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'.

by Frankie Dunn
21 October 2021, 7:30am

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. 

a double exposed photo of a woman laying on her back, floating in the sea

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.”

a close up of a pair of pink lips blowing a bubble
a man stands in the middle of the road in LA, palm trees line the street
a woman with long hair bends down to stand in the alcove under a stone staircase outside
three women in bikinis stand on a concrete ledge overlooking LA
an aerial shot of a sunny day in the dolomites
a naked body in bed is partially covered by a towel, we can't see their face
a man wearing a johnny thunders band tshirt stands at a gig looking to camera with a cigarette up one nostril
a stroller full of fluffy cats
an old japanese lady sits in a rattan armchair at home
a group of friends in a karaoke bar. the person closest to the camera has their face obscured by their curly hair
a woman in a red dress and a trilby hat stands waiting to cross the street with their middle finger up
a sculpted pine cloud tree surrounded by other greenery in a tokyo park

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All photography Piczo

photo book