Campus Interview: Sight Does Not Equal Vision with Kevin Tamasiro

Kevin Tamasiro is a pleasure to speak with. Armed with an enigmatic smile and never seen without a film camera slung over his shoulder, the second year Waseda University student is usually the first to introduce himself to a new person and start the conversation. A dedicated visual artist with strong opinions, he doesn't resort to modesty but is objective about the talent, knowledge and experience he has to justify his confidence. 

Her Campus was delighted to have a candid chat with Kevin about art, life, his photography, work and ideals. We hope you enjoy the interview. 

©Kevin Tamasiro


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, hobbies and interests?  

[laughs] I'm Kevin, I was born in the Philippines and stayed in Japan for five years, then went to Brazil. I returned to the Philippines and studied there from third grade till college. I graduated college in the Philippines; I first studied IT, then shifted to multimedia arts and focused on film making and photography. My hobbies? Studying. 

I'm kidding. 

©Kevin Tamasiro


What does a typical day in your life look like?

Depends on what day. Whenever I have school, I wake up early in the morning, take a shower and choose what camera to bring for the day. That’s what makes my day special. I take more time choosing which camera to bring than what to wear. Otherwise, I do graphics for arubaito and sometimes teach English. 


© Kevin Tamasiro 


How did you develop the passion and qualifications necessary for you to call yourself a visual artist today?

I would prefer being called a visual artist over a photographer. My qualifications? I think anyone can call themselves whatever they want, yeah? But I don’t see myself as a photographer. Being a photographer, people think you must be a professional. And being professional brings in too much of a burden. That’s what every person with a camera wants to be’s a tainted word. To me, 'professional' means you only have to be good enough but not the best. As an artist, you have to be the best.

I just want to be better than what I was, producing better work than what I previously did. 

"Where I cook food is also where I cook my film."

©Kevin Tamasiro


Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration? Definitely not Instagram, because they [the photos] all look the same. Ever since I started, I was a big fan of Nobuyoshi Araki. Though old, he's quite active and has a birthday exhibition every year, mostly erotic. That’s where I find inspiration. Also, Daido Moriyama. They’re people who don’t use Instagram; they’re too old for instagram. If you want to find inspiration, you need to look up to someone who is already established, not at the same level as you. Sonna kanji desu. (TR: something along those lines)


Tell us more about what you’re doing right now?

I’m trying to improve my craft while taking a course that’s not completely related to the arts so I get another perspective. I’m trying to focus on two things: Fashion, [since] that is what earns, and my personal works, which are basically nudes. That's what I find interesting; not in a sexual way but an artistic way. I have done a few exhibitions where the photos posted were nude[s] but many people might not understand them. There is a thin line between nudes and porn. As much as possible, I want to shoots nudes that won’t look like like porn.

It’s easy to misinterpret [photographers] and there are tons of people who’ll think something else. For example, “I’m not good enough at taking photos” might make others think that I'm arrogant. Me being humble could be seen by other people as me being boastful. I feel so vain talking about myself right now [because] I usually let my photos speak for me.

©Kevin Tamasiro


Can you take us through the process of a nude photo shoot and what it entails?

First, of course, you need to find a model. You can’t approach random beautiful women and say 'can you go naked in front me?'. Hardest [thing] is finding a model. Then, finding a good location. [It] depends on your concept. Usually, [for] the models I shot previously, I got their trust and that’s why they agreed. It’s not like women will roll naked in front of a guy just like that. First is gaining their trust, then using the proper words. Once you have your model, everything will just flow. 


Can you share the story behind one of your nude photos or projects?

So, I had a friend who was experiencing Depression and she got really thin. She recovered, but the after-effects were still there. She got discharged from the hospital, and asked me 'could you document this event?'

I said, okay, let's do it. 

©Kevin Tamasiro

To show her in that state it’s best to do it naked. Not because it’s sexy, not because it’s beautiful, [but because] that’s the reality. It’s something for her to see once she’s completely okay. 

©Kevin Tamasiro

Nude photography made me realize that there’s a lot of things that males can do that females are worried about. It’s easy for a man to go topless, but for a female, it’s not. Women are more prone to be raped, though I'm not saying that all men are the same. 


What has been the most significant yet internal struggle of your existence so far?

Surviving everyday. Whenever I take photos…’s like forcing myself to do something better. When I started, I used to do it for pleasure because I want to take the photo, but now, the thought that I want to do something better is sort of killing the enjoyment, to the point that when I do fashion shoots I’m doing it for my portfolio and not for enjoyment, which kills the passion. 

©Kevin Tamasiro


If you could freely change your physical appearance without facing any kind of judgment, what would you look like right now?

I would be Johnny Depp. [pulls up an online photo of Depp in a fedora] Damn, I think he’s awesome. Once you’re Johnny Depp, you can be anyone else. You can be a pirate, you can be anything.


Tell us something that everyone adores but you can’t tolerate.

Instagram culture [laughs]. Mainstream media. I hate it. I don’t understand why people like it. [And] mainstream movies. 

[On being asked for an example] That’s like declaring war....fine, Star Wars, the seventh one. I’m a fan of the original six movies but the seventh one...there are some things you should end when it’s still good. Like, personally, I’d prefer watching an indie film, because with mainstream, they’re making the movie for the profit which means that they’ll make the ending happy to make the audience happy. Indie doesn’t have much audience so they make it for the sake of self expression; not what the general public wants. I like Pulp Fiction and Slumdog was still better than the seventh Star Wars

©Kevin Tamasiro


Is there anything you’d like to say to your critics?

"Your work looks cheap". [I was told that during] second year art school. I didn’t really answer her, but I answered by doing better. I learned how to not give a damn, and focus on my goal. If I accept criticism, it should be from people I look up to. That’s what every artist should remember. Everyone could say sh*t about your work and you can easily get hurt by it. It’s either you stop doing your art and start crying, or do better and prove your art. Listen to critics who matter: someone who is already established in a field you want to be in. Just that and no one else. There’s no point in listening to what ‘no one’s’ will be saying. 

©Kevin Tamasiro


Check out more of Kevin's breathtaking work here