It takes a while to realize that the early 2000s were two decades ago. For Natsumi Hayashi, she was in her 20s discovering herself and figuring out what she wanted to do with her life. Fond of pushing buttons and cameras at a young age, Natsumi eventually fell into photography and has not stopped since. Reposting images of what it was like shooting in Japan at that time, we talk to her to see how different it was back then and how she used the Lomo LC-A+ to preserve these memories for a future generation.
Can you introduce yourself to the Lomography Community and tell us about how you started film photography?
My name is Natsumi Hayashi and I’m a Japanese photographer born in 1982. I am one half of the photography duo called Hisaji Hara & Natsumi Hayashi. Since my childhood, I have been very fond of pushing buttons which made me interested in cameras because of the many buttons. When I was a child, my father used to take pictures with his Nikon F-501 film SLR camera. At first, I was only allowed to press the button without inserting the film, but after elementary school, I was allowed to press the button with the film inserted. That is how I started film photography.
What camera and film stocks do you use? And what is your go-to camera and film?
My usual camera rotation includes a Ricoh Auto Half E, “Utsurun-desu” which is more commonly known as the Fujifilm Simple Ace, and of course the Lomo LC-A+. I’m also an avid user of my camera phone and you can see how I use it on my Instagram. For film I usually use the different Lomography Color Negative film but also Kodak Color Plus, Portra 160 and Fujifilm Superia Venus 400.
How was your experience using the Lomo LC-A+? What's your story with it and do you have any tips you can share for photographing with it?
When shooting with the cameras, I especially liked the feel of the shutter button and the smell of the camera body (I liked the smell of the LC-A even better.)
I don't remember where I bought my first LC-A, but it was around 2004. On the other hand, I remember I bought the LC-A+ on September 2, 2007, at a store called Smith's on the 6th floor of PARCO, a department store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. So I have been using a bunch of LC-As for about 18 years now.
I found it very convenient to carry around because it is small and very light. And yet it can take pictures with image quality as sharp as that of a large SLR camera, which I think is the charm of the LC-A+. However, when shooting hand-held in dark circumstances, the images may appear blurred or shaky, so I try to hold the camera firmly by tightening my arms fitted to my body and holding it like an SLR (of course, unexpected subtle blurring is also one of the charms of photos taken with the LC-A+). I also try to adjust the focus lever correctly according to the shooting distance. I think that when the focus is perfect, LC-A photos are both fantastically beautiful and realistically compelling at the same time.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I always carry a couple of cameras with me and take pictures whenever I want to. I decide whether to shoot with film or digital depending on my mood at the time.
I think I can say that I am a photographer who is always happy as long as I have a camera that I can carry easily, curiosity to search for subjects, and an electronic environment to share my photos on social media.
Can you describe what it was like to be shooting film in the 2000s?
I carried my Lomo LC-A around with me at all times and continued to take pictures as if I was obsessed with something. However, with the explosive increase in the number of people taking pictures with cell phones, hidden or sneaky photographing became a social problem, and unlike in the 1990s or today, people were afraid to point their cameras at people on the street. The problem was shared by people so much so that there were warning signs posted on the stairs of train platforms, "Someone is trying to take a picture of the inside of your skirt, please be careful!” The same warning signs still exist today, but with the advent of smartphones and social media, street photography is not necessarily considered a criminal activity anymore as more and more people are taking pictures and publishing them.
However, in the 2000s, street photography was interpreted as the private concealment of images only by the person who took them, which is probably why it became a social problem. I am by nature a contrary person, so I am motivated when something is prohibited and discouraged when it is encouraged. This seems to be one of the important elements that shape my personality. When many people are running in the same direction, I may want to run in the opposite direction. Perhaps this is why I was attracted to street photography in the 2000s. And now I enjoy taking pictures with a more neutral mind setting.
How would you describe Japan during this period and how would you describe this time in your life?
Neither the Great East Japan Earthquake nor the COVID-19 pandemic had yet occurred, and it was a time when it seemed as if everyday life up to that point would continue forever, but only with a vague sense of anxiety. This was a time when I was between being an undergraduate and a graduate student. At the time, I had no idea who I was or what I should become, and I was at a loss for how to live. Only when I was taking pictures did I forget about everything and return to my childhood self, who loved to push buttons.
Could you share with us your favorite photos from that time?
My favorite photos from that time are those of my family and friends. My first model for portraits was my sister.
I also like to take landscapes, but I still prefer to take pictures of people close to me. I often take digital photos, but I feel that film photos taken with the LC-A+ capture the distance between me and the models and the atmosphere of the place more realistically. I still take photos of the girls who are models in Hisaji Hara & Natsumi Hayashi's works, not only with digital but also with the LC-A+ too.
What's next for you as a photographer?
My eternal theme is to recover the "child's mind" through photography, which we tend to forget as we grow older. Since I started shooting the current “Gazing Into the World” series with my partner Hisaji Hara, I have made many young friends who are more than 20 years younger than me as models, and I have come to respect them so much. I have learned a lot from them and gained important insights from them. I hope that many adults will recall their pure curiosity as children when they see my photographs.
We are currently exhibiting a huge photographic work in Shibuya, Tokyo, so if you have a chance, please come and see it. The installation of the 14-meter (46-foot) wide "Today's Levitation" on the Shibuya Hikarie Deck has been completed. It will be on display until the end of March 2023.
Any advice or lesson you would want to share with the Lomography Community?
People change over time. It means that our present selves and our future selves are different. Therefore, there is no need to worry about the future. If you continue to do what you love without worrying about what others think of you, it will surely lead to interesting developments and new discoveries. I hope you will press the shutter button while enjoying "this moment," which comes only once in a lifetime, from the bottom of your heart.
written by rocket_fries0036 on 2023-01-26 #gear #culture #people #tokyo #street #youth #japan #lomo-lc-a #lomography-color-negative-100 #lomography-color-negative-400 #lomography-color-negative-800 #coming-of-age #21st-century