【SPECIAL】Interview with Eita Nagayama

2024.03.31 BLOG

Hello everyone! This is Machuko@, the admin.

For our tenth special content, we had an interview with actor Eita Nagayama. Since March, in collaboration with Let’s meet at Tokyo Tower. The TTA Project(TTA) , Eita has been writing columns on the TTA website along with his GR works.

We were planning to interview him in a stylish place, but Eita himself insisted on visiting us at Ricoh headquarters! “I'm not a photographer by profession, so I'm honored to be here,” he said humbly at the beginning of the interview, and Machuko@ talked to him about what he had to say about photography and the GR.

- Please tell us how you first got to know GR, or at what point in your life you started using it.

Ever since I was little, my mother used to take pictures with a compact film camera and save them all in photo albums. I didn't grow up in a very wealthy family, so she didn't take a lot of pictures, but she cut the four sides of the photos with scissors to give them jagged edges and arranged them carefully and neatly in the albums, decorating each day's growth, birthdays and other events.

The camera was always part of our everyday life.

I had always been somewhat interested in cameras, but it was when I started watching movies after I started modeling and became an actor that I became interested in cameras, and my father bought me a digital camera. When I started taking pictures, I felt like I was finally doing my own photography, because in the photos I took, I saw the world that I had seen. That was when I was 18 or 19.

I didn't take many pictures because I didn't have much money at that time and I wanted to take good care of my camera. Then I started working on TV dramas in my early twenties. When I met professional photographers for interviews and so on, I started talking about cameras. I would ask them, “What kind of camera is that?” When I asked them what camera they would recommend, they all said, “GR.”

- They all said that?

Right. They said, “I'd recommend the GR,” or “Why don't you buy a GR to start with?” or something like that. So I bought one and that's how I got to know the GR.

When I was in junior high school, there were pagers, PHSs, and cell phones. Eventually, cell phones started to have cameras. Through such changing times and even in recent years, when I'm at work or eating with others, as soon as I pull out this camera, people say, “Oh, GR.” “Let me show you my GR.” “Of course I know that camera, GR.” or something like that.

-Like, “I thought I was the only one who had the GR,” right? Maybe jealous?

“You have one too?” “It was supposed to be just for me.” (laughs) On the other hand, we can talk about how good the GR is with all kinds of people. Without thinking too much, it doesn't matter how he/she shoots, or whether he/she has a viewfinder or not, it's like we resonate with each other just by having a GR. But when people openly talk about the GR, it makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes (laughs).

-“Oh, no. Don't talk about it so much.”

That's right. Some things need no explanation, and GR is one of them. When I think about GR, about photography, about what kind of awareness and perspective I have on a daily basis, I get lost. “Confused” in a good way. But the fact that so many people have it creates a sense of playfulness. I love this urge to take “no one else is doing this” photos.

This is the answer for me now. I think I am sublimating the “now” with my GR by printing my pictures on this rough paper. I have come to the conclusion that this is my response to GR that I can do now.

-I love these prints. I've always been interested in them. I like the texture, the contrast between your work and the paper, the roughness of it.

By making many prints, I began to have an objective understanding of what I photograph. They fall roughly into three categories.

The first are things that happen in my daily life at home, and the second are things that I have to photograph like special events.

Finally, things that are strange. Things that catch my attention on the street, like “I don't understand that” or “What in the world is that?”

I have come to understand objectively that these three categories are what I want to photograph, or what I point my camera at.

At the same time, I have come to realize that my interests are inconsistent (laughs).

-What mode do you usually use with your GR?

Program Auto. With the function buttons, I just tweak the ISO rate.

-I've never heard of anyone who only adjusts the ISO. That's interesting.

I like to shoot intuitively rather than thinking about shutter speed, exposure, etc. I really enjoy the GR's high-speed shooting function.

-I know you take photos not only with the GR but also with Leica and smartphones. Do you print many of them?

I print family photos. My house is full of family photos. Maybe I want our children to have the idea of “everyday photography”.

-I'm sure that when they look at them, they remember all kinds of memories.

That's why I put up as many pictures of fun times as possible.

Our memory deteriorates. As an actor, I memorize lines and say them. For the next scene, I throw the ones I remembered in the trash. Then I put the next file in my head. And then I delete it again, format it. You have to out-format the roles in the past.

-I see, you have to out-format everything. Like initializing every time the role changes.

I feel like I'm wearing myself out doing this every time (laughs). So recently, with this GR job, I started shooting a lot again, I am enjoying taking pictures, shooting the streets, and living with GR. I am enjoying the daily changes and capturing them in photos, so that memory and record are next to each other, and I am having a happy time.

-That's great to hear, thank you very much.

I am excited to see what people think and feel when they look at my photos, how they respond to them.

-Do you feel differently when you look back at the photos after a while?

In the end I like them all. I like my own photos.

-You said earlier that your photos are “inconsistent”, but everything you love is in there. That's very lovely.

Taking pleasure in continuing to make photographs is a great source of mental stability. As an actor, depending on the work or the role, I can be unstable.

-The camera plays the role of pulling you back to your original self.

The camera helps me to find my balance. It saves me.

-How do you feel about photography from the perspective of being photographed?

For example, when I work on a TV drama, I sometimes have to be photographed by about 10 media companies at once, each company in a short 5-minute session for promotional purpose.

They would go around the studio saying “Smile, please”, “Next” and so on. Then I ask myself, “What is photography?” “What is a smile?”

One time I thought to myself, “Why is a picture rectangular?” (laughs) When I was making these (prints), I went to my mother's house and looked at the albums, and I found film photography really good, the way the photos deteriorated even though they were in a file, or the way the air was in there.

At the same time, At the moment you want to take a picture, you are not looking at it with a rectangular view. You see it through some kind of shape (jagged edges in my mother's case).

-It is true that when you look at something, you are not looking at it as a rectangle. That made a lot of sense to me. I know you take pictures of your family, but do your family ever take pictures of you? I read somewhere in the media that your wife (Kaela Kimura) also likes photography.

Let me tell you what I discovered recently. The other day Kaela took a picture of me for the first time in a while. I was driving and she took a picture of me in the rear-view mirror. Pointing a camera at someone can be an expression of affection and a connection of feelings.

To be honest, I have been taking pictures of Kaela ever since I met her. I could make 10 photobooks as thick as Town Page.

-That would be too good to be true! I hope you will publish them one day! This collaboration with TTA led you to Tokyo Tower for a photo shoot. Is there anything else you would like to do in the future?

It would be a lot of fun to take pictures of Tokyo Tower with those interested in this project at the Tokyo Tower Gallery, print them and display them in the gallery, make T-shirts, and so on.

-Photo session with Eita Nagayama! That would be crazy!

A tour of the 47 prefectures together with GR would be great. I am convinced that connecting with people through photography has a great meaning in life.

On the day of the interview, Eita brought his GR collection with him and spoke passionately about it.

I could clearly see how much he loves "photography", and I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet him through the collaboration project with TTA. Thank you so much!

I hope we can continue to do something exciting with the TTA x Eita Nagayama x GR project, so please stay tuned!

★Let’s meet at Tokyo Tower. The TTA Project(TTA)

The cameras that Eita brought. He painted the pink and yellow rings himself.

When I pointed the camera at him after the interview, he gave me a playful, suspicious look (laughs).

We were happy to be at Ricoh's headquarters and were taking a commemorative photo (how grateful we are)


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