SHOMEI TOMATSU
[1930 – 2012] Japanese photographer

 
In this, photography is the same thing as love. When my gaze, diving into the sea as my subject, converges with the act of photography, hot sparks fly at the point of intersection. - Shomei Tomatsu
If I could, I would want to see everything: the affairs of others, the scene of a murder, the Pygmies in the African rain forest, the super-rich of Wall Street, the face of the man who stole three hundred million yen, the Sydney Opera House, the graveyard of ships in the Sargasso Sea, the tail of an orca, the plankton of the deep ocean, the inside of Prime Minister Sato’s belly, Mao Zedong, Mars, Cape Kennedy, Antarctic blizzards, the animal whose name is “sloth,” the pudendum of Marilyn Monroe. My eyes are infamously greedy:... to me, the stuff other photographers substitute for seeing is but a kind of pessimism. - Shomei Tomatsu
If I had seven lives, I’d be a photographer in every one. - Shomei Tomatsu
A photographer looks at everything, which is why he must look from beginning to end. Face the subject head-on, stay fixed, turn the entire body into an eye and face the world. - Shomei Tomatsu
Sometimes a photographer is a passenger, sometimes a person who stays in one place. What he watches changes constantly, but his watching never changes. He doesn’t examine like a doctor, defend like a lawyer, analyze like a scholar, support like a priest, make people laugh like a comedian, or intoxicate like a singer. He only watches. This is enough. No, this is all I can do. All a photographer can do is watch. Therefore, a photographer has to watch all the time. He must face the object and make his entire body an eye. A photographer is someone who wagers everything on seeing. - Shomei Tomatsu
In short, [photography] is a matter of turning loneliness into thoughts. - Shomei Tomatsu
What happens when you no longer have a home to return to? Unable to focus your gaze, you zigzag along an aimless course. Looking down, you find yourself staring at the ground as you walk, gazing like a stray dog. - Shomei Tomatsu
Photography means releasing oneself from one type of gravity and placing oneself in a space where a different force is trying to move you. - Shomei Tomatsu
I have embarked on a nameless sea of chaos that is neither America nor Japan. It is a global sea, and we all float there. - Shomei Tomatsu
A single photograph is a mere fragment of an experience and, simultaneously, the distillation of the entire body of one’s experience. - Shomei Tomatsu
Sometimes when I face an object I feel revulsion. If that happens, I don’t release the shutter. Whatever one believes, the act of taking a picture implies the affirmation of the subject, whether consciously or not. - Shomei Tomatsu
Let’s say that I sleep an average of six hours a day—that leaves eighteen hours: 64,800 seconds. If I take a photograph in 1/1000th of a second, then the slice of time represented by that picture is 1/64, 800,000th of one day... - Shomei Tomatsu
When I am faced with the victims of the bomb, I find myself almost praying as I release the shutter of my camera. It is as if they are the God of the fin-de-siècle, Christ of the nuclear age. - Shomei Tomatsu
I dream of a new kind of camera connected directly to the cerebral cortex. It should be no bigger than a pair of eyeglasses and no heavier than a hat. It would work continuously, automatically adjusting its shutter speed, aperture, and focus, zooming in a moment from extreme close-up to extreme long shot. The photographer would only have to think that he wants to take a photograph of a thing. The film would wind automatically, and you would be able to take a thousand photographs without changing it. It would be both black-and-white and color. Recording one’s position might be impossible, but the date and time of each photograph would show on the edges of the film—automatically, as on a calendar watch. With this new camera attached to my body, I would just shoot and shoot and shoot... - Shomei Tomatsu