Did you find that focus on lifestyle, subculture, etc. got people from other arts disciplines interested in photography? The art world can be quite intimidating to outsiders.
Yes, certainly. Non-photographers must have some connection with one’s photographs for them to grasp what we are trying to express. A good example would be my family. They’ve always been supportive with what I do but they also admit that they cannot understand the pictures I take most of the time. To them, being a photographer means taking portraits of everyone whenever there’s a family gathering, or probably winning photo contests. However, when they are able to see my works in a form of a book which they can keep at home, or whenever they are able to come to my exhibitions, they somehow understand that what I do is a different, special kind of photography. And they respect that. :)
I’ve heard that the photo community in Tokyo is very insular. What has your experience been like making friends and socialising around photography been like?
As a foreigner, I honestly find it challenging to make friends here, especially with Japanese people in the photographic community. They’re quite intimidating and it’s probably because I’m not yet confident in expressing myself in Japanese.
However, I learned a couple of things recently. One, during my recent group exhibition in Yoyogi-Uehara: even though most of my photographs appear “normal” to most Japanese people (eg. strangers on trains, 自動販売機), they find it amusing how foreigners, such as myself, are amused with those “normal” things, and somehow, showing those photos to them kind of make them start seeing differently. Two, ever-since I have started @womeninstreetjapan, I realized how this niche is saturated by (mostly older) men, which probably makes most women uncomfortable with the craft. The few Japanese women who are actively sharing their works on Instagram are also quite elusive and they would only respond with short messages. It would be interesting to break into this hard wall someday soon. :)