Photography as personal narrative

Excerpt from an interview of Nobuyoshi Araki (via American Suburb X):

Time is never specified in your photos. What is your relationship to time?

NA: A photograph takes place only at a certain instant. And this instant is unidentifiable. The instant is the eternal and the eternal is the instant. When the camera shutter is released, that’s the eternal. Eternity is achieved by releasing the camera shutter and letting it descend. The action has an immediate connection. It’s more an action than an art. I think it is fine to mix photos, regardless of when they were taken. On the other hand, I take photographs with printed dates so that they can be shown in chronological order. The flow of daily occurrence is a story. It is extremely dramatic and interesting. There are various meanings. But it would be, if anything, more interesting to show them in chronological order.

This is why I take photographs as an intimate diary, and always say that they can be left as they were taken without trying to edit them. Editing is done automatically by the life and era we live in. Which means the moment the photos are placed in the order they were taken, God or whoever else – in my case Shasin, the god of photography – will make it work for me. It would be most dramatic if they were placed in the order they were taken unconsciously. That’s how most of my photography books are made. I do not need to think of order. For example, if I wish to have a photo of Chiro here or there, I don’t need to think. This image appears quite naturally.

Why do you sometimes put dates on photos?

NA: It is making fun of the fact that I hate completion and completion is no good. If a date is printed on a photo, it can never be sold as a masterpiece. It means these photos are merely what happened on a certain day. That is what counts!

Photography is simply about a day, an instant that is extremely wonderful. Nothing could be greater than an intimate journal. Even in literature, the journal stands on a higher level than a novel. The journal represents life, and the date’s photography. Or then, it could be up to the photographer to erase the date. Photography is life!

Is that why you’ve never stopped taking pictures?

NA: As with life itself, one must continue taking photographs continuously. Just as one continues living, for me taking photographs is living.

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