Shinjuku is arguably different from the equally well known Tokyo districts of Shibuya and Harajuku in that it appeals to a much broader age demographic; lacking, as it does, the distinct youth culture (and subcultures) of the latter two.
At the same time, however, it isn’t exactly an ideal location for the elderly. Or at least that has always been my assumption. But despite her obvious difficulties, this old woman battled through the crowds and across the wide streets in encouragingly confident fashion.
Wow, that’s a striking image. I don’t know if I should be sad or happy for her…….
I know what you mean. Nothing but respect for the way she gets about despite the obvious difficulties, but it must make for a tough life…
I love your humanity when picking subjects on the streets. In some photographers’ work, I feel some kind of voyeurism. Not with yours.
As for Shinjuku and huge ultra-urban districts like this… When you’re young, you may feel excited by the neon lights, crazy life, get drunk but don’t realize how this type of town can turn into a nightmare for elderly people. It makes me feel sad…
Thank you very much. That’s very good to hear. Difficult to know where to draw the line sometimes, but glad you think I’m on the right side.
Definitely. The older neighbourhoods seem like reasonably nice places for the elderly to live. What with the sense of community and older shops. But there again they are rapidly changing as older residents die off and more people flood into the city.
You are definitely on the right side. Your all work shows it.
Yes, Tokyo is a strange place when I think of it… But I guess also I might have a crisis with ultra-urbanity.
I’ve been checking some of your older pictures, and I was curious to hear you about your evolution, going from long focales to short ones. Plus, you’re shooting film now, right?
Thanks again. Very kind of you.
Yes, lots of changes. It has been a fascinating, thoroughly enjoyable journey. Still a long way to go too. Well, it’s a never ending journey, isn’t it? Starting out with the longer focal lengths gave me the confidence to shoot people. And as that confidence grew, it became increasingly easy to get nearer those I wanted to photograph. At the same time I also began to understand what kind of people I was most interested in, and perhaps just as importantly, in what kind of situations, areas and places as well. These environments also became increasingly important to me in regards having the person in some kind of context, so a shorter focal length became not only possible, but a necessity. And for me, 35mm is absolutely perfect. In fact that’s all I use now.
The journey hasn’t taken me back to film though. Still shooting digital. I have thought of buying a compact film camera, but the processing costs, as well as requiring a scanner has put me off. For now anyway. But that could well change…
I’ve always though you were shooting film! Is it the Leica quality that gives such results or your way of editing pictures…
Anyways, I’m having a deeper look into your work from day to day, and, I have so many questions that maybe I should interview you.
Good question. Don’t know to be honest. A bit of both perhaps?
We never got together for those beers earlier in the year, so we should meet up for a good photography chat some time.
Oh, yes, that’s true. I went back to France for one month. And yet it took me some time to adapt again. Would you mind if we’d see somewhere around Shibuya or Shinjuku maybe ? In one of these small bars of Nombe Yokocho or Golden Gai. There’s a photographer bar in the Golden Gai, and one bar with a transvestite I would love to go again (although it is a bit weird for foreigners to end in this salary men karaoke). My husband is pretty busy and I have to take care of my kid but I can escape sometimes on the week-ends !
Shinjuku is always good for me. Nice and easy to get to.
Send me a mail or a message on Twitter when you think you might be free and we can sort something out.
Great shot. She must be a tough woman!
Thanks. Yeah, life can’t be easy for her, but she seems determined to get on with it nonetheless.
Hans ter Horst says
A long and hard life working the rice paddies will do that to your back, I guess! Still surprised you shot this in Shinjuku.
I know, couldn’t believe it when I saw her. Judging by her shopping bags it would appear she lives there too. And if she does, it must be staggering the changes she’ll have seen in her lifetime.
I’ve often wondered if it was working in the fields or a lack of dairy products in their younger days that causes so many Japanese women to be bent over like this. Perhaps a bit of both?
I often wonder the “how” question … How does it progress to that level of hunched over? Looks so incredibly uncomfortable, I can only imagine what it feels like.?!
I’m sure she’d have an interesting life story to tell.
I know. Must be tough to say the least. The world must seem a much more intimidating place form that perspective too. But yeah, I dare say she’s had quite a life, with more than quite a few stories to tell!