“A pandemic of the Coronavirus envelopes over 100 countries in the world. “
In 2019, I acquired two photography books directly from the photographers, which I seldom do nowadays due simply to the lack of shelve space. Each book is produced in different parts of the world : the first in Japan, exquisitely self printed and hand bound, with special paper and a gold and black patterned hard cover, with only 66 copies produced. The photographer, Noriko Takasugi has titled her object as ‘Fukushima Samurai, The Story of Identity’ and has painstakingly assembled over 100 of her photographs together to commemorate the ancient traditions of the modern samurai following the radiation-hit region of Fukushima Prefecture in 2011, more specifically, in Minamisoma City.
The second acquisition was at Lucca, Italy, where I was reviewing portfolios at the Photolux Festival. Catalina Isabel Nucera is an accomplished photographer and aide worker who spent many years in the Belarus city of Kirov, less than 100 kms from Chernobyl. She has produced a book titled The Village, which has a fluorescent pink screen-printed cover and a collection of found images and her photographs of Soviet-era estates, interiors, and public spaces of Kirov, interspersed with local families living there and found vintage photographs school children, playgrounds and factory workers.
Both books hold a unique shared perspective – that is, the compelling visual references by the photographers to record and document, and hence to archive, the post-destruction and recovery aspects following similar disasters, 25 years apart, nuclear fallouts that completely wiped out the populations of these cities through evacuation and radiation illness.
It is interesting for me to compare their approaches and note the differences in the processes and portrayal of the recoveries in two very different regions of the world, between two different cultural backgrounds and practices. Noriko’s contemporary portraits of modern samurais posing in front of their cherished landscapes in full costumes, shows determination and stoicism, is typical of the Japanese persona. Catalina’s less formal style, often sharply observed and casually composed is less, but nevertheless affords the viewer a realistic glimpse of what life was really like in a typical city in the 80s in the Soviet Union.
For more information :
Noriko Takasugi – Fukushima Samurai
Catalina Isabel Nucera – The Village
I’ll end this year’s postings with an image from my Shibuya 2017 project. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020 New Year to come!
Photography For All.
I just returned from attending the 2018 installment of the Mt.Rokko International Photography Festival, my sixth visit as a portfolio reviewer and also to present projects and run a workshop. I join many professional colleagues from the wider photography industry from across the globe as an invited guest with the main purpose – that is, to nurture young and upcoming Japanese photographers create more meaningful projects, strengthen their ability to project a strong story through their picture taking craft, which no doubt, all of them already have brewing inside them.
The festival, headed by its visionary director Takeki Sugiyama, a surgeon by profession, and totally passionate for the ‘meaning behind every photograph’, who is also an avid collector himself, is run with typical Japanese efficiency when it comes to scheduling and timekeeping, and a certain familiarity that is unique to Mt.Rokko. The volunteer team and staff already feel like family after the very first visit.
Photos by Melanie McWhorter & Chikara Komura
Held partly in downtown Kobe for the exhibitions and having the reviews in close-quarter up at Mt.Rokko, makes for an interesting long weekend for the guests and photographers, but slightly inconvenient for day visitors wanting to participate in the workshops or presentations. However, I feel that this arrangement is already being addressed over the last two years to make the festival more accommodating.
Over the years in coming to Kobe, I have gained many connections and friends in the photography world, and have also opened my eyes to contemporary Japanese photography – it’s highly aesthetic based imagery, and the very important link to nature, family and tradition. I speak of course in general terms, and there are photographers who also make non-conformist projects that surprise.
For Mt.Rokko, I believe that it has steadily gained the reputation of being a tight-knit photo community, and being a ‘portfolio review centered’ festival, it has the advantage of fully catering to photographers seeking to maximise their exposure in gaining valuable feedback through the expertly selected workshop mentors and international reviewers. Because of the proximity of the venues and the ability of the photographers to access the reviewers throughout the weekend, there are ample opportunities for casual conversations to happen – and I believe, even more for future installments – that these downtimes are vital to allow honest exchanges on a one to one basis, in addition to the scheduled reviews.
An advantage of being a small festival, the manageable numbers also help enhance the ‘community spirit’ and camaraderie of the participating photographers who come from all over Japan, and overseas as well, and I feel this is very important, especially for first- time reviewees, and more introvert photographers, and a unique feature for Mt.Rokko.
I have been following the progress of several photographers who attended the early installments of the festival and can happily say that many of them have gained new exposure of their projects and have gone on to win international awards, recognised in festivals or have exhibitions in galleries outside Japan. I can safely say that having attended Mt.Rokko previously, played an important part in their successes.
Since 2013, Mt.Rokko festival has been much praised for their purposeful and beneficial portfolio reviews and even as we had a smaller participation size this year, the variety and standard of projects presented were of greater depth and subject matter. This may be due to the stricter pre-selection process imposed by Takeki Sugiyama, the director to improve the overall photographic standard being presented to the international reviewers.
Part of the reason for attending a festival like Mt.Rokko and its portfolio review sessions is to make new connections with the greater photographic world, with international reviewers and also other photographers from Japan and overseas. Many opportunities can present themselves to participants – especially where their projects are unique or strong, and also where the participant makes the effort to communicate and interact in open discussions or during Q&As at the presentations.
I have known several past participants who have submitted entries to the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards and have been successful in becoming finalists and also went on to be recognised in other awards and festivals. I am glad to see this happen. I am also seeing participants who have been awarded for their projects that have become stronger and more meaningful in their edits, over the years.
The importance of education – that is, not only by the formal way but through personal development by gaining knowledge through experience and interaction, is vital to any photographer who seeks to advance and elevate his or her craft, both technically and artistically. Portfolio reviews are an effective exercise in receiving critical feedback and guidance in a photographer’s journey for deeper self-expression. I am grateful and honoured for being able to be a part, however small, of this journey with the Mt.Rokko participants.
Time & Place : The Photographic Portrait
What is in a portrait? What makes us connect with the people we see in portraits? It is the human connection inherent within each of us. The answer to this question could be more intuitive than expressive. Come and join in the discussion at my workshop on 2 September at Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival 2018.
KLPA 2018 finalists overview
Practical exercise in portrait photography
This workshop will introduce you to the significance of formalistic portrait photography, it’s historical context and present-day interpretations.
It will enable you to appreciate the knowledge and skill needed to set up a formal portrait session in a 1-hour practical outdoor shoot.
Brief : 2-hours
We will become familiarised briefly with the historical aspect of the portrait in paintings and from the invention of photography to the present day. We will look at the role of portraits from the invention of the camera in Victorian times, and then to the reproducible image, and the representational aspects of the personal portrait photograph.
We will consider and discuss the modern practice of portraiture and contemporary styles, and look at the importance and significance of the genre in modern society. We will examine some of the notable modern day photographers who used portraiture in significant ways, their influences socially and in journalism.
We will also look at how to appreciate and analyse portrait photographs throughout modern history.
We are able to review portrait photographs brought by the participants and perform a deconstruction and critique of each other’s works.
In the following session, I will present some of my personal choices of the finalist entries from KL International Photoawards from 2009 to 2018 including this year’s winning entries.
Practice : 1-hour
The workshops practical session follows with staged portrait shoots of participants in the studio or gallery space and outdoors. You will be able to make small prints of your portraits.
Note to participants
Please bring up to 5 portrait prints taken by yourself, or from magazines/online that you wish to present or review. Please bring your camera.
To workshop registration here.
Steven Lee is the founder director of Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards.
This is one mega-exhibition that involves so many photographers & designers that will be traveling from Tokyo to Paris in 2018. Am honoured to be part of this historic event.
Press Release 01 November 2017
“SHIBUYA – TOKYO CURIOSITY by TOKYO-GA”
DURATION: January 2nd to January 8th, 2018
VENUE: Shibuya Hikarie 8/Cube
Organized by NPO TOKYO-GA
Supported by The 4th ward, Paris. Shibuya ward, TOKYO
Cooperated by TOKYO-GA Supporters Circle
~ Curiosity connects the world ~ Identity・Diversity・Traceability ~
As one of the most dynamic city environments in Asia, Shibuya is at the forefront of new, on-the-edge trends and more particularly, of the emergence of a new Japanese life style. The dynamics of Shibuya have attracted the attention of the Japanese media and institutions. With the support of the city ward, the NPO TOKYO-GA has been charged to produce an exhibition featuring Shibuya’s identity at Shibuya Hikarie in January 2018.
This first exhibition will be the forerunner of what we would like to conceive as a traveling exhibition that presents the identity of Shibuya and the young Japanese generation abroad. Concrete and abstract themes will be featured through photography as a central element combined with mural video projection, virtual reality and art installations.
” I expect Tokyo-GA to communicate the exquisite charm, power, and vibrations of the Tokyo Megalopolis, with its sceneries and urban landscapes, a succession of vertical and horizontal rhythmical symphonies, which no other city in the world can give.”
~ Richard COLLASSE, President, CHANEL.K.K.
TOKYO-GA Participating Photographers
Satoshi ASAKAWA, Jean-Michel BERTS, Navid BARATY, Yukari CHIKURA, Renate D’AGOSTIN, Giuseppe DE FRANCESCO, Michael FEATHER, Stéphanie FRAISSE, Michel FRAPIER, Haruhi FUJII, the GAZE, Emmanuel GUILLARD, Mikio HASUI, Roland HAGENBERG, Tatsuya HIRABAYASHI, Kenji HIRASAWA, Taishi HIROKAWA, Tomoki HIROKAWA, Naoki HONJO, Norihisa HOSAKA, Minoru HOHTSUKI, Rie ISHISHITA, Kimiko ISHIYAMA, Gentaro ISHIZUKA, Keiichi ITO, Ooki JINGU, Bishin JUMONJI, Daisuke KAMIMURA, Chiaki KANO, Junpei KATO, Haruna KAWANISHI, Evarett KENNEDY BROWN, Rei KISHITSU, Eriko KOGA, Yasutaka KOJIMA, Kentaro KUMON, Osamu KURIHARA, Edward LEVINSON, Sebastien LEBEGUE, Steven LEE, Ilse LEENDERS, Tomoaki MAKINO, Yoshiko MATSUNAGA, Chihiro MINATO, Muga MIY AHARA, Mamiko MIYAHARA, Christopher MORRIS, Daido MORIYAMA, Yuki MORITA, Ken-ichi NAGASAKI, Masataka NAKANO, Hiroki NAKASHIMA, Sakiko NOMURA, Katsumi OHMORI, Mitsugu OHNISHI, Ryo OHWADA, Atsushi OKADA, Tsutomu ONO, Yuki ONODERA, Daisuke OOZU, Cesar ORDOÑEZ. Thomas PRIOR, Bruno QUINQUET, Takehito SATO, Tatsuya SHIMOHIRA, Taku SHINDO, Vincent SOULIE, Jeremie SOUTEYRAT, Ichigo SUGAWARA, Masayoshi SUKITA, Takeshi SUMI, Mikiya TAKIMOTO, Saori TAO, Kiyoshi TATSUKAWA, Yukinori TOKORO, Yoshihiko UEDA, Makiko UI, Kikuko USUYAMA, Kazuhiko WASHIO, Kazuki WATANABE, James WHITLOW DELANO, Michael WOLF, Celine WU, Masami YAMAMOTO, Yuki YAMADA(CHAP-TYAPU), Naomi YANAGIMOTO, Hiroshi YODA, Alao YOKOGI, Guenter ZORN
TOKYO-GA 東京画 MISSION STATEMENT
DESCRIBING TOKYO SCAPES BY 100 PHOTOGRAPHERS
In spring 2011, Japan experienced one of the biggest tragedies of its history that will remain in the memory of people for generations. The tremendous earthquake, the enormous tsunami and the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima power plant, all three incidents have damaged heavily the beautiful Japanese landscape and the trust in a safe Japanese nation.
TOKYO-GA, established in April 2011, gathers photographs taken by 100 photographers who have chosen Tokyo as their subject. Through the perspective of these photographers, “TOKYO-GA” wants to promote reflection on the development of the Japanese capital in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster. By looking at the works, the onlooker is invited to ponder over what is beautiful, what is sad, what is important, and to evaluate the possibilities that may lie ahead. The works illustrated show us some aspects of what is essential for Tokyo, something fragile such as an atmosphere, a behaviour or a gesture.
TOKYO-GA invites to share the beat and breath of Tokyo, a city undergoing big changes in this decade, and to witness the presence with sincerity through the eyes of 100 photographers who have each of them identified Tokyo in their own personal way.
Commissioner Founder – TOKYO-GA
c/o KLEE INC TOKYO
8-12-25, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 Tokyo Japan Tel: 81-(0)3-5410-1277 Fax: 81-(0)3-5410-1278
I’ll be heading out to the Mt.Rokko Photo Festival in a week’s time. I’m always looking forward to this time, late summer in Japan, and to meet the photographers, and see new faces and new photography. Thank to the Takeki Sugiyama the festival director, once again, for inviting me. I’ll be running a similar workshop to the previous years and it’ll be fun.
Deconstructing the Photographic Portrait
KLPA2017 finalists overview
Practical exercise in portrait photography
Pictures from 2016 workshop, from Mt.Rokko Festival.
I will present a brief slideshow on the historic referencing of portraiture from the daguerreotypes of the early to mid 1800s to the camera obscura, and then to the invention of reproducible film and the negative. We will examine the influences of photography on painters and masters and it’s representational forms.
We will consider the modern practice of portraiture and contemporary styles, and look at the importance of the genre in modern society.
We will review portrait photographs brought by the participants and perform a deconstruction and critique of each other’s works.
In the second session, I will present some of my personal choices of the finalist entries from Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards from 2009 to 2017 including this year’s winning entries.
The workshop practical session follows with staged portrait shoots of participants in the studio or gallery space and outdoors.
Note to participants
Please bring up to 5 portrait prints taken by yourself, or from magazines/online that you wish to review and present. Please bring your camera.
Workshop : Sunday 27 August, 2017, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Event Page & More Info
Fushimi-Inari taisha, Kyoto
How it started
I’ve got an invitation from Steven Lee of KLPA at the end of April 2014, to participate at the Mt. Rokko International Photo Festival Portfolio Review in Kobe, Japan. My feeling at that time was mixed. I was speechless, excited and looking forward to being reviewed. I started to do some research about the event from Steven’s blog explorenation.net and so on. This is the first time that my works will be reviewed by International / established photographers, artists, photo editors and curators from around the world. I’m very honoured for the invitation that I received. From that I started to prepare my works accordingly and put lots of effort on them.
Preparing the Project
Since I’m in the Exposure+ Photo Mentoring Program run by KLPA, I already have one project (Distance) which needed to be finished during the 3 month programme. I also brought another personal project (Bakul Boy). I’ve started the Bakul Boy project since early 2014. It was stressful but yet energetic and excited for me to do both works at the same time and preparing the final outcomes. With a lots of help, encouragement and support from my mentor (The Exposure+ Programme), friends and my most understanding family, finally I’ve was ready.
I have prepared everything accordingly such as all the prints, postcards, name cards, hand outs including dummy photobooks for my both projects. Unfortunately a few days before departing for Japan, I got into an accident and injured my knee. With limited time, I have to settle everything despite being in pain. But for me, the excitement to present my works in Japan, the pain never bothered me. On 29th August 2014, with a little help from my ‘tongkat’, together with Steven, Ailsa, Paik Yin and Nadia, we finally arrived at the Tanto Tempo Gallery, Kobe. The venue for the Mt. Rokko International Portfolio Review was held at the YMCA, Mt. Rokko, Kobe, Japan.
The ‘R’ Day
The portfolio reviews for this event was held over 2 days on the 29th and 30th August. I was reviewed by 7 reviewers. The reviewers were Yosuke Fujiki, Naoko Ohta, Natalie Matutschovsky, Tsuyoshi Ito, Yumi Gato, Takeki Sugiyama and one bonus reviewer; Fabrice Wagner. I’ve brought two of my working projects, Distance and Bakul Boy.
Distance is a project that I’ve done with the Exposure+3 Programme. The documentary set is presented as diptychs in one print. This project is about two children’s moments in their daily lives. I tried my best to be close as possible as I could, to capture at the same moments in the day, in order to convey their differences. I want to visually highlight how much education is important to a child. The idea of this project is to pose a question rather an answer.
My second documentary project is called Bakul Boy. Bakul Boy is about a little boy named Salmankan from Semporna, Sabah in Malaysia. This little boy followed his family to come to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to search a better life. He worked two jobs daily, the first selling plastic bags (bakul) and the other pushing wooden trolleys between the fish sellers and customers at the wet Filipino Wet Market, in Kota Kinabalu. He has to worked to achieve an education, just to help his family survive.
For these two projects, I managed to complete the photobook dummies.
At the portfolio review, we only have 20 minutes to introduce ourselves, giving an introduction on our projects and network. As for me, the first 20 minute session seems like a short time. I was a bit nervous and have not prepared much, and things messed up a little, but then I’ve made it through anyway.
So for the next session, I planned everything accordingly. Firstly, I gave out my name card, giving a short introduction about myself and then explain and presented both projects. I’ve showed the reviewers my large prints and the photobook dummies. I think we need to plan it well because we only have 20 minutes to present and at the same time we mustr receive feedback as much as possible. If we don’t plan or do it well, then we might feel that 20 minutes is not enough. Time is Precious.
Summary from the Reviewers
DISTANCE – A lot of questions were asked about this photo series. The questions needed to be answered by me. An example of a question being asked was if I could spend more time on the subjects. For every diptych, some of the reviewers asked if may be possible to add a quote from the children themselves. As this series is in colour, the calibration for all the images must be corrected especially the skin tones of the subjects. The sequencing can be change a bit and the images reduced, – “Less is More”. One of the reviewers have also said that my photobook dummies are done in a creative and interactive way.
BAKUL BOY – Most of the reviewers gave compliments and many good comments. They liked it as a photobook rather large prints. This is because the large prints are limited to 20 images only for each project. The prints can’t really show the whole story. I was advised to continue this project, making a series or volumes. Conducting proper interviews with the subjects, if possible, making a video recording too. In the future, I must also have the subject’s personal quotes. Spending more times with them, or make it a long-term project. I also need to be more careful on editing and curating the photos. As for the photobook dummies, most of the reviewers gave a comment that the cover designs are great, but some of the images are repeated and need to be removed if possible. A few of the important images needed to be enlarged up to create more impact.
The Bakul Boy project is the more popular series from the two. Each project is a different story and genre. Even if they are both documentary projects the approaches are different. For each project, intimacy is the key of the success and that intimacy requires time. The skin tone calibration need to be done correctly for the colour series. From my personal observations, my colleagues from Japan are well prepared with their prints and textured paper (paper that we do not have in our country) and some photographers were equipped with white gloves to handle their prints. This is a good example of we need for the next portfolio review.
Even with different languages we are all connected by photography and the arts. Our works speaks for themselves.
As this is my first time being reviewed Internationally, it was a good experience and a learning process for me.
I would like to express my gratitude to Takeki Sugiyama for the invitation to Mt. Rokko International Portfolio Review. Also a big thanks to Steven, Erna and the Exposure+3 mentors for this opportunity. Thanks to all my friends and families for their endless support.
P.S : for those who are into spicy food,…please bring your own hot sauce – ‘sambal ikan bilis’
~ Syefry Moniz, 18 September, Kuala Lumpur