Mitsu Maeda Kochi, Japan

Mitsu Maeda is a Japanese photographer from Kochi, Japan where she is currently based.

Her work “My Recollections” has been exhibited in Tokyo, India and China in a last few years, and also has been slideshowed in several photo festivals including Angkor Photo Festival(Cambodia), Mt.Rokko Photo Festival(Japan).

She looks at the details of lives by taking photos, and through the process tries to re-imagine the complexities of the things happening in the world.


Mitsu Maeda


Mitsu Maeda was chosen by photographer Carrie Lam



Laatikkomo’s interview with Mitsu Maeda June 24th, 2016

L:  Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?

MM:  I am from Kochi, Japan. This is the place where I am currently based, too. I have lived in Kobe and in Tokyo, Japan,  in Penang, Malaysia for 2 years and in Sacramento, the US for a year. I’ve been to quite a lot of places other than these, and all the places have had certain influence on me, but Tokyo and Kochi in Japan has influenced me a lot. I think this is because Tokyo is the place where I started to think about photography seriously, and Kochi is the place where I have grown up and I photograph a lot of people close to me.


L:  What is your earliest memory of photography?

MM:  I remember when I was a child and was traveling with my little sister and parents, my mother was taking a photo of my father, my sister and me. My mother was not used to the camera and she mistakingly opened the film door. The film was instantly exposed to light and the whole photos of the film were spoiled. I still wonder the images exposed to the sunlight on that day.


L: You primarily take photographs in black and white, what interests you about black and white film, and what determines the kind of film you use for a project?

MM:  I take photos in black and white when I want the audience not to feel time and place from the images so much. With less information, I want the viewer to imagine if he/she was the one being outsider curiously walking around the streets. I use this ilford film as I don’t want my black and white photos to be strong. I want them to be moderate and honest. For me photography is a method to see details of lives/places calmly but emotionally.


L: In the introduction text on your website you talk about your connection to different generations as being similar to living abroad as an outsider. What other observations have you noticed through this project? 

MM:  I sometimes quote a sentence from Istanbul; Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk.

“The city has no centre than ourselves.”

How I see really reflects my mood and condition. And in that sense I found the perception towards a place can never be absolute or objective. This is something I came to feel through this projet.


L:  How does communication and your relationship to people change what and how you take pictures?

MM:  I always seek communication with people when I travel because the city is made up of the lives of the people. Piles of lives generations to generations result in the city now. I always have an idea that I can never really know or understand the place because of this. But I luckily encounter some people, talk with them, which makes me feel I am here. So communicating with them is part of my path on the place that I don’t belong to.


L: In this project, the construction and composition of your images, in addition to the fact that they are taken in black and white, gives your images a homogenous feel regardless of what country they have been taken in, but your colour images are quite different. Is this a trick of the mind playing with colour or are you consciously using a different technique?

MM:  When I am taking black and white, I look for nice light and shapes. I don’t want my black & white photos to explain the situations of the photos taken. I only want them to give some feelings.  But when I take color photos, I also look for nice light but at the same time I play with color. I choose color when I want the colors in photos to give a little more information about the place and the time of the photos to the viewer.


L:  Could you list five or more words related to the work you are showing in Laatikkomo?

MM:  Melancholy, gaze, outsider, memories, streets, ruins, place, feminism


Thank you so much Mitsu!!