When he was a young boy growing up in Nagoya, Japan in the 1970s, Akira Kawahata and his father used to take pictures of the “sleeper trains” that passed near their home. This introduction to photography, which had also been his grandfather’s passion, has stayed with him through his career as a commercial photographer.
“The light of the sleeper trains, as they passed and vanished, made me nostalgic. So many times I imagined I was on those trains, and woke up the next morning in a strange new place.”
When he studied photography at Tokyo Polytechnic University, he found that those memories, as well as his time spent in the wild places around his home, came out in his work. In particular, his love of plants and botany informed his still life photography. “I like to put man-made things in nature and see how they co-exist.”
Then, in 2005, when Akira came to a “strange new place” called New York City, he became more aware of his lifelong passion for nature and natural light. “I feel tranquil whenever I am in moonlight,” he says, and he aims to make that feeling of tranquility inform his commercial photography. “I tend to think of the surroundings of the products when I shoot.”
Akira’s lifelong passion for the emotional impact of light, along with his preference for classic, figurative art and architecture – and for film and chemical processes – gives his commercial work a concrete, visceral power.