On Candid Photography (NOGUCHI)

2019.06.14 BLOG

About ten years ago, Ricoh occasionally sent out a message “We support candid photo culture.” Thinking back now I feel a little embarrassed that a small manufacturer like us expressed such a serious message, but at the time we believed in it and are still committing to it. It’s the same idea as "we share the joy of snap shooting!” and was paraphrased as candid photo.

No explanation may be necessary for you, but the word candid means “frank, truthful and straightforward” and a candid photo refers to a truthful picture of a subject.

In the 1920s and 30s, a German journalist named Erich Salomon used a small camera named Ermanox.
The natural looking pictures he took of participants in court trials and international conferences were well received and they started calling his style candid photography. It was gradually established as a style of photography to symbolize photojournalism. (Some people have somewhat negative impression of candid photography as being sneaky, but as for Salomon, his style was far from being sneaky- he used the Elmanox with a monopod. Definitions and impressions of words change in the course of time.)

Caption: Ermanox (Photo: Japan Camera Museum)

Well, let me introduce some quotes by photographers on snap shooting.
"Shoot before you think and don't let your thought catch up with it" (Yoshihiko Ueda)
"It’s too late to release the shutter when you feel impressed. Press the shutter at the moment your heart senses something" (Alao Yokogi)
"I try to take pictures that do not go through my brain" (Osamu Kanemura)
"Forget about ambition. The most boring snap shots are ones that have been expected" Chotoku Tanaka
"A photograph becomes a work when coincidence turns into necessity. Its art is only a result" (Ichigo Sugawara)
"One can only image based on his own experience. Reality is more interesting than your imagination" (Who was it?)
And lastly but not least, the famous quote "Quantity makes quality" (Daido Moriyama)

Everyone says in common that it is important to release the shutter straightforwardly on initial impulse. But in fact that’s the most difficult thing to do because we all have desires, want to take cool pictures, want to be acknowledged, and want to convey something through photos.
Although I react sensitively to those deliberate photos of others, sometimes I myself take "look what I got" kind of photos (laughs).

But that does not mean you should shoot blindly. Before you go back to your natural self, you must understand the basics of your involvement in societies, aesthetics, and photography.

That’s “shuhari” itself- a Japanese term used in tea ceremony and martial arts meaing “follow the rules, break the rules and transcend the rules.”

All these ideas make me reassure that snap shooting is the basis of photography.

I don’t mean to deny any nature photography or refining the work for self expression. I know it’s great to take breathtaking landscape photos of the world with a large camera. What I mean is that for any photographer with any style with any camera, it can be refreshing once in a while to snap shoot his/her neighborhood with a pan-focused small camera.
It’s like a musician regularly tuning his/her instrument, or or a fisherman catching basic small fish.

Although I’ve been writing as if I knew everything, but I myself have no sense or knowledge to lecture on photography. On the other hand, through my job and as a “monk in front of the gate”, I have heard and experienced so much about this thing. So I wanted to share it with you.

It’s more difficult to take street snaps today, but it will be exciting if we expand the joy of snap shooting together.

In 2011, we published a free newsletter called CANDiD. We wanted to share the excitement of snap shooting with many people and enclosed an A4 sized photo that could be pinned to the wall. Unfortunately we had only 4 issues. That’s one thing we wanted to continue.


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