With a collection of sun-soaked images, today’s mesmerizing photo story is the result of a collaboration between Japan-based photographers Hodaka Yamamoto and Kenichi Hatakeyama. Effortlessly blending Hodaka’s signature style of sublime multiple exposures with Kenichi’s keen eye for emotive portraiture, they created a visually spectacular album filled with vibrant, otherworldly images.
With photographs that are elegant and timeless in nature, the results will have you longing for the hazy warmth of a summer sun long gone.
How did the partnership come together?
Hodaka Yamamoto: We came to know one another when we both joined a group photo exhibition about toy and classic cameras here in Japan. I gained a lot of inspiration and was really inspired by Kenichi’s work, and I felt it would be great if we collaborated on a film project. His photographic style and focus is with portraits and couldn’t be more different to mine, so I was convinced that we would get something interesting if we worked together with our contrasting styles. So, I approached him with this film swap idea soon after the exhibition, which Kenichi kindly accepted.
Did you and your film swap partner talk about a theme?
HY: Yes. I initially hit on the idea that I shoot seasonal subjects like flowers and have Kenichi shoot portraits. I offered him this idea and then we planned the details from there.
We didn’t actually go into specific detail into how we would shoot, so it was more like “I’ll take pictures of flowers first” then I’d explain how I shot, and he was left to takes portraits as he liked.
We decided to try two rolls of film, one shot with fireworks and the other with sunflowers — both very typical summer subjects for Japanese people. We took extra care and time with how we would align the frames of film, as they needed to be precise for a successful result, and because the cameras we used were different.
Which camera and film did you use? Where did you take your shots?
HY: I shot the first layer of sunflowers and fireworks in my hometown of Gifu, Japan using a Lomo LC-A+. Kenichi then shot with his beautiful model, Ruru Niiya, at a seafront in Chiba, using his Canon EOS series camera. The two film rolls we shot were Kodak EBX, which was cross-processed.
What do you think about the results? Are you pleased or surprised by the outcome?
HY: I think the pressure for this project fell more on Kenichi shoulders than mine, as his portraits shots made up the main elements of the final picture and was key to the success of this series. As a result, many shots were a success thanks to him; he did a great job with his considerations to contrast, choice of location, clothes of the model and control over the final exposure. So, I was both satisfied and very surprised with the results, as they were better than I initially expected.
Kenichi Hatakeyama: Most of the shots were as I expected, while many were beyond my expectation, though I have a few things to reflect on. I enjoyed everything throughout this project, from planning to publishing and the feedback we’ve been getting. I think its extra special for me because this was my first ever film swap and my first time using these films.
Which shot stands out for you, which is your favorite and why?
HY: I personally love this one (see below), the sunflowers appear clearly on the silhouetted model on the beach and cross processing brought about the vivid and high contrasted image. I also think it shows Kenichi’s style of photography very well, which is quite different from my style, and this was always the kind of result that I wanted from the start!
KH: One of my favorites has to be this one. I like the combination of how the model jumps dynamically with the fireworks, so I feel a special connection between my shot and that of Hodaka’s.
KH: Another shot I love is this close-up shot taken by me mixed with sunflowers. This type of portrait where the facial expressions can be seen clearly may be rare in Hodaka’s work so I believe it contributes something substantial to the final image.
Can you recall any interesting moments or stories during this project?
HY: During the shooting process, I was always thinking about how the model would be captured, which was actually a very new and refresh experience for me. I’ve now started to think more about shooting multiple exposed portraits to brush up photography skills.
KH: I was not usually too conscious of contrast, exposure or balance of the subjects for making multiple exposures, but during this project, I was always thinking of these simply because it was necessary. I think I learned a lot not only for making good multiple exposures but also for my photography skills in general.
Do you have more projects or swaps planned with each other?
HY: Yes! The theme for this series was summer, so naturally, our new series will feature elements all about autumn. And we’ve been getting some very interesting and promising results. I think it would be a great idea if we keep this collaboration throughout Japan’s four seasons, and in future, maybe have an exhibition about this series.
To see more of Hodaka’s work, please follow the links below:
And to see more of Kenichi’s photography, please check:
Model: Ruru Niiya
Camera: Lomo LC-A+ & Canon EOS
Film: Kodak EBX (Cross-Processed)