Hiroyuki Ito discusses his latest exhibition and vocabularies of photography. Interview by Carla Seipp


Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

As a freelance photographer for The New York Times, Tisch School of the Arts alumni and NYC resident for almost 21 years, it's safe to say that Hiroyuki Ito knows his artistic way around the city. His latest exhibition sees the Tokyo-born creative bring together both geographical aspects of his life.

In A Clueless Spectator, Ito captures the diverse moments of everyday urban life, whereas Red Rain follows him on a journey as he revisits his home country for the first time in 20 years following events of tragic personal loss. However different their themes may seem, both exhibitions offer a chance to experience the photographer's poignant and striking imagery.


How did you first get involved in photography? 

After I moved from Tokyo to New York in 1992. It was one of the random classes I took when I was a freshman at college.


In the exhibition intro to A Clueless Spectator you wrote: 'I photograph almost mechanically with no sense of emotion'. Can you elaborate on this statement?

I try not to place an emotional emphasis on what I photograph. Things already are what they are before I run into them.


Especially your Red Rain series draws on a lot of personal and painful experiences. How does this vulnerability feed into your work and how does it feel to publicly portray this side of yourself?

As a photographer I shoot out of joy most of the time. Obviously it wasn't fun to shoot my father's funeral but I could have been more devastated if I weren't able to digest what was going on by the sheer act of photographing what I experienced. It wasn't a personal art project. Things happened and I kind of had to react. To this day, I can't exactly judge the Red Rain series objectively. But I have never lived my life objectively, so…


How do the A Clueless Spectator and Red Rain series stand alongside each other? 

They are basically the same thing. Looking at Red Rain and A Clueless Spectator side by side, I was struck by how unoriginal my visual style is if I ever had one. I never invented any new vocabularies of photography but used what was available. But again, I was never big on originality. I don't mind talking out of stolen cliches. 


What would you like readers to take away from both exhibitions?

Even after answering these questions, I am not even sure of what these pictures are for. But somehow I desperately want people to see my photographs. What is my problem?