Sunday, 22 January 2012

Takeshi Suga

Glasgow, UK

Looking at your work and activities online I quickly caught the impression that you are very passionate about photography. Apart from 'producing' art yourself, how do you follow this passion?

Really? I’m pleased to hear that. Yes, passion feeds me and keeps me well. I guess, when it comes to photography, almost all my passion goes to making or taking photographs…

Not only do you act as a photographer in your free time, you for instance also work for the music magazine NME. Do you consider yourself lucky that you're able to work as a photographer to 'earn a living', or did you consider this the only acceptable occupation for yourself from the start?

I consider myself lucky to some extent, knowing there are so many music photographers out there who are struggling to get noticed. But, at the same time, I believe that luck only materializes in conjunction with one’s talent and dedication. No, I didn’t consider photography the only acceptable occupation from the start. Having said that, I always had a list of unacceptable occupations and it seemed to rule out everything except creative ones.

Originally from Japan, you are now based in the UK, but appear to continue traveling a lot. How do you evaluate the good and bad sides of being on the move?

I’ve always longed for a life that allows me to travel constantly. There are so many beautiful places to visit in the world. I pin my hopes on my photography now. So far, it has carried me over to Mexico City and Barcelona as well as a number of UK destinations. My creative desire amplifies when I’m on the move. Home is where I lay my cameras. I can’t really think of any bad sides to it!

Would you say that you have a strong connection to Japan both personally and within you artistic work? If yes, how so?

Living and working in the UK, I often ask myself the same question. But I always get stuck before I can reach any plausible answer. It’s probably both yes and no, depending on what I’ve eaten that day. And if yes, it shows in a very subtle way.

One of your favourite cameras seems to be the Diana Mini. What do you cherish most about it? And are there any downsides to it?

I cherish her innate ability to build an instant rapport with other people. It makes my mission a lot easier. Downsides? Hmm… she gets temperamental from time to time. But I love the camera just the same.

You showed work of yours on the exhibition "Barcelona Showcase" in Barcelona this past December. Can you tell us more about it?

I was invited to exhibit and sell my work at Casa Batll√≥ in Barcelona.  To my disappointment, I couldn’t sell anything, maybe it was because I had forgotten to put price tags on my work. However, it was a brilliant opportunity to meet other photographers from different countries. Elena Ayllon, a Spanish photographer you featured on your site last year was there too. I recognized her as she spoke to me in Japanese!

Generally, do you enjoy exhibitions? Or do you sometimes prefer to stay the 'invisible man behind the camera'?

I do enjoy them. I don’t mind being invisible myself, but the photos have to be visible to the public. I’m a parent to the photos I took and I want to provide them with the best playground possible. My kids are quiet and shy, but I know they desperately want to come out and play.

Coming back to your work for NME, what do you like most about taking pictures of musicians and at concerts?

Musicians look their best on stage. And there’s an irresistible beauty in them expressing and exposing themselves in front of the audience. It’s a joy to photograph those moments where everything the artist does and lives for make a perfect harmony.

How does this differ from your other activities?

Essentially it is the same as it involves photographing something I love. The only difference is that I have a brief to fulfil. 

If you could act as director of photography for a movie, at which film maker's set would you preferably work?

That has to be Yasujiro Ozu’s. He’s the filmmaker I admire most. Unfortunately, he passed away almost 50 years ago, but someday I’d like to make my version of “Tokyo Story”.

Finally, when raising your glass on New Year's Eve, what were you most thankful for when thinking of 2011?

That I could start my professional career with NME. I’ve been reading the magazine since 1997 and it’s my love and passion for music that brought me to the UK. So, it’s like a Glasgow dream come true for me. I was also thinking about all the kind words I received from the people who saw my photographs here and there. Without them, I’d be lost in the loneliness of a (freelance) photographer.

It's about irresistible beauty, take a look at his work.

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