Interview with Japanese photographer Taisuke Sato
TAURUS Travel Edition, Issue 4, VOL.1, 2023
Q. Please introduce yourself. Your name, where are you from? How you became a photographer? Where did you study photography?
I was a housing salesman, but I longed for the world of art.
There I encountered and was fascinated by photographic expression. And, though uncertain, I could not resist the challenge and became a professional photographer.
I prepared to study photography at a graduate school in the U.S., but Covid19 prevented me from traveling to the U.S.
So I learned that MoMA was offering online courses, and I took and completed three courses: modern art, contemporary art, and photography.
As the world moved online, I was able to study at a lower cost. I also completed Magnum's street photography course and a storytelling course as well. It was very useful to learn the techniques and thoughts of prominent photographers such as Alec Soth, Mark Power, Bruce Gilden, and so on.
Q. What is your everyday gear (camera, lens)?
T.S. The main photography that I am paid to undertake is with the SONY a7RIV. It does an accurate job with high image quality and fast autofocus.
For my artwork, I use several different cameras.
For street photography, I use the FUJIFILM X100F, which is very good for that.
For street portraits, I use Hasselblad 500cm with Hasselblad 907X. I have found that using a unique camera makes it easier to get permission to photograph from the people I have approached.
And when I want to work with film, I use a Leica M3, Rolleiflex 2.8F, and Lindoff Technika. There's a wide range of photography to enjoy.
Q. What type of photography do you enjoy the most?
T.S. I like street photography best.
I experiment with different styles of photography, but basically, I’m sure that I am a street photographer.
Q. Tell us a bit about your photography journey. Your achivements etc.
T.S. I didn't study photography in school or at an art college, so I started with street photography where I could shoot alone.
It has always been the case that so many photographers have created great work from everyday life. While learning those techniques on a daily basis, I created several series of works that expressed my thoughts in a conceptual way. I entered them in several international photo awards and received many Honorable Mentions and Awards. Some of them were also exhibited and I began to hold solo exhibitions. In this way, I am taking one step at a time.
Q. Name your favorite photographer(s) who inspires you and why
T.S. My favorite photographer is Vivian Maier.
Her humanity comes through in her photos. It has wit, but much of it is her loneliness.
I bought a Rolleiflex, the twin-lens reflex camera she used, and have been studying how she sees things the way she does, how she shoots, the distance to her subjects, the composition, and the speed of her shots. In this way, I have indirectly acquired skills from her photos.
Q. What is your best strategy to make sure people see your work? How do you market yourself?
T.S. I often use Instagram ads. This is a very reasonable way to get myself and my work recognized. I also guess it is very important to exhibit somewhere and create many opportunities for people to see your work, even though it is a solo exhibition. I guess there are ways to do this that do not cost a lot of money. In this day and age when we are inundated with so many photos, I guess it is a matter of meeting people who share the artist's ideas.
Q Any advice you can give to a photographer who is starting their career?
T.S. I think it is better to photograph what you like and what you are attracted to.
Be confident that if someone shares your feelings that they like the photos you take, linked to yourself, rather than to everyone else.
Now take lots of photos, pick the best ones, and put them together. Then show them. If your photos leave something in the hearts of your sympathizers, that's all that matters.
Q. How do you perceive Japan?
T.S. Is it a beautiful country, manga, Ghibli anime, Hokusai, Takeshi Kitano movies, the spirit of Zen and Bushido, Nintendo, Nikon, Canon, Sony...or politeness and safety, where all the people still wear masks, are very quiet, and you cannot understand what they are thinking?
I live in Nagoya-city, the third largest city in Japan after Tokyo and Osaka. My street photography here may give you a feel for the mood of Japanese society that you may not see on your travels.