Road to recovery : Noriko Takasugi & Catalina Nucera

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

https://www.norikotakasugi.com/Photobook

 

Catalina Isabel Nucera – The Village

http://www.kattynucera.com/photobook-catalina-isabel-nucera.html

Shibuya Color

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.

Reaching for the peak

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.

[ Also link to same post in Japanese at http://www.rokkophotofestival.com ]

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.

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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.

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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.

Mt.Rokko Photo Festival 2018 : Portraiture Workshop 02 September.

Time & Place : The Photographic Portrait

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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.


Overview
Historical context
Current practices
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.

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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.

SHIBUYA – Curiosity Connects the World

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.

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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.

Naoko OHTA
Commissioner Founder – TOKYO-GA

Further information
NPO 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
Mail: info@tokyo-ga.org
http://www.tokyo-ga.org/

Ends

Mt.Rokko Photo Festival 2017 Workshop

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

Historical Context
Contemporary Practices
KLPA2017 finalists overview
Practical exercise in portrait photography

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Pictures from 2016 workshop, from Mt.Rokko Festival.

Brief

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.

Details

Workshop : Sunday 27 August, 2017, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Event Page  & More Info

https://www.facebook.com/events/151517582093908/

Mt.Rokko Portfolio Review Feedback – Syefry Moniz

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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.

The Journey

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.

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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 Conclusions

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

Mt.Rokko Portfolio Review Feedback – Ailsa Bowyer

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There are so many things to be said about the experience of attending the Mt Rokko Portfolio Review festival so I’m going to attempt a ramble the most significant aspects for me.

From the very beginning, we (the Malaysian *cough*slash*Australian*cough* posse), were treated like the most royal of guests. We may have let the whole team down because our un-showered bodies resembled nothing of royalty, but of course there was no mention of this. Even if people were surprised to find that there were in fact no dead animals in our bags or on our bodies, we (and our bags) were just welcomed with open arms and smiles. This was the first of consistent experiences of the Mt Rokko team’s astounding politeness and hospitality.

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We really were very blessed to have been able to attend this festival. I think pre-conceived assumption was that we, as international guests, had a lot that we would bring to the table. But, for me personally, I feel that I had a lot less to bring, and instead had a great deal that I took away. (And no, I’m not talking about the literal taking of amazing food or drinks. Although, as one exception to the culinary amazingness, if you buy the bottled green tea from the local convenience store, you may as well save yourself 70c, and the walk, and instead toss back the contents of the nearest ashtray).

The biggest realisation that constantly hit me was that there is just so much care and intention and pride invested in Japanese photography (or Japanese ANYTHING, for that matter), and that I have so much to learn in this regard. The ironic thing that I realised about my own art throughout this festival is that, I really don’t often treat any of it “like a work of art.” My prints and presentation really did resemble an eight year old’s artwork folder compared to the standard upheld by the Japanese attending photographers.

The Japanese folios were of gallery quality, and no expense was spared in the treatment or presentation of their photography. My favourite question from a reviewer, Didier Brousse, was “Is this how you usually print your works?” To which I answered a confident, “No, no, nooo…” (and in my head “… … … Um, yes? Shit! HIDE!)” What I was left reflecting on throughout this repeated exposure to japanese works was that, in the western screen-based world, we become so consumed with screen-based viewings, so often don’t connect a great deal with print – whether that be loose prints or book making – as a result. And in screen-worlds, we invest so much time, creativity, energy and planning in the execution of our photography, yet spend very little energy reflecting that in the final outcome of the work. And, to me, that really feels like the print version nestled proudly in your hands. (Don’t even get me started on the LIFE-CHANGING AMAZINGNESS OF MAKING A PHOTO BOOK, in particular. Experience this to know this, I can’t recommend that enough. Even in the initial dummy stages, for me, it is currently the most profound and moving experience. PERIOD).

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Pic by Akimichi Chimura

So for this reason, the open-portfolio afternoon where we all laid out our works and then walked around to peruse others, was the most significant event of the festival to drum home this message to me. At one stage I even panicked that my little yet heavy fingers may crease the tissue paper laying between one photographer’s prints. This is how I want to feel about my own photos, that I have sweated over and agonised over and poured so much of myself into. This is how we all, as photographers, should honour and value our own work.

The other giant benefit of the open portfolio session was being able to get somewhat of a mini snapshot of contemporary Japanese photography, in one hit. Walking around the room, I saw just how central family and history (including repeated references to traumatic historical events) was to most of these works. And how delicate each and every one of these works were. They all had such great contemplation and quietness and depth about them. And such beauty as a result. Further, as english is the second language of all the photographers, little words were used to communicate the intention/concepts behind the works; but little words were needed, which just made me realise the strength of the execution of ideas/concepts in their photography.

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Pic by Akimichi Chimura

Actually, I say they were all delicate, but I lie. They weren’t. There were some that were equally amazing for a different reason: because they were so, freaking, in-your-face confronting. Or entertaining. And to be honest, these works are the ones that I personally remember significantly, not for their asthetic appeal, but because the content of those works shook me the most.

Although it’s a given, it needs to be said – the actual portfolio reviews themselves were incredibly beneficial. I was reviewed by Naoko Ohta, Didier Brousse, Takeki Suigyama, Yoichi Nagata, Tuyoshi Ito, and Paula Kupfer. Every reviewer was very competent and knowledgable, and all had very different things to offer, including constructive criticism, positive feedback, suggestions for where-to-from-here, suggestions for presentation format, suggestions for sequencing or editing (note: bring LOOSE prints to reviews!

No fixed-photo folders!), and most importantly, questions that I hadn’t thought of or answered for myself yet. And although they all had very different and sometimes opposing things to say which did in parts leave me confused and overwhelmed, this to me was not indicative of any error of the reviewers, but rather indicative of just how far I’ve personally got to go in terms of being 100% sure of why I’m doing what I’m doing, and exactly how I want to do that, so I can then pick and choose exactly what feedback fits with my direction and where/who exactly I want to direct my photos to.

I’m talking too much. Let me cram in some parting words. The photographers and photography was incredibly giving and amazing. (AH-MAAA-ZING). Japanese people are ALL FREAKING BEAUTIFUL (mass generalisation, but I’m running with it), and may be deceptively quiet but seriously know how to drink an Aussie under the table. The festival had a real quaintness and naivete to it that makes it feel very precious. Takeki Suigyama (coordinator master #1) was a STAR at spreading love and energy throughout the place and dictating the vibe of the festival (including, but not limited to, frequent episodes of dance-shout-clap-chanting). Mariko Yamada (coordinator master #2) was often spotted running around behind the scenes instead of in the spotlight, but was the equal driving force behind the festival. (And with the sweetest smile in all of Japan).

The facilities were wonderful. (*Ahem* … first public bath experience. BOO-YAH)! The location is to die for. If I spent months on the YMCA grounds alone, I would be a very happy lady. And last but definitely not least, my favourite memory: the “sheet workshop” run by Daiki Usui. Literally, how to place one sheet on your bed, lie on that sheet, and then place a second sheet above you. “Like a sheet sandwich.”

Like I said, care and pride in EVERYTHING.

~ Ailsa, Perth 18 September, 2014