Self-Portraiture, Makirama Style
Photographer Q & A
Along with your modern and edgy imagery for clients, you've created a whole new genre you've coined Makirama. Tell us what inspires your unique self-portraiture.
I observe that life always includes some level of drama and through my eyes I see the similarity of life and theater. My influences range from Japanese Kabuki Theater to American pop culture to the work of Andy Warhol. I like to think of Makirama not only as a way to analyze myself as I go through life, but also as an invitation to my audience to undertake a similar journey of self-discovery through my imagery.
What's it like to shoot this type of photography?
It's not easy shooting Makirama. Being both subject and photographer creates a unique set of challenges. On a recent shoot in Tasmania, it also brought a lot of interested bystanders—Japanese geishas are not run of the mill in this part of the world. It was the biggest, longest and most intense photo shoot I have ever done. I was there for a month, shooting and scouting locations simultaneously. The challenge was to pose for myself and still create the closest image to what I had in my mind. One time there were 30 people following me and taking pictures.
How do you approach the work you do for commercial clients?
In my commercial work, I like to play with lighting and highlight the drama in the setting—whether it's for fashion, a celebrity portrait or corporate client. I feel that my Makirama essays influence the work I create for clients because I am strengthening the way I make imagery and how I develop ideas.
We know you recently used our Pro Roller Attaché x50 on a shoot. How did that go?
I had a photo shoot scheduled right after I got this bag, so I wanted to try it out right away. I first of all loved the size! The shoot was in New York City, and moving around in the big city with equipment isn't an easy thing to do. The bag was small enough to take it everywhere…even in subway or bus if I needed to. I love how one bag fits into another bag. This is a great space-saving feature for me. The smaller bag had removable separation, so I put my two cameras, two lenses, meter and other related equipment in it.
Take a look at Maki Kawakita's rich and riveting work and follow her exhibition, workshop and lecture schedule on her web site: www.makiphoto.com
Maki Kawakita's Lowepro gear includes:
"My Pro Roller x100 is always by my side—at the office, in the studio or as I travel. I lay it flat at the corner of my office space so I can get to my equipment. When I travel, it becomes my carry-on and I slide my laptop in the outside zippered pocket. I don't like to open my luggage to pull out my computer at airport security, so the outside pocket is so convenient for me. I can also be creative at the airport... Pro Roller x100 even becomes an ottoman that I can rest my legs on as I prepare for long flights and transitions! I take my SlingShot 100 AW literally everywhere. My gear is always in it, but I like that fact I can put the model releases, pen, sunscreen and snack in different compartments. I put my tripod on the side and I go just like that to a small shoot or day trip to do location scouting. There are so many possibilities in all these bags!"
- Maki Kawakita
'Intense" is how she describes her visually vibrant and unique work. Conceptual photographer Maki Kawakita blends influences from both Eastern and Western cultures in her distinctive style. She's photographed modern-day celebrities like Beyoncé and Fergie. And her clients include Time Magazine, Marie Claire, Levi Strauss, Sony and Virgin Records, among others. Kawakita was named one of the best 100 photographers of Japan by Commercial Photography. Her images have been exhibited around the world—from Paris to Turkey.