Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Maki Kawakita - Tokyo Kabuki-Pop!
Maki Kawakita's dynamic images are high concept and high fashion. Her rapid rise in photography stems from bold originality and boundless imagination.
Some photographers just make you step back and marvel at their images. Right at the top of that list are those who first picked up a camera only a few years ago and have already achieved great commercial success, as well as a refined personal style that allows them to fully express their own singular artistic vision. That's Maki Kawakita.
Kawakita's first photo shoot was way back in the '90s—1997 to be exact. In the few intervening years, she relocated from her home in Japan to the United States, received a master's degree in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and achieved the type of high-fashion success of which many photographers only dream. More impressive than her cross-cultural clientele is the fact that she has managed to create her own unique photographic style. Kawakita has developed an instantly recognizable look that fulfills her creative aspirations and simultaneously appeals to commercial and editorial clients worldwide.
Fresh and “against normal,” to use her own depiction of her work, might be the perfect summation of Kawakita's all-encompassing style. Outrageous as her images are, she doesn't rely too heavily on any single digital technique or piece of equipment. Many of her photographs are relatively straight, single exposures with vivid colors and subtle postproduction manipulations. The most eye-popping of her images are complex digital collages—overwhelming and involved, sure, but basically they're the type of multimedia assemblies of photos and graphic elements that have been made by hand for generations. Digital technology makes those assemblages easier and more effective.
“Fortunately, I've been the art director of all my photography since I started my career,” says Kawakita. “I've been lucky to work with clients who trust my crazy mind 100 percent. I don't separate the terms ‘commercial' and 'fine art.' Whatever I do commercially or personally, the ideas, concepts and subject matter are coming from one place: my mind. In addition, postproduction is primary to my photography. Retouching and adding the graphic works are like painting on canvas.”
Adding those graphics requires many layers of digital elements. Without a digital camera, the process would be extremely expensive and time-consuming. For a commercial photographer who makes a living by delivering professional results to clients on a budget, speed and cost are everything.