Nouvelle Vague, Juxtaposition, and Whimsy

Keiichi Ichikawa

Keiichi Ichikawa is a self-employed designer. Though relatively new to street photography, Keiichi has wholly embraced the genre and street photography lifestyle. His images are filled with light and shadow play, urban geometry, and strong contrast. Keiichi's work also often includes clever juxtapositions and even a bit of whimsy. He is that rare photographer who is instantly identified with a single click of the mouse.

I was born in 1968. I live in Chigasaki, Japan and am a self-employed designer and avid street photographer. I began shooting street photography two years ago, mainly in Tokyo and Yokohama. Capturing the unexpected is what draws me to street photography. Street scenes, for me, are like scenes in a movie or acts in a play. I enjoy the fantasy that takes place in the street that is normally overlooked by the unobservant. Keiichi Ichikawa

Kujaja: Describe your photographic style. How did you develop your style?
KI: My style is street photography, specifically I shoot the landscapes of people and cities. I prefer to move about unobserved because I want to record the truth in the moments I capture. It is important to carefully observe the people and activity that surround you when you are in the shooting street. Things happen unexpectedly. Those events can be very funny. They are also, at times, quite beautiful. It is important that you do not miss such moments, moments that will never again be repeated. For me, these street scenes are as interesting and exciting as scenes from any movie. However, these scenes also reflect me and what I want to express with each image.

Kujaja: Who inspires you other than photographers (artists, writers, music, architects, and philosophers)?
KI: I have received a lot of inspiration from movies. I am particularly interested in the Nouvelle Vague films of the 60’s and 70’s, American New Cinema, and also the 80’s and 90's road movies.

Kujaja: What does ‘street photography’ mean to you?
KI: Street photography is the best means of self-expression for me.

Kujaja: What do you think makes a memorable street photograph?
KI: Unexpected things, decisive moments, and the light and shadow that people and the city produce.

Kujaja: Is there any particular genre/style of photography you would like to learn about and try?
KI: Other than street photography, I am very interested in minimal art.

Kujaja: Have you ever had formal training?
KI: No, I’ve had no formal training. I started taking pictures two years ago when I joined Facebook.

Kujaja: How has photography changed you as a person?
KI: By taking photos, I am now able to express myself with something other than words. Photography has become my largest method of self-expression. Photography has also expanded my world through social networking. I have met many wonderful photographers as a result.

Kujaja: : What are your photography weaknesses?
KI: I think being unsure of how to deal with the people I am photographing is probably one weakness. There are times when I want to take a picture but I am not sure if it might be viewed as an invasion of privacy. I think all street photographers are aware of the trouble that can come from shooting without permission or consent.

Kujaja: : Do you think a photographer must have ‘natural talent’ to become a great photographer?
KI: For me, photography is a continuous effort.

Kujaja: What is your opinion regarding film vs. digital photography.
KI: With street photography, I think a digital camera is suitable because it is very important that you do not miss the moment. But I very much like the unique colors of film. That color and grain is what cannot be expressed in digital images.

Kujaja: How does black and white vs. color play into your work? Do you find them to be totally separate beasts—or complementary?
KI: There are times when color plays a very important role in my photos. For instance, there may be red shoes in my image. The red shoes are the protagonist. If the shoes are shown in black & white, the image loses its meaning. Still, with certain images, color disturbs the photo. In that case, I will convert it to black & white.

Kujaja: : Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
KI: Unpredictable is the definition of street photography. Unpredictable is not necessarily a bad thing. Unpredictable becomes a good thing when you end up with a good result when that result had never even been considered. The most important thing is being willing to adapt to the environment regardless of conditions.

Kujaja: : What are some tips/advice you would give to yourself if you started street photography all over again?
KI: Fear not. Enjoy yourself. Respect the people and cities.