Departing from sand dunes — Another scenery of charm and beauty

Shōji Ueda’s photography



東京的Books and Modern書店,現正舉辦植田正治的攝影展《另一種風景》,展出的正是他於歐洲拍攝的作品。植田正治的攝影風格很謹慎,因此當看到他於歐洲拍攝的旅行照時,有種難以言喻的新鮮感。


The beaches in Tottori under photographer Shōji Ueda’s lens are a continuous flow of velvety sand dunes against a backdrop of a clear sky that seems to stretch to eternity. In his most acclaimed series of work, the photographer, his wife and his children were posing in front of this beautiful stage of Tottori’s beaches. At first glance these characters appear to be interacting; at next glance they seem to be completely unrelated. Ueda’s series resembles the style of documentary photography, although what he recorded was a theatrical play rather than everyday life.

Most of Shōji Ueda’s works are indeed theatrical plays. Be it human or animals, every character was acting according to Ueda’s direction. He guided their gaze, their posture, the angle of their hands, and the intensity of the child’s grip on his mother’s… He usually let the children pick their favourite props, except the times when he had his own preference. The big brother brought with him his bike, the younger brother was with his toy gun. However, he restricted his daughter from bringing her doll; he made her hold a bouquet instead. Ueda arranged everything on scene in such minute details that he seldom invited people outside of his family for portraits. He was well aware that only his family members would tolerate his irksome requests.

Books and Modern bookshop in Tokyo is currently hosting a Shōji Ueda photo exhibition called “Another Scenery”. The exhibition is showcasing photos by Ueda taken in Europe. The discreet style of Ueda’s photography brings to his travel photos of European countries a distinct originality.

Shōji Ueda once mentioned about his distaste for travelling in his youth. Despite his reluctance to travel, he went on a journey to Europe when he was 59 years old. A person acquires an enhanced sensitivity while being elsewhere; Ueda was deeply fascinated by foreign cultures. He pressed the shutter like a reflex action, and archived his exotic experiences in photos. The Ueda that we are seeing in this exhibition is another face of his, who departed from his carefully arranged stage to a world of spontaneity. Photos set on the sand dunes display a vibe of playful joy; his shots in Europe are remarkably complicated. The photos are filled with curiosity, excitement, enthusiasm and anxiety. “Another Scenery” can be interpreted as scenery outside of Tottori, but it can also be perceived as another realm of Shōji Ueda’s photography.