【Column】”I Can’t Live Without Cameras” Satoru Watanabe

2023.12.22 BLOG

Some time ago, I read that a TV personality said, “Seeing things is more important than taking pictures. See with your eyes, not with a camera. The tension of not being able to leave is more important than the feeling of security of being able to leave.”

There were many pros to this opinion, which was also a con to the recent trend of ‘Instagenic photos’. In fact, many people are skeptical of the act of taking pictures, as the news has reported on employees questioning customers who order food in restaurants but leave without eating after taking pictures.

With the increasing popularity of smartphones, a question has arisen that is unique to today's world where taking pictures has become the norm. These days, it seems that the act of taking pictures on the street is illegal.

But, you know, I still want to take pictures.

I can't tell you how discouraged I feel when I go out without a camera. Some of the great photographers confess that they flinch when they realize they did not bring their cameras when they went out.

For me, living and photographing are intertwined. The act of taking photographs is not for the purpose of creating art - it is a pacemaker for my daily life.

The things I photograph may seem insignificant to other people. They're far from ‘Instagenic’, but to me, they're the things I can't help but be interested in.

And sometimes taking a picture changes the way you see the world. It is not for the sake of connection or sharing. Only the photographer knows that. The familiar 10-minute walk from the train station to your home looks different when you have a camera.

The novelist Yoshiyuki Junnosuke wrote an essay entitled "Kado no tabakoya madeno tabi (A Journey to the Cigarette Shop on the Corner)". Photographer Issei Suda borrowed the title of the book and created a photobook. In the preface, he writes: “Even in my neighborhood, I become sensitive to everyday scenes when I have a camera in my hand. Today is always new.” That is why I photograph every day. Photography is not only about ‘preserving’ but also about ‘discovering’.

That is why my GR IIIx is always in my backpack.

Satoru Watanabe
Born in 1961 in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture. After graduating from Nihon University College of Art, Department of Photography, Watanabe joined Nikkan Sports Newspaper, where he gained experience in sports and news photography. After leaving the company, he founded Studio Monochrome. He has been working as a freelance photographer, mainly in the field of portraiture, and has been holding workshops since 2003. Recently he is known as the creator of Youtube "2B Channel". Winner of the 33rd "The Society of Photography Award" Special Prize. He is currently an adjunct professor at Keio University Graduate School. His recent books include "Toru chikara miru chikara (Power of Shooting and Power of Looking)" (Hobby Japan).
Satoru Watanabe@watanabesatoru2b

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