Kiyoshiro Imawano (deceased) is reaching for the man in the illustration. The man depicted is photographer Naoto Okawa (64). The photo was published in “BREaTH,” a magazine published by Sony Magazines. Mr. Okawa looks back (the remarks below are his).
This photo was taken in 1998. Seishiro is a good artist, so I asked him to draw whatever he wanted. He drew me on a roll of paper in the studio in no time at all (the second photo was taken at the time of the shoot).
In addition to Seishiro, Okawa has photographed many major artists. On the occasion of his 60th birthday, he organized his vast collection of photographs, more than 90 of which will be on display at the Narimasu Art Gallery (Itabashi-ku, Tokyo) from August 6 to 11.
I mainly took pictures of artists belonging to EPIC Sony. The most memorable photo is the one of Misato (Misato Watanabe) (the third one). It was the one that became the jacket of her debut album “eyes” (’85).
Misato has a strong eye. When I saw her in the studio doing her hair during hair and makeup, I was very impressed with her eyes in the mirror. I thought, ‘This is it!’ ‘ I thought, so I actually had her bangs cut and we took the picture.”
Ozaki and …… 20 days before his death.
In the photo below Misato is Yutaka Ozaki, who died in ’92.
He was photographed about 20 days before he passed away. At the time, Mr. Ozaki had just launched a new agency and was full of enthusiasm. The business card he gave me read, ‘Representative Director, Yutaka Ozaki.’ The shoot took five to six hours, but he was energetic, and I never thought he would die shortly afterwards. I still can’t believe it.”
The photo above left of Ozaki is of “DREAMS COME TRUE”. It was taken in 1988, about a year before his debut.
“It was a test shoot, but I couldn’t believe that it was before their debut. The three members were so perfectly in sync that the strobe couldn’t keep up with them. Their expressions are rich and photogenic. I felt that if they performed this well, they would soon become a major artist.”
At that time, there was no computer graphics or photo processing technology. All work was done in analog, and even the sets for filming were created by the artist himself. Okawa was extremely busy.
I would start shooting in the morning and return to the office in the middle of the night to develop the photos. There were times when I had to work twice a day with an IV drip. However, the ’80s and ’90s were a period of growth for the music industry, and the artists and staff were full of power.
The intensity of the fans’ feelings was completely different than today. The Internet was not widely available, and the only way to get information about artists was through magazines and radio. We saved our allowance and bought CDs. I have held photo exhibitions in Ginza and Yokohama, and some of the visitors shed tears for 30 minutes in front of my works. I think they look back on their own youth and feel a sense of accomplishment.
The ’80s and ’90s were a time when everyone was crazy about their favorite artists. Okawa’s photographs remind us of the brilliance of that era.
From the July 8, 2022 issue of FRIDAY
Photographed by： Naoto Okawa, Shinya Nishizaki (1 photo)