Photography by Taro Karibe, Interview by Appy Norapoompipat.
AN: How did you get into photography?
TK: The story dates back to when I was a high school student. At the time I wanted to be a photographer since commercial photos on magazines fascinated me. I tried to get into some art colleges, but I had to give up. I have partial color-blindness, so my surroundings told me it was impossible to be a photographer so I decided not to be one. Four years later, an opportunity arose. I had a chance to travel around Republic of Kenya with a photojournalist. He taught me about photojournalism and told me "How you photograph is not really a problem. What you take is much more important." It was eye opening, and since then I started to think - maybe my eye problem doesn't matter to be a photographer at all. After that I started training in earnest.
AN: How has living in Japan shaped your photographic style?
TK: At first, it influenced my perception of things. I think Japanese mentality is sensitive, naive and sometimes melancholic. Growing up in Japanese delicate culture -especially literature- made me very introspective. Besides in terms of visual expression, I think I'm influenced by Ukiyoe -Japanese wood block print. My portrait photography is particularly influenced by that.
AN: Is there a specific reason you shoot black and white?
TK: Because I can find the essence of subject more easily. Colors have too much information, so sometimes it bothers me to "see" photographs. When there is no color, I can concentrate on the shape of subject itself, light, shadow and what hidden in the picture. Although I also love to shoot in color, there is different good point in each.
AN: Every city has its utopian and dystopian elements - what makes Tokyo such an interesting subject for you for this specific theme?
TK: Because I live in the city. I'm a part of the well-regulated social system. I am eager to understand how the system works and where the utopian/dystopian elements are coming from.
AN: What was it like studying under the legendary Jacob Aue Sobol? What was the best thing you learned from him?
TK: It totally changed my photography life. He lifted me up to a high place I’d never before imagined.
He taught me how to get involved with people and the importance of loving my subjects.
AN: Are there other photographers that inspire and influence you?
TK: A lot. I can't name them all. Q.Sakamaki, Henri Cartier-Bresson, James Nachtway, Lise Salfati, Antoine D'Agata, Diana Markosian, Kosuke Okahara, Hajime Kimura, Masaru Goto, Magid Saeedi, Stephan Vanfleteren, Mario Giacomelli, Joakim Eskildsen, Ikko Narahara, Thomas Dworzak and so on.
AN: What are your goals as a photographer?
TK: Making a photo trilogy that expresses this modern society, and containing universal thoughts that goes down to posterity. I love Dante Alighieri, the great Italian writer. His masterpiece "The Divine Comedy" inspired me a lot. On the book, he reconstructed the aspect of society and people's collective consciousness at that age very systemically. I am eager to do the same by using photography as the tool to do that.