Photography, in my opinion, is perceived differently in many different culture but for certain, Photography is widely accepted as a form of story telling.
People have their own idea on what makes a good photo and how it should be presented but there is always a gap between a ‘Snapshot’ and ‘Pleasingly Aesthetic Looking Picture’. A snapshot is often consider as something that is taken quickly without any significant meaning other than to preserve a certain candid moment, and while it also known as something mundane, the question whether a ‘Snapshot’ could be consider into a narrative series is simply tempting to answer.
Although there is a lot of opinion on this matter where a bad picture is consider as an Artwork/Masterpiece (Daido Moriyama is often being labelled as an overrated photographer). ‘Snapshot’ in my opinion is the true way on how photography should be done, taking picture on your own impulsive reaction is often something that you will cherish later on after you have the prints printed. I am not promoting the idea of a badly taken picture but more towards how people should approach something with their camera.
I have been thinking a lot about my standing on photography but there is always this thin line between what people call Aesthetically pleasing and Meaningful picture. Snapshot is often shoved aside without much consideration in the world of contemporary photography but a trend for this so call ‘snapshot’ have started back in the early 90’s by a teenage girl who happen to won a certain famous photography competition in Japan. The girl is non other than Hiromix. (her real name is Toshikawa Hiromi)
I stumble upon her work on Tumblr and I was fascinated with how honest the picture is and the description on the picture was good enough for me to look further on Google. The picture was a self portrait of Hiromix from her famous entry for the Canon New Cosmos of Photography 1995. A rather blurred with highly vivid color from Cheap film negatives were the characteristic for all of Hiromix work. Apparently he seems to be rather famous in Japan not only as a photographer but also as a member of a band, a literal figure of what the Japanese would refer to as an ‘Idol’.
History aside, her work is the epitome of what candid photography should look like and since it was taken back in the early 90’s, her work reminds me of what Girl with Instagram would take in their everyday life (selfie, your breakfast, lunch, dinner, friends, mirror, skirts). She basically has been ‘Instagraming’ before it was cool and hopefully I could get a copy of her work that was publish by the famous German publisher.
I got instead a copy of Hiromix photobook and its called Hiromix Works. Its Thick and well thought, from the cover finishing and all the way to the type of paper used for the book. Hiromix book is pretty hard to find on the second hand book market but I am pretty sure it is still available in many places if you look at the right places.
Hiromix Works is a compilation of picture that was taken by Hiromix during the years where she works as a Photographer for a Music Magazine called ‘Rocking On’. The book is designed by a group of designer and art director and I must say that the book is sequenced quite well. There is no such clear narrative throughout the photobook but for a compilation of the work of one of Japan most iconic photographer in the early 90’s, this is really impressive and not that overwhelming for first time viewer as well.
Content wise, the photobook contain a lot of picture of some Japanese Superstar, none that I know of but I am pretty sure that they are famous. This indirectly what makes the photobook interesting as most of the subject in the photobook is quite good looking, even the guys. The photobook has no such pages number but instead it was divided into years from 1995-1999.
In term of Hiromix photography style, I could say that there is a high level of intimacy within every picture. It is far from technically perfect picture that is often associated for a Music magazine but I guess this is what the Magazine is hoping for to show the life of a Celebrity. Hiromix candid approach that is shown throughout the photobook is just one of the few variety in the photobook and some of it was taken in a rather Professional matter.
On why I find Hiromix work to be appealing is probably just how she manage to keep the same vibe that is shown during her earlier work during her teenage years. The same punchy and intimate gesture of her subject shows the level of mutual understanding between the photographer and the subject. I am sure that none of the picture could be taken without some sort of understanding and to be honest, there is quite a lot of her self portrait with her subject, most likely taken after the end of a photo shooting session.
Self portrait is one of Hiromix trademark and somehow the art director manage to slip in a few of this in some of the pages and I personally believe it gives the whole photobook some sort of an approval stamp as well. For example, even the last picture on the photobook is a self portrait of her brushing her teeth!.
Here is some interesting thing that I found while browsing through the photobook. Usually people avoid placing their picture in the middle of the book gutter but the designer seems to find this as a good idea. It doesn’t affect the mood of the whole photobook but I find it quite annoying and there is a lot of it as well. I am not sure why but I would like to hear the reason behind such decision.
To conclude my thought on Hiromix works, I decided to show one of my favourite picture from the whole photobook. Its a picture of some girl eating ice-cream. Composition wise, its good although it looks quite random when I look at it the second time but maybe its just me falling in love with the girl in the picture. A cute girl licking an ice-cream have some sexy element to it and the ice cream contrast well with the background. I thought the sequence is quite nice as well but this is just a few of those nicely sequenced picture from the whole series.
For a teenage girl who have once shock the photography world in Japan, she done quite well in the industry. Being one of the first pioneer for a ‘Girl Photo Diary’ theme, she create a certain awareness among the young girls especially at the time where the country is dominated mostly by mens. I hope to get her other photobook that was publish by Steidl to compliment with this photobook that I got last year. I also did some research on the internet but it appears she is on a hiatus from Photography, the last photobook of her was Hiromix Works. I just hope she will make a come back someday with a rather fresh new series of picture. I am quite certain she has a lot more to offer.