Playing Japanese characters and being in environments that are Japanese, like a character's apartment or whatever, if you have directors or art directors who just don't know what' s what with Japanese culture, then pretty soon something's just passed through. I've been through many times where I've pointed out the incorrectness of so much of what's been done to a set.
Simon Collinson, of digital publisher Canelo and über-cool Aussie mag The Lifted Brow, is our digital producer; Sarah Shin, Verso's comms director, is helping us out with press publicity; Soraya Gilanni, who mainly does production and set design for films and commercials, is our art director.
Michael's Powell art director was a painter and they had a wonderful friendship and artistic understanding. Michael himself, in the way he designed his own house, it was always with bright colours. Very un-English!
It began when I was so ill that there was a good chance of dying. I promised myself that if I survived I would never again pander to a magazine's requests or follow the ideas of art directors. I would only make images which were personal, which arose out of my own life.
Photographers should make three or four prints from one negative and then crop them differently. When I was art director at Harper's Bazaar and at several agencies as a consultant, young photographers would bring me their portfolios and all the prints would be in the same standard proportions, either for the Leica or the Rolleiflex. Many times, by limiting themselves in this way, they missed the true potentialities of their photographs.
No matter how much crap you gotta plow through to stay alive as a photographer, no matter how many bad assignments, bad days, bad clients, snotty subjects, obnoxious handlers, wigged-out art directors, technical disasters, failures of the mind, body, and will, all the shouldas, couldas, and wouldas that befuddle our brains and creep into our dreams, always remember to make room to shoot what you love. It's the only way to keep your heart beating as a photographer.
In the eighties, I was fortunate to be one of the young art directors that Jerry Roach, creative director at JWT New York, took under his wing. He taught me how to use typography more visually, to push against design norms and not to rely on preconceived notions of what something should look like. I learned that nuance is everything and to agonize over the details. I have Jerry to thank for driving plenty of people crazy over the years!
A lot of times there were big mistakes, but I would show the art director and he'd say, Yeah, let's go with it. There would be a strange cropping or one girl in focus and three out or a blur. But I would end up liking the mistakes and incorporating them into my work. And I became known for it.