Tokyo is a place like no other. A city from the future, bathed in neon and awash with cartoon-like symbols of all things ‘kawaii’. Fascinating, beautiful, sometimes strange. To wander Shinjuku at night, with its futuristic sounds and childish electronica filling the air is pretty mind blowing and presumably what an acid-trip feels like. Its also a little at odds with how Japan is often seen; a conformist, inhibited society that works hard and keeps itself in check. Kabukicho – Shinjuku’s red light district – feels like the antidote to that, where the paradox shines brightest. For the hedonistic, the thrillseekers, the lonely or the bored. An edgy, seductive, cartoon-like fantasy world loaded with possibilities. A lot is said about Japan’s population crisis and its ever increasing numbers of singles. Often avoiding relationships, marriage and kids, for a life less compromised. For some it makes this a lonely city, and much is made of that. Maybe others thrive on it. But in that context, somewhere like Kabukicho prospers. In a lot of ways, its business is to sell dreams, and then keep those dreams alive. Keep them coming back. For women as well as men, a chance to escape the mundane and peer down the rabbit hole. See what or who else is out there and make life interesting. As I photographed the city over several months, I was drawn to two sides of Tokyo; everyday life in the real world – the monotony but also beauty of it. And then that other side, the side that sells dreams. It was shot part documentary, part fiction, the everyday and the fantasy world.
I’m a photographer from the UK, currently living in Australia after a pretty nomadic few years. I shoot both editorial and commercially, and over the last few years my personal work has focused on long term stories in Rio, Tokyo, Shanghai and Burma. For those stories I tend to start shooting what I find most visually striking about a place and obsessively fine tune the idea as I go along. That could be an aspect of the everyday which is deeply ingrained in a culture, like football in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Or some place within a place that just intrigues me, as was the case with Electric Dreams.