Meet Elliot Ichiro, Singapore-born photographer with a knack for fine pictures and prose. I decided to post this one in his own words….
My name is Elliot Ichiro, I’m 32, with Japanese and Chinese parentage. I grew up in Singapore, but was scooted to many parts of the world for my education, following my father in his overseas postings for the airline industry.
I have been to school in 4 different continents and count many cities as home, both in my childhood as well as my adult life – Singapore, London, Bangkok, Melbourne, Los Angeles and New York City. I’m currently based in Singapore as most of the businesses i’m involved in are based in the region.
My interest in photography was born out of a passion of immortalizing moments in a still frame. I was intrigued at how light is captured through a lens, in that moment in time, be it a moment defined by the shutter of 1/30 of second to extended exposures of 15 seconds. That moment of light, framed by a photographer, passing through the lens, reacting with the film, becomes a moment captured forever.
I first started 12 years ago shooting on film, using cameras I inherited from my Dad and Uncle; from cheap 35mm point and shoots like my first rollei 35 (made in Singapore!), to manual rangefinders like a yashica 35 GSN, before moving to more serious film cameras like a Canon EOS 10QD and my first Leica, an M3. I made the leap to digital with a Canon 40D in 2007 and since 2009, I’ve shot exclusively on Leica rangefinders (both film and digital).
In the early days, I shot a lot of figure art nudes. playing with extended exposures in low light spaces, attempting to capture the sensuality of the feminine curve. I was then approached to do other styles of shoots that capture the beauty of the feminine body. I started researching more into the history of art nudes, fashion nudes and erotica, and researched on the work of photographers like Helmut Newton, Elliot Erwitt and Araki Nobuyoshi. I took up courses in Australia and assisted a photographer in NYC while I was living there. Through this process, I have photographed for fashion projects, art concepts, and a lot of boudoir and erotica.
After shooting for 6 years, people started asking me to shoot for projects, publications, interesting art concepts, erotica publications and more. I never went out looking to get paid for my photography, but I have been getting more and more interesting job offers in recent years.
The feminine form inspires me.The lower back curve of a lady, the chiselled cheekbone and silhouette of the jawbone, the side/under-boob, the heart-shaped curve of a girl’s waist-bum-thigh. Capturing the feminine form, dressed in the trends defined by the fashion gurus of the world, or in lingerie that enhances her sensuality, or in the unadulterated natural form ( nude) – Capturing the feminine form is inspiration to me.
I enter every single shoot yearning to find beauty and I have to proudly say that I have found it in every single shoot I have done. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean I feel my photographs are perfect. In fact, far from it! But I do believe that with every subject I photograph (and they are mostly women), there is something intrinsically beautiful about the person.
One of the things I ask myself is ‘If i were her lover, what is the thing I’d love most about her?’, and frequently, through conversation and interaction during the shoot, through ‘the moments between the poses’, I will identify something. It could be her gaze, it could be her physical assets, it could be her smile, it could be something transcendent like her infectiousness, her humor, or her raw sensuality. And once I identify it, I will aim to capture that in a still-frame.
One of the most memorable experiences as a photographer was when I shot a plus-sized girl with a bad skin condition. The photoshoot with me was paid for by a friend, as a birthday gift. She was obviously very self-conscious, and even after hair and make-up, she was still not convinced about what she saw in the mirror. I tried to get her started in conversation. I told her I was still adjusting the light and the settings on my manual camera, and took a few snaps while she was chatting. Then I walked over to her, and showed her 4 or 5 shots that I had just taken of her, straight from the camera, in the LCD preview screen.
And then she started to weep.
I started getting worried, and was terrified that I had done something wrong…
I tied to comfort and calm her down and finally convinced her to stop tearing by I telling her that if she continued she would ruin her amazing make-up. She told me that she was crying because nobody had ever made her look or feel this beautiful. Truth be told, she had minimal make-up on. All I did was manage to get her talking about something she was passionate about, and between the conscious poses and chatting, I managed to catch moments of her natural captivating beauty.
Tattooed models are like most other models too. They want to make images that either bring across a specific message/persona/emotion, or they want beautiful, sensual and captivating image of themselves.
The only difference is there are now multiple dimensions to the art. The ink itself is frequently beautiful, but the canvas on which it is etched, the body form itself, is also beautiful. Different angles of the model will emphasize their different aspects of beauty.
Shooting an inked model usually becomes an interesting experience of unraveling the stories/narratives in each piece as the lens journeys the span of her body from head to toe. I see aspirations, dreams, experiences, history, hope, love, pain, angst and death juxtaposed against the person that all those stories add up to, the model that I have had the privilege of photographing and our lives crossing for just those couple of hours.
One other personal observation is that most of the inked models I’ve worked with are a lot less inhibited than the models without ink. They are comfortable with their bodies. They are open-minded. They seem to be more capable of pushing the boundaries, of thinking outside the box, of giving something new/different a shot. And that can frequently mean some amazing images too!
To Aspiring Photographers:
Decide on something you are really passionate about, and get really good at it. Learn, study and understand your craft. Pay your dues. Get your 10,000 hours of experience under your belt (I quote Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’). Then go out there and collaborate with people; if you want to shoot models then find newbie models wanting to develop a portfolio; or if you want to be a landscape photographer, go on photography trips organized by other photographers. Assist photographers that are already making images that inspire you. Get an unpaid internship and assist while you learn. If this is something that you are really passionate about, then get a day job to pay your bills, and continue to work on your craft. Once your output deserves the recognition, people who appreciate it will come to you.
I’m sure our readers will want to know how to contact you for a project. How should they?
They can email email@example.com or through my FB page:https://www.facebook.com/elliotichirofotografik