Nitto-san, Souichirou's direct boss, in the back of the car, while driving to Niigata prison to go and pick up two members of the family that are being released from prison that morning, after being incarcerated for several years - 2009

Anton Kusters

Odo Yakuza Tokyo


Below is an excerpt of my conversation with Anton Kusters, talking about the birth of his first book. We are sitting on my front porch during a beautiful sunrise. Somehow appropriate. Even more appropriate is that today is Anton’s birthday.



DAH: Well, the bottom line is, Anton, you have your first book… Tell me, a first book is comparable to what?

AK: It’s… It feels like I actually did something for the first time. I mean, it’s not that the book was more work than the project itself, but… it does feel like I took a step in some way, like a kind of achievement in some way, for myself, personally. It really feels like a personal victory. And whatever that victory, that achievement, will mean to the outside world, I would almost say, that is out of my hands. I mean that in the best possible way. I love seeing cutting my book “loose” into the world, let it go, beyond my control.

DAH: So… Validation?

AK: Validation… a little bit a sense of pride deep down inside… that I could actually pull something off, because for some reason, it always feels like nothing is really complete, or at least this project could not be complete, without the validation of a physical object, like a book, an exhibition… like Massimo Vitali said at LOOK3 a couple of days ago… “I’m looking at the picture as that unique physical object, impossible to see separate from the plexi it is printed on”

DAH: …Yes… I don’t know if everybody feels that way…. I certainly feel that way also, if there’s no physical object then there is nothing, actually.

AK: Yes

DAH: There’s instruction, there’s information, it’s up there on the screen, but it’s meaningless without the physical object…

AK: … things remain fleeting until something physical is made.

DAH: and even though you reach fewer people, it doesn’t matter –

AK: Yes… You reach so many less people… I mean, the internet is like multiple, you reach multiples of the audience of the book… but… I think the feeling it will never change as to what it must have been before the internet… it must be still exactly the same, that kind of feeling… the internet adds to it, but the feeling of selling the book, making the book, is… is something… is a different category. at least it feels like that. And seeing friends and strangers, complete strangers, hold that book, and look at them while they are looking at the book. that’s the thing that completes the circle for me.

DAH: You don’t see that on the internet, you don’t see that with an international magazine either… occasionally you do by accident, at the airport you see somebody looking through one of your articles, and of course they flip right through it.


Let me go back on a couple of basic things: so… it’s fun to have a book out there.

AK: Absolutely.

DAH: I remember, Sam Abell said one time, to me, “David, when you do your first book, life will change”. And he was right about that: after your first book, life does change.

AK: Yea… I feel it does… I mean, I don’t know, I obviously it’s too soon to say because it’s only hitting the stands right now, I mean “the stand”, singular, being here on burn, so I don’t know what the actual impact will –

DAH: – Oh I predict that, I think this book will, I think this, your limited edition of 500 copies, of a very well priced book and a very high quality book, and a very heart felt… done book, I think that this book will sell out in less than two weeks. That’s my prediction. I think it’ll be gone in ten days. Something like that, I really think that.

I think that people will, people will feel that this is a one of a kind object, as you described, there are people who get more out of photography than seeing, to flick a page, or even on burn or anything, anything that’s online, and will go for that physical object. and they’ll see it the same way that they saw Alec Soth’s “Sleeping by the Mississippi”, and they’ll want to be one of the ones to have an original, first edition, from the first five hundred.

AK: Yea… and it’s, it’s almost like I wish there was this tactile… extension to the internet where you could make people reach into the screen and pick up the book to be able to feel it, that they can feel what the object is like, because I feel that that’s such an important aspect.

DAH: Your book is a physical object, it’s a beautifully done physical object, and the printing and the binding and the making of this book are clear, and speak to the subject… So tell us a little bit about… the making of the book in relationship to the subject of the book.

AK: That’s of course pretty crucial, as I regard the book as an integral object of what the project is about… I mean, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked at a printer a long time ago, and that opened a whole new world to me back then. But it wasn’t until last year that I realized was using all that knowledge for this book.

I completely did the process all by myself, I designed the book, I found the right papers and the right printer, prepared for print, went to press, and oversaw the binding…. I learned obviously a lot during the process, but… it’s such a fun thing to do, it’s a lot of work, you gotta follow up everything personally, but you’re basically taking up the role of, of…producer

DAH: OK, so we’ve covered the thrill of having the book… and the physical production of the book. But I think the word of mouth on the physicality of this book will quickly get out there, and I think that, you and I are of like mind of what Burn does, and our basic philosophy is a quality one.

AK: Yes… whatever the case, quality comes first, and that’s why I was so happy that you were willing to endorse and write the foreword for the book, because I knew that you would never, ever, even as a close personal friend, you would not do that if you wouldn’t be very sure about the quality of the work.

DAH: No, I would not do that. Of course I’m expecting a hell of a kickback from this book, I’m expecting a lot of money into my my bank account [laughing]

The thing is… photographers do want to do books, and I think everybody knows, that books are not how we make money, but you will, even if this book is a raging success, you won’t be paying your home bills with this book, no matter how successful this is….

AK: I might break even on some aspect of the printing, and I’d be really really happy if that happened, but I’m pretty sure I can forget about trying to pay for all the trips I took.

DAH: Now tell me a little bit about how the subject of your book.  Any way you look at it, is going to be controversial, inside Japan, outside Japan, all around the town. I mean, you’ve turned into a physical object of photography, a crime organization. So. justify that for me please.

AK: Justify…

DAH: I mean, don’t justify it for me, because I understand it…. Justify it to those who might be reading this.

AK: I think it goes back to the fact that I’ve always taken aback by… prejudice. I’ve always been taken, really taken aback by blanket statements, I’m taken aback by the judging of people and things… Personally, I’ve always asked questions instead, being inquisitive, at least in my mind ask questions, trying to understand things…

I do not want to be a judge in my photography. I want to be a witness in my photography. A faithful witness of my own vision. A vision which I know is shaped and skewed by my upbringing and my life’s experiences.

I guess that’s why the Yakuza project actually quickly turned into something different than I expected, I started to feel that it’s a way of life more than anything else… and that’s where I latched on. The bad part or the good part for that matter, very quickly became irrelevant after that. The subtle shades of grey are the key.

Who am I… can it ever be my right to say about someone that he is “bad”? about anyone?

DAH: So your essay, your book is, how would you describe what it is in relationship to a crime organization? is it a revelation, is it an exposé, is it a behind-the-scenes? what is it exactly? what are you telling us with this book?

AK: Well… that’s a good question. I might have to find that one out as we go along, because I actually just want to show, I think, basically what I just said, I started feeling that that Yakuza is many shades of grey, and not simple black vs white.

DAH: so is that your, your…mission?.

AK: It’s the subtlety of the story that hit me, I think it would be kind of easy, or cheap, in a way, to show the Yakuza and what they do, instead of what they are, because I would, in a way, stereotype them, and that is something I don’t want to ever do to anybody.

DAH: yeah… do you want me to get you another coffee?

AK: yes, sure.

DAH: you drinking it black?

AK: as always

DAH: OK. Here, think about this question: what do you think the Yakuza are going to think about this book? What are they thinking that this book is? You’re thinking that it’s a revelation of some sort, what do they think it is? Everyone wants their thing out of it.

[DAH gets a cup of coffee]

AK: Interesting question… The thing is, I think, and I have the feeling, that they want to have, kind of a chronicle of their family, of sorts, a chronicle of what they are about.

DAH: When I look at the pictures, I  don’t see them doing anything bad… If I weren’t reading about the Yakuza, or know about the Yakuza, your pictures here do require text, and context, which, I think, only adds to the texture and to the feel of these photographs. Is that correct? They seem here to appear as traditional Japanese businessmen.

AK: Yeah… Though you can’t really misinterpret the tattoos, covert training camps, prostitutes and severed fingers.

DAH: So aside from the fact that people who buy this book are going to receive a physical object, and a lot of visual stimulation, on a topic that you have decided was worth photographing, what do you, what do you think that people will get out of this book, or should get out of this book, besides the fine object aspect of the book? Because it is a documentary. it is not a conceptual thing.

AK: Actually, I would like to describe this as a conceptual documentary, because I have no intent, to tell the truth, but rather I have the intent of telling the Yakuza story as I personally experienced it, me, Anton Kusters, the person and character that I am, with all my flaws and shortcomings, and I will most probably see things in a completely different way and therefore be sensitive to, and concentrate on, the things that strike me or touch me… the shades of grey i see, the realization that being Yakuza is a way of life more than anything else. I hope others will see that too.

DAH: So in that sense you are being very documentary, mission oriented documentary. In that sense.

AK: Yeah. in that sense. I could even consider that a mission in life in general.

DAH: I know exactly where you stand on this. Personally, for me, I find any topic interesting, if a someone, if a photographer, if a writer, or a film maker is telling me that they are interested in whatever the topic is, whether it’s the sinking of the Titanic, as a piece of history, or Restrepo, a war story by Tim Hetherington, or your story on the Yakuza. I don’t really care, I mean, somebody who is a storyteller, or a visual artist, if they have decided that they’re going to do this particular thing…. i’m not ranking subject matter by some subject matter being more important, or right, than others. It becomes important by the fact that this particular storyteller is going to tell it.

AK: Yep. About Tim…. I met Tim only a couple of times, and the last time we talked at length about the Yakuza project, which was then only halfway, and he was the one who also told me, like you had always told me too, David, because there was one particular picture, when he saw that one he stopped in his tracks and said “this is the one” and that was the picture of the empty table with empty glasses and cups and a burning cigarette and the two empty chairs, the full ash tray, and he said “right there, that’s the kind of image, that’s the image you have to have in there, because there you are saying that you are personally telling that story that is your story, and that you are not just ‘covering’ the Yakuza”… and I hope I have taken that to heart.

DAH: well I think there is no doubt that you’ve done that. The only thing left I wanted to ask you is… you will now probably spend the next year working on the film, on the same topic.

AK: I hope that works out, yes. There is… we’re starting, my brother Malik and I are starting to, because obviously film is way more complex than photography from a production point of view, my brother will be doing sound, I will be doing video, the moving image…. I hope that works out… we’ve got a good story. And the book, offering the book to the Yakuza bosses now, tomorrow I’ll be flying over to Tokyo to, you know, present the book to them, give copies as a gift, which will hopefully open gates.

But again, this will be way more complex, also financially… so, I will be using the potential success of the book as a gauge for myself, if it’s viable to continue on that path or not. But I obviously feel I should do it no matter what. so I hope it will work out.

On the other hand, photographing daisies is great fun too.


(the limited edition sold out on July 21, 2011)


Anton was born in Belgium. He grew up in Australia, Saudi Arabia and Belgium, and has been visiting Japan ever since his brother moved there a decade ago. The long term YAKUZA project started out three years ago, and the first major step now has been taken with the book “ODO YAKUZA TOKYO”.
Anton feels that life should be about going deep down rabbit holes as much as you possibly can.


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259 thoughts on “anton kusters – odo yakuza tokyo LIMITED EDITION (SOLD OUT)”

  1. Anton..

    First, a very happy birthday.. you sure have made yourself an amazing birthday gift :)

    So looking forward to get my copy of this labour of photography, passion and love.. knew since a while you’d pull it off.. wasn’t wrong!

  2. Anton, I was reading the conversation between you and David and stopped reading so that I could order in case I missed buying a copy! Happy birthday Anton.

    Eva, I should have known that you would order before me; you said that you would and you did!


  3. ANTON,

    Happy Birthday, all the Best!
    Wow – I mean, I have seen the proof, while we met in Amsterdam and it was already a great experience.
    Now, I am waiting to get the book(s) delivered. Congratulations. You did an amazing job.
    We need to make an appointment, since – if possible – I would like to have at least one book signed :)

    I am sure this day is a great party for you. Well, well done.


  4. O.k. – just finished reading the conversation; really interesting and informative, as ever: thank you Anton and David. The essay looks great; I’ve been following this essay (and Eva) on Anton’s website and I’ve been checking for the book release at least five times a day – and still Eva beat me to the draw! Damn, she’s fast!

    I’m sure that the Family will be pleased with the book Anton. Your sincerity shines through your words and photographs. Please thank your brother and Taka-san for us for all their help.

    Hope the film comes to fruition: I remember reading an interview with Tim Hetherington about a film he and Sebastian Junger had made (Restrepo) and how it had consumed all of his savings (and had took about two years to edit) but also how National Geographic had finally bought the film and made him (and probably Sebastian too) solvent again. Maybe this time around they will get involved sooner rather than later. Have a good flight to Tokyo, Anton,


  5. My reading of the concept of naive realism boils down to the desire to understand everything about the processes involved in whatever is being examined. In Yakuza, Anton has unwittingly done this. I find his book making to be as important as the subject matter he has covered – taking on further colour for us readers to appreciate and experience. Further, Anton has even given us glimpses to the before-the-fact creative process in his (feeble!) posting of the proofsheets for the project. All in all a fully experiential feast for us all. To him I say: Bravo!

    David: This is a wonderful interview…maybe more should be conducted on your porch by the sea! You have a great knack for articulating questions that just seem to move around subconsciously in other people’s minds. I appreciate your joy in the stories of others, and it makes me understand a little more the whys and wherefores of your decision-making when it comes to posting essays here. Bob and a few other fans and I were discussing this very idea last night, and frankly it had all of us scratching our heads. How coincidental it would be answered here. Really, it is nothing magical, or special, or in any way superhuman; just burning desire to tell a story. So excellent, and many thanks for the insight.

    Anton: Even though I don’t know you from Adam, Happy Birthday to you and your book!

  6. a civilian-mass audience

    ANTON…blah,blah,blah…I didn’t read the above…not yet
    I am a slow reader…
    I didn’t buy the book…not yet…
    you will bring it to greece and we exchange …I give you chicken,a good one or ouzo…
    the same as the other BURNIANS,SAMMY,PANOS,THODORIS…

    I will keep this for now…”life should be about going deep down rabbit holes as much as you possibly can.” the year of the rabbit…:)))

    VIVA,yes…you are DA MAN !!

    I’ll be back for the cake.


  7. a civilian-mass audience

    ANTON…are you gonna celebrate your birthday…YAKUZA way;)


  8. a civilian-mass audience

    ANTON…you are DA MAN…don’t forget the cake…
    MTOMALTY…can you bring another cake…the same as MR.HARVEY’S…:)))
    just in case…

    you are a bomb
    beyond control
    always here
    for Us ALl
    what not to LOVE

  9. WELL DONE anton my friend.. i remember you first telling me about it a few years ago, and beate and i watching the sopranos boxed set to better understand :o)

    great stuff.. and respect for seeing the story through, adapting and evolving.. blending what you wanted with what was possible..

    congratulations on another year alive as well.. all that jazz.

    hope to catch you on skype at some point..
    hope the family like the book.


  10. buy the book
    buy the book
    buy the book
    buy the book
    buy the book
    buy the book
    buy the book

    what do u mean which book???
    the YAKUZA book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    seen it, touched it, picked it up , hold it (actually very heavy)

    buy the book
    buy the book
    buy the book

    nowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! before it is too late..!!!

  11. …if it was a road bicycle would not be a good deal.
    …if it was a camera wouldnt be a good deal.
    …if it was a back pack wouldnt be a good deal.
    but its not!

    it is a Photographic book and its GOOD to be HEAVY!…
    feels goooood!

  12. ANTON! :))))))

    first of all: big big congratulations are making it to your 21st birthday young man! :))))….big big birthday hugs and kisses…and yes, i cannot imagine a more beautiful birthday gift

    secondly: big big congratulatons on this gorgeous book!…i am so so happy and proud of you!…and you did it YOUR WAY….and mostly through silence and hard work and THAT IS WHAT COUNTS!…

    thirdly: so, in hours i have to run to the Apple store and drop $2,000 on an apple laptop for us so marina can take it to her fellowship,…so, i called my bank this morning to get another credit increase so i can have you, permanently, with us at home…and now, the book is mine too :))))…just bought it and waiting…

    lastly, will write more at lunch about you and the book…no time now…just wanted to let you knwo i’m here and have ordered it…

    big love and big hugs brother…


  13. CIVI :))

    I PROMISE A LONG(er) response at lunch…no time…i just wanted to call the bank and make sure i could get this book and support anton :)))

    running, literally

  14. anton…
    the quietness of your images,
    mixed with the tension,
    create beautiful
    with such respect…
    there are
    all around………
    happy birthday!!

  15. I am one of the fortunate ten who bought Anton’s book and had it signed at LOOK3 last week (he only brought 10 of the 500 to Charlottesville). This book is a jewel, shining with beauty, truth, depth, sincerity, respect and integrity. Anton manages to ask questions rather than answer them, to open doors for the viewer rather than walk through them himself. It is all about perception not reality, for each person’s reality of the Yakuza depends on where he or she sits. This book is physically exquisite but more importantly, it is a testament to our common humanity whatever our choices or ways of being in the world.

    I remember when Anton started this project some in our then-Road Trips community questioned his ability not to be co-opted by the Yakuza, not to let them use him to promote their own agenda. Well, that is a moot point now. Anton has simply showed us what he saw and experienced of the family over these 2-3 years. His voice is his own no one else’s. Yet I feel confident that the family will be pleased because they have been treated with respect and I imagine that means the most to them. In Anton’s book we simply see their world from Anton’s perspective which is as an outsider given privy to some of the moments never before shared in public.

    Anton will make his mark with this book — and with the film and exhibits to come — but knowing Anton as I do, public accolades are not why he did this: he did it because he has a hunger to document the world and its people, especially those who are hidden and seen as less than human. For Anton Kusters is first and foremost a humanistic photographer, and a damn fine one at that. I feel honored to know him and will be forever grateful and proud that I was one of the first buyers of Odo Yakuza Toyko.

    I encourage you to be one of the first buyers too. You won’t regret it.

    in awe and admiration,

  16. Happy birthday, dearest Anton! You have given yourself and us the best present ever! Now play on the beach, build sand castles, swim in the ocean and laugh with your friends. You deserve it!

    love & hugs


    Instead of “to open doors for the viewer rather than walk through them himself,” I meant to write “to open doors for the viewer as he walked through them himself.”

  18. anton – is there a way of buying a signed copy from you directly – i can transfer money?
    would not need to be posted anytime soon.. bit short on cash..

  19. DAVID B

    sure… just order and choose “pick up” at the little shipping cost drop down menu. then you pay $0 shipping costs… will keep it aside for you my friend…. no rush….




    thanks for the kind words my dear… as usual it was GREAT meeting you at LOOK3…. keep on rockin’!

    hugs, a

  21. I like to wash,
    the dust of this world
    In the droplets of dew.

    “The ‘secret’ of their being up in the tree had continued for almost two years now. Where the thick trunk branched out near the top, the two could sit comfortably. Michiko, straddling one branch, leaned back against another. There were days when little birds came and days when the wind sang through the pine needles. Although they weren’t that high off the ground, these two little lovers felt as if they were in a completely different world, far away from the earth.”- Up in the Tree, Yasunari Kawabata

    Grief arrives upon the limbs and lives of our homes, not as ponderous weight but as small, nearly imperceptable wind and yet that wind shapes and sounds us until we realize that we are carved, like the mountain, by it’s time and tongue. The world scissors itself in a rounding way, the light seeks a way through shadow and pinhold, thread through teeth-gap’d time. This is a story about death but there can be no real story about death without beginning and ending with birth. This is a story about life pushed through the windblown rocks of death.

    In every image in this magnificent book lingers loss, the recognition that we, like the cheery blossom, that we, like the dew upon the morning blade, that we, like the silk wrapped around the urn ushing the ash of the dead toward transformation and air-soil, are not long for this place, that we in our divesting end up scattered and wide and flown. And yet, does this truth not mark us with lightness? And yet, does this truth not remember us as scattering seed? This is a story of shadow, but as Goethe reminds, from shadow comes the brightest light.

    But this story too is one of love, of companionship and fellowship. What, for me, is most remarkable about Anton’s book is not that culture of Yakutza, but the silence, the sadness, the grief, all which turn toward the essence, which is love. The love of one another and the love of their life. This is not to say that this book glamorizes Yakutza. This is not to say that this project romanticizes the pain that they and their brotherhood endures and inflicts on others. This is not to say that this is a blind view. This is to say that Anton has focused upon and discovered something beyond the typical cliches: these are men in the middle of wrestling with struggle to live amid death. IN other words, this is a story that celebrates ritual and transience in both its lyricism and it’s insight. Men, when they go off to war, are bound by something that few gather until later in life: the archicture of death. That death is our debt to life, and that at some point it is paid up by all of us.

    How small these magical details: the ribbon bowing a gift box, the light fractured through cherry blossom, the men on the beach like fish sunning from the sea, the baseball, the reflection (like Pinkhassov), the extraordinary $2 dollar bills, and the shadows, everwhere and the sadness and the love, the love for one another and above all the love for the life they know is but a temporary moment. That life shall inflict (skin by ink, knuckle to the knife, face to the scar, young men to the old) it’s eventually taking. What makes such a beautiful impace is the ‘real’ of these images. It’s hitting upon a deep sadness. That extraordinary photograph of the cigarette burning…whose cigarette?…the men…anton’s…..our own….an extraordinary insight in that one photograph: filling the picture by NOT SHOWING….that is zen and that is Basho and that is life: space carved out by what is not there….

    and Anton’s extraordinary color palatte…green, and all its variations….too many pictures I love in this series to count out, but i just want to say that this is really, to me, about transformation…from youth through the mystery of shadow and change toward the fullness of death….our life’s accountant…

    and a word about BOOKS…books as objects and books as making…as a photograher who has made hand-made books married to another photographer who has made hand-made books, i celebrate the book…all, without the object, is just accounting…there is nothing, for me, more real, than the an object….and though i have made them too, i’m so happy that you have taken this out into the world…and that is something i am so happy about…the real step, the important step…

    and one last thing: making involves being solitary….sadness…frustration…extraordinary hard work….to make something, means sitting in a room and working…and the internet, unfortunately, often does not convey this…to make a book, one must work their ass off…must sit alone and think and edit and put the work together…to struggle….internet sometimes makes the photoworld glamorous (bullshit), sometmes makes the worl easy (bullshit)…it is not…it is about hard work, solitary work…putting up…

    Anton has worked on this tirelessly…without preaching…without connections…without the false bravado and nonsense…he birthed this because he worked incredibly hard, without fanfare, without attention…

    that is work…that is what i am most proud of him for….

    and in this sense, Yakuza book, to me, is really about the process of making something…of spending all those hours and days and years working, even without recognition, to sing this life what it is….

    and for that Anton, i love and respect you…as photographer and as friend…

    I am so very proud of you and so very happy for you….i cannot articulate this properly…

    in a week of great grief, this is a day that has made me happy:

    congratulations brother! :)))


  22. Okay most expensive book I’ve bought in a while (that damn euro!) so it better be worth it! :):) I’m 110% sure it will be. Congrats Anton and happy birthday. Bummed I couldn’t make it to LOOK and meet you and everyone else in person but such is the burden of having a toddler and a working wife… (and Charlottesville very expensive to get to from the west coast).

    Anyway, you know how much I like this work…. words escaping me right now. Send the book!



  23. Anton…
    Congratulations and a very happy birthday!
    A finished project at least book wise that must be such a great sensation. Low on mobile battery!
    Anyway hoping to meet you and David and hear more about the whole project – photos and book printing.
    Once again HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  24. DAVID B

    click on the shipping $ amount that is displayed it should be a drop down menu with two options, one shipping, one pickup… work for you?


  25. “I do not want to be a judge in my photography. I want to be a witness in my photography. A faithful witness of my own vision. A vision which I know is shaped and skewed by my upbringing and my life’s experiences.”

    These are astounding pictures. They are poetry. But here’s the thing. Anton’s statement above is disingenuous. Attention is always political. It is never nonjudgmental. The Psalmists had it right when they warned of gazing on idols that “you become what you behold.” Gobsmacking gorgeous photos like these inevitably end up beautifying crime, sanctifying Alpha males, glorifying female objects. I wish Anton would go deeper into his own soul, not brush off his responsibility as an observer, and show us pictures taken from inside the rabbit hole where he acts the part of the vulnerable rabbit. Instead he’s tattooed himself as a dragon.

    Art at the level of his practice is a tremendous responsibility.

  26. slummingangel!

    Thanks for your input! very interesting and well put.

    Of course, you are right… as I stated before, I can only look with my own eyes… therefore with my own opinion/character/upbringing/politics or whatever you wish to call it…. and these images are what those eyes see.

    But contrary to what you state, attention can surely be non-judgemental. Attention is always biased, of course (and that is exactly what I am saying), but always judgemental? that sounds a little like a blanket statement to me… so I would have to disagree with you on that.

    Of course, my inevitable “biased” looking is only backed up by the person/character I am, and the person I say I am, and one would have to meet me and talk to me and get to know me, and even then one could only be reasonably sure that my intentions are what i state they are…

    Also, if the making of a good image comes off to you as glorifying, then there is nothing I can do to change your mind… personally I would never equate “beautiful images” with “beautifying what is depicted in those images”, I personally think that is quite a leap of faith. I’d be negating a huge lump of artists right there.

    Whatever the case, my responsibility is indeed my cross to bear.. but beholding is most definitely not part of that.

    Are you based in Europe? I think this a fascinating viewpoint which I’d love to discuss further, but I find the medium of writing too limited for that… coffee?


  27. Bob..

    You write about grief and loss and sadness that comes through in every picture.. that’s interesting.. death of course is there, but what I feel most strongly here is POWER. Underlying everywhere, throughout the whole essay. Strong. Power even in death. Not obvious, as a statement, the kind of picture that says: look at me, this is what I want to say. But as something much more subtle. Mystery. It makes me want to back up with my shoulders to a wall, so I know that at least from that side I’m covered.

    And a line of fear…

  28. Eva, “Mike.. I’m so so sorry… NOT.. :D” … but Eva, I bought the book for you! … NOT! Laughing Eva, I’ll beat you to the movie.


  29. ANTON

    Happy Birth Day, my friend. May you enjoy many more revolutions around the sun.

    I finally had a chance last night to sit down with your book and spend some time with it – it is indeed a wonderful work. You have every reason to be very proud.

    Hope that our paths cross again soon,


  30. Fascinating photos. It’s a great story. I find it fascinating how humans create their own little microcosms, with their own rules and customs, then fight to find a place within them. You’ve told an interesting story about these folks.

  31. Eva :)

    i see the opposite…the APPEARANCE of power, isn’t power…here, i see fragility everywhere…disappearance (reflection, shadows, vignettes, refraction) everywhere…and the fight against that (tatoo: permanent, baseball by the sea: youth retained,) loss, against ‘weakness’…but it is an unwinable fight….and ultimately it isn’t about power but about acceptance of loss…that’s what i read, accepatance, eventually, of loss…but I see this as ANTON’S lyricism and Anton’s exmotional experience…quite the opposite of what Slummingangel is suggestion, or you…..Yakutza appears to be ‘powerful’ (all that macho/samurai stuff) and yet they are not invulnerable…but like the rest….and that melancholy here, i see as Anton’s ‘revelation’…his own ‘transformation’…as i said, the book seems to me less about Yakutza, than Anton’s trasnformation, his change from young man (with joy/hope) to a man who makes because he knows he must, and that is part of lyricism…..

    but i see so much sadness (not to be confused with depression) in the poetry of these pictures….sadness is (for me) life affirming…it’s just the recognition that all is fragrantly transcient….that magnificent image of the Yakutza playing baseball (brilliant moment) reinforces that….

    i don’t fear threatened at all, i see all their fragility, even in the hunking shadows…

    by the way, i’ve showed the above essay to 5 japanese students today, one of whom has an association (via family in southern japan)….and of whose father owns a fishing company and deals….all thought the pictures reflected this point: “twilight”…i smiled, exactly :)))

    make sense….:)))

    be we all see the way we are, nothing more ;)

  32. Pingback: Buy the book ODO YAKUZA TOKYO | anton kusters

  33. Andrew B.,

    Yes ‘t was great meeting you at LOOK3 too… and of course very glad you bought the book… and that you like it! But of course one could safely assume that you bought it because you liked it ;-)


  34. btw, this NOT to say that Yakutza isn’t THREATENING OR POWERFUL…they surely all…i’m talking about the photographs and Anton’s view….it is possible to make self-reflective work posed against the world of others…anyway, trying to show others humanity, even amid a life of sometimes inhumanity toward others, IS for me the most important thing…how else will we ever understand both cruelty and compassion if we don’t see ourselves in others…and that is part of what is strong, for me, about the book…it is less about yakutza then what anton has ‘felt’ and ‘seen’ behind the cloth and cliche of that world…hope that makes sense…as i am not trying to devalue or limit what they do, but trying to express the emotion of the work and what, for me, drives it’s sensibility….

  35. Bob.. I’m out the door, dinner with friends, so just short:

    not SEE.. FEEL.. if we talk about seeing, then yes, but the feel is so different from the look here to me.

    Mike.. ok.. you try :)

  36. JIM,

    It’s very weird but you were one of the few people I was curious about to know your opinion… honestly.

    It is indeed one big under-the-skin struggle of survival in the modern world more than anything else. Well put.

    cheers, a

  37. Eva :)))

    out the door here, to, to buy that computer…

    but i FEEL sadness here too…i SEE and FEEL it…, unless you’re talking about the confidence of the picture taking (i see/feel that)….anyway, this will have to wait for another time and coffee ;)))

    i feel (physically) what it is i see…so, maybe that explains my reaction…or maybe it’s just the water ;))…



    And big massively big congratulations on the book, that’s an achievement to be real proud of.

    Sorry, very tired and out of the loop here on the last 24hrs or so (gee, things move fast around here…I like that!). Must get some work done. Will read back through the comments later if I get enough done. Busy day today, and two straight days of hard work this weekend, too.

  39. For some reason, half-way through the text, I had to jump up and go get a black coffee – I did not have a master photographer to fetch it for me.

    Then the photos – so still, so quiet, so placid – so filled with tension, apprehension and foreboding.

    Powerful piece of work. Almost unbelievable that you have had this kind of access to such people. Congratulations. Happy birthday!

    Now – you have put me in a bind. I must have this book. I must have it from this printing.

    But honest to God, I am at one of those frequent freelance times when I am broke – just flat out broke. But by the end of next week I should be flush. I do not want to wait until the end of next week. You will be sold out by then.

    Please, please, please! If you can set aside a copy for me, I PROMISE I will come through with an order, hopefully before next week ends. I’ve been working hard, and I’ve got a big payment coming, once I can satisfy some bureaucratic twists and turns.

    I promise. I want to hold the physicalness of this book in my hand, both to admire and to be inspired by.

  40. Happy Birthday!

    The images are really, really powerful and strangely they make me want to be there (it doesn’t happen with most of the images i see every day in whatever context), to be next to these people. I want to hear their voices and know what they’re talking about. It’s like there’s some kind of veil in front of these guys even when i see them in the photographs. Anyway, damn powerful work and just when i’ve decided that i wont buy anymore books your book comes out, which i feel i just have to buy:)

    Also, the interview was great.

    Congratulations Anton!!


  41. Oops – was just finalizing when I saw that it was Euros, not dollars. I do have to wait. I have no choice. But I will buy it when my money comes, if a copy is still available.

  42. ANTON,

    First happy birthday…. this is a special day for you I am sure… I very much look forward to get your book that I have just ordered and that, I am sure, will be very special… what I love Anton is your attention to the details, quality over quantity…. I just looked at the short video on your site and I can tell the book will be very special to hold…. heavy paper, Japanese calligraphy… it seems special… it transpires also the respect you have for these Japanese traditions and the art, culture of Japan and obviously the Yakuza themselves…. I have been fortunate to travel in Japan, attend traditional tea ceremony in Japan, a bath ritual, walked down the streets late at night and looking at the video of the book, I can feel the unique atmosphere, the colors that also touched me there and that clearly you have successfully made yours in your work… I can also tell that this work and project that we have seen develop in front of our eyes will leave a print on you forever…the fascination you have for these men is palpable… the large japanese traditional tattoo you have decided to cover your back with, very much like a Yakuza, is a visible evidence of that I guess…. but beyond the tattoo, I am sure this work, the whole experience has changed you… In many ways Anton, although I have not pushed my work as far as you did and did not publish yet, I feel close to that experience you had when I worked myself on this long term project on boxing while in Cincinnati…. we enter these projects through a small door and a new world opens to us, a world that leaves us different… a world that is hard to leave behind… I am not surprised you are thinking of a movie/ film now… it will be hard to not go back to this fascinating environment where I have no doubt you have also found yourself as a photographer….

    Anyway Anton…. you have all my respect for having shown the patience, the commitment to follow through with the book, to get to know these men, to penetrate their world… not an easy task for young European who lives miles away…. quite an achievement in of itself….

    Now, after all these compliments, will I allow myself some small critics as no one has made any yet :):)…. OK, I will attempt to say what crossed my mind for what it is worth… I somehow do find that the slideshow on computer is not the best medium for your work…. the book seems to be it…. just looking at the video of the book again, I feel the work gets to a different level… not always the case… the work of some photographers really shine on the computer…. yours seems to really benefit from the fascinating story, the words, the Japanese paper, the calligraphy all of these…. this combo seems to be top notch but some of the pictures outside of that context, when looking at them in isolation may not be as strong somehow…. Actually to be more specific, you have some truly iconic images in my view like 1, 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 18, 21, 22, 31, 36 (as you can tell there are many….), but the power of your work in my view gets a bit diluted in slideshow by some images like 4, 6, 7, 24, 29 that are good images but somehow in my humble opinion not at the same level…. so, maybe just maybe…. I could have had a slightly tighter edit…. but I am being picky….

    All in all Anton, this is a remarkable project that kept us all waiting for the book and I cannot wait to get it and spend more time with it…. I am pretty sure I will love it…. Enjoy every minute of this important milestone yourself…. Hope you will eventually stop by Brussels for a beer and also so that you can sign my own copy of the book….

    Take care Anton and congrats again!


  43. Civi wrote, “MTOMALTY…can you bring another cake…the same as MR.HARVEY’S…:)))”

    Your wish is my command. Through the power of the internet and Photoshop I was able
    to secure the cake. ‘coincidentally in the same color palette as some of the Yakuza images

  44. ERIC my friend

    you are for sure an astute observer… will write more shortly, almost done packing my bags…

    ps beer/coffee in brussels: yes!



    oo funny… looking at that clip, makes it seem like the eighties were soooo wrong :-)

    was it the 80s? not sure anymore all of a sudden :-/



    thanks for the words… time to have beers with all 3 of you…

    separately of course, so i’ll have 3 times the fun

    james, sorry to have missed you at LOOK3…

    hugs, a

  47. 3 or 4 really nice shots.
    The first words to come into my mind were ‘observational love poem infatuation’ and I kinda like the way that sounds. Seems a bit caught up in storytelling on tiptoe if that makes sense.
    I know no more about the lifestyle than I did before viewing this.
    Did you self publish this??

    BOB. You get to understand cruelty only by being is pointless to intellectualise it, you must feel it..same for compassion (the popular choice).

  48. wow, great stuff. amazing photography, amazing story. congrats anton!

    I think anton should be the EPF winner :-D

    hey anton, have you thought about selling some of your books through amazon, at least in the US? they can do the order fulfillment for you I believe. just another way of getting your book out there… maybe do a second print run :)

  49. Congrats Anton! Ever since you showed us your slide show the last day of DAH’s workshop ’09, I’ve been captivated by this work. The images were burned (pun intended) deeply into my psyche along with the accompanying stories you told us. I marveled at not only your courage to pursue such a subject, but also how each image demanded attention and conjured up all kinds of dramatic vignettes in my head.

    I’m so happy this day has come for you and on your birthday no less..soak up every second!

    I read the interview over my afternoon americano and felt almost like I was sitting right there on the front porch enjoying a thoughtful conversation between 2 photogs I truly admire.

    Thanks to you David for being a gatherer of the tribe and a spark to illuminates our fiery fervency for the photograph.

    Mucho hugs,


  50. John G:

    yes, understand you and agree with you, completely….and i wasn’t intellectualizing…..simply writing about the images and the book…

    the man who is fed and warm knows nothing of the man ill-fed and cold at night….been both of those men…

    i might add a caveat john, being treated cruelly (i mean, of course, real cruelty, not everyday human cruelty we all do day-in/day-out) also gives understanding….

    please don’t confuse writing about work, a friend’s work, as a form of intellectualizing….it can of course be, it is not with me, at least not now and in this instance….

    and yes, compassion does not come from looking/observing, but by experiencing suffering and knowing that others do as well…but let us not talk about that this week, please….

    waiting for our long-awaited drink(s) together….

    all the best john

  51. Gobsmacking gorgeous photos like these inevitably end up beautifying crime, sanctifying Alpha males, glorifying female objects.

    Anton, of course I would never say “Gobsmacking,” but otherwise I share those concerns, and “slummingangel”‘s outlook in general about how all too often witnesses become co-opted and end up glorifying people who do bad things. Of course I’ve been aware of this work for quite awhile, and have always had that kind of concern about it. But happily, I think you have successfully skirted the trap. Although anyone who is photographed is glorified to some extent, I don’t find these photos glorifying. They are admirably neutral. They succeed in serving as witness. And I feel that the role of the non-judgmental witness is very important. This work is a great achievement. I think it will last.

    Although I come to different conclusions from “slummingangel” (bad handle, btw. I really find it hard to agree with anyone who call’s their self an angel) about the photographs, I do agree about how you came off in the interview. Being non-judgmental is admirable when we’re talking about victimless actions, things that go on among consenting adults, but there’s nothing wrong with being judgmental when victims are involved. That’s, ummm, what do you call it? Right… Civilization.

    It’s a difficult balance when witnessing some of the darker niches, one I struggle with on occasion… maintaining the big picture judgmentalism, judging the action, not the person that’s looking you in the eye and telling you about actions that any decent person would judge horribly wrong. It ain’t easy. But it is doable, as you have shown. Hopefully, you’ve managed that trick in your soul as well as you have managed it in your photos.

    Great work. Congratulations.

  52. happy birthday, and congratulations. your accomplishment in making a tangible, powerful document filled with keen perception, human warmth and just enough levity is really an accomplishment for all of us here.

    peace, joy and goodness to you! your pride is our own.

  53. Congrats, Anton, glad to see a project come to such fruition, and of which you can be proud of. Totally unique too, the whole subject is your baby. You alone in the world did produce that. Bravo!

    I will give it a serious thought, would love to get it, but work ($$) has been really lacking lately (and before too!) for me, can’t quite afford to buy a photobook.

    Happy Birthday again!

  54. Anton,Mate – I’ve been following the work with interest and have just bought the book , so I will sit down and have a good old tactile perv when it arrives , Well done and congratulations.
    Cheers Glenn

  55. now I am not sure who are the biggest criminals the Yakuza or the “shipping contractors” to Oz they want more for the postage than the cost of the book

  56. Yes! this is what it’s all about…

    Congratulations Anton!

    The essay flows so well, it’s so immersive that it totally pulled me further and further into your experience. I love it and i want more!

    We’ve (myself & Yael) been looking forward to getting your book for a while now… there is nothing quite like sitting down with a good photobook and falling deeply into another photographers world… the name of the game…

    Thoroughly enjoyed the conversation/interview too. More conversations with the essays on Burn please, adds a whole other dimension… and well done on the pricing too. 50 euros is a great price (just wish Oz wasn’t so far away – shipping -ouch!)

    Happy birthday (another gemini!) and love that tat!!

    Wishing you every success, you surely deserve it.

  57. Anton,
    You should get in touch with someone at the Australian photo collective,Oculi.
    I bought their big,retrospective book last year after initially canceling my order when the
    shipping estimate came close to the book price.
    I explained to them the reason and a few weeks later they got back to me with a shipping
    option by boat that was massively cheaper.
    Might be something in there that could work for you.

  58. a civilian-mass audience

    MTOMALTY…thank you,thank you,you do deliver mate…

    I had cake,I smoked with YAKUZA…I had my drinks…
    I can go now.ANTON whatever my BURNIANS said and BB:)))
    focus on the stuff…that didn’t say…

  59. All very interesting. I have stepped out of Romania right now and am back in New York editing two bodies of work for book publication. What happened is that as long as I stayed in Romania, I just kept shooting the rural life as well as life in Bucharest and there was seemingly no end to the projects because I enjoy doing them so much. So, I have physically removed myself and am just working on the backlog of scans and digital files and printing out work prints for editing and sequencing while researching the whole bookmaking process and studying photography books. Swanson and Himes’ new book “Publish Your Photography Book” is essential. I want so much to complete these two projects. They have occupied the last 9 years of my life and it is true how without the physical book one always feels as if nothing is finished. It has become an obsession and is all I think about these days. I think publishing a book is key to establishing some clout within the photo world. A website and a print portfolio are simply not anywhere enough. A book proves a lot.

  60. sam/anton: :))

    great idea…and if u need additional support, let me know…am good friends with Tamara V….they’re all a great bunch, let me know if u need additional communication help :))


    thanks so much for your offered advice/support… anything to lessen the burden of shipping costs is very welcomed… i have always thought this was the crux of any independent person publishing a book: we just don’t have the resources to pull that one off properly, and at the same time we are used to rock bottom and 15 different shipping options/prices such as amazon… but maybe with help from friends, we just might…

    I should have got US covered, and Europe should be OK too, though there the taxes come into play as well… but outside of those regions, things start to add up pretty quickly and i hate that.

    any suggestions/help is greatly appreciated… would love to get in touch with Oculi etc to discuss and “unite”…

    hugs, and thanks so much for the tips!!!


  62. ALL

    I just packed my bags and am leaving to Tokyo for one very last short stay, to present ten books to the Yakuza. At the same time I will be trying to secure access for another year so I can start preparing next steps (movie, exhibition, more photos, etc)

    At the airport after check-in, in the next few hours, I’ll get back in the comments here and talk some more, great discussion going on…

    The books are being wrapped up as we speak at the printer. He will be ready end of next week, and June 30, As soon as I get back home, the actual physical shipping will commence….

    super super exciting… keep spreading the word as much as you can…. god knows I need it….

    hugs, a

  63. Vissaria Skoulida


    Happy birthday.I did not watch your essay.
    only until number 5.My mom rules.
    and I like very much number 5.
    good luck with your photos.


  64. Bob..

    by power I didn’t mean the way of picture taking. I am looking at Anton’s work, so it is obvious that I am looking at his point of view, how he sees and feels it.. but can I really say what this exactly is? Does it even matter? I don’t know how much of him is in the open and how much hiding, and that’s not the point either to me. It never is the first point if I look at a body of work.

    I look at work, listen to in case of music, same goes with literature, art.. and melt it with what I am and know and how I feel. Unless it’s an instruction manual (those I usually set aside and don’t even read).

    So what I sense here is indeed power. It’s subtle, perhaps I’m wrong and it’s the opposite, but to make an example, in the first picture the dot on the i for this is the eye I see.. not the first thing that I notice, it creeps up and stays there, in the back of my mind.

    It’s perfectly fine to me if this was not the point of the picture, I mean Anton’s point. What he felt or saw. This is my perception, very strong, through this entire essay, and the book at that.. perhaps it’s a narrow way to read it, I don’t know.. but it has made me want to know more, since the first time we got to see some of this work, to know more about the work itself and about the photographer.. and this last thing happens only every now and then, as I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s disappointing to know the person behind the work.. not here though..

    That’s my Saturday morning after one coffee rambling.. won’t even reread it..

  65. One more thing: power is only one piece of the puzzle here, to me, not the ONLY one, nor THE one, but nontheless one important one..

  66. BOB, EVA,

    at the airport in Frankfurt waiting for my connecting flight… some thoughts:

    interesting points you both make… it’s wonderful to see and talk to people who look at the pictures and discuss about them, the feeling they evoke, and such. of course reading into images is a largely personal thing, different people read different things into the images or the story, and I guess it is impossible to see the images disconnected from the person who made them… I think.

    I think I always should strive for that… building a career (hopefully) on the merits of who I am as a person, shown through and in connection with my images.

    I simply do not want my images to be standing alone without me… because the images are me… they are me trying to make sense of the world around me, trying to make sense of the Yakuza in my mind, myself being opposed to violence of any kind, I want to find out, experience, understand what it is like, and hopefully gain a higher level of understanding in my life. I don’t want to be a “captain ashore”, giving opinions about something I know nothing about… conflict photography is another good example of that I think.

    That is why the images you see will always a fortiori be the feelings that i feel, the perceptions that I have, and what i see around me while having those…

    As an aside, of course, also the feelings/character/upbringing/ethics/opinions determine the choice of subject/project or the broad interest in the first place. Intellectually speaking, I remember being tremendously curious how a thing like Yakuza could even exist in this particular way in modern day society… organized crime all over the world of course, but this particular one is so weird because they do not hide away, they are overt not covert, and the reaction of japanese society to that is also very dual, very mixed… both negative and positive…. which in turn made it even more interesting to me. It became clear to me that people who dismiss Yakuza as simply “thugs” have a too narrow opinion on this complex situation.

    On a personal note, getting to that emotional point where i can make images of the things I see around me is the hardest part… for me it involves trying to lose control over myself, trying to step away from my day-to-day opinions and prejudices that I have like anyone else, and becoming extremely sensitive to whatever the subject is putting out. It is always hard and painful for me to get to this point, I have a lot of doubts along the way, I talk to many people, asking if I am doing “good” (without even showing them any images), if i should be doing the things I do, and lay awake nights thinking about injustice…. my girlfriend tells me that I often have Weltschmerz… and I believe her i think.

    At the same time I am hoping that the struggle I go through every time again, will never go away because it is proof for myself that ethically I am still a “good” person in my heart, whatever story I happen to be telling at that moment. Nobody can blame me for any glorifying or things associated to that, because of this simple, but of course unprovable fact (unless you know me or have talked to me personally in depth)
    So to get back to the question: Yes, I see all of these, TENSION, POWER, DEATH, CONTROL, all the things you both describe, they surely are in there… at the surface, Yakuza is all about under-the-skin tension, power and fear…. the things that i personally felt when being in their presence were all along this realm, BUT/AND at the same time i also felt a huge INSECURITY, a DOUBT, a QUESTIONING, a huge philosophical one… and of course I sense this because I myself am sensitive to this, often questioning myself why I walk this earth, and what i “should” be doing with that gift that is life…

    I could literally see senior members having these contemplative moments thinking about the larger whole of life and their role/struggle in society… questioning themselves “am I a good person? Am I a bad person?” I also did not shy away from literally asking them these questions, under the realm of trying to understand as much as I can. And the answer was never an easy one, also never a clear cut one, as you could imagine. I have an image of a Phillipine guy holding up his shirt showing the tattoo on his chest with the name of his boss on, and the look on his face speaks volumes as to the conversation we had about not having choices and not offering choices, being pushed and pushing yourself, violence both physical and under the skin, and the doubts associated with it.

    It is so complicated to be on the edge of anything, not at the least on the edge of what is considered good and bad… and it is surprising how very acutely aware they are of their position and their struggle, and that they are trying very hard to understand this… maybe for the wrong reasons, probably for the wrong reasons, but the doubts are there nonetheless.

    damn, I have so much to say about this, and now I have to board my plane….


    I’ll be back as soon as I can… hugs to all xxxx

    ps ALL……………………..

    I just wanted you all to know that burn here is one of the few places that I actually feel comfortable talking about these things… they are very personal to me…. thank you for that…


  67. ANTON…

    you must feel just terrific after all of these comments….and a well deserved feeling at that….i am only jumping in here now because i know you are on a plane to Tokyo at this moment to make a formal presentation of your book to the Yakuza…the proper Japanese way to do things for sure…there is no doubt in my mind you will then be allowed to make the film…

    this last gesture of politeness and respect on your part is of course reflective of the way you have managed this whole epic body of work…and the way you manage your life in general….the way you ARE fits perfectly with the way a westerner must be in order to work the way you have….this is the key to all great work…even when not looking directly in the mirror, one must always always be keying off a particular aspect of one’s own personality…i say this to all i mentor as you well know…you listened, you did it, you followed through….just like the way you play golf! all of the “parts” must flow naturally…hard work misdirected is a waste…carefully managed efforts lead to Odo Yakuza Tokyo…for sure this work is totally reflective of Anton Kusters…no no smiling, you are not part of a Japanese crime family…but for a westerner you exhibit a special character that matches the Japanese way as much as any westerner possibly could….

    many thanks Anton for being a student who truly followed through… was only three years ago that we met in my class at Look3 and you did your little essay on cars..then Sugar as the first story for Burn, and now Odo Yakuza…many would assume that for all of your hard work here on Burn, that i would reward you with a prominent spot …absolutely not so and you know it more than anyone…my personal friends rarely make it to publication on Burn…or, better said, being a friend of mine does you no good unless the work is actually superlative…you are here now on Burn because of the nature and brilliance of your work…period

    as you remember, yours is the second book i have mentored into publication in the last year…the first being Mike Young with Blues, Booze and BBQ…prior was Kyunghee Lee with Island and Anne Henning with Dancing in the Afternoon..still on deck are Patricia Lay Dorsey with Falling Into Place and Panos Skoulidas with Death in Venice…and some of the others here will i know be stimulated into really really thinking about books…

    few will attain, but for those who MUST publish, they will publish..i am talking about mainstream books, not on demand books….a whole different animal….in any case your knowledge of graphic arts/design and printing surely helped you here along with perhaps a bit of editing help here and there…but this is your baby …it is your eye and your sensibility that made this book a reality…and makes a reality our mutual theory that we could work together to publish Burn and yet still do our own projects simultaneous….laughing hysterically!!…

    somehow possible..possible because one of us works on Burn while the other goes to shoot…so far so good….and no two people could ever ever work better together…rather amazing i would say….in friendship and trust….the mutual ability to do something today..little if any procrastination…Geminis rule!! and the unplanned irony that Burn would in fact become the distributor for this work and now obviously as well for other readers/photographers here who may rise to the occasion…you by example with Odo Yakuza Tokyo are leading the way…

    many thanks for putting one on the table Anton…realized….done….makes the mentoring side of my life worthwhile…you have truly now joined the conversation…life for you from now on will indeed be different…

    ok amigo your moment in the sun, in the spotlight, will continue (followed by digging in with Diego and me with 02..ha, the work is never done!!)…i will see you in Paris along with Eva, John G and Paul P for the Magnum party…time to put THEM and others here up front soonest….

    the torch must always be passed…

    abrazos, david

    p.s. i now see we posted simultaneous..i thought you in the air…anyway, poignant, appropriate…all the way that it is..

  68. I have the first version of this in print. It’s an astonishing body of work. Cinematic in the extreme. Marvellous. Entirely captivating. Would love to see this as an ebook too for iPod Touch and iPad2. To see this as a backlit book for screen would be an intense experience.


  69. David.. Anton..

    I guess you are aware that with all this you are setting the bar very high.. and my best excuse, the classical gemini procrastinating thing, doesn’t hold up anymore.. pffff.. thank you both :)

  70. Dear Anton,


    It must be very special experience to publish your own book.

    Congratulations on your book publishing and birthday with my heart. :))




    yes, the whole point is to set the bar high…

    we have two things going here..

    one is community, which is an incredible surprise to me…the amazing thing is the reality so often attached to it…so many of us have not only met in person, but have become good friends in person..this ain’t no blog , this is actually a non virtual real place…and as i said in my post , we are planning to have our Burn meetings, like the one we just had a my place, in various cities and for portfolio reviews leading up to paid publication in Burn..

    the other thing we potentially have is a very very small but very very good book publishing company…not our original intent but we did not have anything for an original intent…the beauty of this is that we are not like a normal company…both Anton and i and Diego are photographers….Michelle has an entrepreneur sensibility so she can help us to help ourselves so we can afford to stay here, to do our own work, and fulfill our stated obligations to help the next generation..that has always been my personal mission…and that is what i do….

    you three are such good spirits…all i need..good vibes from the likes of you…we feel it, right? and many others as well of course….one of these days i will write a story about Roberta and Renata in Rio, but that is for another time…

    now is Anton day….i will disappear from comments here as soon as his plane lands in Tokyo…but if we can sell Anton’s book it will be a great day for Anton and for Burn…to get rich? hell no, breaking even is our goal…..but it will mean that we continue with a very very strong brand for lack of a better term…a brand based on actual good deeds as in grant giving and paying for worthy stories and in the marketing of truly good products like 01 and 02 and Anton’s book and then your book IF it is good enough…..whatever is really fine fine fine is what we want…Burn does not want to get big..Burn only wants to be good….stand for something of value…represent things of value….

    i know you get it….many many thanks for your support…

    hugs, david

  72. ANTON :))

    I’ve sent Tamara an email and cc’d you on it. If the 2 of you don’t get in contact, let me know and I’ll contact Tamara via Facebook…:)))…anything to help :))


  73. ANTON/EVA :)))

    can’t write today ….just smile…normally would have written omething more but really prefer to let Anton’s comment rest the highest/best about his own work….

    ….better to write long-winded for my own work now……..or better to unleash the work instead….better than writing…i know what you mean eva :)))…but i guess we’re talking different senses…i hear you…my eyes and body are pivoted profoundly differently :)))

    Anton: yes, that’s it…nothing to add :))….

    biggest hugs


  74. Panos, all of the ancient Greeks who said that are now dead, so this whole exercise thing clearly did them no damn good.

  75. I already said it in your blog but I’ll say it here again….congrats!
    and a happy birthday as well!!!
    getting a copy right this moment.
    All the best Anton!

  76. a civilian-mass audience

    ok…I hear you…I am not gonna sing…I will let ANTON do it(as soon as he lands)
    ANTON,ANTON…we love ANTON…

    BURN is BIG…you are not focused…MASS…MASS.MASSSSSSSSS
    if this is not big then…I don’t know:))))

    and PANOS…oime…you have to see the modern greeks…
    my ouzo belly follows me everywhere:)

    back to ANTON…and to all of you…

  77. Anton….Congratulations and Happy Birthday…

    Getting into the conversation a little late, have been busy with my kids, especially poignant as it is Father’s Day tomorrow… nevertheless…you are in a way a new father as well having birthed something unique and beautiful into the world that will take on a life of it’s own…

    I have long been fascinated by Japanese culture and it’s unique aesthetic. D.T. Suzuki in his book “Zen and Japanese Culture” describes the peculiar features of Japanese art and how they permeate Japanese society at large. Suzuki describes two aspects that when found together come to represent the essence of this aesthetic. ‘Sabi’ and ‘Wabi’ . Sabi being manifest by a sense of loneliness or solitude, a sense of the beauty of imperfection that begs for contemplation. It is the absence or disregard of form or line that sparks a sense of pleasure, that hints at antiquity. Suzuki says ‘Sabi consists in rustic unpretentiousness or archaic imperfection, apparent simplicity or effortless in execution, and rich in historical associations…’ similar to how we see beauty in nature. Wabi is the appreciation of simplicity or poverty, ‘transcendental aloofness’. To see beauty and take pleasure in primitive simplicity. There is no value placed on the complexities that lie at the surface but those that run deep.

    I see in your photographs both these elements. There is a simplicity and unpretentiousness in these photos, there is a sense of imperfection of form that leads to beauty. In documenting the Yakuza you have also not focused on the drama, violence and glamour an approach that Bruce Gilden’s work has already touched on. You have focused your lens on the ‘isness’ of the Yakuza. The apparent contradiction of outward simplicity as seen by the black suit and tie and the inner demons represented by the tattoo underneath. I don’t think anyone else is capable of making these photos and venturing into this world especially a Gaijin. You have undertaken something which is larger than yourself and is true in form to it’s Japaneseness. Culturally I think there are important lessons to be learned here in that the Japanese have come to terms with living in apparent harmony with our true selves, our spirit, nature and beauty as well as our deepest, darkest fears, needs and desires.

    I could go on but there are more chapters to follow that will require more comment, especially film. Akira Kurosawa’s movies also seem to capture the essence of Sabi and Wabi and I am looking forward to seeing how your vision translates into moving images and sound.

    Congratulations again, and looking forward to the day when we can meet again so you can sign both my copies of 893 and Oda Yakuza Tokyo.


  78. ALL,

    just landed in Tokyo, now gearing up with my brother Malik for the in-person book presentation tomorrow for the Yakuza family that is the subject in my book… Everything has to be presented exactly right.

    I’ll be back here in a couple of hours!

    Cheers, a

  79. ALL

    On my way now to Taka-san, our fixer, to present him a copy of the book… Our main man… Plus he will see his own artwork for the first time in print (every chapter in the book is preceded by Japanese calligraphy done by him)

    back later….


  80. Anton, first of all, Happy birthday (with a bit of delay).

    Just finished reading the interview with David and also finished to watch the small video in your web ste about the book. Looks amazing! And, yes, is like you baby… 100% home made, a awesome self-gift for your birthday. Congrats. Even is you reach only 500 people (that’s not true…), I think the emotionally reward is something priceless.

    I like the way that you tell that you are a MIRROR.
    I like to see images and at the same time see the photographers behind, to know the photographer thourght the lense.“sugar” featured here on burn at the beginning, is also great, but this one is… is… amazingly deep, every single picture is a great one, but the hardest part is to get there and make a powerful story!
    By the way, picture with the Yakuza tatooed in his back with a big fish is terrific.

    About “Weltschmerz”: Yes, absolutely true. Personally i think that photographers live in a eternal insatisfaction, but thanks to “it” and passion we go further to move next step in our life. Doing/Making projects is the key.

    Raymond Depardon, in his book called “Errance” speaks about it: “
    …meme si on fait 500 photos dans la journee, ca en represente que 500 fois 1/125sec, et ca en fera peut etre que au total 2 secondes .
    Hence, is so so litte time and maybe is hard to accept…

    Ok, enough for this sunday mornig
    Well done!


    PS: Anton, hope your presentation in Japan went well with the Yakuzas, and hope see you in person someday, maybe in Perpignan with the rest of the crew and passengers.

  81. Pingback: Behind the scenes: making the book ODO YAKUZA TOKYO | anton kusters


    very good observations my friend, good observations…

    I’ve never been able to put my feelings into language very well, but what you describe makes perfect sense and seems to be spot on.

    I think I’ll be looking into that book by D.T. Suzuki pretty soon!

    Also, I have a pretty good idea on the visual aesthetic of the film, but the practical complexity of shooting a movie is simply enormous… my main concern, besides not stepping on too many toes in the process, is how I can make sure not to dilute the story and visuals that exist only in my head now… know it must happen, that dilution, but I am hoping the level of giving in will be acceptable to myself and keep the story intact.

    fingers crossed…..


    i feel that eternal insatisfaction always… although I would more describe it as “restlessness”… because it is not always a negative feeling in se… and this feeling is the singular thing that drives me out there to create and create and create… no matter what… physically speaking, i am sooo tired…. mentally, I’m just getting started…

    I don’t know why I have this restlessness, I have often wondered why and on occasion I have wished it gone… but in a weird way, I am glad to have it after all.

    so little time… so many amazing things left to experience…


    cheers, a

  83. CIVI

    can i sing now? I don’t know yet if it’s a swan song, a siren song or a victory song… time will tell…



    I have good news for shipping to countries in Asia/Oceania… my brother Malik will take care of shipping for these countries, bringing significant cost reductions on the shipping… yay…

    for those of you who have bought already (australia, new zealand, japan, etc), i will of course refund the difference in shipping costs….

    so winners all around.. glad this got solved…



    Yes… I depend on everyone here getting the news on my book out there as much as possible…

    great thing to do on the Leica user forum… if you or anyone else knows of more places, please do!!

    cheers, a

  86. DAVID

    Thank you for the incredibly heart-felt comment… indeed we posted simultaneously, what serendipity

    The truth is simple… I owe everything to BURN and before that the first workshop at LOOK3 which was for me the catharsis…. remember the self portraits you never wanted to see again… yes I saw the opportunity, jumped in and worked like there was no tomorrow… but this would have never happened without your support or mentorship all along the way…. I can simply not add enough words of gratitude, but I know the best way for making you and BURN proud is consistenly getting good work out there, proving by deeds, not by words, that I am worthy of your trust and support…. and hopefully growing to be a good photographer


  87. a civilian-mass audience

    I will spread the news…I AM MASSSSSSSSSSSSSS…
    please,don’t sing…I am not gonna sing too…let’s leave it to the pro’s

    you can shoot and I can dance…like Zorba the Greek…until your next book…
    oime…I hope the next one won’t be about harakiri…hmmm… do inspire BUT you are “lucky” to be around the best of the best…
    and ANTON and My BURNIANS…are the BEST…

    ouzo time…on me…!!!

  88. ANTON :)))

    Tamara has written, take a look at your email. Please keep in touch with her, she’s both a great photographer and more importantly a great great person :))…in case having your brother do all the shipping doesn’t work out, have a look at what she suggests….

    and also, please follow her idea about photoeye….that is a great great word spreading idea…James Delano’s group project Inochi: Mercy is now be offered by eye too.

    get Odo Yakuz Tokyo there


  89. ANTON
    I posted a link to here in the Facebook groups for Flak Photo, hope that helps. You might also want to check out Larissa Leclair’s Indie Photobook Library. Let me know if you want me to do an email introduction or something, not a problem.

  90. thanks bob… will look into each of these!!


    some good news:

    just got back from presenting the book to the Yakuza… all went well… the first hurdle is taken, wheels set in motion… hopefully in the right direction!


    I have been able to slash off a huge lump off of the base shipping costs for asia and oceania… great news… and at the same time also refunded the difference to the orders already in from the affected countries…

    and lastly

    have GREAT packaging for the book… those who bought, will see… surprise…

    hugs to all, a

  91. Framer’s

    yes I know Andy… He’s on my list too! will do this rightaway – but FlakPhoto is all about non-self promotion…. and now I see you shared it there… thank you so much! hope it catches on

    and Larissa also… she added my 893 Magazine last year so we have been in touch then

    great tips… thanks…

    cheers, a

  92. “things remain fleeting until something physical is made”… agree.. for me at least.
    “and even though you reach fewer people, it doesn’t matter”. YES
    ANTON… another Gemini! Great work. And great photos.

  93. a civilian-mass audience

    GEM-MINIS…you are small gems:))))))))))))))))))

    oime…electricity on and off…strikes…
    you are full of surprises…


  94. @ ANTON
    physically speaking, i am sooo tired…. mentally, I’m just getting started…

    I’m sure that’s a very good sensation. Tired but f..%&^ing happy isn’t it?
    and every human being has some restleness, some more than others, it depends the period.


  95. Micaël Martel

    Wow, finally the book is arrived, i’m really excited about it, I hope to be of the lucky 500 to buy it, tomorrow hopefully. The book looks gorgeous, congratulation anton

  96. PANOS

    you a Gemini too? oh my oh my..the world can only take so many Geminis…i would lay low on that one…i usually do not tell..shhhhhhh


    FYI, we are selling Anton’s book at the rate of about 1.7 books per hour..72 specifically sold in the the last 72 hours and 110 sold overall….i have no idea what any of you know about the book biz, but these are numbers that nobody can believe…all off of this website…not at a book signing of an icon ,but off this one outlet and from a relatively unknown photographer who will now become a known photographer…this is the process, the way it is…….just giving facts…but my greatest joy is in building photographers here on Burn…there have been some before Anton and there will be others after…..and more amazing, so this is good news for Anton, and it is good news for all of us here on Burn…i mean you…show me a book that is worthy and i might just go for it…we think our mantra will always be small runs of very special books…we will not do lots of books..maybe 4 per year at the most…limited editions like 01 and Yakuza…anyway, this is not a make money deal, this is just a get a good book done deal…and hell it’s just fun…never thought when i started the Road Trips blog that i would end up publishing books…odd evolution…or , not….

    i would say the ball is clearly in your court….do something for real, and you have a chance here…no no we cannot publish everybody , but we can publish somebody….

    cheers, david

  97. Something physical.. yup, that’s why I make prints.. and love books.. and never had a doubt a book or two or some would come out of all of this (talent’s there, willingness’ too, people working as well).. and not telling I’m a Gemini too, even though it isn’t nor my fault, nor my merit.. and so so happy about the speed the books sell.. only 3 more sleeps and I get mine.. and yes, I’m being silly but have an excuse.. nine hours in a car with a meeeooooowing cat will do weird things to your head ;)

  98. Is Anton coming to Paris? Any chance there’ll be some copies of this wonderful book there? Just looked at shipping and taxes and that’s gonna hurt my pockets real bad, but the video flip through of the book sends me.


    Yes i’ll be in Paris…. I’ll only be able
    to take a few books with me, not many… maybe 5 or so….

    If you buy yours without shipping (you can choose “pickup” in the shipping cost), I can bring it along and you’ll have one for sure, or you can bribe me with all sorts of things and hope we meet fast ;-)

    mmm now i seem to remember you were going to buy me 3 beers… this gives you a huge advantage already… so no worries, you should be safe :-)

    cheers, a

  100. Anton,

    Would love to hear more about what the Yakuza thought. Had you shown them images as you went along, or did you keep what you were producing under wraps until the end?

    I know you’re traveling, so when you have time, would love to hear more.

  101. Hey Brian,

    good question…. Throughout the project the first most important goal was to build and maintain trust, getting them at ease so that they would know at any given circumstance that they could decide to “veto” an image…

    my main concern was to separate the “yes or no” decision about an image from the actual moment of making the picture, so that I would not have to deal with two kind of things at the same time, and at least I could work freely making pictures.

    So the deal was that every time I came to Japan, at the end of my stay, I would present all the images that I had edited and deemed good enough for possible publication to them, and they would get to see all of those and be able to cast a “no” if they would not be comfortable with any.

    so the agreement was something that I had learned from david in his workshop: the “two thumbs up” approach: both the photographer and the subject must agree to any image, thus preventing the photographer from misusing his trust, but also preventing the photographer becoming propaganda for the subject through pressure (which you could imagine happening in this case!).

    This was crucial for me to state up front to them, and it went a huge way towards building trust: no image would ever be published without BOTH parties agreeing to it.

    You would think this would put you in a vulnerable position, but actually it puts you in the strongest possible position, especially for the long run, this builds trust and a good way of working, and also the chance for them to get to see how seriously I take them, and my photography.

    The hardest part was in the beginning, getting them used to the fact that the approval of the image could still come later, there was always to be that second phase…. that at least they let me make the picture, they could embargo it later at any time.

    Funny thing is that because of this, the reverse happened of what everyone would think… Yakuza members who were hesitant on the spot in certain situations, came back to me afterwards, after seeing the actual picture, saying “thank you for taking that picture, for not listening to my hesitations… now there is an image, otherwise there would be none”

    Result: never any picture I presented ever got embargoed…. (well, except one, for a totally non related reason, which I’ll tell you about over beer sometime :-)

    It does require extra work in the field, you have to count an extra 2 days every time to do editing and to meet again to present your images of the stay…. but it builds up a very good relationship: not only trust, but everyone gets involved in the process of the story taking shape…. everyone, including me, always knowing that they have the power to not publish an image. It sets a lot of stuff free to focus on the important things.

    AFTER THAT, then separately from that, after a while, the SECOND PHASE, the story started to emerge and i started doing book edits and showing them my overall vision for the story (as opposed to the image edits, which became more and more a technical thing to determine if all images were appropriate for them and for me)

    The vision of the story, that became apparent only after several months, was of course the hardest because that had to be 100% my own vision and I could never compromise in any way on that one… so I was pretty nervous when presenting that the first time…

    I always dit it by making a book dummy (with blurb) and presenting a physical object to them to look through. the very first time was a shock to them obviously, because then for the first time they got to see the fully processed images in book form sequenced into a story etc…. but a million pounds of weight fell off my shoulder when they then said “we love it, your vision is a good one, please continue”….

    cheers, a

  102. oh yes, i forgot to mention that on every stay, i would offer them prints of images they liked or had specifically aske dme to take, and they knew this was a process completely separate to the story… because along the way, i’d take many pictures and snapshots and people would pose with a friend an ask me to take a picture… which I would then bring back to them as a little print afterwards

    so yes, before meeting david, i had no clue how to go about dealing with this… and i learned a lot from him… giving back as much as you can is always the key.


  103. Happy Belated Birthday Anton.

    This is the most expensive book I have ever purchased but I firmly believe in supporting
    tattoo artists.

    All the best,

  104. Anton,

    Thanks for the “behind the scenes” insight, fascinating stuff. I think that’s one of the most difficult things for me (and I imagine lots of other photographers) – approaching people/strangers, building rapport, earning trust…

  105. I hate to be the bearer of unfortunate news, but you may not be what you grew up thinking you were… astrology wise.

    The earth shifts, the signs change. People born on my particular date of birth were once considered a Cancer, now they (if they’re into that stuff) are a Gemini. Groovy, man!

    If you’re interested… here’s the new list, (from astronomers! the smart ones. ;^})

    Now, go adjust your personality! har-har.

  106. OK… looks like it’s something about some greek twins. But further down it says Norse god Loki is associated with gemini also. I once (long ago) had a cat named Loki. I’m going with that! I will be a cat now! (siamese, by the way.)

  107. buy the BOOK
    buy the BOOK
    buy the YAKUZA BOOK first….!

    (especially dedicated to the my fellow Americans:
    PLEASE purchase/buy/consume ANTON’s YAKUZA BOOK…
    not a mass production…its “heavy” but sexy!
    Anton not only put the green color back into the “game”
    but also “inserted” little pieces of art in between pages and chapters..
    you’ll see, slideshow gives no justice! the actual book
    feels much better..much much better..
    Its a craft of love!Its something you wanna hold and have ..
    for no particular reason..ha ha…!
    Didactic? nah
    Pedantic? nah
    bellicose or jingoistic? (smiling) nah
    then what is it? what is it?
    Pretty simply put. It’s Anton’s new book…
    Forward by DAH

    (advertisement dpt: panos;)

  108. Yes, the Ford Taurus was such an uncool car that it became cool again…. like the Opel Manta or the Ford Capri… or even the Ford Escort…. Hmm, a lot of Fords here.

  109. ALL

    Heading out of Tokyo tomorrow back home…. book presentation to Yakuza was good, and fixer Taka-san also happy with the way his calligraphy appears in the book… weight off my shoulders…

    then straight to Paris

  110. Anton

    I posted a comment here last friday before going away for the weekend, but it does not seem to be here.

    In any case, congratulations. I can’t remmember all I said, but I do remmember remarking how you managed to make even the cherry blossoms appear mysterious, and even a little dangerous and menacing. A fascinating project.

    Killer tattoo by the way.

    I hope your presentation goes well.

  111. @ANTON,
    Have a nice trip back to Europe! Careful with the jet lag… Geez you’ve took the plane to go/come from Japan as I took the bus to go/come from downtown. Great!
    Amazing the sale rate of THE book.

    Enjoy Magnum Fiesta! You deserve a very good french wine! Cheers y salud!!


  112. ANTON:

    u’re now a Taurus?….

    you are in good company ;))))

    i was a Taurus (old system) and still am a Taurus (MK’s new system):

    once a bull always a bull ;)))


  113. Pingback: >Re: PHOTO » Blog Archive » Odo Yakuza Tokyo

  114. a civilian-mass audience

    breaking news…

    YAKUZA has been selected for Prix Voies Off in ARLES. Night screening of my images on july 6th. fingers crossed…


  115. Anton, great news about the Arles screening. I’d like to see a post, either here or on your own website, on how you give your photographs the “Yakuza Look”. I don’t want to copy the look (it’s yours) but I would like to know your workflow. I really should learn Photoshop – at least a little!



  116. LASSAL, CIVI,

    thanks… crossing my fingers too!

    MIKE R

    I guess there is no rocket science involved in what I do… the most important thing to me to determine a base “processing” for my RAW/DNG files and to stick to it… like a film type and a film developer. Digital gives you the power to do basically whatever you please, but I personally limit its possibilities and use it exactly like I would do Film X or Y combined with Developer X or Y. I might use another film for a next project, or another camera, or lens…. i look at it kind of this way. I basically limit the endless variables that RAW has to offer as much as possible, mimicking (and limiting it to) the traditional film+developer choice… it’s like playing your own photo lab, BUT this takes a lot of time to fine tune

    Really going into specifics as to which channel, contrast, color adjustments etc is I think not really relevant here… as would be the question “with which camera, setting, etc…”

    Generally speaking, as a flow, after transfer from the card to computer, I first use RPP for getting as much information as possible out of the digital negative, and I process/develop all images after that. Adobe Lightroom serves as my master archive, and I export from there. Photoshop is the final step, if for print.


  117. Anton, thanks; I think that it makes sense to limit the almost endless possibilities of digital capture, especially when building an essay. Doing so allows you to give the work a specific look and create atmosphere.

    One question: RPP?


  118. Thanks Anton, I’ve just been looking at it as you posted! I’ve not even heard of it before (so I’ve learned something new today). I have Aperture and Lightroom but usually use Aperture as I’ve got used to the workflow.

    RPP uses the words “film-like” a lot and I like that so I’ll give it a try. One question: does the use of either Aperture or Lightroom (used for photo management, captioning, keywording etc) have any effect on the processing that you have made in RPP (e.g. RPP mentions that photographs viewed in RPP can look dark. This is because the photographs are underexposed intentionally by the camera metering (to avoid blown highlights, I presume) and behind the scenes tweaking takes place in Lightroom (I don’t think that Aperture was mentioned) to quietly compensate for this). I thought that Aperture and Lightroom were non-destrucive (I presume that they don’t change the original, just (in this example) automatically lighten the displayed photograph?

    Is RPP non-destructive?

    Thanks teacher,


  119. MIKE R

    they are all non-destructive, it’s all about how they apply their math to the RAW file and turn it into a TIFF file…. the RAW file is always untouched. With Aperure/Lightroom you have a kind of “continuous live state” of the RAW file with the adjustments by you and the application visible “live”, but those changes are never actually committed to the RAW file… they only get committed to the file you export from there, be it a tiff, jpg, psd, etc…

    The thing here is that those conversions (done by their respective RAW engines) are ALL subject to interpretation (there does not exist a perfectly neutral RAW conversion) and some feel those interpretations (mathematical calculations actually) are done slightly better by RPP and CaptureOne

    if you plan to try RPP you should take your time to read the guy’s manual and follow his links so you develop an understanding of his reasoning and his own workflow. RPP is geared towards working very deliberately, and adds a bit of complication to your workflow, but ultimately you can be the only one to decide if that extra impact is worth it or not….

    cheers, a

  120. Anton, thanks; I’ve been reading the manual and will give RPP a try. The manual does say to give the process time. Obviously a learning curve.



  121. Pingback: Odo Yakuza Tokyo par Anton Kusters | JEKYLL & HYDE

  122. Anton – At long last, I have received my check! I can pay for my reserved copy in full. I know you sold out, so do I still do this as you originally set it up?

  123. I went ahead and placed the order and paypal took it.

    Can’t wait to see the book.

    I wonder how long it will take to get to Alaska?


    YES… AND I carried them all up my stairs as well! strangely looking forward to the next couple of weeks…


    Where does it say that the book is sold out? Just curious… Though it would be extremely cool, it’s not the case… yet… but we’re getting there fast :-) smiling… thanks for buying a copy…

    cheers, a

  125. @ ANTON: The book is sold out??!?!?!? Burn 01 IS. Not the Yakuza…
    I’ve purchased it to late (Monday 26th).
    Wish I would follow brother Panos and bought the book earlier :-(

    A+ P.
    PS: What a 2nd edition?

  126. That’s a good question, Anton. I could swear that I read it was sold out. I must have read words that either weren’t written, or someone wrote wrongly. Can’t remember where I thought I read that.

    rush to purchase the last few copies..
    I AM NOT KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (dont tell me later i didnt warn ya, ok?)
    one love

  128. ANTON,

    got my books yesterday. After I saw, how they are especially wrapped, I decided to celebrate the unwrapping.
    So I keep them wrapped until the right time, my flat is cleaned and there is time.
    It will be a very special moment for me.

    Thank you.

  129. THOMAS!

    great idea… and I’m honered you would clean up your house for this occasion!

    keep me posted… and thank you again for buying….

    cheers, a

  130. a civilian-mass audience


    e-mail sent…THANK YOU…

    where are you…I see…another earthquake …be safe mate…

  131. Pingback: Anton Kusters | SLAMXHYPE

  132. @ ANTON:

    Yesterday in the morning i’ve got your book.
    I’ve read the foreword by DAH and yours as well, and then go thru images! Long time that I did not smell a new photographic book, with patience in the couch.
    As you said in that little paper ENJOY… and I really did enjoy the book.
    A masterpiece.
    I said to myself three or four times turning pages: “Geez, How can an westerner can enter and photograph so close and with this “atmosphere” this group? So i read once again the beginning and David wrote: … his own personality and artistic vision not in conflict with them.”
    Anton, once again, what a great work!

    Now moving forward to do some sound? some multimedia piece? MediaStorm? or take a summer rest and move on with another thing?

    Hope C U soon somewhere
    Merci, Patricio

    @ THOMAS B: That book is much more than a woman… you’ve tidy up your appartement to enjoy it! WOW

    @ ALL: Follow Panos piece of advice and buy the book. I’ ve got the number 322/500.
    I know that is not so cheap, but if you don’t have the money, just try struggle a few days eating butter with rice and some water, is only temporary, then you go on with “normal” food, but with THAT book in the self). That’s my case…

  133. PATRICIO,

    great news…. and I’m glad you like it! Yes I am very very greatful that David honored me by writing the foreword to the book. mmm… butter and rice… seems tempting…

    There are plans for a documentary film, after the summer my brother Malik and I will be movig forward on that one. We hope that the book gives me enough credibility to be able to pull it off… as always… finders crossed!

    cheers, a

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  135. a civilian-mass audience



    your civi

  136. GORDON,

    it is a very different beast indeed… let me know what you think… and mucho thanks for buying….

    cheers, a

  137. BOB,

    It’s probably being held up by the dumbasses at Canada Customs as they
    try to figure out what extortionist-inspired duties they can apply to something
    as subversive as a BOOK.

    Rest assured,though. We can drink regardless :)


  138. Mark! :)))))))))

    god damn, ain’t that the truth here in Canada!!!…i can’t believe how slow delivery/customs is here…when folk send me stuff from the states it takes freakin’ forEVER to get here….drinking tonight! ;))))))

    and i bought the book within 1 hr of it being announced here…so waiting waiting…but, it’s cool…worth the wait! :)))


  139. Got mine last night!
    So worth the wait….both the book now and the entire project as a whole.

    Will you still do 893 #2 Anton? or is that out the door now that the book is completed?

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  144. a civilian-mass audience


    Speechless…BOOK is where supposed to be…

    YAKUZA came home…we are drinking ouzo…
    because of EVA…

    VIVA to all of you…thanks mate…

  145. ANTON.. cheers :)

    CIVI.. yep, book is where it belongs, with CIVILIAN MASS AUDIENCE!!!
    (checked mail, expect reply by mid August, til then crazy schedule, but will answer, promise!)

  146. Hey Carlo,

    Yes, 893 #2 will come… 893 Magazine, which will remain print-on-demand, is becoming a “vehicle” for me to talk about how the Yakuza project might continue, what might/will come next (documentary film?) and how I am trying to make it all work….

    Cheers, a

  147. BOB,

    you should have it this week, or latest beginning next week… they have all been sent out on monday, so it should be coming close to you as we speak… can you feel it already?

    hugs xxx a

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  149. ANTON :))))

    yes, i can feel it…i can’t wait…the rumours about its beauty have me sooooo goddamned excited! :))))))….


    big hugs :)))


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  151. ALL…

    1 month and 4 days later: ODO YAKUZA TOKYO is now sold out…

    Thanks ALL OF YOU so much for all your support… and DAVID for believing in me in the first place… I feel so happy, really




    seems like it sold out even faster then BURN01!…that’s some brilliant ninja sales :)))

    still waiting for my copy, but totally patient :)))…

    big hugs

  153. BRAVO, my dear brother!!!!!!! You deserve all good things with this remarkable book, and soon-to-be-started documentary film. I have never before seen anyone prepare for a project so thoroughly and then execute it as well as you with Odo Yakuza Tokyo. Trust me, this is just the start of where this work will take you…


  154. A
    and NOW,
    there shall be

  155. ANTON,

    actually I have to thank you! It IS a great book with great pictures, which were not seen, if you weren’t the person having taken them. Your pictures open a door into a culture, which were not known to us at all.
    I am glad to be among the lucky ones to buy one book, or two :)
    P.S. keep up your great work.

  156. Out out? I ran into the LOOK HQ finally on the last day as they were closing to get a copy, stopped in the restroom, and realized after I came out they were gone – you must have just carried them away :(

    A documentary is in the works? I’m out of the loop!

  157. Congratulations Anton and to everyone who bought a copy; enjoy your unique, one-of-a-kind, limited edition, masterpiece.


  158. Bob, I’ve sent items to and received them from Canada and I know what you mean …… slow!
    Anton’s book is worth the wait: wrapped like a present (which it is) and the content: you will view it for years to come – you’ll spend so much time looking you won’t have time to run!


  159. Hopefully Canada customs will let the books free to be delivered soonest…
    U see Canadian post office is kinda greedy..they overcharge, plus they refuse to give confirmation delivery numbers unless you pay up to $50 per book extra(just for confirmation only), plus they like charging the customer an extra acceptance fee etc…
    Either way, hopefully Canadians will receive their books by end of this week or beginning of new week coming!
    Inside the US the same item/shipment takes 3 days (media mail) but for canada which is literally next door , up to two weeks…$5 for confirmation number for the US, $75 for Canada…
    So Canadians be PATIENT..your books are on the way!

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  162. Furu ike ya
    kawazu tobikomu
    mizu no oto

    (The ancient pond
    A frog leaps in
    The sound of the water.)

    What began as a weekend opening with the knowledge that a friend died, closes its small, wind-driven curtains in the bath of cool, green light…..

    Odo Yakuza Tokyo arrived on Thursday, and I let it sit on my kitchen table for nearly 4 days, no so much from the disirelessness to open but from a more pressing need to ‘discover’ it when I had the calm and focus. After 3 days of writing and working on pictures and watching 5 films, it was time to open it…..

    As I’d written originally here, the impression the BURN slideshow hints at sadness, at melancholy, at death. As I discussed with Eva, I was struck by the melancholy ache of the pictures and the story, the attempt to show these men, and women, not as urns of imposing power but as men trying to reconcile themselves with the passing of their lives, an natural consequence of living, of gathering among groups with a history, of counting the rings the pebble tossed upon the ocean as it recedes….

    Finally looking through the book, I am left filled by the promise i’d imagine. This is a book about death, this is a book testifying to both the ephemeral waving of things, but there is great strength in this book. The strength comes not from the ‘power’ of the Yakutza, but from strength of the photographer. For this is actually not a book at all about the Yakutza, but in fact is a very different and more beautiful and complex book. this is the story of a photographer inhabiting a world that teems with counter-lives, with strange disorienting circumstances, with the madness and light and chaotic fog of Tokyo and it’s luminous gaze, but also with the world in which he finds himself. It is a book of journey, a book of only the kind I find the most attachment: a personal vision not of a people but a vision, a evocation of the effect that place and those people had upon the author. The only truth, for me, that is recountable: the personalized story of self with the cadence of the world.

    It is a magnificent book.

    As a photographer, what I loved most is to see the real maturity of Anton’s vision. To marry the looseness of his early Japan work (inspired by a number of photographers who loose personal vision as a way to harness the alphabet’d world) to his more controlled story telling (mexico, sugar, etc) to coalesce in a combination that uses both shadow and opaque light and focus to gather into a precise emotional sense of a person negotiating his own drifting toward something very clear:

    the space between the calligraphic brushstrokes….

    a more beautiful, green poem I can’t imagine…

    so happy to have this and to see it….

    big congratulations Anton….

    very proud of you….

    a lament for those who didn’t have the opportunity to get a copy….


  163. Bob!

    thanks for the words my friend… they mean a lot to me…. and of course I am glad you like the book….



  164. Burn publishing via Apple’s iBookstore in eBook format would be well cool. Something to consider? Has this already be explored and discussed and I missed it?

    iBurn, perhaps?

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  167. Wonderful work, Anton, and the bbc sequence looks great. I missed the first edition travelling, and I thought I saw something a couple of days ago about a second, but now it’s gone. Did I dream it?

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