There is nature and there is culture and, in Japan, both constantly merge around a point of balance. Yuichiro Noda is Japanese and, as so, he draws his lyricism from a culture dedicated to the finding of beauty in the unexpected. Whether he shoots fashion editorials, landscapes, portraits or the random street-distractions of London, the same feeling exudes from his photos: the potency of fanciful musings.
Sometimes it happens that inspired photographers bring so much soul and excitement to a still shot that it leaves us a mark, just like art does. And the whole art of Yuichiro Noda consists in taming the hazard. In a bashed up London, the Japanese photographer captures hazy, elusive and so wonderful photos that those who watch can only be moved to new dimensions. Noda is indeed broadening the idea of encounter by looking for the part of himself that he hasn't explored yet.
Yuichiro, how would you introduce yourself to someone you've just met? If I ask you, 'what do you do in life', you answer...
I’m always searching, looking for something. For instance, things that are unknown to me, or things that I would never expect to happen.
You were born in Kumamoto, Japan, but you’re currently living in London, a city not really well-known for its poetry, how do you explore London with your camera?
I was raised in a town with rich nature in Kumamoto, a prefecture located in the south of Japan. I came to London a year ago, and here I can meet people from different backgrounds and feel the diversity of culture. It is an interesting experience for me to discover various aspects and facial expressions of people, which I find chaotic. I just walk around the city for hours, and then I can find something. It’s an encounter.
In your photos, the subject is often confused with the surrounding nature – landscapes and urban spaces –, and it always seems to be the central point of your photos. Even the way you take pictures seems to show how much you actually want to 'naturally' grab the moment. We often say that Japan and its culture function in harmony with nature. Is it something you feel particularly connected to? Is it where such a powerful yet melancholic touch comes from?
Big earthquakes occur in Japan every so often. It occurred in Fukushima six years ago, and in Kumamoto a year ago. Personally, I feel that there is an influence of such things; but there are various types of photographers in Japan, and I can't say it applies to all of them. As for me, I have a strong consciousness about ‘being incomplete’ and ‘lacking something’. These notions affect me positively and they allow me to feel that the world is sometimes beautiful – not always, not a lot of the times. That moment is the hope for me.
The blur of the on-going moment… your photos make me think of impressionist compositions. Is painting an important source of inspiration for you? Are there any painters that have forged your eye to such a strong 'symmetry of the moment'?
The sense of ‘I don’t know’ is very important to me. That is the source of my inspiration.
The natural light seems to be your best ally: there are scenes frozen by the dawn, while others are softened by the sunset. Shadows are also unbelievably touching! It seems to me that you are taking photos quite secretly. How do you understand your position as a photographer? Do you prefer to stay unseen?
I don’t care about my position. I have many different sides, and these keep changing, just like you. Even right now.
You also tend to explore the multiple possibilities of colour that a camera can do. What kind of experimentation do you work with, and why?
In post-production, I try to explore the possibility of images by using overlay, invert and so on. I also use both digital and analogue cameras. However, the basis of my practice is the same, no matter what technique or equipment I use. There is something more important than technique or equipment: because I am incomplete, I have to keep searching for something.