The Last Post, 2016

Hopefully, the last day of the year ends on a high note for you, as it surely does for me. In 27 December 2015 I posted the following :

Sign Posts

To all my friends in photography and the creative industry.What does photography mean to you?

I am starting a response thread on Facebook here with the above question, to which I am posing to all my photographer friends, contacts and acquaintances and those that are involved in the imaging, curatorial and journalism disciplines. We now begin a new year soon, and the flood of images that are being shared on social media and the rest of the internet, no less, in printed publications, television and commercials continue to saturate our collective minds on a daily basis.
Comments and posts below, please!

The post has now ended after a full year and has solicited a few comments from my photographer friends, some short and some lengthy, and I really appreciate them all. I reproduce their comments below and thank you all for your messages and support. I hope photography will continue to inspire everyone in all ways – remember that photography doesn’t belong to anyone, any group or organisation, any festival, publication or agency – it belongs to you alone – and how you see the world around you. Whether you are a seasoned artist or a beginner – no one can take away the thrill of photographing from you.

Please feel free to send me your messages.

Looking forward to a bright and happy 2017 !


“Photography means everything. I love it . I make it. I teach it. I see the world because of it. It represents, responds to, translates, expresses, frames, excludes, exaggerates, reduces, witnesses, captures, documents, archives, celebrates, criticizes and forms the world as we know and experience it. It is alchemical and magical, precise and abstract, technical and experimental, theoretical, conceptual and formal. It can be surreal and real. It inspires writing – from Sontag to Berger to Barthes. It holds memories and death and life and the past. It is alive.” – Elin Slavick

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Cyanotype of A-Bombed teacup fused to a plate and a bottle


“Photography is a method, tool, procedure, ticket, window of my purpose.

Sometime, I feel the purpose is growing and coming up to more concrete shape through photographing. And finding something new relationships of the people and communications with my surroundings. It is a discovery and achievement to take a photograph.

Still, I have not reached to a compilation of work yet. So that it is fun to take pictures and at the same time it is fatigue though. – Minoru Hotsuki

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Tin plate & Fork -superimposing of time and space


“To me photography is just a component in visual art that can stand alone… something like saxophone in music… but it is not so huge to define what visual art is…

[What is it about photography that makes you tick] the illusion of what reality and truth is… and how people treat it as a “Documenting Reality” medium…

I think in photography, I’m those kind who collect items/ events through shooting a photo… I have a fetish of going through a series of images that look similar… eg Ho Fan Chon’s yellow to red series… Fish Encyclopaedia, books on buildings, beer encyclopaedia… as long as anything keeps repeating in a pattern that would attract me… don’t ask me why… I am still trying to figure it out. “- William Sim (aka Ikan Bilis)


“Photography captures a temporary moment and transforms it to time immemorial into a permanent timeline.” – Helen Oon


“My take on photography is often embroiled in how I perceive myself (in relation to photography). While I can’t say that I am a full – fledged photographer, I enjoy capturing images that might look as if it was a frame from a motion picture, or an image that gets people talking because they could relate to it or because they are simply intrigued by it. That said, I enjoy capturing street and landscape photography – the former tells a story of life in motion, while the latter tells a story that there is life in stillness. As a consumer of images – I enjoy the perspective of other photographers in these genres as they often reveal a refreshing take on something that we are used to seeing day in and day out. It’s having the privilege of a different set of eyes to see the world we all live in. It is all about building connections between each other in a world full of strangers.

Aside, I would like to highlight on nature and wildlife photography. As an environmentalist myself, I see such photos as important reminders that we are living in times when our lifestyle is very destructive to the environment, where the balance between development and nature is often undermined. Having just watched Racing Extinction, I realised that the typically aesthetic photos of wildlife can be more far- reaching than just being on glossy magazine spreads. In fact, it is amazing to see what doors (and minds) would open when a photo with a message is seen at the right place at the right time. If there is such thing as the ultimate achievement of a photo (or a series of it), it would be one that has the impact to trigger a change for the better.

Of course, not all photos has to achieve such grandiose purpose to justify itself. Each photo taken in its own right is a moment captured in this fleeting world where change is the only constant. A photograph in our hands is an evidence showing that we have lived then, and will live further on – even when we are long gone. I’ll end with this quote by Mickey Burrow:

“Photography is not selfish. Although it captures the moment, it doesn’t keep it. Photography gives back to the viewer the fraction of time which it once captured. Making it generous for years and even generations to come.” – Evelyn Teh


“A love hate relationship – a relationship that can never be understood except through time. It never reveals its nature unless you seek what it is you’re seeking. More often or not, it stands as psychological statements on the matter you’re at. And it’s liberating when you acknowledge its presence.” – Siong Chung Hwa

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” I love photography for its human lens on the world, what it expresses about each of us taking these brief moments in a timeline which never pauses, from a perspective infinitely individual. I just love looking at things myself, and I love to also see how others look at things.” – Pey Pey Oh


“Photography has taught me how to see. How to pay attention to details and be more aware of my surroundings. To me photography is like painting. We manipulate the light to get the final photo that we want. The context of a photograph, itself is another argument which I think will be another debacle on its own.” – George Wong

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“The photograph sometimes has the fortune of inviting that which escapes us.” – Geraldine Kang

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“Photography is god’s gift to bad writers.” – Kevin WY Lee


I’d take the liberty to write something about “good photography” instead of “photography”, and I can only express my personal views, in sum: it goes beyond the borders of languages and grammar and yet has its “vocabulary”; it poses questions rather than gives ONE answer and causes an emotion &/or triggers a thought, in other words, it goes from being visual and tangible to being intangible yet important; and,
it is delivered with a skilled utilisation/application of light (“Photography” in Greek means drawing with light). – Kristin Man


“Photography started out as an excuse for me to go out and getting away from my family and still is one of my favourite excuse to stay late while hanging out with my friends. Over the years, this excuse turn into a routine that has became part of my life where the act of capturing a ‘great’ photograph become more as an act of preserving thoughts and memory.

Few years ago, the world seems big with Photography but now my work has become much narrow in perspective and I am slowly turning into a selfish photographer that is only concerned with my own fetish of my surroundings. Certainly, I consider myself as a good photographer, just not a great one.” – Kelvin Ah Kian


I know it’s a little bit late but this is what I found from my first photo-book release.

The adrenaline seeing the final image in a piece of paper always give me the satisfaction until now. Second is when holding a TLR and looking at the view finder from top.. Loading and unwind film.. Taking a deep breath and press the shutter and celebrating the sound of capture. – Flanegan Bainon

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Passion, a flow of concentration of mind and mainly of emotions, not necessarily with the desire to change things, but to resonate to the outside and the inside. Capturing a fleeting, yet essential moment. To me the excitement is in being able to touch upon something that is meaningful and important in a visually exciting way, which guides to somewhere beyond, which does not even meet the eye.

I am grateful to photography as it has become probably the best part of me.
Your question on our most significant photographs had several parts, please allow me to give an answer from two different aspects.

The first really significant photo from me is the one I took via the broken window of a bedroom of an orphaned house in my home town in rural Hungary. The moment I saw the photo I knew for the first time in my life that it was art. I had my ultimate reward. I was fifty and that picture made me as a photographer. I called it later Homage to Van Gogh. ( http://www.schildtamas.eu/index.php/portfolio/exhibitions/ )

A few years later I went back to visit someone I had known since my childhood, but was afraid to visit for the last thirty years. She was my sister’s class mate, the beauty of our village when we were young. She became a pharmacist and married a young lawyer. The husband’s best friend, a gynaecologist, was their best man and also in charge of the birth of their baby. There’s always a first time and complications and medical errors ensued. The baby stayed alive but she could not have more babies. When I saw them last, the beautiful little boy was two. It was clear that the boy would not ever learn to speak, walk or even use his hands. Movements and sounds uncontrollable. Her husband had divorced her by then.

She has been raising her son on her own ever since. He was thirty three when I went to see them again and her hair was grey. We talked and talked and at some point I told her that I would like to pay tribute to her and her son with a photograph. She kindly agreed to. That became my „Everyday Pieta”

(http://www.schildtamas.eu/index…/portfolio/everyday-pieta/ ) – Tamas Schild


Like any other form of visual art, photography is a medium of expression. But unlike other forms of visual art, photography captures a moment in time, in its purest form, and retains it in perpetuity. One might still change the superficial character of a photograph – tone, light, exposure – but the essence of what that moment represents remains intact. To me, photography remains the most honest form of visual expression. – S Jamal Al-Idrus


For me photography is extremely personal. It pushes me to be curious about the world we live in and therefore, it keeps me moving, to really see, and to question what I see. I am never bored or lonely with my camera in hand.

In a world where too many photographs are produced, shared, and seen, I aim to tell new stories or old stories in new ways. Photography allows me to share how I see the world, the little moments I appreciate that others would often overlook, and to document my life in a way words cannot.

I hope that through my photography, the viewer travels. – Eileen Cho

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Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival 2016 : Portfolios reviewed.

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Let’s begin!

I recently attended the Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival 2016 in Kobe, Japan as reviewer and below are the notable works that I have personally seen over the 3-day event. I have been coming to this festival since 2013, organised by Takeki Sugiyama and his excellent team of volunteers and staff. The festival is centred around the portfolio reviews, of which there are 21 reviewers and 42 photographers. There are also presentations and slideshows from the guest photographers, this year, being Jamey Stillings, Kosuke Okahara and Alejandro Durán.

The overall standard of work is notably higher, since the director implemented a pre-screening and presentation session earlier in the year, to prepare the selected photographers to obtain maximum value in attending the reviews. This is clearly seen, in my experience last week, of being presented with clear and concise statements, quality loose prints in presentation boxes and a few well-edited work. However, as other reviewers also noted, photographers are still presenting too many prints in their series, and in some cases, too many series. Anything more than 20 images for me, would be too many.

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Kyoko MARUYAMA
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Kyoko MARUYAMA

One of the most arresting images I recall were the two silver gelatin photographs (above) from Kyoko Maruyama‘s project Heart Island project -Awa. Although the series is not complete in terms of photography, she had an initial idea to photograph the inhabitants of this district in Chiba – under threat from possible massive contamination  of the land through the underground storage of unknown polluted soil. The story itself warrants documentation over the next years and has potential.

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Takayuki NARITA

When Takayuki Narita, a young and trendy photographer, with manly long hair and light beard sat down and presented me his statement, titled ROSE GARDEN and printed on paper with light pink roses and pale green leaves, I didn’t know what to think.

Until he showed me his series of garish, over-saturated ‘studies’ of people enjoying themselves in a sunny Osaka park well known for roses – I begin to understand his obsession with the flower. He writes “The modern day flower thieves snatch the images of flowers with the digital cameras, smart phone in forms of megapixels”. As an observer of human behaviour, his carefully composed scenes are humorous as well as reflective of our modern ‘image-sharing’ societies across the world.

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Takayuki NARITA
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Takayuki NARITA
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Laura VALENTI (Photo Lucida Critical Mass)
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Toshiyuki SHIRAI

I also reviewed Toshiyuki Shirai‘s [without joy, without happiness] series of self-portraits dressed in what is a typical ‘salaryman’ (business) man suit, posed in expressionless faces in ‘out of context’ situations, eg. playground, swings and slides where children enjoy themselves.  He complains of the ‘mental torture that salarymen endure like “a man digging a hole in the morning, and fill it in the afternoon every day, endlessly”. This creative series can be expanded to include other scenarios – like on a beach, in a kindergarten etc  where the contrast can be extended. I like this kind of photo series – of self -examination and creative portrait photography.

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Toshiyuki SHIRAI
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Toshiyuki SHIRAI
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Noriko TAKASUGI

I knew of Noriko Takasugi‘s recent portrait at this year’s Taylor Wessing Photoprize where she was a finalist with her portrait of celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Also, her Fukushima Samurai series of portraits which she showed at Mt.Rokko this year. What I didn’t expect was the depth of research she had done in this project which, for several years now, has over 40 fine portraits of modern day samurais, each, dressed in traditional garb and photographed respectfully in and around the Fukushima area. It is time a book is published.

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Ryosuke SAITO
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Ryosuke SAITO

Another promising work I have seen is Ryosuke Saito’s humorous observational series of ‘tourists, smartphones and selfies’ called “#photooftheday”  (- complete with hashtag).

His witty captures of beachgoers in Thailand reveals more about what I term the ‘experience’ economies have to offer and yet informational exchange still holds true in our social media world. Similar ideas with the Rose Garden series above.

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Eiji OHASHI

Another brilliant colour series is by Eiji Ohashi from Hokkaido.I saw him at Mt.Rokko last year where he displayed a black and white collection of his Vending Machine series. At the time I thought that they could be improved if he captured them in colour instead. This year he showed another set of vending machines in colour, and I thought they were significantly improved, as they showed the placements of these machines in more realistic and contemporary settings. The images are quiet reflections of an essential and modern invention that is found all over the country. He has 9 pieces of this series being shown at the Singapore International Photo Festival 2016 in October.

The photographer known as TOMM is a bubbly person and dons a  pair of Yohji Yamamoto trousers. He showed me his series of raw and gritty black and white photographs of festival people from over 30 such events across Japan called Ikai (Spirit World).

His pictures are to record what he calls ‘tamafuri’ or life soul of these events in modern times Japan, where science makes everything efficient and festivals seem irrational and strange at times. He photographs in black and white to depict the sacredness of their existence.

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TOMM Photographer
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TOMM Photographer
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TOMM Photographer
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TOMM Photographer

I found his images to be varied, strong and well composed, as often than not, photographing at public festivals can be quite restricted in terms of vantage points.

His images are bold and has a sense of immediacy to them, unlike many festival photography series I have seen. I did suggest to Tomm if he could visit the annual Thaipusam festival in Malaysia one day, that would be right his street.

One of my favourite images of the festival came from Takako Fukaya from Aichi.

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Takako FUKAYA

She is a mother three girls and she started showing her black & white images of them playing and doing normal things in and around her home, gardens and recreational parks. I didn’t feel as though she was portraying them in their joyful existence as they seemed too contrived. Nonetheless, when she began to show me her previous series of colour studies of them, right at the end of the review session, it completely surprised me! This set of toned portraits was fresh : innovative and whimsical, using homely props and natural light with effect. Beautiful.

Finally, I was also impressed with Yoshi Okamoto‘s series about women scorned. There is much intimacy and isolation that showed through to the viewer with her work about depression, despair, loss and ultimately, an unknown fate  which lies ahead for the woman in the picture. Yoshi is no stranger to awards, as one of the images from this series was selected as a finalist in the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards 2016. We also discovered that she has been selected as one of the 100 candidates at Review Sante Fe this year.

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Yoshi OKAMOTO
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Yoshi OKAMOTO (R)

I would like to mention Shyue Woon‘s Car Park series of dimly light atmospheric scenes. This was his first review in his photographic practice and was proposed by myself to attend the portfolio review at Mt.Rokko this year. His work was also projected at the Emerging Photographers Slideshow on the final evening to all the gathered photographers, reviewers and guests.

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Shyue WOON – Emerging Photographers Slideshow

The final mention goes to the Anne-Sophie GUILLET a French photographer on a residency in Japan. She showed two series, Inner Self and Reminiscence.

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Anne-Sophie GUILLET

I’m a sucker when it comes to a strong portrait image, and she has not one but several strong ones in her series Inner Self, which are formal portraits of ‘androgynous’ strangers she met on the street, invited to their homes and photographed. To me, this is such an interesting photo project which does not involve any kind of travel or fanciful enactments but require patience, trust and a lot of goodwill.

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Anne-Sophie GUILLET

Reminiscence goes deeper, and she explores her childhood memories at her grandmother’s house in the French countryside. The house is no longer in the family but she has her grandmother’s objects and belongings to which she photographs at the house and it’s surroundings to immortalise her fading memories.

Each year the Mt.Rokko reviews always bring out some extraordinary work and this year these are the more memorable and meaningful ones for me. I’m sure other reviewers will have their own set of favourite projects, and  would like to close by thanking the festival director Takeki Sugiyama for his constant drive for education and exposure, and to make this event a success in Japan.

Arigatou gozaimasu.

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Open Portfolio Viewing

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

Mt.Rokko 2014 Portfolio Review Highlights

Review Highlights

In my second year attending the review sessions as a reviewer, I have developed a greater sense of appreciation for contemporary Japanese photography, especially within the context of aesthetics, form and content where I found to be very much related to the ‘being’ of the photographer and is intertwined with a personal discovery and journey of the artist, which is rather unique to this nation. Reviews are a great way to discover the ‘pulse’ of what is being photographed at any one time, and having an open mind approach is best, for the genres presented is as varied as the characters of the photographers.

The photography from 15 photographers I reviewed over two days had studies of nature, family, landscapes, objects, street scenes, street photography, architectural images, creative portraits and some ‘road trip’ style photography. The deep respect amongst the Japanese to Nature, family and the home has been the source of many of the themes I continue to see.

Of the photographers I have reviewed this year, the works had better visual narratives, were of high standards and creativity compared to 2013. As expected, the standards of presentations was exemplary, with well printed photographs and good selection of media. I understand that the selection process of the photographers was rigorous and I applaud the organisers in maintaining a standard year to year.

With the review sessions still fresh in my mind, I highlight several photographers whom I have had the opportunity of reviewing, whose works stood out, and made a lasting impression in my mind. This is not to say the others weren’t significant or memorable, however, I would like to share some of the works that have made me reflect a little, surprised me, or stood out photographically as being unique, to my readers.

Susumu Okada – White Traces

Susumu is an accomplished photographer, and he presented his White Traces in perfectly printed large sized exhibition quality inkjet prints. The size of the prints, I think were at least 40 x 50cm, hits you with so much detail and texture that is is difficult to neglect. His series White Traces are streetscapes photographed around Tokyo of isolated spots, flyover pillars, fences, backyards, carparks where the main point of focus are the tiny round white and grey marks left on the hard surfaces by kids hitting baseballs against them, countless times. The images are truly unique and has many dimensions of narrative; reflecting the passage of time, a city neglected, the lack of open spaces, inner city life, etc. One thing, not a single kid is shown playing the game. Tokyo looks deserted, dull and grey.


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 All images © Susumu Okada

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http://www.susumuokada.com

Mina Daimon – Miniature Garden series (Hakoniwa , A world within a BENTO)

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What would we do without the bento? The simple bento box is uniquely Japanese. So, Mina Daimon, a graduate in Landscape Architecture Science presented an amazing series of perfectly filled lunch boxes, which she neatly arranged items of food she painstakingly cooked, in various combinations over a period of months, and photographed them. Her idea for this series comes from the fact that she sees the bento as miniature gardens, tendered to perfection, in a variety of ways in tastes and design, all for the enjoyment of one special person, her husband.  A simple idea takes on a whole new meaning, in this series about food, order, dedication and love.

Work — Mina Daimon Photography

© All images Mina Daimon

Here’s what she says about this series.

I do a simulation in my head before sleeping.
First, packing rice in the first layer of the lunch box.
Then sprinkling sesame seeds on the rice it and garnishing with pickles in the corner.
Taking out the ingredients which had been prepared the night before,and adding the final touches to each dish.
Boiling leaves in plentiful water for marinating.
Cutting everything into the appropriate sizes and filling to fill the second layer of the box.
Hakoniwa (the Miniature Garden) = A world within a BENTO.
I go to work with “my very own garden” hidden in my bag.
It disappears quickly, but brings me happiness through sudden bento-inspirations at work.

Everyone sees their own landscape.

Work2 — Mina Daimon Photography Work3 — Mina Daimon Photography

http://www.minadaimon.com

Minoru Hotsuki – Persona

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Minoru Hotsuki hails form Tokyo and again, is an accomplished print maker and photographer. His series of slightly otherworldly portraits, titled Persona is bizarre yet mesmerising. Taking a leaf from ancient Japanese artists, he photographs his friends in several poses, profile and straight-on, and recomposes the forward looking eye into the profile image. Digital trickery aside, this conceptual portraitist has achieved a look in his series mimicking the cubist painters, and ancient artists from the middle-east, into what is the importance of the all seeing and knowing eye, the window to one’s soul. At first glance, the portraits seem normal, perhaps a slight discomfort faces the viewer, until the technique is disclosed, the notoriety of the work shines through.

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© All images Minoru Hotsuki

http://www.netdandy.wix.com/picturisk

Hiro Tanaka – Dew Dew Dew Its

Hiro Tanaka is a great guy. I would say he is an opportunist photographer. He followed a band across America for months on end, backstage, frontstage, slept in caravans and RVs, city to city, town to town. Attended raves and parties, met countless of peoples, ate fast food, and just photographed everything, from dogs to kids, to strange plants, drunk friends, landscapes, I mean, everything. He showed me his publication called Dew, Dew, Dew, Its (which I still can’t remember what the meaning is) and I laughed. Not because the pictures are funny, although some of them definitely are, but because the photographs captured, by this ‘foreigner’ in the Land of Opportunity is so ‘in your face’ and exposes all the idiosyncrasies of a nation so diverse as is ‘road America’ in all it’s garishness and colour, that only a roadie like Hiro would have been able to capture, living amongst the very people he relied upon for his travel and lifestyle. It reminded me of Martin Parr’s more astutely photographed Think of England series.  Refreshing.

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 All images © Hiro Tanaka

Shinji Ichikawa – Distance

Rarely have I seen ‘open spaces’ in landscapes so well photographed in Shinji Ichikawa’s project Distance. His images are tightly composed and well observed and in some pictures, he intentionally blacked out the sky or background, creating a false negative space which emphasizes the foreground, making the image surrealistic.

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All images © Shinji Ichikawa

http://www.shinjiichikawa.com

Kyoko Yamamoto – Dark series

Kyoko (or Yama as she is known) comes across as a quiet and unassuming photographer, but she has mastered the fine-art aspects of colour, composition and subject matter to high degree of perfection. I did not review her work, but she caught up with me at breakfast on the last day, and offered to show me ‘dark’ series.  Wow, just blew me away!

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© Kyoko Yamamoto

This series comprises of streetscapes, objects and architectural studies processed to a stop or two from total darkness, and offers a nocturnal dreamlike atmosphere punctured by luminous glimmers and shards of light. Totally moody and accomplished work.   www.mwp.xii.jp

Suggestions

For many photographers, portfolio reviews can be a daunting task. What do you show? How do you show? What do you ask? Do you take notes? What if the work is incomplete? What about the statement? I present some suggestions for photographers attending reviews. Bring only the important series from your recent photography, it can be work in progress or recently completed.  Limit them to about 10 to 15 prints per series and a maximum of 2 series, since there will not be sufficient time to view more than about two projects. I would prefer to look through loose prints than prints inserted into presentation folders, since we can re-sequence or pull out inappropriate images on the desk as we discuss the work. Quite often, photographers bring too many photographs from a project, which in actual fact may contain 2 or even 3 series. Editing of the project is really important, as it shows that you are focussed and the project idea is tight and concise. If your statement is too broad, then your images tend to be the same. ~SL

Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival

Review 2012 : My Top 20

As we approach the end of 2012, at the cusp of a new year, I always look back through the months to review the images that I have taken to see what has transpired photographically for me, personally. I have selected 20 instead of 15 in 2011, having taken more images this year. I am currently working on a series which I will announce perhaps in the new year, but still lacking in numbers for now, so it is shelved until Spring comes round. Commonscapes, a series of landscapes photographed in close by Wimbledon Common was started when I discovered that I actually like walking, (and contemplating) with dog in tow. I can see myself shooting MF not too long. If only there was a digital square medium format camera to use which doesn’t cost the Earth and more.

Photography today more than ever, takes on a new meaning for me. I still like shooting street images, but because I have seen so many street images that lack intent and story lately, I focus now more on humour and irony rather than drama and contrasts. I go through phases in my photography, like reading books. I am into crime novels at the moment.

2012 has been a challenge in many respects, what, with the rise in prominence of Instagram and smartphone images to a new level, and the slow death of DSLRs  caused by the onslaught of compact interchangeable lens formats, will surely be an interesting story to follow. Now that more and more photographers are composing through LCD screens rather than viewfinders, it would be worthwhile to examine if there are any compositional differences that may be gauged collectively in the kind and style of images that are produced throughout the world.

Here are my Top 20 for 2012 :

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1. Chinese tourists on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, London

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2. Height of Summer, Hyde Park, London

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3. Orang Asli mother and her children, ‘Magick River’, Perak, Malaysia

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4. By ‘Magick River’, Perak, Malaysia

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5. Butcher, ‘Little Burma’, Kuala Lumpur

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6. Cult revelers, Notting Hill Carnival, London

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7. Street pose, Notting Hill Carnival, London

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8. Christmas display, Kuala Lumpur

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9. Waiters waiting, San Marco, Venice

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10. Sami, Tunisian, Venice from series Merchants of Venice

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11. Wheatfield, Burgundy, France

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12. Tourists, Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy

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13. Fairground boy, Wimbledon Common

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14. Wild flowers, Tuscany, Italy

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15. Dinosaur Coast, Brook Chine, Isle of Wight

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16. Wimbledon Common pond, from series Commonscapes

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17. Untitled 1 from series Commonscapes

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18. Veteran and his medals, Remembrance Sunday, London

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19. Winter walkers, Wimbledon Common

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20. Volunteer harvester, Bothy Vineyard, Oxford

See my 2011 Review here

Review : Klein + Moriyama at the Tate Modern

Review  Summary : New York 1 , Tokyo 0. Black and blur is good. ****

You have seen the posters advertising this duo retrospective all over the underground, on sides of buses and in the papers. It runs at the Tate Modern till 20 January, 2013 at £12.70 per entry and it does not disappoint.

When there are two photographers being exhibited together, one will always ask the question, “who is better?” Well, to cut to the chase. Klein wins hands down. Not that Moriyama’s hauntingly haphazard black and white photographs of 60’s Tokyo and his observed New York weren’t any good, but, when ‘juxtaposed’ (that dreaded word again I’m afraid) against the width, breadth and depth of William Klein’s monumental works, including his abstract colour typographical screenprints, early film documentaries, colour photographs, street people, Vogue fashion, gigantic photograms and pop-art contact prints, tend to render Moriyama’s works into one dimension.

You see, if you didn’t know Klein, he’s a sort of master of all arts. He started as a painter, filmmaker and graphic artist before he discovered photography. He’s a sort of expat New Yorker living in Paris and he bought Cartier Bresson’s early Leicas. That makes him a ‘God’ to many.

For me, Klein’s black and white street photographs do not have the wit and humour, (dare I say it, the ‘moment’ of Cartier Bresson’s photographs) of Erwitt, Frank or even Doisneau. They were somewhat more honest and personal, which is what I like, as pure, up close, urban city observations. I think, today, street photographers try too hard to create  or seek out these moments, so much so, they are derivative and predictable.

I did find many of Moriyama’s black and white images rather banal, although some would say seminal, to his later series of urban Tokyo. His early style was influenced by Klein as well as Kerouac’s photographs. Both artists commonly print in high contrast, grainy style with over-blacks, often blurry, even out of focus. This was considered the ‘rebel’ style to much of what was published in the 50’s & 60’s, in documentary and fashion stories. Klein broke the mold. Moriyama led the way.

I also looked forward very much to seeing his Stray Dog, (which I wrote about here ) possibly his most famous image. I did not see one, but 8 Stray Dogs instead. I came away with a feeling that both of these great photographers deserved their own exhibitions, rather than Daido taking second place, in both the headlines as well as how the show was laid out. I guess seniority rules in the end.

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The last major retrospectives  I visited and written about were Anne Leibovitz’s in 2008, Lee Friedlander‘s in 2007 and also Diane Arbus at the V&A in 2005, before I begin blogging. – SL

2011: My Best Shots – Review and Reflect

 As 2011 draw to a close, I have trawled through my archive of close to one thousand photographs made over the last 12 months to see if I could identify the most memorable ones, the best ones or the most striking images. Call them keepers, significant images or gems, whatever, these are the 15 photographs that called out to me as I scrolled through the filmstrip in Lightroom. Memorable may not be the best ones, I have discovered.

I tend to shoot less nowadays, opting for more precisely captured images rather than a ‘trigger happy’ mode. I guess that’s simply down to time. The less time I have to sit in front of the computer editing and deleting wonky shots, the better. I also shot film this year, albeit about 10 rolls of black and white and experimental colour negs 120 in total with my Rolleiflex. I guess, less is still more. One observation is that I have simply taken more images with my phonecam, some significant images too, as I have the phone with me all the time. However, I have left these out in my quest.

I believe this is a good exercise for all you serious photographers out there. Review your work and chuck out all the clutter, free up some hard disc space along the way also. Honestly, you will probably not be viewing all the hundreds of other images stored away on your computer. Save only the best, your best. Reflect on what you could have taken or been, how you could have improved the shot, changed angle perhaps, zoomed in a little? Used a wider aperture perhaps? Tilt your frame a little? Used a wider lens? Once you are conscious of the variability that you can have in making your pictures, it will open a whole new world. You will be in control.

Make a book! With all the online publishing platforms available today like blurb.com or Apple albums, it would be a neat little project to put all your favourite images into a book. The quality is amazing, and you will also have the perfect gift for your friends. That is what I will be doing next year, starting January!

As Erwitt puts it rightly,  ..‘Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. ‘

Lastly, don’t limit yourself to any subject or genre, shoot everything, who knows, you might even enjoy it!

Here’s my Top 15… enjoy! Cheers!

I believe Ansel Adams uttered the phrase ‘Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop’. I guess, in his eyes, I have a bumper harvest.


1. R Chubb & Sons Butcher, 350 Upper Richmond Road West, London SW14 – This was taken last December a couple of weeks before Christmas. A friend who buys her meat from this butcher told me about the pre-Christmas turkey orders which her butchers hand pluck to hang, before customers come to collect. Photographed with a 28mm lens inside the shop, I only had a couple of minutes to grab a few shots, most were blurry, and one was a keeper. The lighting was horribly green due to the mix of fluorescent, and daylight plus a UV lamp by the window. I just love the traditional documentary aspect of this image, the wry smile of the butcher, his sleeves all pulled up, ready for action. These are organically grown birds I suspect, which have been pre-ordered by his discerning customers.

2. Family at the beach, Nice Plage, France  – This was taken in late summer on the Cote d”Azur. This time of the year the beaches are empty, the sea is cold, and the light is simply amazing. It was nice to see a family coming together for a picnic and swim in the icy waters. Not the glamour that you would associate here in high Summer, but ordinary folk having a good time.

3. Odd couple, Nice – Also captured in Nice, I find this image reveals the complexity of human emotions, relationships, inner thoughts and the spontaneity which the medium of photography can capture. Deep in thought or idle conversation, the interpretation is left to the viewer to decipher.

 4. Pete Irving, Urban Kings gym trainer – taken in an ultra modern boxing gym in Kings Cross. The lighting was a challenge, but the camera handled it well. Handheld at 640ISO with the brilliant little Fujifilm X100.

5. Vuvuzela, Notting Hill Carnival, 2011 – I photograph regularly at the carnival in August, and this year I brought out the Rolleiflex and shot some Lomography 120 Redscale film. This was the first time I was using this special film, I was told it was just standard Superia 100 film wound back to front on the spool. It gives interesting red or green tinted negatives depending on the exposure. Give it a stop under and it goes reddish and vice versa, or was it the other way round. I don’t care but the results are nevertheless interesting.

6. Carnival reveler – I shoot a lot of street photography and urban portraits is one of my favourite subjects. Again, taken with the square Rolleiflex, on Redscale film, I particularly like the blurred background which brings attention to the girl’s cheerful face. Now, what’s wrong with a smiley portrait?

7. Ventnor Beach, Isle of Wight – We were on the Isle of Wight for a SLOW Photography weekend workshop and encountered this lovely restored VW campervan parked on Ventnor esplanade. Might just enlarge this and hang it on my wall.

8. The Royal Wedding, Trafalgar Square – This picture of two brothers sleeping on the ground at Trafalgar Square was simply too good to miss. There had only just been a Royal Wedding, and a huge crowd gathered there to watch the live telecast on giant LCD screens. Tired out or just not interested, they slept peacefully whilst their parents stood over them.

9. Outside 30 Camden Square, London NW1 – Simon McGregor-Wood, anchor of ABC News making a live broadcast outside Amy Winehouse’s home, the day after her sudden death.

10. Second Floor, Eiffel Tower, Paris – Not quite sure why this photograph was screaming out to me, but then it always a special moment to be at the Eiffel Tower and the light was kinda surreal too. Definitely a hanger.

11. Havana, Cuba  – Taken in the Cathedral in Central Havana. A tender moment in this photograph of a father explaining the depiction of the Crucifixion to his daughter. A grab shot in all ways, I was there at the right moment. I think I fired off 4 shots but only one was sharp. The first one. Lesson learnt.

12. Malecon, Havana, CubaCuba was the destination of one of our photo workshops. The Malecon is a famous stretch of seafront lining the north coast of the city of Havana with the Florida sea. Just some 90 odd miles away is Florida, where so many Cubans risk their lives to cross over by boat. This photograph was taken in the early evening, where we were walking to our dinner appointment. Four boys fishing in the foreground show the scale of this stretch of coast.

13. Visiting Che, Santa Clara, Cuba – Che Guevara’s monument in Santa Clara is an amazingly stoic place, sparse,  all marble and concrete. A group of local women walk past the huge statue of their favorite national hero.

14. Havana, Cuba – A popular pastime for Cubans is to rear birds. I found this interesting wall complete with growing orchids and tropical plants in the rear courtyard of a restaurant where the Buena Vista Social club members were performing. The light was very low, and it was a gamble to take the shot, at 1600ISO.

15. Tottenham, one week after – A significant photograph of a burnt out building, totally destroyed by fire at Ground Zero of the Tottenham riots in August. The trouble in Tottenham sparked a nationwide riot, the worst in UK history, causing millions of pounds of damage and widespread looting, violence and deaths.

Bring on 2012.

NB. Any of these pictures are available to purchase, just send me an email for a quote. This is the first time I’m compiling this, may make it a regular yearly ritual.