Dirty old man…or genius in disguise?

“Oh, he’s just a dirty old man!”

“All he needs is a dirty raincoat to complete his outfit…”

“..I have never, in my whole life, seen anything so disgusting, so demeaning to women, than his pictures!”

“Photographer?! Are you crazy? He’s a hyped-up porno-pusher masquerading under the guise of an artist…”

These, and many more unprintable responses are what I have heard whenever I mention this man, who some say, is the foremost genius of our times.

This man is Nobuyoshi Araki, the Japanese photographer.

Whatever we call him, his prolific output of photos and books is unmatched, perhaps anywhere in the world. He has released 450 books to date, and many a time will churn out more than 20 a year.

But it is his subjects that arouse the most vehement criticism around the world, subjects that range from shots of his wife in a state of sexual climax, to his portraits of women tied up in varying positions, often naked and explicit, to his pictures of simple, everyday objects made to look sexual…..he is the only person I know who can take a shot of a crack in a sidewalk and make it look like a part of female genitalia.

His work has always been the subject of intense criticism and censorship, but that has not deterred him. It is as if, like a naughty schoolboy, he relishes this notoriety that has been thrust upon him.

That said, sexual depiction of bondage has always been a part of Japanese culture, ever since the Edo period of the mid 1800s, so it’s not as if it is something totally new there.

His followers say that there is something hidden, perhaps an unseen mesmerism in his photos. That could be a valid point.

My view? I’m out with the jury on this one! There’s no doubt that Nobuyoshi is an artist, with an unorthodox eye for sure. And he is one hell of a character with an equally voluminous personality. But for me, and this is my view entirely and in no way reflects on his status…..for me, some of his shots take his fetishistic ideas a bit too far…..everyday we in the West hear of kidnappings, murders, attempted murders, rapes, and a whole load of other serious crimes committed against women….heaven help us, the least we want more of is material that shows those crimes to be somehow acceptable……so, with a deep intake of breath, I would say that only some of his work is artistic….the rest is very, very dangerously close to depicting serious deprivation and subjugation of women.

I stand to be corrected if I am wrong in my assumptions.

I would point out that these shots of Nobuyoshi here are just an acceptable selection of his better work…..I have omitted to show numerous pictures of women in explicit positions in order not to offend.

From Nobuyoshi Araki. Bondage, Taschen, 2012

From Nobuyoshi Araki. Bondage, Taschen, 2012

From Nobuyoshi Araki. Bondage, Taschen, 2012



all photos courtesy http://www.flickr.com unless otherwise stated


About filmcamera999

ME & MY PASSION! ok, you probably looked at the length of this "about me" page and thought, god, what's wrong with this guy!....does he have to start telling us his life story or something!!? well, youve come here now anyways, so why not hear what im like as a person, eh? ive been using film cameras for well over 30 years...my first one being the family yashicamat twin lens! over the years, ive both bought sold and collected film cameras...too many to tell the truth! in fact, ive been buying and selling cameras well before the internet came on the scene, so anything you purchase from me is backed by my self-styled moneyback promise.....if you dont like what youve bought, send it back within 14 days and you get all your money back...no arguments!! WHERE I STAND ON THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION! yes, i do use digital as well, but only as a ready-reckoner...i try and take most shots with my simple 2megapixel digicam....if the shot looks good, i pull out my film camera and shoot! i most defintely do not believe in digital manipulation of photographs....that in my eyes is not photography...its cheating! WHERE I USED TO LIVE, WHERE I AM NOW & WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO! i used to live in Ontario, Canada, but moved back to the UK a little while ago (its a long story..!)...but now i'm living in the one place i always wanted to be...Vancouver, BC..the next best thing to paradise on earth! as i work as a freelance writer as well as other things, i often find hat my work takes me to europe for short spells, so i get to travel a lot...not a blessing, as i just hate long flights! im a qualified Quality Assurance guy (you know...ISO 9000, auditing, documentation etc) ....99% of my skill-set is transferable so i can handle any admin or documentation-related roles....see you in BC! otherwise, i specialise in ISO 9000 auditing and documentation. my dream? to have my own thriving camera shop in Vancouver BC, whilst living in the mountains somewhere.....the best of both worlds!
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4 Responses to Dirty old man…or genius in disguise?

  1. reocochran says:

    I have to admit photographs are Art so they have to be acceptable. I am not crazy about bondage and violence in photos, due to my experience personally with a small amount of it in a bad marriage, and then my experiences with women who came to the battered women’s shelter I worked in as a child advocate. I have written about the Fifty Shades of Grey, found one male who was offended by my linking bondage with pain and violence. I just said I was concerned due to drinking or drug use during the experience could accidentally heighten the level and possibly hurt the woman with the scarf around her neck, etc. I think the photos you showed were intriguing. Hope you get more conversation… take it easy! Robin

    • thank you, ma’am!
      as i mentioned in the article, i deliberately left out a whole shed load of his photographs that were very explicit, some may say obscene, so not wanting to be ostracised, i felt it better to abstain from showing them.
      no doubt he is some kinda genius, but sometimes, he gets very close to showing stuff that can be construed as criminal.
      i dunno…we cant enter into his mind to see what he really does it for…if its purely as some kind of art, fine….if he has other depraved ideas, then its a definite no-no…
      as i said, and no doubt as you have already had 1st hand experience of this stuff, the dividing line is very thin when people take up deviant things like bondage etc….why in heavens name cannot people just be normal……there’s plenty of scope in that, too……
      anyways, as you rightly say, my inbox is almost exploding with views from readers supporting him, and others vilifying the poor guy…im thinking of publishing them on a separate page (IDs with-held of course) so that everyone can get involved with the debate if they like…woe is me…….!

  2. MartyW47 says:

    Wow! Interesting body of work… Does his mother know he does this? 😉

    • hehe!
      marty…i know if i even tried something like that, in the guise of photography, my wife would kick me out of the house sooner than you could say…i dont know….abracadabra…..LOL!

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