Japan's Must-Read Magazine

Snap Happy

The art and business of photography just aint what it used to be. These days just about everyone and their obasan calls themselves a “photographer”. Ask anyone under 25 what a dark room is and they’ll probably look at you with fear in their eyes. With digicams going for a song, anyone with a bit of tech-savvy can snap, upload and publish their work in seconds. So what became of all the pros? Japanzine recently unearthed one in the badlands of Osaka, only to find he’s comfortably thriving, far from expiring.

So, Brad Crawford, what’s your story?

I’m 23 years old – a young one! I come from Winnipeg in central Canada – nothing out there but prairies and snow. I came out to Osaka in 2005 right after I graduated. I moved here chasing the big lights, big city mentality. You see it, you want it, you chase it.

When did you get into photography and filmmaking and what’s your background in these fields?

I’ve had an interest in photography since I was a kid. My dad had an SLR that I played with, and I’ve basically been using cameras since I can remember. But I seriously got into art and photography during my late high school years, which eventually led me to being accepted into the Fine Arts program at the University of Manitoba. I majored in photography and minored in graphic design and video.  During those years I really got involved in creating photographs – model shoots, product photography, you name it. I also started experimenting with film making during those years.

Are you able to pay your rent and izakaya bills off these endeavors?

(Laughs) For a strict yes or no answer, I’ve got to say no. But you can make extra cash – maybe not rent – but Izakaya bills for sure. I think the most economical way to do it is club or event photography – that’s the money maker for me in Japan. In terms of exhibitions, I usually just break even. They’re are more for promotion of my work then money making.

What kind of projects have you been working on in Japan?

It varies. A lot of artistic expression-based projects, of course – emotions or feelings I’m trying to convey through my work. Then I work with groups like Hijak, or for clubs like Sazae and Oct. I also do menu design, food and product shots, flyer and graphic design, and some film work. I actually just finished my first feature film called Ageha 6 with a director by the name of Kevin Karn, also based in Osaka. It’s about a robot nurse and a terminally ill man. I won’t tell you much, but it’s a dark comedy. I literally just finished it today. Now we’re going to start submitting and promoting it all over, so watch out!

In your photos, what are you going after? What turns you on and what are you trying to capture with the lens?

I like to reveal the way I see things in the world. I love capturing a moment in time. For example, people – you never know what they’re going to do next. They can laugh, they can cry, they can freak out. I tend to change my photography quite a lot. I make it my own. It’s definitely my vision of what I want people to look like (grinning).

Is this a good country to get your foot in the door in terms of the photography profession?

The scene in Japan is just massive, but the tough thing for gaijin is that it’s predominately Japanese, so it’s a bit hard to “get in” unless you speak fluent Japanese. There is a small foreign scene out here but it doesn’t seem to be that supportive. A lot of photographers tend to be solitary people and aren’t that big on groups. One way I’ve been able to get into the scene and connect with other photographers out here is by teaching classes; that’s made me some good connections. But I’ve got to say, if you really want to make photography your profession in Japan, you might need to try Tokyo. I love Osaka, though, so I’m here.

Lastly, where can people see more of your work or get in contact with you?

To see more of my photos check out my Flickr account at: www.flickr.com/photos/sentrosi

Also email me anytime at: brad.crawford@gmail.com