A photograph Remembers Everything.
Words by Natsumi Yokoyama
"A Turtle" Changed His Life
What is essential in Kaikura's works? The answer is "STORY." He has been focusing on that since he got involved in the creative fields. In fact, Kaikura indulged his interest of films where stories do exist. However, he came to pursue "story" which exists in photographies. Who made him do so? That's "a marine turtle." It's not that he was impressed with the egg-laying of that animal. The truth is that he tried to take a photograph of a stuffed marine turtle for no purpose. "I took it away from my company to a studio one night. (laughter) Then, something unexpected happened, somehow, in my photograph. I felt it that was the first photograph I took which looked like it was telling me a "story" by itself," Kaikura said.
Exposed to Craftsmanship by English Gentlemen
Kaikura started his career as a photographer in London, U.K., after working for a studio in Tokyo as an assistant. Why did he choose that place? The reason represents his loyalties to craftsmanship; that is, Kaikura answered, "London is a powerhouse for craftsmen as well as Japan. In technical schools, students in London are taught "ideas" at first while those in Japan are taught how to craft first. Craftsmen in London continue to generate brand-new craftsmanship ideas." In such a sophisticated place, Kaikura worked on photography of cosmetics and jewelry. After a year, Kaikura changed his stronghold and continued his career in Japan.
Conflict and Foresight
Kaikura still worked mainly on cosmetics and jewelry photography in Japan. After doing that work for 5 years, one question about his work popped into his mind. "We photographers are always present at the scene, during every moment when products come out but… I was often worried that we tended to undervalue the manufacturing because of its high speed transformation." Kaikura started to think about what is never undervalued even in a high speed world. This is how he came across Japanese traditional craftwork.
"Now or Never"
This phase led Kaikura to start his own project. He tried to make appointments with Japanese craftsmen but most of them rejected it somehow. He never gave up on his idea even though his project was almost gone. At last, he got a first appointment with Mr.Isao Kawasumi, a scissor blacksmith. Looking back on that moment, Kaikura said, "Through this project, I found scissor significantly diversified. For gardening, operation, cooking, or whatever. Most importantly, ideas for each scene are exactly reflected in those scissors." From then on, Kaikura has taken photographs of 15 craft works, by contacting the artists by phone or even by letters. Kaikura told us that he will continue this project.
A Photograph as a Storyteller
Kaikura aims to make us feel like we are hearing stories from his photographs. To archive this, he thinks it is necessary to capture the simple features of the craftwork and to go back to the root of manufacturing. That reveals the craftsmen's bloody effort while it also lets Kaikura play a role in carrying down that effort through his photographs. With regards to his future plans, Kaikura also wants his project to reach people overseas, and not only Japanese. One place he chose first is London as a gesture of gratitude for having trained him to be a photographer. Another place is New York, one of the top cities in the world. Kaikura's new challenge is about to begin. Stories of "Impressive Japanese" will surely go further into the world through Kaikura's photographs.