FFO: SOFT AESTHETIC PORTRAITS CAPTURED ON THE STREETS OF TOKYO, JAPAN
CONTEXT BEHIND THE BOOK (IN THE PHOTOGRAPHERS OWN WORDS):
Hito-Bito translates to “people” in the Japanese language. This zine is a collection of street and portrait photographs featuring everyday Japanese. The photographs are all shot in Tokyo, Japan and were a coincidental project. I was on holiday in Tokyo and was mesmerised by the kindness of the people there.
THE TITLE AND THE CONTENT:
‘Hito – Bito’ meaning ‘people’ in Japanese is a fitting yet straight to the point title of the anthropological photographic study undertaken by Azzis on the streets of Tokyo.
The mix of candid and staged minimalist portraits highlight an emphasis on natural light and shadow, with most images being shot in the hours of daylight. The overall aesthetics of the portraits are therefore greatly considered. The photographer uses a soft and neutral toned palette with bursting slight hints of colour to attract the viewer, and this is kept consistent within the entire publication. The entire focus of the zine concentrates on each individual with each still via the images technical focus using a shallow depth of field to blur out any unwanted objects within the foreground and background of the frame. This approach ultimately and thoughtfully makes each portrait unique and intimate in their own right and through manipulating the images aesthetics it helps to draw the viewer to the individual – with the subject voyeuristically staring the viewer straight in the eyes.
This strong front cover image above on the right, for example, is repeated centrally within the zine and is undoubtedly a stand out still of the publication, aesthetically speaking along with the careful consideration of the framing with the guard standing poised within the middle of the photograph. As the viewer, even though this particular image is consensual between both parties, the subject invites the photographer (the guard) into the image, whilst the man still remained cautious to reveal too much information concerning himself to the voyeur, a stranger.
DESIGN OF THE BOOK:
The a5 sized 44-page photographic publication is sold in an edition of 30 copies, which are all individually hand-numbered. The zine if published under Huda’s co-founded publishing company Your Local Newsstand (see our interview with Huda in regards to Your Newsstand here).
The design of the publication is instantly striking, due to its minimalism and simplistically which compliments Azzis’ images perfectly. The white line bordering the central front cover image leaves room for the surrounding block red fill that acts as a bold background for the writing ‘Hito – Bito’ contrasting against it. All throughout the zine, the design is cleverly designed and the use of white space to isolate the images away from other full bleed portraits works effectively to keep consistency, whilst not boring the reader. Since reviewing zines via DIY YOUTH, I feel as if the overall design of the publication is definitely a personal favorite to me as a reader.
DIY YOUTH: If there’s one thing you could add / change in relation to the publication/project, what would it be? Or would you not change anything at all?
I wouldn’t do any changes to it at all. I feel like creating a zine means being a hundred percent sure of what you want it to be and by that it means you gotta be thorough and put a lot of thought in every little detail that goes into creating a publication.
FEEDBACK – KEY STRENGTHS AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM:
There’s definitely a personalised touch to this publication which is emphasised throughout its design, and as a reader, I really like the addition of the insert which helped further contextualise the project. I especially admired how this insert makes the viewer more interactive with the publication due to its tangibility, as it could be taken out or placed into the photo-zine at any given point. The simplistic yet well-considered design by Huda Azzis definitely completed the minimal images that were the showstopper of the publication. I’d definitely recommend purchasing – it’s definitely a keeper.
It was also worth mentioning that I got a lovely typed message sent straight all the way from Singapore by Huda herself, thanking her for reviewing this publication. This isn’t particularly part of the review but I really appreciated the thoughtfulness that went into the greeting.
If I had to nitpick anything concerning the publication, even though the edit is brilliant there were a couple of back of the head, less intimate portraits that I feel could’ve been taken out from the zine and the publication wouldn’t have lost anything from removing these images. However, I think including these portraits doesn’t particularly harm the beauty in the output of zine to me as a reader. I also think it’s worth noting that this project has the ability to be expanded upon due to its ambiguity in the subject matter which focuses on the broad topic of ‘people’ – what about ‘people’ could be explored more? who else could be photographed and where again in Japan? Maybe around different regions of Japan? I definitely projects surrounding this theme could be continued by Azzis if I had to give any further reflection.
YOU CAN BUY A COPY OF HITO-BITO HERE!
YOU CAN KEEP UP WITH HUDA’S WORK HERE!
YOU CAN ALSO KEEP UP WITH THE WORK OF YOUR LOCAL NEWSSTAND HERE!