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More Magazine: Yasu+Junko

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Photographers: Yasu+Junko
Creative Director: Debra Bishop
Photo Director: Natasha Lunn
Senior Art Director: Jamie Prokell
Assistant Art Director: Faith Stafford
Contributing Assistant Art Director: Lilian Cohen
Associate Photo Editor: Stephanie Swanicke
Assistant Photo Editor: Gabrielle Sirkin

How does the collaboration work, would you say each of you have a particular strengths, if so what are they?
Our collaboration starts with meetings. Pitching for ideas (for conceptual shoots), how to approach the shoot, deciding on lighting and styling directions, etc. We both light and style, but on set, usually, Yasu covers the technical aspect, and Junko the styling aspect. Depending on the job, we know which one of us will be taking initiative…usually,  when masculinity is needed, Yasu, more delicate and feminine shoots, Junko.

Yasu: Your start was more lifestyle oriented, ( shooting family and friends ) how has that transcended into your still life work?
I’m not quite sure if I was ever a lifestyle photographer. Photography has been my love for a very long time, but as a profession, I have abandoned it at one point. When I came back to it, I had to basically start from zero again, assisting, testing, dropping off portfolios. I was already past 40 at that point. This phrase is so over used, but you are never too old to pursuit your dream.

Junko: Your start was a bit later, and steeped in still life, what called you to photography and what were you doing prior to assisting?
I studied economics in Japan, and worked for insurance company for a couple of years before coming to NY.
I always loved photography, loved beautiful objects and still life. I never thought about being photographer until I studied photography at college in New York.  I’m privileged to know great mentors and coworkers. They inspired me to keep going.

Do both of you always work on the project together on set? Or do you discuss ideas and shoot separately? Meaning are you always a shooting as team?
Yes, always on jobs (so far). We are both security blankets for each other, we do shoot individually in our spare time.

Do you have a regular prop stylist you work with or are you sourcing your own items?
We used to do everything on our own when we started out. (Another strength of having two people.) Now, more and more, we are working with stylists. There are so many wonderful talents, and we learn a lot from them.

How if at at all does your culture influence your work/aesthetic?
We wonder, perhaps the general stereotype of Japanese might fit well to a certain degree. We are strongly aware of the pros and cons of being Japanese though.

What do you see as the pros and the cons?
As you may know, we have a lot of Japanese still life photographers in NY.
One reason we believe, is we had a successful forerunner, Kenji Toma from the 90’s. When something like this happens, a whole new breed of people follow that tries to replicate the same kind of success. Unfortunately, many of them also try replicating the style, which is understandable. ( for the Korean people, the forerunner being Sang An, you see a whole group of younger Korean photographers trying to succeed in the “lifestyle” field) Most of them are very technically inclined and “advertising only” minded. We do not share this approach.

For this particular piece in More, how did the idea evolve?  ( the oyster and the ring ) and how does the creative process with you two.
This was a consigned work. We were given a story to illustrate, and with this piece, there was no wiggle room.
We believe the idea was given to us by our beloved editor (not sure what her title is now), Natasha Lunn.

Where did you source the perfect oyster from and how much if any post was there?
We went to fish market in new york city, and bought bunch of beautiful oysters.
About 30 dollars?

Heidi Volpe

There Are 1 Comment On This Article.

  1. Brenda Milis

    Lovely image! They always do such great work for More! They clearly have a strong collaborative relationship with the Photo Editors.