The One I Love

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I am putting together a collection of best photos I took in 2014. I want to really focus on photos with most impact. In order to achieve this, I made special rules for myself:

  1. Only 2 photos from one photo session, no matter how good the photos are.
  2. Thematically focus on most strongest images
  3. No decoration or fill-in photos
  4. Every photo must have a story
  5. Never mind if photos have been in my exhibitions or not

Number 1 is really hard to follow because I have had some photo sessions that went really well (and others that didn’t). But this ultimately keeps number of images in control and is excellent, if not even painfully efficient eliminator of bad images.

Kawori Inbe

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Meeting Kawori Inbe became one of the most memorable moments of 2014 for me. It was a big pleasure for me to visit her private exhibition in Ebisu.

Her photo book “Time to go back.. to the moon” (Published by AKAAKA) is one of the strongest photo books I have recently found. It’s a silent documentary of living women. It’s both brutally honest and painfully beautiful. As Inbe says in the book,

Of all the emotions people have, I feel that “anger” manifests the will to live most, so I want to draw out and capture a pointed look from subjects when shooting. I find “anger” to be root of all emotions that temper life: a sense of inferiority, sorrow, despair, etc.”

Perhaps however, even more than it shows the life of her subjects, it shows the vivid and colourful soul of the photographer. This is human photography as it’s best. Only she can do this, I thought. She further says in her book,

People are the product of the energy they have, so I want to capture the soul behind the face and body.

This is, indeed what her photos accomplish so well. It would be easy to shoot something like this and do it for the wrong reasons, focus in the drama or bruises. But her camera focuses deeper. Her love and deep respect for her subjects can be felt. There is always strong sense of place and atmosphere in her images, and it just makes so much sense. These are photos that are painfully genuine and beautiful.

Meeting her personally was very interesting experience although I admit I felt somehow so shy in her company. I really envy her. We are almost same age. She was born just a year after me. But the difference between me and her is that she has been shooting way longer than me; with her I am a newbie, total beginner.

Her studying eyes framed in her lovely red glasses spoke a lot, in a language that I could instantly understand. Her voice was warm, and although we spoke of very substantial matters she always kept her documentarist-like cool. I felt her passion for her work obviously and strongly. This is a true cameraman; I thought.

When I asked her autograph she drew “okomecyan”, a rice seed character holding a Japan’s flag, and her sign with signature star. I gave her a hug and wished her well deserved success. Bravo, Inbe-san!

Indeed, I hope that she continues her journey as a photographer. Something tells me that she certainly will. Check out her book Time to go back.. to the moon in AKAAKA Art Publishing website. It’s also available in Amazon. Finally, here is her official site.

Phantom

Peter Lik’s “Phantom” hit the headlines as it was recently sold for $6.5 million. This apparently is a world record of some sort. The news immediately attracted some less than admiring commentary.

Jonathan Jones from Guardian:

This record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they are artists. It is derivative, sentimental in its studied romanticism, and consequently in very poor taste. It looks like a posh poster you might find framed in a pretentious hotel room.

I agree, but I don’t feel any kind of sentimental feeling from this photo. And then, since I know nothing of the buyer, this image might actually end up in pretentious hotel room. I wouldn’t be really surprised since pictures in hotel rooms are always something quite like this.

Jones also says:

Photography is not an art. It is a technology. We have no excuse to ignore this obvious fact in the age of digital cameras, when the most beguiling high-definition images and effects are available to millions.

I also think photography is not an art. It’s something else, sure. But I would disagree with Jones here; photography does not equal technology. That’s exactly what Phantom shows us; it takes more than technology or photographic technique to create a successful image. Truly great photograph is more than sum of it’s parts. There is something intangible in it, always.

Even if Phantom would have a subject matter that’s actually not a cliche but something original, it would still be boring shot if it was taken the same way. You need a feeling.