JRP: Fine Art Photographer Kiyo Murakami’s work is inspiring. I am grateful that she consented to an interview. Thank you Kiyo for joining us here on JRP Blog.
Kiyo Murakami: Thank you, James.
JRP: Kiyo where do you call home? How did you get your start in photography and is there any formal training in your background?
Kiyo Murakami: I was born in Shizuoka, Japan, and now live in Tokyo. I began doing photography professionally only a few years ago. I’ve never had any formal training in the medium, but I am a designer by profession, and have been using Adobe Photoshop for over 10 years.
JRP: Every photographer has a moment where it clicks that this is what they should be doing. When was that for you and why the genre of photography you have chosen?
Kiyo Murakami: After I graduated from art school I continued experimenting with various art forms; illustration, design, music, etc. I found that I was able to best express my myself through the world of photography. I don’t know if my work is truly “fine art“, but it brings me pleasure knowing other believe it to be.
JRP: Name some photographers you feel have impacted your work and why?
Kiyo Murakami: I can honestly say that I’m not that familiar with famous photographers, but I can say that I find inspiration in paintings, music, and movies. Old paintings and classic films in particular. If I had to name a photographer that I find inspiring it would likely be Floria Sigismondi. I find her self-portraits and creative ideas very striking and impressive.
JRP: Do you have a support staff or are you an independent artist?
Kiyo Murakami: No support staff. I’m an independent artist, though I surround myself with creative and talented friends whom I often collaborate with.
JRP: What equipment would I find in your camera bag or studio for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favor and why?
Kiyo Murakami: I shoot with a Canon EOS 5D MkII and have lenses that include a: 28-135mm zoom, 50mm f1.4, and 20mm f2.8, as well as a 70-300mm zoom that I primarily use on location. I like shooting with available light or hot lights, and while strobe lights are necessary in some situations I find the results sometimes feel unnatural for me.
JRP: Could you describe your digital work-flow and the software you use?
Kiyo Murakami: I shoot in RAW format and do all of my editing in Photoshop CS5. Nothing terribly unusual, though I do tend to use a lot of layers and it can take many hours to finish a single image.
JRP: Do you personally print your images?
Kiyo Murakami: In the past I didn’t often print my images but now I frequently do. For me, printing is an important step and makes the image more tangible, more “visceral”. It allows me to see the image more objectively.
JRP: How do you keep productive and retain your creative edge?
Kiyo Murakami: I don’t believe I’m doing anything special, I simply follow my love to create.
JRP: Are there any memorable images or shoots you could share with us? What made that image or shoot special?
Kiyo Murakami: Yes, a few weeks ago I shot a very interesting artist. She is an origami instructor (the art of folding paper) and I chose to illustrate that by creating her wardrobe and accessories entirely from paper. I enlisted the help of a hair stylist and fashion designer, and together we made everything from her dress and hair bows to the cranes floating around her, all from paper. It took a lot of time, but I am thoroughly delighted with the end result: Delicate, with a uniquely traditional Japanese feel.
JRP: What has been the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Kiyo Murakami: The best advice I received was not from a photographer but from an art teacher. When I graduated art school he said “nobody is watching you, you can create what you want”. Consequently, I always try to find my own style and create my own world.
JRP: What advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Kiyo Murakami: Just have fun and try to be creative without thinking too much about what photography is. I also believe that it’s very important to surround yourself with creative people, friends with whom you can share ideas and find mutual inspiration.
JRP: Thank you Kiyo for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a real pleasure.
Kiyo Murakami: Thank you, James. It’s been my pleasure.
JRP: To view more of Kiyo Murakami’s photography please follow these links: http://www.kiyomurakami.com/