Junya Suzuki, born in Japan in 1979, began taking photographs in 2009. He is a street photographer based in Kanagawa and Tokyo, Japan. His interest focuses how picture elements connect at the same place at the same time. The faces may have turned to the same direction, or may have turned in a different direction. However, the connections in their emotions fill the space as an attractive photograph. He continues shooting to pursue the goal to document real facts of everyday life, adding his own expression of surrealism, lyrics, and humor.
You talk about connection and seeing how in everyday life, everyone and everything in existence is connected. How do you like to convey these thoughts in your work?
We can find this connection in a visual way, like the same color and shape in things or subjects, this is quite interesting. I like to explore and share the connection of the feelings from the inside of a particular subject. I think that it is difficult for one photo to tell a deep and meaningful story. This is why this project consists of more than one single image. I believe the viewer, by seeing all of the images as a whole, will remember it well.
You reference Shin Noguchi’s work, whose work has also been featured on the Leica Blog, do you have other influences which have led you to your current photographic style?
I like the works of Martin Parr and Joel Sternfeld. As you know, their work is recognized all over the world. But I have received a more compelling influence from my friend. So I’d like to introduce as well a very talented photographer Mankichi Shinshi. He is also Leica M (Typ 240) user. His work have a sense of humor which is often created by the clever framing as well as the power of the subject. He and I won a Japanese competition by Einstein Studio. A magazine (JP_EN Issue.4) will be published at New York Art Book Fair and Tokyo Art Book Fair in September.
Changing from a black and white style to shooting only in color must be a compelling experience. Can you share your thoughts on this change?
When I shot in black and white, I felt I had the time to decide to shoot in this particular style.
As a result, the objective was to find exact visual beauty, and got to the conclusion that it didn’t exist. Many black and white photographers exist in Japan. I just might have been trying to imitate them.
But we always see things in color, so I believe that I should select Color to share the perspective of the things I saw. Because there is a color, there would be also something by which life and existence are felt. This is the reason for this change.
In “An Aesthetics of Everyday Life” there are several images that may not seem at a first glance common or usual, for instance, the baseball game with the fire in the background. Can you explain this image?
The fire is by “Dondo-Yaki”. It is a Japanese traditional event where everyone in the neighborhood gathers around a powerfully-burning bonfire to wish for happiness in the new year. Many people (especially foreigners) wouldn’t know this event. I chose to set the view as a background in order to have a mysterious feel to it. In addition, I chose the ordinary view of the children as a foreground. I like this idea of ‘gap’ in everyday Life.
You shoot mainly with the Leica M (Typ 240), why did you select this camera and how do you find its performance?
I think that the following points are important for shooting on the street.
– To capture the subject’s movement and expression clearly through the viewfinder.
– To focus on a subject quickly and accurately.
The rangefinder camera like the Leica M (Typ 240) is the best equipment to do it. In addition, live view shooting is possible by the Leica M (Typ 240). There would be also situations which require very detailed framing. This is a strong aid under such circumstances. In all situations, the Leica M (Typ 240) can offer me the best performance. The traditional design of Leica which hardly changes from the past is very beautiful. That always gives me pride and motivation for my shooting.
The above image shows a man standing amidst beautiful blooming trees, did you wait too long for this man to stand there? Were you waiting for any person to come here?
This was shooting in the park near my home. I was waiting for the best timing to take a photo every single day after the cherry trees bloomed. I feel that the state of petals falling from tree branches has ephemeral beauty. When the carpet of the petal made by natural wind was left finely, I decided to take a photo. I kept waiting for a subject who matched this scene. After about 30 minutes, this man appeared. I released the shutter several times until he left the park.
How do you envision street photography evolving in the coming years?
With the spread of the smartphone camera, many people take photos on the street. And many photos go on social networks in real time. It will be important for street photographers to create deep stories on their work. That would be a memorable photo not buried in the many photos.
Lastly, are there any other projects you’d like to talk about?
Another project I have is called “Nothing Out of The Ordinary“. As we grow up, we tend to be more inexpressive with our emotions and careful in our actions due to our pride. But, children have pure hearts. They generate a unique world with their innocent expressions and actions.
I am very compelled to do this project.
Thank you Junya!