We just put up a new group of Women of Japan photos and I thought I’d talk about them a bit. It’s always hard for me to talk about my work but my spring resolution is to do it more.
I took both of these photos in Kyoto in the winter. Baba is a student at Kyoto Seika University, an arts college. My friend Becky Jennison is one of her teachers. This was taken in a park by the river. The light was pearl-like and lovely, the traditional perfect light for portraits. Getting the birds right with the cloud formations as they were flying back and forth was hard. The delicacy of the sky was crucial in the printing. The second photo was taken on our way back, at a mall near the train station. What caught me about the background were the lights and the way they related to the structure. Baba still remains the center of the photo.
Chibikko is also a student at Kyoto Seika. Her car is really special in her life. I was hoping to get a photo with the car but wasn’t sure if it would work as art. It really did. I particularly like the contrast between the very urban forms in the parking lot and the classically beautiful Japanese mountain in the background. And again, I was lucky to get a soft light. The second photo was taken in her apartment., which is very dense (like most student apartments in Japan). This is really a classic “environmental portrait,” with so much of who she is reflected in her home.
Fukuzawa Junko runs a feminist activist center. We’ve known each other for a long time and she’s been one of the primary supporters of Women of Japan. She’s a vivid and brilliant woman; catching her in motion turned out to be the best way to portray her. This is the first time I’ve done an image of “a body in motion” and when I was working on it in the darkroom, I wasn’t sure abut it until I saw the finished print.
Suzuki Ryoko is an artist who lives in Sapporo in Hokkaido. I stayed with her family when I was in Hokkaido and she was extremely helpful to me. This was taken in her living room and she feels that I truly “captured ” her. When I was printing this, it was important that the textures of light on the rug, furniture and on her dress were beautiful and striking without distracting from her face or the portrait quality of the work.
Yoko Okuda was a student when I photographed her. She felt that the image of her life that she wanted was her riding the train (she spent a lot of time on this train). We rode the train from Kyoto to Osaka and back, which took several hours. Even in off hours, the trains were still pretty full. Fortunately Japanese people are very polite to photographers. The first picture above was printed a couple of years ago. I really liked it, even though it has a quality of abstraction that is not typical of my work. I wanted the second one for a completely different feeling of the same photographic experience.