Naoyuki Ogino Speaks: Fusing Yin with Yang in Photographs

Naoyuki Ogino
COURTESY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER

NAOYUKI OGINO switched gears from studying astrophysics to photography, a decision he considers as an awakening. Born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1975, he has lived among different cultures since childhood, in constant search of roots and a sense of belonging. Awarded the 2006 Grand Prize of the Japan Photographers’ Union in Tokyo, he also participated in Pingyao International Photography Festival in 2007, as well as the Tashkentale Photo Festival, and China-Japan Photography Exhibition at the Beijing National Palace Museum in 2008. Since 1998, he has held several solo and group exhibitions in Mexico, the United States, Taiwan, and other countries. Most recently, he published a book of photography, A Geisha’s Journey: My Life as a Kyoto Apprentice (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2008). The French edition is also available from Éditions Aubanel (Paris, 2009). He currently lives in the city of Kyoto. Visit his website at naoyukiogino.jp.

What kind of photography aesthetics attract you most?

To put it most plainly, I am attracted to photographs that speak to me as “a flow and flood” of emotions, impressions, inspirations or feelings.

For me, any sort of image aesthetics needs a sensual appeal in order to work. In terms of a non-verbal language, a good image is like a zone that can communicate with my interior world, delivering in return a kind of energy that leaves me feeling satisfied or pleased as a photographer.

A kind of eternity inhabits the moment once a photograph is taken. In this sense, photography contains moments that hold eternities. I am interested in taking such photographs, i.e. the ones that hold fleeting moments of eternity.

In a way, photographs are the simplest images, as compared to a movie, for example, which is a combination of various visual elements and dimensions. There is more than just length and breadth in each image of a film. That sometimes renders an image “fuzzier.”

Art imitates life, as the common saying goes. I believe photography is a kind of aesthetics that imitate nature. It is a metaphor for nature; I like to explore how close or far, strong or weak this metaphor can represent our immediate surroundings. That is how I define beauty. However, I pay equal, if not more, attention to the environment because it is the environment after all that keeps us alive.

Tell me more about your intimacy with the camera. How has your “eye” changed since your decision to live by photography?

Having a relationship with the camera has given me the chance to open the interior me to nature — that’s the biggest change in my “eye” that I’ve experienced insofar. My relationship with the camera is like a base that supports all other aspects of my life… It’s very nourishing. It allows me to evaluate what I would consider as beauty, and is my point of contact to the physical surroundings.

Subject is a very tricky element of photography — it either defines the image or swallows it. Is there a particular subject and energy that entices you?

I go for the instants — instants that reveal people living in their nature.

People whose presence evokes the scent of their mother-land attract me most.


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