Renowned Japanese photographer Taro Mizutani has teamed up with Traverse Tokyo to come up with two series showcasing the diversity in his work. Divided into two themes, “Jonathan Livingston” and “In The Garden”, both highlighted by black and white imagery that impresses in many ways. In addition, there is an insightful interview put together making for a worthwhile read.
Firstly, this time around we are honoured to be displaying your work in TRAVERSE TOKYO. Could you tell us how you were able to begin the “Jonathan Livingston” series?
The novel “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Buch was how I began photographing seagulls. I have been taking pictures of birds in general for quite sometime, but since seven or eight years ago I began using a 35mm black-and-white film as my lifework. For on-locations and trips, I frequently carry my Leica camera, and I would realize that I would be photographing the birds. So before my fashion photography and portraits, I have been photographing birds for quite a while.
I think of a bird as a symbol of curiosity to us humans, or symbolizing something we don’t have. Not only in the history of photography, birds have been used as a motif in literature and fine art; I think of them as almost an absolute motif. I never get bored taking pictures of them, and they never get stay in one composition — maybe that’s what makes them so interesting.
We heard that you were only shooting in large format at first when you first started working on magazines as a photographer; why was that?
At the time, I wanted to cram as much information of light as possible in one picture. And I don’t mean this by elements, but I had this feeling of wanting to take pictures that reflected the light of the time and place I released the shutter. There were times I would also use a pinhole camera, which does not require a lens. The unique quality of this is that I get light that does not go through the lens, the same light that I felt on my skin gets imprinted onto the film; I was excited by the sense that it was though I was gathering the same light I was basking in at the time.