Tokyo Street Photography
An interview with Takanori Tomimatsu
This is Tokyo Street Photography, we welcome Takanori Tomimatsu for a very interesting interview. As some of you may know about me, Don, I love many types of photography! But I have a special passion for street photography. I live currently near Seoul, South Korea, but I’ve always had a desire to visit and explore Japan! When I do, I’m going to be wanting to shoot the streets day and night! It’s just so fascinating! I believe I’m far from the only one that feels the same way especially looking at the work of street photographers in Japan. That brings us to today’s interview. We’ve discovered some great street photography through Tokyo by Japanese street photographer, Takanori Tomimatsu! He’s living in Chiba prefecture, and he takes us on Tokyo streets through his beautiful photography. We brought him in to share some of his work and have an interview with him.
Welcome Takanori, thanks for agreeing to speak with us today! To start with could you introduce yourself and your photography for us please? (English is not Takanori’s first language, but we didn’t want to edit his words since we feel it’s very understandable and want him to tell you his stories.)
“Thank you very much for giving me the chance I explain.
I was born in November, 1955. (I’m not young.)
From high school days, I’ve started to take some photos of family, school friends, landscapes and buildings by film camera. I’d been very scared to turn the camera towards the people who are strangers until recently.
About 40 years just flew by! I went through college, worked for a company and resigned from an office. I hadn’t taken street photography at all.
If anything, I’m an amateur photographer, not a professional because I don’t get money by selling my work nor my service. I just take my photos. Nowadays, I’ve lived in Chiba prefecture, Japan, and it takes about one hour by train from the nearest station to Tokyo Station. So, my fieldwork is located in Tokyo and in the neighborhood of my hometown. To take my photos, I don’t select the filming locations. In other words, I go shopping for daily necessities in my hometown almost every day, inspect my cameras and lenses on a regular basis in Tokyo, and go to visit the photographic exhibitions held regularly at the Photo Gallery in Tokyo few times.
In such a kind of my personal living environment, I’ll be taking my photos at a point en route to a destination. Then and gradually, I’ll be trying to walk and take my camera as much as possible. In most cases, I’ve carried only one camera body + one wide angle single focal manual lens, and they are used while being hung from my neck with a camera strap. I think a light outfit is good for easy going and fitting into a street. I like I’m not photographer-like. I’ll take my photos with no popping up a view-finder, no eye-contact, no saying “hello” and with passing by one another more often than not.“
We’ve noticed you through some of the street photography that you’ve posted up in the last little while. What is it about street photography that you enjoy?
“In my daily life, when I pay rough attention to my surroundings, I notice that there are many charming and vivacious women and men in my view. At their surroundings, I’m not exist here and there. The state of being in minimum existence enables a light action carrying a mobile bag (or empty-handed). I’m glad that such kind of my photos remains somewhere in the viewer’s heart.
I think of the two factors in street photography (taking photos and D.P.E., Developing, printing and Enlarging) as completely separate factors. Shooting is my basic action to show my photos to viewers. The next action after shooting is to back up the raw data into hard disk drive. After that, I’ll wait for the passions to develop, enlarge and print the photos, because I’d cool down. It takes two days in a short time or takes about or over one month.
I think, from this process, that the photos I took are different from the photos I showed. I think the photos I took are something like basic materials which create my imagination. By processing D.P.E., I likely to change the raw photos I took into the different images. At present, there are a lot of raw photos I took, but not processed D.P.E. because of a shortage of imagination. In my future, I’ll be likely to process D.P.E. after changing my imagination. At this time, I’m going to store them with provisions.
The reason of my favourite photography is “my first step considered taking the photos like “the unreality of daily life”. I prevented the photo opportunity from being missed with holding my camera. And I changed the compositions and activated the camera shutters multiple times. Everyone might think this action is the difference from the present way of thinking. But my view point is the same, though they are the different techniques.“
Could you tell us what a typical day of shooting would be like? Take us with you from start to finish, to give us an idea of what is involved.
“I love the crowed street-corners. In my mine, I have the two locations where are a large city : Tokyo and a local place : my hometown. The scenery is different. But the point in common is that people, street and buildings, in the both places.
I’ll take up the scene which I feel nice, by my camera while walking. Like the steps I take when I go shooting, and lie the routine when I shoot.
Before leaving my house, I’ll make up my mind to take my one camera + one lens out because of dressing lightly. I put my camera set at my car’s dash board when I go for a drive in my car. I hang it from my neck without driving my car. I’ll make the most out of my chance take photos. It also shows the effort and hard work of doing the street photography. I’ll be trying to be good at guessing the workings of the people action, in spite of empty-hands.”
Could you share with us your favourite photograph that you’ve taken and tell us about the back story?
All of photos are located in the metropolitan areas of Tokyo, and in a pavement adjoining a crossover point.
I’m walking the street, when trying to cross at the pedestrian crossing with walking abreast of a wonderful woman who I don’t know at all. Fortunately, she’s stopping in this place for waiting until the light changes to green. Unusually, I look into the view finder of my camera and check the the composition of photo which I want to take. This scene touched emotionally my heart.
It’s a strong sunshine in a day. The two women on tour are waiting until the light changes to green in the entrance to a department store. The group of the wonderful women are crossing from the left-back of a pavement to the right-side of it. By intuition, the big pillar is the good partition dividing and/or connecting the right and left scenes. This scene stayed in my heart.
I feel she is a charming woman who I don’t know at all. The side that is opposite her front is a street crossing. I don’t know why she is standing here and why she doesn’t walk along the street. But I feel she looks attractive in photographs, and she’s standing stock-still in the front of a very lovely place. This scene was the attractive sight.
Where can we find more of your photographs?
“Except for Facebook pages, I’ve continued my photos to the following the official sites which are
Leica Fotografie International, in Germany
Photo Vogue, in Italy
The only photos which are selected by the editorial staff are uploaded, though the selected photos are very few.”
A final word from Takanori Tomimatsu:
“I’ll express thanks to my wife who always pay warm attention to my photo-activities, and to all staffs of Leica Store Tokyo Ginza, in Japan and Leica Professional Store Ginza, in Japan who have given me a pieces of advice and hints related to photography.“
Thank you for joining us today, we look forward to seeing your upcoming photographs/ projects!
A little about Takanori:
Takanori Tomimatsu is from Yachiyo-city, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. He was born in November, 1955. He refers to himself as an amateur photographer since he doesn’t sell his work. But we can readily see his passion through his beautiful Street photography. You can find more of his work on his Facebook Page here.
Be sure to leave us your thoughts and questions for us and for Takanori down in the comment section.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading more about Takanori and his photography in Tokyo streets! We’d love to have you share with us your stories and photographs as well! You can do so easily through our contact page.