Shinoyama, it had to be this picture. It's great. I mean, Mr.Saigo is great too, but then combined with Mr.Shinoyama, it's even greater, the two great people in the same shot, and I'm in it too!
Kishin Shinoyama: Um, does anyone follow what's she's saying?
Rinko Kawauchi: I think all of that is part of her talent.
But yeah, I can understand. I dig this photo. The fact that Mr.Shinoyama is standing in front of Takamori Saigo, that is funny, I understand. Nah, you can make anything funny, Ume Kayo.
Kishin Shinoyama: But you know, it sure is hard to take pictures out in the public nowdays...all the privacy issue and stuff, right? Like you know, the other day...actually, it was during the night time when nobody was around, I was taking pictures...I was questioned by the police! So you know, we all have to get those official permissions and stuff, right?
Ume Kayo: I understand, I have the same problem...like especially when I take photos of kids, I need to ask them, their parents too...but I can't go see them by myself, I need my manager or editor to come with me. If I go by myself alone, they will be like who the heck are you?
Kishin Shinoyama: This is actually a really serious matter for photographers, there are so many limits to what we can or can't do. Everything have rights now, so the copyrights belongs to us, the photographers since we are the ones taking the photo, but if we are going to take a certain person, or a building, oh they are so much stuff going on...I mean, putting one book together, you guys must have all gone through so much trouble, right?
Yoko Ohmine: Yes, it sure was a lot of trouble.
Kishin Shinoyama: So you both went together?
Yoko Ohmine: Yes, for the "Danshi" book, we went together. We went through quite a lot actually, because some of the boys, we had no idea where they were, we had to go search for them. In a way, it was fun.
Kishin Shinoyama: So let's see, you are all nice looking young ladies...and let's say you took a bunch of photos, in this case, young boys, right? Don't you sometimes...you know, get dirty looks or something like that?
Ume Kayo: Actually, I did have a problem like that once before...This was when maybe I was like 19 or 20 years old, I was taking photos in front of this elementary school, and this PE teachers spots me...you know, those typical PE teachers in their PE outfit, pulling up their pants all the way up to their waists...anyway, the PE teacher finds me with the boys, I get in trouble, and I get dragged inside the school!
Kishin Shinoayama: Where??
Ume Kayo: In the principal's office! And the guys in the office were all guys, they were surrounding me, they all looked scary...I thought OK, if I show the cute photos, they might understand... but none of them smiled, they were all so serious...one photo I had was this boy, he had this dried kalamari snack shoved up his nose, and one of the teachers asks me with a serious face, "Are you the one who gave this snack to the boy, does the kalamari belong to you?" and none of them smiled, not even once!
Kishin Shinoyama: So the teachers are all so serious, right? For them, it's all about education and protecting the children.
Ume Kayo: Oh yes, they were VERY serious. Education!!
Kishin Shinoyama: So you started to cry?
Ume Kayo: Actually, I got scared and I started sobbing...then the teachers pointed out the fact that I was taking photos of boys only, so now they are thinking that I'm some pervert who goes after young boys! So when the teachers saw me crying they all freak out, and then they let me go.
Kishin Shinoyama: Oh yes, the crying...the crying is really tricky too. When someone starts to cry, they become the victim, and if, for example, the person goes to the media and tell people that they have been mistreated,then that becomes a problem for the school...
Ume Kayo: It's not that I was trying to get myself out of the situation by crying, I really was scared, But back then I was only 19 or so, I've just came to Tokyo, the teachers could tell that I was not from Tokyo from my accent, so eventually to them, I was like some countryside girl who came to Tokyo not knowing stuff, and yes, they let me go.
Kishin Shinoyama: You know, you are lucky...girls are lucky in the situation. Man, when I was taken to the police and got questioned...I should have cried too!
Ume Kayo: Oh god,you crying at the police...it would have been quite a show!
Kishin Shinoyama: But still, once people realize that they might be the ones in trouble, they change their attitude completely...right? So yeah, with all the rules and stuff going on, it really is hard to put together a book like this...I personally think they did a very good job!
Kishin Shinoyama: OK, so let's talk about Ms.Nagashima's new book here...can you tell us about your book, how you came up with the idea, the process,stuff like that?
Nozomi Himeno: Well,one day Nagashima-san emailed me and said that she had this idea...I was actually thrilled that she asked me, so we decided to work on it together.
Kishin Shinoyama: Oh, she emailed you?
Nozomi Himeno: Yes, she sent me her ideas and some of her photos through email.
Kishin Shinoyama: How did you feel?
Nozomi Himeno: I felt like it was very different from her previous works. Many of the images had words in them...short lines like poems, and then she also showed me a stack of photos that showed the process of things growing and developing, it was different from the "Nagashima" style I was used to. It really stood out. The photos were mostly flowers, but the way she took the photos, and the flowers she chose, it made it look unique. It made me feel like everything was new, it pulled me right in.
Kishin Shinoyama: So you guys had the idea of putting in all of those words and lines, right? I thought it was really put together in a nice way. You know, but the thing is...I really like the lines, I like the photos, but since they are so many to read, I pay more attention to the words, not the photos. So I know that in the Brutus magazine,it got really good reviews...but to be honest, I don't like this book that much!
Kishin Shinoyama：Oh no, I mean, it IS good, it is, believe me, but you know,I think for Ms.Nagashima, her photos...just the photos are enough. You don't need those words or lines, just the photos. Her images are very strong, it gets you right in the face...I thought they lines were not needed...but the funny is thing, when I had this talk with Ms.Nagashima, she whispered to me "But you know....books like these sell better!"
Kishin Shinoyama: OK, so Ms.Amino...you started working with Rinko-san after she got all famous and big, right?
Nao Amino: Yes, that's true. I came to know her through the books she had already published, and then she started to work with FOIL...it started from there.
Kishin Shinoyama: What's Kawauchi-san's biggest weak point, her problem?
Nao Amino: What!? Oh wow....hmm...Oh yes, she does become a bit indecisive at times. She would go over the same thing, go back and forth until the very last minute...almost everytime.
Kishin Shinoyama: So you help her with making the final decisions?
Nao Amino: Yes, I think you can say that.
Kishin Shinoyama: So people like her come in handy?
Rinko Kawauchi: Oh yes, very helpful. She also helps me relax. I mean, I know I am the one who has to make the final decision when it comes down to it, but having someone like this, helping me out making those decisions...the feeling of teamwork, that really helps for sure. I would be lost without her.
Kishin Shinoyama: I see, so what about other people? Do you guys make decisions on your own? Ume Kayo?
Ume Kayo: Me? Oh never, not even once. I need someone to help me each time. Ms.Ohmine is the one that came up with the writing on the cover...the wraparound band on the cover...it's really good, I want everyone to read it too.
Rinko Kawauchi: I do wonder how we can manage our time if were working alone. I mean, I'm sure Mr.Shinoyama has a very busy schedule, I wonder how he does it...do you ever stop and take a break?
Kishin Shinoyama: Of course, it's not that I'm always working...so when I'm not working...I do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just turn into this lazy couch potato. But, once I start working, I can go on non-stop.
Rinko Kawauchi: So you won't waste a single minute?
Kishin Shinoyama: Nah, oh come on, it's not like that, it's not that I'm a crazy workaholic or something.
Rinko Kawauchi：Oh, sorry if you took it the wrong way, I was trying to say that you really use your time efficiently.
Kishin Shinoyama: You know, some extra time...time that gets wasted...those are important too! I don't want to be running around all the time looking for work!