A regular contributor to Purple Magazine since the mid-90s, Japanese photographer Chikashi Suzuki receives an interview feature in the French magazine’s most recent S/S 2017 issue. Kazumi Hayashi sits down with Suzuki to discuss his initial inspirations, the beginnings of his working relationship with Purple, and his approach to capturing Japan from a deeply personal perspective. In addition to this illuminating interview, Suzuki is photographed by his friend and contemporary Hajime Sawatari, and styled by Yasuko Furuta and Ryoto Yamada in pieces including Saint Laurent, Loewe and Louis Vuitton.
When you shoot, it seems like you carefully choose the city landscapes and different backgrounds. Do you follow any rules?
I don’t choose any place that’s obvious, like the Shibuya intersection. I’m interested in places that you can’t exactly say where they are, though you know for sure it’s Tokyo. Photographers from overseas try to capture places that are pretty much recognized as being a part of Tokyo, like the 109 mall or the cherry blossoms of Nakameguro. But since I live here, I prefer to pick up mundane imagery that’s often seen on the streets of Tokyo, rather than trying to express something specific. So, my focus is not on shooting signs with Japanese words or anything like that; I’m more interested in places that make people feel like they’ve seen them before, but can’t say exactly where. Same goes for people — I like those who are slightly off or hard to grasp.
Do you scout for locations?
Yes, I do. I don’t move around in cars much, so I like to walk around aimlessly and find street scenes that catch my eye, and then later, I use them for photo shoots that go perfectly with the scene. When you’re walking, rather than in a car, you can collect these kinds of scenery. I guess that’s what differentiates my works from tourist photos, like Elein said.
As a Japanese photographer, what do you find important?
When you look at works by Nobuyoshi Araki or Hajime Sawatari, you can feel that they take pride in their work. Their generation had the opportunity to travel to countries outside Japan, but still, it wasn’t like they were overloaded with information, [as people are] now. They saw something foreign and incorporated that into their work in their own way to create something original. Sure, they travel overseas once in a while, but they know where they belong and strive to make a stand there. They’ve always been based in Tokyo. Just like their take on Tokyo and mine are different, the young generation has their own way of seeing Tokyo. So what’s important to me is that I can capture Tokyo through my own perspective.
Read the full interview at purple DIARY.