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How to Take Subjects and Society Seriously



髙橋健太郎さんの「A RED HAT」をご紹介したいと思います。

Hello everyone. I am SHUNSUKE. This time, I am going to introduce one of my favorite photographers, Kentaro Takahashi, and his book called, " A RED HAT."

私はこれまで、自分で撮るのも観るのも、いわゆるStreet Photogtaphyが中心でした。Street Photographyは、自分がこれだと思う瞬間を求めてひたすらStreetを歩き回り、偶然的そして運命的に出会う瞬間を切り取っていくというものです。


それに対して、今回ご紹介する髙橋健太郎さんの「A RED HAT」は、特定の被写体と、とことんまで向き合った結果生まれた作品です。






I used to shoot and observe photos like " Street Photography." Street Photography is usually defined as photos taken while walking around Street in search of the moment you think you want to shoot, and capturing the moments you meet accidentally and fatefully.

As I have been writing on some of my articles before, I always walk on the street while thinking about what I want to really shoot, but it is rare that I set a mind to capture curtain subjects before going outside, and it is also a few moment when I meet with subjects what I want to capture.

Comparing to that, the book, "A RED HAT," taken by Kentaro Takahashi is composed by lots of great photos that Mr. Takahashi had closely covered subjects and documented happenings and reality, which is totally different to the way of shooting candid photography.

This book's main theme is Life Painting Case, that had been occurred in Hokkaido, Japan, 1941. This case is know that Students who were drawing and discussing pictorial expression, just as we take pictures and talk about photographic expression, were suddenly arrested because they were seen that they were trying to enlighten communist ideas. Then students were put in jail, which is very shocking case. The parties who were arrested were deprived some of their precious time in their youth. This work is closely related to the current lives of two of them ( Unfortunately, one of them (Mr. Goro Matsumoto) died last year).

I first felt like I was very close to them and drawn to their stories while turning pages. Of corse every single photos are impressive, and I could appreciate how Mr. Takahashi carefully captured moments and thought a composition of the book. However, what I was mostly shocked is that the relationship between subjects and Mr. Takahashi himself was deeply visualized by captured moments in every photo, and his photographic stance felt very different with mine.

I think this is because Mr. Takahashi continued visiting Hokkaido, where the victims of the case are living now and case had occurred, many times to deeply understand what was actually happened and how victims are spending their time now. Also I feel why the book is so attractive is because Takahashi spent a lot of time with them and kept in touch with them so that he was able to capture their truly natural appearance, which led me to a feeling of immersion.










It is also seemed that Mr. Takahashi intended to bring out the strangeness at the time of the incident and to evoke an opportunity to think about our society now by taking pictures of the "current daily life" of the victims related to Life Painting Case.

Below is Mr. Takahashi's quotes from an afterwords on the book.

”History is telling that our lives, which we believe we will have a calm and peaceful life, can suddenly be destroyed by power in the name of "for the country" and "for justice."”

" Photography let us stop and remind, who believe we are alive in the time to go on the horizontal axis."

Currently, the world includes Japan are still in a confusion due to the new coronavirus. Looking at the government's response in the news every day, I feel that Life Painting Case, which occurred about 80 years ago, is not unrealistic case even in modern times. This work also reminds us that no matter how much we live in the most peaceful times in human history, we need to continue taking seriously of society and everyday life.

As a photographer, I felt that I needed to take subjects I capture and society more seriously while looking at the book, " A RED HAT." I hope you will be able to check the book sometime.

Thank you so much for reading, and see you soon.





1 Comment

Mar 07, 2021

Thank you so much for this wonderful and important article. When I see for example W. Eugene Smith's 'Minamata' or Sebastiao Salgado's works, I always wonder if people know how much important can be a photographer's essay for human life... Thank you, I will definitely looking for the book 'A Red Hat'. I think, these are those pictures what people see and never forget. Maybe, one of those most important experiences in our life which makes a turning point to be more human and respect each other.

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