Meet Hideaki Hamada, a professional film photographer from Japan who lets his subjects live by taking their portraits in the most natural and beautiful ways possible.
Film photography was only a hobby for Hideaki when he was in high school, but his interest for it led him into making it as a profession. It was obvious for him to be very passionate about this kind of art that he does not even see the “Analogue vs. Digital” comparison as an issue but as a preference in ones photography lifestyle. Digging deeper into his portraiture, let us know more about Hideaki and his wonderful work in this interview.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living? What are your interests?
I am Hideaki Hamada and I was born January 18, 1977. I am a profesional photographer based in Osaka, Japan. I have a family of four; me, my wife, with two sons. My eldest son, Haru, is 6 years old and
the second son, Mina, is 4.
How did you start and how long have you been doing film photography? Did you study photography or did it just start as a hobby?
I started shooting [film] as a hobby when I was in high school. When my eldest son was born, I became more aware of my shooting. For me, taking photos is knowing myself. By looking at the world through a viewfinder, people can see what’s happening in front of them more objectively. In addition, we can remember what we were feeling and thinking about in those moments by looking at the photos. In this way it is possible to discover aspects of ourselves which we never knew existed before. And my feeling is that this repetition of thought is what constructs my world.
What are the film cameras you use?
Pentax 67II, Rolleiflex SL66, Fujifilm Klasse S, Lomo Smena35
In your experience, what are the perks of being a film photographer?
I think it’s important to use both film and digital depending on the situation. On that basis, I think it’s very important to use film cameras. In film photography, you will certainly experience a feeling of excitement while you wait for your photos to develop. Perhaps you fear that you may not have taken the photo skillfully. Therefore, waiting to know if you have succeeded or not is inconvenient and troublesome.
But this waiting time is necessary. That is to say, it is a stance we take towards photography. Photography has the potential to capture the amount of time and conscious effort we put into it. It has nothing at all to do with analogue vs. digital methods. It depends on what you want to take pictures of and what you aim to do. But if you enjoy photography, I may have a hint on how to think of it and how to spend your time doing it. So me, I’ll keep using film cameras.
Who are your favorite film photographers? Any inspirations?
Ryan Mcginley. His works are very cool.
What’s your personal style when it comes to photography?
“Children always act more than I expect.” The inspiration for my photography comes from this sort of behavior. Though I direct some of my photographs, in most cases I take pictures of my children just as
they are. What I want to show is their “living form.” When I take photos of my children, the important thing is to maintain an objective perspective. Not too close, but also not too far away, as if I am watching them from behind. Something close to mere observation, I think. Obeying this rule gives the photos a universal quality. I believe that this universality is necessary to communicate their living forms to someone else.
We see that you are fond of taking portraits… Why portraiture? Is there anything about it that draws you?
Because people are the most touching objective and portraits are the mirror of me.
I’ve also seen that you’ve had exhibitions and nominations, kindly tell us about it.
At the beginning of the year, I had a solo exhibition in Kaoshuing, Taiwan. Many young Taiwanese people enjoy film cameras. They have deep knowledge about Japanese photograpy culture and it was an exciting experience for me.
And my works were nominated for the Fubiz Awards 2012. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the prize but it provided a good opportunity for people to know my work.
Additionally, I had an exhibition and lecture in Vilnius, Lithuania last August. People who I met there are familiar with Japanese culture and have [an] appreciation for photography. The country is full of greenery with beautiful plain fields, and the people have generous-hearted spirits. So I couldn’t help but photograph them.
I’ll also have a solo exhibition in Kaoshuing [again] at the end of the year and next year in Singapore.
Please share a favorite film photograph you’ve taken and kindly tell us its story
This photo was taken for the ceremony of Haru’s 5-year-old. It’s the Japanese traditional festival called “Shichi Go San.” And the kimono he wore was formerly mine. I wore it 30 years ago. It’s a very important thing for us.
I like this with the brilliant lights and their faces with distant looks. It makes me feel their future.
In some cases, people’s back shots speak their stories more expressively than their faces. This may be the reason why I can’t help but shoot a lot of back shots.
All of these photos were taken with a Pentax 67II.
Any message for other film photographers? Or maybe a tip you would like to share?
Photographers usually tend to snap pictures at certain specific moments, when children don’t want to smile or cry. Rather, they don’t have any special facial expression most of the time. I want to use photography to keep their living forms in that day-to-day world. This way, the highly expressive faces that they occasionally make will look more life-like, and will produce photographs that we will never get tired of looking at.