Having learnt his trade from the prodigious Terry Richardson, Japanese photographer Keiichi Nitta has turned out to be the real deal having embarked on his solo career. With his first US exhibition “I Think Japanese People Should Be More Open” that will open in a matter of days Yevgeniy Shukhman caught up with Keiichi this exceptionally talented photographer.
Yevgeniy – Keiichi, after reading your rather short bio that starts with you leaving Tokyo for New York city, working six years for Terry Richardson, then returning to Tokyo to start your own solo career, I want to ask you – what was the reason for you to move to New York City in the first place, and how did you become Terry’s assistant?
Keiichi Nitta – My dream was big. Japan is small. I was calling him once a week for 2 years. Is that crazy?
Y – Has New York been a big influence for you?
KN – Yes. It was fun. and beautiful, life was exciting in NYC.
Y – A lot of your work revolves around snapshot aesthetics. Is this something that you developed from working with Terry Richardson’s style?
KN – Yes. It is important for me to capture beautiful moments anywhere at anytime.
Y – You appear in a lot of photos you take. Why do you do it?
KN – It is easy to be my own model. It is very natural for me, and I can express what I want to express
Y – People tend to say that it is not the camera that makes good photos, it’s the photographer (but it’s good to have a good camera no matter what). In your case, you shoot with consumer cameras and no extremely-involved lighting, which give your photos a simple “Do it Yourself” kind of feel. Why do you choose this process?
KN – For fashion, I use a more professional style camera and lighting, but for artistic photographs I prefer the more natural and snapshot style.
Y – Fashion photography is changing and your work is very fresh and in demand. What inspires you right now?
KN – Day to day life in general, music, surfing, movies….
Y – You’ve done work for such fashion houses like Marc Jacobs, Undercover and Hysteric Glamour. Can you tell us more about it?
KN – They are my friends. Beautiful people.
Y – Obviously you are interested in all aspects of fashion. Who do you think is the most interesting designer or brand today that you would like to work with?
KN – Marc Jacobs, Jun Takahashi (Undercover)
Y – Keiichi, you’ve got a fantastic collection of polaroid photos signed by the people who’s pictures you’ve taken. Could you please explain the reason behind these polaroids?
KN – I don’t want to forget these people.
Y – Keiichi Nitta has many roles: artist, fashion photographer, music video director. What is your favorite role?
KN – “Keiichi”.
Y – Your art photography touches on a lot of sensitive subject matters such as nudity, fetishes, homosexuality, cross dressing, guns, booze, drugs and much more. Do you do this to shock, educate or to show something beautiful?
KN – Show something beautiful.
Y – Your upcoming solo show at The Constant Gallery is titled ” I Think Japanese People Should Be More Open”. The title is an excellent social commentary, but what does it mean to you?
KN – Even though it is 2008, Japanese thinking is still very old-style, making Japanese people very closed-minded towhat is going on in the rest of the world.
Y – What kind of work can we expect to see at the show?
KN – Please come see the show.
Y – Are you familiar with Los Angeles and what are your feelings towards this city?
KN – Yes. I love it. I’ve been there many times.
Y – NY Fashion Week starts in a matter of days. Are you going? Who are you most excited to see there?
KN – Marc Jacobs.
Be sure to check out Keiichi Nitta’s first exhibition in the US, “I Think Japanese People Should Be More Open” which opens at The Constant Gallery on September 6, 2008. Opening reception: Saturday, September 6, 2008, 6-9 PM (18 & over)