A new book celebrating the art of the photo diary
Exhibiting at Tokyo's Bookmarc, Japanese photographer Piczo captures five years worth of inspiring moments in his new book 'Nikki'.
Diaries have likely existed for as long as humans have been able to write. The instinct to document our lives — for ourselves, for future generations, to help us make sense of things — is as strong as ever, and the results have never been more public. Japanese photographer Piczo, who is based in London and has been collaborating with i-D for almost a decade (while shooting campaigns for the likes of Nicholas Daley, JW Anderson x Uniqlo and the V&A), has never been one for journaling. Instead, he turns his camera on moments that matter. His new book, Nikki — Japanese for diary — beautifully captures the past five years through his eyes.
Piczo grew up in an old farmhouse in Osaka, with strict PE teacher parents and a garden full of sweet potatoes and oranges. He was an active, playful kid who began taking photographs of his world in junior high. “My earliest memory of doing this is shooting family and friends with disposable film cameras, and using them on school trips,” he tells us. “I started taking photos properly when I turned 19 and shot bands at their gigs — I loved shooting their expressions.” Things evolved from pure documentation in the direction of a career during Piczo’s university years, in Tokyo and then London, but that desire to preserve special snapshots remained.
The photographs throughout Nikki are a contrasting selection spanning nature and cities; intimate portraits paired with mundane but beautiful moments from everyday life. The faces of friends, family, models and Virgil Abloh sit alongside images of the sea, a crushed McDonald’s cup and a stroller full of cats. Pictures of karaoke nights in Tokyo are fascinatingly and incongruously paired with Captain Tom tributes in Hackney, and the Queen’s Christmas day speech with Piczo’s girlfriend Molly in bed. A vast array of photos shot between 2015 – 2020 are united by a simple truth: these were all moments worth remembering. “The images capture the most beautiful moment of a day,” he says. “This is an archive of what inspired me.”
The book’s cover image — a close up of a pair of pink lips, parted and blowing a small bubble of saliva — is the photographer’s favourite. “It’s a shot taken during lockdown in London, of Molly’s lips,” he explains. “We had been doing nothing for a few months and we were bored, so we tried to see how big we could make bubbles with our mouths. I think this image is the most special to me; a beautiful moment you might easily miss in your busy daily life. It’s very ephemeral.”
All photography Piczo