Shoda Wonderland and Clear Sky
When I see Shoda Masahiro’s work, I always feel exhilarated like I take a deep breath under the clear, cloudless sky. I feel like this not because of the “positive energy” coming from his frank personality, bright smiles of people who appear in his work, nor his creative and unique style. Rather, I feel the exhilaration across his entire work from his serious attitude toward creativity in shooting that he has at his core.
That said, his “positive energy” making people smile is certainly part of the charm of his work. When a photographer Yoshihiko
Ueda, the co-founder of TAPA (Tokyo Advertising Photographers Award) along with Kazumi Kurigami, selected Shoda as the winner for 2015, he commented, “Shoda took photographs of what happened in that moment freely beyond what one can imagine from a given rough. I really like the way he is enjoying it.”
In fact, Shoda’s photographs are really fun. His photographs tell not only the fun of the world in every moment but also the tension when he and his performers enjoyed shooting. As Ueda said, his attitude trying to go beyond a given frame is quite positive, and that’s why he is greatly trusted by the staff and performers. What lies in such trust is persuasiveness in his well-thought-through technical design which cannot be explained by sensibility or intuition.
As a professional photographer and artist who pursues creativity in shooting, Shoda takes photographs by fully utilizing technologies, intelligence, theory, sensitivity, and energy. Without paying attention elsewhere nor having an evil thought, he devotes himself to seek the best way to take a better photo. His clear strength is pure like a clear sky and exhilarating like a deep breath.
Shoda’s advertising photographs are not just fun (e.g.: Otsuka Pharmaceutical ‘Pocari Sweat,’ Kirin ‘Tanrei Green Label,’ Kirin Beverage ‘Volvic,’ etc.). Actually, his “positive energy” that makes whoever sees his work smile is working effectively as an eye-catcher that helps draw people’s attention to the advertising.
In ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ Alice chasing the running White Rabbit is invited to a wonderland and experience various strange things there. Shoda’s ‘positive energy’ can be compared to the White Rabbit. As you are invited to drop your eyes on his photography world, you will find a deep wonderland that was well thought through by Shoda. The icon that works as an eye-catcher having a strong impact on people is Pants Guys in Shoda’s first photography book “DELICACY.” In this book, you see portraits of man wearing underwear on his head (shot in front of the blue background) and landscapes of Tokyo taken with a large format camera.
I believe you can’t help but laugh when you see the men wearing underwear on their head at the first glance. However, when you look at them more closely, you will find that they have their own unique style in wearing and selecting the underwear.
Whatever the color, pattern, or for men or women, they selected the underwear according to their sexuality. And, the bawdy scenes in Tokyo shown on the opposite pages also stimulate your imagination. While Tokyo is a big bustling city, it also embraces a quiet, dry and lonely atmosphere.
You may feel that the Pants Guys and landscapes are not compatible at a glance. However, if you see both pages at the same time, you will spontaneously combine these two images in your head. Every time you flip a page, you will come up with a
different story one after another, connecting the city and men’s desire. Seeing the visual images, you will give a meaning to it in words, add sound, and recall movies or feelings that you have experienced in the past. What you imagine differ depending on your sense of value and view of life, and there are as many different interpretations of imaginations as there are people who see his work.
While Shoda’s photographs are eye-catching, they also become an eloquent guide for you to develop a story and stimulate your sensitivities. Just seeing his photos, you will be guided to the wonderland of imaginations developed in your brain and have a personal experience as if you have to reaffirm your point of view in the real world seeing the photos. The inner world and well-thought-through external wonderland of creativity coexist in Shoda’s work, offering a mechanism that activates human imaginations from various angles.
Fun at a glance yet quiet. Besides, there are humane laughter and love for people hidden deeper inside. Sensitive yet real strong Shoda’s work started with portraits shot in New York.
Shoda moved to the U.S. in 2005. He approached people on the street in broken English and asked if he can take their photos.
Then, he quickly set up a large format camera and 4 x 5 films and released the shutter using synchronization technique during the daytime. Later on,
he won the Gold Award in the Self-Portrait category of IPA (International Photography Award). After returning to Japan in the following year, he visited art directors and film directors he respects, and in the course of presenting his work to them, he started receiving a lot of business offers.
Basically, Shoda is not concerned about the barriers between commercials and art, so he produces/releases many works in a wide range of genres including advertising photography, CD jackets, posters, magazines, graphics, commercial films and other original works. He took photos of a wide range of people with a focus on their history and charm by utilizing various methodologies, as exemplified by not only his representative works such as ‘DELICACY’ but also a portrait series “Shoda Masahiro Shashin Gekijyo” which was contributed to a magazine called kettle (Ohta Publishing Co.), where he selected peopleand developed a plan and direction by himself.
Shoda was strongly influenced by such artists as Taryn Simon, Gregory Grewdson, and Philip-Lorca DiCorcia. All of them are great artists that raised social problems, combining reality and creative presentation in a unique way.
What message will he deliver to us? To what world will he take us? We can’t keep our eyes off his borderless activities.