Portrait Salon

Noriko Takasugi

Fukushima Samurai

Noriko Takasugi’s portrait, ‘Fukushima Samurai’ (below), was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of her series ‘Fukushima Samurai – The Story of Identity’.

Takakatsu, 68 the beach for horse racing training  "Soma Nomaoi represents life of Japanese Samurai warriors and my way of living. You need that kind of samurai spirit otherwise you cannot run around wearing that heavy armor in midsummer". When it gets closer to Soma Nomaoi, he practices horse racing every 4am morning with his stable mates in the beach. His house facing the beach, destroyed and some of his horses in his stable next to the house were washed away.  September 2012

Takakatsu, 68. When it gets closer to Soma Nomaoi, he practices horse racing every 4am morning with his stable mates in the beach. His house facing the beach, destroyed and some of his horses in his stable next to the house were washed away. September 2012.

‘Since 2011, I have devoted my time to capturing the survivors of 3.11. While I am listening to their story, I could not ignore the unique spirit emerging in these people. For my project, I especially focused on the people who were once residents in the 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. These photos are part of my long-term project that differs from the major news stories about the disaster, having been investigating the evacuees not as victims, but as part of a 1000 years old folk culture of the area and representative of Japanese identity, examining how they are surviving such hard times and fighting their fate to retain their sense of self, both as individuals and as part of a group.’

Shingo, 34 the foundation of his original house  His "favorite house" with an ocean view on a hill was washed away 10-meter inland by the tsunami. "All the belongings including armor for the Soma Nomaoi annual celebration and two horses that we had taken care of as family were washed away." Fortunately no one was in the house when the earthquake and tsunami occurred and all the family members were safe.  September 2012

Shingo, 34. His ‘favourite house’ with an ocean view on a hill was washed away 10-meter inland by the tsunami. “All the belongings including armor for the Soma Nomaoi annual celebration and two horses that we had taken care of as family were washed away.” September 2012.

Kunihito, 40 in front of his parents' house  “I lived here since I was born until the disaster occurred. Roof tiles fell off and walls cracked due to the earthquake, but the house is habitable only if the level of radiation exposure was normal.” Currently he lives in a leased housing in the town near Odaka with his family and has been working since before the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.  September 2012

Kunihito, 40. “I lived here since I was born until the disaster occurred. Roof tiles fell off and walls cracked due to the earthquake, but the house is habitable only if the level of radiation exposure was normal.” September 2012.

‘About 18,000 people have past away or missing due to the disaster. It triggered the nuclear explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. About 230,000 are still living as evacuees. Related death in Japan is more than 3,000 including more than 1,700 in Fukushima. The majority of people who lived in Fukushima at the time are still living the life of evacuees, devoting a great deal of their time to dealing with the effects of nuclear contamination.’

Yoshiyuki, 59 his former house and small furniture factory in Odaka  His former house was also his small furniture factory. He had lived here since 1948 when he was born and worked locally for more than 35 years. In July 2012, he moved all the equipment from his former home to his new one in the neighboring city, where he evacuated to and live now, to restart the furniture business. September 2012

Yoshiyuki, 59. His former house was also his small furniture factory. He had lived here since he was born and worked locally for more than 35 years. In July 2012, he moved all the equipment from his former home to his new one in the neighboring city, where he evacuated to and live now, to restart the furniture business. September 2012.

Masaki, 31 the spectator stand of the field where Soma Nomaoi events are held Masaki used to live with his three children in Odaka. After the disaster he decided to stay in the next town instead of evacuating farther afield. “Of course I worried about the radiation effects but I did not want to move too far from my town because it is the place where Soma Nomaoi is held”. September 2012

Masaki, 31. Masaki used to live with his three children in Odaka. After the disaster he decided to stay in the next town instead of evacuating farther afield. “Of course I worried about the radiation effects but I did not want to move too far from my town because it is the place where Soma Nomaoi is held”. September 2012.

‘Soma Nomaoi is an annual celebration of Samurai culture in Fukushima more than 1000 years old. About 2000 people died in Fukushima due to 3.11, most of who were from the area where the Soma Nomaoi is held. Despite the harsh conditions, loss of lives and loss of hundreds of their horses and much of their armory, the majority of the surviving Nomaoi Samurai warriors agreed to hold the gathering in 2011, just a few months after the disaster. It is not just an event but also an embodiment of their identity and fight for survival. Here, the samurai way of life, “Bushido”, corresponds to the concept of chivalry. This sense of identity represents how and why, they live. The Nomaoi Samurai warriors portrayed here were once residents in the area close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Most of them are no longer allowed to live there but they can enter the area during the day. Each of them stands in the places that had a personal meaning to them in the area in their everyday life, reviving their memories of home.’

‘Although the typical image of current Japan might be still positive with Tokyo’s high-tech buildings, to people outside Japan, the country remains a hidden world. I would like, through my photography, to show this secret part of Japan: the mentality, inner warmth and profound sense of beauty triumphing over adversity, and awe to the nature. Those secrets part are not the extraordinary things for us but accumulation of our choices in our ordinary life. Such qualities are often obscured nowadays in the world as a whole, not just in Japan. My ordinary life and Japanese root came across to these Samurai people while I am taking the light and shadow of them by my camera.’

Hironobu, 44 new horse stable built with his family after the disaster He took me to a horse stable that his family member and he built on his wife's parents’ property after the disaster. “I am now taking care of several horses that did not have anyone to rely one anymore because of the disaster. I wake up every morning before work to take care of them. It is something that is hard to do if you do not genuinely love horses.” The three kids and their parents are living separately in different municipalities as an evacuee life. “It is hard to only see the kids on weekends.”  September 2012

Hironobu, 44. He took me to a horse stable that his family member and he built on his wife’s parents’ property after the disaster. “I am now taking care of several horses that did not have anyone to rely one anymore because of the disaster”. The three kids and their parents are living separately in different municipalities as an evacuee life. “It is hard to only see the kids on weekends.” September 2012.

Kunio, 65 in front of a household altar sacred to Odaka Shrine "I used to stand in front of this kamidana (a household altar) sacred to Odaka Shrine and pray every morning when we were living here before the disaster.” He prayed when somebody in his family got sick, when his daughter-in-law gave birth and also for other occasions. Standing solemnly in front of the kamidana with gratitude as part of his daily routine was such a precious and calm moment for him. He cannot live here anymore but he prays to the kamidana whenever he visits here.  August 2012

Kunio, 65. “I used to stand in front of this kamidana (a household altar) sacred to Odaka Shrine and pray every morning when we were living here before the disaster.” He prayed when somebody in his family got sick, when his daughter-in-law gave birth and also for other occasions. Standing solemnly in front of the kamidana with gratitude as part of his daily routine was such a precious and calm moment for him. He cannot live here now but he prays to the kamidana whenever he visits here. August 2012.

Born in Japan and based in Tokyo, Noriko Takasugi graduated with an MA in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Working as an editor for monthly graphic magazines led Takasugi to increase her passion for photography and storytelling. She has always been fascinated with connecting with people whose culture is strongly associated with the land and integrating herself with them through photography. Takasugi’s work has been exhibited widely in UK and published in The Telegraph, Independent, Wired.com. She was awarded the Konica Minolta Foto Premio 2014, selected as a finalist of PhotoQuai 2015 Biennale and a finalist of Critical Mass 2013 (Photolucida).

Takasugi’s hand made self-published photobook, “Fukushima Samurai – the story of identity” has been selected for E Book Show and G Book Show.

norikotakasugi.com

James O Jenkins

Sarah Lee

Sidewalk America

Sarah Lee’s portrait, photographed on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles (below), was selected for Portrait Salon 2014 (Sarah’s portrait of Wallander actor Krister Henriksson was also included) and is part of a long term project with the writer, broadcaster and novelist Laura Barton about the urban American experience. It’s working title is ‘Sidewalk America – This Is Your Land’.

Copyright Sarah Lee - Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles.

Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles

‘Sidewalk America: all these images are part of a wider project I’ve been working on where I’ve been walking the length of the main streets in five American Cities from dawn till dusk. I have no fixed rules other than I must keep moving forward.’

Copyright Sarah Lee - Broadway, New York City.

Broadway, New York City

Copyright Sarah Lee - Broadway, New York City.

Broadway, New York City

‘Sunset Blvd in LA, Broadway [from the Staten Island ferry to 189th St], Pennsylvania Avenue in DC, 8th Street in Miami, and Woodward Avenue Detroit. My aim has been to observe the America that isn’t often commented upon the city from the sidewalk itself. A series of road trips fuelled only by shoe leather and caffeine, rather than by gasoline and horsepower.’

Copyright Sarah Lee - Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC.

Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC

Copyright Sarah Lee - Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles.

Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles

‘I’ve found that the people I’ve met along the way have been surprisingly willing to chat and tell their stories and to let me take their portraits. I worked only using prime lenses and a manual camera, keeping them as color with the intention of trying to remain as honest to the subjects as I can be.’

Copyright Sarah Lee - Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC.

Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC

Copyright Sarah Lee - Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC. Brother Burnell, who moved to the city two months ago. He finds it unfriendly but is staying optimistic. He sells copies of The Final Call [the Nation of Islam's newspaper] and bottles of insence on the street.

Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC

‘I only photographed people and places as I encountered them without having any “control” over them or the environment. This was enormously liberating. I’m not American, but it’s a country that I love [my Mother is a citizen, I met my husband here] and that I keep coming back to trying to understand it more. This project has been part of that process.”

Copyright Sarah Lee - Broadway, New York City.

Broadway, New York City

Copyright Sarah Lee - Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC.

Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC

You can hear Sarah Lee and Laura Barton discussing ‘Sidewalk America’ for The Guardian and Observer here.

Sarah Lee has been a contracted freelancer for The Guardian and Observer since 2000 and specialises in portraiture, features and the Arts but is interested in all photography that focuses on people, and our shared human experience. Her work has appeared in many publications and places including the cover of TIME magazine, Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times, Intelligent Life and many others.

sarahmlee.com

Twitter: @SarahMLee47

James O Jenkins

David Severn

David Severn’s portrait ‘Ethan and his Mum’ (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of a body of work that comprises two commissions by Dance4 and The Renewal Trust to photograph young people in Nottingham who are dancers with differing levels of ability.

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Ethan with his Mum after Ethan’s first dance class at The Chase community centre, St Ann’s estate, Nottingham

‘The portrait that was selected for Portrait Salon 13, “Ethan and his Mum”, was shot after Ethan’s first ballet class at The Chase community centre on the St Ann’s estate. Ethan had visibly taken to the dance session and tried with impressive enthusiasm to perfect the positions he’d been taught. I approached Ethan and his Mum as they were leaving the centre and we set up the portrait on their walk home. I wanted to convey Ethan’s zealous spirit, so asked him to connect with the camera and demonstrate some of what he’d learnt. His Mum stood behind, proudly placing her hand on Ethan’s shoulder.’

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Savannah, a participant in a series of outreach workshops with Birmingham Royal Ballet, presenting a ballet pose in the St Ann’s area of Nottingham.

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Street dancers sat in the stalls of the Theatre Royal, Nottingham.

‘I was keen to make the portraits in various locations within the city such as the street, the community centre or the theatre, reflecting a shared community and sense of place. From young people taking their very first dance class to those with years of experience, these portraits depict a common interest among young people of diverse social backgrounds. Rather than becoming distracted by the artificiality of performance or capturing dramatic movement, these photographs present the quieter, more personal moments of creative expression and reveal the self-actualization of youth.’

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Jasmine, a keen ballet dancer, outside the Sycamore community centre on the St. Ann’s estate, Nottingham.

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Dancer resting between rehearsals, Nottingham Contemporary.

‘Many of the young people I photographed are from the St Ann’s area of Nottingham, a neighbourhood that is still being affected by the collapse of the local manufacturing industry and scores poorly on government measures of deprivation. During the project, Birmingham Royal Ballet ran outreach workshops at The Chase community centre in St Ann’s. I spent time getting to know the participants’ individual personalities and documenting their discovery of dance. It was striking to witness the level of engagement in the ballet sessions from the young people involved, breaking down stereotyped ideas of the art form being an elitist interest not meant for them. I made several portraits responding to the relationship between the perception of ballet and the built environment of the St Ann’s estate, posing subjects in their newly learnt ballet positions in front of social housing, shopping precincts and the community centre.’

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Young people during tuition with Dance4’s Centre for Advanced Training programme

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Teenagers warming up before a dance class and looking out over Wellington Circus, Nottingham.

‘The social aspect of dance is also a significant theme in the work, exploring the bond between dancers both during practice and in downtime. The familiar adolescent story of inseparable friendships, budding romances, and evolving identities plays out through the images and touches more broadly on the adventurousness and heightened emotions of young people.’

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Sharmell, a street dancer, on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Nottingham

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Enok on his scooter before dance class at the Sycamore community centre in St. Ann’s, Nottingham

David Severn is a documentary and editorial photographer based in Nottingham, UK. His work is concerned with working class culture and the places associated with it, both historically and today. He is particularly interested in the relationship between people, work and landscape. His current project explores life within coalfield areas in the British Midlands. David’s photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally including at Renaissance Prize exhibition, Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition and Singapore International Photography Festival. He has worked on editorial assignments for numerous publications including FT Weekend Magazine, The Times and MONOCLE. Recently David was selected as a winner of the Magnum Photos “30 under 30” award, an international competition open to documentary photographers under 30 years of age covering social issues.

davidsevern.com

Twitter: @davidsevern

Instagram: davidsevern

James O Jenkins