Sometimes photography without context is enough. Sometimes the lack of context gives depth to the picture, a resonance, a space to examine the banality of the subject and its inherent beauty.

—Yoshinori Mizutani


Yoshinori Mizutani’s work is simple, direct, classical even. He allows his work to speak for itself. Nevertheless, we couldn’t resist the urge to find out more about what goes into his unique vision of the world. Here is an edited version of our interview with him:

LC: How did you first become interested in photography?

YM: When I entered university, I really had no interest in photography. Zero. By chance, my university was located near Jimbo-cho, Tokyo’s district for vintage book stores. I began to haunt these book stores regularly.

One day, I encountered a photobook by Robert Frank. It was totally shocking and fresh for me. His photographs were absolutely great and completely different from any photography I had seen up to that point.

I had never, ever expected to become an artist originally. But thanks to this encounter, photography has become the best way for me to express myself.

LC: What was the inspiration behind “Colors”?

YM: Colors started in 2010, almost exclusively in and around Tokyo. The project began when I started exploring my surroundings with a greater attention to detail. The harder I looked, the more I realized how much I was overlooking. I came to be drawn towards the things that we rush past in our everyday lives. I was especially drawn by shapes — and color.

LC: Besides street photography, your work also contains elements of portraiture, still life. Are genres important to your way of working?

YM: Once, for Colors, I shot a naked woman holding a pile of books. I think of that as a still-life. Others are definitely street snaps. For me, it’s important to explore the world but I don’t feel tied to any particular genres. Photography reflects what I see, feel and imagine, so I think photography should remain totally free.

—Yoshinori Mizutani, as told to Alexander Strecker

Editors’ note: Mizutani’s work, along with photographs from all the LensCulture Emerging Talents 2014 was shown in an exhibition at the Galeria Valid Foto in Barcelona. And see a review of ALL the winners here in LensCulture.

The winners were also featured at photo festival screenings in Dublin, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Seoul and Amsterdam in 2014. Congratulations again for all their great work!