You are not a Party Person, Lomographer, DJ, Snapshot Aesthetic or Sexy photo lover in Tokyo if you don't know who Yasumasa Yonehara is. Yone, which he goes by is the iconic editor and photographer who claims that hes not really a photographer; whose style was blatantly ripped off by American Apparel to propel them to fame (among many individual photographers that try to mimic his style). I had the opportunity to party and chill with him last month in Tokyo and talked a lot about his intentions with photography, editing and art.
The greater Kanto area is over 42 million people and the deeper you get into the central Tokyo 23 wards the more and more each person attempts to have their own individual look. If you so happen to catch a glance of Yone you will know him dead on sight. His classic modified but clearly derived from Los Angeles Latino gangster style with hat turned to the side is a look that he pulls off perfectly in a city that people try to be anyone but the boring Salarymen that overpopulate the Yamanote line. He pulls off his look as the same as he pulls off all of his activities, which include partying all the time at Tokyo night clubs, photographing incredibly beautiful models with point and shoot cameras which include his signature Fuji Cheki camera. I have personally used the Cheki for eight years because I always loved the size of the images better than the Polaroid format. A few of his other activities include being the photographer and editor for ad campaigns with KFC, Zippo, Diesel Jeans and numerous other international brands along with throwing photo/art shows in China and Taiwan at the moment. Most 50 years old should be so lucky, just watch him in a crowd of people; everybody loves him, anyone can admire that kind of love from the people. Still with all this love he is entirely approachable and might even be willing to give you his valuable time.
When speaking of his work he details his approach to photography like this "I want it to seem like there are no cameras at all, and I am capturing the real essence of the person." Yone details that he loves photos of real people, and after all only the real people in those real peoples lives can take such great photos of each other. When he showed my his photo compilation of his first very successful magazine "Out of Photographers (1995-2000)," I felt that this was his proudest work because it really exemplifies the style of photography that he loves. The latest and easiest to acquire book "Tokyo Amour" details Yone's famous lo-fi sexy style that the world has come to love and imitate. He claims that everyone likes to look at photos and people are horny, so if you search for his work he uses the "HornYone" or "Horny Yone" moniker at times to brand his style of photography. Companies like lomography once discovering him have been seeking his help since their beginning in the 1990's, in which he threw shows for them in Austria. Yone's style must have rubbed off onto the famous American photographer Terry Richardson after spending a week in Tokyo with Yone in 1996. Take a look at Terry's work, his famous work has been done post that trip to Japan. The beautiful thing about their relationship is their distinctly different approach to a similar subset of photography. Both personalities transcend photography and possibly even their own work, that is one of the many things that is so great about them.
Like any artist, if you like his work support the products that he produces. In America is a little hard to do unless you attend one of his shows, which he has had several.
When in a Tokyo night club keep your eyes wide open for a baseball cap and a group of the best looking women in the club and you might just have a encounter with the horny one :)
Old friends make good models too. Vicke has had a tough year and really needed something to get her mood back up. I suggested we take photos; hehe like I never suggest that to anybody. It's probably the first thing I say to someone when I meet him or her :)
So on with it, we shot in Shibuya, Shinjuku and the Yoyogi Koen area. There are some very nice places in Yoyogi Koen and we really enjoyed trying to find the right kind light late at night to get the type of sexy and moody photos we were going for. He funniest thing to me is that she's the kind of person that when people are looking at her she smiles, but I was able to get her without a smile so that I could change her character dramatically for this fun shoot.
My apartment in Tokyo was technically in Yoyogi Koen, but we shot a few kilometers from my place. There are a lot of nice places to live in that area once you go a block or so from Yamate-dori. I really enjoyed getting up every morning and walking two to three kilometers to get to the Shibuya station. Most of my destinations could have technically gone from the Tokyo Metro Yoyogi Koen station or if I was going to Shinjuku I could take Odakyu's Yoyogi-Hachiman Station.
Miki and I met up in Shibuya at Hachiko, who ever meets anyone anywhere else in the Shibuya area? She is a race Queen and some other stuff, but this was her first time on a shoot other than the standard stuff. She's making her way with her career, which I think, is great; you have to make your moves when you are able to do it. We shot for a few hours total, among the places we shot were the major crosswalk in Shibuya and a few other smaller stations.
So we took a few fun photos and then went on or merry way, we were both pretty tired that day so the shoot only lasted about 2 hours. She's pretty tall for a Japanese woman and her friend that introduced us says she calls her the Japanese Beyonce; I guess its up to you to see if that is correct :)
I have always been fascinated with the crosswalk at Shibuya, I have been told that is 10x busier than Times Square in New York. What that means to me is that pretty much every single every day even in the least busy time in the early morning there will be a decent amount of people crossing it. I'm pretty sure that that cannot be said about many places in the world.
I am back from Japan and have got quite a few galleries to put up over the coming weeks. This first one is a bit lighthearted and is part of a new Motif I will be working on called Joshua & You. So if you know me you will probably end up in one of these galleries at some point, and if you don't know me you I hope you will too! Some photos are blurred and no where near perfect and I never intended them to be, but try taking photos drunk and excited like I am in many of these at clubs in Tokyo.
A special thanks to Le Baron Tokyo, Club Velours in Aoyama and all my other club stops. Also thanks to my buddy Yasumasa Yonehara for several of the invites.
Speaking of the upcoming galleries, I will have a write-up on Yone and his unique style along with killer exclusive photos. I will also be throwing up several model galleries along with other interesting galleries of things I find special in Japan. So enjoy this one and check back often :)