Meijo (star), is a collection of collaborative work by Japanese photographer Kotori Kawashima and painter Kentaro Minoura. It sprouted from the idea that “everyone in Taiwan is like a star” and as such records the people and moments of Taiwan in a way that is closest to the life of the locals. “Kotori Kawashima is a photographer whom I admire a lot. I get inspired every time I look at his work. It’s such a beautiful thing if I can take pictures that allow the viewers to experience the various emotions out there,” said Mayumi Okada, a.k.a. Tommy.
A resident of Hokkaido, Japan, Okada is a web designer and also a photographer who specializes in portraits. Her work captures the moments of everyday life—Children waking up with messy hair, having fun playing, enjoying their food. Through her lens, we are able to get a sense of the child’s genuine emotions. Her work is gentle, delicate, and with a sense of humor making it obvious that every child has the potential to be a star and live life brightly. After all, every adult used to be a kid.
OB: When did you fall in love with photography?
T: It started about eight years ago when the kids came into my life. They were just so cute that I had to take tons of pictures of them. As time went by, I dived deeper into photography and wanted to refine my skill. To do that, I had to cut down on my sleep because I have a full time job as a web designer.
OB: Which camera do you often use?
T: I usually use my Nikon F100. I like the nostalgic vibe that comes with film. Since I have poor eyesight, I need the autofocus function, which is also great for capturing the very moment when an emotion or action is expressed by my kids. I think the F100 is perfect for me.
OB: What’s most important to you when taking photos?
T: Perception of things is more important than photography skills; even if looking at the same thing, some people will press the shutter and take a picture, while some won’t. I am sensitive to changes in things, scenery, and mood. Of course, the idea of “I want to capture this moment” is also very important to me.
I always carry a camera with me so I can take pictures anytime I want. Yet I don’t really have a rigid theme or direction; I do pay attention to the surroundings, because I tend to present things as they are in real life.
OB: What does photography mean to you?
T: Photography is a way for me to remember things so that they won’t be forgotten. Nothing in the world lasts forever, and things that you don’t want to change or lose will eventually disappear. Photos can capture the moment and let you look back at any time.
OB: Do you have a favorite photo since you got into photography?
T: All the photos I’ve taken are my treasures; but this particular photo of my father holding my newborn child is my favorite. As my kids get bigger and bigger, my father also grows older day after day. Every moment is profound because I can never capture that very same moment again. Most of the subjects of my photos are my family and the things around me; it is because I want to protect my everyday life. When my kids grow up, they can see what they were like when they were young.
OB: Can you talk about your two children? It’s so difficult to tell what kids are thinking. How do you manage to capture their funny moments?
T: I just simply keep the camera by my side and take pictures anytime and anywhere. The ordinary houses, children chatting, going to school, and having fun, and also just everyday life. I try to keep things simple and just press the shutter. Even if the house is messy, I want to capture the way it is. Hopefully when I look at these photos years later, I might still be able to recall those moments and scenes. The kids aren’t interested in my pictures, but I always try to tell them that the reason I take pictures of them is because “I love you.” I would be happy if others could see the love in my photos.
OB: Can you talk about the series, “Family portrait in the mirror”?
T: I realized that, ever since I started taking pictures of my kids, I stopped taking pictures of myself. I like to look at my childhood photos and see my mother when she was young. This is why I started the series, hoping that I could leave my own photos to my children. A photo of me with them as a gift. If I leave the world one day, I hope that they can look at the photo and think of me.
OB: Has photography changed you in any way?
T: Since I started taking pictures, I have discovered a lot of beautiful things that I never noticed before. I also get to look at things that I never paid attention to before.
OB: Is there anything you want to do or hope to achieve?