We are living in the time when very few things may surprise or shock us. However, being courageous to express emotions and show a naked female body is still a controversy and the topic of numerous discussions. A photographer who has attracted our attention with his unique portraits and displays of a female body in a vulnerable, and at the same time sensual and self-confident way is a Japanese photographer Shuji Kobayashi, whose photographs we can talk about endlessly.
His art is beyond time, and the way in which he creates talks about what a sense he possesses for finding the right moment and his ability to show it to others. He started his story about photography with his arrival to America yearning to become a director. After his arrival at the university, he started doing a beginner’s course in photography where he was introduced to the basics and techniques which he himself combined later. His love for this art was growing and the result of it is his long-standing experience in the world of photography. His photographs are authentic and bright, with special emotions. And that is thanks to the natural light, among other things, that he uses.
"I think I wanted to create or suggest some layers of light between me and my model which could make her untouchable. I am just an observer of the scene."
In the series of photographs called ‘’re-flection’’ he has managed to make an ideal combination of light and fairy-tale scenes which result in the photographs which we will be able to see. In the short interview for our magazine, Shuji talks about how he manages to display his vision in the right way through his photographs and why he thinks it is important to indulge himself with the natural light rather than to make it artificially.
You have mentioned you are currently working on two very different and personal series of photos. One of them is called “re-flection”. What inspired you to do this type of series?
The first thing that I had in mind was to shoot in the light available at the spot instead of creating it with the equipment. I wanted to learn how to find the light instead of creating it. I also wanted to add some optical effects such as a lens flare and the reflection on the window glass because I was always fascinated by those effects. As I was shooting, I started thinking about the meaning of those effects. I think I wanted to create or suggest some layers of light between me and my model which could make her untouchable. I am just an observer of the scene. I guess David Hamilton’s photographs also inspired me.
You use natural light to emphasize the simplicity of the moment and the sensuality of women. How do you encourage them to feel comfortable enough to express it?
I usually meet my models prior to a shoot and discuss the details with them. Since my shoot involves nudity, I think it is better to discuss it with the model in person. I often shoot without make-up or a stylist available on the shoot, so these prior meetings help the model feel more confident when she stands in front of my camera, I hope. At the shoot, I let the models move as they want and I only give them some directions when I need to. I chat with them between the shoot sessions, but I do not talk much while I am photographing.
It seems you always find inspiring places and locations to photograph your models. Can you share some tips on finding the perfect location for photo shoots?
At the beginning of the “re-flection” shoot, I tried to shoot in the places where my model lived. I thought that was the most comfortable place for her to be herself. However it was really tough to do that for many reasons. So, I decided to rent a studio instead. When I go location scouting, I always look for the light that comes to that place. You can see the photos from a studio on a website, but you have to be there to see the light.
What excites you most about your creative process?
This is a tough question… I like every process of creating images, but if I have to pick one, I will choose the shooting. I cannot describe the reason why. I am not good at making decisions, so the selecting process is hard for me. I always wonder how far I should go in retouching my images.
Is there anything you wish you had known before you started out as a photographer?
I wish I had known that photography cost a lot of money. Sometimes, I feel as if I do the job for the sake of purchasing photo equipment.
All photographs shown in this article were used by the permission of Shuji Kobayashi. If you want to see more of Shuji's work, check out his instagram .