Osamu Yokonami, the power of collectiveness and environment

“We must help each other in our lives.”

Osamu Yokonami is one of the top photographers in the world, possessing a naturally quiet vision of collectiveness that, in my opinion, seems to be the important subject in his work. Then, you can feel, because seeing doesn’t really englobe the meaning of the first impression when looking at his photos; how he manages to convey light and individuals to present just one whole universe. “I am staying inside during the big typhoon”, Yokonami highlighted in the very beginning of this interview. Osamu talked about Hagibis (Tagalog: [hɐˈgibis], ha-GHEE-bis), a large and powerful tropical cyclone that was considered to be the most devastating typhoon to hit the Kantō region of Japan since Ida in 1958. The interview below was done in the midst of the  storm that caused widespread damage across Japan, particularly in the Kantō region. As of 20 October 2019, at least 86 people have been confirmed dead and 8 others went missing in Japan. Early on 12 October, Hagibis triggered a tornado in Ichihara City. About half an hour before Hagibis made landfall, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake occurred off the coast of Chiba Prefecture, worsening the dangerous condition even more.

“I went to Iriomote Island in Okinawa. It has the most beautiful sea. I had a relaxing time and tried fishing and snorkeling with my friends,” the Japanese photographer continued what might sound a kind of anthology of the transition between summer and fall thoughts. There was no doubt that Osamu Yokonami had agreed to provide answers to my questions and to share some personal work for more than visual pleasure. This is one of those times, when you have to accept your capacity to admirer and accept the vulnerability within it. You just try to skipping the idea of becoming a small version of Robert Mapplethorpe –he tended not to be romantic about artists, he was very upset about it. According to Patti Smith in “Just Kids”, 2010– in order to not seem just a fan. “What’s the problem with that?” I use to think if I’m reaching out someone who I really like.

I was beyond happy. For some reason I thought to myself: “I’ve unlocked the door of room 1017″… if Gmail was my Chelsea Hotel.


Courtesy of Osamu Yokonami

You have said that “the strength and beauty as collective entity stood out more by being in nature.” That’s why I wanted to know your answer to my first two banal questions. Can you comment on this a bit more?

Because I think nature is super great, it’s uncontrollable.
Further more, I believe that pure objects can stand out by themselves in nature.

What’s your idea of beauty?

In my opinion, beauty is purity not only along the surface. It’s what’s inside your inner heart that counts.

In a world where movements are playing a significant role, what’s your concept of collective?

I think that collective means no one can live alone. We must help each other in our lives.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when I say nature?

We can’t control it and we have to accept all of it.

What does light and distance represent to you (in your life and work)?

Light represents the most important component of photography, without it there would be no picture.

Distance, in other hand, determines what I focus on. If I’m close, I focus on a singular object, If I’m far away, I focus on a collective of objects.

I have also read that you like when it gets warmer. So, do you work around that feeling? I mean, of getting a warmer result to the eye of who’s seeing your work?

I mean, when I feel myself getting excited in the process of shooting, it’s probably because I’m seeing people watching me shoot and the expressions on their faces makes me happy as well.


Courtesy of Osamu Yokonami

“Every choice is a refusal. For Christ’s sake
I am guarding the walls. Like punctuation,

it could make all the difference.” In A Hermit [by Karen Solie] For you, what would make the difference between an image in real life and the one in a photograph?

The interesting things about photography. Each person can take photos of the same object, but the results won’t be the same.

You mentioned that flexibility is essential. What does mean being flexible to you?

I personally feel that you shouldn’t think too much and decide everything before shooting. I would like to capture what happens in front of the camera.

What are you going to do right after finishing this questions?

I am going to bed.


Courtesy of Osamu Yokonami

Are you working on a project right now?

I am going to have an exhibition from November 15th to December 25th at EMON PHOTO GALLERY, in Tokyo. Also I am going to publish a new photo book by myself: Assembly III, a series of images shot in the snow.

Which phrase will you use to close this conversation?

I’m really happy that you invited me to be a part of your project.
Many many thanks.

Interview by Isaac Pérez Solano




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