Parker Woods is an avid bad-movie-watcher with an eye for uniqueness in the mundane and a penchant for shooting with film. As a portrait photographer, Woods aims to create a unique vision by combining the intimacy of diaristic style with that of fashion editorial photography. Today we’re sharing a selection of Parker’s work from his newly published book, Momo Tokyo.
Early summer 2016, I travelled to Japan for the first time. I had originally planned to take the trip as a sort of professional foray into a new world—I wanted to meet people and take photos of them, and I also wanted to shoot as many assignments as I could. But as the date for my flight grew closer, the desire to make something more meaningful out of the weeks ahead intensified. I had been working on an idea for a small personal project in which I’d shoot photos of friends using the same colored backdrop. I felt that this would link together otherwise unrelated portraiture. As I considered who I would want to photograph in Japan, I had an additional idea: incorporate the backdrop in my landscapes of the city as well. And that was how this project came to be. For twelve days, I carried a peach-colored (“momo” in Japanese) backdrop and a heavy metal c-stand around Tokyo, photographing new friends and everything else. I nearly walked one hundred miles in total. The backdrop became like a character to me in its own right and I soon felt that I was simply taking snapshots of a friend as it helped to contextualize my vignettes of the city.
After a few days of shooting, I discovered that civil inattention was not as deeply ingrained in Japanese culture as it is here today in the United States. That is to say: people noticed. I was frequently asked to leave but the backdrop also prompted many friendly exchanges. Each interaction, whether passive, permissive or perturbed added to the experience and to a growing narrative.
Momo Tokyo stands as an exercise in contextualizing my first experiences with Japanese culture. It is a small expression of a complex thing seen only from a narrow window. It is a beautiful souvenir.