About Still Life


My sensibilities flash with inspiration when they are finely attuned to the myriad of constantly evolving things around us. At their pinnacle, they focus to confront one particular thing and respond with a precision of a 100,000th of a second. This impulse seeks to capture in my camera lens the living breath of a thing within this momentary encounter, and imprint it onto film.

Our perception of the things that we encounter in our daily life is substantiated, in the fleeting quotidian moment, by our capacity to see, hear, touch them. Yet, that we perceive is no more than their provisional shape or form, as all the things that surround us ceaselessly change, never retaining the same appearance. Such is the essence of “form is emptiness, emptiness is from.” Nevertheless, it is only through such provisional appearances that we obtain proof that we are alive, and therein lies the reason why I relentlessly pursue these things and seek to sharpen my sensibilities toward the changing moment.

We all encounter a countless number of things in our daily lives, and in many instances are not even aware of their existence. My sensibilities respond to these things that ordinary people tend to overlook or ignore, and I snap the camera shutter to generate a meeting a 100,000th of a second. They are once-in-a-lifetime meetings with my photographic subjects, and I want to treasure these fleeting relationships. They are encounters that will never be repeated, but by viewing my works we can share in them.

The moment I cherish most is the instant I snap the shutter. My photographic subjects convey a strong message to me at the very moment I face them straight on. My approach bears much in common with Zen monks at Mt.Hiei who attempt sennichi kaihogyo, a grueling one thousand day pilgrimage. In the belief that all things, even a tree of a blade of grass have the potential to be Buddha, the monk on sennich kaihogyo prays and pays respect to the small, insignificant objects that one normally ignores. By sensing the presence of Buddha in everything, this training allows the monk to feel that his own existence is also present in all things.

when I aim my lens at water, stone, trees, grass and glass, my camera captures not only the exterior form of my subject, but also the vital spirit of its existence. I have called this creative activity “ukonsomoku,” or “capturing the spirit of grass and trees.” It means that I employ my lens as a third eye,capturing the subject on film and infusing it with eternal life. When I snap the shutter I am turning that 100,000th of a second moment into eternity.

There are times when I can sense great meaning in even the most insignificant of events. Once my interest is aroused, I treasure these precious meetings with things that arise from chance encounters, and cherish the precious moments that I share with them. In much the same way as reaching enlightenment through sitting meditation(zazen), when I invest my whole self in engaging my photographic subjects I can arrive at a flash of inspiration. My photographic work is created through my response to these momentary encounters and is an attempt not only to capture the momentary form of the subject but also its spirit on film. At such times my sensibilities extend to infinity within people’s hearts, and “A Moment’s Eternity” is born.

by Yasuomi Hashimura
From the Book of STILL LIFE a moment’s eternity