Changing life, who never dreamt about it?
That’s what I am trying to do. I’ve grown bored with my “salaryman” life. Because I don’t have the skills for it. Because I’ve grown tired of it. Because it doesn’t meet my expectations anymore.
I left the big city, the noise, and turmoil. I went to the country, the silence, and peace. I moved to my wife’s parents’ place.
It is a different world here. It is in the middle of the country. It is in the middle of the mountains. It is in the middle of nowhere. The closest shop is a fifteen-minute drive. So if you have no car, you can’t even sustain your existence here.
I am here, trying to adapt in the chief-town of Mitani, in Yabu city, Japan. Led by the urge of keeping shooting, I’m walking around the place…though not too far yet. We arrived in winter. The place was covered with snow. Houses made with dark wood, mountains, firs, the winter stormy sky… Everything calls to my longing for high contrast blacks and whites.
These are my first steps into this world, only a beginning I hope, a new story to tell.
My name is Thibaut Goarant, I am a middle aged guy. I was born in Quimper, Brittany, France but I’ve been living in Japan for 4 years now. I moved to Japan because of my work and because my wife wanted to go back to her country.
I am a father of a sweet six-year old little girl. I suffer from depression. I’ve always been in a bad shape, but after I moved to Japan it got worse – not adapting to my new work, my best friend died…Fortunately, I succeeded in making a new friend, which is very lucky, as this kind of relationship doesn’t build like this everyday. I am now on sick leave and left the huge city of Tokyo to move to the countryside. I see my depression influencing my work; I shoot high contrast black and white, dark, like my feelings.
I started photography only three years ago, when I was 37 years old. Now I’m forty. Yes it is late to start but you have to start somewhere, right?
I am currently using a Ricoh GRII (and a flash) so I am limited to 28mm. Sometimes, when I shoot film, I shoot with lenses that are a 50mm equivalent. With the 28 wide angle, I need to get close to be in a scene to be able to take something decent, so it is very exciting. The 50mm lens is better for me for the environmental portraits that I like to do with the medium format; I want to fully use the potential of the camera and I believe it is better like this. The medium format is also a big camera so it can scare the subject in a way.
The camera is, for me, a lovely tool. It is an extension of my eye and brain that helps me capture or reflect something that I cannot say with words.
I shoot 99% of time black and white. That’s how I like to see the world around me. I think it corresponds to my state of mind; it is only natural for me to shoot black and white.
My favourite photographer is Todd Hido although he did not influence my shooting, or at least not consciously. I enjoy also Daido Moriyama and some other Japanese photographers, such as Shinya Arimoto or Shin Yanagisawa.
Photography has differents aspects for me. First it is an art form where I can express myself. It is an affordable one, in the sense that you just need a camera and then practice/work. It is also a stress reliever – I shoot and I forget everything. Finally, it is an enjoyable moment when it comes to sharing my pictures with my family, friends and the rest of the world through social media.
In photography, my best friend told me everything I should know, and even more. That’s how I started to dig deeper. Then the books came; they are marvellous tools for learning and for mind healing, a good source of inspiration and satisfaction with the medium, a different feeling than looking at pictures on the internet. I also attended a workshop with Eric Kim in Tokyo; it is not an experience that transcends your photography immediately, but the energy is good and what you’ve learned comes back later; it really acts as a trigger.
When I started photography, I did not have any work or photographer in mind. I bought myself a camera – a mirrorless that said it was the perfect tool for street photography. The street photography words resonnated in me, it was appealing. I started to photograph frenetically, and little by little, I dug deeper into the genre.
I educated myself and discovered a whole world of photographers. I looked for new names on the internet, learned about the masters, they became, not directly a source of inspiration, but a solid cultural background to pursue my route.
I used to love pure street photography, but I slowly moved to portraits taken in the streets (and a project called Hello You!). Then, when I moved to the countryside of Japan (I mean real countryside, as there are less people and the scenery is totally new to me) I started to take lanscapes.
As I mentioned, I am currently on sick leave from my work (I work in marketing in the automotive industry) because of my depression. Before that, I would just practice photography in my days off. My work as a salaryman and photography were two different worlds apart, which never communicated. As a salaryman in Japan, you have to bend, to fit in, even in a foreign company. Photography is a true part of myself, a place where I don’ t lie to myself.
Photography saved my life. My depression is severe, but when I’m out photographing, or when I concentrate on photography matters, all the pain goes away.
I don’t have any recurring theme specifically; I don’t explore humanitarian matters, I don’t document life as some photographers do. I have been told I shoot emotionally; I think that describes my photography in general very well. See, point, and shoot with your gut.
I like to be close to my subject. I have another project called Hello You! where I only shoot faces very close. The impulse came from the workshop I took with Eric Kim. I am a very shy person, it is difficult for me to talk to people, even more when it is not my mother tongue (please remember I live in Japan). But when it came time to overcome my fears during the workshop, I surprisingly went very, very close, it was like a hunger for something, and I found it enjoyable and very rewarding.
I also prefer to work with another photographer; that’s the way I’ve grown up as a photographer. I think many photographers share the same feeling of not just taking pictures, but also sharing time with someone in the same state of mind as them. But unfortunately, I have to say that I shoot alone most of the time now.