Lucy Hamidzadeh and Eren Sarigul talk about Eren's new solo book, Across Japan… Let’s dive straight in and talk a little about your first solo book ‘Across Japan’. Across Japan consists of numerous shots viewed through your eyes of a beautiful country that has fascinated you since you were a boy living in an area of south London, so very different to Japan. It’s pretty evident that you were deeply moved by the Japanese exchange students your family hosted when you were a young boy.
Is there a message that you hope to convey through Across Japan? To travel, More now than ever. Once the world gets back to normal, get out there and go to the places and counties you’ve been meaning to visit. As we have seen, we can’t take anything for granted so when the world opens back up, travel!
Do you think photography is the best medium for understanding a time, place or culture? They say a picture can tell a 1000 words. It’s a saying I truly believe in. The best photos can tell an entire story in one frame. It can be the fastest and easiest medium too as there are no words and can be viewed in seconds.
Can you share one remarkable memory about the seeing your book printed, and what reasons make that memory particularly special? It’s hard to describe, I’ve never really taken note of how far I’ve come as a photographer and taking the book into my hand and looking at it really hit home. As soon as it came through the door I gathered the family around to see it. This also served as a good way to show my family what I have been doing for the past couple years too.
What is the most important thing to you when it comes to creating an image you are proud of and now seeing it in printed published format? The image needs to convey an emotion or tell a story. My favourite images are always the ones where I can attach a story to the subjects in frame.
How do you feel a book tells the story of your work differently from, let’s say, your social media account or your own website? It's hard to convey a story of a journey on social media; each post sits on its own separately. However, with the book I’m able to tell the story of my journey through Japan - show and talk about how the regions differ from one another. In all, you can tell a much broader cohesive story with a book than you can through social media posts.
Your style is very much a combination of exploring the dialogue between people and their natural habitat; the visual worlds of creating mood and atmosphere, the landscape and street photography mix, clash, are twisted and fused to create how you see the world around you. Do you plan your day around taking pictures and have certain conceptual starting points in mind before you start shooting OR do you just got for it; always carry your camera with no agenda, and wait for something to happen? I don’t like to overthink it while shooting. I carry my camera everywhere and shoot whatever I find to be visually interesting. I construct storylines and narratives from my work afterwards. The two processes are very different for me.
When you’re in your element, is there a secret to capturing ‘the perfect’ moment/photograph? Do you know when you have captured something meaningful? There are moments where you know you have captured an interesting moment however, usually I discover whether I've captured anything meaningful when reviewing the photographs after the shoot.
What would you highlight as recurrent themes and aesthetics in your work?Shadows and people. I’ve always been drawn to contrasting scenes and a lot of my work includes a lot of shadow. I also love capturing people, adding a human element to the scene always helps attach a story and narrative to the photo.
To me it feels that you often like to create a certain mood and evoke an atmosphere into your work. When it comes to editing, how important is this step for you in narrating the intended story you hope to tell through your photographs? Editing is equally as important as shooting. You can tell stories though colours and It’s something I like to do with my photography. Editing allows me to manipulate the colours and add colours to help tell the story I'm looking to tell.
How much of a photograph is made on location, and how much in the editing room? Are there many last minute, in-the-moment changes? You can’t fix a bad photo with an edit. So, the photo needs to be as close to what you want the final piece to be as possible. With editing you can focus on certain elements, manipulate colours and remove distracting elements. But the original photograph needs to be good otherwise no amount of editing can turn a bad photo into a good photo.
What cannot be seen through photography? The obvious ones are sounds and smells; however, I believe a really good photograph can overcome this barrier and convey the feeling and atmosphere of a scene.
How would you like the people who view your work to feel? Does it change with every image, or is there an overarching message you’d like to convey through your photographs? It’s hard to say. With all art, it's up to the viewer to interpret the photos I take as they see fit.
Lastly, how does photography allow you to see the world around you? I’m forever thankful that photography found me or I found photography. Photography is the reason I’ve travelled so much in recent years and have explored my home city London so much. I’m not sure I would have travelled as much, or met so many new people if it were not for photography.