Thursday, May 7, 2009

Conversation : Eric Rechsteiner about Sha-Do Collective in Japan

I had a conversation in Tokyo with Eric Rechsteiner , french photographer based in Japan since many years, we talked about the Sha-Do collective of photographers which has been created recently and explore the collaboration between European Photographers (Eric Rechsteiner, David Coll Blanco andAndroniki Christodoulou) with Japanese Photographers (Aida NoriyukiandOgawaYasuhiro ), the interesting thing among the other is that the collective is perhaps the first in Japan and Asia....Eric spoke in behalf of the others and he was kind to tell me more about it.Here the conversation i had with Eric Rechsteiner:

© Eric Rechsteiner

DM: I like the idea to see european photographer and japanese photographer working together, I can imagine is not easy because of the different interpretation of photojournalism , tell me morehow the project started and what are thechallenges.

ER: at the beginning we're a group of photographers living and working in Tokyo and sharing the desire to do things with others and I'm not sure we can divide photographers in two groups, Japanese and Europeans. Each photographer,whatever its nationality, has its own approach of photography. Andphotojournalism is only one of the different ways we're working on. David CollBlanco for example works sometimes as a photojournalist for news agency but has avery artistic, almost abstract, approach in his personal projects.

© Ogawa Yasuhiro

DM: When Henri Cartier-Bresson startedMagnum he told "Magnum is a community of thought,a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually". Are these values stillstrong among your Collective?

ER: too big names for a comparison ! But yes, at least we can say that we share curiosity about what's going on in the world and in a way a common thought. A collective project implies to share with others and to learn from others.

© David Coll Blanco

DM: I was in Tokyo while you with the other were shooting at the fashion week and you told me about the project on Tokyo Bay (which can become the site for the 2016 Olympic Games), how u decide to move in a common project?

ER: that's a good question because it's not an easy thing to do. We share common interest on many topics but we also understand that a good way to be all motivated about a long term project is to have the money that goes with it. Without source of funding it's of course difficult to keep the troops motivated for very long.Yes, Tokyo is a candidate city for the 2016 Olympic and as we have in mind to work on different aspects of the games planed around the Tokyo Bay area, we're actually looking for sponsors. We're also trying to upload new images on our website every month, mostly news topics. After the Japan fashion week in Tokyo, we photographed the cherry blossoms (Hanami) and are now working on the severe economical crisis that is hitting Japan.

© Aida Noriyuki

DM: All the photographers distribute their work through other agencies in the world, is that can create a conflict?

ER: Yes, almost all of us are linked to a photo agency, but we're not in conflict because - even if we all have a documentary background - we don't do exactly the same type of work: each photographer has its own way, its own style. And our website is a platform to promote the work of each of us.

© Androniki Christodoulou

DM : How a collective moves nowadays? As it is merely a cultural experience do you aim to have some Foundations and cultural sponsorship in order to promote exhibitions, books and projects ?

ER:Our first photo exhibition, "Tokyo Youth" last December was sponsored by japanese memory card maker Sandisk. We would like to convince them to follow us again but, as you know, it's really tough time for sponsorship hunting...As for the Tokyo Bay project, we're hoping to get money from the Tokyo metropolitan government.

DM: How Japanese media reacting to the Collective?

ER: As I was saying, people are usually curious and interested by the idea but we are going to launch our website "for real", here in Japan and overseas, only next week, so I'll be able to answer this question only in a while.

DM: What is your goal for the future ? Any projects?

ER: 2009 is a tough year for the photo business but maybe also a good opportunity to promote different types of work. So we would like to present the group in Perpignan next September, it's a bit far from home but we'll try to go there!