Moments in Motion 動きの瞬間

Taro Suzuki's Tokyo Tales


Peter Pickering

4/25/20244 min read

In the neon-lit heart of Tokyo, where the city pulsates with endless energy, Taro Suzuki, a retired street photographer, captures life’s quieter, more candid moments. From his early days as a passionate young photographer to his golden years, Taro has seen Tokyo through many lenses, but none more favoured than his trusty Leica M6. This camera, a relic from his youth, mirrors the timeless essence of his subjects—mostly the city’s cats and dogs, whose unaffected nature provides genuine snapshots of urban life.

Every morning, Taro Suzuki greets the day with a ritual that centres his mind and prepares him for his photographic pursuits. His day begins at a humble neighbourhood café, a place where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the sweetness of pastries. Here, he prefers a quieter start: a cup of steaming green tea, which he sips thoughtfully, paired with a dorayaki—those delightful honey-filled pancakes that offer a taste of traditional Japanese sweetness. This simple meal, consumed slowly, allows Taro time to contemplate his route for the day.

With the sun just starting to ascend, Taro steps out into the lively streets of Shimokitazawa and Koenji, areas famed not just for their vintage shops and indie music scene, but also for their vibrant street life that provides endless inspiration for a photographer like him. These neighbourhoods, with their narrow alleys and eclectic mix of old and new, are where Taro feels most at home. He meanders through these streets, his Leica M6 always ready at his side, capturing the dance of light and shadows as the day unfolds.

Stray cats, basking in the morning sun, often catch his eye. These serene creatures, with their unbothered demeanour, make perfect subjects. They are stark contrasts to the bustling human activity around them—shopkeepers setting out their wares, early shoppers browsing through morning markets, and children on their way to school. Taro delights in these contrasts, finding beauty in the serenity of the animals amidst the human chaos.

His pursuit of the perfect shot is methodical yet instinctive. He watches how morning light casts long shadows and how it illuminates faces and storefronts, creating a canvas ripe for photography. Taro’s approach is that of a hunter tracking subtle cues— a glance, a gesture, a fleeting expression.

By mid-morning, Taro usually finds himself deep in the residential pockets of the neighbourhoods, where the true essence of Tokyo's daily life plays out away from the main thoroughfares. Here, he often pauses, engaging with the locals, sometimes even showing them his photographs, which often elicits smiles and nods of recognition. It's a meaningful exchange for Taro, as it deepens his connection to the subjects and places he photographs.

By lunchtime, Taro Suzuki's steps inevitably lead him to the warm, inviting embrace of "Ramen Yokocho," a quaint ramen shop nestled in the heart of Shibuya. Known affectionately to locals and the shop's affable owner, Hiro, as "Suzuki-san," Taro is a fixture at his favourite corner table.

On these occasions, he's often joined by a close-knit group of fellow photography aficionados: Kenji, an old schoolmate and a fellow Leica enthusiast; Aiko, a recent art school graduate with a fresh perspective on digital photography; and Satoshi, a retired journalist with a wealth of stories from his days on the field. The table buzzes with animated conversation, steam rising from the large bowls of ramen in front of them.

Today, as Hiro sets down Taro's usual order—a steaming bowl of miso ramen topped with a perfectly soft-boiled egg—the conversation turns to the merits of various film types. Kenji, ever the traditionalist, argues for the classic Ilford HP5 for its grain and contrast, while Aiko speaks fervently about the flexibility of Kodak Portra, ideal for her colour street portraits.

Taro listens intently, sharing stories and insights gained from decades of shooting with his trusty Leica M6. His experiences bridge the rich history of film photography and the new digital techniques that Aiko brings to the table. It’s during these gatherings that Taro’s philosophy truly comes to life: he believes in capturing the essence of moments, focusing on the raw and real rather than the polished and edited.

These lunches at Ramen Yokocho are more than just meals; they are Taro’s connection to his past and his gateway to the evolving world of photography. As the lunch hour wanes, the group reluctantly parts ways, inspired and eager to explore the streets once more with fresh eyes and, perhaps, old cameras.

As dusk falls, Taro returns to his modest home, where he has set up a small darkroom. Here, he develops his film, a process he cherishes for its hands-on nature and the direct connection it provides to his craft. After developing, he carefully scans the negatives, transforming these analog memories into digital files. This method allows him to share and preserve his work while maintaining the photograph’s original integrity. His post-processing is deliberately minimal, focused solely on removing any imperfections like dust spots and making slight adjustments to ensure the black and white contrasts speak as vividly as the scenes he witnessed.

Taro’s approach to photography is holistic. He believes that the true artistry of photography lies not in manipulation but in the authentic representation of life. His days, filled with exploration and engagement, reflect a deep commitment to the art form—continually learning, adapting, and embracing the ever-changing tapestry of Tokyo.

In every frame, Taro captures not just images but stories, each photograph a testament to the life unfolding before him. Taro Suzuki, with his camera and his city, continues to be a chronicler of the myriad faces of Tokyo, a storyteller who communicates in the silent, eloquent language of light and shadow. Through his lens, he not only observes the world but also invites others to see the beauty in the everyday, the ordinary, and the overlooked.

© Peter Pickering 2024.









今日、ヒロが太郎のいつもの注文である完璧な半熟卵ののった味噌ラーメンを置くと、会話はさまざまなフィルムタイプの長所に移ります。伝統主義者である健司は、その粒子とコントラストのために古典的なIlford HP5を支持する一方で、アイコは彼女のカラーストリートポートレートに理想的なKodak Portraの柔軟性について熱心に語ります。






© Peter Pickering 2024.