Shoot the Breeze: Shinji Otani

Shinji Otani is part of a new breed of Japanese photographers who are breaking from the styles typically associated with “Japanese photography.” We discovered his work through ‘New Japanese Photography,’ an exhibition held this past January in London. However Otani is no stranger to international recognition, his photo series ‘Country of the Rising Sun’ won the Grand Prix at the Dummy Awards held at the Unseen Photo Fair. His work is primarily focused on locations, eerie interiors that leave you guessing what had happened there. Some of his images feel like alien-documentation of Earth, which makes sense as Otani says he’s interested in the residual information left by human activity. Otani currently resides and works in Amsterdam. – CM 

1. Why do you take photos?
Because I’m never bored by it. I know it’s too simple, but it’s really true.

2. Do you carry your camera with you everywhere you go?
Yes, I do. At least my iPhone and one more. Because I always regret not having a camera when I find something great on the way to do my groceries.


3. What celebrity would you like to shoot most?
Hard to choose..let’s say Kin Jong-un?

4. What animal would you like to be, if not a human?
An eagle. Looking nice.



5. What is your favorite smell?
Smell of aircraft cabin when I’m on board.

6. Would you like to live forever?
Hmmmm… maybe not.


7. What do you think is the best photo you have ever taken to date?
I would like to say the latest is the best. Basically it is, but not always. Depends on how I re-visit my archives. New editing makes new surprises.

8. What’s your favorite pastime?


9. Do you like having your photo taken?
Actually, I do. Because normally, I am always the person not in the images and I am not good at selfies.

10. Who are your favorite photographers, currently?
William Eggeleston, Jason Fulford, Paul Kooiker, Yuji Hamada and Araki