Takashi Kitajima is a photographer based in Japan who operates far beyond the traditional limits of optics and imaging. He caught the photography bug in 2010 when he came across some eye-catching photos on Flickr while Googling for something completely unrelated. It was then that he realized photography would be an ideal way to portray the scenes he’d imagined in his head.
Takashi’s photos are highly surreal, such that some are almost unrecognizable as photographs. He paints a vibrant, colorful palette of distorted city lights, taillights and shimmer, building up the “slightly strange world” he invites viewers to spend their time in.
When people are enjoying my photos, I like to think that they are enjoying my slightly strange world.
A lot of his work goes into his two creative projects that use the unique techniques he developed: extrabokeh and glassporthole. These innovative projects demonstrate a deep understanding of lens optics and a courageous curiosity for experimentation with what most photographers take for granted. extrabokeh involves creating impossibly dramatic transitions between in-focus and out-of-focus regions of the image, generating huge bokeh balls, while glassporthole imparts images with a stop-motion feel through the use of a magnifying glass as a focal point – Takashi describes it as “opening a round window in the air”. Both put a fantasy-like spin on the nighttime cityscapes of Shibuya and Shinjuku, Takashi’s favorite towns in Japan. But Takashi considers these projects as simply taking existing equipment and using it in new ways:
The two ideas are both optics effects. I merely extend the role of the lens beyond what the camera manufacturers recommend doing.
Takashi continues to experiment with different methods of doing photography. He told us that he’s currently working on a way to use panning creatively.
As far as advice for other photographers, Takashi says being willing to wait a long time for a perfect moment is important. And in exposing an image, he aims for the lowest ISO possible, while exposing for the brightest lights: look through his gallery and you’ll see that while his images are very luminous and vivid, there’s seldom a blown highlight – a very tough balance to strike. Finally, faithfulness is a common thread that ran throughout our conversation with Takashi. Both in framing the photo and in editing, his primary objective is faithfulness – which doesn’t necessarily mean faithfulness to the appearance of the real world (as you’ve probably guessed by now), but faithfulness to the imagery in his head.
I use photography to express the world of my head faithfully. To me, that is the most important and most difficult challenge.