Hello everyone. Sorry for the delay. Here is part II of my video interview with fashion and editorial photographer, Mika Nakanishi.
12) Are there any certain pieces of artwork or photography that has inspired you?
Well, (in terms of) artists … Egon Schiele. His drawings are very erotic, very raw , in your face art. It’s just very honest and straight-forward. Some people say his work is grotesque but I love that. They’re drawings of women masturbating but its really beautiful, his lines. He was inspired by (Gustav) Klimt. Well, Klimt was his mentor. But Schiele …he’s always been one of my earliest inspirations. Who else? A lot of filmmakers.
12) Did you have a mentor while you were studying photography?
Thats something … I don’t want to say regret because it hasn’t ended yet. But I never actually met someone who I can call a mentor but Ive definitely had a lot of people Ive learnt from and who I was inspired by but never someone who I stuck by and learnt from. I took bits and pieces from people..I never stuck to one teacher.
13) Why aren’t you more active on the net?
Well, first and foremost I’m just not very net-savvy. I do feel like I need to update my website… its a beautiful website that my friend and designer Lin Chen made for me. That was quite a while ago and I haven’t updated it. Ive never gotten into those forums like Facebook and Twitter…
14) I know you’ve been freelancing for a while. Whats the best and worst part?
Well, definitely the worst part is you never know when your next job is..its very unpredictable. The best part is you can schedule your time and a lot of people can’t do that and I feel blessed that I can do that but its also extra work because you have to earn money so you have to look for your own work.
15) Is it better not to have an agent?
You have to have the right agent who you can work well with.
16a) Anything you’re working on anything at the moment? exhibitions?
I’ve had a few group exhibitions. Ive had one solo exhibition.
16b) What are the benefits of having an exhibition?
One, of course you want people to see your work. It sets a goal for you to make a set of work and its definitely something to motivate you. Makes you focus. Definitely, closure on a project and its just fun showing your work to different people and hearing what they have to say about it and seeing their responses . Its great, you don’t get to do that so much …hear other people talk about your work.
I love prints. I prefer C prints to digital prints. I guess digital is doing a lot better these days.
16c) You should definitely have an exhibition. You said you wanted to have an exhibition in China before?
When I lived there, I wanted to. I haven’t been back to China and HK in a long time. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where I have it. I can have it in my neighborhood, Paris.
17) How has inspiration come by recently?
I went back to New York recently. its been two years since I actually went back. I saw an opera which was very inspiring.
Sometimes I set myself to find inspiration, force myself to… When Im in that mode, Ill look for inspiration in anything…my friends, my day to day life. But when Im not actually looking for it…other peoples work – music, books, other creations but usually not photography
My mother …she definitely feels that spirituality..its normal, its nothing foreign or mystical. Its something we live with everyday, its part of being human. She taught me that, not necessarily to preach me but her way of raising me , her values were always somewhat related to spirituality and psyche. Its something normal. Im not really seek it, its part of my every day life. Some people choose not to go there because its weird or too mysterious. In the end, when we are burnt to ashes whats left of us…we’re spirits.
19) Do you believe theres a God or creator?
Of course. God, I don’t know if its God, they call it a God. I don’t think its one thing that controls or creates. I think its all our spirits in the Universe. It all makes sense, its all connected and I think its the power that creates.
Anything, if you are passionate about something and you love something, you do become analytical…its about you.. what surrounds you. Especially us, we shoot people and environments. Definitely you’re seeing whats around you…of course you project yourself on that image. Shooting gives you a great excuse to look at people.
21) Advice for other photographers?
I think there are times that you’re just sick of your work and sick of whatever you’re doing in general?
There’s been times where I just did commissioned work, which is not really my work..its not my concept…and then you sort of stuck into that mode, work mode. I wouldn’t say work makes you lose inspiration. I think its just your life..what I do , what I project onto my work is what reflects my life. So if Im not feeling too inspired or if Im into something else…do something completely different. I have so many phases like that, but its funny because Ill be doing something but eventually photography and images will link itself back into my life. Its not something Im trying to do that but it just happens. Synchronicity…Ill just see an image in something Im doing and that links me back to ..oh yeah, I want to make images like this. If I see something beautiful or devastating, you want to do something with it.
22) Has there been commissioned work thats mostly your idea?
Actually, Ive been blessed, there has been a lot of work like that. Especially when I did work for HK magazines. They give you a few pages to work on and you can do whatever you want with it, work with your own concept, you have all the freedom. Even in Japan, it depends who you work with. If you work with the right editors, stylists. They’re commissioning work because they know your style … they know what kind of images you make.So they come to you , yeah theres an overall theme but usually they’ll let the photographers be in charge of the final image so you do have a lot of say in how to achieve that final image. Commercial work, advertisements is different , theres already a whole blueprint of what the final image is supposed to look like and then you use your techniques to create that but with editorials you still have the freedom.