“I am currently seeking new dimensions in portrait photography by challenging the majestic theme of mankind, defined through love.”
Photographer Hal (born in 1971) is a contemporary photographer from Japan, currently based in Tokyo. He learnt about photography while working in the photo division of an advertising agency in Tokyo. Photographer Hal is represented by “Gallery Tosei” (Tokyo).
Bathtubs, couples, love and challenge are strong themes throughout this artist’s work with other key elements including individuality, style, communication and intimacy. Photographer Hal brings complete strangers to his confined, crucible like space only to convey his continuing theme of “love of the couple”. The initial title “Pinky & Killer” used a small space or room to capture the willing couples, soon followed by the title “Couple Jam” which brought the focus even closer to the subjects who were placed in a bathtub together.
“I am currently seeking new dimensions in portrait photography by challenging the majestic theme of mankind, defined through love.” Photographer Hal’s latest project is called ‘Flesh Love’, which captures the many varied and fresh couples in vacuum sealed package.
Interview with Photographer Hal
Photographer Hal, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
As a high school student, I sometimes took pictures of my friends with a disposable camera.
Why did you become a photographer?
I was born and educated in Tokyo, and currently residing there, too. Living through my university days, I was starving for encounters with different people from other cultures around the world. As soon as I had the opportunity I left Japan and began my travels with a special focus on the Middle East and India. It was here that I first became aware of my passion for photography. The camera became the key to overcome my shyness and limited local language abilities and I could in some way communicate with the people I met.
After graduating from university, I joined an advertising production company in Tokyo and this enabled me to acquire a much wider set of photographic skills. The assignments were varied and unique including celebrities and established fashion icons. It was the crucible of my technical ability and the focus in my work soon became the people.
What does photography mean to you?
It is my way how to enjoy life.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
Daido Moriyama. He is he is the pioneer who spread the wonderfulness of Japanese photography in the world.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“There is a camera is between a man and a woman.”
“My photos are my diary. Every photo is no more than the representation of a single day. And each day contains the past and the projection into the future. That’s why I feel compelled to indicate the date on every picture I take.”
How would you describe your photographic voice and creative process?
“In my most recent project I have applied the use of the vacuum sealed package.”
In my early explorations, I used to capture the models in a small room or enclosed space, these images can be seen in the photo books called “Pinky & Killer”, and “Pinky & Killer DX”. During the photo session I often prompt the couple to pose as if they’re in a sticker photo booth, an extension of the regular passport type which causes friends to pose in many alternative and fun ways. The focal point of the concept was then extended for the publication “Couple Jam” to include the use of the models in bathtubs, usually in their own home.
I think of the bathroom as being one of the most private and intimate place in anyone’s home, this provoked a shyness in the models, and created a unique excitement and inspiration in the scene. In my most recent project I have applied the use of the vacuum sealed package, used to store futon covers in everyday life, I found that the couple can be sealed in, with the appearance of being freshly wrapped I have called this event “Flesh Love”.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language and how did you achieve it?
To understand the feature of one’s own photography and to build a concept according to it.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Originality and color.
What qualities and characteristics does a good photographer need?
To like photography and don’t regret efforts. Humanity should be linked with the work.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
That there is something special in the picture.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
From everything in my life.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Pentax 645D, Canon EOS, Phase One P45 etc.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Fraction Magazine Japan.
What photography book would you recommend?
The books written by Daido Moriyama. For example: “Memories of a Dog”. But I don’t know whether they’ve all been translated into English or not.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Walk around with a camera anytime anywhere and take many, many pictures of whatever you see.