10 minutes with Kenji Aoki

Interviews with Photographers,Still Life August 8, 2013 7:24 am

When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I was a photography major when I was going to design school. I remember feeling ecstatic when watching the photographic paper move and slowly develop in the chemicals (developing chemicals). At the time, one of my other goals was also to become an art director. Shortly after I graduated, I went to India. I survived the tough realities of India and the many differences in cultures, however, I was not able to achieve a thing that I was hoping for. When I returned to Japan, what had been daily life did not seem the same. My sensibilities had changed drastically and I had an “eye” that was able to see the larger picture of society. Since then, the method of expression that I chose then was not a pencil; or a paint brush; or a ruler, but a camera.

 

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

 

Who were the first photographers that inspired you?

MAN RAY. His work was not using a camera to document reality but to create works of art.

 

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

If you could go back ten years, what advice would you give yourself?

(Note: Kenji wrote this as if writing a letter to himself 10 years ago):

I am still continuing the daily routine of questioning.
“Beautiful. Not beautiful. Why?”

You believed there were answers to art and the universe in geometric compositions and shapes like circles and the golden ratio. You were intrigued by studying compositions. You were too serious about your shoots and you created head aches for editors. But it was for such reasons you were able to journey on 10 years.

It seems I am beginning to see what communicates, and what does not, and why.
And in 10 years I believe, “it’s not beautiful but it communicates” will be waiting.
I’ll let you know what happens.
See ya!

 

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

Kenji Aoki

 

Any words of wisdom for the up and coming?

Please believe in your own intuition and motivations. Be prepared to fight in order to make your vision a reality. Show the world images that cannot be imitated. If you haven’t given it much thought or if you think it will be easy, please quit now. There are plenty of talented photographers out there that have accomplished much. And the editors and art directors are waiting for artists who can go beyond this. 
(Kenji is based in New York. See more of his work, here)

3 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing this Kate.
    He’s truly an amazing photographer.
    His ability to put so much personality into still life images is fantastic.
    Very wise words from a guy, who seems to practice what he preach.

    • Thanks for your note, Kenneth! He is really amazing and I love the advice that he gives himself. Thanks again!

  • Ann Johnson

    His ability to take simplistic, everyday items and turn them into art is fascinating. I’ve just begun a photography course for pleasure, and he is a new discovery for me. I would hang any of his photographs in my home. Thank you for the interview.

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