researched by Michael Kennedy
On the Streets of Tokyo
The spontaneous eloquence of a street photographer who masters the unexpected inspires our appreciation for the mysteries of life.
For Tokyo-based Takanori Tomimatsu, the “unreality” of daily existence is his motivation.
At age 62, Tomimatsu doesn’t walk the wheel anymore. Gone are the days of being a Japanese salaryman, bound to a desk as another wage-slave, crammed into a tight-fitting subway car during rush-hour at Shinagawa Station, to go home to nearby Yachiyo City and repeat this drab cycle for 40-years, just to get a cheap watch as thanks from the company.
Now, Tomimatsu is free to pursue photography with passion - and the results speak volumes.
This much-delayed journey began in Tomimatsu’s hometown of Fukuoka City, on Kyushu, the southwestern most of Japan’s main islands. This is also the locale of Nagasaki, the second city obliterated by an American atomic bomb during World War II - which occurred on August 9, 1945.
Born 10-years after that horrific event, Tomimatsu became enamored with photography during high school.
“I started to take some photos of family, school friends, landscapes and buildings.” Tomimatsu said. “Until a little while ago, I’d been very reluctant to approach strangers with my camera. Suddenly, 40-years just flew by.”
Four years ago, at age 58, Tomimatsu shifted comfortably to street photography.
During the lengthy odyssey to reach this point, Tomimatsu followed a path familiar to self-taught photographers. And this means a lot of practice, mistakes and hard-won accomplishments. For most street photographers, it also means becoming acquainted with familiar past masters like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa, who have influenced countless generations worldwide.
Yet for contemporary influences, Tomimatsu favors Magnum Photographers Bruce Gilden, Antoine d’Agate and Hiroji Kubota - plus Yoshiaki Kamishima.
Kubota and Kamishima may not be household names outside of Japan, yet the country has a thriving community of street photographers, that have a direct link to Daido Moriyama - if not for style, then at least for his audacity and fearlessness in the streets of Tokyo.
“When I’m in the role of street photographer,” Tomimatsu said, “I nearly always carry one camera body and one single manual focus lens with me. A light outfit makes it easier, and works well for taking photos on the street.”
Tomimatsu’s go-to cameras on the street are Leicas - both the M Monochrom/CCD and the SL (Type 601).
“I take my photos without popping up a viewfinder,” Tomimatsu said, “and without eye-contact, and without saying “hello”, and, more often than not, just in passing. Pedestrians move toward me; at the same time, I walk toward them. I’m interested in images that are not contrived or staged in any way … just people in their natural element.”
Tomimatsu admits that he has that buzz of excitement on the street, like most photographers drawn to this sub-genre, but that he may wait a few days - perhaps longer, for his emotions to settle down before he starts any post-production to edit his work.
“I need to cool down,” Tomimatsu said, “and try to be objective. When I’m in the moment, some times I think I’ve got the best shot, and nothing can top it. Later, I realize this is not really the case. Other material reflects much better quality.”
Tomimatsu’s post-production work-flow begins with Adobe Lightroom. For B&W, he turns to Silver Efex Pro 2 from Google’s Nik Collection to tweak things. When he works in color, it’s the same Lightroom approach, but any fine-tuning happens with Color Efex Pro 4.
“The Nik Collection through Google is free,” Tomimatsu said. “And the quality is excellent. I would be foolish not to use it.”
Check out more of Tomimatsu’s street photography at:
“Takanori Tomimatsu Photography”
Facebook : “Takanori Tomimatsu Photograpy"
Instagram : “takanori_tomimatsu”