Photographers create stories with their cameras. One can have the most expensive equipment but still never rise to being anything more than a holiday snapper. The eye of the photographer is the piece of kit which finds that illusive evocative shot, and New Trends in Japanese Photography offers a collection of pairs of eyes.
Do Japanese have a natural ability to find narratives and beauty through photography? Well, perhaps they do. I have spent quite a bit of time in Japan and it is indeed the most aesthetically stunning country I have ever visited. Granted, these islands have natural assets which are photogenic but the applied landscape, the manmade features, are often remarkable, which leads one to wonder if there truly is that natural talent!
The Japanese photographic scene is vibrant, with photographers seemingly able to distance themselves from classic convention. Maiko Haruki, Naoki Ishikawa, Tomoko Kikuchi, Toshiya Murakoshi, Yurie Nagashima, Sohei Nishino, Koji Onaka, Yuki Onodera, Chino Otsuka, Tomoko Sawada, Lieko Shiga, Risaku Suzuki, Ryoko Suzuki, and Chikako Yamashiro are here offering examples of totally different styles, genres and subject matter.
A visual introduction
These photographers might not yet be very well-known in Europe, but this volume acts as a visual introduction. The Biography section has a profile of each of the included artists with information on their individual achievements and awards, although the images themselves offer more of an insight into these people.
Sohei Nishino is one of the most original photographers. His Diorama Maps are truly stunning. He presents images in which one loses oneself. They are black and white and all the better for it. One is forced to notice form rather than being distracted by a tapestry of colour.
Tomoko Sawada is light-hearted and skilled. She looks at the relationship of outward appearance and self. She is her own model and amuses us with group school photographs …of her. A collection of ladies in colourful kimonos, and all of those women are the photographer. A very different concept.
Risaku Suzuki is probably one of the most conventional of the photographers here. He has a focus on Nature but at a very specific time, an instant, a moment. He creates an ambiance through his lens.
This unique catalogue will likely appeal to a broad audience that will draw inspiration and create other trends and initiatives in countries outside Japan.
New Trends in Japanese Photography
Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018