Islanders meet at Roonee

Photo by John Sypal

On the weekend we visited Roonee photo gallery in Shinjuku where the closing exhibition of Shintaro Sato’s workshop was held. Over the course of ten weeks the participants got to grips with their loaned 4×5 cameras and worked towards this culminating show, which also included our current cover artist Igarashi-san. In the confined and atmospheric space of Roonee, each of the photographers introduced themselves and the work they had accomplished during the workshop and under the guidance of Sato.

It was refreshing to see, hear and meet everyone and it confirmed my belief that every photographer can learn something by trying out another than their usual format once in a while, even if just temporarily, to keep things interesting and the mind open. Refreshing also to see the results of a 4×5 used on a monopod by a 35mm shooter, and also to see a female photographer using an LF camera (a real shame they are so rare).sato-workshop

What makes practicing photography in Japan so exciting is that there is a very tangible photo culture and exceptionally large network of people out there who care as much about pictures as we all do even though the act of taking and producing pictures is often a solitary affair and one may tend to feel as if nobody shares your interest or passion for this activity (and don’t we all know the inquiring questions of strangers that we must either be a professional or a hobbyist, with little in between). So when a room of people looks intensely for a long time at photographs and talks about every picture in detail, even one you found initially not very interesting, then all the “disconnectivity” is forgotten – until next time, because there is a time when you need to be just by yourself. It is a balance between being together and being alone; only the right balance at the right time will help us moving forward.