I love night photography but they often follow a theme of neon lighting, especially when Japan is the setting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but something unique always catches my eye and Junya Watanabe did that.
Watanabe (not to be confused with the fashion designer) is a Tokyo-based photographer and retoucher that captures the essence of the city that’s bright but unsaturated, giving a unique type of vibrancy you don’t see very often in night photography.
He was born in 1992 in Shiga, Japan and started photography in 2017. Already, he has amassed a spectacular portfolio working with the likes of Nikken, Gaku Ramen, and Orphe Shoes.
In 2015, I experienced a personal tragedy. I had to take some time off work to heal but I also needed distractions. One of them was to make a cultural “sister” site to Sampleface.
It has since been deleted but I tweeted my friend RKZ to say I should start a culture blog to showcase his photography and call it Cultureface (as it was known at the time). His response?
And so it began. But over 5 years have passed and I still hadn’t got round to doing that blog post. Until today.
Who is RKZ?
Besides being a childhood friend since junior school, RKZ (real name Rikesh Chauhan) is a singer, writer, photographer, music video director, producer, editor, social media manager and all-round creative polymath. I’ve had the pleasure of working with RKZ in the past and his attention to detail and creativity is second to none. I don’t know many photographers with an eye like his, although some say he has two.
He’s worked with a wide range of brands, agencies and organisations such as Turnbull & Asser, Born Social, CALM, and most recently, The Rake. He’s also a careers mentor at University of Westminster where he studied and graduated in 2011.
There’s something so appealing about the night. People unwind and live their second lives – for those who aren’t asleep. The darkness is brought alive by lights of varying types and colours. And Liam Wong knows how to bring that beauty out.
The photographer was born and raised in Scotland but moved to Canada after graduating from university. There, he became Ubisoft’s youngest director and taught himself photography at the same time. He bought his first DSLR (a Canon 5D III) in 2015 and released his first ever photo series entitled Tokyo Nights (TO:KY:OO). It was an acclaimed success and soon his work was being featured by the likes of BBC, Forbes, and Adobe.
“One night it rained and the city came to life. I got lost in the beauty of Tokyo at night. I was fascinated by how the city lit up and I just kept taking picture after picture. It was like being inside Gaspar Noé’s film Enter The Void, or living in the cyberpunk world that Syd Mead had created in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.”
Anyone who loves the dystopian/mecha anime or cyberpunk aesthetics will be captivated by Liam Wong’s work. Purple neon lighting is a common feature as is the sight of rain. A quick glimpse at any of his photos would give the impression it came from a video game. That’s the Ubisoft influence mixed with Blade Runner no doubt. Tokyo is already a vibrant city, day or night, but Wong injects his own beams of magical fluorescence. He manages to tell a story in pictures without a word being uttered.
I have to say the closest I’ve come to an interest in surfing was watching Laura Crane on Love Island. Actually, I tell a lie – I used to watch Home & Away religiously when I was a kid. Those were the days. About the time I started was when Roger Sharp, known affectionately as Sharpy, started his surfing photography career.
“Growing up, I wasn’t into photography at all. It came to me towards the end of school, when I started playing around with a little waterproof Minolta compact. Then towards the end of university I bought my first SLR for £35 – a Russian battleship of a camera that I found in a junk shop.”
But the catalyst for his wonderful career wasn’t the most pleasant.
Around the same time, in 1994, I took off with some mates to France for a month, but on the second day I broke my collarbone in the surf. I was kinda forced to pick up my camera, instead of sitting on the beach sulking all day.
Sharpy discussed more about his past and some of his finest photographs from the last quarter-century on Mpora. You should definitely give it a read. And in the meantime, check out some of his fantastic photos below.
(All rights reserved by Roger Sharp; images taken from his Instagram account.)
Sook Moon is one such creative who brings a new life to the seemingly mundane: butchers’ markets, closed convenience stores, empty alleys. Yes, they are stylised in a certain way but not to diminish the character or the story each image tells. Instead, they enhance the vision and give extended importance to their portrayal.
We take for granted the food we eat or the shops we visit for a packet of cigarettes or box of teabags. There’s an ugly abandonment to these services, commercially and emotionally. But these images put them at the forefront and turn bleak and underappreciated moments into felicitous wonders.
You can follow the rest of Sook’s work on Instagram and I strongly recommend you do.
Prince was quite a secretive person but you won’t be short of photographs of him. Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait will piece together never-before-seen photos of the late musician, taken by Steve Parke.
A new book from Cassell, Picturing Prince: An Intimate Portrait, out September 5, aims to add depth to Prince’s public persona; it features never-before-seen photographs by Steve Parke, the musician’s former art director at Paisley Park, including 16 pages of lost photographs from his extensive archive.
Along with those images are some hilarious anecdotes from Parke, revealing more about Prince than most fans would know. Stories include The Purple One renting out whole movie theatres at 4am, requests for exotic animals, and his love of basketball. Away from taking photos of Prince, Steve Parke also designed his album covers and merch before becoming the official Paisley Park art director. That’s a high accolade given Prince’s attention to detail and perfectionism when it came to his image.
This is a must-read for Prince fans and music lovers alike.
Yes, you read that headline correctly. Many of the 375,000 images provided by the Met are free for use without any cost or restrictions and come from the late 19th century when photography was in its infancy and back when albumen silver prints were in use. They were the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative and paved the way for photographic materials like celluloid.
Resources like this are really helpful for people without access to places like the Met Museum or the means to reach them in their local areas. Creative Commons was created for purposes like this and it’s great to see the Met taking part.
LA photographer Jonpaul Douglass has worked with the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple but for this project, entitled Pizza In The Wild, he used the popular dish as the focal point.
As the title suggests, Douglass photographed pepperoni pizzas in different places involving road signs, shire ponies, tanks and his pug. There’s certainly something enchanting about them, especially the pug shots.
Pizza in the Wild is a personal project I started when I first moved to Los Angeles in 2013. It was essentially a product of having the free time to create something purely for fun. I had about 15-20 pizza images up on my Instagram account when it started to get featured all over.. thus kickstarting my creative life in LA. Thank you pizza.
The idea of uneaten pizza is usually a bad sign in my book but I don’t mind it in this case (and sometimes it’s comical, like in that episode of Breaking Bad.) The inclusion of Jonpaul’s pug is also a cute touch and I’m a sucker for a pug. But who isn’t?