IThe Trial of Tatsuo Suzuki sounds like a 19th century novel. The artist guilty of following an unacceptable moral code to create his work. Sounds familiar? I first saw Suzuki's work about a year ago as part of Samuel Lintaro Hopf's On The Street series.
I find films of street photographers' working fascinating. Nick Turpin's In-Sight is a fine example. This one however had more of a punk aesthetic to it. Suzuki's modus operandi is closer to a 3 minute 3 chord than an improvisational jazz piece. I must confess to empathising with his technique. No surprise there. However the controversy over his use in a Fuji ad campaign has been interesting for me as it's brought this particular style into public debate. He's seen as aggressive and rude.Others say it's very much on the tradition of street photography and it's seeing the making of the pictures that reveals actually what it takes to produce that work. I take this to a point but the advent of digital must play a part too and can easily be characterised as spray and pray which can upset the purist. At one point in the On The Street film there's a discussion of SD cards and that 16GB is not enough as you can only take 500 pictures. That's 6 months' of images in my world.
I agree it's a masculine way of taking photographs. There's a sense of entitlement that it's OK to behave in this way. There are plenty of examples of arguably more just as creative work by women that aren't promoted at all. Which, once again, leads me to think street is actually more about the photographer then the photographed. This is an argument that of course could be applied across all forms of photography but I think street comes closest because what can one ever really know about the people in the pictures? When Cartier-Bresson goes to China, he shows that there are people in China, and that they are Chinese. Susan Sontag So back to Suzuki who undercuts the theory with a very practical reason for his from the hip style. Looking through a a viewfinder doesn't work for him. He's left eye dominant. Furthermore he himself twists a cultural stereotype in his favour, "I'm just a stupid tourist". Hmm. Good line that.
I've been pursuing a style of photography now called street for a number of years. A south Londoner by birth I am pre-occupied with the West End and spend too much time there taking black and white pictures on film. I nurture a hope that one day London will be recognised like Paris, New York and Tokyo as a great city of street photography but secretly like the fact that it is still the underdog. For someone who enjoys the solitary practice of his work I am surprisingly talkative about it - although not at the same time. Here's a collection of idle musings and distracting links.
These posts are a sample of my current blog PORTRAIT OF A STREET PHOTOGRAPHER. There are 10 years of posts so please visit!