Tomohide Ikeya is a photographer originally hailing from Kanagawa, Japan who worked as a chef in an Italian restaurant between 1992-1999, and began his freelance work in 2002. What is the most necessary thing for your life? Finding a balance. What better place to depict where life and death, light and shadow, hinge on control than in water. Tomohide Ikeya’s latest work focuses on breath, a vital activity of human-beings which is controlled by themselves. All photographs were taken under water. Look below for the full interview…
Having your work exhibit all over the world, which country do you find to be the most interesting and receptive to your work?
Tomohide: I haven’t had so many exhibitions abroad, but I think France is the most interesting country. Though I’m not sure if it’s receptive one, I feel Germany suits me well.
Germany hosted your latest gallery last month, which is entitled Breath&Moon. What can you tell us about the shows theme, and the types of subjects you tried to explore with your selected pieces?
Tomohide: I chose them from “Breath” and “Moon” which are different concepts. In “Breath”, I tried to show vitalities for keeping living. In “Moon”, I expressed a life is supported by many deaths. My works represent life-cycle by these two combinations. We repeat. We are circulating. We are driven to boundaries, and clawed our way up from there. Then we keep living through accepting all of these conditions. I guess. I’d like to ask my guess to everyone who sees my two series.
You are about to enter your 40’s, do you see your perspective of the world changing and thus affecting the direction of work you want to explore in the coming years?
Tomohide: I don’t care about age so much. But my perspectives, ways to see the world, are changing with the years, for good or ill, I think. So I don’t want to loose aggressiveness, and a mind of play, with a sophisticated broader outlook. And also I don’t wanna forget flexible attitude and thinking.
Having freelanced for 10 years, do you have any regrets with your initial decision or do you feel freelancing allowed you the freedom to create freely and uninhibited?
Tomohide: I surely have freedom because of being a freelancer, and I couldn’t think what I did before except [being] a freelance.
You stated that some things are just beyond our control. Do you have any fear knowing that in photography, capturing the perfect shot is unpredictable? How do you tackle an uncontrollable situation?
Tomohide: I think a circulated accident, touches people to hearts. If I can think just inside my mind, I think drawings or CGs are better to express. If a work is made by only an accident, that’s only by pure luck. Uncontrolled situations help me to make good works. So I don’t have any uneasiness in that part. But I always have to prepare very well to catch those kinds of supports; accidents.
I think ‘Ocean’ is a good example of this. How do you prepare for a shoot like this? Do you scout locations, or wait for a certain calender date in order to get the shot you desire?
Tomohide: Almost all of my works are taken during my trips. I usually take a trip about for a week. I take shots every morning. I also take some shots when I go to the sea by chance.
When I bared witness to your ‘Breathe’ series I couldn’t help but examine my own mortality. What is your primary focus of this exhibit and what kind of reaction do you try to evoke from an audience?
Tomohide: People are bound to die. So I’d like to my audience to feel strong vitalities opposite to death. Even if we are struggling, suffering, still we have a power to keep living. That kind of power I’d like to focus on. It is an extension of “Memento Mori”. This is a question about the way of people’s consciousnesses toward death.
What are you favorite Asian films? Have any directly inspired any themes or ideals in your work?
Tomohide: I got a great influence and inspirations by Hayao Miyazaki’s themes, like “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” and “Princess Mononoke”. Also, “Phoenix” by Osamu Tezuka and “Mermaid’s Forest” by Rumiko Takahashi, though those are not movies.
I have seen some photographers around whom have had their style handed practically to them from another. How were you able to develop your unique style?
Tomohide: I took shots thinking my theme, again I was thinking my theme and tried to take shots, I repeated trial and error, and I got my present style finally.
Want to explore more themes and photography by Tomohide? Please visit his official site below: