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An interview with Michael Judd

Michael Judd is an Australian photographer, filmaker and performer based in Japan.

His photography is all shot on film using vintage cameras and filters and traditional techniques, often incorporating multiple images on the same frame to create a layered cinematic effect.

Portrait subjects are often those on the fringes of society including bands, drag queens and the inhabitants of underground nightlife in Japan.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how did you come to do what you do?

I moved to Japan in 2001 and over time found an artistic community that was very encouraging of my work. Initially mostly photography, but from that filmmaking and performance. After some years I became quite burnt out on digital photography and switched to shooting film exclusively and became quite obsessed with the process and fell in love with photography again. 

When starting your photography did you ever imagine what it could become?

Early on I never shared work I had created, but I would give people photos as gifts, and often had people requesting that I photograph events etc, and then slowly realised that it resonated with people. Early on, I was very intimidated by the film community but I think having a body of work as large as I now do is something I never expected.



Can you tell us a bit about something you have been excited to be a part of? 

There are so many things. The first movie we shot in New York. Being given a grant by the government of Osaka to film a movie in Paris, and to have videos we made shown on TV and massive screens at Osaka station, all the music videos I’ve shot for indie bands. But mostly just being able to share work, either at gallery shows or smaller events, it’s always so nice having people see the work and discussing it with them. 


 Where do you find your inspiration?

I think I’m very easily bored and also spend a lot of time wandering alone, listening to music or podcasts, and am just inspired by life and wanting to capture that feeling. Also, wanting to capture the parts of Japan and the world at large that are slowly disappearing and being taken over by modernity. So many things I have taken photos of no longer exist, so the photos are important to me in that sense. 


Can you please tell us about your most treasured piece in your home?

 I guess my collection of film cameras and my vintage T-shirts!

What does ‘home’ mean to you?

I think for me it’s a hard concept, I have lots of different homes. Brisbane of course, and different areas of Japan. I guess anywhere that feels completely comfortable and safe. Within Japan, I have so many friends and memories in different cities, so I feel like I have many homes. 

Can you please talk us through your favourite piece/s from your collection?

 It’s so hard to pick a favourite, but I think what I love about my favourite things I’m drawn to in my own life is one of a kind pieces, particularly vintage stuff that I’ve never seen before. And the same I think for my own photos, hopefully moments or times captured that are different from how other photographers see or experience those places.

What advice would you give to any other creatives not knowing where to start or wanting to get into photography? 

Get a cheap manual camera, and learn about light and aperture. Take as many photos as you can initially, and always have the camera with you. Don’t force photos, I very rarely get good photos when I go somewhere with the intention to take photos. I find the most inspiration in travelling/ going somewhere different, even if it’s only a ten minute train ride away. For film photography, Pentax cameras and lenses are my favourites, I have shot most of my movies and music videos on vintage Pentax lenses. 


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