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.