Female Film Photographers You Should Know: Keiko Mizuno
Keiko is a wonderful female film photographer born and currently living in the capital city of Gifu prefecture in central Japan.
Her love of analogue photography began with her beloved LOMO LC-A+ camera, with which she has shared numerous trips and journeys around the world. Keiko’s photography has always been focused on her intuition and desire to capture those scenes in which she felt that indescribable feeling called in Japanese, 時めき (Tokimeki).
♦ How would you introduce yourself to someone who just met you?
I’m Keiko Mizuno, born and raised in Gifu, Japan.
Since graduating, I have been working as a nurse in a hospital in Gifu. I love to go hiking on my days off, as well as visiting museums and enjoying a good coffee in the nice cafes in my neighbourhood.
In 2010, I went to live in New Zealand for a year on a Working Holiday visa and since then I have been travelling to different cities in Europe. I also spent almost a year living in England to improve my English while volunteering in a centre for the disabled. It was there that I met some wonderful people and where I felt the need to document my experiences on film.
A few months ago I returned to my homeland, Gifu, just when the pandemic broke out. Although I am still unable to travel outside Japan, I am continuing my photography on a more local level.
♦ What is the memory that you most fondly remember from your childhood?
I remember that when I was a child, whenever I had a free moment, I used to play the piano. I loved to compose my own songs or play songs I knew from various anime or maybe play some classical music.
I started playing the piano at a very young age, in fact, I had my first lessons when I was still in kindergarten. Thanks to my grandparents who bought me my first beloved piano, I continued to play it until my early teens. Now unfortunately as I have not continued my practice, my skills have become quite rusty but it warms my heart every time I remember those times when I was a child and enjoyed the music I played on my piano.
♦ Who were the most influential people during your teens and how did they influence you?
Apart from my family, one of my biggest influences in my life was my teacher of Sado (Japanese Tea Ceremony). I learned from her million of things but the most important thing was hospitality towards people. She taught me how to make people feel good and comfortable through small details and words.
♦ How did you get in the world of analogue photography?
I started in the world of analogue photography thanks to the LOMO LCA+ camera that I bought out of curiosity in a shop in Nayoga. I remember that at the beginning I didn’t use it much but it wasn’t until I travelled abroad that I really fell in love with this world. On my travels I came across wonderful people and beautiful landscapes that made me have the need of capturing those unrepeatable moments with my camera.
I have to say that there was a time when I used digital cameras, but at a certain point it stopped appealing to me. When you photograph with digital cameras you can take as many pictures as you want, you can check them on the spot and you can also edit them in postproduction. However, the sensation I felt when I received the photographs of my first film cannot be compared to when I was using digital cameras. I was instantly taken with the colours that the film captured, how the light looked beautifully different and that more retro atmosphere.
For me shooting with my LOMO LCA+ is a complete change of mindset, it’s a “don’t think just feel”. There is no room for possible corrections, I capture the moment as it was and I enjoy it so much more.
♦How would you describe the photography you do? What is your work focused on?
If I had to describe what my photography style is like, I would probably say that my work is mostly focused on street photography. However, I have never been entirely comfortable with the term street photography.
My photography has always been focused on my intuition and my desire to capture those scenes in which it has made me feel something inside. In Japanese that feeling in which something inside you awakens, we call it 時めき (Tokimeki).
♦ Are you working on any photographic project at the moment?
I’m not working on any particular project at the moment but I always stay active by taking pictures in my daily life.
♦ Is there any photographic project that you would like to do but have not done yet?
I recently participated with my work in the international Lomography exhibition that took place in Tokyo. The truth is that it was a formidable experience and I can’t wait to do my next exhibition in the near future.
As an aside project, I am looking forward to organising analogue photographers meet-ups in Nagoya. Although until the global situation improves, this will still be on hold.
♦ Which camera and which film do you use the most in your photography and why?
My favourite camera of all time is the Lomo LC-A + and I use the Lomography 800 film. First of all, the Lomo LC-A + camera is super intuitive and easy to use, which is what I prioritise when I am traveling or when I take it with me in my daily life. I love those vivid, contrasted colours of the resulting Lomo LC-A + and Lomography film combination.Those photographs that have an extra punch have always caught my attention.
Finally, I adore that characteristic vintage look of lomo cameras and the versatility of being able to take my camera wherever I want and use it in almost all lighting conditions.
♦ Who are your biggest influences?
My great influences are the multifaceted artist Yayoi Kusama, the magnificent work of the British photographer JJ Waller and the Italian artist Naomi Vona, who by the way is doing an incredible work with photo collages.
♦ What’s the best advice you would give yourself when you started in the world of film photography?
Travel a lot and to different places in the world. Do new things always to get out of the comfort zone to expand your mind and your creativity and meet new people. But above all, feel and take more pictures. Let go of any limiting thoughts, let the moment flow and enjoy your photography.
Find more about Keiko’s Work?