Taking inspiration from the renowned photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, Japanese photographer Aizawa Yoshikazu invites us into his series The Proof Of Life.
The 45-year old’s world is at its heart an intimate window into his life with his lover. At times veering into voyeurism the erotic element in his work is evident. To focus on the erotic however would be missing the whole.
More significantly Aizawa Yoshikazu wants to capture precious moments with his lover. But, these moments of intimacy and normality are tinged with a subtle sadness and a message. These moments can be temporary and so they must be embraced and enjoyed.
Can you talk to us about your life briefly pre-photography-where did the passion for photography materialise?
I first came across photography when I was in middle school. At that time, I photographed one of my female classmates. Around that time, I also started painting but I didn’t feel like I had the talent to create things from scratch. For a while in fact I worked at an architectural office but when I hit 26 I just realised that photography was my real passion. I decided to devote my life to photography and I have not looked back.
In terms of your early photographic work. Is there a series or collection of images that are particularly memorable for you?
When I started working freelance, I focused on photography as a business rather than focusing on my personal photography. It was only in my 40s that I began to concentrate my efforts into producing and publishing my personal works. In terms of the images I capture. I have always been fascinated by the existence of women and I have a passion for capturing them.
Who or what inspired you in terms of your journey into the world of photography?
My mother, my grandmother (who worked in agriculture) and my mother’s brother really inspired me into the world of photography. But I take inspiration from many things. The environment, all the women who have shared their time with me, the life and death cycle of plants and animals, including humans-it’s so many things.
What does photography mean to you as an art and indeed how does it enrich your own life?
I do not regard photography as art itself. Art is hidden in various events around me and I use photography to capture those events. Personally I have no ability to create. What I can do is find the beauty in the things around me. However, I am aware that what I find beautiful may not be considered “beautiful” to others.
For me, recording and photographing her is my desire. It is love in the way she responds to it.
From a technical perspective what equipment do you use and indeed talk about the techniques you use or is it more organic?
I used film photography for A Proof Of Life, however I generally use digital cameras for most of my work. More so than using commercial photography techniques. The most important thing is to shoot with the feeling of the place. For me, art is discovering beauty and as such it will always be organic and fluid, that will never change.
Nobuyoshi Araki just one of the famous erotic photographers from Japan. What is erotic photography and is it too easy an argument to call it pornography?
Mr Araki is the photographer I respect the most. Erotic photographs are photos that elicit a response from the viewer, namely their eroticism. They also have some slightly pornographic elements to them. It is impossible to control someone’s point of view when it comes to pornography so I do not think it is unfair to call it pornographic.
The Proof of Life series engages-what themes were you exploring?
The theme in Proof Of Life was to record the special time we spent together. Essentially it was about recording my precious time with her. I hadn’t planned to publish the images initially because I do not like to decide on a theme before I start a series but the choice to publish them came about quite organically. Importantly she was also very much into it. She says when I push the shutter she can feel interest, love and it proves her existence hence the title in many ways.
Love and lust are also explored.
For me, recording and photographing her is my desire. It is love in the way she responds to it. If this was not reciprocated I don’t believe the relationship would succeed. That is not eternal. Someday it will end due to mutual emotional change. Our positions towards each other will or might change. What I am trying to do is to keep such records as pure as possible.
The work does not only focus on the erotic there are also images of ‘normality’ can you talk about that more?
I take many more normal pictures than erotic ones. I am planning to announce them soon. However, I believe it is a mistake to consider normal and erotic things as separate, as you will lose sight of the essence of things. In my opinion all things should be considered of equal value, although I am unsure whether the viewers think the same.
What do you want viewers to learn about your life when they view your images?
I think it would be wonderful if people could view the images naturally, without being bound by stereotypes or fixed opinions. Ultimately, despite what others may think, this is not just a voyeuristic journey into eroticism. To view it like that I think is too simplistic
We want to say a massive thanks to James Long for translating Aizawa’a interview.