Exercise 2-14: A Japanese Connection

Read Miranda Gavin’s reviews of Anders Petersen’s ‘French Kiss’ and Jacob Aue Sobol’s ‘I, Tokyo’ for Hotshoe Magazine

Anders Petersen (b. 1944): French Kiss (2008)


French Kiss

French Kiss on You Tube

Jacob Aue Sobol (b. 1976): I, Tokyo (2008)


I, Tokyo

Magnum site – I, Tokyo

I, Tokyo on You Tube

Read ‘Bye Bye Photography’ by Gerry Badger and research the work of Daido Moriyama.

In 1968, Daido Moriyama, with Koji Taki and Takuma Nakahira, published a small magazine – ‘Provoke’. Although it only lasted three issues, the magazine was immensely influential articulating the particular political and cultural conflicts in Japan at the time as the nation struggled with the shame and guilt of defeat in World War II, the American occupation and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The raw, visceral style of ‘Provoke’ expressed these concerns through a grainy, out of focus, and stream of consciousness photographic style that was both intensely poetic and almost at the point of incoherence – the photographic equivalent of Surrealist automatic writing.

In 1972 Moriyama published ‘Bye Bye Photography’ – the aim of which was to “go to the end of photography.” Influenced by existentialism, Moriyama presents a kaleidoscope of images with no clear narrative: “an alienated and grossed-out urban experience, shot through with a kind of exhilaration. But with a tone so uncertain, we never know whether we are experiencing an exciting dream or a nightmare – or both.” (Badger, 2001: 124)

Moriyama’s use photography to express fierce emotion follows the style of his mentors Shomei Tomatsu and Eikoh Hosoe and his tilted, out of focus compositions show the influence of William Klein. His images are deeply personal, he stated : “My photographs have always been…private letters that I write and send to myself.” (Warner Marien, 2014: 335)

‘Stray Dog, Misawa Aimori, 1971’ perhaps Moriyama’s most famous image – a lone, dirty, exhausted and snarling stray dog. Both a symbol of Moryiama as an angry outsider and one of social isolation that represents his view that his country is irretrievably conquered.

Write a reflective commentary abut the connections between the styles of Moriyama, Petersen and Sobol.

As I have discussed previously, the unconventional style of Moryiama is something I find increasingly inspiring. There is a raw power to his images which is direct and affecting – Petersen and Sobol share this but manage to produce bodies of work that are original rather than derivative of Moriyama, while they show his influence I think it is more accurate to say that Moriyama’s originality has enabled Petersen and Sobol to work in this way. When I first became interested in photography I was concerned with trying to produce the most technically accomplished and aesthetically pleasing photographs I could, however, as I have progressed wit my studies, I am less concerned with this and more influenced with the way photographs that could be classed as bad or wrong succeed.

Connections between the styles of Moryiama, Petersen and Sobol:

Subjective documentary approach


Black and white

Unconventional technique

Snapshot aesthetic

High contrast

No clear narrative


Unusual points of view


Private and public spaces




Direct and spontaneous


Badger, G. (2001) The genius of photography: How photography has changed our lives. London: Quadrille Publishing.

Badger, G (N.D.) Bye Bye Photography. AG Magazine #38 https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/gbadgersayonara [accessed 22nd November 2017]

Gavin, M. (2016) Jacob Aue Sobol: I, Tokyo. Hotshoe Magazine. Available at: https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/tokiosobol [accessed 22nd November 2017]

Gavin, M. (N.D.) Anders Petersen: French Kiss. Hotshoe Magazine. Available at: https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/frenchkiss [accessed 22nd November 2017]

Warner Marien, M. (2014) Photography: A Cultural History (4th ed) London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.

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