You have to go on photographing the moment of life; you have to go on living. For me, taking photos is life itself.
I’ve been taking photographs since I came into this world. I was no sooner out of my mother’s womb, than I turned around and photographed her sex.
I have nothing to say. There's no particular message in my photos. The messages come from my subjects, men or women. The subjects will convey what there is to say. I have things to photograph, so I've nothing to express. Right now, I’m showing my enjoyment of life rather than the sadness of death. Some people I know say that life is sad. But today I think the opposite. Death is sadder.
Photography has always been associated with death. Reality is colorful, yet early photography always took the color out of reality and made it black-and-white. Color is life; black-and-white is death. There was a ghost hidden in the invention of photography.
People say I’ve published a lot, but essentially I think photographs should be taken and published fast. The nature of the medium doesn’t require you to consider everything and work it out thoroughly.
I am not saying these are true photographs because I shot my own honeymoon! It is simply that I have made love my starting point as a photographer, beginning by chance with an I-novel. Although in my case, I think everything will be an I-novel. This is because I think the I-novel is [the genre] closest to photography.
Basically, I have never been interested in tying up the body of a model. What I was aiming at was the female heart. That was what I wanted to lay in chains. In the course of time, if I can put it this way, the models have tied themselves up, have bound themselves to me... I work using my entire bodily presence. I reproduce in my photos the space and the time between my models and myself.
What makes [photography] obscene is its terrible cruelty. Happiness may be fleeting, but it’s the reason we go on living. Photography is the joy that precedes pain, the moment of life just before death.
Sentiment, sentiment, sentiment, sentiment. Pressing the shutter release is like holding your breath for a second. But not to the point of killing yourself, thank you. It’s just a state of suspended emotion. I just stop breathing during that moment. And when I see the images, I come back to life. It’s like rising from the dead. But it’s also fireworks. Disappearing in a flash, like fireworks. A love of fireworks is equally sentimental.
"I don't have anything to say. There's no special message in my photos .... I don't take photos to shove everything in everyone's face .... I have no special ideology, no ideas about art, no thoughts or philosophy. It's as though I'm just a little rogue getting up to mischief. "
...the time when a picture is taken is like an emotion, it’s like a sexual encounter. It’s like a fuck! So, timing is very important.
When you hold on to something that moves, that is a kind of death. The camera, the photographic image have always called forth the idea of death. And I think about death when I photograph, as you can see in the pictures. That may be an oriental, Buddhist concept.
I like photography so I like all the photographers before me, even if they’re lousy or not my style.
Happiness always contains a mixture of something like unhappiness. When I photograph unhappiness I only capture unhappiness, but when I photograph happiness, life, death, and everything else comes through. Unhappiness seems grave and heavy; happiness is light, but happiness has its own heaviness, a looming sense of death.
Since I began photographing genitalia, there’s been a trend toward allowing pubic hair to be shown in photos. When I was told I couldn’t show genitalia, I thought it might be acceptable to hide them by inserting what’s called an “adult’s toy” in them, or some other foreign object.
Actually, these days my work is focusing on Japanese people’s faces. I recently photographed a thousand faces in Osaka and I would like to do the same in every prefecture. This project might take me ten years. There is something that I am looking for by taking these photos. The human face represents all aspects of sexuality and each one expresses it a bit differently.
While it’s all well and good to take advantage of what digital has to offer it's crucial to not neglect those things that are absolutely essential to all photography. I mean, unflinchingly photographing the most personal subjects. Men photograph women. Women photograph men. It’s not just taking pictures of things like the sky and city streets that a photographer thinks are neat. Take the love out and it means nothing. There's an aspect of photography that has nothing to do with whether a photo is shot with digital or conventional techniques, and the photographer must consider it.
You are either born to be a photographer or not. The art of photography is not something you can learn in the classroom or by watching someone do it.
Women? Well, they are gods. They will always fascinate me. As for rope, I always have it with me. Even when I forget my film, the rope is always in my bag. Since I can’t tie their hearts up, I tie their bodies up instead.
...digital cameras are for stupid people. Pictures taken by a digital camera only show the instant moment.... I do not feel the body temperature of the subject in digital image. There is no physicality. A digital camera turns a photographer into a robot, with no feeling.
Photography is a collaboration with the camera, and every camera is unique; our time can’t be captured by a single camera. Using one camera is like being confined to a fixed idea.
If I hadn’t documented [my wife’s] death, both the description of my state of mind and my declaration of love would have been incomplete. I found consolation in unmasking lust and loss, by staging a bitter confrontation between symbols. After Yoko’s death, I didn’t want to photograph anything but life—honestly. Yet every time I pressed the button, I ended up close to death, because to photograph is to stop time. I want to tell you something, listen closely: photography is murder.