'Japan Reflections' is an exhibition of photographs taken by Andrew Sheppard and Sophie Taylor while enjoying a prize they won by sweeping the board in Fujifilm's annual Seven Brides photographic awards. The prize was 10 days in Japan as well as a tour of the Fuji factory and a chance to meet with some of Japan's leading photographers.
Tell me how the project first came about, and a little of your history and what you do.
Jess Morgan (curator) : Andy and Sophie approached me with a catalogue of photo's they took while on their trip. From the wealth of images they had (about 3-4 albums worth) I realised the potential for a show. Andy wanted the shots to have a life outside of their album but was unsure as to the potential of the work. Once they had secured a show with us there was no stopping them. Andy wanted to try something new with his images and between us we picked a selection form the main body of work and he had them all printed onto canvas. This has given the works a new added dimension and made them even more special.
Andy Sheppard : The project came about as my associate photographer Sophie Taylor and myself were overall winners of the Fujifilm wedding photographer of the year in 2002. in this competition you had to submit 3 images from one wedding and each of the three had to feature the bride. To make it different on our winning entry we had just the bride & grooms hands as they exchanged rings and the brides foot and hand during the service with the ring symbolishing the wedding and the confetti on the floor. During 2002 Sophie & I were motivated by the chance of winning such a fantastic prize which was 10 days in Japan.With every wedding we photographed the chance that we might win this fantastic prize motivated us to try different photography and experiment with abstract styles.
When and where did you arrive in Japan, and where did your travels take you?
AS: We arrived in Japan in April 2002 we were based in Tokyo and travelled to meet various Japanese photographers and discuss styles of work and compare trends and fashions within the photographic industry. We also had discussions with Fujifilm at there head office. We are very proud because as a direct result of are meeting Fuji agreed to test the UK Market for a Chromagenic Black & White film which we worked with them on our return to the UK (Neopan 400CN). We also visited the Fujifilm production site and lots of the beautiful temples and stunning architecture in around Tokyo.
Did you have any predetermined ideas about what you were looking for?
AS: We wanted to take images that reflected the life and the culture of the people and the sites of Japan, looking at differant viewpoints to those the normal tourist would take.
Do you see this work as documentary photography?
AS: I must admit we didn't have this in mind at the start of the visit. Although we are both inspired by the work of Cartier Bresson and his amazing ability to capure a moment in time. Also inspired by the work of Dorethea Lang which can show so much expression and tell a complete story just from an image. Looking at the results I guess what we are inspired by comes through in the images we took.
© John Brainlove for fusedmagazine 2004
'Japan Reflections' at The Gallery April 5th - May 9th 2004
The Gallery, Stratford Leisure & Visitor Centre, Bridgefoot, Stratford On Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6YY
T: +44 (0) 1789 268826