Vagus Magazine Spring 2022 Feature Story
Shun Tsuiki is a self-portrait photographer who aims to express empathy through his work.
He began making creative self-portraits in 2020, and won the Critical Mass Top 50 Award in 2021.
How did you learn photography?
I learned mechanical knowledge as a director while working with professional photographers on numerous shoots. I also developed my perspective by shooting on the street.
What is your approach to coming up with concepts to shoot?
This may be unavoidable, but honestly, the concept often comes late.
First, I often begin to imagine in my own way how a photograph can be made more beautiful by utilizing the surrounding environment and items, and then start to think about what meaning (concept) I can add to it.
However, even if I add the concept later, it does not mean that I neglect the concept. In my own way, I am conscious of the poetic aspect of the photo so that it will be original and readable.
Many of your images have one bright light source, such as a beam or pocket of light, amidst a teal or blue setting. Why do you create your images this way?
I chose this way because I believe that “creating a sense of immersion” and “organizing information” is necessary to generate the aforementioned empathy, but at this point, this is only a hypothesis and will probably change in the future.
You’ve mentioned that you aim to express empathy through your work; can you elaborate?
Now that life has become more convenient with abundant goods and information, people are re-evaluating how they can be and feel happy.
One of them is happiness based on “empathy,” in which people share feelings rather than things. This can be a privilege for human beings who recognize each other at a high level.
I feel that the flatness and stillness of a photograph are suitable for drawing out the active imagination of the viewer and creating empathy.
When I look at the wonderful works of other artists, I empathize with their concepts and stories, and feel a strong sense of joy and comfort in life.
My goal is not to create works that flaunt creativity, but rather works that can be gently tucked away in someone’s pocket.
Is there anything that helps you get through creative challenges?
Whether or not I publish my work, I increase the number of times I shoot. I believe that in the case of photography, the time spent on a piece is not proportional to its quality. I believe in the ideas and identity that can be created by increasing the number of opportunities to release the shutter.
"The colours of highlights, mid-tones, and shadows are broken down, and the appropriate colour is chosen depending on the work.
Currently, I am attracted to warm colours placed within cold colours."
Who is your creative partner (the female-presenting person), and what is it like to shoot scenes with the same person frequently?
She is my wife. In self-portraiture, where I have 100% control over when to release the shutter, I think it is also important to have a partner who is willing to share and cooperate with my intentions without hesitation when shooting with more than one person.
In the process of creating work, what have you learned about yourself?
Weakness of statement.
For example, even though I have been exposed to brain science and studied how people react when they see a photo and can somewhat express that, each time I add more works, my feeling that something is missing grows. To thicken my roots, I want to learn more about human nature - religion, history, philosophy, etc.
Check out more of Shun's work on his Instagram profile (Instagram: @tsuikishun) and official website: www.shuntsuiki.com This interview was originally published in Issue 5 of Vagus Magazine: Fluorescent Blossoms. A longer version of the interview is available in the magazine.