Editor’s Showcase: Mitani Monogatari – Thibaut Goarant

Thibaut Goarant

Submission Title
Mitani Monogatari


Photographer Bio
My name is Thibaut Goarant, I am a middle aged guy. I’m born in Quimper, Brittany, France but I’ve been living now in Japan for 4 years. I have moved to Japan because of my work and because my wife wanted to go back to her country.

I am a father of a sweet six-year old little girl. I suffer from depression. I’ve always been in a bad shape, but after I moved to Japan it got worse : not adapting to my new work, my best friend died… Fortunately, I succeeded in making a new friend, which is very lucky, as this kind of relationship doesn’t build like this every day. I am now on sick leave and left the huge city of Tokyo to move to the countryside. I see my depression influencing my work; I shoot high contrast black and white, dark, like my feelings.

I have started photography only 3 years ago. When I was 37 years old. Now I’m forty… Yes it is late to start but you need to start somewhere right?

I am currently using a Ricoh GRII (and a flash) so I am limited to 28mm. Sometimes, when I shoot film, I shoot with lenses that are approximately a 50mm equivalent. With the 28 wide angle, I need to be close to be in a scene to be able to take something decent so it is very exciting. The 50mm lens is better for me for environmental portrait that I like to do with the medium format ; I want to fully use the potential of the camera and I believe it is better like this. The medium format is also a big camera so it can scare the subject in a way.

The camera, for me, is a lovely tool. It is an extension of my eye and brain that helps me in capturing or reflecting something that I cannot say with words.

I shoot 99% of the time in black and white. That’s how I like to see the world around me. I think it corresponds to my state of mind ; it is only natural for me to shoot black and white.

My favourite photographer is Todd Hido although he did not influenced me on shooting, or at least not consciously. I enjoy also Daido Moriyama and some other Japanese photographer such as Shinya Arimoto or Shin Yanagisawa.

Photography has different aspects for me. First it is an art form where I can express myself ; it is an “affordable” one in a sense that you just need a camera and then practice/work. It is a stress reliever ; I shoot and I forget everything. Finally it is an enjoyable moment when it comes to share my pictures with my family, friends and the rest of the world through social medias.

For photography, my best friend told me everything I should know, and even more ; that’s how I started to dig deeper. Then the books came; they are marvelous tools for learning and for mind healing, a good source of inspiration and satisfaction with the medium, a different feeling than looking at pictures on the internet. I also attended a workshop with Eric Kim in Tokyo ; it is not an experience that transcend your photography immediately, but the energy is good and what you’ve learned hits back later ; it really acts as a trigger.

When I started photographing I did not have any work or photographer in mind. I bought myself a camera ; a mirrorless that said it was the perfect tool for street photography. The street photography words resonated in me, it was appealing. I started to photograph frenetically, and little by little, I dug deeper into street photography.

I educated myself and discovered a whole world of photographers. I looked for the new names on the internet, learned about the masters, they became, not directly a source of inspiration, but a solid cultural background to pursue my route.

I used to love pure street photography, but I slowly moved to portraits taken in the streets (and a project called Hello You!). Then, as I moved to the country side of Japan (I mean real country side) and as there are less people and that the scenery is totally new to me, I started to take landscapes.

I am currently on sick leave from my work (I work in marketing in the automotive industry) because of my depression. Before that, I would just include photography on my days off. My work, as a salaryman and photography were just two different worlds that never communicated. As a salaryman in Japan, you have to bend, to fit in, even in a foreign company. Photography is a true part of myself, some place where I don’t lie to myself.

Photography saved my life. I suffer from a severe depression but when I’m out photographing, or when I concentrate on photography matters, all the pain goes away.

I don’t have any recurring themes specifically ; I don’t explore humanity matters, I don’t document life as some photographers do. I have been told I shoot emotionally ; I think that well describes my photography in general. See, point, and shoot with your guts.

I like to be close to my subject. I have another project called Hello you ! where I only shoot faces very close. The impulse came from the workshop I took with Eric Kim. I am a very shy person, it is difficult for me to talk to people, even more when it is not my mother tongue (please remember I live in Japan). But when it came to overcome my fears during the workshop, I surprisingly went very, very close, like an hunger for something, and I found it enjoyable and very rewarding.

I also prefer to work with somebody ; that’s the way I grown up as a photographer. I think many photographers share the same feeling of not taking pictures but also share time with someone in the same state of mind as them. But recently, I have to say that I unfortunately shoot alone.

Submission Information
Changing your life, who has never dreamt about it?

That’s what I am trying to do. Bored with my “salaryman” life. Because I don’t have the capacities for it. Because I grew tired of it. Because it didn’t meet my expectations anymore.

I left the big city, the noise, and turmoil. I went for the country, the silence, and peace. I moved to my wife’s parents place.

It is a different world here. It is in the middle of the country. It is in the middle of the mountains. It is in the middle of nowhere. The closest shop is a fifteen-minute drive. So if you have no car, you can’t even sustain.

I am here, trying to adapt to the main-town of Mitani, in Yabu city, Japan. Led by the urge to keep shooting, I’m walking around the place… not far yet. We arrived in winter. The place is covered with snow. Houses dark wood, mountains, firs, the winter stormy sky… Everything calls for my longing of high contrast blacks and whites.

My first steps into this world, only a beginning I hope, a new story to tell.

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