Photojazz Five (n.) Five questions to and five photos from a street photographer.
Besides being street photography enthusiasts, Lukasz Kazimierz and I are both educators and “Western” expats making a home on a volcanic island-country in Asia, me in Taiwan and him in Japan. What I personally love about his work and what led me to ask him to participate in the Photojazz Five series is his eye for color. He often uses the strong, singular lighting elements that reveal themselves at night to great advantage. Through his images one can see how the night lights up at night in Tokyo.
In one brief statement, define street photography.
I can only define it for myself, not others, but here goes: Street photography is an exploration of the naturally occurring “humanness” in the world around us. There are general rules and aesthetics that can be attributed to this kind of shooting, such as urban environments, humor, juxtaposition of forms, etc. But the one characteristic holding it all together for me is the requirement that one must be human in order to understand the final product of this art form. This is because street photos portray images, ideas, emotions, and concepts that are a part of subjective human reality. These are not universal truths about existence, but personal truths which reveal as much about the shooter and the viewer as they do about the subject.
How would you define your artistic style (I.e. What defines your visual ‘uniqueness’)?
Well, I certainly haven’t found a definitive style as I’m still in the beginning stages and learning never really ends anyway. But currently, the work that I enjoy creating most is vivid and animated. I like to catch people in motion. I try to find the moment in which their personal aesthetic qualities are present to their fullest potential. And I hope that this will also convey to the viewer an emotion or a driving element behind the subject’s character. In short, I like to focus on the people themselves and the beautiful way they integrate with their environment. That being said, I hope that my style has not yet crystallized and I will explore other styles and aspects of the
How did you get into street photography?
I’ve been into photography in general for many years, along with other artistic interests in my childhood. But I was never very serious about it, and it was just something I dabbled in. Then I came to Tokyo in late 2008. I had with me a cheap point-and-shoot digital and no real sense of what I wanted to shoot. So I put it aside, and sat at home a lot, went out drinking, worked, simply lived my life. After about 6 months I realized that I live in one of the biggest conglomerations of
human beings on earth and I barely know my way around. But I was not motivated to get out and explore without a camera. So I bought something that satisfied the gear fetishist in me a bit more and got to shooting and exploring. I still didn’t know what I wanted to shoot so I took photos of everything! I found that people captivated me the most, and so gradually I found my way to Street. I viewed the works of great photographers on DA as well as the masters of the genre and decided to continue in the same vein. By now it has consumed my life in such a way that I might just be a life support system for a camera.
What influences your work (can be anything)?
What influences my work is curiosity. I want to go out into the world and see what I can see today. Each day is different and it’s a bit like fishing. There might long spells of dullness punctuated by extreme excitement and action. I just want to be there when it happens. Aside from curiosity, on a more aesthetic note, The Movies influence my work. I love watching films, both old and new. And often I am left very impressed with what cinematographers can do with light. One movie that has left a lasting impression on me in more ways than one is Blade Runner. Which brings me to another major influence: science fiction, and particularly cyberpunk. I love the rich stories and atmospheres of scifi novels such as Neuromancer, movies like Ghost in the Shell, and video games like Deus Ex. So I hope to emulate some of that in my own work.
Who are your top 5 street togs?
In no particular order I like Joel Meyerowitz, David Solomons, Nick Turpin, and Saul Leiter. Finally, one more who is not really known as a street photographer, but who’s work I enjoy is William Eggleston.
My thanks go to Lucas for his time. You can see more of his work on his website.