Meeting street photographers #10 : Toru Tanaka

I met Toru through Flickr where he participates under the name JazzySteps (yes, a Jazz player). After a couple of email exchanges, we found ourselves in Tokyo’s Ginza about to shoot the Sunday shopping frenzy. Though my Japanese is terrible (I mean, inexistent), Toru shared with use quite a few insights on the Japanese culture and his love of street photography. As usual, I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Toru with his beautiful brand new R-D1X and CV Skopar 35mm 2.5 II

Respect between people is an important part of Japanese culture, how does it influence the relationship between street photographers and their subjects ?

At present I like to shoot general daily life scenes rather than peoples’ faces especifically. Therefore basically I don’t send any sign to my subjects that I am shooting them. Yet, candid photography is my ideal style.

We shot in Ginza today, it seems to be your favorite hunting ground. What is better for street photography, to know perfectly a neighborhood or to wander from one part to the other of the city ?

Tokyo is a big city and each town has different faces. I love to wandering from town to town and take pictures.
Yet Ginza is one of my favorite location because this neighbourhoo has so many faces in one place. Note that it also hosts many camera shops and galleries. 🙂

Can you define your street photography style and what you try to achieve with it ?

I still haven’t found my personal and original style. Now I am challenging myself to get to it after being inspired by the work of pros that deeply touched me.  I also enjoy playing tenor saxophone. I think almost jazz players are influenced by their heroes. To achieve an original style is a very difficult matter and I envy you to have reached your own.

You just acquired a wonderful Epson R-D1x. What are your first impressions after two weeks shooting ?

Good gear. But I find its size to be too large for using everyday. I am just an ordinary Japanese businessman during the week. So on weekdays, I prefer to use more compact alternative, the Panasonic-GF2 etc…

Thank you Toru for your time, it was a pleasure !


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