All of my photos have people in them. I like taking photos of people so it makes sense to me. Lately though, I’ve been trying to take more pictures without people in them. Not that I’m avoiding shooting people. I just want to broaden my horizons a little.
When people ask me about photography, I usually end up talking about street photography. Most of my favourite photographers are ‘street photographers.’ The term itself is fantastically broad. Plus, most of my photos are taken on the street. Like those of many of my (for lack of a better term) heroes, most of my pictures are candid photographs of strangers. I don’t particularly like photos that are just pictures of strangers. I like emotion or a gesture or a juxtaposition. I like photos that remind me of who I think I am or who I want to be or, sometimes, who I hope I never am. I like photos where someone is happy and in love with life and I like photos where someone is alone in a crowd. Because I am happy, in love with life and frequently alone in crowds. Then I share photos because I want to show people how I see the world.
I was thinking about this a few days ago and remembering how important it is to me that I don’t just see people. I do love people. I love to photograph people. But people aren’t the only thing I see day to day. They’re not the only thing that makes me smile. Taking photographs of strangers living their lives makes me happy. It reminds me how big life is. But I also love little things. Stickers on walls, food, old posters hanging off older cinemas, the decibel displays outside Japanese construction sites. I love them because they remind me how small the world is. Maybe no one else gives a shit about tiny fish in a Chofu izakaya – but they’re a part of life. Maybe no one’s interested in a sticker that says ‘hello, I’m sorry’ stuck on a Shinjuku wall. But these things are my Japan, my life. These are things that make me smile every day.
I will always take photos of people on the street. I want to make more photographs of the other things that make me smile, too. I want to make photographs of strangers living their lives. I want to make photographs of my friends and family. I want to make photographs of Yuka. I want to make photos of lifeless things full of life. Tokyo (or any city) is so much more than its landmarks. It’s the constant building work. It’s the graffiti and the stickers and the backstreet izakayas. It’s businessmen on mobile phones and a surprisingly high number of abandoned bicycles. Tokyo isn’t Tokyo Tower and I’m not a guy who only finds enjoyment on the surface. I always want my pictures of Tokyo to reflect that, to show my Tokyo, my life. I need to remember that. That’s what I’m trying to say.
Tokyo, March 2017