Daichi Yamamoto: Photography in a Mix of Cultures

He embraced the African culture in New York City and ever since, he has been interested in everything concerning the black continent. Now established in Dakar, Senegal, Daichi explores the passion for photography inherited from his Japanese father and shares his colorful style with the rest of the world. We discussed with him.

Daichi, it is quite an uncommon name. Is it your real name or a nickname? Where is it from?
My name is Daichi Yamamoto. This is a Japanese name, and Daichi means the earth

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
I am a Japanese native who lives in Senegal. Before coming to Senegal, I was living in New York for 10 years.

On your Instagram profile, we read Japan, New York City, Senegal. Where is your home actually?
My hometown is in Japan however, New York is another home and Senegal is my home too!

You happen to leave out of Africa, but checking your work, one can see you shoot almost exclusively black people. Why? Are you some kind of black culture ambassador?
I don’t shoot only black people, but I live in Africa now, so it tends to be African people are my models. However, when I was in NYC, I used to be a member of African dance company. I have danced more than 10 years and I fell in love with African drum when I came to NYC. From this experience, I started following African culture.

anyekuos by daichi yamamoto

#GirlPower | @daichi_photography

Many of your pictures are fashion like, showing women and fabrics. Do you have a special interest in fabrics? Why?
I do love African wax. Why? It’s so colorful and makes me happy to see these designs. I also shoot models with African wax, because I believe my colorful photos can make people happy. African designs have history and people still wear regularly. In the US, it’s becoming a trend, however, it’s a culture, history, and life here. I want to shoot a real style from Senegal.

Tell us about your story, how did you come to photography?
My father is a professional photographer in Japan. He is a family portrait photographer, and I don’t shoot like he does at all; however, I think It’s DNA! I was not shooting in Japan but started in New York City.

Are there people who shaped your passion?
Yes. Overall, my father. For African culture, my dance company’s director - Sandella Malloy. For my photography style, my mentor in NYC - Ron Contarsy and Siaka Traore who is based in Dakar/Montreal gave me a huge impact. 

dance in the sun by daichi yamamoto

#DanceLife | @daichi_photography

Having lived in New York City, what do you think the African photography scenery and the Senegalese can ameliorate to step up their game?
There is no single factor to step up, but African photography for me is one of a unique portfolio. Not only photography but also life experience helps me to step up. However, a photography itself is the art but not business. To step up, an artistic side needs to be polished as well as a business side.

Japan, United States, Senegal, does living in these countries influenced your work? How?
Of course. All of these countries affect me. Any of arts are media which you express your thoughts, feeling, and life. Myself is made from Japan culture, American culture, and Senegalese culture. All matter to me.

beautiful eva by daichi yamamoto

#MixedCulture | @daichi_photography

Is there any message you try to pass through with your images?
Please enjoy!

What do you enjoy most about photography?
I enjoy a shoot most when my team (a model, MUA, assistant etc.) are all cohesive and creative.
But at post-production, sometimes, I get lots of creative ideas to edit, that is also an amazing moment.

What do you find the most difficult in that profession?
Business side. A photography business is super-duper competitive. Look at Instagram! Regular people can take better photos than me with an iPhone lol. Because of this reason, I try to be creative and learn new stuff all the time. No time to rest.

A word to describe your photography style?
Colorful and happy

mami colored shop by daichi yamamoto

#AfricanWaxLady | @daichi_photography

Some people believe photography can be a tool for change. Do you agree? How can it be used?
Yes, I do. Real documentary photographers tell real stories in the world. In 2017, we have too many cheap information in media, so it is crucial to know the real world. That is one of the reasons I wanted to shoot in Senegal. People don’t know about real Africa. Africa is not all about poverty, AIDS, jungle or animals. There are so many unseen beautiful things here. Photography can influence people to know real world regardless of color, race, gender, language or anything if it is used properly.

What is your opinion about African photography today?
There are many unique photographers in Africa. I have seen amazing photographers in Dakar, Nigeria, Kenya and more. Styles in Africa are different from Europe and US. People in the world should check out more African photographers’ works.

Check out Daichi works on Facebook and Instagram

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