Feature photo courtesy of @thewayyouwerethatday
A Japanese street photographer living in New York City chats with Bobblehaus about his project: #TheWayYouWEREThatDay - specifically about youth and how they represent themselves through fashion.
BH: So what exactly is #TheWayYouWEREThatDay? Any significance in ‘were’ being all caps? ST: I uploaded a video where I a little talk about #TheWayYouWEREThatDay on YouTube (see above). I came up with this name from, ”Outfit of the Day”, OOTD in short. How I think of OOTD is something that talks about the way you are “TODAY”. And if you look back on ”TODAY” in the future, it will be “The way you were that day”. And the youth fashion scene on the streets of NYC is what I keep recording of “TODAY”.It’s hard to explain but I hope this will make sense. Photography for me is the process of capturing everything involved in the moment, from the feeling of the person, the person, the clothes, the place and everything. The power and energy of those youth. It can be just one picture that captures someone’s feelings and mood in one photo through street fashion. It is history almost. I’ve been doing this project for almost 5 years now. It is not just about one person, but rather the transition and duration. If I keep recording the trends, the part I think is most concentrated in time and let them out in the future. It’ll tell the story not about trend history but more sociology history in 10 years, in 20 years. As long as I’m in New York City, I’ll keep on recording.
BH: What fascinates you about street style?
ST: Street style for me is an archive of people and the culture. Looking in the past, that’s the most interesting thing about fashion, for me. That really inspired me. People only care about TODAY, but if I just curate those things in order of time, it’s going to be something. It’s a past tense.
In the beginning I was just taking photos of cool people. However, the more photos that I take, the more I feel that it is not only about the fashion or clothes itself, it’s also about the memories and the feelings in the moment.
BH: What catches your eye? How do you choose your photography subjects?
ST: Of course, it will always be a fashion reference, or trend. But when people see photography many years later, they do not see just the trend, but rather what it represents in that era and at that time. It’s almost a time capsule.”
BH: You’re not taking it for the sake of the fashion, but rather, for the sake of history.
ST: Exactly, history of the city, rather than fashion of the city.
BH: A modern historian so to speak.
BH: Tell me about your other projects - #TheTablebyTheWindow, #TalesofTheBusboy, #MomentFromToday. Why did you start these series?
ST: Right right. I started them but haven’t updated them much in the past few months because of the pandemic. I want to appreciate ordinary days, every day, that are nothing special. Now the world is going crazy with something that catches people’s attention, for example, Instagram photography is only capturing, or even trying to create the highlights of someone’s life. I just want to experiment through my own experience that even if you have a really boring, ordinary day, that could be very interesting if you curate it well. If you have an iPhone, anyone can do that. That’s the thing I want to show, and say, through my photography. People tend to say in order to be an artist, you have to be crazy or out there. The way you do could be something interesting, and it doesn’t matter if you have the most boring life, doing the same thing day after day, over and over again. So that you can find some excitement out of it.
So in a way, there is no highlight in our lives, every day is very similar from day to day. For me, I am a very boring person. I am so ordinary I can’t do anything special. But if this person can make something out of nothing, then everyone can do it. It’s about how you look at it. For me, street photography is exactly that. And these projects are some sort of reminder of that to me.
BH: How did you curate your book? What was that process like?
ST: It’s very simple. The only thing I think about is the year, which is 2015-2016 (I only have 3 months worth of photos in 2015 so combined 2015 and 2016) the next one is 2017. On average, I take 10 a month, which is about 100 photos a year perfect for a book. I don’t think too much about it, I bring it to the publishing company and they print it out.
BH: In addition to photography, are there other creative mediums that resonate with you? What’s something you’re interested in exploring?
ST: I don’t feel the necessity to use other mediums for other projects at the moment. But I thought with videos to get my point about this project across to people so recently I started doing YouTube videos where I just set up the camera, sit in front of it, leave it there and talk to it. That way I can elaborate it, the reason and message behind my photography.
BH: What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
ST: I came to New York to learn English 8 years ago. I visited New York for 10 days, and I made some friends. That trip made me decide to come to America.
I didn’t know what I was going to do in Japan. I didn’t go to college or anything. Everyone I met up was through photography or a friend's friend when I came here. I didn't speak english at all, I didn’t know any tv shows or celebrities or I was not familiar with any culture in America, but i had this huge fantasy of America, specifically New York (though i didn't know anything about it, but that's what fantasy is, right?) and I was really into American English. That’s it.
BH: What’s something that reminds you of ‘home,’ however you define it?
ST: It doesn’t matter where I live, as long as it’s a city. What I do care about is what I can do there. So for now, I am willing to live in NY to keep my project going.
I think NYC is the most interesting place to take photos of.
When I visited Japan once in the past eight years. I stayed there for three weeks, not too long to figure out that I can’t do this photograph project there, but I was sure that I still wanted to do photography in New York.
It’s easier to live in Japan, I can blend it, I speak the language perfectly, no visa issue, it’s the easiest way to live. But I don’t think about going back. But I’m really not sure, if something happens in the future, or any interesting project pop ups, maybe.