Kosuke Okahara’s passion is capturing the day-to-day experiences of everyday life in isolated places, and he does so with tenderness and without judgment using a pair of Leica M7 cameras.
Born in 1980, Okahara grew up in Tokyo and started his career as a photographer after college, where he studied education. Now living in France, he is focused on telling the stories of isolated groups of people in challenging locations based on the theme of “Ibasyo” which, in Japanese, refers to the physical and emotional space in which one can exist. Okahara’s work has been honored with numerous awards and grants including a W. Eugene Smith Fellowship, participation in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass, Sony World Photography Award, the Prix Kodak in France, and was included in PDN’s 2009 list of 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch. Here is the heartfelt story of his documentation of life in Lenina, a village in Transnistria, an unrecognized country on the border of the Ukraine near Moldova. The reportage appears in LFI issue 1/2014.
Q: What camera and equipment did you use to shoot your reportage on Transnistria for LFI?
A: I used two Leica M7 cameras and two Leica M lenses, a 35 mm f/2 Summicron and a 24 mm f/2.8 Elmarit.
Q: What made this equipment especially suitable for this project? What characteristics of the Leica do you enjoy or find particularly useful?
A: I have always liked the quality of Leica lenses, which capture very sharp images that have a creamy, natural looking quality I call “wet”. As for the M body, I love the quietness of the shutter, and also the size of the camera which is quite small, handy, and unintimidating.