I’m really happy to be able to bring you an interview today with my friend Brian Wood-Koiwa, a Tokyo-based urban fine-art photographer. He has lived/worked and traveled around the world in places such as Qatar, Ecuador, Thailand, Australia, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in central Africa, before settling down in Tokyo, where he has been living for over 17 years.
He calls his photographic style “Urban Weird”, celebrating The City by emphasizing the beauty and “un-beauty” of the seemingly urban mundane and banal by incorporating the literary concept of New Weird (and its ancestor Decadence) in conjunction with the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of Wabi-sabi, centered on the acceptance of transience and the beauty in imperfection. The physicality of his focus encompasses anything urban (urban landscape, cityscape, street, urban abstract) inspired by the contrast of the ultra-modern and traditional aspects; at times existing harmoniously and others not so harmoniously – but interestingly.
I took the opportunity of having Brian in my studio to shoot a few portraits of him, of which this is my favorite. As you’ll hear, Brian is relatively quiet and unassuming, yet his tartan pants and “As If” t-shirt are, in my mind, undeniably flamboyant, and I mean that in the most positive way. These things suit Brian’s character, and his dry sense of humor are things that I appreciate as some of the wonderful reasons that I consider him a friend.
As our conversation was not scripted, I do not have text for the rest of this post, but here are the questions that I posed to Brian forming a framework for our discussion. Please listen with the audio player above to hear how the conversation developed.
Tell us how you came to live in Japan?
How did you get started in photography?
What’s your main photographic genre?
You have a passion for film photography. Tell us more about that?
We both have a pretty good appreciation for Wabi-Sabi, which is the Japanese concept of beauty in imperfection, and your thinking surrounding Decadence and Banality is fascinating and thought-provoking. Tell us a little more about that.
Talk through your three images (below). Tell us what you were aiming to achieve etc.
Can you give us three pieces of advice for anyone that wants to shoot compelling street photography like yours?
I often recommend your private street photography tours to my guests that come to Japan for my winter tours, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Tell us more about what you get up to when someone books you for say half a day or a day?
This week I’m sharing a joint podcast with world-renowned photographer Rick Sammon, covering a myriad of photography topics, and Rick’s 40th book, Photo Therapy Motivation and Wisdom—Discovering the Power of Pictures.
As this was not a scripted conversation, I do not have a text post for you this week, so please listen with the audio player above.
We get into all sorts of photography related topics, as well as the importance of showing respect for our subjects. As Rick and I have both run photography tours in Namibia, we had a lot in common. I also shared some quick tips on being prepared to shoot on a wildlife photo safari.
Rick and I also talked about a kind of group therapy that we get on tours like my Namibia tour, where groups of like-minded photographs get to spend lots of quality time together in amazing locations. This is just one of the topics covered in Ricks new book, which you can get on Amazon with this link: https://amzn.to/2n4BkMB
You can follow Rick’s antics and connect with him on Social Media etc. over on this Web site here: https://ricksammon.com/
I hope you enjoy our conversation. I certainly did, and that’s usually a good sign. It’s an honor to talk as we did with someone so established and so full of energy, despite being 70 years old next year. I look forward to doing so again soon.
Complete Namibia Tour & Workshop 2020
At the time of releasing this podcast, I currently have three places still open on my 2020 Complete Namibia Tour & Workshop, from June 20 to July 6, so if you are interested, check out the details on our tour page. Note too that we have to finalize our numbers for this tour well in advance, possibly within the next couple of weeks, so please make our decision as soon as possible, to avoid disappointment. If you are too late for the 2020 tour, or the schedule just doesn’t work for you, we are also now taking booking for 2021 as well, and these can all be seen on our Tours & Workshops page.
Today I bring you a chat. between too old friends. I sat down with Ibarionex Perello, with no manuscript, and no overall objective except mentioning Ibarionex’s new book, and we just talked, for an hour. I really enjoyed this conversation, and hope that you do too.
I have to apologize for the lateness of this episode, essentially missing a week, as it became obvious that my web server was no longer keeping up with the web site, and the next level of server with my old provider was too expensive, so after ten years, I spend the last week migrating to a new server in a different company, and then all the fine tuning to that has been necessary to get things running again has taken me the entire week. If you came by and saw everything in a mess, or completely down, sorry about that, but the new site should be better and faster, and ready to take us to the next level, so I think it was worth it.
Conversation with Ibarionex Perello
We didn’t have a script, as this was simply an impromptu conversation, so you’ll have to listen with the audio player above or via our Podcast feed to actually hear what we talked about, but here are some of the key points, in the form of notes that I made as I relistened, preparing the episode for release.
Both veteran Podcasters, with our shows now being around 14 years old, we started with a discussion of how we got started and how Podcasting has enabled us as photographers and creatives. This has opened doors for both of us, and thankfully we both stil thoroughly enjoy doing this.
Ibarionex also recalls how he struggled to overcome a stutter as a kid, and I note how I similarly have times when my voice “drops out”, possibly related to what should have been a stutter, and we can both get ahead of ourselves as our mind work faster than our mouths. I also am starting to believe that I am probably dislexic to a degree, and Ibarionex has also been diagnosed as having ADHD, which I’m sure I have too, and sharing notes with Ibarionex certainly helps to put things into perspective.
We also get into the frustration that can often set in as we develop as photographers, and how we overcome that by developing a solid shooting workflow, and building experience in our craft which leads on to my take on originality, as I discussed in my post “Be a Creator Not a Collector of Photographs“. Ibarionex accepts that he isn’t going to come away from every location with a definitive image, but challenging himself to move past his comfort zone and taking risks is more important.
Ibarionex gained a lot of experience and started his 25 year body of work from Los Angeles during his days working at Nikon, when he was encouraged to grab a slab of film and go out and shoot as part of his job! He recently went back through his slides from these days and was happy to see that he was creating quality work even in his early days.
Ibarionex also talks about how new opportunities are now presenting themselves to him as his mother-in-law has moved in with him, and this has led to photographing familes in their homes. He also encourages people to photograph more in their homes and immediate vicinity.
You can see some beautiful and compelling images that Ibarionex was kind enough to send me for this post in the below gallery. These are also available in high-resolution in the Member’s eBook that I created for this post as part of the MBP Pro Membership subscription.
Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer and educator who has been involved in the photo industry for over 25 years. He is also the host of The Candid Frame, a popular photography podcast which features conversations with the world’s best emerging and established photographers. He has authored several books on the subject of photography with his latest being Making Photographs: Developing a Personal Visual Workflow. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and their dog, Zooey.