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.
“I've started shooting digitally with the Olympus E-1, and I'm a new member of the Olympus Visionaries program,” says Kawakita. “The digital camera is very valuable to my work since I cut and paste the images frequently. When I have an assignment requested with some graphical work, with the digital camera I can immediately use the images from all the photos I took, whereas traditional film needs to be drum-scanned for every image I choose. This process requires much more time and cost.”
Not only has technology streamlined Kawakita's ability to assemble multiple images into a finished piece, but it has allowed her to work more effectively from New York with clients back in Tokyo.
“The Internet and digital technology are such amazing tools for me,” she says. “It's true that for some clients, the distance initially made it difficult for them to work with me, but in the end, we're all happy with this way of working. In fact, some magazines I've been working with for a long time don't ask me for proof prints anymore; we just send the images by FTP. In this way, we save time sending files and they will get there even faster than their other clients in Japan. Moreover, with digital photography, I don't need to make contact sheets or develop film.”
Time and expense savings are paramount, but the bottom line still is all about producing high-quality photographs. Even for her single images, Kawakita considers color correction, contrast and sharpness adjustments essential. She does most of the postproduction work herself, so she's sure to stay current on hardware and monitor profiles to ensure she's delivering the colors and contrasts she intends to. Much as her visual influences are a mix of old and new, so are her tools.
“I do shoot film, depending on what images I want to create,” says Kawakita. “Digital photography is best for images with illustration and graphics in my case. So when I have these situations, I use the Olympus E-1. When I have straight shots, I tend to use film. Anyhow, I use both cameras on shoots.”
Perhaps no photos in her portfolio showcase her singular technique and style better than those she calls Kabuki-Pop and Shibuya-Pop. These complex digital assemblages were created with Japanese scroll painting in mind.
Says Kawakita of Kabuki-Pop, “I wanted to create the geisha girls mixed up with western girls. First, I just photographed them with white backgrounds, using choreography from Kabuki dance. Second, I cut the models out and made a total white background. I cut and pasted the models into the white panoramic space and did more cutting and pasting, rotating and rescaling.”
The Kabuki-Pop series is relatively tame when compared with the over-the-top images she calls Shibuya-Pop. These images are at once photographs, cartoons and graphic designs.
“It was a collaboration with my sister, who is an illustrator and graphic designer in Atlanta, Georgia,” says Kawakita of Shibuya-Pop. “I asked her to make an illustration of 360 degrees of the Shibuya station in Tokyo using some pictures as references. Then I placed the model in the shot, which I photographed using a blue background. Lastly, I did some color correction in the background buildings to make the images have much more impact and beauty. This work was intense. I was in front of the computer nonstop for about one week. It was fun, though.”
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