A World of Smiles with Suzuki Sayaka

Why did you choose “Smiles” as a theme for your work?

I’ve loved taking pictures for years now, but one day I looked at everything I had taken and realized that they were all of people smiling. Everyone around me at that time was always smiling. Then when I was working as an assistant for a freelance photographer, the images of smiling children in Southeast Asia suddenly just floated to mind and I realized, That’s what I want to be shooting! I think a smile is very powerful. Wherever there is a smile, it becomes infectious and the smiles grow from there. I want to spread smiles through this art I love so much. I believe that this is what I was meant to do. It’s not as if “Smiles” is just a theme of my photography—it’s a theme of my life!

When you take pictures of children, are they mostly candid or do you ask them to smile for the camera?

I don’t really have to say anything for them all to just smile, smile away! I get drawn in by those smiles and just snap away. There are all kinds of smiles—when you play with kids, those moments when you pass someone on the street, when you are drinking with people… If you smile at someone, they smile back, and I tend to smile when anyone is smiling.

There is a lot of suffering in many of the developing countries you visit. And yet you still take pictures of children smiling. Do you ever also record the suffering? Don’t smiles simply hide the suffering that is there?

I’ve never thought of recording that suffering. What we imagine as their suffering is not necessarily suffering to them. Of course I feel fortunate when I compare their living conditions to mine here in Japan. Insofar as I can tell, they seem very happy. Look at Japan—despite its comfortable living conditions, there still people for whom every day is tough. They get depressed or even take their life. The people I’ve met in Southeast Asia, by contrast, are living every day for all it’s worth. It seems as if they celebrate being alive. Or maybe their smiles are that wonderful in spite of the suffering that I just can’t see.

Which countries have you visited on your photographic travels?

China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and India.

Have you ever run into any problems during your travels?

I’ve never had any huge problems. There was only one time I was actually scared. When I went to a tiny village in Cambodia that wasn’t even on the map, a place where no tourists ever go, an old man walking cheerfully through the village suddenly spoke to me in Cambodian. I gleaned that he wanted to give me a tour of the village on the back of his bike. It was fun at first but then began to turn a little suspicious—before I knew it, we were passing through rice fields and he wouldn’t let me off. In the end, I got really scared and just jumped off, bursting into tears. I wasn’t hurt and nothing else happened after that, but I did reflect on my error of trusting people a little too much.

Some of your photographs were on display at the Asian Heal Jam concert. What is your relationship to music?

Both photography and music is a communication tool that requires no words. Music is also a tool for spreading smiles. Wherever there is music, the place is overflowing with smiles. I want to display these photographic smiles in such a place to spread it even more—that’s what makes me happy. I couldn’t live without music, photography and smiles.

Are there any other photographic themes you’d like to pursue?

I just want to keep spreading the smiles so I think I’ll be taking this for life!











「Asian Heal Jam」コンサートで写真展をされましたね。あなたと音楽のつながりはどのようなものですか?





Share and Enjoy:     These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Propeller
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis

Comments are closed.