In Conversation with...
石川 直樹 Naoki Ishikawa
For this conversation we invited the photographer & adventurer Naoki Ishikawa to talk about travel and his creative process. What was it like throughout a year of pandemic, for an artist whose creativity is intrinsically linked to adventure travel in challenging places?
Process, Journey, Analogue, Habituation, Reset, Experience, See-Hear-Touch...
In Response to…
１７歳でインド・ネパールを旅し、さらに「Pole to Pole」では文字通り北極圏から南極まで旅をした。２０歳には「水平」から「高低」への極みに挑戦しようとアラスカ・デナリの登頂に成功した。その頃から「旅とカメラ」を両立させるために「写真家」という職業へステップアップしていったと言う。
This conversation was a long time coming. I first contacted Ishikawa-san nearly two years ago, inviting him to give a talk at One Tree Academy. He agreed and plans were in place until the planet fell into pandemic chaos. In Conversation with… was the perfect opportunity to finally meet him and have that long awaited conversation.
I became interested in Ishikawa-san work and process several years ago when I came across a copy of Too Much Magazine Issue 7 – Work 1. Fascinated by his photographs capturing the Himalayas from a viewpoint rarely seen. They gave me a feeling of “I should visit there and see it for myself”. From that moment I wanted to find a way to meet him and learn more about his choices which lead him to where and who he is now.
That day finally came. Feeling a little nervous and trying to calm our expectations, Maebayashi-san and I were able to ask a few of the questions we had in mind. Joined by students and close friends we talked for two hours, about his initiation into adventure traveling, photography & cameras, where he finds inspiration, his process, and how he resets his body & mind through creativity & journeys to the edges.
I found talking to Ishikawa-san inspiring and insightful so I will try to share a couple of my musings from the conversation.
1. Do less to do more.
Every creative person regardless of genre has choices.
Do I use a digital or analogue (Film) camera or both… which lens should I use, wide angle, telephoto, fixed focal or all… 28mm, 35mm, 50mm or all… 35mm film, medium format, instant or all… should I make a homepage, use instagram, make an edition of prints, make a book or all… etcetera, etcetera?
The choices today are endless, discombobulating and can be paralysing. These choices can distract you from the most important thing, which is to be in the moment. To be present in the presence of what it is you are trying to experience, capture, achieve… to “see, hear and feel”.
Naoki has found his way of removing barriers (choices) between himself, the experience and the creative output by keeping his tools, process and intention as clear and simple as possible. And, not questioning it or comparing it to others. By knowing his strengths, committing and doing less he actually achieves more. Believing in himself and the process, slowly over years (10-20) a body of work accumulated, which has value and meaning. This comes from doing the same thing repeatedly over time. Following trend or fashion does not produce such purposeful work.
2. Find joy in the process.
Naoki talked about how each journey —to the Himalayas— he takes, resets his body & mind. I think this holds a clue for us all. It’s easy to understand how the act of being in natural —or unfamiliar— environments can have a positive physiological & psychological effect —science confirms this. Admitting that these —sometimes arduous— trips are a way to reset himself, show to us that he enjoys them. In other words, he finds joy in the process of creating his work, arguably more than what he receives from the result of the completed work.
If you don’t find joy in the work then you are doing something wrong. This doesn’t mean the work isn’t difficult or laborious. I don’t think climbing Mount Everest to take a few photos was easy for Naoki, nevertheless he found joy in the process, which energised and motivated him to continue to work… to take another step.
The journey is the destination.
I will close by saying how fortunate we were to have shared that time with each other. A few days after our event, Naoki sent me an email saying how much he enjoyed talking to us all and is looking forward to the next time. Reminding us of the importance of shared experience, face-to-face conversation and the development of reciprocal relationships. I am grateful to everyone who participated.
In conversation with…
The North Face | THE QUEST FOR SURPRISE - Naoki Ishikawa's Traveling and Photography -
Nowadays, if you have any questions you search the web for answers. You quickly read a few lines and get to know about things. But if you really want to know something, it's worth it to see it with your own eyes, listen with your ears and feel with your body so as to understand what is in front of you. The need to be there myself is so strong. The push to travel, down to it's very core to perceive and comprehend this world firsthand. It's a call I can't ignore.
Ama Dablam, the mountain known affectionately as “Mother's Necklace.” “Mother” refers to Everest. Standing at 6,856 m (22,493 ft), and towering above the Khumbu region of Nepal, the sherpa does not hesitate in saying that “this mountain is the most beautiful in the world." “I climbed all my way out. I think this intense experience is irreplaceable for anything in my daily life.”
Japanese archipelago Yamaguchi
When I stood on the top of a volcano called Kasayama in the northern part of Yamaguchi Prefecture, I could see the islands floating in the Sea of Japan. Sado and other islands in the Sea of Japan have a strong impression of Hokuriku, and I have never thought that there are so many islands in the Chugoku region. After overlooking the islands floating in the Sea of Japan at Kasayama, I visited Omi Island, where whaling was last carried out around here.
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Photo Zero Address Shiretoko
Medium format camera.
The camera obscura ( Latin : camera obscura , meaning "dark room". Both camera obscura and camera obscura) are important in the history of photography, and the name " camera " comes from the camera obscura.
Oku-Noto Triennale 2020＋
A foremost art festival at the furthest edge of the world. September 4th － October 24th, 2021