DORA: Artist Conversations with Photographer Yuri Tajiri

Last week, we began our Artist Conversations series of blogposts with visual artist and collagist Maureen Hood. This week, we are continuing our series of conversations with local female artists by sitting down with photographer Yuri Tajiri. In addition to documenting the ADORATION OF DORA process, Yuri Tajiri is a professional photographer who specializes in portrait photography. She finds the human face and form endlessly captivating and strives to capture images that are equally as intriguing.

1. What type of photos do you take? What themes does your work usually touch on?

My work is primarily focused on people. I like to create magic with my images, or as a good friend just said to me “make perfect an imperfect world.” I want my photos to evoke emotion –whether it’s happiness, anguish, wonder, etc. If you feel like you could write a whole story just based on one of my photos – that’s what I aim for. As far as themes: fantasy, self-image, subjective reality…

2. As a photographer, what has your artistic journey been like up to this point? What has been your proudest achievement? What has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve been taking photos for literally as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a camera and I always took photos of pretty much everything. Doing such a large amount of work, regardless if the result was good or bad, developed my photographic and artistic style early on.

I don’t know if I can point to a specific shot or shoot as my proudest achievement, I really love any moment a client or friend has a visceral reaction to one of my photos. Watching someone have an immediate reaction to a photo – whether it be a gasp, or a hand flying to their mouth, or a word – is immensely satisfying.

My biggest challenge has probably been time management – which is not an exciting answer lol, but it’s true. Shooting 4 gigs in 5 days and then trying to edit and sort them all in a timely manner is definitely a challenge. I’m still working on getting my work flow down for massive amounts of images.

3. In Adoration of Dora, the role of Dora Maar is actually played by two actresses. One is Dora, the ego, consumed by the need to be seen and adored. The other is Maar, the id, who acts as Dora’s inner voice and inner critic pushing her to create her own work despite Picasso’s involvement in her life. How does your inner voice/inner critic articulate itself while you are working? Is it a positive or negative influence?

My inner voice has actually been pretty vocal lately. I’ve felt really artistically stagnant for a while because most of my time as a photographer now is filled with shoots for other people, with other people’s visions. And while I love being a part of bringing someone else’s ideas to life, my inner voice has definitely been letting me know that I need to take a step back and start thinking about what I want to create for myself – what will fulfill me on a personal artistic level. In my early days I had no gigs and I would shoot with myself all the time, following all sorts of creative trains of thought. It’s definitely proving more difficult to do now, as an adult who’s pretty consistently busy, and with equipment that is more difficult to just whip out on a whim, but I’m challenging myself to make it happen anyway. I think my inner voice is definitely a good influence, it’s what drives every artist to continue creating.

4. How has being a woman altered your perspective on being an artist? Are there difficulties you have faced as a photographer solely because of your gender?

Being a woman has definitely altered my perspective on being an artist because it inherently alters my perspective on the world in general, especially in regards to oppression and power structures. Learning about women artists both current and past really affects my work, and the kind of work I want to create will always come back to the things that are important to me as a woman – intersectional feminism, self-esteem, empowerment, etc. I recognize that I am privileged in many ways that female artists weren’t in the past and I want to use that privilege to push forward. That I can create and be recognized without a male artist “vouching” for me, that I am “allowed” to be an artist at all, that I can create shocking or provocative work and not be ostracized – all these things and more are the direct result of women who came before me and refused to be held back and I am grateful to all of them.

I have definitely encountered difficulties as a photographer because I’m a woman. A lot of the times it will be from other photographers. Male photographers will come up to me when I’m shooting and act like they’re interested in my work, but the minute I show them my shots they’ll either start “mansplaining” how I could be better (I didn’t ask for your opinion bro) or by immediately turning the conversation to themselves and their work. Also completely unsolicited. I’ll go to gigs or interviews where I can see that they’re not taking me seriously because I’m young and a woman, even though the older man they sometimes end up hiring produces lower quality work.

I think it’s also really uplifting though, to find other lady photographers and be able to have a sense of community. I also love to use my work to uplift other women, especially in a world where most photographs of women we see are completely fabricated images. To shoot other women and show them a final image that isn’t overly retouched and have them find themselves beautiful is incredibly gratifying.

5. Have you ever sat for another photographer or been drawn/painted by another visual artist? If so, what was that experience like?

Yes, I’ve modeled for a lot of other photographers. I enjoy it a lot, modeling is another art form I pursue. I think it’s incredibly valuable to feel what it’s like on the other side of the camera for many reasons like helping clients with poses, learning how make people feel natural in front of the lens. It’s also really nice to get to see myself sometimes after spending so much time sifting through photos of other people. To model is to be very vulnerable I think, regardless of what kind of shoot you’re doing. To really connect with the camera and produce genuine work, you have to really unveil yourself, really let yourself shine through without hesitation or shyness – and that’s not easy.

ADORATION OF DORA opens in one week! Only 7 shows left with available tickets – get yours today!


~ by KOLT Run Creations on October 16, 2015.

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