Justin C.-Writer Skateboarder Photographer.
We all learn something new from time to time.
All photographs are respect rights of the photographers.
Developing the Eye-A Personal Search
There is alot of work to catch up on here. Four book reviews, a few more interviews slated and another book to finish reading (On City Streets; a collection of poems) before being up to snuff on here. The last year has actually been a huge change personally and what photography actually means to me- all while working on my approach, professionalism and style while deciphering why it is I take the photographs in a certain moment. I’m trying to cross my own personal threshold of what it is to take photographs, and what it is to be a photographer.
This last year I’ve been moving towards documenting everything, and joining together a few elements that I hold quite close to me, which is my writing (I frequently carry a small notebook to write captions of what I hear , or poems ) and I’ve begun to arrange them with certain images, time specific, or giving background to a story. Whether it be on the Street or household, I’ve actually stopped searching and fighting for photographs and letting the moments naturally happen, and come to me. I can’t express how relaxing it is to take a stroll and allow the endless arrangement, the collision of people and sounds-
The organized chaos. To surround and entertain and educate.
As a writer, and poet perhaps I romanticize the experience but I’ve begun to take alot of what I’ve done, and exchanged with other artists (mainly photographers) as a huge blessing of gratitude.
The photographs of my family , have seen us disconnected, a bit spaced ( I normally like to shoot close) and in thought. My mother this past year has been in and out of hospitals dealing with severe anxiety and depression, as well as suicidal thoughts, and really has challenged me to look inward. Every glimpse of happiness, I know see as sacred moments to my family ,especially when we’re all together. This has left a huge mark on my work, and I’m not sure where I’m going but I will always have my camera and pen ready along the way.
There is an incredible amount of people that have influenced me, and helped me on my journey and to my followers-
Thank you. Still a work in progress.
All photographs taken by Justin Carter.
Interview with Sean Lotman- Street Photographer.
I don’t know how I found his work online, but I’m glad I did. Sean is a great writer, a friendly guy and I’m proud to feature him on the blog.
Good to hear from you and some good questions. Always nice to ask yourself why you do what you do. This helps to keep things in perspective.
I wanted to share with you one of my ongoing projects, “Me and My Friends.
“A native of Los Angeles, California, I’ve been in Japan since 2003, mostly Tokyo, lately Kyoto. I started taking pictures after leaving the United States, mostly for documentary purposes. It wasn’t until I found the right cameras and film that I became a “photographer” in the sense of having a greater purpose with picture-taking. Since coming to Asia, I’ve traveled a bit, especially The Middle East, Southeast Asia, and India. In addition to photography I write fiction, essays and poetry. More of my work can be viewed on my website at www.seanlotman.com.”
You are a writer and traveler. What persuaded you to get up and move and could you describe the process?
Writing prose is as solitary an exercise as one can imagine. It is almost anti-social in its demands, because accessing one’s imagination requires some considerable thought processes. Ironically, writing about the world often involves isolating oneself from it. Photography thus counterbalances the loneliness of the long-form writer. I enjoy the physicality of photography. Picture-taking naturally complements traveling, which for me is about engaging with my society or an alien one.
Unlike a lot of photographers I don’t bring my cameras everywhere. I am also mostly a daytime shooter since I use 100ISO film, which doesn’t work in bad light. So when I go shooting it is usually an all-day process, in which I step out and go for a long walk. I often have an itinerary, especially when I’m traveling.
It’s a little bit of all that. Nearly all my photography comes from the street and much of it is shot while traveling. That I am an American living in Kyoto, Japan, adds an exotic dimension to the work that wouldn’t exist had I remained in the Californian suburb I grew up in. The images are excerpts of an unwritten diary as well. Because I use a film camera I tend to shoot sparingly— thus I can recall nearly every single one of my shots. They have talismanic power, reminding me where I was at certain periods of my life, what mattered to me, and what I was fortunate enough to encounter and capture on long walks. I don’t set out to collect disparate cultural scenes— it is simply a matter of course, the end result of loving a particular moment so much I had to shoot it. If I have an artistic agenda, this is probably it.
The most important way literature has influenced my photography is reinforcing the power of narrative in an image. It doesn’t need to but I prefer photographs ought to suggest a story. This inspires our curiosity, thus adding depth to the image. We ask questions. For example: Who is this guy? What is he doing? Why is he here? Is he upset?
It’s mostly a stylistic choice that enhances the substance of my work. I call my brand of photography “psychedelic humanism.”If I could get this textural depth with contemporary cameras, then perhaps I’d shoot digital. But probably not. I don’t like the mechanics of shooting digital. I don’t like the way people use cameras today. They carpetbomb their subject with ten, fifteen trigger-finger shots. And they don’t trust their instincts. Film-shooters have a more engaged relationship to their physical environment. I don’t think this point can be argued. They’re not removing themselves from the scene to look at an LCD screen. Their eyes never leave the scene.
As I mentioned before, photography gets me out of the house and out of my head. I like taking pictures because it’s fulfilling and I feel I’m learning about myself (perhaps the most important purpose in any artistic endeavor).I love looking at photo books and I have my share of heroes. Jakob Holdt, Danny Lyon, Mary Ellen Mark, Leiko Shiga, and Alex Webb have all made strong impressions on me, as has my wife, Ariko Inaoka. Without her influence and inspiration, perhaps I wouldn’t be answering your questions right now.
I’m working on a book about Japan. One of my side-projects is more personal— I’ve been very lucky to have a number of very interesting friends. For years, I did not photograph them, failing to appreciate that their presence might look beautiful in a photograph. By way of photographing my friends I am learning more about myself and the life I have chosen for myself.Regarding your question on artistic fusion, I have cross-pollinated my writing and photography with my haiku project, I Do Haiku You. (www.idohaikuyou.com) I pair medium format Diana f+photos with haiku and senryu poetry. Already it’s been an ongoing three-year project, but I’m about ready to secure a publisher.
Develop a personal style. Of course, substance is important too, but you want your work to be instantly recognizable. I hesitate to use the word because I despise marketplace psychology, but as a photographer it is important for you to build your own “brand,” as in, only you and you alone could have taken such a photograph. There are so many photographers these days, but so few with really memorable signatures.
I’m quite interested to see what happens myself.
Give yourself enough time for doing something you truly love. This will get you through the day.