Updated: Apr 25, 2022
This is a new project that FRAME TOKYO members interview each other to find out who they are which they don't usually talk about. This time, Yume Katsumi interviews Shunsuke Matsunaga, who is usually a quiet person.
Yume: This is the very first interview with a member of FRAME TOKYO, and today I'd like to talk with Shunsuke. I hope we can talk in a casual and normal way. Thank you for coming.
Shunsuke: Thank you inviting me today.
Y: Usually when we talk in the FRAME TOKYO group, we often talk about each member's photos, but I haven't heard much about their daily lives, so I'd like to hear about that too.
S: Okay, I understand.
Y : So the first thing I'd like to ask you is, Shunsuke, are you from Tokyo?
S: I'm from Kawasaki city in Kanagawa prefecture, and the station is Shinyurigaoka on the Odakyu line.
Y: There is a big movie theater there.
S: That's right, Yume, I remember you live along the Odakyu line too.
Y : What kind of child were you when you were little?
S: Unlike now, I was an active child.
Y : Yeah, I was talking with Shoko the other day, and she said that Shunsuke was always calm and never got too emotional and random. And it's because you're able to think about things objectively and process them in your mind.
S: I don't think I can process things so objectively in my mind. The fact that I look calm may just be because my brain is not sensitive enough. (laughs)
Y: Or maybe it's because you can't talk so frankly in a large group.
S: I'm not the type of person who takes the initiative.
Y : In FRAME TOKYO, the leader, Takeshi, and Kudo Kohei are the ones who take the initiative.
S : It's good to have a variety of characters, because if everyone is the same, it's going to be hard to collect them all.
Y : Well, that's true. What did you like to do as a child?
S: I liked to draw pictures.
Y : Oh, really?
S: I was good at drawing pencil sketches. I always got good grades in arts and crafts class in elementary school, and I thought I was good at drawing, but when I started using paints, I was shocked at my lack of taste, and I remember thinking strongly that I couldn't become a painter.
Y : I see. In that sense, you may have had the awareness of expressing something by yourself since you were a child.
S: That may be so. But I was not good at studying, so I think I simply liked arts and crafts and physical education.
Y : Surprising. But you went to university after that, didn't you? Did you work hard to study there?
S: Yes, but that was just because everyone else was doing the same, so it wasn't something I decided on my own.
Y : I see. Is that how you became a normal member of society?
S: Yes, I'm still working as an office worker.
Y : I read in a blog post before that you started photography because you were working as an office worker for a long time and you wondered if it would be okay to continue like this.
S: Yes. Every day I would go to work early in the morning on a crowded train, come home late at night exhausted, and spend my weekends either shopping or sleeping. I started to think that my life would be over before I knew it, and I wanted to create something by myself.
Y : That's a very strong impetus. When I was in university, I had a lot of time to think about whatever I wanted to think about, but when I joined a company and had a role assigned to me, I had to adjust my life according to that role, and then I felt like I had to cover my feelings. It's not that I'm being told to cover up my feelings, but I feel like I can live my life with my feelings suppressed. That's a little dangerous.
S: Time flies by so fast.
Y : Okay, let's change the subject. Is there anything that you are hooked recently that is not related to photography?
S: I guess it's decluttering. (laughs)
Y : Do you throw away a lot of things?
S: I throw things away and try not to buy too much. I try to keep my clothes as small as possible.
Y : I see.
S: I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, but if I have too many things, I can't process them, or if I have too many things to think about, I can't concentrate.
Y : That's good.
S: You seem to have a lot of stuff too.
Y : I lived in my parents' house for about 20 years from when I was 5 years old until recently, so I inevitably accumulated a lot of stuff. I don't know if I'll stay in Tokyo forever, and when I think about moving to different places in the future, I think I'll be lighter and stronger if I have only the things that are really important to me. When I moved recently, I reduced the number of things in my room to the bare minimum.
S: That's good. I think you can concentrate on photography.
Y : So I'd like to hear about your photography. What do you think is the biggest inspiration for your photography? For example, do you look at photo books, do you talk to people, or do you get your inspiration from other places?
S: I have loved to draw since I was a child, and at first I thought it would be good to start drawing again. However, I wasn't sure what I would do if I tried to start painting in earnest as an adult, as it would take a lot of time just to train myself. On the other hand, with photography, as long as you have a camera, you can press the shutter and get a result right away. Of course, it's not possible to take good pictures from the beginning, but I thought I could grow while practicing, so I started taking pictures.
Y: I see.
S: At first, I simply took pictures of landscapes, but I soon got bored with it, so when I was searching the Internet, I came across Tatsuro Suzuki's pictures of Void Tokyo and thought "What a cool photograph!". So I tried to take a photo like him and started street photography. At first I was mainly taking pictures of people, but then I learned about Magnum and was influenced by them again, so I also started taking documentary-like pictures of street scenes. I've been taking pictures for about two years, looking at Void Tokyo and Magnum photos and wondering how I could make such pictures. However, I thought that what I have been doing up to now is just copying others, and recently I've been thinking about how I can create new photographs with my own unique perspective. I've been wondering if I can use photography to delve into the questions I've been asking myself in books and in my daily life. But the trouble is that it's become difficult to take pictures. (laughs)
Y : It's interesting that you went through such a transition and came to the point where you couldn't take pictures. It sounds like a painful process of birth.
S: Yes, I think that when you have something you want to do or express, you will hit a wall somewhere, and there will come a time when you can't come up with an answer even if you think about it. I'd like to overcome that.
Y : That's interesting. Then, one last thing, what would you like to say to your future self and to future street photographers?
S: For my future self, I would like to expect that I am creating something new. I also hope that future street photographers will create new photos that will surprise us all. But I haven't created anything yet, and I'm not in a position to say that. (laughs)
Y : Thank you very much today.
S: Thank you very much.
The next time, Shunsuke Matsunaga will interview Yume Katsumi, who has her own unique worldview. Look forward to it!