top コラムRecommended photobook14 Rika Noguchi "My Father’s Album" 野口里佳『父のアルバム』

Recommended photobook

14 Rika Noguchi "My Father’s Album"

John Sypal

The title got me first.

“My Father’s Album”.

Self-explanatory. Succinct.

I think I first knew of the book from a post on Akaaka’s Instagram page.The idea of a talented, acclaimed photographer like Rika Noguchipublishing a book of family album photographs sounded like a good idea without even having to see the pictures. Luckily the post had a few
sample pages. I swiped through them on my screen, double-tapped out a red heart, and scrolled on.

A few days later, I encountered the book in person on an endcap display in the Photography section of Tsutaya Books in Ginza. It’s published in two cover variations, one green with a portrait, and one red, with flowers. Drawn to the charming expression of the woman on
its cover, I took a green one from the shelf.

In my hands the rough cloth cover reminded me of photo albums from the 60’s and 70’s and upon opening it I soon felt that sort of slow, powerful pull that domestic photography posseses. What is this feeling? Maybe it’s a recognition of sincerity- of love of subject-expressed in pictures that encapsulate the desire to, with a grasp of the lens and flick of the shutter, stop time for just a moment.  To make something last just a little longer, in pictures at least.

This existed. We were here, they were here, like this. Like this, in this room or garden, in this light, on this beach, on this playground, this child in her arms. Click,  click,  click.

I have never met any of the people in these photographs. I’m not a father. And yet, I feel their warmth. These individual pictures touch on universal aspects of the human experience-   It’s impossible to view them and not reflect on one’s own family. Set skepticism and science aside- this book is evidence of human understanding of how photography feels- not “works”.

In her afterword, Rika Noguchi states that her father, who survived his wife by nearly twenty years, passed away in 2013. Before his death she acquired from him envelopes of his negatives from her childhood.
These she began printing in a darkroom- an act she describes as tracing his perspective.

She followed this line of sight with a magnificently well edited and thoughtful journey through time. Beginning with portraits of the Noguchis on their honeymoon, their journey flows along as their family and rose garden grow. In one image, Mrs. Noguchi stands outside with her baby daughter (Rika) in her arms- it’s a picture that echoes both Madonna and Child and countless photographs taken by other young fathers throughout the history of photography. As the pages turn, portraits of wide-eyed toddlers give way to grinning children- seen in dining room tables, trains, summer festivals, and playgrounds. In amongst the pace of life are appreciative pictures of Mr. Noguchi’s roses. These help pace the book- punctuation by blossom.

With his practical, half-frame Olympus Pen camera, Mr. Noguchi was, as his daughter notes, a fine photographer. Certainly in how he framed space- but also in how he framed moments. He also had a knack for light- in these pages a tenderness, a sense of love, illuminates each image.

How lucky.

Of all the parents who’ve ever gazed at their spouses and children through a camera finder over the past hundred years- an act resulting in billions of snapshots, how lucky for the photos of this person, Mr. Norio Noguchi, to be printed so thoughtfully by his daughter like this. A posthumous rediscovery of one’s snapshot oeuvre? This is the stuff every amateur photographer dreams of.

Now, I’m of the belief that there are far more collections of meaningful photography in the world out there, waiting quietly in yellowing albums or perhaps envelopes of negatives. Anyone can take a good picture- and good pictures can be anywhere. The chances of encountering one seem far greater in one’s one home than journeys made across the world.

Rika writes that she found contentment in her experience with these photos of her father’s. This sense of contentment, she adds, is something which she hopes to pass along to others through the mysterious power of photography.  I’d say that she has, beautifully.

How lucky, indeed.














このように、この部屋や庭で、この光の中で この浜辺で、この遊び場で、この子はここにいた。


























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