Interview with Hiroshi Takagi, Photographer
Interview with Hiroshi Takagi
Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Hiroshi Takagi, a Japanese photographer who recently published a book entitled, Dogs Talk to Us, which examines how humans and dogs communicate without a common language, using his dog named Taro as the subject of the book. This is a fascinating topic to explore visually. Please visit Hiroshi Tagagi’s website to view more of his work!
KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a photographer and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: The main reason I became interested in photography is because my family owned a photo studio; and because we had cameras at home, around the age of fourteen, I started taking monochrome photos as well as developing my film.
KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: In school, I studied photography.
KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin photographing your dog, Taro?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: Dogs and humans have no common language. Unfortunately, dogs don’t talk like humans do. We (humans) can still hear their “voice” though, which means that we are familiar with their language. Their facial expression, their gaze, their sounds, and their actions are a type of language. When one catches their beloved dog’s “talk” inside this “non-language” it’s really a lot of fun. Therefore, I want to try to decipher dogs’ language from their facial expressions and actions, and probe their every request, while looking for consent in our own feelings, in order to get closer and coexist together.
KATHERINE CARVER: Where did the idea come from for your work and book entitled, Dogs Talk to Us?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: As I am a photographer, it must have been my dog, Taro’s, destiny to become my subject. Initially, I had no plan of making a book only from these dog photographs, but they caught the eye of an editor that I encountered, and he was the one who decided to publish the book. Long before publishing was even discussed, and ever since around the time Taro was born, I had been taking photos of him continuously, without any deadlines. I think this approach helped his relaxed facial expressions.
KATHERINE CARVER: What do you hope readers/viewers will take away from your book entitled, Dogs Talk to Us?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: Following the life of one dog, this book creates a collection of “dog language” in one volume. These photographs are full of abundant joy of a dog that is skillful in communicating. I hope that the readers will put their ears closer to the dogs near them, interact with them, and make their own dog dictionaries.
KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative” mean to you?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: Taking photographs is my lifework. It is a means of dialog with others for me, and everything that appears before me is a possible subject. I don’t have a preference whether the subject is a person, a thing or a dog; it is psychological and instinctive, perhaps an animal-like sensation that I have. Rather than the risqué part of humans, I think that essentially I may even be closer to the animal way of communicating.
KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?
HIROSHI TAKAGI: It is inevitable that we get into misunderstandings with other species. No matter how much we try, it is a fact that we cannot change the way dogs communicate into words, nor can we really understand “dog language.” Even more so, we (humans) are the ones who depend on language, but it appears that dogs still understand “human language” much more than we understand their language. However, I believe that this interaction is a trigger for creating a language that helps us communicate with those different from us.
KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works and books?
Please note that all of the images contained in this blog post are courtesy of Hiroshi Takagi.
You can read additional interviews here.