Girls Just Want To Have Fun!

Catch the moment

What model Luka wanted to leave till 19 years old.
Photo_Yuki Kumagai

Thanks to the modern era invention, aka social media, 
it's much easier to discover creativity and talents buried in the actual world. 
So, which girl is in the spotlight in the street scene? 
And what kind of personal philosophy do they have in their mind? 
We shift that spotlight to a model Luka, started her model career from three months old, 
and had been taking photographs with a film camera as her hobby.
We had an opportunity to have an interview with Luka
at the gallery where her first exhibition was held.

Traveling around the world since I was a newborn baby.

First of all, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Luka. I’m working as a fashion model and also taking photographs as my hobby.
When did you start your model career?
My first experience as a model was when I was three months old, since my father was a photographer. I’ve been working with the model agency as a pro since I was 2nd grader elementary school student.
Wow, three months old? Can you tell us the story about it?
It was for SOEN featuring London. It was a funny article that a newborn baby, who was me wearing Dr. Martens 8 Eye Boots.
What was your childhood like?
Since my father and mother like to travel abroad, we used to spend most of our summer vacation in abroad. So I traveled a lot since I was a newborn baby.
I’m so jealous! How did you spend your vacation there?
One summer we took a swing through Europe by car. Since Europe have so many camping sights, we traveled to Switzerland setting up camps along the way. Sometimes we parked our car behind the gas station and stayed overnight in the car when we couldn’t find a camping sight.
How many countries have you visited?
I’ve visited over 30 countries.
Which country impressed you most?
I had so much fun at Mexico, where I visited when I was 4th grader and 9th grader. One of my mother’s friends lived there so we spent all summer there. There was small accident like my father was pickpocketed, though.
Sounds like your family is pretty active.
Definitely we are. When we have just moved in, we all did DIY for our house. First our house didn’t even have a kitchen so we had to make it from scratch. It’s awkward but I used to put on a goggles and peeled the sand walls off after coming back from school.

My playground was my father’s dark room.

When did you start photography?
When I was a 9th grader. I borrowed my father’s camera.
Weren’t you interested until then?
Not interested at all. But my playground was my father’s dark room. I did a little bit of dark room stuff helping my father’s work, nonetheless, I was just turning the lights on and off! I was told that I used to say, “I will become a photographer!” back then.
What inspired you to take a camera?
One day I thought, “What is film?” and One day I thought, “What is film?” and after that I started learning from my father and started taking photographs.
Do you remember the first photo you took?
I took photographs of my friend and scenery, but I wasted my first film because I unfortunately loaded it wrong. However, I got into taking photographs since then and I bought a camera by my own.
What kind of camera did you get?
I got a PENTAX film camera at Shinjuku CAMERA BOX following my father recommendation. There are so many second hand camera there, but I thought that “This is it!” at first sight. It has been 5 years since then. It was used in the first place, so it has aged well now.
Why are you particular about film and not digital?
I love the color and texture. Of course I have digital camera too, but I makes me feel that cell phone would be fine. There is not much difference between cell phone and camera to me.
What do you capture the most on film?
Just because I have been traveling a lot since I was a kid, most of my photographs are the sceneries taken while I’m traveling. I strongly remember my first trip without my parents was to Paris with Karen, belongs to the same model agency. It was just after I got my first own camera and I used about 30 films I brought with me.
Can you tell us about the moment you release the shutter?
It’s not like when I could find a perfect composition like that but when I feel that “It’s now!” Actually this has really happened but let’s say there was a rainbow spanning in the sky and I was trying to take a photograph. Soon after that one person came along with his or her rainbow umbrella. I think I release the shutter in this kind of casual moment.

What I want to do at the last year of being a teenager.

What inspired you to hold this exhibition?
Well, I used to print the photographs I took and put them on the wall that became quite a bit after 5 years. Since then, I started to think whether there is anything I have left undone at the last year of being a teenager.
What does your exhibition title “VOYAGE” mean?
Most of my photographs were taken while I was traveling so I just knew this was it. I followed my instincts.
How did you feel when you first photographed a portrait?
My manager once asked me to take a photograph of a new face belonged to a modeling agency I also belonged to. She was Sena and she was still 6th graders. I used to take photographs just for fun but that was the first time I had to piece together a story and communicate a moment though shooting so it was really hard. But I was so happy that those photographs of her have had such amazing feedback.
How did you piece together your story?
I imaged of “Summer Vacation” while shooting her. I shot entirely on location in Yumenoshima Park and Tateyama beach, where I previously visited for my shooting. There are not many people there and I just thought that this place would suit. Since Sena wasn’t used to the shooting, I could brilliantly capture the nature expression of her exactly as intended. I shot her without makeup but only lip cream and lightning.
What’s lightning?
So, I usually avoid direct sunlight while I take the scenery and care about using subdued light. For instance, I try taking by using a sunlight that filters through the trees.
How was your exhibition after all?
Most of all I’m feeling relieved because I decided to hold this exhibition only two months before so my schedule was pretty much tight. And also really happy that many people, more than I imagined has visited during the exhibition. Normally I don’t have much chance to interact with my fans, but some of them came from far away to see me. I even didn’t have a chance that someone buying my photographs, so that touched my heart a lot. I’m so happy that someone is living with my photographs.
2 months period must have been pretty tough.
It really was. While I was preparing for this, I actually went to Hong-Kong just before the exhibition to add some chaotic atmosphere to my photographs. But thanks to this shooting, I think it ended up with the well-balanced display. And especially making a Zine was the most toughest work.
How did you make your Zine?
I made two Zines; one for Sena’s photograph and one for the photographs during my trip. I like the format used for Chad Moore’s photo book so I featured it for my Zine, however, I couldn’t find the rubber band for binding them and I had to binding all 500 Zines by hand after all. I have been working on it almost everyday I guess. I really was tough but I’m glad I could make it as I wanted to.
Did your father say anything about your exhibition?
Actually he didn’t say anything, but he helped me and gave advice to me like “How about doing…?” while I was preparing for this exhibition.

What I want to be shooting from now on.

What is it about taking photographs and being taken for you?
What is it about taking photographs and being taken for you? I had been taken photos as thinking about making poses as a model, and never really thought from the point of view of a someone who takes photos. However, I realized that they optimize esposure and focus to picture the moment of model's motion for models. That was a new discovery that I could see things from both perspectives.
Is there anything you want to do from now on?
Along with working as a model, I do want to begin my career as a photographer sometime. Of course I want to continue taking photographs of my travel, so I want to release my next collection again at a photo exhibition in the near future. Also, I hope in the future I will be spending my time taking Sena. She is still 11 years old and I believe her expression would change, so I want to capture her as she grow up.